, 287 tweets, 31 min read Read on Twitter
okay, in nomine
in nomine is a bad game i feel strongly about because i love late 90s trash, even though it was pretty indefensible even at the time
it's another game in the World of Darkness vein: supernatural creatures - in this case, angels and demons - are fighting a secret war in the background of a somewhat-more-pessimistic reality
IN shares the problems of world of darkness and its various linemates/imitators: it's not clear what PCs actually do, the forces against you are so powerful that you can't ever face them directly, power levels are all over the place, and the GM is encouraged to fuck with players
Also like (contemporaneous) WOD: it doesn't do a good job of teaching would-be players how to handle its "adult" themes in a mature way, it's too easy to make PCs who are incompatible with each other or even working in a party at all, and the tone is all over the place
Also: there's a thudding metaplot that's difficult to escape, the adventures are incomplete and rely on owning multiple books, a good third of the line is lists of things, there's so much hidden canon knowledge that reading the books means you know more than your character should
In Nomine, it has problems, you see.
Some of these problems are forgiveable when you remember that lots of these late 90s RPG books were as much meant to be read as they were played.
7th Sea, Deadlands, even WOD at its most self-absorbed; the emphasis on metaplot scattered over many books and settings which had more social commentary than actual adventure hooks made for decent reading (as long as you were hopeless nerd trash, like I am).
This is getting ahead of myself a bit.
In In Nomine, the basic premise is that you and several friends play a Scooby gang of angels or demons, who are all nominally on the same missions but also have personal agendas which may or may not conflict with each other.
In general, this is all happening on Earth, although you can go to Heaven or Hell or the Ethereal Plane (Dreamscape) or occasionally Limbo as circumstances dictate.
Celestials (the collective term for both angels and demons) are essentially people, if single-minded, immortal, superpowered people.
Both Heaven and Hell are immortal bureaucracies run by fallible (if ridiculously powerful) people. There's a Higher Heaven where God lives, and it is to Heaven what Heaven is to Earth. The Archangels generally don't have a direct line to God's will.
Heaven and Hell both are clusterfucks of infighting, and basically every detail about Heaven in In Nomine is so blasphemous that I can't really see this game appealing to conservative Christians at all, despite the nominal "fighting the forces of Hell!" premise.
Celestial characters have two defining traits, analogous to class/race in D&D: their Choir/Band, and their Superior.
Choirs (for angels) and Bands (for demons) are your class, more or less. They determine your primary ability, or Resonance, and your most important and immutable Dissonance Condition.
Your Resonance is the thing your character specializes in. Seraphim can tell when people are lying. Mercurians innately know the power dynamics between two people. Ofanim go places somewhat faster than everyone else.
You may have noticed that those examples aren't anything like balanced.

It's going to be a theme.
There are seven choirs and bands, six of which correspond to each other. When an angel Falls or a demon is redeemed, they switch to their counterpart.
(There are some extra choirs, but they are rare special snowflakes or canon mysteries.)
A Celestial's Dissonance condition is the thing that is so opposed to their basic nature that it is damaging and painful for them.
Seraphim can't lie (although they can omit the truth or dissemble). Mercurians can't be violent towards humans. Ofanim can't willingly stay in the same place for more than three days.
Celestials do have free will, so they CAN do these things. It just gives them notes of Dissonance.
In Nomine is real big on musical metaphor.
Dissonance is the metaphysical stain of going against your nature, for celestials. It makes it harder to use your Resonance, and can have long-term consequences if you accrue too much.
First off, it can turn into permanent metaphysical trauma. For angels, it can make them first Trip, then Fall. For demons (or Malakim angels), it can inflict Discord.
Discords are the usual grab-bag of Disadvantages in point-buy games, and, for involuntarily applied Discord, the GM is encouraged to pick something thematically appropriate to how you got the Dissonance and also to screw you over freely.
(You can also start with Discord in chargen.)
To avoid Tripping, Falling, or involuntary Discord, you can also voluntarily choose a thematically appropriate Discord to buy off Dissonance before the issue is forced.
