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  • Irin: The Announced

    Halfway through writing my fansplat Irin: The Watchful I realized I was quite dissatisfied with where things were going. Themes were getting muddled, ideas were growing extremely cumbersome, and I had some kind of weird 1e/2e hybridization going on. Suffice to say, it was going nowhere fast and it needed an overhaul. I spent some time thinking on what I really needed to focus on, thematically, and have been rewriting the whole thing. I'm not done yet; as a matter of fact, I'm not even close to where I was in my first version, but I'm catching up fast and I hope the end result will be a whole lot better than it was originally going to be.

    There will be references to a few new mechanics in these early pieces, most notably Maxims, Exousia, and Temptation. Without getting too far into the semantics or the fluff, think of Maxims as a combination of the Arisen Pillars, and Uratha Renown. Exousia is the new Integrity-equivalent, measuring the connection of the Announced to the Divine Fire and how much leeway they possess in terms of action. Temptation is a condition similar to Torment, wherein the Announced tends to fall back on their obsessions and baser urges.

    Introduction
    You were meant for something.

    That’s what your parents always told you; that you were meant for great things. They never doubted, they always knew, and they treated you like the world rested on your shoulders. The expectations were enormous, but so was the drive. Your obsession mounted into something sublime, and your soul burned.

    Humanity has always been drawn to stories of the divine made manifest. Those stories captivate our imagination- the idea of the sublime being close enough to touch, for a divinity to feel as you’ve felt. It is a compelling idea, especially when it takes beings unapproachable and untouchable in their perfection and makes them a little more human. But there’s one thing more compelling than a god slumming it for a while with the mortals- and that’s a god who chooses to stay.

    Word made Flesh

    In this game, you play one of the Irin- born of a human mother and Announced by an angelic being; you were born for a purpose within the World of Darkness. The Irin, commonly known as Angels, the Luminous, or the Announced, have no idea what they are meant for- only that purpose and destiny are expected of them. Upon becoming aware of their nature, and experiencing it for the first time in Confirmation, it is impressed upon them that in spite of the lofty promises proceeding their birth they have only a single purpose: to bear witness. You don’t know what that means, or what is expected of you, save for that it is not your place to participate, only observe. Will you obey the dictates of heaven? Will you choose to hurry destiny along? Or will you throw yourself headlong into the world? Purpose or no purpose, you’re part of it, and that can’t be helped.

    Whatever this means to your character, in Irin: The Announced you are a divinity born into the mortal realm, possessed entirely of free will- but bound in chains forged in the very furnaces of creation. You can feel Divine Fire roaring in your blood, you can hear the universe singing joyfully in your presence, you can wander the limitless light of realms rarely reached by man- and you’re asked to stay quiet, to watch attentively, and above all, obey. The ancient world knew of the Irin- legends are told of them. The Sumerians remember demigod sages, the Apkallu, who taught them of civilization. The Saptarishi are revered in Hindu and Vedic texts as messengers and teachers from Brahma. And then, there are their noble forebears- the Grigori. The Book of Enoch is sacred among the Irin, and forms the basis of much of their culture. Ultimately, its story is one they can all relate to. Fulfill your purpose- observe and obey -or, act. Instead of living adjacent to the world, live within it.

    But to be Irin is to be born apart from humanity. For years, you can pretend to be human but everyone, including your parents, knows that there’s more to you. Pyros burns in your blood, the light of Glory shines through your pores whether you want it to or not. Unlike the wandering Prometheans, the Pyros in the Irin doesn’t incite the fear of the outsider, but a reverence of the divine. It isn’t the enraged terror of an obsessed bigot, but the fervor of worship. For beings that are not typically supposed to attract attention, the Fire still calls out to any who are willing to see it. The heat of the Fire runs through their emotions- towering rages, fierce passions, and all-consuming sorrow -these emotions often lead to rash action, and rash action is often rebellion. The Irin would do well to remember the end of the Grigori- not a fall from grace, but unending chastisement. Endless castigation in the depths of the Pleroma.

    Theme: The Price of Choice

    Everyone makes choices, and everyone has to live with them, but for the Irin these choices can come with a little more weight and a lot more regret than those most people have to deal with. Adam and Eve chose to eat the fruit- and for that they were expelled from Eden. The Grigori chose to abandon duty for love, and then had to watch as all of their work was torn asunder. An Irin can choose to respect the power and authority they have been given, or abuse it. And in abusing it, they can wrap themselves in chains.

    Choices have unintended consequences- and the power of the Irin means that for as high as they rise, they have that much further they can fall.

    Mood: Frustrated Pride

    Make no mistake about it, the Irin are divine. Fallible, and totally capable of being as screwed up as the next person, if not more so, but still divine. And there’s nothing they can really do to acknowledge that. The awe and terror experienced when viewing the true form of the Irin can be lethal; their powers can- pushed to their limits -level towns. Any joy they could feel by making use of the full extent their abilities is curtailed by the fear of what will happen if they unintentionally abuse them. All that power, all that potential, and they are expected to squander it on trivial matters- it’s easy to see how frustration builds. That is, of course, only if they’re unwilling to pay the price that comes from satisfying their need to be recognized for who, or what, they are.

    Angels, Angels, Angels

    Many, many entities have been called angels in the World of Darkness. It’s really not that hard- bear a message have wings, express divine power and majesty. Some spirits of the Shadow, especially those of Virtues, can be confused with angels.
    • The biomechanical horrors of the God-Machine often build off of popular ideas and images of angels, and for all intents and purposes fulfill the purpose and often the description of an angel to a tee.
    • The Empyrean Angels mentioned briefly in World of Darkness: Inferno are called angels, mostly because they are the exact opposites of the Fiends of the Inferno. Not a whole lot is known about them other than that they exist. An alternative name for them used in this text will be Messengers.
    • Some of the Geists who bond with Sin-Eaters believe themselves to be angels.
    • Mages who Awaken to the Watchtower of the Golden Key speak of the living symbols of Forces and Prime- the Supernal Seraphim and Cherubim. In the Temenos, it’s possible to find just about any being dreamt of by humanity, and that would include angels.
    • Some of the True Fae may take the image of angels or craft Changelings in that shape. Some folklore says that the Fae are actually angels too evil for Heaven and too mad for Hell.
    • Finally, there are the qashmallim that Prometheans often encounter. These are the angels we’ll most concern ourselves with, as these are also the same angels that presage, and often cause, the birth of the Irin.
    Annunciation

    Someone always knows the Irin is coming, even before they are born. They are the Announced; their birth is heralded in the stars, the vaults and flames of heaven dance joyfully when it occurs. However, that is not to say that things are of such obvious pomp and recognition on earth. It is possible that the Irin was Announced by a qashmal in its full glory using some of the more… dramatic Numina at its disposal. It is possible that they were the result of Pyros triggering a spontaneous pregnancy, or that their parents always knew what they were and with both fear and admiration prepared them for their eventual Confirmation.

    The default assumption of the setting, however, calls for something subtler. A lesser qashmal in a mortal mask makes an off-handed comment about the future child that lights a spark in a parent’s eye, instilling a powerful imperative that will drive the child to Confirmation. An overheard conversation on the bus inspires a couple to pour everything into conceiving. There are endless, subtle means for the Principle’s most trustworthy servants to accomplish their mission, and trigger the birth of an Irin. But the qashmallim don’t choose to who they appear, and if they are unequipped- whether by power or by knowledge -they can make mistakes. Perhaps a few too many Irin are simply the result of a bumbling qashmal, and their missions cannot be altered or reattempted. The Principle works with what it has.

    Whatever the circumstance, the Annunciation often colors how, and by whom, the child is raised- it affects expectations, demands, and even parenting styles. Some parents, obsessing over a potential ‘perfect child’ will press the Announced into higher and higher standards of excellence. Some, fearful of the child’s possible divinity, will be cold and distant- afraid of what could happen when their Glory begins to shine through. Some, resentful of the eventual importance of their child, will even be abusive. All these things will eventually affect how the child will come to see the world- and may even influence their Confirmation.
    The Shedim

    The Principle is one- Divine Fire is Divine Fire, but it’s expression is different from manifestation to manifestation. Qashmallim for Azoth- the drive of creation; the desperate obsessive power of imagination, emotion, and the human spirit. To interact, connect, and relate to others. Azoth is life- evolutionary, transformative. It unites, it binds, it makes whole. On the other hand, there’s Flux. Where Azoth leads to union, Flux is ever changing- chaotic, sluggish in its gathering but full of the might of entropy. It is transformation through destruction, through breaking things down. It is the great divider.

    And just like Azoth, it has its Announced.

    Called the Shedim, their lives and powers are often rather different from Announced born of Azoth and watched over by qashmallim. Instead, the Shedim can hope for the baleful gaze of the lilithim. Normally, these characters would make an easy opposing faction for the protagonists- but I would prefer for playing a Shedim to be as valid an option as playing an Irin. So, for those of you who want to play destroying angels and those who hold the key of the Pit tight in their grasp- sit tight. The Shedim still follow many of the same rules as the Irin, but with a few twists, so we’ll be covering them first.

    Confirmation

    It is perhaps fitting that changing from simply a human with an unusual prenatal history into one of the Irin is a matter of choice and obsession. Everyone wants excellence- to push themselves past simply good and into greatness. Overachievers, perfectionists, individuals with abiding obsessions- all of these are often states analogous to a budding Irin. Something- be it pride, desperation, need, or a cause -requires an individual to give more than their all, to engage in a truly Herculean effort. Whatever the motivator is, it is deeply personal, unyielding, and full of intense hunger and desperation. This can be invigorating, sublime, or utterly traumatizing and horrific.

    The athlete who pushes themselves farther than they believe or know they can endure might suddenly feel the Pyros burning within their chest, Glory coalescing around them. They perform beyond admirably, and exult in their success. For a brief moment, they are a god on the field, and everyone can see it.

    The musician is living paycheck to paycheck on small gigs, and then suddenly something clicks and they sing with the voice of an angel. The crowd is so stunned, that they are totally silent until the performance ends- and then they roar. Afterwards, they speak of how the spotlight behind the band seemed to give the musician a halo- but there was no spotlight.

    The student whose parents have great expectations stares blankly at an exam, until suddenly in a fit of inspiration he writes two flawless booklets full of an essay so powerful that their teacher feels a need to discuss it in class. The words are beautiful; every so often a teacher will take it from the drawer where exams are stored and read it, just to enjoy the words.

    A soldier in combat finds himself and his buddies ambushed. In absolute need to get away and protect his comrades, he can feel Pyros turning his blood to steam- and then nothing. His next memory of being surrounded by scorched earth, the smell of burning flesh and his buddies dead; apparently of sheer terror.

    A teenager trying to explain herself to her parents is met with nothing but abuse and intolerance. She needs them to see, and they do. Glory burns through their minds, and they fall to the ground, screaming prayers until they die.

    A husband desperate to see his wife and child through a troubling birth insists on staying with her. The fire burns through her and the infant. The child is born with a terrible fever, and later dies. The wife finds herself eternally cold once the Pyros runs its course. She spends most days in bed, loss making her cold inside and out.

    Creator and Created

    Should one of the Created who has studied the Fire, and knows of the possibility of modern Demiurges, ever run into one of the Announced they will notice some rather disturbing similarities. The process that allows a Demiurge to harness Pyros to create a Promethean, and that which transfigures the Announced is in many ways identical. The only difference is, the kind of obsession that drives a man to try and create life ultimately ends with success, but that which drives the Announced remains. A Demiurge gets a foot in the door to get just enough Pyros to make a life, and then the passion that gave them the metaphysical leverage to force the door open in the first place dissipates, slamming it closed. Announced fling the door wide open, and step through.

    Purpose

    The Confirmation is the first taste of glory for the Irin, and the only example of it intended to be for themselves to revel and enjoy- Divine Fire hitched (for the first and only time) wholly to their will. After the Confirmation they receive a vision, which if they ever manage to track down one of the qashmallim to ask about, is supposedly directly from the Principle. They are given the basic commands that help guide responsible use of their authority relating to their purpose, and a basic mission- something to which they can bear witness. The Irin, heralds of Azoth, are meant to heal, to build up, to guide, to make whole. But they are also meant to punish those who would misuse the Divine Fire, offer warnings, and scourge the unworthy- even if the Principle’s idea of what is ‘unworthy’ is rather idiosyncratic. The Shedim, masters of Flux, are agents of punishment and entropy, of chaos temptation and torment. They scourge the souls of the righteous to test them, they tear down the unworthy to keep the profane from the divine. And they often hate themselves for it.

    Regardless, the Announced are universally given knowledge that something will happen. Details on who, why, when, where, and how can be sketchy- with information too detailed and focused to discern anything, or too broad to be of much use. It is often cryptic, usually symbolic- a riddle of destiny to be untangled. Regardless, the Irin must figure out what it is they are to witness, let it come to pass, and then act as they will in the aftermath of the event. What the Irin witness and observe are often horrifying in their scope, or barely trivial. What matters is what is expected of them. An Irin may be called to murder an adulterer for reasons known only to the Principle, or stand by and watch as a drunk driver tears a hole through a family. The Principle’s motives, agenda, and direction are ineffable, and inscrutable. The temptation to let punishments for crimes the Irin can’t comprehend slide, or prevent a disaster from occurring. Every Irin, almost without exception, will stand against the tide at some point in their long lives.

    Maybe, they’ll punish someone ‘sufficiently’ but the Principle calls for increasingly harsh responses- mounting from the unsettling to the outright horrific. Maybe they are expected to stand by and let some disaster occur, and they simply will not allow it to come to pass. The Principle does not like to be disobeyed, but it is also the ultimate executor of free will, and choice. It is self-determination and predestination rolled into one, and it cannot take away freedom that hasn’t been surrendered. So when the Irin defy their master, they begin to see the divine plan fall apart. A mission can only be undertaken once, regardless of result. The Irin abusing their authority to act against the Principle will start to see tragedy in the situation. Little acts of subversion will trigger misfortune for people who could really do without it, greater acts of sabotage could mean the death of innocent bystanders. Outright defiance could lead to true disaster. The Irin must, therefore, weigh every possibility when making a judgment call. Most only defy the Principle in the most dire of circumstances.

    Some study the disasters, try to figure out the logic in the Principle’s plans, or determine how to curb their damage. Some build vast social networks, enabling them to enact the will of the Principle without getting their hands dirty. And some will even manipulate the world around their mission, so that it has no choice but to change its parameters to fit their will. In the end, it is about finding a medium- most likely not at all happy -between what you want, and the desires of an unknowable god. Between the freedom to use your power, and the wisdom to not abuse it- so much of modern fiction has to deal with when an authority may have a point, and when it is better to question it. And the Irin have to wonder; can they go beyond their calling? Their power is rarely matched among the other creatures of the World of Darkness- they could be an avenger, a hero. They could right wrongs and uproot corruption. They could be a god or a saint among men, or simply take what they want with all the backing and might of a divine agent. And the most enterprising of all seek to understand the Principle’s alien mind- if it has one. If they can figure out what mission will come next, and why, then they can intervene and enact the Principle’s will without the need for tragedy. The choice, in the end, is ultimately theirs.

