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Old 11-09-2009, 10:13 PM   #1
Jason
 
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Default "Backwards" In Nomine

Has anybody here tried running In Nomine with the demons as the "good guys" and angels as the "bad guys"?

I feel like it's relatively easy to run the game as "dark, low-contrast," with the angels being just as bad as the demons (fascists instead of selfish rebels), but it's tougher to run the game with canon rules and characters and actually allow any room for moral ambiguity on Hell's part. Too many demons have dissonance conditions that actively require them not just to be agents of change and freedom from tyranny, but real evil jerkholes.

The only real foray into this I've seen makes quite a lot of changes, including changing the basic Choirs and Bands, which just seems like a pain to bug my players with. By the same token, SOMETHING would have to change; I'm wondering if anybody has pulled this off with less sweeping changes.

Some possible ideas that have occurred to me as ways to deal with this include...

1) Demons see themselves as performing a necessary service and don't much begrudge angels for what they need to do. Servitors of Fate, for instance, might actually see their job as making sure the wicked end up tortured in Hell. It's dissonant for them to encourage Destiny not because they want to battle Heaven, but because they have a nasty job, and it's in everyone's best interest if they just leave the pure folks alone. Demons are thus seen by Heaven as a "necessary evil," quite literally, and they know it.

2) The Demon Princes really are that bad, but individual demons have a lot of leeway in interpreting what their jobs are really about. Malphas wants his demons sowing dissent and ruining relationships, but a Servitor off on his own might focus specifically on making sure that terrorist cells don't collaborate too closely. It's in his nature to sow dissent, but he tries to direct it someplace productive.

3) Demons could be the true rebels, looking to "free your mind" from the "illusion" that is reality, like the human rebels in The Matrix. (In an actual crossover, maybe the "corruptors" are less about moral corruption than file corruption...) This might be doable with subtle tweaks here and there, but probably would require some kind of common-sense changes across the board. Maybe the canon rules as we know them are just Heaven's PR machine: "Fate" actually refers to greatest action performed in rejection of "natural" moral laws, rather than the most terrible achievement; Haagenti's Word isn't Gluttony, but Indulgence; Shedim don't need to ruin people's lives, but get them to see the world in a new way; Balseraphs aren't about "lying," but a postmodern rejection of the Truth as fixed and universal. Some dissonance conditions end up needing more tweaking than others, though...
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Old 11-10-2009, 08:24 AM   #2
Rendu
 
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Default Re: "Backwards" In Nomine

I had the opportunity to go through several pre-publication playtests run by Derek Pearcy at a convention. Two angelic, two demonic. The demonic sessions were interesting tactical challenges, as we needed to avoid attracting too much attention from "Upstairs". The angelic sessions became bloodbaths, because the players decided that anything done to fight Evil was, by definition, Good. To more-or-less quote Phil Foglio's Stanley and His Monster:
"Angels never make mistakes."
"Really?"
"Sure- Just ask one."

Crank angelic arrogance up to 11, and the devils' "we just want you to be free" may start to look more attractive. Crank it up to 20, and it may even be sincere.
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Old 11-10-2009, 02:30 PM   #3
ScaredofScissors
 
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Default Re: "Backwards" In Nomine

It's not exactly what you're looking for, but Erich Arendall's "Liber Attercap" site has some summaries for a demon-centric game he's running.

Generally, though, I'd think that the players in any game naturally assume that they're the "heroes", and would tend to interpret being demonic as a license to be mischievous rather than, well, Evil.
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Old 11-10-2009, 08:46 PM   #4
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Default Re: "Backwards" In Nomine

It is indeed not quite what I am looking for, but it's a pretty cool site nonetheless. Really digging the info on the Demon Princess of Madness. Nice artwork, too.

Just to give some context behind why I started this thread: I am considering running a "backwards" campaign or adventure after I finish the short adventure I'm running now, and was just wondering about logistics. Actually, the more I think on it, the more I'm liking the idea of playing in a world with 7-Force demons, 7-Force ethereals, and humans as the only PCs. Angels are so rare and non-interventionist in the game that plenty of demons quite reasonably suspect that Heaven actually approves of demonic activity on Earth as a way of testing the righteous and punishing the evil.

Still, I think I may just disallow Shedim and encourage the players who want to play demons to make Servitors whose dissonance conditions don't actively require them to be cruel and heartless. I'm thinking the major antagonists may be an order of Soldiers of God who claim to be founded by the Archangel Uriel, centuries ago.

All of that said, I'm still wondering how others have handled this. I guess the game isn't really designed to be "low contrast" in terms of demons being as good as angels, only in terms of angels being as bad as demons. Still, I'd love to hear about anyone who has pulled that off.
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Old 11-11-2009, 07:37 AM   #5
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Default Re: "Backwards" In Nomine

As a recovering D&Der, my question is:

Why is the Law vs Chaos side of the alignments getting swept under the rug?