One of the reasons you might want to do this is because there's an inquisition on either side that frowns upon Dissonance pretty harshly. Plus your boss might disapprove.
(Almost) all Celestials have a boss, their Superior, either an Archangel or a Demon Prince.
Superiors are immensely powerful, Word-Bound angels or demons who can mold Celestials like clay and can't be directly opposed by anyone but their peers, God, or Lucifer.
They're also inescapable middle managers, so every non-maverick Celestial has a Superior, and it's not just God or Lucifer. God isn't talking to anyone, and Lucifer delegates.
Superiors are Word-Bound: they have a specific area of specialty that they focus on. Gabriel is the Archangel of Fire, Haagenti is the Demon Prince of Gluttony.
Therefore, Gabriel's Servitors (that's you) get fire- or inspiration- or revelation-themed powers from Gabriel, and are in charge of increasing the importance of fire (both literal and figurative) in the world.
A Celetial's Superior also hands down a Dissonance Condition, a Choir Attunement, and a handful of Rites.
A Superior's Dissonance Condition is their basic standing order to all their subordinates, and doesn't change. Gabriel wants her Servitors to punish the cruel, at least once every 1-6 days.
A Choir (or Band) Attunement is a thematic ability a Superior gives to all of their Servitors of a given Choir. Gabriel empowers all of her Seraphim to know innately whether people are lying to themselves about what monsters they are.
Some Choir Attunement are mechanically linked to that Choir's Resonance, but those that aren't can be earned by any sufficiently diligent Servitor. Gabriel's Choir Attunements are all passive radar to detect different kinds of cruelty, and any angel can earn any of them.
Rites are thematically appropriate things you can do to get Essence, which is basically MP. Gabriel will give you Essence for chilling out by a fire, getting in fights, or torching demons. (This is on top of your one Essence per day.)
Because Dissonance can come from disregarding your boss's standing orders, it's often a bad idea to be especially Dissonant when the boss comes calling.
Superiors can wipe away Dissonance the same way they can mold their Servitors any way they like - and they often will wipe Dissonance accrued because of specific orders that conflict with Dissonance conditions - but most of the Superiors aren't very nice and all of them are busy.
Superiors can also wipe away Discord, albeit with more effort, but, again, most of the Superiors are dicks, and figure you need to learn your lesson for whatever inflicted the Discord on you.
Each Superior also has a bunch of other abilities particularly diligent Servitors can earn (or buy at character creation).
Also, should've mentioned: Dissonance can also be bought off with a lot of Essence or a lot of downtime spent doing scut work. That's just often not practical.
While your Choir is an immutable part of your self, your Superior is just your boss. Celestials can change bosses with a bit of playing politics, although that's much easier for an angel than a demon!
Dissonance conditions, Rites, and Attunements are part and parcel with the job, and are just passively enforced once applied by the universe without your boss being specifically aware, but your boss will usually retract all of them if you leave on good terms.
Quitting or going rogue always removes your old boss's Dissonance Condition, although a particularly generous ex-Superior may let you keep the good stuff.
Again, the value of Attunements and Dissonance conditions is incredibly out of whack. Gabriel's Dissonance is pretty typical: "never do unusual thing" or "do specific task a couple times a week" is the norm.
Some are not playable. Jordi, the Archangel of Animals, has this: "Jordi’s angels cannot allow themselves to be swayed by the concerns of human society, its rules, or its expectations of behavior."
How the fuck do you play an angel in service of Jordi without being a constantly disruptive asshole all the time? Who knows
Ofanim (and servitors of the Archangel of Wind, who have similar Dissonance) also pose unique problems: In Nomine is supposed to be LARP friendly, but moving every three days isn't practical for LARPers for obvious reasons
Many Dissonance Conditions place impractical limits on the whole group, while others are things characters can quietly and easily do in the background. It's a mess.
All of this stuff about Choirs and Bands and Superiors and Attunements and Dissonance only applies to angels and demons, mind. Humans and other supernatural creatures don't use any of these rules.