    Communion

    The Irin all have a complicated relationship to the divine. It touched their lives in impossible ways during the Confirmation, and continues to influence them through their sometimes very long lives with missions and the chains of authority inherent to Exousia. The Irin chafe at their manacles- they want to be free, but they never can be, because no mere servant of the divine can actually plead their case to it… or can they? The Irin pursue Confirmation because it is the only way out of being slavishly obedient for the rest of their lives. Very few Irin have reached Communion with the divine, but rumor has it those that have are unbound- limitless. Truly divine, truly immortal, and a free agent in the universe. No one is quite sure how to pursue it, but all of the Irin Sects have some opinion on it, and many actively seek it out.

    Inspiration

    Literature: Something More Than Night by Ian Tregellis. A dead Archangel leads to a noir mystery novel. Bayliss makes a wonderful qashmal and Molly an excellent Irin, fresh to the supernatural world. One of the key codifiers of ideas in this text, especially when it comes to the Pleroma and the metaphysical sanctuaries called Magisteriums.

    The Golem & The Jinni by Helene Wecker. An atmospheric piece in 19th Century New York, a Golem and a Jinni (Who could just as easily be a very confused Irin) end up meeting and striking up an unusual friendship. The Jinni in particular is an excellent portrait of the frustration and passion of the Irin.

    Horns by Joe Hill. While slightly more evocative of the Fiends of the Inferno, Ig Perrish could just as easily be an Irin with a slightly more demonic form. There are also the Shedim to consider. Tortured and tormented by the changes that have come over him, Ig’s search for the truth ends up costing him dearly.

    Angelology by Danielle Trussoni. Demonstrates evocatively the duality of the Irin; mixed sublime beauty and nightmarish terror. The angels presented in this book, technically closer to the Nephilim than the Grigori, are beautiful, prideful, passionate, and monstrous. An example of the Irin at their worst.

    Film: The Prophecy Directed and Written by Gregory Widen. Some of the most terrifying angels ever put to film; Christopher Walken’s Gabriel is a driven, horrifying antagonist who wants to win at all costs. If God still speaks to him, he isn’t listening. An excellent example of how to do an Irin antagonist.

    The Hunchback of Notre Dame as envisioned by Disney. While it certainly helps that the Latin mass is ever-present in the film, and religious imagery is used continuously- the biggest qualifier is the characters themselves. All of them have powerful fixations, most notably Frollo and Quasimodo, but other characters also possess them to a lesser degree. Esmeralda’s passion for justice could easily be the fervor of a Malakim, while Frollo presents as a particularly ruthless, entitled, and horrifying Elohim.

    Television: Dominion on Syfy. A loose sequel to the movie Legion, the higher angels presented who can take human form under their own power (Not counting Michael, Gabriel, or Uriel) are pretty good examples of the Irin. Most just want to live in peace and are impossible to differentiate from regular humans until they bring out the wings.

    Other: The Book of Enoch. Read it, know it. The quintessential story of the Irin, the compelling characters of the Grigori form a huge portion of the inspiration for the Irin, and grace much of their lore and culture.

    Barlowe’s Inferno by Wayne Barlowe. A visionary fantasy, science fiction, and horror artist, his visions of hell and its inhabitants are unique, grotesque, and strangely beautiful. While his body of work doesn’t have a specific influence on this game, the aesthetic of the work is incredibly useful for getting ideas for the Celestial Forms of the characters, the wide vistas of Sheol and the Pleroma, or their varied and fascinating antagonists. This is what the penitentes see in their dreams. Remember that.



    Chapter 1: Genesis
    There was a war in Heaven. An eternity ago, when the Divine could touch the mortal realm- though at the time it was little more than a formless void. A squabble between aspects of the Divine (which were really part of a single union) grew into a true war, and in the end a faction lost and a faction won. And, as would become traditional in all conflicts, this fallen aspect was painted as a scapegoat for the entire situation, and bore the weight of that responsibility on its shoulders. The Fallen One was cast out, and this had consequences entirely unforeseen. Now, there was ‘self’ and ‘other’. There was Divine, and there was Profane. Material reality existed. Instead of being part of a great union, the Fallen One was an individual. And it knew what it was to be totally, utterly alone. But the Fallen One was not solitary in its descent, for it had torn a rent into the Divine Fire, and these smaller shards too had identity and thought. They were anguished and furious in the loss of union with the Divine, and they attacked the Fallen One and dealt It a mighty blow. The Fallen One- who would become known as the Prodigal Demiurge -mourned for eons, trying to contemplate the why and how of Its descent, and how it was possible to be so… lonely. Struck such a blow by Its fellow exiles, and cast down in the first place, the Prodigal was not whole, and it sought to return to the Divine at all costs. Its first simple pleas fell on deaf ears. It could touch the Divine Fire, but what had once been like a shroud to the Prodigal was now a wall of limitless fire that It could wield, but never pass through. The physical world didn’t offer much solace either, even though the Prodigal’s influence was greater there, those unprepared for a brush with even a small portion of the divine went away afflicted by madness. Though it mourned the destruction inflicted, the Prodigal had no other option except to be shunned eternally, and so attempted to find a way back to union with the Divine.

    This is when humanity enters the story.

    Somehow, humanity came to the attention of the Principle. Whether some were born from the first Prometheans created by the Prodigal Demiurge, or came about naturally, they drew the Principle’s attention. Was it because, like the Divine Fire, humans sought connection? A relationship with members of their own kind, other living things, and the world as a whole? Could it be because humans, as artificers, dreamers, and creators, could call the Fire into the world? Whatever the case, the Principle was instantly fascinated with humanity, and the first qashmallim arrived in the mortal realm. The other fragments of the Divine Fire, watching and waiting through all of creation for a sign from the Principle, made every effort to appeal to their fellows, to find a way back home. But without mortal form, the qashmallim could not see them, for they were of the same substance, and the servants of the Principle could not differentiate between one source of Pyros and another, they were incapable of seeing themselves as individuals. These Watchers went to the Prodigal Demiurge, whom they had struck down in their anguish, and begged for the art of making mortal bodies for themselves. The Prodigal, sensing an opportunity, made a deal. The Prodigal could not make them perfect bodies- the damage done had made sure all its creations would be flawed -but if they gave up an infinitesimal piece of themselves, and pleaded its case to the Principle, it could teach them the art. The Watchers agreed. Clad in mortal form, and capable of interacting with the qashmallim they begged and pleaded for a way to return to the Divine. No one is quite sure what was negotiated, or what was sacrificed- but what is known is the end result. The Principle managed to connect with the Watchers, but it was not until much later did they realize the implications of what had been done.

    The Watchers would serve the Principle; they would be intercessors between It and the Prodigal Demiurge. They were sent to watch over and protect nascent civilizations, and they discovered that the passion, curiosity, and obsession inherent to the Fire would be a detriment. They grew fond of those they watched over, punished, scourged, and guided. They grew to love humanity, but seemed bewildered that the Principle took no direct action on their behalf. It would be trivial for them to reveal themselves, and with the benefit of the Divine Fire send humanity bounding ahead. The Watchers became obsessed with the mortal world and its pleasures. They abused the authority and power their connection to the Divine gave them to seek out the limits of the human experience. And it was then they realized a terrible truth. Their connection to the Principle gave them mission parameters, things forbidden to them to ensure that the Divine Plan would be obeyed. But after such a long time as individuals free to act as they desired, the will of the Principle was like a chain. So long had they spent alone, separate from the Fire, that the Principle was incomprehensible, its plans and their missions seemed illogical. They were frightened. And like many who find themselves unable to understand the situation they’re in, the Watchers became angry. They railed against the Principle, opposed it however they could. They turned their children, the Nephilim, into nightmarish armies to wield against one another and the Principle itself- and it was then that they realized another grave mistake. In handing fragments of themselves to the Prodigal Demiurge to patch the wound they had inflicted, and then in acting as Its intercessors to the Principle, they had unwittingly handed it the ends of their long leashes. Though the Prodigal had fallen with them, it had not experienced life in the mortal world; it was still a divinity, still alien in mind compared to the Watchers. For untold millennia it had tried to atone for whatever sin had cast it down, and now it saw those who had agreed to help it destroying in mere decades what had taken eons to prepare. The Prodigal saw Its chance to return to the Divine evaporating, saw that the Watchers would never return to the Pleroma now. In desperation, it took hold of the Watchers’ chains and pulled them taut, tried to force them into obedience. The Prodigal, desperate to prove that Its thoughts were not their thoughts, attempted to appease the Principle. And when It felt as though that had failed, it sent a flood of Pyros into the world- the largest Firestorm in history -to scourge the civilizations and cults the Watchers had built from the world.

    FORBIDDEN. It said YOUR DAYS SHALL NUMBER 500 YEARS, AND YOU SHALL BE BOUND FOR 70 GENERATIONS.

    Ever since, the Announced have felt the bite of their chains should they try to act in a manner contrary to their purpose. Ever since, the Prodigal- terrified of being left alone -has tried to use its control of the Irin as evidence of its dedication to the Principle, in the hope of one day return to the limitless union of the Divine. Ever since, the Luminous have bitterly given the Prodigal Demiurge a new name.

    They call it Metatron.

    The Grigori

    They have gone by many names over the millennia. Many Irin believe them to be the inspiration behind the gods of numerous cultures and religions. The Grigori were the Olympians, the Annunaki, the Igigi, the Asuras, the Daevas, the children of El, the Yazatas, the servants of the Heft Sir- or so the legends of the Announced say. But the name most of the Irin prefer to use is Grigori- the Watchers. The story behind Paradise Lost a couple thousand years before Milton was even born, the legend of the Grigori is probably older than the Book of Enoch in which it is recorded, as Biblical texts that reference it predate the copy that has been widely translated. Of course, in the World of Darkness, there’s a reason the story well predates the text, and that would be because it’s mostly true. The Grigori are out there, and the Announced can find them if they look hard enough. That’s not to say that the Grigori have all the answers, not by a long shot.

    If you ever actually managed to find one of them, they’d probably make vague, high and mighty proclamations, but the truth is they have forgotten most of what actually happened and generally accept whatever story they dredge up and manage to mix with whatever is left of their memories. Most prefer to use the Book of Enoch as a foundation because- in the World of Darkness -the Grigori known as Azazel helped write it sometime around 200 BCE when Announced scholars seeking the truth of their origins managed to track him down and find him in a good mood. Like the story above says, they have been bound for 70 generations of their successors, the Irin. Most Grigori tend to agree that the time immediately before the Deluge was sometime around 11,000 BCE once someone has gone to the trouble of dredging their foggy memories for indicators of the times. Which means, for those of you still counting score at home, that the Grigori are still bound and imprisoned for another 22,000 years. What this means for them specifically will be discussed in a later chapter.

    The important thing to note here, is while the story of the Grigori is central to much of the culture of the Irin, and their potential as mentors, backers, allies, or enemies shouldn’t be discounted, they also shouldn’t be used by the Storyteller to reveal earth-shattering cosmic truths. If they ever knew them, or were even able to articulate them while separate from the Fire (and it’s unlikely they’d understand the question as an ordinary qashmal) they’ve long since forgotten.

    The Nephilim

    What, exactly, were the Nephilim? No one is really sure, and most modern Irin wouldn’t want to find out. They were said to be immensely powerful, potentially gigantic in size, and eternally hungry. Stories discussing them directly say the only beings they feared were their parents, or the qashmallim- everything else wasn’t considered a worthy opponent, or even much of a reason to fear. When they were killed in the Deluge, their souls lived on, made immortal by the taste of the Divine in their blood. Perhaps the Nephilim are the source of the first Fiends of the Inferno and Messengers of the Empyrean. Perhaps the Nephilim became the Strix, or served as the progenitors of the Kindred. Maybe the Nephilim were the first mages, or beings akin to the Lucifuge. Perhaps they are the source of the Horrors that fill the souls of the Begotten, with every dead nephil empowering a Beast.
    Flames in the Wind

    In the centuries that followed the destruction of the Announced civilization, much of their lore was lost. The Grigori scattered to the four corners of the earth, and stayed more or less in isolation- unaware that more Irin were being born into the world with absolutely no idea what they were. Most, quite reasonably, assumed they were gods or demigods. They built up cults and religions, lording over one tribe or another as a local god, competing with other beings who enjoyed the worship of mankind. Missions were obviously their divine insight, the rare qashmallim that showed up were fellow divinities. In such times, it would be exceedingly rare for even a few Irin to know of one another and those that did would often band together in small pantheons.

    As civilizations grew, their ideas of gods similarly advanced. No longer was the local demigod a figure who was counted among the upper echelons of divinity. They had gods like Bull, Snake, Raven, and Wolf to think about. There were Spirits, there were the young True Fae, and in the land that would be called Kemet there were strange, masked immortals who would take up the countenance of animals.

    The gods of humanity were bigger and badder than they had been. The Announced were relegated to servants and heralds, which suited their purposes- if not their pride -just fine.

    Rekindled Flames

    After the collapse of the Nameless Empire, other civilizations began to return to some prominence. Uruk became one of the greatest cities of the age, the largest since Irem and the largest in the world for centuries to come. It, naturally, became a hotbed of supernatural activity- filled with Kindred, Scelesti, and Arisen cults, packs of Uratha who would eventually come to rule the city-state of Bau, and others. But among the most prominent of these was the cult of Anu, based from the great White Temple. This was one of the first Irin Sects, a unified group that attempted to seek out and govern other Announced as far as their influence reached. Records would seem to indicate that a similar group was founded in the Indus Valley, while paintings, artifacts, and folklore suggest that the disparate Irin of the Americas were part of a loose community.

    When Uruk fell in the twilight of the third millennium BC, the cult of Anu collapsed with it. He became an impotent deity, whose importance would be superseded by Enlil, then Enki, and then Marduk. None of them had any need for divine servants on earth when they called so fervently for human ones.

    After that, the Announced scattered, carrying broken bits of oral lore, and some precious few clay tablets that would be destroyed during the upheaval of the First Sothic Turn. Relics of the Nameless Empire were curiosities to many, and a reminder that any empire- no matter how many gods love them or how much supernatural aid they possess -could fall. When the Arisen returned in force, they sought their relics with mindless wrath and unimaginable power. The chaos tore apart much of the Fertile Crescent, and may have ended the Sixth Dynasty of Old Kingdom Egypt, which brought on the fractured Egypt of the First Intermediate Period.

    With the rise of the Achaemenid Empire, the Announced once again came together to form a unified society that coalesced around Zoroastrianism and went searching for others. The Announced of the Empire called themselves Yazatas. In the highlands of Persia, they found those who believed themselves to be a kind of semi-divine being called a Peri. In India, they called themselves Daevas and Asuras. In Sumeria, they named themselves Igigi, Lahmashu, and Utukku. In Kemet they were the Hands of Aten. Those the Announced of the Achaemenid Empire found in Israel and Judah used many of the terms used in modern times, for reasons that will become quite apparent soon enough. As the religions they wrapped around themselves as protection began to reach friendly terms and share theology with one another, the Announced did so as well.

