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Old 10-19-2009, 12:00 AM   #1
ISNorden
 
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Default [heretical] More Gray Celestial expansions

With all the recent talk about alternate campaigns that favor the Marches, I've brainstormed with a few players about the gaps in my original Gray Celestial concept. Here are a few hole-fillers that seemed worth keeping, along with a little new material--

  • Unfledged Grays: What do you think of the name "Liminal" for baby Gray Celestials? Merriam-Webster's Dictionary lists this as one meaning of the word: "of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition : in-between, transitional". In my opinion, that's a pretty good description for something that's both undeveloped and native to the Marches. The Liminals' celestial forms are wispy, silver-gray humanoids with wings like those of a butterfly or moth; their eyes glow in soft pastel colors. Like Imps and Relievers, they appear no larger than a human adult's hand.

  • The Sentinel Ensemble: Admittedly, I got this idea partly from Acolyte (who was designing seven very different celestial groups for a Marches-centered game): Sentinels attune to places, not to people or objects directly...but their resonance can tell whether someone belongs in an attuned place. ("Belonging" somewhere would be defined as an employee or client in a workplace, for example. For a home it would include the lawful residents, guests that the owner recognizes as friendly, and possibly maintenance staff.) On a higher resonance roll, Sentinels can tell whether an outsider threatens his attuned place...and on a VERY good roll, he can tell exactly what outsiders are planning to do there. ("This so-called plumber will fix the leak you called about, all right--but he's also planning to stash drugs in the toilet tank and get everyone evicted!")

  • Dead Elders: Since the City of Refuge is only a few centuries younger than the Grigori's mass Outcasting, I presume that some Elders must have been killed in the past--probably after Uriel's scouts discovered the City and urged him to begin the Purity Crusade. Which Words might these lost Elders have represented...and why have they not been filled since?

  • The Word of Legend: Since my campaign has established Legend as the ethereal counterpart of Fate/Destiny, should one of the seven Elders I listed before encourage mortals to lead memorable, Legend-making lives? Should an eighth Elder, closer to Yves/Kronos in age and power, have the word of Legend? Or should multiple Elders with related Words oversee that duty?

  • Malakite counterparts: I've already ruled that the Malakim themselves can't Defect, any more than they can Fall; that's part of the Choir's uncompromising nature. But what if some Elder created an eighth Ensemble to enforce the laws and ideals of the City? They'd be the only Ensemble born Gray, and one of two who can't Fall or Redeem. (I visualize them as steel-feathered, fiery-eyed birds of prey--able to detect extreme, unbalanced actions or beliefs with their resonance. What should I call this new Ensemble, and what would be their best dissonance condition?)



Any constructive criticism, new ideas, or stats you'd like to suggest for any of the above? Feel free!
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Last edited by ISNorden; 10-19-2009 at 12:48 PM. Reason: chronological error fixed
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Old 10-19-2009, 12:07 AM   #2
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Default Re: [heretical] More Gray Celestial expansions

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Originally Posted by ISNorden View Post
[*]Malakite counterparts: I've already ruled that the Malakim themselves can't Defect, any more than they can Fall...that's part of the Choir's uncompromising nature. But what if some Elder created an eighth Ensemble to enforce the laws and ideals of the City? They'd be the only Ensemble born Gray, and one of two who can't Fall or Redeem. (I visualize them as steel-feathered, fiery-eyed birds of prey--able to detect extreme, unbalanced actions or beliefs with their resonance. What should I call this new Ensemble, and what would be their best dissonance condition?)[/LIST]
One thought that comes to mind: Instead of having an "enforcing Ensemble," why not just use allied ethereal spirits for the job? After all, by definition, ethereals can't fall or redeem either ... they can choose a side if they want, but it doesn't change their nature.

I can especially see the Elder of Imagination custom-creating these spirits by encouraging just the right dreams in certain dreamers ...
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Old 10-19-2009, 01:22 AM   #3
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Default Re: [heretical] More Gray Celestial expansions

Unfledged-- Liminal sounds a bit too clinical for me. "Wisp" itself is a pretty good name, or some word that suggests a fleeting thought. "Spark" possibly.

Sentinel-- I like my Dwarves better, but this is interesting.

Dead Elders-- It's likely that killed-by-Purity ones would have had the more martial Words; diplomatic, ideation, and peaceful Worded Superiors wouldn't have gotten caught that way. Some Words that deal with the defense or promulgation of ideas and stories would be nice.