In Nomine nominally supports human characters, including saints (who are, confusingly, humans who are revived to serve Heaven) and undead, but they absolutely aren't the focus of the game.
90s RPGs absolutely love lists of shit. Love 'em.
So there are eight Choirs of angels (one of which is only marginally playable), 13 Archangels to be your boss, seven Bands of demons, and 14 Demon Princes (one of which is neither a demon nor a prince).
As I said before, these vary wildly in power level and practicality. It's very easy to make a character that will constantly be challenged with the choice between actually participating in the game and being wracked with agonizing pain from Dissonance.
There are, of course, more Choirs (but no Bands IIRC) in additional books and definitely more Superiors, but focusing on the many, many options in the core book:
For the Choirs of angels, there are Seraphim who don't lie, Cherubim who protect people and things, Ofanim who gotta go fast, Elohim who read people's emotions, Malakim who see your alignment score, Kyriotates who possess people, and Mercurians, who read releationships.
There's also an eighth choir of angels in In Nomine's core book, the Grigori. Their specialty is fuckin'. They are all outcast from Heaven and may or may not be extinct, though, so I'm not sure why they're listed with the other seven.
Let's talk about Resonance really quick, since it's so core to how each of these Choirs works. Angels have to make a conscious decision to feel the cosmos or open their brain to the psychic maelstrom or whatever to do their Resonance, and it either works or it doesn't.
(Demons are a bit different because all of their Resonances are imposed on a specific target.)
But it's easy to set yourself up such that you'll basically never fail this roll unless Lucifer himself takes it upon himself to fuck up your day. (Which is a thing that happens 1:216 times you make any roll.)
It's just a pointless character creation trap. "Did you have the good sense to not dumpster your angel's Perception stat in character creation? Congratulations, move on to step 2."
Even if you did dumpster Perception, 5/6 of the time you can just reroll and try again, with no visible failure on your part. Angelic Resonances are generally just things you know or things you perceive, not spells you have to visibly cast.
Dissonance is a penalty to your Resonance roll, which is good because you're always aware of it because Resonance is a thing you roll all the time, but you need a lot of Dissonance for the penalty to ever affect anything important (and lots of Dissonance causes other problems)
On the other hand, two or more notes of Dissonance is a fucking death spiral, because if you roll less than your current amount of Dissonance on a Resonance roll on any single die (and every roll is 3d6), then you get an extra note of Dissonance just for being a fuckup.
Anyway enough gritty game mechanical stuff, onto the lists of crap
Seraphim, giant winged snakes in their angelic form, just know when you're lying. Depending on how effectively they roll (and there's no reason you can't just reroll), they may also know more context about your lie, like whether you know the truth or believe what you're saying.
Seraphim Resonance is just straight up broken.
1/6 of the time, Seraphim also know The Actual Truth when you lie to them.
There's no reason you can't just reroll Seraphim Resonance until you get the success-on-a-6, and there's no reason you can't just lie to Seraphim whenever you want.
This means it's completely impossible to have any story with hidden information in a game with Seraphim. The Seraphim just fishes for that 6, then you tell the Seraph whatever glib lies you want about whatever mystery you're facing, and the Seraph just magically solves it.
Seraph: "Okay, so how do we figure out where the demon is hiding, hm. Hey, Bob, where is the demon we're looking for?"

PC 2: (pointing a pigeon) "That's him."

Seraph: "Ah ha! I have seen through your cunning lie and now I know where he is for some reason."
There are ways to conceal things from Seraph Resonance, but I really don't think they intended for one of the seven character classes to be basically omniscient.
There's some talk about what Truth actually means, and subjectivity/objectivity in speech. "This show rules!" can only be a lie relative to the speaker's true feelings about the show, rather than any objective fact of the show's quality or lack thereof.
There's also an explicit warning not to fuck with Seraphim Resonance as the GM, especially with regard to metaphoric speech, or the players will murder you.
