Sunday, September 6, 2020

In Nomine: Celeste, Archangel of the Aether

Because Toastrider spoke favorably about my Archangel of Souls, here's another Archangel I made for my In Nomine campaign. 

Yes, I like Kyriotate Archangels. There should be more of them. 

A Google Docs version of this post can be found here


Kyriotate Archangel of the Aether

The World is closer than you think.

Celeste is a new Archangel (circa 1990) but is a moderately old angel, having existed in Jean’s service for the past millennium. As a Reliever in the Halls of Progress she showed a fascination with the properties of photons and electromagnetic radiation and their transmission through various media, and so it was expected that she would become an Ofanite. When she fledged as a Kyriotate, it came as a surprise to most Jeanites until they realized that her fascination was not with movement itself but rather with wanting to be everywhere at once.

Celeste requested the Word of Aether during the late 18th century. Most of the Seraphim Council thought her mad, as the theory of “luminiferous aether” was known by Heaven to be incorrect, but Jean himself sponsored her for the Word. It was not until the invention of radio, and later the telephone and the internet, that her ambition bore fruit and the concept of Aether began to move from “a material we can’t understand” to “a metaphor of a place where things go to disappear.”

While the concepts underlying her Word have existed for centuries (perspective and illusion have been an essential component of art since its conception), it is only recently that human advancements in mathematics and science have matured sufficiently that her Word finally became thematically congruent with “The distance that is not” or, more prosaically, “Where you are when you're on the telephone.”

Her Cathedral, the Orrery of Aether, is a confusing mass of rotating objects that, at best, resembles a cross between a radio telescope array and a macro-scale model of an electron cloud. It is currently adjunct to Jean’s Halls of Progress, although it appears to be inching away from them.

It is Dissonant for angels of the Aether to choose to be unreachable or unfindable. Celeste represents the breakdown of barriers, both physical and social; to isolate oneself is anathema to an Aetherite. They do not hide; instead they stay one step ahead of their enemies, frequently taunting them to keep up.

Choir Attunements
All of Celeste's servitor attunements are restricted. She says this is so that her angels work together as a family rather than trying to do everything themselves.

Seraphim (restricted)
Capable of seeing the Truth through infinite dimensions, Seraphim of the Aether can see through (or, more accurately, "around") objects, effectively giving them x-ray vision. Only the Song Celestial Shields is proof against such observation. (Other songs or attunements may be immune to this, at the GM's discretion.) Range of sight is unchanged (but see Line of Sight, below).

Cherubim (restricted)
Celeste's Guardians have a unique method of protecting their charges: the Cherub may either instantly step to their side or pull the attuned to him. This requires a successful Resonance check and causes Disturbance equal to the Corporeal Forces of whomever is moved, who appears within CD feet of the other. The Songs of Ethereal Shields and Celestial Seals prevent this effect.

Ofanim (restricted)
Wheels of the Aether love their jobs. With a successful Resonance check, they may move instantly to any spot they can perceive (memories or photographic reproductions will not work, although real-time images do) without having to cross the intervening space!

This line-of-sight teleport costs 1 Essence per use. Any song which prevents Celestial Motion is proof against this attunement.

Elohim (restricted)
Elohim of the Aether are aware, more than most, that their viewpoint is not the only viewpoint. For 1 Essence, an Elohite serving Celeste can "piggyback" on the perspective of someone that they can sense (through hearing, touch, sight, or scent), experiencing life through that person's senses for a number of minutes equal to the Elohite's Celestial Forces. This gives the Elohite no control whatsoever, and while this attunement is active they receive no sensory input from their own vessel: they simply gain a new perspective for a while. This effect can be ended prematurely just by concentrating, or it can be extended by spending another Essence and hopping to another person that the host can sense. An Elohite of the Aether can continue to switch between perspectives until he runs out of Essence; whenever he lets the duration lapse, runs out of Essence, or consciously ends the attunement, he returns to his body immediately, with no sense of disorientation.

Malakim (restricted)
Virtues of Celeste are not daunted by such paltry tactics as "wearing armor" or "taking cover". Their attacks, both close and ranged, bypass armor and/or protection; only Songs of Shields are impenetrable to these warriors. (This does not damage the armor; the Malakite is, in effect, targeting where the armor isn't. The Song of Shields is a special case because it, like all Songs which utilize the universal Symphony, is assumed to be n-dimensional.)