Even if angels are lawful to chaotic good and demons are lawful to chaotic evil, that still means that each side has an internal law vs chaos split and opportunities to work with right thinking members of the other side against their enemies within.
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Old 11-11-2009, 09:39 AM   #6
Jason
 
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Default Re: "Backwards" In Nomine

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Originally Posted by hcobb View Post
As a recovering D&Der, my question is:

Why is the Law vs Chaos side of the alignments getting swept under the rug?

Even if angels are lawful to chaotic good and demons are lawful to chaotic evil, that still means that each side has an internal law vs chaos split and opportunities to work with right thinking members of the other side against their enemies within.
Actually, that's a pretty great way of phrasing canon In Nomine's morality system, and I think we already see some of this present. Dominic and Laurence (who get along very well, according to various supplements), represent Lawful Good, whereas Eli and Janus (whom Dominic distrusts) represent Chaotic Good. And this is why Dominic and Asmodeus are able to collaborate from time to time: They are both concerned with the Law, but the good vs. evil side of things is too fundamental a divide to allow for much collaboration beyond this.

I think that "backwards" In Nomine would be interesting to run by saying that the fundamental division between Heaven and Hell is one between Law and Chaos, not between good and evil: Angels are Lawful Good to Lawful Evil, and Demons are Chaotic Good to Chaotic Evil. The problem with this is that canon In Nomine has so many rules that specifically fix demons as evil (e.g., Shedim dissonance condition) that you'd have to change quite a few specifics.
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Old 11-11-2009, 06:04 PM   #7
sir_pudding
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Default Re: "Backwards" In Nomine

What about just considering a realistic demonic worldview. Consider:
  • Why Lucifer killed Metatron.
  • There is very little hard evidence in the setting that God actually exists.
  • Kronos and Yves. What are they really? What does it say about the symphony that it needs both of them.
  • Heaven is hardly a utopia. The triads are as bad a secret police as any on Earth. They even punish thought crime.
  • Heaven claims that the talking monkeys are important, but seem perfectly willing to manipulate, lie to, and kill them.
  • Death (the real one) is an Angel.
  • Freedom is a demon
  • Humans kill each other left and right over religous conflicts that were directly inspired by heaven.
  • It's not hard to look at the symphony (and especially Destiny) as a machine to feed Heaven with Essence. Every thing else could easily be a lie.

As long as they don't care about what happens to humans (and really why should they, anymore than you care what happens to ants) it should be very easy to cast the symphony itself as a giant con and the angels as dupes. Perhaps if Lucifer's goal is to remake creation into something equitable.
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Old 11-11-2009, 09:32 PM   #8
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Default Re: "Backwards" In Nomine

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Originally Posted by sir_pudding View Post
What about just considering a realistic demonic worldview. [] Perhaps if Lucifer's goal is to remake creation into something equitable.
From a philosophical point of view, sure. From a gameplay mechanics point of view, it's just hard to reconcile this with attunements like "know what emotion to inflict upon a target to best serve the cause of evil" (Habbalah of Fate) and dissonance conditions like "can't go a single day without worsening someone's misfortune by laughing at him" (Dark Humor) or "fail to cause a host to commit an evil act" (Shedim). You can kind of reinterpret things as they come, I suppose, but there's just so many things like this that it's hard to shift the game's morality paradigm overall.
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Old 11-12-2009, 02:16 PM   #9
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Default Re: "Backwards" In Nomine

Thanks for the link to my site Scissors and for the compliment, Jason! Someday I hope to finish writing the Seeds of Madness, but every time I start writing one it spins into 15 other things I want to write to accompany a seed. Soon, though. Soon.

To the topic at hand: Backwards In Nomine would not only take a major shift in perceptions, but also need some rule tweaks, I'd think. My biggest issue with something like Backwards In Nomine is that even if the good/evil aspect is washed away (something I do when running) and the contrast is set as low as possible, it doesn't take away the fact that demons are selfish and angels are selfless. I have a hard time taking freedom fighters and facists from those two attitudes, and most powers and descriptions echo selfish/selfish attitudes.

The closest thing I've seen to Backwards In Nomine was the fan-built project of "Tattered Symphony", which, essentially, rewrote the entire In Nomine background and rebuilt the history, attunements and Superiors from the ground up, using the core rules as a foundation. Unfortunately, the original .netbook is no longer around, but Moe Lane does host a mostly complete version on his site, here.
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Old 11-12-2009, 05:21 PM   #10
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Default Re: "Backwards" In Nomine

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason View Post
From a philosophical point of view, sure. From a gameplay mechanics point of view, it's just hard to reconcile this with attunements like "know what emotion to inflict upon a target to best serve the cause of evil" (Habbalah of Fate) and dissonance conditions like "can't go a single day without worsening someone's misfortune by laughing at him" (Dark Humor) or "fail to cause a host to commit an evil act" (Shedim). You can kind of reinterpret things as they come, I suppose, but there's just so many things like this that it's hard to shift the game's morality paradigm overall.
Only if you work from the assumption that humans matter. "Evil" is enemy propaganda. The symphony is a lie. Humans are a joke. Use them to tear the walls of the prison down.
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