Legend-- I'd make a Superior of that for sure; if I had to think of a historical figure that embodied your view on the Word, my mind runs very strongly to Snorri, who preserved the Norse corpus (while restamping it with his own views), or looking further back someone like Herodotus or Pliny.

Malakim counterparts-- possibly call them Valkyries? Or Rocs, if you imagine them as birds, although the original concept of Griffons as seen by the peoples of Greece (metal bladed birds who reflected the light of the sun beyond the endless grassy fields of Eastern Europe) might work as well. They might have the ability to compel people to tell stories (thus protecting the Marches by ensuring that legends are retold), or grant bonuses to people they've inspired with stories.
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Old 10-19-2009, 09:40 AM   #4
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Default Re: [heretical] More Gray Celestial expansions

As far as Legend goes, I would make it the responsibility of several Elders. Having one Elder that's the match of Yves or Kronos strikes me as a bit too powerful for all but the most ethereal-centered campaigns, and maybe not even there. If the Grays had someone who was that big a gun, they wouldn't need to be as cautious as they often have been.

Luck, Glory and Memory are probably more than adequate for now to oversee Legend. That said, the unexpected rise of an Elder of Legend could be one heck of an adventure or campaign seed, the sort of thing that would throw the courts of Heaven and Hell into a frenzy.

EDIT: Also, I take it that you mean the "Gray City" is a few centuries younger than the Outcasting of the Grigori, since you've stated that the exiles were among the city's founders.
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Old 10-19-2009, 11:34 AM   #5
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Default Re: [heretical] More Gray Celestial expansions

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Originally Posted by Rocket Man View Post
Having one Elder that's the match of Yves or Kronos strikes me as a bit too powerful for all but the most ethereal-centered campaigns, and maybe not even there. If the Grays had someone who was that big a gun, they wouldn't need to be as cautious as they often have been.
This is actually how I'd answer the question of who the Dead Elders are and why their Words have not been reassigned. If there ever was an ethereal analog to Yves and Kronos, you can bet that s/he would've been on Uriel's hit list.

Why not just reassign the Word? Perhaps the commonly assumed answer would be that anyone with that Word is automatically a high-priority target of both Heaven and Hell. Perhaps the spoiler-ridden answer, though, would be that the Elder of Legend would have been just as irreplaceable as either Yves or Kronos. (There is a spoilerish reason that they are so irreplaceable, as discussed in Heaven & Hell and Superiors 3...)

Alternatively, as Rocket Man suggests, it would be fascinating to run an adventure in which "Legend" emerges as a Word and a concept along with the figure who will represent it.
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Old 10-19-2009, 01:24 PM   #6
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Default Re: [heretical] More Gray Celestial expansions

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Originally Posted by Acolyte View Post
Unfledged-- Liminal sounds a bit too clinical for me. "Wisp" itself is a pretty good name, or some word that suggests a fleeting thought. "Spark" possibly.
"Wisp" actually isn't a bad choice; it suggests something barely visible and even a little spooky, like the mists of the Ether itself.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Acolyte
Sentinel-- I like my Dwarves better, but this is interesting.
I'd already thought of the Ensemble name and appearance before: "Sentinel" is a culture-neutral description of their duties, and it's not already used for a Choir or Band. (I'm already using "dwarves" for ordinary folkloric ethereals, especially with my Norse focus... :-) ) The human/animal hybrid look was inspired by the Sphinx and similar mythical guardians. All they needed was a distinct Ensemble Attunement...and your comment on Dwarves (as defined by your campaign) suggested that the Sentinels should focus mostly on places. Ethereal Tethers, temples and Domains might have attuned Sentinels nearby--but so could any other place that a power in the Marches valued enough.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Acolyte
Dead Elders-- It's likely that killed-by-Purity ones would have had the more martial Words; diplomatic, ideation, and peaceful Worded Superiors wouldn't have gotten caught that way. Some Words that deal with the defense or promulgation of ideas and stories would be nice.
Words like Poetry, Writing, and Inspiration come to mind...possibly also Tradition, History, Ancestors, the Tribe. Do those sound appropriate to you?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Acolyte
Legend-- I'd make a Superior of that for sure; if I had to think of a historical figure that embodied your view on the Word, my mind runs very strongly to Snorri, who preserved the Norse corpus (while restamping it with his own views), or looking further back someone like Herodotus or Pliny.
If a human dreamshade somehow gained the Word of Legend (as opposed to factual History)...then Snorri Sturluson would be high on the list of candidates. Pliny would be there too; so would Herod, Hesiod. Ovid and Homer. If the names of the writers who recorded medieval stories of King Arthur or Charlemagne were known, I'd consider them as well.