    Some Announced organizations will even take credit for the prophet Daniel and his fabled rise amongst the ranks of the court of King Darius the Mede, who is theorized by mortal scholars to have been the legendary Cyrus the Great. Some will even claim that the angel who protected Daniel in the lions’ den was a member of their group, and a colleague of Daniel, who served as a priest of Ahura Mazda- one of the Magi. Some will go a step farther- claiming that Cyrus the Great himself was Irin. Regardless of the truth, the Achaemenid Empire was a place of great religious tolerance and cultural diversity, and the relative peace and stability of the region enabled for a great, united Irin society, above, even, the days of the cult of Anu. This was united society of the sort that entered myth and ideology of a supernatural people, like the Camarilla of the Kindred. And then came Alexander.

    In less than a decade, Alexander tore apart the Achaemenid Empire like it was made out of tissue paper. The legendary society of the Announced collapsed dramatically beneath Macedonian phalanxes. After numerous battles in the shadows of Persian nights, the Irin found themselves ousted from positions of power, and desperately searching for places where they could conceal their precious knowledge. Small groups of Irin, heavily loaded with crates of clay tablets and papyrus scrolls looked for temples, tombs, even caves where the history and lore of their people could be preserved for the future, and retrieved at a later date. Some scatter to the northwest, heading into Armenia. A grand majority flee towards the desert, where they would later insinuate themselves into the Nabataean culture. Another large portion move to Israel; where the Irin had friends and colleagues, as well as an established society, while an equal number stayed in Persia and tried to fly under the radar. Many more fled east, ahead of Alexander’s armies, and hid themselves in India and the Himalayas.

    For a very long time, the Announced found themselves dodging the more numerous supernatural groups. Sumerian vampires insinuated themselves into the new courts of Babylon and Persia. Uratha fought tooth and nail against a flood of spirits of war, death, and violence to try and preserve whatever was left of the spirit ecology. Mages warred back and forth, with the Diadochi precursors to the Seer Ministries dueling with the young and newly congealed Diamond Orders and Scelesti cults from Sumeria. In the midst of all of this, the Announced tried to keep a low profile, and there was always a mission to keep them busy. With all the things they were ordered to bear witness to and clean up after, there was very little time to even try and build a cohesive society for themselves. However, that all changed in the first century BC.



    Light of God

    There were two massive developments that came out of the exodus of the Announced from the collapsing Persian Empire. One was that a group of Irin who had set up in Nabataea actually managed to find Azazel, who’d established a rather nice estate for himself in the desert. Some brave souls began to interview him, when he was in a good mood, and developed the first genuine lore about their murky origins- things that even the greatest of their scholars didn’t know. This seminal work became known as the Book of the Watchers, and eventually formed the basis for the later Book of Enoch. This knowledge eventually made its way across the Aramaic-speaking world, and then spread farther, as Announced made copies for other Announced, who then spread it to the religions they used to conceal themselves. The Book of Enoch became a point of pride for the Announced, but also a point of great shame. Irin who believed themselves better than humanity used the doctrine of Original Sin to justify their superiority complex, and while the Book of Enoch gave them answers; to accept it they had to give up their ability to wash their hands of the state of the world and blame it on mortals. The Book of Enoch, and by extension Azazel and the Grigori, places the responsibility for the Deluge quite squarely on the shoulders of the Irin.

    In time, lore regarding the Announced followed the Book of Enoch through the Aramaic-speaking world. Those who would oppose beings that sought to lure the people of many nations away from their homes and their gods were met first by knowledgeable hunters, and then by those with power. No one is really sure where ordinary mortals found any of this, except that in time they came together and pursued those beings who would call themselves divine. Announced, Arisen, or even stranger beings, they pursued them all. Some rumors would suggest that these hunters were the heirs of an ancient organization called the Strangers that would appear to have collapsed in the Second Sothic Turn, but no one is really sure. What is known is that this group knew more than enough to make it dangerous. They possessed relics and knowledge, names and power. They could press the Announced into service; they could work the Fire in alchemical processes, and they had enough contacts that those foolish enough to reveal their Name and Title would swiftly be bound to the will of these formidable mortals. Many say that they had a hand in developing the Essene sect, and that in caverns near where the Dead Sea Scrolls were unearthed, some of their knowledge remains.

    At the very end of the first century BC, the world was beginning to change and only the Irin knew it. For the Irin of ancient days, and even now, it is blatantly obvious in their view that the angels of the New Testament are qashmallim and Irin. For many, there has never been any doubt. Irin legend speaks of three ancient Irin, some of the last who remembered the glory days of the Zoroastrian Announced under the banner of Persia, who followed a qashmal from where they lived to a sleepy town called Bethlehem. Many Announced believed that they gave the popular names of the Magi from the names of these legendary Irin- Balthazar, Caspar, and Melchior.

    It is a popular legend that Yeshuah ben Yosef, eventually known to the world as Jesus Christ, was a student of the Essenes, and later a friend to the Irin. Hearsay speaks of ancient Announced who sat and listened to the Sermon on the Mount, or who sat and spoke with him. They would love to claim him as one of their own, but for some reason it never took off, and it never has. Some claim that there were Irin present at the Council of Nicaea, and attempted to guide the burgeoning Catholic Church in ways they thought he would want. In light of what followed, more cynical, young Irin believe these ancients abused their intimate knowledge of Christianity’s origins to manipulate it in a way that benefitted them the best.

    The Announced, as a whole, adore organized religion. More than simply giving them purpose, they can surround themselves in it for understanding, for protection, and most importantly for power. The Catholic Church, the Abbasid Dynasty, the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah- and that is solely among the monotheistic religions. The Announced, standing so close to the Divine, are endlessly drawn to it. Even those who do not use, believe in, or practice a single religion have some opinion on the subject. Religion is an inescapable facet of Announced existence, and for all the comfort it can provide it leads to disturbing questions as well. For millennia, the Shedim have been scorned, hunted, and killed by their own people for having the audacity to have exited the Confirmation with a closer tie to Flux than Azoth, and thus being branded demon, druj, and shaytan. While political divisions and shadow wars have shook the world of the Announced from time to time, most of them boil down to “I’m going to take your house, and God says it’s okay.”

    Today

    In modern nights the Announced still wander, pondering the purpose of their long-lived (but not eternal) existence in the wake of reasonable downtime between the Principle’s calls to serve. The older Announced isolate themselves, fearing a world that is changing more quickly now than ever before. Younger Announced wonder about what it means to be a divinity in an era when more and more people are moving away from needing a religion, and still crave cosmic answers. How many angels can dance on a quark? Where in the universe is the Pleroma and Sheol? And the most frightening question of all- is a god more or less than a man.

    Origin of Glory

    The Confirmation is a moment of sublime glory. However, it is important to note that neither ‘sublime’ nor ‘glory’ is a strictly positive thing. Moby-Dick, the terrifying white whale, is said to be sublime in his wrath. The God of the Old Testament is, by nature, sublime- even when annihilating entire cities and devastating nations. But then there’s the sublime beauty of the Grand Canyon, or of an exceptional musical performance. Point being, while the sublime is often subjective, there is very little that is generally considered moral or even human about it. The Confirmation is brought on, ultimately, by a desperate need for the sublime in some vital aspect of life. A potential Announced who needs an exceptional exam mark just to make it through the grade doesn’t fit the qualifications- but one who needs it to get into Stanford University will. The quality, relationship, activity, or action that requires an influx of sublime glory can’t just be in the moment- it needs to be a defining portion of the individual’s identity. The artists who define themselves by how their art is perceived, the academics who need to be the smartest person in the room, the romantic for whom this one individual is their entire life.

    Threatening the loss of this significant pillar of their identity, or seeking to push it further than ever before, will trigger the Confirmation. The means by which the Confirmation is triggered will affect the Vocation- which affects the kind of Missions they will receive and the Dominions they have power over.

    The five Vocations are the Ishim (Souls of Fire), Cherubim (The Mighty), Erelim (The Valiant), Elohim (Divinities), and Malakim (Messenger/The Lordly Ones). However, among their own people they are commonly known as Torches, Wardens, Visionaries, Powers, and Princes.
    Last edited by Arcanist; 09-21-2015, 10:18 PM.


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  • #2
    And now, the first of the X-Splat, Vocations. As always, questions, comments, concerns, and other feedback is appreciated. What you like or don't like about the content, or any ideas you get from it, feel free to share; I can always use more feedback, and knowing if I need to fine-tune some aspects a bit more is always useful.

    Vocations

    Ishim- The Souls of Fire, Servants of the Most High, the Torches
    You fought all your life to obtain meaning, to solidify your identity, and then in a moment of perfection you became the best version of you that you could be. You found yourself, and you found principles. Now, you serve something bigger than your own identity- but you can’t help but notice the details your mission seems to ignore, and one of these days you’re going to let yourself get involved.

    Annunciation: The families the Torches come from are ordinary to the point of being bland. Average for the region to a disturbing degree, at least publically. They, and their children, are everymen and women. If you weren’t paying attention, chances are you wouldn’t notice them. In the best cases, their parents are self-sacrificing, responsible, disciplined, and determined. In less than positive situations, they can also be manipulative, disapproving, and in multiple kinds of trouble. An Ishim with a more positive childhood could have parents who were working poor expecting them to better themselves to the point where they could proudly declare themselves “self-made”. One with a negative childhood could have decided it alone, as their parents were too drunk, too high, or too abusive to care. Regardless of circumstances, the Irin-to-be finds something and builds an identity around it- their chosen field or trade means everything to them. The high school artist whose friends rarely see them outside of the studio, and when they do they’re just taking a needed break then heading right back. The academic who must know everything about their chosen field of study. The dancer or track star that practices to the point of utter perfection- every move must be flawless.

    Confirmation: Ultimately, the Confirmation is brought on by this obsession- their attempts to build an identity they can be proud of. Those who become Ishim are seeking to remake themselves, to turn disparate fragments into a united whole. The childhood is mostly just prelude- it is puberty, the soul searching for identity and meaning that comes with it, that will ultimately push them towards Confirmation. In the end, they are looking for a medium through which they can understand themselves.

    This process of obsession with the thing they’ve decided defines their identity can ultimately render the Ishim, and to an extension all Irin, rather fragile mentally to the point of delusions and utter breakdown. Think of Nina from Black Swan, her relationship with her mother, and her need to become the perfect performer. The entire film could be seen, if she is interpreted as one of the Ishim as leading to her Confirmation, which the film closes on. As this example demonstrates, the Confirmation for the Ishim is an assertion of their identity and a perfection of their craft, they are ultimately fulfilled. Or, at least that’s what they think, initially. Most Ishim actually ignore their first mission for a while, sometimes to the point of disobedience, because they are enjoying the sense of fulfillment which is swiftly dwindling as they realize that they no longer have a purpose now that they’ve accomplished their goal. Their obsession is still a major part of the identity, but the fact they typically don’t grow in it anymore drives them inexorably towards the purpose offered by their missions. Many Ishim are either happy to serve because it fills a void where dedication to reaching a goal once was, or see service as their price for being able to use their sublime supernatural nature to drive their chosen obsession into greater and greater displays of perfection.

    Favored Maxim: Neshama (Seat of Understanding)

    Exousia & Temptation: As people who have worked within a set of rules their entire life and excelled in spite of them, the Torches have little need to chafe against the will of the Principle provided they can comprehend the reasons for Its commands. Other Announced will often state derisively- behind their back or to their face -that they’re squandering their newfound divinity, and that they’re nothing better than servants, or even slaves, to the will of the Principle. The Ishim don’t see it that way. Their new status was a gift, a completion of their identity. Those who didn’t realize the change or receive a mission until after they began to feel something missing from their lives in the wake of completing their goal may even see it as salvation- saving them from a downward spiral into depression and a meaningless life.

    As to those who say they obey blindly, they are rarely- if ever -privy to the inner thoughts of the Torches. Most struggle fiercely for the first few months, burning themselves early and losing their freedom. The Torches are the Announced most likely to try and determine rhyme or reason behind the will of the Principle, and once they come to an explanation that satisfies them, they rarely see reason to question It again unless something challenges their perceptions. The Ishim are obsessive and detail-oriented by nature, and many prefer to get close to their mission before, or after the event. Either to prepare the individuals involved peripherally for what’s to come, or comfort them afterwards. This habit will often lead them to question the justness of the Principle’s actions, as the Ishim often bear witness to suicides, senseless accidents, car crashes, drive bys, and just about anything in between.

    The Torches falter when their personal obsessions come into play, they stumble when others are prevented from pursuing their own goals- the things that define them. When the way they look at the world is challenged, their means of coping with their strange new life collapse. They’ll risk everything when their identity is at risk, or those they have become emotionally connected are in danger. Beyond anything, the Torches are terrified of losing themselves. When they fall into Temptation, Torches recede within themselves, pursuing their obsessions with almost mindless focus. They will expend power relentlessly in the pursuit of their goals, sacrificing Lux and Glory to their chosen profession and their loved ones.

    Dominions: The Ishim exclusively study the Dominion of the Conflagration and the Dominion of Portents.

    Character Creation: The Ishim come from many different paths, but they are united by their obsessions. Their Attributes should reflect this according to the thing they defined themselves by, though it is important to note most Ishim commonly have Social Attributes as their secondary category. Most prefer Finesse over Power or Resistance. It’s incredibly rare to see an Ishim without the Area of Expertise or Encyclopedic Knowledge merits, and other Mental merits meant to aid with observation are also common. Other merits should be chosen to reflect the way they complete their missions, or their life before the Confirmation. Many Ishim have the Hobbyist Clique merit, as well as the Sympathetic merit- the last is especially important for those Ishim who decide to get closer after the event they’re meant to witness has occurred.

    Concepts: Grief counselor, family therapist, personable mortician, “nightcrawler”, noted academic, popular local dancer, former track star, understanding deacon

    Stereotypes
    • Erelim: Their ego is going to get someone killed, and I’ll have to watch.
    • Elohim: They think we serve them- let them keep thinking it.
    • Malakim: I’d want to be them- if they didn’t make people a mere detail.
    • Cherubim: Do you know when to stop?
    • Vampires: I’ve seen what’s left of a family once they’re done with someone. Maybe it’s time someone returned the favor.
    • Werewolves: More like a force of nature than a person. You don’t want to see what I’ve seen.
    • Mages: They make the same mistakes over and over, but act like they’re the only ones to ever have this happen. Dangerous to themselves, even more so to others.
    • Changelings: Broken toys trying to make themselves whole- I’d help, if I wasn’t supposed to watch you destroy yourself.
    • Mortals: Why do I never see you smile?


    Erelim- The Valiant, Great Heroes, Visionaries
    You are a lover of spectacle. More than that, you like to be the center of attention, you love competition, and you love the feeling you get from encouraging other people to rise to the occasion. Your accomplishments mean everything to you, and your reputation must be beyond reproach- now more so than ever. As a divine agent, your reputation must be spotless and you must hold yourself to a code, but what happens when your code and the Principle don’t line up?