Cherubim attune themselves to people or objects, and know when they're in danger (or have been destroyed).
Cherubim are large, fearsome animals in their angelic form, not flying babies, because lol 90s.
Attuning to something can be done with a touch, line of sight, or even through a voice recording or photo, and once a Cherub is attuned, they know generally where it is, what kind of shape it's in, and whether it's in danger.
On the other hand, it's Dissonant for Cherubs to harm their attuned targets, allow them to be destroyed, or (if they fail a roll that uses a different stat from most Resonance rolls) try to withdraw their attunement before the randomized time limit runs out.
This makes Cherubim very good guardians and trackers, but it also means whatever they're fixated on can be used to hold them hostage.
I actually like this design. It tells a story through mechanics about the need to open yourself up to help or understand people, but how opening yourself up makes you vulnerable. If you screw up entirely, the potential harm is significant but limited.
Ofanim are the third highest Choir of angels in In Nomine, and I have to first admit that I misremembered their Dissonance Condition.
Leaving town every three days is the Dissonance Condition of all angels of Janus, not Ofanim. My bad.
Anyway Ofanim: they're still stupid though
Ofanim are giant flaming wheels in their angelic form, and they gotta go fast.
When they Resonate, they can either give themselves a substantial bonus to their next skill that involves going somewhere, or figure out how to get to a very vaguely specified location.
The bonus to going fast doesn't make them more likely to succeed at driving or running or flying planes or whatever, but makes successes (and failures!) much larger. If they Resonate and get a huge failure, they get a note (point) of Dissonance.
Ofanim have the ability to wreck their car more often, and not only are they penalized by the fact that they got in a car wreck, but they're also supernaturally penalized.
In theory, you can use this Resonance to dodge attacks in combat, but Resonating takes up your turn and the likelihood of failing to dodge is even higher because it is an opposed roll. Plus, if you Resonate and don't use that bonus, then you automatically eat Dissonance.
This entire design is absolutely dumb as shit.
Ofanim also know how to get to non-hidden places, which seems much less impressive if your game isn't set before smartphones became ubiquitous.
For example, an Ofanite can just know the way to "the nearest gas station that sells diesel", but "the best place to buy CDs" is too subjective and "2708 Charlesworth" is too specific. All of these examples are straight from the book.
Also Ofanim can go really, really fast in their insubstantial celestial forms, seeing as they are flying wheels of flame, but celestial forms are vulnerable to permanent death and using them attracts the attention of anyone with supernatural powers.
Ofanim are stupid and I hate them. I don't hate the concept, but everything about their design is just the worst.
Moving on, Elohim are androgynous humanoids in angelic form, and they're all empath Spock.
Elohim can look at someone and generally know their emotional state, maybe their current motivation, and on a good roll how that person would react to an action or two.
"Use common sense: burning the flag is an action, but burning the flag and running naked down the street with it while singing the preamble to the Constitution would take two actions (three, if you weren’t already naked)."
Elohim are Dissonant if they're subjective, but they forgot to write any rules for how that actually works.
"Subjectivity is dissonant to an Elohite. They form opinions from trusted fact and careful observation, but refuse to allow themselves the vanity of acting as their passions might dictate."

How does that translate to a code of conduct? Who the fuck knows!
I don't get an idea of how you actually penalize an Elohite for behaving inappropriately, and this isn't something you can leave to Calvinball in In Nomine. The mechanical stakes are too high.
Malakim are a whole-cloth creation for In Nomine. They are the angels who kick ass, and are the designated fighty choir of angels.
In angelic form Malakim are just people with giant black wings, generally bound with visible cuffs or collars or shackles.
Malakim aren't inherently any better at fighting than any other angel, though: their Resonance is to tell if a person they're looking at is particularly honorable or dishonorable relative to their own code of honor.
This commitment to moral relativism makes this ability weirdly unreliable, especially since someone's objectively most good Destiny or most evil Fate are also metaphysical facts in In Nomine.