Of course, if the candidate had to be a Gray Celestial...I'd use the name of some cultural spirit associated with storytelling, presumably because the deity who originally had that name died in the Purity Crusade. Some possibilities: Anansi (West African, though his spider-form matches only two Ensembles that aren't so appropriate)...Taliesin (Celtic, a reincarnated bard)...Calliope (Greek, the Muse of epic poetry)...or Saga (a seer-goddess and Odin's drinking partner; her name is unrelated to the story-word in Old Norse but it's still a decent pun).


Quote:
Originally Posted by Acolyte
Malakim counterparts-- possibly call them Valkyries? Or Rocs, if you imagine them as birds, although the original concept of Griffons as seen by the peoples of Greece (metal bladed birds who reflected the light of the sun beyond the endless grassy fields of Eastern Europe) might work as well. They might have the ability to compel people to tell stories (thus protecting the Marches by ensuring that legends are retold), or grant bonuses to people they've inspired with stories.
Roc seems like the best match to their celestial form and fierceness; it certainly has the right mythical feel to it, and the Arab sources didn't associate the huge birds with any particular spirit.

Shengshi would probably feel close ties with the new Ensemble; even though he's a Sentinel himself, the Elder of Survival shows Roc-like tenacity in defending the Marches. Letting them inspire mortals as you suggest is a very appropriate attunement, too. In fact, the Elder of Legend--whether one is alive now or not--might have become the first Gray Roc after the Purity Crusade nearly wiped out the City of Refuge.
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Old 10-19-2009, 02:01 PM   #7
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Default Re: [heretical] More Gray Celestial expansions

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If a human dreamshade somehow gained the Word of Legend (as opposed to factual History)...then Snorri Sturluson would be high on the list of candidates. Pliny would be there too; so would Herod, Hesiod. Ovid and Homer. If the names of the writers who recorded medieval stories of King Arthur or Charlemagne were known, I'd consider them as well.
The current versions of the Arthurian mythos derive largely from the works of Chretien de Troyes and Tomas Malory, who derived them presumably from oral traditions, and in Malory's case from De Troyes.
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Old 10-19-2009, 02:30 PM   #8
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Dead Superiors-- I like the Tribe a lot, and it not having been filled might point to the general displacement of indigenous family-unit-based political entities by largely city- and nation- based ones (either as a cause or an effect). Inspiration would have been a very Earth-focused (or at least Vale of Dreams-focused) Word, because it requires lots of contacts with humans; this could explain why the Elder was killed in the Crusade, and it remains unfulfilled because it fits into the Wordsphere of several other Elders you have, all of which might have simply moved in to take what they needed from it and left the Word itself free as a reminder (like Raphael in canon Heaven, whose sphere of Knowledge was absorbed by Destiny, Lightning, a little Creation, and a little Fire, with the rest falling to Raphael's previous Servitor Sophia). A few other possible Words might be Heroism (or just Deeds), the Story (which probably would have been refilled), or Pride (definitely killed by the Purity Crusade). It might also be interesting to have a Grey who went bad and needed to be put down by the rest of the Elders (as happened with Legion and Makatiel). Loki's a classic example (I don't know where he is in your heretical setting), but anyone holding a Word like Trickery or Cunning or Deceit (or better yet, Conceit, with its literary implications implying the framework for a story) might be liable to turning into a bad apple.

Legend-- Since this Elder might or might not be a manifestation of the Symphony (like Yves and Kronos), you might go with something even older and Marches-related; Primus, Aetherius, Origin, or Font. And this being doesn't have to be on the power level of Yves or Kronos; even as a manifestation of the Symphony, it would be through the lens of the Marches (remember, God created a world where the dreams of trees and mountains and later animals and humans CREATED new beings with their own motivations), which is far more obsessed with the accumulation of vibrant and vivid stories, not getting souls to one place or another. This Elder might be limited by his ability to know potential Legends for only great (or destined-to-be-great) people (leaving the weaker Legends totally outside of the realm of his insight and making his insight focused on people Heaven and Hell are likely to already focus on), his inability to leave the Marches, the fact that he changes as the Marches changes, or something like that. Perhaps he does get killed and the Marches just respawns him (Who's to say that that wouldn't be the case for Yves and Kronos), perhaps slightly different (like the Doctor *grin*).

