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Setting query- more long-term angels?

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  • Setting query- more long-term angels?

    Hello!

    I may be running a Demon game, and would like to ask for help with a change I was planning to make

    So, IIRC, it seems in the canon Demon setting, most angels are effectively one-shot- for example, when the God-Machine wants someone dead, it makes a new angel to go kill them, and recycles it when the task is over.
    While I understand the appeal of this, I prefer the medieval-angelology idea of having individual "Angels Of". So rather then making a new Destroyer to kill people, the god-machine has a number of specific "angels-of-killing-people-and-having-it-look-like-an-accident", say, which it sends off. At higher levels, you have more specific "The Messenger to Europe" or "The Destroyer of Elder Vampires" or what have you as individual entities.

    In short, rather then a lot of short-lived angels with specific tasks, there are less angels with more general tasks that are sent out into the field.

    How would this change the game? off the top of my head

    -it makes angels more person-like. If angels have a long time to act on earth, they're going to get personalities and quirks. This won't necessarily increase the number of falls, but it does mean angels will be more akin to very loyal servants then outright autonoma, and could theoretically be reasoned or bargained with.

    -it makes angels more categorizable. That is, you can look at an angel and go "ah! That is one of the Guardians of Children" and use that to figure out its capacities and weakness. There is a concrete hierarchy with "species" rather then lots of individuals with unique powers, bans and banes.

    -It makes falls more costly- if there are only a finite number of psychopomps in the world, then one falling becomes a significant loss. Which means the God Machine is probably very invested in getting the demons back (although, OTOH, it does mean it's less likely to just kill them). If a specific angel falls, then that means a sudden and large angelic presence to reclaim them.

    -it makes infrastructure more valuable: this change would imply that infrastructure to make new angels is more difficult/costly/delicate etc then in canon. On the one hand, this means that infrastructure is probably more heavily guarded and rare, but on the other it means any infrastructure damaged is a real blow to the God Machine's plan.

    So- do these seem like reasonable changes to make? Are there any huge problems I'm missing? Is there anything else vast that would change?

  • #2
    Not really - the cost to make angels is particularly high already. The God-Machine doesn't always recycle. It only does that when it needs a brand-new angel, because the cost of making a new one is so huge that it's better to assemble one out of already extant parts. Otherwise, Angels go into stasis when they're not being used, because disassembling one is also a huge cost. The Machine calls them back, and they "go to sleep." Typically during this sleep the angel's memory is wiped. The basic setting already does that, so it's not a huge change at all, and it's also why blowing your cover is a big deal - the Machine wants you back because you represent a huge investiture of resources that has just dropped off the grid. Like, say, when the military loses a live nuke and its attendant arming codes. Infrastructure to make angels is very costly and can take months, years, or even centuries of effort and resources, which is why demons can find and hijack it - it has to spend a lot of time brewing and getting arranged, and in so doing, leaves a trail.

    The angels you can potentially bargain with already exist, too. They're called Exiles.

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    • #3
      The God-Machine explicitly does the "Angel of..." thing, it's just expensive to keep an Angel up and running. An Angel will burn one point of Essence per day to keep running, and one per hour outside of Infrastructure. When it's around Infrastructure, it will make at least one point of Essence back per day, but that's all. Theoretically, an Angel set up to protect or maintain Infrastructure can operate indefinitely, especially if it doesn't have to do all that much that involves using Essence. However, each Angel is still designed with a very specific purpose in mind- and it's the particulars of that purpose, and the Virtues and Vices built into them, that they build a "personality" around.

      Angels that are proactive, that go out and do things, especially ones that stray from Infrastructure, will need Essence. Lots and lots of Essence. This Essence can only be refuelled by sacrifice, and the Essence regained is equal to either the Availability of the object or the Integrity of the person, so an Angel that leaves its Infrastructure for any serious length of time and uses Numina or Influences in any serious degree, is going to need an absurd amount of sacrifices to refuel. Either that or they hibernate in Infrastructure and just wait for the Essence to accumulate, which is probably what the storage Facilities are for.