Malakim have a choose-your-own-Dissonance mechanic. They all swear to suffer no evil to live while it is their choice and never surrender to or be captured by Hell, then two more oaths of the player's choice.
Malakim can't fall; if they don't burn off Dissonance by swearing new oaths (all of their oaths are technically Discord), then they just get more Discord like a demon when they hang onto Dissonance for too long.
There's a real heavy subtext that Malakim aren't angels, just on the side of the angels. All of the Malakim Superiors are huge awful dicks, and the reason that they aren't well-established in theology is that they only appeared in response to the Biblical Fall.
Any Malakim who predate the Fall (like Uriel) used to be some other sort of angel, and the only other way to change the nature of an angel's Choir is through Falling into a demon.
Malakim tie heavily into In Nomine's alternate theology in a way most Choirs don't; their origin comes after the big divergence between theology and this game, and they're tied up in the specific background war between angels and demons more tightly than most other Choirs.
This wouldn't strictly be a problem if In Nomine didn't want to support mixed parties of angels and demons.
No Malakim can tolerate any evil person, let alone an actual demon, without specific orders to do so. Trying to do it will just destroy them.
In Nomine wants to support Good Omens-like games where angels and demons collaborate, possibly uncomfortably, on shared interests despite their differences, and a singleminded fixation on destroying any evil you see just doesn't fit into that.
You can just not play a Malakite in such a game, of course, or contrive to make sure that Malakite always has orders to tolerate Bob the Cooperative Demon, but I feel like making a major character creation option defined by its antisocial nature is a bad design.
Malakim also factor heavily into the one set of (very bad) published adventures for In Nomine.
Kyriotates! Kyriotates are floating clouds of disembodied body parts that can possess people.
Kyriotates, in particular, do not have vessels. Most angels and demons (and a few others) have vessels, which are human-like immortal-but-not-unkillable bodies that they control on the Corporeal Plane.
Vessels don't have an independent existence separate from their owners; they disappear when the owner leaves Earth for some other plane.

(Vessels can have Roles in human society, which means they have jobs and homes and people who know them, but they have no independence.)
Shoot a Vessel in the head - repeatedly if necessary - and its owner gets shunted off of Earth and scrambled with Trauma for a bit.
Kyriotates possess actual living beings or other Celestial's vessels (or occasionally other things), sometimes with the owner's permission and sometimes not.
Kyriotates can possess multiple beings; at chargen, they're just shy of able to possess two humans, but a human and two dogs is possible.
The main reason this doesn't get out of hand is their Dissonance Condition, which requires them to leave a host no worse off than when they started.
This applies even if the possessed target really deserves being left worse off.
Multiple hosts also do not allow Kyriotates to ignore action economy in combat. RAW Kyriotates are actually terrible in combat, going only ever second or third turn with their main host, but that rule is not obvious and often just ignored.
Kyriotates are a neat design and I like that their powers and duties interact so well, but they have a real problem with expansion options.
There are a lot of kyriotate Choir Attunements and such that let them possess thematically appropriate inanimate objects, which can't meaningfully be left worse off.
A mound of stone, a computer, or a fire have no sense of "worse off," even if they're straight up destroyed.
So you have a large gap in flexibility between Kyriotates who can safely perform suicide missions at no personal risk and those who can't.
Mercurians are the last major Choir, and they are nice people, with nice wings in their celestial form.
Mercurians innately understand the interpersonal relationships and self-esteem of any person they look at, and in turn are forbidden from personally violently harming humans.
Mercurians aren't compelled to protect humans or be pacifists in general, so they can gut demons or tell someone else to kill a human; they just can't raise a hand to a human themselves.
They're pretty straightforward, although their Resonance has a lot of thematic overlap with Seraphim and Malakim. That may or may not be good, depending on how philosophically inclined your game is.
Grigori are the eighth Choir and there isn't enough info in the core book to actually play one.
They've all been outcast from Heaven for using their main ability, which is fuckin'.
Grigori can have children with humans, unlike other angels. (Vessels are sterile, and a Kyriotate who possesses a human to have children isn't the parent; the host is.)