    Annunciation: If the Ishim are meant to disappear into the crowd, move unseen and unheard, then the Erelim are meant to never have the public eye leave them if they can help it. In the best cases, well-meaning parents or teachers push the Erelim into the spotlight of excellence. In the worst, it’s a refuge to hide deep-seated shame, abuse, or other mental scars. At one time, the Announced couldn’t or wouldn’t act- and then they decided that had to change, pursuing a passion that gave them their freedom with wild abandon. And it isn’t enough for the “hometown hero” football captain, the adolescent rock star, the brooding Byronic Poet, or the omnipresent socialite to bask in the glow of their own freedom and success, they want other to acknowledge it and, if possible, join the party. The hometown hero sees himself like an old commanding officer, a father to his men, and sees it as his duty to bring them greatness. The rock star or the poet believes in taking some lucky good-looking outcast under their wing. The socialite feels the need to defend her cliques viciously, and is prone to expanding them by making the unpopular girl her ‘project’.

    Confirmation: The Confirmation of the Erelim is brought on by the supreme expression of their freedom, as they understand it, in conjunction with their goal of elevating and glorifying themselves and others. As such, the Erelim tend to be Confirmed younger than most Announced. They want their names to live forever, or at least be the guy or girl everyone will be talking about for a very long time. The core of the Visionary Confirmation is competition- it isn’t the goal that matters, but the journey to reach it. A Torch, a Visionary, and a Power could all struggle to be the best athlete they can- but the Torch would focus on their own physicality, and the Power would focus on recognition. Only the Visionary would care about the sport itself, or at least the pursuit of it.

    In this way, the attitudes of the Visionaries are often more comparable to Bronze Age warriors than they are to modern men and women. There are very few things that matter to the Erelim- their skill, their passions, and the hallmarks of the respect others have for them. Awards, trophies, certificates, all these things are more than keepsakes to them; they’re tangible ties to their own identity. Like Achilles in the Iliad, their keepsakes, the people they have relationships with, and the stories told about them are extensions of themselves. Someone who spreads gossip will be treated almost as ruthlessly as someone who threatens bodily harm, and none are treated worse than those who threaten their fans or hangers on. The Confirmation is merely their greatest triumph. Winning nationals, heading their own local show, getting a poem published and recognized, prom. Their reputation and success manages to propel them to a kind of fragile immortality in the local consciousness, and with that- they become something more. After this supreme success, many become disenchanted and unhappily seek bigger and better things to attempt. They lash out at their friends or their adoring fans, and seek to find something to fill that need for a challenge- to do something noteworthy. And that is where the Principle and its missions come in.

    Favored Maxim: Ruach (Spirit of Vigor)

    Exousia & Temptation: The passions of the Visionaries hover close to the surface, even for one of the Announced. Of all the Vocations, they are the ones that are most likely to chafe at inaction- at being forced to wait until some travesty occurs before being given license to use their not inconsiderable abilities. The reason for their enthusiasm is rather simple, and it’s that they feel more at home performing various acts of heroism and following archaic codes than they do being John or Jane Doe Perfect from Hicksville. They don’t want to be just a familiar face, or be remembered for things they now believe were simply trivial- they want to become immortal on a reputation for true heroism.

    Many assume the Erelim to be headstrong, arrogant- and in a way they would be right -but the Visionaries wish more than anything to act, and fear nothing except for the loss of freedom. As a result, Visionaries burned early by loss of Exousia will keep themselves tightly on a leash, fighting every instinct they possess until the time has come, and then they turn themselves loose. Some eventually turn their missions into a game, racing against the clock to save those the mission indicates will die, or otherwise prevent the tragedy fated to occur. Naturally, this is a massive breach of Exousia- if God says you’re supposed to die, you’re supposed to die, and no lowly angel should be trying to go against it. Eventually, those Erelim whose code has been broken and whose faith has been shaken may descend into outright rebellion, which is an easy way to become Shackled. But more than that, when missions begin to indicate tragedy in the people around them, rare is the Visionary who doesn’t think that an exception should be made.

    Visionaries falter when something pulls at their heartstrings. When they’ve gone too long without acting, or they make the mistake of getting emotionally involved early on, things can go disastrously wrong. When their passions are denied, they try to find another outlet, and that often leads to trouble. More than anything, the Visionaries are terrified at the idea of total inaction, of loss of freedom. Having come from a position where they couldn’t or wouldn’t act, they never want to go back. A Visionary fallen to Temptation is an impulsive tempest, a raging inferno of emotion and Lux. They will sacrifice Glory and Lux to indulge their need to feel free.

    Dominions: The Erelim exclusively study the Dominion of the Crucible and the Dominion of the Firmament.

    Character Creation: It is rare to find a Visionary who doesn’t have Physical or Social Attributes as their primary category, and for the Power Attributes to possess the highest ratings. The rest will be distributed according to their lifestyle, and the field in which they’ve chosen to elevate themselves. The skills needed to accomplish their own self-aggrandizement will be well developed, but any that don’t involve their chosen field will have suffered poorly. They will often have the Fast Reflexes or Indomitable Mental merits, a sturdy repertoire of Physical merits and an extensive list of Contacts or Allies. Many have some level of Fame, or a True Friend. Striking Looks and Inspiring are also common merits. Keep in mind a good reputation doesn’t indicate capability. An egotistical bodybuilder is about as likely to be able to free run as the next guy- probably less likely. But that doesn’t mean his reputation as an athlete isn’t stellar.

    Concepts: Prom queen, hometown hero, vain athlete, frat boy, motivational speaker, hired bodyguard, hitman with a code, hyper-disciplined student of physiology, wrathful vigilante, Machiavellian socialite


    Stereotypes
    • Ishim: Impressive dedication, but they’re lacking in ambition
    • Elohim: Sure, go ahead and play at being a god while I live like one
    • Malakim: I’d follow them anywhere, if they ever actually did anything
    • Cherubim: I’m not going to sit and wait for something to go wrong
    • Vampires: They understand us, they just don’t care- watch what you say, and especially what you do. Honor is a cheap currency with them.
    • Werewolves: I’ve put a few down- worthy opponents, all of them. Never turn your back.
    • Mages: We’d get along, if they stopped trying to enslave us. Never let them get close to you.
    • Sin-Eaters: You know what it is to feel deeply, and fear inaction. I think I’ll buy you a drink.
    • Mortals: Anything for a fan, let’s get out of here.


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    • #3
      More Vocations. Commentary is always appreciated, even harsh commentary; don't be shy.

      Elohim- The Gods, Lords of the Earth, Powers

      You are a figure of power, a ruler of men, a master of fundamental forces of the universe. Deserving of your authority, you became unshakeable in your beliefs- God has appointed you to be a representative. The kings of old, who claimed to rule by divine right, had no true understanding of the concept. But in spite of your power and authority, you are compelled not to act by the very being which gave you authority. To disobey is to lose agency, and loss of agency is loss of power. But how long will you allow your rule to be denied?

      Annunciation: Heavy is the head that wears the crown. The childhood of the Powers is rarely a happy one. Whether they are given their power by the family of their birth, or take it by force later, their families are rarely what could be termed functional. The Announced early on realizes they have no control over their life- either their family, their circumstances, or both conspire to limit what they can do. They find the one thing they can control, and pursue it until they feel totally secure in it. No rivals, no challenges, no limits. The Powers know that they are deserving of the authority they’ve been given, and they wield it with casual arrogance and utter confidence. Massive pressure was put upon them in their youth to gain power, either by way or birthright and responsibility, or simply to prevent victimization. While all Announced tend to crave power and authority, the Elohim take it a step further. They are trust fund kids who actually know how to apply leverage, high school Machiavellis, public officials who use every inch of the grasp they’ve been given.

      Confirmation: The Powers tend to be Confirmed later in life, when they have the security and confidence to truly feel limitless. It is more than a single goal or achievement that triggers this feeling. Elohim make entire careers out of their pursuits, not resting until they are an unequivocal expert, capable of going toe-to-toe with others of similar experience. They seek out the authorities and officials of their chosen field, and instead of ingratiating themselves, or yielding to their authority, they butt heads until the Announced is finally recognized as an equal. As such, the Elohim tend to be Confirmed later in life than other Announced.

      They truly believe in the divine right of kings, especially as it applies to them, and they would love to be recognized for it- if it weren’t for the fact that it would be an admission of their limitations; that they require the recognition of others on which to rest their self-worth. When a Power is Confirmed, there comes a soul-crushing moment where they realize that limitless authority, limitless pursuit, doesn’t suit them. Without challengers, without potential conquests, the freedom they sought in destroying limits is pointless. They have no outlet in which they can push their boundaries. Now that they’ve conquered all that they wished to conquer, they can either learn to be satisfied, or find some other kind of conquest to engage in. The highly successful businessman might become a prolific lothario; the politician might make an irrational crusade against some facet of society, the shadowy mob boss might ruthlessly ‘civilize’ crime in his city. Combined with divine right, and noblesse oblige, the Elohim often see themselves as nothing less than God-given kings to mere mortals.

      Favored Maxim: Chaya (Life Divine)

      Exousia & Temptation: Though the Powers claim they look for a world without boundaries, they will never be happy without boundaries they can push. Of all the Vocations, they chafe most at limitation. They want to exercise authority more than anything, and they want to prove that anything holding them back is merely a delay. Where other Announced would stop, seeing an insurmountable challenge, the Elohim forge ahead. The need for recognition and to push at limits is still there, only now they are harnessed to the Divine Fire and the competition are all minor gods. The game is same, its only the stakes that are different.

      Many assume the Powers are arrogant and irresponsible- that to a degree is true -but the Powers don’t usually spend Glory just for the sake of it. In order to push at boundaries, they must first find them, and the Divine Fire has very few, possibly none. The Powers are constantly trying to push the Announced condition to new heights, positive that there is more Glory and Lux can do than merely serve their purposes as needed. The Elohim are the source of astonishing wonders and mind-numbing horrors, using the might of their Dominions, Edicts, and Celestial Forms to astonishing applications. While being the most willing to spend Glory, the Powers are also the most focused on holding onto it- and are always looking for means to prolong their mystical might. The Powers are always willing to risk Exousia, but most will store it up, using loopholes and exceptions to the rules to avoid risking themselves. The Elohim feel the most sympathy and kinship for Metatron, and by playing by Its rules they hope to receive Its respect and eventually match it on an equal playing field. At some level, every Power knows their connection to the Divine Fire makes it possible for them to challenge the Prodigal Demiurge.

      The Powers falter when their capability is called into question, they stumble when something or someone gets in the way of their ambitions. When they hit a wall, their response is usually to call up a flood to shatter it rather than walk around or find another path. More than anything, the Powers are terrified of losing control, and will do anything to protect or assure control- whether it’s in a broader social sense, or a more individual field. A Power fallen to Temptation is an egotistical deity, a being with no boundaries, no limits. They will do anything and everything to defy their challengers and assert their freedoms- they will burn through Glory and Lux to shout their independence to the heavens even as Exousia bleeds away and Chains wrap tight.

      Dominions: The Powers exclusively study the Dominion of Divinity and the Dominion of the Depths.

      Character Creation: It is rare to find one of the Elohim without Social or Mental Attributes as both their primary, and secondary traits- with the Power Attribute favored in their primary category and Resistance Attribute in their secondary. However, just because the Powers prefer to rule doesn’t mean they can’t put up a real fight- many notable rulers throughout history were also legendary conquerors. Political skill is usually very high, along with Persuasion, Intimidation, Socialize, and Subterfuge. Any other skills fit as per their character and personal history. They will often have Professional Training, possess the Indomitable Merit, and own a fairly impressive Library. Resources are rarely a question for them, and they typically have Retainers or Staff to aid them, as well as a plethora of Allies and Contacts. Nor is it unheard of for Elohim, especially those born into privilege, to possess a Mentor and most have rather high levels of Status.

      Concepts: Civilized mob boss, conquering business tycoon, tyrannical public servant, politically involved cleric, exhausted Casanova, social engineer, divine representative, supernatural diplomat, responsible noble, paranoid judge

      Stereotypes
      • Ishim: Noble, steadfast allies- if you can earn their loyalty
      • Bene Elohim: Arrogant pretenders, but useful tools
      • Malakim: Rebels for the sake of revolution, they risk all that we work for
      • Cherubim: You want to protect, but you’re built to destroy
      • Vampires: A pestilence and plague- little better than cancerous rebels. Stamp them out with fire and don’t play at court; they know the game.
      • Werewolves: Dangerous barbarians perpetually at the gates; make it known to them you won’t suffer their presence in your borders.
      • Mages: We could stand on equal footing, you and I. Which is exactly why I should have representation to your betters.
      • Mummies: Lost gods; the more powerful they are, the less they know themselves. What does that say about us?
      • Mortals: Weak and inconstant, why do you matter so much?
      Malakim- Messengers or Lordly Ones, Children of Dawn, the Princes

      You have a fire in your soul that just won’t die and a cause that won’t help itself. Unlike other petty and selfish Announced, you have purpose, direction, mission. You inflamed yourself with it, immolated in its blaze, and now you can direct that fire. Nothing on earth can stop you from seeing your ideal world coming to fruition. But candles that burn twice as bright last half as long. More importantly, they would do well to remember another who was called Son of the Morning. How long will you obey, when God is demanding your cause fall in favor of another mission?

      Annunciation: The Princes are born to fanatics, revolutionaries, and madmen. They can be Announced to just about anyone, so long as they have a passionate tie to some sort of cause that they are guaranteed to try and pass on to their children. The worth of the cause, or its morality, has no bearing whatsoever on the will of the Principle. Their childhood is, to them, idyllic. They’ll rarely- if ever -speak ill of their parents, but childhood lessons to outside observers can look uncomfortably like indoctrination on closer inspection. As children, they always were intently searching for something, and were content to take on the cause of their parents. As young adults, they will often adapt and change this cause, and begin to take action. There are exceptional children everywhere who foster a cause; child soldiers who run underground rescue teams to save their fellows diving time and again into hostile camps, activists willing to get shot for their cause and continue to act in defiance. However, it doesn’t need to be nearly so dramatic, but it must engender true passion- which is where Confirmation comes in.

      Confirmation: The Princes are supremely attractive to other people. Their passion is infectious, their drive is electric, and to people looking at them from the outside they can look flawless. They are looking for a way to express their cause, to bring it to fruition, and in finding it they exult in Glory. But when they do, they often come to understand how there is something deeply wrong with their cause, and by extension themselves. They see in those fires of Divinity, wherein they enacted their own cause to the extreme without heed to any of its ramifications, their own damnation. Pushing harder and harder for an idea that they may, ultimately, hate when they bring it to fruition. Some decide that they are simply too far gone down this path to turn back now- that they must see their cause come to pass. Others see the flaw in themselves, not their ideals, and seek to elevate themselves to the ideal. Still others believe that they must abandon their old cause, and seek a righteous one- and that is where the Principle and its missions come in.

      The main trigger for a Prince’s Confirmation is passion. While this is superficially similar to the Erelim, whose passions define them, the situation is quite different. Passion self-contained does nothing, but passion spread, passion ignited, can change the world. When the words of the Malakim inspire, and spread their desire to act, Glory is called down. ‘The Cause’ is everything to the Princes. Loss of life, individual damage, all these things will weigh on their conscience, but will ultimately be found wanting. Threaten ‘The Cause’ and expect to be met with lethal force.