      Angels come out of storage, or are created, for a Mission, however long that takes, and then they turn themselves in to a recycling or storage Facility. Memories are wiped, they're repaired and/or updated as necessary, or maybe they're dismantled to be used as parts in a new Angel. Maybe the God-Machine is particularly ruthless and/or forgetful, and simply abandons an Angel to bleed out in defunct Infrastructure, or Exiles it for reasons unknown.
      Last edited by Arcanist; 12-02-2016, 11:23 AM.


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      • #4
        Originally posted by Arcanist View Post
        Angels that are proactive, that go out and do things, especially ones that stray from Infrastructure, will need Essence. Lots and lots of Essence. This Essence can only be refuelled by sacrifice, and the Essence regained is equal to either the Availability of the object or the Integrity of the person, so an Angel that leaves its Infrastructure for any serious length of time and uses Numina or Influences in any serious degree, is going to need an absurd amount of sacrifices to refuel. Either that or they hibernate in Infrastructure and just wait for the Essence to accumulate, which is probably what the storage Facilities are for.
        Bunyip's said that proper loyalists tend to not have Essence bleed as a concern on account of their jobs generally having assorted support structures to freeze their countdowns/constantly refill their stores/provide caches, much like how having Cover-equivalent Infrastructure pretty much completely circumvents the normal systems for Manifestation.

        It's worth noting that the worst angels have to worry about from hibernation is the token single point of lethal damage and the outside chance of a roving exile picking them off.


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        • #5
          Originally posted by Satchel View Post

          It's worth noting that the worst angels have to worry about from hibernation is the token single point of lethal damage and the outside chance of a roving exile picking them off.
          What's this "token single point of lethal damage" you're referring to? Is it an angel thing or an ephemeral being thing?


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          • #6
            Originally posted by Satchel View Post
            Bunyip's said that proper loyalists tend to not have Essence bleed as a concern on account of their jobs generally having assorted support structures to freeze their countdowns/constantly refill their stores/provide caches, much like how having Cover-equivalent Infrastructure pretty much completely circumvents the normal systems for Manifestation.
            Problem 1 with this, none of that is actually said in the books.
            Problem 2 with this, if it is true then why do the angel rules have completely different rules. It's not like it's a gap in the rules being answered by dev, it's dev's overriding rules that repeatedly get printed implying that the rules aren't incorrect.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by BigDamnHero View Post

              What's this "token single point of lethal damage" you're referring to? Is it an angel thing or an ephemeral being thing?
              General ephemeral being thing. "Ephemeral beings outside of a suitable Condition bleed one point of Essence per hour. […] Entities that run out of Essence due to bleed suffer a single point of lethal damage and enter hibernation."

              Originally posted by milo v3 View Post
              Problem 1 with this, none of that is actually said in the books.
              Problem 2 with this, if it is true then why do the angel rules have completely different rules. It's not like it's a gap in the rules being answered by dev, it's dev's overriding rules that repeatedly get printed implying that the rules aren't incorrect.
              The rules are correct, in the circumstances that they are designed to cover.

              That a significant number of angels specifically exist in a framework that excepts much of the circumstances the general ephemeral being rules are designed to cover does not negate their utility for angels operating in Twilight and/or outside the full auspices of their allotted station.

              "The angel rules" are "angels use Rank, Influences, and a simplified Attribute spread, have banes and bans, and spend Essence to maintain their activity at a more rapid rate outside of the intricate and robust circumstances that support its existence; the aforementioned circumstances can be created wholesale through the influences of a powerful angel and can be fine-tuned through either rudimentary application of Influence or extended occult tweaking appropriate to an element of the mechanism that is expressly capable of miraculous feats and ostensibly controls a meaningful portion of modern civilization."

              None of that actually contradicts "God can store or transmit Essence, suspend the metaphysical processes that cause Essence bleed, give angels real bodies without their needing to Manifest, and generally play fast and loose with the rules designed as a generic framework for ephemeral beings like spirits and ghosts."


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              • #8
                Originally posted by Satchel View Post
                The rules are correct, in the circumstances that they are designed to cover.