Grigori are extremely half-baked. Not only are they not well-fleshed-out, but it turns out having children with mortals is just a (forbidden) secret ability any immortal can learn.
The Grigori entry is mainly an excuse to have a figure in a trench coat stand in what appears to be an open-air shower but I guess is meant to be rain.
Like I said before, mainly when making an angel character in In Nomine, you pick a Choir and an Archangel. (It's possible to not have the latter; but it means you're playing an Outcast pariah.)
Archangels and Demon Princes are the basically unassailable plot drivers in In Nomine. They have such an outsized presence in the game that they're unavoidable.
All of the Superiors are dedicated to a Word, and it's the lens through which they see and understand everything.
Being a Word-Bound angel or demon is something a PC can aspire to; not every Word is as potent as, say, Fire or Dreams.
Some Words in In Nomine are much less potent, as in the case of a recurring minor character, the Demon of Stale Bong Water.
But your character probably isn't Word-Bound. You just work for a particularly single-minded boss.
And there are a lot of them in In Nomine. There are 13 Archangels and 14 Demon Princes in In Nomine's core book, and more in later books.
Superiors' writeups are full of pagechewing rule garbage.
Every single Superior has a separate ability for each Choir/Band, 2-4 generic abilities they can hand out, three abilities they give to subordinates based on rank, a list of 2-3 Rites you can do to get paid by your boss in Essence, and a table giving odds to summon your boss.
Oh yeah, and the Dissonance Condition they impose on their subordinates.
Each of the Superiors also has a writeup of their personality and interests and history, and their political relationship with the other Archangels or Demon Princes.
Because this is a late-90s VTM ripoff, there's hella politics, even in Heaven.

(Spoiler: it's almost always Dominic's fault.)
Okay. Archangels.
Blandine is the Archangel of Dreams. She's largely separate from most games because she doesn't participate in politics and she's mainly focused on the Dreamlands, not Earth.
Blandine's one character trait is pining after her now-evil ex-wife, the Demon Princess of Nightmares.
It's worth stopping for a moment to talk about sex and gender with celestials, particularly with regard to the Archangels.
Celestials can pick how they present, and aren't gendered in any essential way. Most of the celestial characters in IN books do gender themselves to varying degrees, and even the ones who aren't especially picky are referred to consistently as one of "he" or "she".
Despite this, the majority of the Superiors are chiefly masculine, in both Heaven in Hell.
You can take this as social commentary if you want, but there's also the fact that most of the female Superiors are stereotypes.
Blandine's entire personality revolves around pining after a lost love, and she's not even the worst.
David is the Archangel of Stone, and he suuuuuuuuuuuucks.
"[David's] Servitors encourage people to join together in strength for mutual loyalty and protection, even to the point of forming street gangs and militias. They proudly count skinheads among their followers."
David's the archangel of being really stern and teaching people hard lessons and beating people to death.

Also he's naked.
David is dumb as hell and the fact that he's dumb as hell ruins everything a couple times.

But he doesn't screw up as much as Dominic.
Dominic is the Archangel of Judgement, but he is mainly noted for having very bad judgement.
If angels screw up too much (accusing Dissonance), they end up getting fired from their jobs by the universe (Tripping), then turning into demons (Falling).
You would think you wouldn't need an Archangel who runs an Inquisition - that is literally what it's called - given this, but Dominic is the patron of terrible ideas.
On a good day, Dominic's angels are busy promoting the essential rightness and justice of the law, with a little bit of lip service towards overturning unjust laws.
On a bad day, Dominic's angels are chasing after other angels for being bad at their jobs or consorting with demons. (BTW all of the archangels, Dominic included, consort with demons when their interests overlap.)
Every time Dominic puts another Archangel on trial, it ruins everything.
The first time, Dominic put Michael, the Archangel of War, on trial for being too prideful and inspiring pagan warrior cults, which ends when God shows up and pardons Michael personally.
I'm not entirely clear why Michael inspiring pagan cults is a problem since this is happening in the 16th century BC but whatever.