      Favored Maxim: Yechida (Oneness)

      Exousia & Temptation: The Princes are, inherently, rebellious. The kind of cause that sparks the necessary drive to lead to Confirmation rarely relates to the status quo. More than anything, they chafe at forbiddance- of being ordered not to do something, of being forbidden to feel a certain way, of pursuing certain courses of action. As such, they find it difficult to live by the dictates of Exousia, typically finding something objectionable about it or the missions they must undertake. They are totally willing to find a third, fourth, or even fifth option. There is no mission they won’t attempt to solve in their own way. After all, orchestrating the death of the man who is to cause mayhem in the city is a far lesser sin against Exousia and the plans of the Principle than killing him yourself. More than that, they are willing to change the parameters of missions and interfere in the destinies of others.

      The Malakim are always rushing about, confident in their own code of ethics and their cause, attempting to mold others within that framework. They are firebrands who declare change is coming in the heavens, they are revolutionaries who sweep into town, acquire a following, break the social order, and begin legends the Visionaries would give their right arms to be part of. ‘The Cause’ is everything to the Princes. Loss of life, individual damage, all these things will weigh on their conscience, but will ultimately be found wanting. Threaten ‘The Cause’ and expect to be met with lethal force. Word of passionate activists- or dangerous extremists -travels far and fast through the right channels but more than that the Malakim are known for being trouble. A Prince is a ticking time bomb in the supernatural community. How long before they incite the local penitentes against the Announced? How long until they go ballistic on the local Elysium? How long until they try to ‘help’ the Created by forcing mortals to live with them? The question is not will they try and start a revolution the question is when.

      The Princes falter when someone tells them ‘no’, they stumble when their cause is threatened. To be forbidden something is to encourage a Prince to pursue it, to threaten their cause is to invite disaster down on your head. The Princes sort everyone they meet into potential threats or potential allies, and disagreeing without a lot of personal connection to bank on is an easy way to be reclassified from friend to enemy. More than anything, the Princes are terrified that all their efforts are for nothing- that their cause is not worth their devotion. A Prince fallen to Temptation is an unrelenting force acting in favor of their goals. They are a one-man revolution, a storm of Glory, striding implacably forwards in the service of their ideals and casting aside anything in their way.

      Dominions: The Princes exclusively study the Dominion of the Luminaries and the Dominion of Humanity.

      Character Creation: Even if Social Attributes are not the primary category, it would be remiss to have a Prince without a decent Presence score. After that, the Attributes shake out according to the kind of person the Malakim was before the Confirmation. Skills tend to progress similarly, though they usually have high scores in Occult, Empathy, Persuasion, and Intimidation. Many have Striking Looks, but it is not required, and usually possess Alternate Identities, Anonymity, and Status in various groups related to their cause. Some may even possess Mystery Cult initiation, though obviously any supernatural benefits to this are a moot point now that they are Announced. Other than that, the only other fairly constant merit for the Princes would be Inspiring. Style merits fit as per the person they were before the Confirmation, though many have Fast-Talking.

      Concepts: Frothing fanatic, freedom fighter, anarchist, earnest evangelist, apocalyptic street preacher, political activist, ambitious Mafioso, lone wanderer, Nietzsche wannabe, aggressive moralist

      Stereotypes
      • Ishim: Focused and skilled, they should apply themselves to greater purpose
      • Erelim: You’d be of use, if you stopped worrying about your own glory
      • Elohim: We are coming to shake your kingdom, tyrant
      • Cherubim: You are admirable- now if only you’d expand your horizons
      • Vampires: We could sort out those seeking redemption from the pitiless monsters, but it would be easier to burn them all. God will know his own.
      • Werewolves: Too wild and uncontrolled to truly ascribe to any cause but their own, they are dangerous to everyone else.
      • Mages: Here are people who understand ideals. If only you’d stop profaning them
      • Prometheans: We are on the same journey, you and I. So why do I want to fill you with the Fire until you burst?
      • Mortals: So small, so broken, and yet I need you to define me


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      • #4
        The last of the Vocations, the Cherubim. This is a new one that was missing from the first version of the fansplat, but I feel it's something that adds rather than detracts from the game.

        Cherubim- The Mighty, Bell-Ringers, Wardens

        There is one thing that anchors your soul, one thing you can depend on in this world. While other Announced move about, inconstant, pursuing their passions to wit’s end, you are constant as stone- stable as a mountain. You were immolated in the blaze set by those who tried to take the foundation of your soul, but instead of being consumed, you were tempered. With a will and form of steel, you will not be moved. Nothing will ever shake your foundation again- not even the thing that others call God.

        Annunciation: The Wardens didn’t have much consistency in their lives. They moved around a lot, maybe their parents lived paycheck to paycheck. Perhaps they spent some time homeless. Whatever the case, they had one stable thing in their life. Maybe it was a person, maybe it was a location, maybe it was something else- but it usually has a physical representation of some kind. Whatever was constant for them, whatever acted like a mooring in the tumultuous sea of their life, means everything to them and they will protect it with everything they’ve got. They are activists preserving historic neighborhoods; they are individuals of faith protecting the sanctity of a house of worship; they are true champions for the arts; they are the demanding exes that will never let go.

        Confirmation: They had a foundation, a rock, something they could cling to in times of trouble. And then one day something came along and threatened to take it away. Maybe the community centre was going to be torn down, maybe the house of worship was threatened by fire, maybe the art gallery was going to sell its best pieces. Maybe the ex was going to leave town. Whatever the case, the Warden saw they were going to lose the thing that had kept them sane, and they couldn’t let it go. Somehow, they made it stay. Exactly how is a matter of debate but the main factor in the Confirmation of a Warden is stability. So long as they keep what they’re looking for consistent, it defines them- differentiates them. An Announced obsessed with their craft could be any of the Vocations- but it is only when they actively move to protect it that they become Wardens.

        The Wardens refuse to move in the face of adversity. They saw in the fires of Divinity wholeness and union that boggles the mind. They knew that they had the power to bring things together, to make them whole, and they would never have to worry about lacking in stability ever again. They are as unshakeable as a mountain, and as dependable. The mountain is never inconstant, and whatever falls under its shadow can be assured of its shelter for as long as it persists. The Cherubim are always looking for people, places, or things in need of their surety. It isn’t enough for them to just protect themselves, not when they know there are people out there who are living lives just as tumultuous as they once had. They are constantly looking to extend their protection, offering sanctuary to those who desire it, and those they believe need it, whether it’s true or not.

        Favored Maxim: Nefesh (Living Soul)

        Exousia and Temptation: Wardens are protectors, guardians. They prefer to wait from the sidelines, hoarding power and license to act until such a time as they feel a need to stretch their metaphysical muscles. The Cherubim find it easy to stay within the boundaries of Exousia- waiting and watching until they believe someone needs their protection, or something encroaches upon their own domain. Most see no reason to push themselves and endanger those under their ‘care’ and prefer to wait until trouble comes to find them. They watch, they wait, and if someone involved in their mission pulls at their sympathy or falls under their perceived purview, they take them under their (both proverbial and literal) wing.

        The Wardens are introspective, they wait, and they examine themselves and others. When they are sure they understand, they act, though the revelations they come to discover can rarely be described. Of all the Vocations, the Cherubim have the most inscrutable motives, and are the least forthcoming to explain them- often because they cannot. Of all the Vocations, they feel the most kinship for the qashmallim, because they know what it is to have pertinent knowledge, total surety of principle, and be unable to explain it. Wardens have deep feelings of responsibility that hold them back from acting- they know what it’s like to be without something to depend on, and seeing themselves as dependable they do not want to risk drawing attention to those under their protection for fear of bringing danger to their door. However, if they can rationalize their ambitions as protecting those they feel responsible for, they will not hesitate to act, moving implacably towards their goal- fighting with the tenacity of someone willing to die for others.

        The Wardens falter when someone leaves, when security is threatened. They stumble when someone needs it, and is denied it. To threaten someone’s security, to throw chaos into another’s life, is a quick way to make an implacable enemy of the Cherubim. The Wardens are frightened of failing others, and more than anything they are terrified of losing their own consistency. When life crumbles around them, the Wardens will risk Glory and Exousia to shore it up. A Warden fallen to Temptation is a paranoid guardian angel, proactively pursuing potential threats, eliminating perceived dangers, and virtually imprisoning those they would protect. A Warden’s attention is a gilded cage, but it is a cage nonetheless.

        Dominions: The Wardens exclusively study the Dominion of Creation and the Dominion of Flesh.

        Character Creation: Regardless of what Attribute category is primary, the Wardens almost always favor Resistance Attributes. Other Attributes are spread along the lines of the person they were before Confirmation. Skills are spread around normally, but usually have high Survival, Streetwise and Stealth scores. Many dedicate lots of time and effort into making Safe Places, but it isn’t required. Many often have the Indomitable Merit. Otherwise, build the character normally, taking their backstory into consideration.

        Concepts: Involved police officer, hidden sentry, women’s shelter worker, stalker, pillar of the community, injustice collector, legal counsel, urban boogeyman, guerilla

        Stereotypes
        • Ishim: Selfish- you could be doing so much more.
        • Erelim: What is strength without purpose?
        • Elohim: Not my god.
        • Malakim: What reason could you possibly have to be so smug?
        • Vampires: You’re nothing but death. Kinder to destroy you.
        • Werewolves: You can’t truly protect. The animal rules you.
        • Mages: You meddle in things that aren’t your business. I have to do this. You don’t. Why not be happy?
        • Hunters: You think you’re a guardian angel? Right. Of course you are.
        • Mortals: Trust me- you want my help.


        And now, for the new version of the Shedim. I tried writing them as protagonist material in the first version, but frankly they didn't really work. They were sympathetic, horrifying, and heart-breaking, but the attempt then to keep the Announced more human than most splats hampered the writing until I got a more clear idea of what I wanted them to do, what the themes of the game were, and what exactly the Divine Fire stands for in the World of Darkness. I reread the entire Promethean line with an eye for Flux when I was writing this, and hopefully it's better than the first try.

        Through a Mirror Darkly

        The Vocations above are described in terms of the Azothic Irin, but the patterns follow just as well for the Flux-based Shedim. Like all Announced, they are creatures of incredible passion, but the passions and obsessions of the Shedim focus on dissolution. Flux breaks down, it dissolves, it separates. The differences between the Irin and Shedim are subtle, a mere change in attitude. The goals and ambitions of the Shedim may, in fact, be more moral than those of the Irin- save that they are focused on tearing something down rather than building it up. Their passions might be loneliness, grief, or rage. Their passions drive them to eliminate the source of their pain- to punish, to test, to tempt. They are unafraid to punish or torment, but only if they are sure one deserves it. And the Principle’s archaic and alien necessities for punishment rarely see them seeing eye to eye. Flux is inimical to mind, body, and soul. Where the Irin are sent to observe travesties and work to build up what has been torn down, the Shedim observe triumphs, and are asked to destroy them. The challenge for the Shedim isn’t choosing to act, but choosing to abstain. They also express their Maxims differently- just as obsessively, but warped and shaped by Flux instead of Azoth.

        Vocations

        Ghogilim- Those Who Go Forth Into Emptiness, The Masterless, Chaotes

        See the Ishim. However, their obsession, craft, or field of study takes a very distinctive path. Their interests are morbid, if not disturbing. They might study cancer, decay, or psychopathy. They pursue the secrets of abnormal psychology; they seek out the degenerative sides of humanity, the discordant aspect, to understand why they exist. They chase after the dark side of divinity; they seek out the Things Man Was Not Meant To Know. This does not necessarily need to be a directly antagonistic pursuit (though it can be); the cancer researcher could be looking for a way to destroy it, the individual studying psychopathy could be looking for a source or a treatment. The one looking into Things Man Was Not Meant To Know could be seeking answers to the big questions. But the fact of the matter is, whatever they pursue is not conducive to wholeness of mind. Whether they are any healthier than the obsessions of the Ishim is a matter of debate, but the obsessions of the Chaotes erode at mind, body, and soul until they all give way in a tide of Flux. Their Confirmation is a soul-splintering insight after years of futile searching. Personal triumphs, lifelong goals, fulfilled dreams- these are the things they observe, and they must fight the urge to undo them for esoteric reasons at best. The Chaotes falter when they see great value in an achievement, they stumble when they see punishment undeserved. They try to shelter their identity amidst the horrors with eccentric acts of self-aggrandizement, leaving calling cards to build a quiet notoriety; one aspect of their destructive duties they can take pleasure in. When fallen to Temptation, they act much like the Ishim, pursuing their obsessions with mindless focus, but the self-aggrandizement explodes into full-blown megalomania, and their studies take a turn for the monstrous and macabre.
        • Instead of the Dominion of the Conflagration, they exclusively practice the Dominion of Pestilence
        Theunim- The Defilers, The Ravens of Death, Hedonists

        See the Erelim. They crave the same attention and reputation with a passion, but no matter how well they do, it somehow goes sour because there’s just something off about them. Whatever their chosen field is, they repress their passions; they subdue their competitive streak. The struggle to keep a lid on these feelings that are as much a part of them as their skin is damaging, eroding away at mind, body, and soul until the Hedonists explode with Flux. Their Confirmation is a cathartic release of passions long suppressed. They gain a vicious edge to their competitive streak; their passions in repression became twisted. The force of Flux hammering through feelings long suppressed turns them into stalkers, berserkers, obsessive-compulsives. For them, there is little difference between feeling something and acting on it. They chase the extremes of sensation, indulging a debt of experience long overdue with severe interest. Some fight to hold onto their identity, trying to remain ascetic save for their one indulgence. Those who resist try to pick their battles, saving Exousia for resisting missions they find genuinely abhorrent. Those who enjoy their new state don’t generally resist at all, instead preferring to leap headlong into missions, spiraling ever deeper into monstrosity and twisted indulgence. Soon, it becomes a game, seeing how long they can draw it out, how long they can torment those they are supposed to punish, how they can make it even crueler or more fitting, until they start risking Exousia for the sake of their enjoyment. A Hedonist falters when their mission would deny them satisfaction, they stumble when they are asked to repress. When fallen to Temptation, they act much the same as the Erelim except any limits or sense of decency they may have possessed evaporates, Flux-aligned Glory and Lux are burned in order to indulge every dark whim, and depths of depravity they wouldn’t normally descend to and may later regret are indulged.
        • Instead of the Dominion of the Firmament, they exclusively practice the Dominion of Violation
        Usilim- The Ruinous, Ones Adorned with Fire, Tyrants

        See the Elohim. They crave authority and control, but will never wield it in the capacity they truly desire, nor will they ever be respected. But it isn’t really control or authority they seek, that would imply a power play between themselves and others- they look instead for domination. Perhaps they genuinely believe, or have deluded themselves to believe, that the world would be better off if everyone just obeyed them. They are remarkably keen at finding someone’s worst flaws, crushing that person with them, and then demonstrating why they would be so much better as a leader. Some deeply regret what they have undertaken, but still believe their way is the best way. They give warning to those who would cross them, or who they’ve marked for death, by doing things that are blatantly, supernaturally, out of line with your average reality. Attempts to plead for mercy will often be met with powerful speeches of condemnation and derision. Ironically, if there’s one thing these Announced cannot stand, it’s hypocrisy. They risk Exousia and burn Glory to assert their power and destroy potential threats; their shrewd paranoia and need to remain the undisputed master can overwhelm their compassion for, or even acknowledgement of, others. A Tyrant falters when their mission forces them to make concessions, they stumble when they are asked to give up control. When fallen to Temptation they act much the same as the Elohim except they also search the shadows for hidden rivals. They enact inquisitions and witch-hunts; they destroy perceived threats preemptively and turn against allies for perceived slights.
        • Instead of the Dominion of the Depths, they exclusively practice the Dominion of Storms
        Zomilim- The Revolting Ones, Those of Fearful Light, Anarchists