                That a significant number of angels specifically exist in a framework that excepts much of the circumstances the general ephemeral being rules are designed to cover does not negate their utility for angels operating in Twilight and/or outside the full auspices of their allotted station.
                Except that "significant number" covers 99% of angels.... Wouldn't it make considerably more sense to have the default rules for angels accurately describe how 99% of angels work, and then state the exceptions when they come up like in the case of exiles.

                None of that actually contradicts "God can store or transmit Essence, suspend the metaphysical processes that cause Essence bleed, give angels real bodies without their needing to Manifest, and generally play fast and loose with the rules designed as a generic framework for ephemeral beings like spirits and ghosts."
                Except based on what the dev's have said, angels never use the essence rules at all unless exiled. The default rules for angels should represent the default situation for angels, not the exceptions. And if angels don't need Mortal Mask since they have perfect cover then why do they have mortal mask? If they don't use the manifestation rules as described in the book, why do they use the manifestation rules listed in the book? If angels operate so differently to other ephemeral beings it should say how they are different in the actual rules like how Goetia and Supernal beings do rather than requiring people to go onto forums to find out "No angels actually rarely use the angel rules".

                I'd be fine with angels acting however the dev's aim for them to act. I just wish the rules actually said what the dev's intend for angels for clarity's sake and ease of play.
                Last edited by milo v3; 12-03-2016, 09:41 AM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by milo v3 View Post
                  Except that "significant number" covers 99% of angels....
                  If you want to go on about how something isn't said in the books, it's kind of poor form to then immediately turn around and drop an unsubstantiated claim like this. Exiles are a thing! Angels without cover identities are a thing! Divine oversights or reasonable facsimiles thereof happen all the time in this game where divine oversights allowed your PCs to accrue enough of a personality to defy their orders.

                  Wouldn't it make considerably more sense to have the default rules for angels accurately describe how 99% of angels work, and then state the exceptions when they come up like in the case of exiles.
                  Again, the default rules for angels are doing triple duty as the default rules for ghosts and the default rules for spirits.

                  Except based on what the dev's have said, angels never use the essence rules at all unless exiled.
                  Not suffering Essence bleed is a) sufficiently long-term that the only way it is a meaningful quality to possess is if you are following a specific angel from scene to scene and tracking their expenditures and 2) not a wholesale abandonment of the Essence mechanics.

                  The default rules for angels should represent the default situation for angels, not the exceptions.
                  "The default rules for angels" are built for use in God-Machine Chronicle, which is set up for mortals and thus covers angels in a fashion that mortals are likely to interact with them through, i.e. the manifestation systems.

                  And if angels don't need Mortal Mask since they have perfect cover then why do they have mortal mask?
                  Because not all angels have cover identities with the same degree of reinforcement or even of the same nature. Some angels just need a face and a physical form. Others need to pass for human over a lengthy period of time.

                  If they don't use the manifestation rules as described in the book, why do they use the manifestation rules listed in the book?
                  Because Discorporation is pretty goddamn handy and not all angels have or need physical bodies — some of them are just sent to possess a guy or claim dominion over a house.

                  If angels operate so differently to other ephemeral beings it should say how they are different in the actual rules like how Goetia and Supernal beings do rather than requiring people to go onto forums to find out "No angels actually rarely use the angel rules".
                  "So differently" here meaning, again, "You're not going to boot an angel out of their cover the same way you'd eject a skinriding ghost and the complex set of materials and actions surrounding an angel are such that one is unlikely to just wind down and fall dormant without something notable being up."

                  I'd be fine with angels acting however the dev's aim for them to act. I just wish the rules actually said what the dev's intend for angels for clarity's sake and ease of play.
                  You're not playing an angel and the mechanics operate just fine for any actual encounter in which you are likely to run into them. The game's express blurring of the line between angels and demons from the outside falls rather flat if you can spot an instrument of God through the simple application of "keep an eye on them for five or six hours and see if they suddenly vanish."

                  A hypothetical next-edition would probably cover this more explicitly, particularly given that it's part of a thematic key point about the Machine's place in the metaphysics, but for the moment the only distinction it offers is that angels often have greater mobility than the bounds of their root Conditions would imply and are largely exempt from one of the more long-term concerns of Essence-using beings while they have the support of little-i infrastructure behind them. They're still ephemeral beings with Rank, Influence, and so on and behave accordingly as far as immediate game mechanics are concerned.