"Roc" dissonance requirement ideas-- Kill an Ethereal, perform violence against an Ethereal, allow a story to go untold, take a set of Ethereal-appropriate vows, allow an angel or demon in the Marches to go unpunished, fail to defend something they have sworn or were assigned to protect, etc
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Old 10-19-2009, 10:33 PM   #9
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Default Re: [heretical] More Gray Celestial expansions

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Originally Posted by DAlillama View Post
The current versions of the Arthurian mythos derive largely from the works of Chretien de Troyes and Tomas Malory, who derived them presumably from oral traditions, and in Malory's case from De Troyes.

Thanks for the info--the name escaped my mind; but De Troyes and Mallory would both be good examples of humans serving the Elder of Legend.
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Old 10-19-2009, 11:22 PM   #10
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Default Re: [heretical] More Gray Celestial expansions

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Dead Superiors-- I like the Tribe a lot, and it not having been filled might point to the general displacement of indigenous family-unit-based political entities by largely city- and nation- based ones (either as a cause or an effect).
Makes sense: Teutatis, Companion Elder of the Tribe, would have risen to power before the City of Refuge was built (and gotten killed when his Word became much weaker).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Acolyte
Inspiration would have been a very Earth-focused (or at least Vale of Dreams-focused) Word, because it requires lots of contacts with humans; this could explain why the Elder was killed in the Crusade...[snippage]
Awen, the Elder of Inspiration, is probably a servitor of Imagination who rose to power during the Gray's early history. Not sure whether she should be a Rider or a Champion; both Ensembles look suitable for that Word.

An Elder of Pride or Trickery probably would go bad and turn on his fellows; Loki (and other cultures' trickster gods) would fight on the traitor's side back in the day. (Since you asked, BTW: in my campaign, Loki is still alive but bound in his cave until Ragnarok.)

Arete, Champion Elder of Heroism, would have been one of the first to fall in the Purity Crusade because he was going all-out to defend the City of Refuge. Most of his former servitors now follow Hrodmarr, the Elder of Glory.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Acolyte
Legend-- Since this Elder might or might not be a manifestation of the Symphony (like Yves and Kronos), you might go with something even older and Marches-related; Primus, Aetherius, Origin, or Font.
What about Nous--the Mind--as a name for this original being? Game canon repeatedly connects mental functions and abilities with the Ethereal realm; and a mind as the ultimate origin/storehouse of Legend seems logical to me.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Acolyte
And this being doesn't have to be on the power level of Yves or Kronos; even as a manifestation of the Symphony, it would be through the lens of the Marches....[snippage].... which is far more obsessed with the accumulation of vibrant and vivid stories, not getting souls to one place or another. This Elder might be limited by his ability to know potential Legends for only great (or destined-to-be-great) people (leaving the weaker Legends totally outside of the realm of his insight and making his insight focused on people Heaven and Hell are likely to already focus on), his inability to leave the Marches, the fact that he changes as the Marches changes, or something like that. Perhaps he does get killed and the Marches just respawns him (Who's to say that that wouldn't be the case for Yves and Kronos), perhaps slightly different (like the Doctor *grin*).
Since Ethereals do tend to respawn based on memory and belief, Nous is theoretically unkillable as long as there are beings capable of creating new stories, new places, new characters in their imagination. He'd be the ultimate Ethereal, an Elder before some celestials began going Gray...possibly the one who inspires the original mass Defection by the Outcast Grigori. ("You were right to teach and support the humans; their creations are stronger than Heaven or Hell suspects!")

Quote:
Originally Posted by Acolyte
"Roc" dissonance requirement ideas-- Kill an Ethereal, perform violence against an Ethereal, allow a story to go untold, take a set of Ethereal-appropriate vows, allow an angel or demon in the Marches to go unpunished, fail to defend something they have sworn or were assigned to protect, etc
I'll use some of these ideas, maybe two or three--you've got a lot of great ones here, but too many dissonance rules make a character unplayable.
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