Sample Malakite Attunements
I will:
  • Always announce my presence before I first attack.
  • Always keep my allies informed of my whereabouts.
  • Not allow the forces of hell to raise an alarm when it is my choice.
  • Always accept as my responsibility any mortal that I save.
  • Faithfully deliver any message I am charged with.
  • Respond to any call for help I hear.
  • Always answer my phone and reply to all messages.
  • Never allow myself to be out of contact.
  • Always tell the appropriate authorities what I know.
  • Always act to mediate a dispute between family. [Note: this includes angels as Celeste sees Heaven as one large family unit]

Kyriotates (restricted)
Aether's Thrones may manifest the link that binds their consciousness across hosts and allow others to traverse it like a Tether. For 1 Essence, the Kyriotate creates a pseudo-Tether between any two of its hosts which lasts for 1 round and can transport a number of Forces equal to its own (additional Essence must be expended to maintain this portal for multiple rounds). This generates a Disturbance equal to the Corporeal Forces of those transiting if corporeal, or total Forces if in Celestial form.

Mercurians (restricted)
Celeste's Mercurians are adept at exploring the web of relationships which bind everyone. After successfully Resonating upon an individual, the Mercurian may then Resonate on those individuals who were perceived as related to that individual, and so forth. These subsequent rolls may not have a CD in excess of that first, primary roll; a CD of 1 disallows further linking. No one likes playing the "Kevin Bacon" game with these angels.

Servitor Attunements
Celeste has not been an Archangel long enough to develop more servitor attunements than these two.

Line of Sight
The angel with this attunement can fine-tune his vision. He can zoom in on anything within his field of vision, to an almost microscopic degree, simply by concentrating; a macroscopic view is more difficult, and requires a successful Perception roll to give the angel a panoramic view.

Use of this attunement to zoom in grants a bonus to any roll made to search an area by the user's Celestial Forces, but penalizes any attempt to use Perception on a general scan of an area; using the attunement to zoom out has the opposite effect. (Essentially, zooming in grants a bonus of Celestial Forces to Search checks but subtracts that same amount to Spot checks, while zooming out reverses the bonus.)

There’s No Place Like Home
An angel with this attunement can designate a location as "home". At any time thereafter, the angel can return "home" by spending 1 Essence; no disturbance is caused except that the Disturbance sounds in both the departed location and "home". The angel must be on the same plane as his "home" location in order to use this attunement, but may have one "home" on each plane. The angel may designate a new "home" at the cost of the old with a successful Perception roll.


Vassal of The Aether
Knowing that the Symphony encompasses all dimensions, the angel halves all range penalties for combat and Resonance.

Friend of Transformation
Aether's Friends realize that going Celestial is not a state change, but simply a transition to a higher dimensional state. Once they understand this, they may assume Celestial form for no Essence cost (though a Will roll is still required).

Master of Co-location
These angels are capable of being in multiple places at once, for is not the Symphony everywhere and nowhere simultaneously? They do not suffer range penalties for anything; everything is 'point blank' for them, including melee combat and touch-based abilities.

Basic Rites
(and their underlying rationale)
  • Call someone long-distance (ignore the actual distance between people)
  • Lose yourself in starshine (the far-away suddenly become close)
  • Cross a border (traversing a relevant distance with ease)

Chance of Invocation: 4

Invocation Modifiers

+1  A telephone or telescope
+2  An M.C. Escher drawing
+3  Recite, from memory and without error, the transporter sequence from the            Star Trek: the Next Generation Technical Manual
+4  An optical illusion regarding perspective (real, not drawn or photographed)
+5  An n-dimensional mathematical proof
+6  A tesseract

Celeste can charitably be described as an ebullient pollyanna with enough enthusiasm to rival an Ofanite’s energy. She truly hates no one, and her sole wish is for everyone in Heaven to get along, i.e. to be closer emotionally even if they are far apart politically. Some of this is the influence of her Word, but longtime servitors of Jean can tell you that she was always like this to a degree.

She is more Peace Faction than War, although her votes on the Council tend toward whatever will bring the most healing to Heaven or to preserve whatever unity remains.

Allied: Christopher, Dominic, Jean, Laurence, Litheroy, Zadkiel (Christopher, Eli, Jean, Litheroy, and Zadkiel are Allied to Celeste)

Associated: Blandine, Janus, Yves (Blandine, Dominic, Janus, Laurence, Marc, and Yves are Associated with Celeste)

Neutral: David, Eli, Gabriel, Jordi, Khalid, Marc, Michael, Novalis, Sauriel
               (David, Jordi, Khalid, Novalis and Sauriel are Neutral to Celeste)

Hostile: None (Gabriel and Michael are Hostile to Celeste)

Superior Opinions

Blandine: "Well, then. It's not that I don't appreciate her attempts to cheer me up, and on those occasions when I relent and do something with her, not only do I enjoy myself, but I frequently have a new perspective on something that's troubling me. But... girls' night out? Double dates? I'm an Archangel; I don't do things like that."