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Satchel View Post
                    If you want to go on about how something isn't said in the books, it's kind of poor form to then immediately turn around and drop an unsubstantiated claim like this. Exiles are a thing! Angels without cover identities are a thing! Divine oversights or reasonable facsimiles thereof happen all the time in this game where divine oversights allowed your PCs to accrue enough of a personality to defy their orders.
                    Exiles exist (I mentioned them in my post...) and yes not all angels have covers. But exiles are an exception to the default angels, so it'd be odd for an exception to be used as the basis of the default angel rules. No not all angels have covers but all angels with covers seem to possess Materialize & Mortal Mask in their statblock which makes sense until dev's suggest that the God-Machine just give angels covers which make them materialize/appear mortal without needing materialize or mortal mask, which means it's abit odd for the God-Machine to give it a redundant ability (I should note have no issue with the angels which have mortal mask but lack a cover since mortal mask is more limited than a true cover).

                    Again, the default rules for angels are doing triple duty as the default rules for ghosts and the default rules for spirits.
                    +
                    "The default rules for angels" are built for use in God-Machine Chronicle, which is set up for mortals and thus covers angels in a fashion that mortals are likely to interact with them through, i.e. the manifestation systems.
                    This would be fine if it was handled like how Hunter handled other gameline's, using different rules because mortals dealing with creatures is a very different experience. But they didn't do that, the mechanics are the same in Demon (though Incepts have been added in Demon the Storytellers Guide).

                    Not suffering Essence bleed is a) sufficiently long-term that the only way it is a meaningful quality to possess is if you are following a specific angel from scene to scene and tracking their expenditures and 2) not a wholesale abandonment of the Essence mechanics.
                    1) I don't think it's exactly unlikely for many Storytellers to do that. I do it at the very least, I wouldn't be surprised by other storytellers using the essence rules rather than winging it each time the angel pop's up. I can understand other storytellers not wanting to bother for the sake of one less thing to do in game prep, but lets not treat it like every storyteller is ignoring those rules.
                    2) I agree. The current essence rules likely would come up if the players come in contact with something like an exile at the very least. I just feel it should mention that the intent is that such a thing likely is only required for specific circumstances and discussed the default arrangement better. Clarity.

                    Because not all angels have cover identities with the same degree of reinforcement or even of the same nature. Some angels just need a face and a physical form. Others need to pass for human over a lengthy period of time.
                    I agree. But I was talking about angels already with cover, which while it may not be un-beatable is stronger than their redundant mortal mask.

                    "So differently" here meaning, again, "You're not going to boot an angel out of their cover the same way you'd eject a skinriding ghost and the complex set of materials and actions surrounding an angel are such that one is unlikely to just wind down and fall dormant without something notable being up."
                    Meaning "mentioning that cover is something that operates completely outside of the written rules" mainly. Saying that angels have covers which is completely separate to materialize/mortal mask's operation. They have a section on how angels function in regards to essence, it's not really an outrageous to ask for that section to have been more clear about how angels function in regards to essence. The manifestation section could say how angels have a good chance of ignoring the manifestation rules because of how cover works, or since their are manifestations that are limited to specific ephemeral beings, they could have put in cover as an angel only manifestation that the GM can give..... Some clarity regarding how angels without a cover turn into demons would be nice too in some section but that clarity is less likely to come up in running the game.

                    You're not playing an angel and the mechanics operate just fine for any actual encounter in which you are likely to run into them.
                    As a Storyteller, I basically am sort of playing the angel. I am the one who decides what actions it takes, I'm the one who keeps track of how much essence it'll have in x scene or y scene when the players encounter it, I'm the one who decides what actions the angel has committed before the players even stumbled onto their current mystery. As a storyteller I'd rather have something operate within the rules rather than just handwave everything to work Despite the rules.

