One shot game night and In Nomine was nominated to be the game. I wanted to find a balance between something sorta having the lightness of Dogma but the darkness of a infernal game. With only two players, I wanted to give this game a spin to make it feel a bit more interesting. Half-way into character creation, with the two players being a Mercurian of Yves and a Lilim of Andrealphus, I realized how to give the game the kick I wanted. The tricky part of a one-shot game is making the players feel invested in the roles and story very quickly, before you resolve it and end the game with a bang.
One player is Steve Neuman whose angelic name is actually Umadea. The Mercurian is a Servitor of Yves, Umadea owns a tiny building which he uses as a gallery. His interest in art is pretty high. He has the Song of Charm (Corporeal, Ethereal, Celestial) all at level 3.
The other player is Bobbi Goodyear whose angelic name is actually Enise. The Lilim is a Servitor of Andrealphus, and she has the Songs of Charm (Celestial) at level 3 and the Song of Healing (Corporal) at level 3. She also has gained the Servitor Attunement called Dark Desire.
The story begins with Steve Neuman in his gallery as a man gives him an oil painting. The figure shows a male figure painted within a series of concentric circles. The painting looks like a man falling, or a man flying depending on how one views it. Impressed with the work, Steve decides to feature the painting in his gallery. When he asks the man what to call it, the man just shakes his head and decides to walk away. Eventually, another person shows interest in the painting. The woman steps towards the painting and asks to buy it. As Neuman engages in small talk, the woman draws out her purse and hands him two thousand dollars. For a painting which Neuman simply thought would be interesting to share, he was shocked to learn someone was willing to pay this much. Introducing himself, she takes his hand and tells him, "Lillie. Lillie Langtrey." But when they touched, Neuman got a glimpse of the woman's past and destiny, and realizes she is not human at all. She is a Vampire.
Bobbi on the other hand stood on the stage with other exotic dancers and strippers. She talks to the head of club Glamourous, some guy named Tony about helping them out. She recalls the events of hours ago, when she first bumped into Tony's companion, the tremendously hot guy named Sammy. The two were kissing and flirting in some bar and eventually took their tongue dancing to the bedroom. Sammy insisted on "finishing" only come morning after breakfast, an insistence which Bobbi found odd. She repeatedly tried to get him to ask her to finish him off. And after going back and forth on this for hours, both turn their heads to the sound of a sudden explosion in the Symphony. They turned back to each other and realized, "You're.. Celestial!" When the two finally revealed their Celestial forms, they realized they were both Lilim that served Andrealphus. Sammy and Bobbi head off their separate ways, an action spurred when they notice pigeons gathering outside the window, worrying revealing their Celestial forms will grab the attention of other Celestials. But somehow keep bumping into each other and the pigeons (though not necessarily the same ones.) In the end, the two meet up at Glamourous, and consider making a deal to each other to be on a "truce" and not try to one up each other.
Neuman hears the disturbance in the Symphony as well and takes a cab to go to the location. There, he finds a man in a hat and trenchcoat staring at the same location. As Neuman approaches, the man draws out a folded baton and warns him not to get too close. Neuman explains they are here for the same reason, and soon draws out the man is Ishmael, a Servitor of Dreams. Ishmael has been watching over children, and the death they all heard was that of a child being killed. As they investigate they learn the child has been drained of blood. Two holes are visible on her throat. Ishmael hopes to find the person involved, and when Neuman mentions he knows of a vampire, Ishmael insists on visiting her to confront her about the murder. Neuman, not a fan of violence, worriedly decides to bring him to Langtrey, using the address written in the business card she had given him.
Bobbi bumps into a stranger in her run away from the pigeons. The man, well dressed and proper, was about to help her up, but his bodyguard steps forward and shoves Bobbi backwards. "Cash!" the man repimands his goon, then reaches to help Bobbi up to her feet. Thanks to Andrealphus' band attunement, Bobbi discovers that deep down, this man's deepest desire is to "Become Human Once Again." Worried that she was in bigger trouble, she rushes off, and as she turns another corner, bumps into Sammy once again! The two, amused at their luck, decide to stick together for now.
The cab ride is a quiet one. Ishmael shares with Neuman that he has been watching over children through the years. It becomes clear from Ishamel's stories that he has never encountered a demon face-to-face and that his feelings towards children are incredibly strong. For an Elohim, Neuman worries if the angel's dissonance was growing.
Sammy and Bobbi, now at Glamorous throw each other knowing glances, and Sammy gives Bobbi the go signal to do whatever she wants with Tony. Moving to his office, Bobbi very easily seduces Tony, extracting from him two Geas so easily by simply giving him a massive sexual performance with a metal baseball bat. But just as Tony creams himself, Bobbi sees the flock of pigeons fluttering away from the bar next door, a four-storey place called the Haven. She rushes out and goes to Sammy, and the two argue if either of them have lured a Kyriotate into the area. But when they hear glass shattering outside, the two see that the upper level of Haven had shattered and a man was falling from the fourth floor. The two realize the place was ripe for people who will "need help." They both smile.