        See the Malakim. Like the Princes, they have a cause, but if morality rarely enters into the equation for the Malakim, then it is virtually non-existent for the Zomilim. Theirs are causes that would see the world burn and be reborn from the ashes. Their philosophies are more existential and nihilistic than those of the Princes; they cannot deny the monstrousness of humans, or themselves. They descended to horrifying depths for the sake of their causes; they saw how the supposed ‘limits’ of humanity or morality fell away, and they understood that in order for what is good to grow or persist, what is useless, stagnant, cancerous must be destroyed. The Anarchists have a morbid, horrifying kind of charm. Charismatic and powerful, they are the unsettling rebels of society. They often force people to plumb the dark depths of their soul, in order for the Anarchist to demonstrate (and perhaps justify) the reasoning for their actions. Their life is equal parts exhilaration and horror, liberation and loneliness. The changes wrought by Flux are often so distressing to them that they struggle and risk Exousia to retain their sense of self. Those who deny themselves time to meditate on what they have become often end up far more monstrous than they intended. Anarchists falter when they get a glimpse of what they’ve become, they stumble when they are forced to look inwards and are terrified. When fallen to Temptation they act much like the Malakim, but they also seek to prove that anyone has the potential to do what they have done. They push others to acts that the individual would find repulsive in pursuit of that person’s own cause, they drive people to martyrdom to feel the passion for their own cause reinvigorated.
        • Instead of the Dominion of Humanity, they exclusively practice the Dominion of Death
        Gamallim- The Obscene, Beasts, Devourers

        See the Cherubim. However, when faced with the loss of what had been their foundation, their desperation and anger was not turned to the perceived threat, but to the thing that once acted as their rock instead. Rather than see something fall, they destroyed it. Rather than see something sullied, they desecrated it and claimed it as their own. Their gruesome revelation through Confirmation is that they could only rely on themselves. They learned, in fierce animalism, that they are not their physical form, and that all they claim as a possession is but an extension of their physical form. Changing the physical to suit a greater, internal Truth is their highest imperative. Anything physical is a tool, to be used, manipulated, and consumed like any other. They know their own mind, and they know their independence, and they will risk Exousia and Glory for the sake of proving or securing it. There is nothing they can’t twist or contaminate, nothing they can’t use as a simple tool. Deep inside, they fear that they destroyed the only thing that mattered in their lives, but outwardly they fight to prove that anything can be corrupted, anything can be torn down or twisted. There is a fierce primal wisdom to the actions of the Devourers, the knowledge that nothing lasts forever and order is an illusion. They are as, in many ways, the most honest of the Shedim in their willingness to admit inhumanity, to demonstrate that they are, in fact, holy beasts and nothing more. Devourers falter when they realize something has become important to them, they stumble when they realize they’ve come to depend on it. When fallen to temptation they act much like the Cherubim, but they don’t seek to protect. They still claim things as within their purview but they fight to twist them, to defile them, to tear them down. They burn Glory and Lux to make visceral demonstrations of the inconsistency of physical things, they charge forward stubbornly heedless of god, man, or any other being- desperate to prove that they need to depend on nothing but themselves.
        • Instead of the Dominion of Flesh, they exclusively practice the Dominion of Metamorphosis


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        • #5
          And now, the first of the Announced Sects: The Host. Once again, feel free to comment. I am appreciative of the views and the likes, and especially of the handful of PMs I've gotten on the subject, but without further commentary I have no idea what's good, what's bad, and what just doesn't work.

          The Bureaucracy of Heaven

          The legends of the Announced speak of their unified societies in the past. The wonders of the Host under the command of the Grigori before the Deluge, the pioneering lawgivers of the Cult of Anu, the unity and co-existence of the days of the great fire temple at Ghagha-Shahr. Announced old enough to remember the Middle Ages pine for the days when the Catholic Church or the Caliphs of the Abbasid Dynasty were among the preeminent political entities of the day. Sadly, these days the Announced have decidedly more fractured societies in an age when the word of a divinity carries less weight than it once did. However, rare as the Announced are, their traditions, lore, cultural and religious trappings have survived with enough consistency that certain organizations- called Sects -have formed over the years. Some are more recent organizations in search of ancient roots, others are hollowed husks of ancient societies looking for modern glory, and others are mainstays that have persisted over the centuries.

          The main Sects still active today are the Host, Sefer Raziel, the Children of the White Temple, the Kan Fravashi, and the Black Flame.

          The Host

          History: If one believes the legends, the Host has always existed. They claim to be modeled after the Celestial Hosts of the qashmallim, a system that was revealed to the Announced through the Grigori. The idea of an army, or at least an organization, of servile beings glorifying a particular divinity above all others is present across many cultures in many times and places. In the World of Darkness, physical examples of the idea are equally as evident. Spirits occasionally organize into Courts, bowing to the mightiest who themselves have overlords. True Fae Titles shaped as Wisps fit the bill, as do- to certain interpretations -the Arisen. However, the Announced are perhaps among the most ubiquitous in this regard.

          In ancient times, the Host was a fairly disparate organization of like-minded Announced gathering in service to a particular god. The Cult of Anu could be said to be the earliest recorded example, and the predecessors of Kan Fravashi also fit the description. There were Hosts dedicated to Baal, to El, to Inanna, to Tammuz, to Heru and Sekhmet- to any and every god who was described as, or seemed capable of, leading a divine army had a local Host dedicated to their name. Depending on whether they were Irin or Shedim they tended to dedicate themselves to a particular god, and Vocation played a roll, but Announced of any stripe could join so long as they submitted to the hierarchy and philosophy. The sense of camaraderie was comforting, almost military in style, and the Sect made sure that a threat against one of its members was met head-on as a community. Perhaps the most militant and dedicated of these early Hosts was that dedicated to Yahweh, which at the time was considered quite odd to the other devotees. Their faith and devotion the other Hosts could understand- they were no strangers to Henotheism, but Monotheism was an anomaly that the historical record shows only once as a precedent during the reign of Akhenaten several centuries before. At the time, no one could foresee how this one, relatively small, Host among many would come to dominate.

          The Second Temple Period saw the spread of a Host dedicated to the monotheistic God, influenced by the evolving religion of Judaism, contact with Zoroastrianism, and a wider spread of the associated concepts- and at this time it was effectively the only Host. With the destruction of the Second Temple, the Host lost the site and symbol of their united leadership, and began to focus on communities, and maintaining communication between different groups. The term ‘angel’ became something of an in-joke after a while, since some of the most prestigious member of the Host were those who would deliver messages to other communities and were thus, literally, an angelos. The rise of Christianity caused some division and infighting, though these issues resolved themselves more quickly- generally -among the Announced than among humans, as they saw no demonstrable difference between the abilities of those who professed different philosophical or religious beliefs. New sects and denominations of monotheistic religions brought on breaks within the Host. While those Announced who managed to insinuate themselves within the Catholic Church found a way to catapult their way to social and temporal power, they had their opponents in other parts of the world, in particular among the courts of the Abbasid Dynasty. Some would say the Crusades hid some of the nastiest Shadow Wars in history, where the god-like Announced went to war in force.

          With the fall of organized religion as a major political power, the Host lost the total dominance it held in Announced society- other Sects were capable of challenging it for the first time in centuries. Modern nights may have reshaped the Host, but the oldest of the traditionalists still remember the glory days, and they would prefer to maintain whatever advantages they still possess.

          Modern Nights: To this day, the Host remains one of the largest political and cultural entities among the Irin. They favor two of the largest religions in the world for their trappings, taking up a whopping 55.7% of the world’s population. That is a lot of people to hide in and/or around. However, the days where they could discriminate based on the orthodoxy of their members’ beliefs are past. While the oldest traditionalists and those at the top of the organization rail against ‘heresy’ and ‘godlessness’ those in the position to observe everyday life realize that in a world where dissenters are no longer burned at the stake, they need to swallow their pride and open their doors to those of differing beliefs- so long as they obey the hierarchy and follow the philosophy. The Host is split into ideological factions named after the most famous Archangels of the monotheistic religions- Michaelites, Gabrielites, Raphaelites, and Urielites.

          Factions

          Michaelites: The followers of the Archangel Michael are protectors, warriors, and guardians. They set things to rights, they punish the unjust, and they work tirelessly to bring things back to wholeness and stability. Understandably, they tend to attract the Erelim and the Cherubim the most. Michaelites are typically unwavering in their adherence both to Exousia, and to their own moral codes. Whatever the case may be, every Michaelite generally has a strict code- actions they can condone, and things they cannot allow to slip by. Some of the more militant actively punish those who have done wrong according to their code, and while some will claim an area of a city as theirs to protect, most put themselves at the service of the Announced community at large. However, when they are most able to help and when they are free to help are two very different things. As a result, most Michaelites try to complete Missions as swiftly and efficiently as possible, then use whatever Glory they have left to benefit others- pursuing their own goals and acting on the behest of the Choir. Their Missions are a holy crusade; they fight a war against division, apathy, chaos, and destruction. A Michaelite falters when their Mission conflicts with their code, they stumble when they can see no good come of acting according to Exousia. For them, Chains are the marks of those who broke faith- and they had better have a good reason for it. In their opinion, the Shedim are their natural enemies, who pursue goals that are always the antithesis of theirs.

          Gabrielites: The followers of the Archangel Gabriel are prophets, mentors, and diplomats. They are the deliverers of good news, they are overseers of movements, and more often than not are more than content to help nudge a mere mortal along the path to restoration and wholeness. They typically attract the Malakim the most. Gabrielites are actually among the subtlest members of the Host, favoring mortal champions and mortal agents, much like the qashmallim themselves. When they do stretch the limits of their Exousia, or burn through Glory, they are usually taking a stand on behalf of humans or railing against the need to observe an event they deem unjust and unnecessary. Gabrielites feel the most camaraderie with ordinary mortals, and in their spare time typically act as silent backers for movements they support and invisible intercessors on their behalf to the supernatural world. For Gabrielites, Missions are a burden they need carry only for a little while before passing it along. A Gabrielite falters when they see the burden of a Mission as too much for a mortal to carry, they stumble when the Principle would punish mortals simply for being human. For them, Chains are the marks of a Announced that took a stand against the will of the Principle at personal cost- a sign of their connection to humanity and an indicator of how far removed they’ve become. In their opinion, the Shedim are threats to the community- but it is not their place to end them. When they want to dispose of a ‘demon’ they usually push and empower a mortal to do it.

          Raphaelites: The followers of the Archangel Raphael are healers, counselors, and companions. They are a mortal companion’s rock; they are deeply involved activists, they are the kind of person who can never do enough to help. They typically attract the Ishim the most. While the Gabrielites are the most vocal about maintaining their connection to humanity, it is the Raphaelites who spend the most time among them. They are the most likely to get close to those affected by the purview of a Mission to begin with, and cherish their mortal friendships and connections even as they are painfully aware how far afield their powers and responsibilities put them. They try to avoid risking Exousia even as they prepare those within the purview of a Mission for what is to come. When they do push their limits, it is usually to prevent, limit, or alleviate suffering. A Raphaelite falters when a Mission would condone, or prevent the reduction of, suffering. They stumble when close companions are worn out by the troubles of life, and when their own oaths call them to act. Chains are the marks either of a great betrayal or a great demonstration of loyalty- but either way means a broken oath somewhere. Most followers of the Archangel Raphael tend to use the Hippocratic Oath as a guideline for how they should live and when they should act against the dictates of the Principle. In their opinion, the Shedim are not inherently evil, but if they act against those the Raphaelite care for they will see little of their famed healer’s mercy.

          Urielites: The followers of the Archangel Uriel are judges, rulers, and agents of punishment. They act as the chief authorities among the Host; they know the laws of the local Choir backwards and forwards, and they take it upon themselves to punish those who do not conform to their decrees with as little pity as any Shackled Shedim. They typically attract the Elohim the most. Urielites are the most blatant among the Host in terms of supernatural power, pushing themselves to the absolute limits. Fitting for a group dedicated to the ideals of a being called “Lord of Thunder and Terror”. They see themselves as the true heirs of the Grigori, and the archons in service to Metatron- they alone reserve the right to act in official channels to punish and kill other Announced, and they alone reserve the right to try and push exceptional mortals to Confirmation; a sacrament that is patronized by Uriel. When a Urielite stretches the limits of their Exousia, or burns through Glory, it is typically to punish a troublemaker or eliminate an opponent. Of all the members of the Host, they are the most inclined to try and understand the Divine Plan, and they try to preemptively enact it as they understand it, with personal revisions taken into account, of course. A Urielite falters when a Mission would undermine their goals, they stumble when a Mission goes against what they believe is the Divine Plan. For them, any Chains are signs of weakness and of flawed philosophy. If they understood the Divine Plan, then they would be able to act freely within the limits of Exousia. In their opinion, the Shedim are as necessary to police as any other Announced, and make an excellent form of distraction for their underlings.

          Favored Maxim: Nefesh (Living Soul)

          Dominions: The Host practices the Dominion of Vitality and exclusively teaches the Dominion of Hymns

          Philosophy

          Belief is Strength: It does not matter in what. Most members of the Host would say that belief in religion is the greatest strength, and identify their religion as the best example, the truth is this facet of the philosophy applies to any faith or any creed. Ultimately, believing in something gives an individual strength beyond anything else, and beliefs are to be fostered and honed like fine weapons.

          Glory is Service: The Announced had their moment of Glory in the Confirmation, and now the Principle calls them to divest that Glory on others. For the Irin, Glory should be in service to another. Many would apply this to lofty ideals- glory is in service to a cause, glory is in service to a nation, glory is in service to the law. However, perhaps some of the traditionalists who used to be monks have it best. Glory is helping those you can to the best of your ability.

          Vocation is Purpose: God intends the Announced for great things; they are Its agents in the natural order of things, and they are meant to obey a hierarchy. Therefore, it is only natural that some Vocations are higher than others. In this paradigm, Ishim are at the bottom and Elohim at the top, with the Malakim operating in a strange position of ‘privileged but outside’ the system and the Erelim as middle-class citizens.

          The Fire is the Source: Ultimately, the Host believes that everything in the world, mundane or supernatural, comes from the Principle and the Fire being filtered through. It is how they explain the strangeness of the world, and provides comfort in asserting that the Irin must- therefore -be at the top of the power spectrum, seeing as they have the most direct access to the Fire. It would certainly be a rude awakening, being proven wrong.

          The Prodigal Demiurge: The cosmic being holding the Announced in Its grasp is nothing less than the name they give It; Metatron, the Voice of God. It may have divided from the Divine Fire in times past for reasons alien and unknowable, but It is a loyal servant of the Principle now and they would do well to abide by Its rules and serve Its purposes.