Dreams are about free-association, and the breakdown of mental barriers erected by the psyche to hide something unpleasant from oneself. In other words, humans only really communicate, are only really truthful with themselves, when they dream. That's sad, and I think that's one reason why Blandine is so sad. I wish she didn't think she has to fight this war by herself. We all love her, every last one of us. Even Michael would die defending her, because she's family.

Celeste (she's a Kyriotate, of course she can have an opinion about herself!):
"Marshall McLuhan once said 'The medium is the message.' But what if the message is the medium, instead?"

Sometimes I weird myself out. But then I tell myself I'm just being closed-minded, and need to be more accepting of different viewpoints. That usually straightens me out.

Christopher: "Jesus once said, 'Suffer the little children to come unto Me.' Everyone who's been to Sunday School knows that. But how many people remember, 'Unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of Heaven'? Celeste is a child, in many ways: guileless, open, friendly, energetic, loving. We should seek to emulate these traits, that we may become closer to God."

Christopher is my hero. He listens to me like an indulgent parent; even when he doesn't understand why I'm telling him something, he pays attention anyway because he knows it's important to me to tell him. I try my best not to waste his time. Besides, he's the only entity in creation I can play hide-and-seek with and not be Dissonant. That's SO cool.

David: "Prattle. Whimsy. Incessant motion. These are not the way of Stone."

Don't freak the mundanes, dear. They don't understand our kind, and have no desire to.

Dominic: "Those who assume I would be offended by her have clearly not been in her presence. She is one of the most open, forthcoming individuals I have ever met. Admittedly, at times her candor is... relentless... but the fact that I neither have to search for her, nor pry information from her, is refreshing."

He gets a bad rap. Really, all he wants is for the Host to talk to each other. Is that a bad thing? No, it's not! We're all supposed to be a family here, and families talk to each other. Fortunately, people like talking to my Servitors, so I make sure he gets caught up with everything I know whenever I see him. Oh look, there he goes now…

Eli: "Ever looked at a Picasso? I mean, really looked? It's like he was trying to show every aspect of a person's face, from every perspective, all at once. She's like that. She's all about math and dimension, but she gets art like nobody else up there."

Eli, Eli, why hast thou forsaken us? Why haven't you told us where you' re going, or what you're up to? Angels just don't leave Heaven, Eli. Don't be distant like that. It hurts. Tell me where you are. Tell me you're okay. I miss you. I miss our talks about art.

Gabriel: "Of course distance is an illusion. Anyone who's had to share their Word for TWENTY THOUSAND YEARS could tell you that. Now she thinks she's qualified to take over my duties as divine messenger? Well, one slip-up with Dominic should show her the error of her ways. Oh, wait, that's not going to happen, is it? He practically dotes on the little snitch. Listen, if she wants to be helpful, how about she increase the distance between the Forces of a certain TRAITOROUS BACKSTABBING EX-SERVITOR!!!"

(singing) "Reach out, reach out and torch someone." Okay. Here's what I don't get about Gabriel: She clearly needs help. Sometimes she even asks for it. But every time it's offered, she slaps it away! I can only conclude she enjoys wallowing in the pain. Maybe because it's familiar and she doesn't want to lose it; maybe because she knows that, when Belial dies, so dies her last chance at getting an old friend back. It's like when humans get divorced. sometimes it takes the death of the ex-partner to fully realize the relationship ended years ago.

Janus: "You know, taking shortcuts doesn't prove you're faster. It just means you know how to cheat better than the other guy." (He smiles.) "I like that about her."

Janus understands that the object of motion is to get from point A to point B; unlike me, he prizes the motion itself, ignoring the fact that point A is point B. While I represent the endpoints, he represents the space in between, and between the two of us we make a nifty vector.

Jean: "One of mine took an inaccurate, scientifically flawed concept and turned it into Word of great beauty and service to Heaven. That in itself shows great dedication, mental flexibility, and aplomb. It is only appropriate that I respect such achievement by being proud of her."

Ah, Pop. It's always the quiet ones that surprise you, y'know? He only comes across as a fuddy-duddy. He's really very... no, not passionate... ah! Insistent!... when it comes to matters of Heaven's unity. Of course, he'll couch it in terms like 'Effective communication results in increased productivity' and 'A unified front reduces opportunities for infernal sabotage,' but at heart, he's a big softie. No, I don't care if you don't believe me.

Jordi: "Another Word that is meaningless to us. Still, it is good to have another one of us on the Council, and their attempts at comprehension are welcome."

Riddle me this, Batman: how can one of the most humane Archangels be the most inhuman to humanity? I don't understand Jordi any better for being choirmates. Man desperately wants to understand his animal brethren, but he lacks the perspective. Jordi could help with that, but he doesn't do near as much as he should.

Khalid: "All hearts are open to Allah the all-seeing; all places are accessible to Allah the all-being. This one does His will, as do all who have a humble and contrite spirit."