Neuman and Ishmael arrived at the Haven, showed the card to the goons keeping watch and soon were escorted upstairs to her office. While there, however, Ishamel's tone quickly becomes aggressive and soon he draws his folded baton out. Langtrey bares her fangs and allows her very Presence to grow. Her appearance seems to grow more Majestic and intimidating. But the powers do not seem to affect neither Ishmael nor Neuman at all. Ishmael leaps forward and using the baton strikes Langtrey. The single strike causes her arm to burst into flames. In her panic, she moves faster than the eye can follow and flings Ishmael out of the window. As Langtrey's goons rush into the scene, Neuman raises his hands to show he is unarmed, but the goons feel their actions emotionally ushered by Langtrey's words as she yells at them, "Kill him!" As Neuman takes a few shots to the chest, he drops to the ground and launches the Ethereal Song of Charm too weaken the vampire. Unfortunately, the song fails.
As Sammy snags tiny Geas promises from each person he "helps get out of the building," Bobbi finds a woman whose deepest desire is to "Have someone kill my husband." As she considers doing it, she thinks of having Tony from Glamorous across the street kill him for her. But in the ensuring commotion of getting him to do it, Sammy starts to chide Bobbi in replacing what she mistakes as quality over the quantity available for them. As Bobbi tries to defend her choices, Sammy grabs hold of her and makes her answer strangely personal questions, among which included, "Why him? Why did you ever leave your Mother for him?" When Bobbi considers what's going on, she starts to realize that this Sammy in front of him is just a Vessel. The true intelligence behind him was Lilith herself! "Call him," Lilith growled at Bobbi, "Call that demon you serve. I want to speak to him right now."
Neuman drops out of his physical state and manifests his Celestial Form. His Vassal vanishes to safety. Ishmael returns to the room and using his own songs, easily dispatches the goons. Langtrey realizes what Neuman is when her Heightened Senses allows her to see Neuman's true Angelic form. She cowers in fear and begs for mercy even as Ishmael closes in to punish her. Neuman reminds Ishmael not to kill her, and Ishmael promises her that, "Immortal you may be, you still dream. I swear to you, every single night your dreams shall have me visiting. And you shall never forget what you have done to all the children you have killed." When Neuman questions Ishmael if she is even the one who attacked the child, Ishmael asks back, "Does she not deserve to be punished still for other victims in the past?" Neuman notices the pitch black stains that mark Ishmael's cheeks from his falling tears. He opts not to question the Celestial and his growing Dissonance. They leave.
Bobbi Invokes Andrealphus and he appears with a massive tonal boom in the Symphony. Tony steps into view and Bobbi and Lilith (in Sammy) quickly realize Andrealphus has used the man as his Vassal. "Just call me Uncle Andre," he smirks. Lilith tells Bobbi to decide where he truly wishes to be, and winks at her when she motions to Andrealphus. Bobbi realizes she still has a Geas upon Andrealphus' Vassal, and hopes that will be enough. She asks him to let her go and he agrees, but not before unleashing a song so potent all within three blocks are overcome with a deadly ravenous need to have sex. The human media calls it a terrorist attack. Bobbi and Lilith stands within the fleshy uprising. Lilith asks Bobbi if she truly wishes to be free, and Bobbi admits she just wants to enjoy the world more. So Lilith grants one final gift. For one year, Lilith hands Bobbi most of her power and distinctions, to the point most will look at her and see her AS Lilith. "Enjoy the experience. Freedom is a perspective." Bobbi smiles and walks away, eager to see how far she can twist New York under her thumb.
The next evening. Neuman finds the painter back in his gallery. He brings in a new painting, which he realizes shows a woman grabbing her hair as she weeps bloody tears. The woman's face matches that of Miss Langtrey. When he asks the painter why he won't sell them for money, the painter tells him, "Perhaps they are meant to teach something instead. What do you see? Does it explain why I did not answer you when you called for me?" Neuman recalls trying to Invoke Yves to help against Langtrey and his petition being ignored. He realizes now the painter was Yves himself. "But what is this supposed to do for me?" Neuman asks. Yves simply leaves and another man steps inside. He combs his slick hair back and asks Neuman for the price of the new painting. When Neuman turns, he realizes the man is a splitting image of the first painting. And his interest to buy the second one intrigues him. He soon admits he feels it fits perfectly with the other painting he has, one which was given to him by Lillie Langtrey. Neuman realizes once again they were merely forces that allowed Fate and Destinies to find their mark. He accepts the man's money and asks him for his name.
"Luna. Julian Luna."
"Luna. Julian Luna."
And the he leaves with the painting in his hands.
Yes this game is in memory of Julian Luna.
Or rather, in memory of the late Mark Frankel.
We miss you.