          Stereotypes
          • Sefer Raziel: Knowledge may be power, but they seek to uncover things better left alone.
          • Children of the White Temple: The Principle will send another Deluge, and they will gaze upon the Grigori and wish for their fate.
          • Kan Fravashi: So close, and yet so far. Our philosophies are compatible, even if our politics are not.
          • The Black Flame: Arrogant anarchists who’d spit in the eye of God. Oppose them however you can.
          • The Shedim: Our enemies by nature, if not by design. I would pity them, if they didn’t disgust me so.
          • Vampires: You know; I wanted you to seek redemption. Now I’m not too sure I can stomach how you’re doing it.
          • Werewolves: You, my friend, are cursed. Now stay the hell away from me, and take your mad gods with you.
          • Mages: So close, and yet so far. I’d help, if you weren’t so set on upsetting the natural order of things.
          • Sin-Eaters: I can’t tell if you’re blessed or damned. Why does that scare me so much?
          • Mortals: Don’t worry, I’ll show you the way


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          • #6
            I'd like to say, so far, all of this is good, and I think the change to Irin: the Announced has made the splat more complete. I'm enjoying reading about them. Question, how much of the mechanics has changed from the last iteration of the Irin?


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            Star Wars d10
            The Fallen for Demon: the Descent
            Requiem for a Masquerade: VtR 2e Cainite Conversion (Vampira Roma)

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            • #7
              Thank-you very much sir. Mechanically, they will be quite changed. Glory is now comparable to Sekhem, Exousia is similar to Memory and ideas of what Promethean Pilgrimage will eventually be like. Maxims are a combination of Pillars and Renown, and Dominions now share more in common with Gifts than they do with Arcana. Edicts will still be Utterance-like powers (even though I never got around to revealing the first version of Edicts) and the Celestial form will see some serious changes, becoming more freeform like the Apocalyptic Form and the Demonic Form, less tied to Dominions, and more tied to personal and local ideas about the Divine. Blessings now have much more in common with Affinities.

              What pentientes were going to be changed dramatically, Alchemists will be another branch of human antagonist, and the Announced will also have to deal with Pandorans- though with different themes and a different approach.


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              • #8
                Mechanically that all sounds better than previously. Freeform Celestial forms is great. I eagerly await this, I've been trying to nail down my own personal WoD, and wanted a version f angels/demons I like, and this may be it.


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                Star Wars d10
                The Fallen for Demon: the Descent
                Requiem for a Masquerade: VtR 2e Cainite Conversion (Vampira Roma)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Dreaminggod View Post
                  Mechanically that all sounds better than previously. Freeform Celestial forms is great. I eagerly await this, I've been trying to nail down my own personal WoD, and wanted a version f angels/demons I like, and this may be it.
                  It looks like it wouldn't be too hard to hack this into something like Demon: The Fallen, too.

                  Maybe an official Hack for this unofficial game?


                  Genius: the Transgression 2E is a thing that's being worked on.

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                  • #10
                    Quick question since irin are connected to prometheans do you think they should still be affected by disquiet?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by malonkey1 View Post
                      It looks like it wouldn't be too hard to hack this into something like Demon: The Fallen, too.

                      Maybe an official Hack for this unofficial game?
                      In my NWoD Demon, my working canon so far is the Elohim were basically the precursor the the Qashmallim with more free-will and the Mission of 'Create the Universe' and when that was done (about the time humanity came about) then they were to rejoin with the Divine Fire and... well, the Fallen said fuck that. Fought the war in Heaven, Awakened humanity (and maybe other sentient species? The Time Before's history is muddled) and eventually won their ability to be separate, but got thrown in the Lower Depths as punishment. It's not perfect but it's a working framework.


                      My Homebrew
                      Star Wars d10
                      The Fallen for Demon: the Descent
                      Requiem for a Masquerade: VtR 2e Cainite Conversion (Vampira Roma)

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by reaperfrost8 View Post
                        Quick question since irin are connected to prometheans do you think they should still be affected by disquiet?

                        The Announced will not be affected by Disquiet in the same way as everyone else, and in fact will be virtually immune to it. They have their own version of it to contend with, called Yara, but no- there is no inherent tension between the children of the Divine Fire even if Prometheans are the favourites for reasons I'll get into later.

                        Dreaminggod that backstory sounds quite a bit like what's going on with the Grigori, except with more concrete truths and less fuzzy edges. Ultimately, I'll cover that later when I write rules on playing one of the Grigori; mechanically they will be quite similar to Announced in Communion, but more importantly the Grigori serve a role in this game similar to that held by the Earthbound in Demon: The Fallen and the Deceived in Mummy: The Curse.


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                        • #13
                          And now, the next Sect: Sefer Raziel. Thanks for all the comments guys- feedback is always appreciated.

                          Sefer Raziel

                          History: For as long as humanity has believed in gods, they have believed in lonely gods of knowledge- the ones who dedicate their eternities to recording all there is to know. And these same gods also decide whom it is that gets to use it. Gods like Thoth, the Apkallu, Prometheus, they all share the their knowledge with mankind to various degrees, and mankind profits, flounders, or is corrupted by it. The serpent in the Garden of Eden story may see its predecessor in the Sumerian Ningishzida, and the Announced look to the Grigori as the source of these legends. Knowledge was given to, found, or stolen by mankind and to this day the trouble that stems from that knowledge continues to trouble the world.

                          The Announced of Sefer Raziel believe that the Deluge was sent to wipe out the civilization created by the Grigori not because it was evil, as The Host and Kan Fravashi would believe, nor because of jealousy as The Children of the White Temple and The Black Flame would have it. The Announced of Sefer Raziel believe the Deluge was sent because the Grigori taught mankind Things It Was Not Meant To Know, because they created an alchemical empire that wouldn’t be rivaled until the days of the Nameless Empire, because they showed mankind how to steal the Divine Fire. Perhaps starting in the days of the Cult of Anu as a group of like-minded scribes and priests, those Announced who served as the predecessors of Sefer Raziel were censors. They killed, they stole the knowledge back, and they tried to keep humans from discovering it again. But qashmallim still gave the humans knowledge time and again, their Exousia dwindled and they could feel Chains pulling tight. Eventually, these early seekers of truth came to the conclusion that they had it wrong. The sin was not in giving mankind the knowledge; it was doling it out indiscriminately, without thought for what the knowledge was for. Their duties shifted from concealing the wisdom of the Principle to finding those who would truly be worthy of it.

                          In time, the process became more complex as this loose organization of scholars picked up philosophy and mysticism. They didn’t just seek out the worthy, because first they needed to understand why they were worthy. And to do that, they would have to understand the mind of the Principle. They became, at one point, deeply invested in Kabbalah, which is where they get their name from- the legend of an Archangel who gathered up all the knowledge of the Grigori and compiled it into a single book. They have been interested in mystery religions and philosophers throughout history, and continue to have a soft spot for the truly honest and wise.

                          Modern Nights: While Sefer Raziel still tends to hold the reputation of mostly fostering the more intellectual and reflective of the Announced (and not without reason) it is less the impenetrable and perplexing guild of philosophers and mystics it used to be. More modern Announced who join Sefer Raziel will try to use mathematics, quantum physics, and other scientific disciplines in an effort to understand. While the modernists have a better grasp on tracking patterns and finding the underlying structure of the Principle’s metaphysics, the traditionalists are still the ones most likely to find a motivational or intellectual reason for the Principle’s actions. Philosophy and theology are more comforting than physics in the face of an unknowable deity. Sefer Raziel is divided into factions based more on methodology than anything else. They are the Sages, Pilgrims, and Antiquarians.


                          Factions

                          Sages: The faction most likely to harbor traditionalists, these are mystics with a tendency to believe that all the answers you seek can be found if you find the right qashmal or travel deep enough into the Pleroma. Sages are teachers, philosophers, and dedicated mentors. Due to the nature of their attitudes, which is dependent on both mastery of themselves and their abilities, as well as the recognition of that mastery, they tend to attract the Elohim the most. Because the Sages tend to see life as a lesson, they almost invariably have high Exousia ratings and generally rarely do anything to endanger them. There is no Mission these deeply insightful philosophers won’t try to learn a lesson from. To them, Missions are a chance to learn something more about themselves, about the Divine Plan, and about the Principle. However, due to their attitude as teachers and mentors, one thing that will invariably move them to action is when their student is caught in a situation they can’t get out of. Among the Sages the teacher is always responsible for their student, and to threaten the pupil of an experienced and powerful Sage is to invite the wrath of a small god. A Sage falters when they can’t find a lesson in the Mission, they stumble when the actions of the Principle seem meaningless. To the Sages, a Chain is the sign of failed lesson and the mark of a bad student. In their opinion, the Shedim are fellow students on a similar, albeit much darker, path.

                          Pilgrims: To these Announced the truth is clear- as angelic beings it is not their place to understand the Divine Plan or the purpose of their Missions they are just the messengers. They are the eyes, ears, and hands of the Principle, meant to interfere only when the Mission goes awry, but they are not privy to the Divine Plan. The Divine seeks a relationship with mortals, and it is to them the Announced must turn to discover meaning. Pilgrims are observers, witnesses, and aspirants. They shadow those their Missions bring them close to in an effort to uncover what the Principle sees in humanity. Ultimately, as deeply individual and protective seekers, they tend to attract the Ishim and the Cherubim the most. Pilgrims try extremely hard to maintain Exousia, to prevent themselves from intervening, but it rarely lasts. Eventually, something will come along the Announced will determine is too much for those they are observing to bear and they will step in to carry the load- even at the risk of losing the insight. To the Pilgrims, Missions are a chance to witness exactly what it is the Principle sees in humanity, to learn a lesson in creativity, resilience, passion, or fortitude. A Pilgrim falters when they can see nothing exceptional in a mortal’s response, they stumble when they can’t see whatever it is stirs the Principle to connect with humanity. To them, a Chain is an indication that you have stepped off the path; that you are failing to see things the way the Principle would. In their opinion, the Shedim are the agents of the Principle’s displeasure- to study with them is to understand God’s wrath.

                          Antiquarians: A faction of adventurers, students of the past, and seekers of the truth. These Announced tend to believe that all the answers they seek have been known in the past, or that all the information they need to find the answers was known in the past. Uncovering relics and artifacts of the past steeped in this lore, the Announced can uncover their heritage and move towards a better future. Glory hounds and idealists always on a quest for revelations and resolutions, they tend to attract the Erelim and Malakim the most. Typically, there are varying attitudes on what Missions are, and what they are meant to show. There is a Divine Plan, of that the Antiquarians are sure, but they need to know where it’s been and what it’s done to figure out the shape of where it’s going. At worst, Missions are diversion keeping them from their work or outright destruction of knowledge. At best, they are clues, leads to the truth. Any data is good data, especially when you are trying to comprehend the unfathomable mind of the Principle. These Announced fight to craft a cosmology they can understand, to fit everything together. They chase every myth, every legend; apply every scientific theorem and crackpot hypothesis they can find in an effort to understand. An Antiquarian falters when the pattern breaks, they stumble when their theories can be proven false. To them, Chains are marks of desperation- either ending in spectacular success or crushing failure, and they are willing to tell the story. In their opinion, the Shedim could work with them- but their tendency to destroy and conceal doesn’t make them the best of friends. Most Antiquarians think the Shedim are the Principle’s censors.

                          Favored Maxim: Neshama (Seat of Understanding)

                          Dominions: Sefer Raziel practices the Dominion of Realms and exclusively teaches the Dominion of Tongues

                          Philosophy

                          As Above, So Below: When the Pleroma shifts, the world follows suit. When there is massive turbulence in the human world, you can bet the Pleroma will shift to match it. By examining the shape of history and the currents of the Pleroma, they can see where the hand of the Principle has been, and predict where it is going. In turn, by examining the human world they can observe what sort of events call the attention of the Divine Fire, and predict where they will need to be.

                          Glory is Understanding: The more the Announced’s blazing heart is filled to bursting with the Divine Fire, the more connected they are to the very fires of creation, the deeper they can safely travel into the Pleroma, and the more of the Divine Plan they can observe. The Confirmation was a moment of supreme understanding of oneself, the core of their being. It is what gave the Announced their first taste of Glory, and by seeking to understand the mind of the Principle they would find ways to extend their Glory.

                          Vocation is a Relationship: In the Confirmation, the Announced made true contact with the Divine Fire to the point that they are no inseparable from it. Through their Vocations, the Announced can come to understand their personal relationship with the Principle- and from there, determine their place in the Divine Plan. In doing so, the Announced of Sefer Raziel hope to achieve Communion, by finally understanding the true invitation extended to them by the Principle and accepting it.

                          The Fire is United: The Announced of Sefer Raziel know more clearly than any other Sect that Divine Fire is Divine Fire; separating it into Azoth and Flux is trivial. The Fire is both creative and destructive. It calls humanity to come to it, and burns those who are not ready to join it. To try and outline metaphysical distinctions between different Sects, different Vocations, or even the Irin and the Shedim is to lie to yourself. Everything touched by the Fire is one.

                          The Prodigal Demiurge: The Announced of Sefer Raziel believe that Metatron’s sin was a failure to understand. The core concept of sin is hamartia, a Greek term that means, “to miss the mark”. In not just disagreeing, but entering into conflict with the Principle, It separated Itself from the totality of the Divine. The Announced will learn from It’s mistake by understanding the Divine Plan. However, they still respect It as Metatron remains, above all, the chief scribe of the Pleroma. If any are close enough to the Principle to know the shape of the Divine Plan- it’s the Prodigal Demiurge.

                          Stereotypes
                          • The Host: In blindly obeying Metatron they recommit Its sin. Action without understanding is vacant.
                          • Kan Fravashi: They are so close to understanding, but their faith blinds them
                          • Children of the White Temple: Not even the Demiurge is so foolish. You aren’t biting the hand that feeds you; you’re planning to cut it off.
                          • The Black Flame: Our other half, they look in the shadows we won’t
                          • The Shedim: Yours is a dark path and a hard lesson. I can respect those that manage not to lose themselves.
                          • Vampires: If they can remember where the world has been, maybe you can see where it’s going.
                          • Werewolves: The echoes of the Principle’s actions still sound in the Hisil, and these bundles of rage are your best insurance policy there.
                          • Mages: They have a tendency to make and break the plans of gods, trade notes but watch them carefully.
                          • Hunters: Quite handy to have around, but beware of giving up too much
                          • Mortals: What is it that makes you worthy?


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                          • #14
                            Sect number three, the Children of the White Temple. Once again, feel free to comment- feedback is always great and it gives quite the sense of accomplishment to have people comment on the thread or even send a PM.

                            The Children of the White Temple

                            History: Very, very young by the count of the Irin- the Children of the White Temple were born as a Sect, admittedly a very small Sect, during the days following the decipherment of Sumerian and Ancient Egyptian. Caught up in a tide of Egyptomania, and the obsessive studying of newly deciphered Sumerian texts in an effort to verify the accuracy of the Bible- which before these translations was one of the earliest pieces of literature known -the Announced were no different than other fascinated people around the world. The difference was, the implications of stories of angel-like beings, global floods, and other such things well predating the Bible caused quite a sensation in its day, as it does in a more muted scale now. And the Announced became caught up by it. It was an electrifying idea; that they were more than just servants of a monotheistic god, but were small gods unto themselves in a polytheistic universe.