                    They're still ephemeral beings with Rank, Influence, and so on and behave accordingly as far as immediate game mechanics are concerned.
                    The thing is, the ways that they don't act like normal ephemeral beings are ways that could easily have been rectified since those ways have sections on how they differ from one type of ephemeral being to another.
                    Last edited by milo v3; 12-04-2016, 12:53 AM.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by milo v3 View Post
                      No not all angels have covers but all angels with covers seem to possess Materialize & Mortal Mask in their statblock which makes sense until dev's suggest that the God-Machine just give angels covers which make them materialize/appear mortal without needing materialize or mortal mask, which means it's abit odd for the God-Machine to give it a redundant ability
                      Nope. One of the example angels in the book that prompted the discussion we are talking about has a cover identity but no Mortal Mask. Multiple example angels in the corebook haven't got Mortal Mask and are otherwise improbably humanlike in their basic forms.

                      This would be fine if it was handled like how Hunter handled other gameline's, using different rules because mortals dealing with creatures is a very different experience. But they didn't do that, the mechanics are the same in Demon (though Incepts have been added in Demon the Storytellers Guide).
                      Again: the context in which you are likely to encounter an angel whose Manifestation Conditions are relevant is not the context in which demons have to feel out whether another humanlike character with supernatural abilities that give off Aether is an angel or a demon; Covers are things angels are granted rather than a thing that they can do, and "angels masked by Infrastructure [as in the occult manipulations of the God-Machine that serve to generate their equivalent of Covers] do not innately register to aetheric resonance" is an explicit thing.

                      The vast majority of ephemeral beings don't actually have the degree of desperation and geographical constraint that spirits do — the previews for Geist 2e have established that while Anchor is a relatively sparsely-distributed Condition, making things Open is comparatively easy for ghosts; likewise, Mage 2e's further established that spirits are the only common ephemeral beings whose home realm doesn't feed them Essence at a fairly quick rate, and an angel's "home realm" is about as close to material reality as it's possible to get (the Machine doesn't stick to mere drip-feeding for an instrument It's sending on a mission the requires fuel unless there's workarounds or a strategic or logistical reason to do so).

                      The story role of an angel is not the story role of a spirit or a ghost, and the baseline ephemeral being mechanics cannot and should not cover the whole of a state of existence that demons identify with a level of power on par with going loud.

                      Meaning "mentioning that cover is something that operates completely outside of the written rules" mainly.
                      It's something that exists as a function of Infrastructure (it's the means by which angel-jacking can work) and if it was based uniformly on the Manifestation system it de facto wouldn't be proof against aetheric resonance on account of how "an angel is spending Essence" is both a requisite state of virtually every Manifestation an angel could have and something which explicitly registers to aetheric resonance.

                      Saying that angels have covers which is completely separate to materialize/mortal mask's operation.
                      "The angelic equivalent of Cover is the Infrastructure that supports the cover identity the angel has, right down to this set of confluences forming its first Cover if it Falls" is a textual thing. There aren't mechanics associated with it because there's no actual mechanics to it besides "the world at large treats this angel as though it were This Person God Made Up For This Job for as long as the relevant bits are in place."

                      They have a section on how angels function in regards to essence, it's not really an outrageous to ask for that section to have been more clear about how angels function in regards to essence.
                      Essence bleed is already effectively "outside of a suitable Condition, an ephemeral being loses a point of Essence at the end of the scene."

                      The manifestation section could say how angels have a good chance of ignoring the manifestation rules because of how cover works, or since their are manifestations that are limited to specific ephemeral beings, they could have put in cover as an angel only manifestation that the GM can give.....
                      To repeat, Cover-as-a-Manifestation defeats the story purpose of angelic cover identities in relation to demonic Aether-senses.

                      As a Storyteller, I basically am sort of playing the angel. I am the one who decides what actions it takes, I'm the one who keeps track of how much essence it'll have in x scene or y scene when the players encounter it, I'm the one who decides what actions the angel has committed before the players even stumbled onto their current mystery. As a storyteller I'd rather have something operate within the rules rather than just handwave everything to work Despite the rules.
                      "When the players encounter it" is usually not a contiguous unit of time and the vast majority of angels are not going to be active too far away from their support structures. There's means of transferring Essence to an angel besides sacrifices and the drip, but they aren't uniform enough to justify inclusion in the baseline mechanics because "angels in a certain part of Seattle regain a point of Essence every day at noon" is kind of the complete opposite of a baseline consideration. A cache is not a core game mechanic.