Khalid worries me sometimes: he very objectively believes in very subjective things. Sometimes those things are contradictory, and he is able to come to terms with those contradictions without resorting to rationalization. No, I'm not worried he's going to Fall; I'm worried he's going to turn into a Kyriotate one day! I like him being a conundrum. I wish he wasn't so spooky good at it, though.

Laurence: "She listens. His Name be praised, she listens to me. I have never felt such undivided attention as she gives my words when I speak at Council meetings! She earnestly desires to be a good servant and do my bidding. However... 'It is the job of the servant to aid the master', she says, and takes a great many tasks upon herself. Tasks which she is ill-suited to undertake. Tasks better suited to another's Word. Yet she has not failed, for each time she has sought council and guidance from those with greater experience."

The General. It's his job to give orders, and the job of every angel in Heaven to obey them. Why, then, do people try to find ways around his commands? Why do they grumble at his nobility when it is clearly the reason God chose him for this task? If the elders cannot countenance taking orders from 'such a callow youth', then this callow youth will shame them all. I will pick up the slack and do what needs be done. I will be an able servant. And if anyone has a problem with this, I can manifest plenty of asses for them to kiss.

Litheroy: (sheepishly) "Dominic and Laurence glare at me every time I talk to her. But she's so effective at disseminating information! Why, one time I told her something, and the next day practically everyone in Heaven knew about it!" (pause) "Do you suppose that's why they glare at me so?"

Ooh, he's fun. He's so open, and enjoys talking about... well, just talking, really. There's hardly any agenda with him. I feel he's genuinely interested in anything I have to say, and of course that makes me want to listen to what he has to share. We've talked for days sometimes. I wish Dominic wouldn't worry so. I have discretion, after all.

Marc: "She gets us talking. Frequently, we end up exasperatedly talking about her, but the fact that she provides common ground is no small accomplishment. Not quite all things to all people, she nevertheless has an earnest innocence which endears her to the Peace camp and a stark effectiveness which prevents the War camp from dismissing her out of hand. A true moderate, and Lord knows we need more of those."

Trade brings people together, and that's good. But it often brings them together for the purpose of making money or exchanging services. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, but shouldn't people come together because it's good for them to be together? I think I understand why David doesn't like Marc. I don't agree, but I understand.

Michael: "She's good at what she does; I respect that. She likes who she is and makes no apologies for it, even if it pisses people off; I admire that. She's the hyena's snitch; I have no tolerance for that."

Am I the only one in Heaven who has no patience for Micheal's prima donna attitude? I say we bang his and Dominic's heads together until they come to an understanding. No, wait. his head's so hard, it'd just violate the Pax Dei. (sigh) Mike's the exasperating older brother of the family. I love him dearly, but I wish he'd let go of it and forgive.

Novalis: "She's vibrant. There's an infectious energy about her, and it's bright and invigorating. Some of the more aggressive people up here who are put off by me are willing to listen to her opinions. My job is to make sure the seeds of her idealism reach fertile soil. If that means distancing myself from her politically so that the boys will take her seriously, so be it."

Everyone calls her 'mom', but I think she's more like Heaven's great-aunt. Like the lady in 'Warning' who says, "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple/ With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me." She knows who she is and owns it. How can you not respect that? Sometimes, though, she can be just as insufferable as Michael, but from the other direction.

Sauriel"She is a young, vibrant soul in a position ruled by the static and the dour. Change is inevitable for all souls, but I wonder: will the position change her, or will she change the position?"

Eeesh. Well, I don’t not like her, but she’s not the easiest to talk with. Or talk to. Or be seen by. Or… you get my drift. She’s here, but she’s also not here, in a way that makes my Word feel all ooky. I’d like to get to know her better but I don’t know if that’s possible.

Yves: " 'I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.' - Ralph Waldo Emerson."

He thinks like I do. No, wait... he's deeper. I've never met anyone who spoke with such complexity, with such dimension, as Yves. Sometimes it takes me years to fully decipher what he means. Sometimes I'll suddenly realize another aspect of a conversation I had with him long ago. Each time it happens, it's like opening a present. I love that about him.

Zadkiel: "She's an expert at getting into places. I'm an expert at making places impregnable. You'd think there'd be rivalry between us, but there isn't. There's no better person to have with you on a search-and-rescue than an Aetherite, and with her advice I can make my defenses better. If she tells me a place is secured, I believe her."

Of all the relationships I have with the other Archangels, the one I have with Zadkiel is the most professional. It's not that I like her more than, say, Christopher or Dominic; we just complement each other in a very pleasing manner. Or as dad would say, we 'synergize effectively'. Me, I like the word 'gestalt'. It means 'a structure so integrated as to constitute a functional unit with properties not derivable by summation of its parts.' And it's a fun word to say. Gestalt!

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