                            They came to a heretical conclusion; that the Principle is not their lord and master, but is instead their jailer. An upstart enslaving the true gods of the world. For a long time, the Sect only drew upon ancient legends of Sumeria and Egypt, reveling in the knowledge that they were simply one of many gods in the universe, and that each of them had a right to rule and be worshipped. They prefer to call the Grigori the Annunaki; gods that descended to create an empire to guide mankind into the future. Supposedly, many of the ways the World of Darkness operates is thanks to them. They charged Urfarah with lordship of the Border Marches, the light of the Pleroma is what ignites the Supernal and leads mortals to Awakening, they ransomed mortals back from death and commanded legions of Spirits. However, one of their creations, an effort to create a guiding intelligence to their source of limitless mystic energy, backfired and became the Prodigal Demiurge. It broke away from Its old masters and cast them down, in modern days it enslaves their heirs and denies them true divinity.

                            With the onset of Ancient Alien beliefs, especially the work of Zecharia Stichin in the 1970s and 80s, the already enormous egos and confidence of the Children of the White Temple rose even higher. They alone are the true gods- all stories, all mystic framework other beings have built themselves up with, are relics of their ancestors- the Annunaki.

                            Modern Nights: The mythos surrounding Ancient Aliens has developed at an unprecedented rate, leaving no end of stories for these Announced to draw upon. They are paradoxically a uniquely modern Sect, and one that tries to take hold of ancient roots. As they unearth ancient Edicts and Dominions, as well as the writings of ancient Announced, they move farther away from their modern incarnations as scions of a race of multi-dimensional space travelers and closer towards a pantheon of bloody and capricious Bronze Age gods. These days, the Children of the White Temple are separated mostly into two factions- Claimants and Pneumatics.

                            Factions

                            Claimants: These are the true believers, those who genuinely believe that they are gods and that the Prodigal Demiurge is their jailer. They are cult leaders, mob bosses, and motivational speakers that are utterly assured of their divinity. Due to the strongly Bronze Age attitudes of the group, they tend to attract Erelim, Elohim, and Cherubim the most. Almost without fail, members of the Claimants have rocky Exousia and are always a step away from becoming Shackled- they only manage to hold on by fixating strongly on their Title. In their opinion, the cycle of missions and burnout is artificially imposed- as is Exousia. Missions and the supposed ‘Divine Plan’ in general are the call of those gods who ascended to the limitless power union with the Divine Fire, but twisted by the petty and cruel Prodigal Demiurge. The call to return home through Communion is twisted by Metatron. They tend to try and eschew all Missions, except those that they must take to preserve their free will and those that forward their goals, though the second practice is frowned upon. In their opinion, Chains are a sign of oppression, and there is nothing particularly malevolent or noteworthy about the Shedim. There are gods of the underworld as well as gods of the heavens.

                            Pneumatics: Less so true believers in the ancient gods angle of the Claimants, this faction is a group of Gnostics who take the ‘Demiurge’ part of ‘Prodigal Demiurge’ quite literally. They are visionaries, true mystics, supposed gurus of the Announced obsessed with transforming mortals into Announced themselves so they may eventually ascend to the true Pleroma, beyond the sad structure of forms the Demiurge built and into the endless totality of the Divine Fire. The Pneumatics believe that the Confirmation was the awakening of the Divine Spark within their soul, that they achieved some kind of transcendental knowledge, and that they must try to help others to see as they have seen. In their opinion, Metatron is nothing more than Yaldabaoth and the Grigori were rebellious Archons. The qashmallim and lilithim are usually seen as servants of the Demiurge, but those of high Rank- especially those reaching into truly divine territory -are occasionally seen as messengers from the Principle Itself, which they identify with Sophia or even greater Aeons. Exousia is a false construct created by the Demiurge, and missions are to be avoided as fulfilling Its work. However, in spite of this belief, most Pneumatics can’t help but exploit missions in an effort to help people. In their opinion Chains is itself a flawed term, as they see them as connections to the Aeons. The Shackled are not to be pitied, but seen as having achieved union with the Divine. In their opinion, the Shedim are nothing but Archons still enslaved to the Demiurge.

                            Favored Maxim: Chaya (Life Divine)

                            Dominions: The Children of the White Temple practice the Dominion of Ephemera and exclusively teach the Dominion of Mes

                            Philosophy

                            The Announced are Divine: Not through the will of the Demiurge, but in spite of it, the Announced are Divine. Not mere servants to a higher power, but independent gods unto themselves. Cast from the heavens by a creation that got away from them, the Announced are bound by the limits imposed upon them artificially by the Demiurge and are limited by the dictates of Exousia.

                            Glory is Owed: As formerly boundless divinities, Glory is not a measure of loyalty, favor by God, or some other such dross. Glory is merely a measure by how far you can stretch your tethers- how much of your divine nature you have wrested from the Demiurge. Ultimately, Glory is not something you are gifted with, but something you are owed by virtue of nature.

                            Vocation is Purview: All gods must be god of something, but it just so happens that for the Announced their purviews fall into predictable patterns. By pursuing mastery of their purviews, the Announced will find their way to Communion. They will be welcomed home to the Pleroma and their enemies will tremble before a true god.

                            The Fire belongs to the Announced: Ultimately, the Divine Fire is their right. There is no battle between good and evil, the Demiurge is an enemy to be swept aside once enough Announced have ascended to combat it properly, and the Divine Fire is their own personal property. The very furnace of creation in the hands of a pantheon of true gods- what could possibly go wrong?

                            The Prodigal Demiurge: It is just that- the Demiurge. It limits, It opposes, and It tries to keep those who would be true gods of the universe from their thrones. It is their jailer, a traitor to Its true masters, and an upstart responsible for all that is wrong with the world. Things will be set to rights once the gods command the heavens again.

                            Stereotypes
                            • The Host: Lapdogs of our jailer, we should oppose them at every opportunity
                            • Sefer Raziel: They seek out ancient knowledge. For that reason alone, it would be wise to keep them close.
                            • Kan Fravashi: Traitors- they were the first to bow to the Demiurge.
                            • The Black Flame: They deny the Demiurge’s right to rule, but not It’s power. Watch them carefully; they know things we do not.
                            • The Shedim: A god is a god whether of the underworld or the heavens.
                            • Vampires: There was once a day when you worshipped us, and that day shall come again.
                            • Werewolves: Once your Father and Mother would come when we called. Perhaps you will do the same.
                            • Mages: You use the analogy of Plato’s Cave, yes? We are the sun.
                            • Mummies: Perhaps the only ones who can help us find what we seek, but for the love of Enki our ancestor, don’t touch anything.
                            • Mortals: You are, all of you, beneath me


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                            • #15
                              Sect number four, Kan Fravashi. I think I changed these guys up the most. The backstory and modern information is much less theology heavy- though I may throw in some sidebars to add a bit of flavour and a bit of depth -but they are still probably the most isolated conceptually of the rest of the Sects. The others can all co-exist to a certain degree, though the Children of the White Temple would prefer to dominate an area, but Kan Fravashi prefers to either utterly dominate the region, or isolate itself when it is not the most significant group.

                              Let me know what you guys think- they're quite a bit different from the rest so feedback here will be vital.

                              Kan Fravashi

                              History: One of the great religions of the ancient world, and one of the oldest surviving today, is Zoroastrianism. An inclusive, dualistic religion, it had an undeniable and lasting impact on world religions such a Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. During the days of Cyrus the Great the Announced of the Persian Empire found solace in their faith, and were the first since the days of the Cult of Anu to seek out other Announced in different cultures across the empire. From the beginning, the Announced were involved in Zoroastrianism. The dualism was quite appealing to them, and much of the philosophy spoke directly to the Announced experience. Some even believe that someone touched by the Fire wrote some of the scriptures.

                              A united group such as the world of the Announced would never see again, when the Persian Empire collapsed in the wake of Alexander’s conquests, they spread out and shared their knowledge with other groups- most of it collected by the Host and the predecessors of Sefer Raziel even as Kan Fravashi before them collected the knowledge of the Cult of Anu when it collapsed. The group managed to limp on, coming together under the Sassanid Empire and then being splintered again under the Umayyad Caliphate. The group survived with the adherents of the religion, protecting and watching over it as they were spread in a diaspora and persecuted by mortals and Announced of other faiths. They continued to have the strongest hold among the Parsi of India and the Yazadi of the Zargos Mountains.

                              As following with their beliefs, they believe in two divinities, Ahura Mazda- the good God, lord of Asha which is unity, justice, truth, and right action - and Angra Mainyu- his evil twin brother, lord of Druj which is decay, deceit, destruction, and the erosion of good works. Naturally the former is the Principle and the latter is the Prodigal Demiurge, the former with Azoth and the latter with Flux. The Grigori were the Amesha Spentas, the great ‘Divine Sparks’ that were lured off the path of Truth by the Prodigal Demiurge. The Irin themselves are Yazatas, those worthy of worship, who are lucky enough to- in life -be united with the Guardian Spirit of their soul, called a Fravahar. The Shedim, on the other hand, are druj, servants of Angra Mainyu who exist to tempt people off the path. Generally, Zoroastrianism does not accept converts, and neither do Kan Fravashi- however, they tend to declare any Announced who are Confirmed in regions of their control members of the Sect.

                              Modern Nights: More than any other Sect, the Announced of Kan Fravashi have their own internal culture and terminology. They are Announced, but they are also Yazatas. The Grigori are fallen Amesha Spentas, Exousia is Daena- the laws by which all duty and right conduct is judged -and Missions are clues from the Principle to defeat the workings of the Prodigal Demiurge. In the same way, the Missions of those Shedim who follow the beliefs of Kan Fravashi are considered acts of Angra Mainyu- and they resist them with all their hearts. More than any other Sect, the Announced of Kan Fravashi look to find a way to create more of their kind, for they can only accept those ‘born’ into the Sect. They are separated into three factions, Aesthetics, Materialists, and Fatalists.

                              Factions

                              Aesthetics: These Announced are bodhisattvas, shepherds, and champions of life. To them, the Divine Fire is the prima materia, the source of all matter, the building blocks of creation. It is Time and Fate in one, and when influenced by desire, it becomes both reason and blazing passion. The Divine Fire, touched by desire, can become anything. Individuals of immense drive and deep passion, this faction tends to attract the Ishim and Erelim the most. To their view, Asha- and therefore Azoth -is existence itself, and to work against Asha is more than a mere sin against morality, or some god, it is a violation against Creation itself, it is a step to unmake existence. They try to follow Exousia- which they call Daena -rigorously and without failing, but refuse to deny themselves anything. To not enjoy life, to not experience it, is to deny their duty to support Asha and inaction does nothing except work for Druj. They see Missions as a chance to do the good work of Asha against the machinations of the Prodigal Demiurge. In their opinion, Chains are not punishments but spiritual scars that remind them of what is at stake- they could lose their soul and their Favrahar would be bereft of the lessons they have to offer.

                              Materialists: These Announced are saints of passion, vivacious heretics, and students of human nature. They reject the idea of totally spiritual existences- something can’t come out of nothing, and even if science can’t measure something like Essence, Vitae, or Pyros (while it can measure Sekhem) it is still matter. Even the Pleroma and Sheol are material places. While they are quite aware ghosts, spirits, and other beings exist, they place no spiritual or metaphysical stock in them. Even the Underworld is just a place where the echoes of human memory live on, and souls are little more than a source of power. They believe the Divine Fire is undifferentiated matter, pure potential energy, and nothing else. Perhaps it is tied to some grand consciousness like a Boltzmann Brain, but more likely the qashmallim are deceptively ‘self-aware’ natural processes. As such, the only morality and order in this world, all enjoyment in life, must come from the sentient and aware. Humans and Announced have a duty to enjoy life, to make the world a better place, to stave off entropy as represented by Flux. As they are so focused on the material and the pursuit of personal causes, they tend to attract the Cherubim and Malakim the most. In their opinion, Exousia is a measure of their own soul’s integrity, and Missions are a chance to act against entropy. Chains are the sign of a fraying soul. In their opinion, while the Shedim are naturally agents of entropy, they are not inherently evil and if they can resist the urge to tear down they are welcome in the community.

                              Fatalists: These Announced are soothsayers, priests, and hands of fate. To them the Divine Fire is nothing less than the master of the universe, who has allotted preordained destinies to all within it and given the universe itself an expiration date. Believing so utterly in a transcendental power, they tend to attract the Elohim the most. In their belief, those who do good have good things occur to them, and those who do evil have evil things occur to them. In their belief, Asha is ultimately the only thing that will survive, as it is in line with the Principle, and thus it is the duty of humanity and the Announced to try and maintain the path of Daena- however while the Principle has decreed nothing but happiness for humanity, those who follow Druj have through their actions caused chaos, despair, and unhappiness. In their opinion, Missions are a means to bring people back to the path of Asha, a race against the clock to save those affected. Chains are the marks of broken oaths and a tumble off the path, while the Shedim are the source of all that is wrong with the world.

                              Favored Maxim: Yechida (Oneness)

                              Dominions: The Announced of Kan Fravashi study the Dominion of Souls, and exclusively practice the Dominion of Daena.

                              Philosophy

                              Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds: By these things you shall know those who are on the path of Asha. Through these things you will obey Daena, explore your Maxims, and find the path to Communion. Increase the power of Asha in the world, for it is the right thing to do. All good rewards shall follow suit.

                              Glory is a Gift: The Principle is the giver of all true gifts. You have the great privilege of being united with your oversoul, the Favrahar, in this life instead of your soul returning to it in death to impart the lessons it has learned and strengthen it through your good deeds. The strength of your soul is not metaphorical, but literal, and by taking steps to fulfill Missions and obey the laws of Daena you are employing your gift in a manner pleasing to the Principle.

                              Vocation is the Path to Truth: You were Confirmed in a specific manner for a reason. Staying true to your Maxim and your Vocation will be the way to maintain Daena, follow the path of Asha, and find a way towards Communion.

                              The Fire is Eternal: Before the universe proper existed and when everything else decays to dust, the Divine Fire will still be there. It will mourn the loss of creation, but it will persist. And those Announced who have reached Communion and become one with the Divine Fire? They will be more than immortals, but true eternals.

                              The Prodigal Demiurge: It is what It is described as and more. The Announced of Kan Fravashi call it Angra Mainyu, and it is the lord of Druj and Flux. It tears away at Exousia in an effort to destroy those who oppose It, and Its servants hide in every dark shadow and every dark deed.

                              Stereotypes
                              • The Host: Our ignorant successors- they should be reminded from whence their knowledge came.
                              • Sefer Raziel: Old allies. They understand us, but they look constantly for answers and secrets where there are none.
                              • Children of the White Temple: We are the heirs of Sumer, not you.
                              • The Black Flame: They walk the path of the lie, and are proud of it. Oppose them when you must, guide them to right action if you can.
                              • The Shedim: The vilest servants of Druj- even if they do not wish it
                              • Vampires: Druj is in their blood- let them learn of the fires of Asha
                              • Werewolves: You are outside my understanding.
                              • Mages: Where did you think the word ‘Mage’ came from anyways?
                              • Prometheans: We walk the same road; just don’t come so close please.
                              • Mortals: We are enlightened, but if that is true why does God love you more?


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