                      The thing is, the ways that they don't act like normal ephemeral beings are ways that could easily have been rectified since those ways have sections on how they differ from one type of ephemeral being to another.
                      The nearest we got to an explicit "ghosts regain their Rank in Essence per day while in the Underworld" prior to Mage 2e was the Underworld Gate Condition giving ghosts a point of Essence per scene and we've only heard about the "natural" applications of ectoplasm so far through writer/developer hints for Geist.

                      Most ephemeral beings are not spirits and the way angels work is especially un-spirit-like on account of the pseudomundane nature of their supernatural framework, but the ephemeral being mechanics most completely draw their line of descent from 1e's spirit mechanics (and thus most immediately need to be able to work for modeling spirits), and the more immediate qualities like "spends Essence to exert their personally-alloted power to affect the material world" and "is close to unkillable without supernatural aid and/or at-least-somewhat extensive occult counterengineering" are still relevant to the way the game treats angels even if part of that first thing gets shortcut away by something very roughly analogous to "an archmage gave them the ability to freely assume a physical form that sustains them like a Fetter does and sealed off any of the telltale vents for Essence to escape through."

                      "The basic framework of how angels function is modeled in the same mechanics as other ephemeral beings" exists in the same setup as "Angels are part of a collected assembly of self-perpetuating occult confluences that can do seemingly impossible things, including break the normal rules of the game, through extensive preparation." That the former often eclipses the latter is a natural consequence of Demon being a game where one of the core antagonist-types is an ephemeral being you have no innate ability to see.

                      "The state of things could stand to be clearer" is practically a constant in this franchise, but so is "there are a lot of people in this fanbase whose reading fidelity is sufficiently low that the frequency of explicit statement you would need to use to get a piece of information to stick in their heads would rapidly eat up more wordcount than it would be worth." As it stands Demon is still in its first edition and Onyx Path doesn't currently do Perfected Unambiguous Rereleases of already-printed content. This is unfortunate, but them's the breaks.


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                      • #12
                        So basically, while most angels are in the background and ignore normal rules for Manifestation and Essence supplies thanks to being powered by God, angels (and Exiles) that player characters encounter are the ones that deviate enough from angelic norm to justify using 'normal' Ephemeral Entity rules in that context? Is that right?


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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by 21C Hermit View Post
                          So basically, while most angels are in the background and ignore normal rules for Manifestation and Essence supplies thanks to being powered by God, angels (and Exiles) that player characters encounter are the ones that deviate enough from angelic norm to justify using 'normal' Ephemeral Entity rules in that context? Is that right?
                          Not really. If an angel has a cover that requires it to have a body and physical existence, it simple has those things as part of the Output that birthed it. It maintains physical presence without the need to constantly spend Essence. Or alternatively, you could view it that it maintains a constant Materialized Manifestation as part of its existence, and the God-Machine arranges to have it refuelled at an exact matching rate. Either way, this angel gets to play on the physical plane for free, but follows the other rules for ephemeral entities.

                          Now, not every angel has this type of cover. Bob the Janitor, angel tasked with watching over a school house and interacting with a certain young student until she graduates, has this kind of existence. Zenadiel, an invisible angel also tasked with watching the student and inflicting night terrors and half-seen glimpses of poltergeist activity, doesn't have this and has to Manifest and Materialize as per normal rules if it wants to interact. Both are fulfilling their tasks and following the ephemeral entity rules, one just sidesteps some of the unnecessary bookkeeping.


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                          • #14
                            Ah, so it seems I have simply misread the core book. Oops.
                            Ah well! Less work for me!

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                            • #15
                              On the fact of angels having cover but not having the mortal mask manifestation: An angel's cover is a detail that is supported by infastructure and the machine not the angel itself. When the demon falls it takes that supporting infastructure with it, twisting it to act wit out the machine.

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