The second time is Dominic persecuting Gabriel over Islam, which is horrible for a variety of reasons but merits discussion later.
The third time, Dominic calls Uriel, the Archangel of Purity - now the general of Heaven's armies, after Michael stepped down after his own trial - for exterminating the pagan gods and supernatural creatures.
This time, Dominic does have a point that Uriel is a genocidal maniac, but the trial is moot after God again intervenes directly, recalling Uriel to the higher heavens that even angels don't come back from.
This also touches off a religious rift in Heaven, although I guess that one isn't really Dominic's fault. More on that when I get to Laurence and (sigh) Khalid.
Now Dominic is gearing up to put Eli, the Archangel of Creation on trial for abandoning Heaven's bureaucracy to live on Earth.
Fourth time's the charm!
Dominic theoretically swaps gender at a whim but the books are consistent about referring to him using male pronouns. It's just kinda there.
Dominic is also a supporter of Christianity, but in the abstract. Dominic thinks it would be good for humans to be Christians.
Dominic is an antagonist for most angelic and demonic groups. He's not sympathetic, he's not forgiving, and his angels persecute angels as much as they do demons or sinful humans.
Dominic, even more than David, is a mission statement for In Nomine. Angels aren't necessarily good people, and aren't necessarily even on your side, even if you are an angel.
Eli! Eli is the Archangel of Creation, and he's abandoned Heaven.
Eli's illustration is a light-skinned black man with dreads in old-fashioned, shabby clothing, which makes him one of the very few black characters in illustrations anywhere in this book.
I counted two, maybe three black men and no black women on a flip through this book. It's possible I missed an illo here or there, though.
Just sayin'.
Eli has abandoned Heaven to wander on Earth, and his angels are at loose ends. Angelic bureaucracy involves a fair amount of direct micromanagement.
In particular, most of the game mechanical advancements in In Nomine can only be applied directly by an Archangel, so PCs have a concrete game mechanical reason to think of Eli as having abandoned his duties.
It's possible to play an angel in service to Eli, either directly (with the warning that your boss is going to be absent) or "on loan" to another Archangel who is friendly to Eli, like Novalis.
The difference between working directly for another Archangel and being on loan is kinda fuzzy. Mostly you just buy Eli powers at chargen instead of Novalis or Yves powers or whatever.
Notably, Eli doesn't impose a Dissonance Condition and being an angel of Eli in service to someone else gives you a readymade reason to buy from two power lists. He's a little bit of a powergamer option in that sense.
Eli's agenda is real vague. "Do what thou wilt, but be cool," is a direct quote from the book.
Like the Grigori, what Eli is actually up to (and whether Dominic is right to want to put him on trial) is an open-ended story hook.
Creation explicitly includes fuckin', by the by.
Before I get into the Gabe clusterfuck, a bit more on Words.
Word-Bound angels exemplify the concept represented by their word, both literally and poetically.
So David represents and promotes Stone not just in the sense of appreciating and making use of literal minerals, but also being a hardass and emotionally like a rock (and pretty much every toxic form of masculinity but that is neither here nor there).
"But Jay," you interrupt, "isn't figurative language highly dependent on the particular language you're speaking? Does everyone in Heaven and Hell speak English?"
Why yes, hypothetical interlocutor, you have correctly noted something that makes no sense in In Nomine.
One of the later books tries to tackle this head on, saying that angels of poetically-linked disparate concepts got that way because of hard work to connect those concepts in the minds of mortals, but it still doesn't explain why English idiom is favored over others.
(The real answer is because In Nomine was made by English speakers for English speakers and SJ Games probably doesn't have the rights to publish it in any other language anyway.)
Gabriel is the Archangel of Fire, in both the "of enlightenment and inspiration" and "setting shit on" senses.
She is both the Gabriel who spoke to Mary and the Gabriel who dictated the Quran to Muhammad on God's behalf. At the time, she was God's messenger, and preferred a masculine presentation.
Now, Gabriel prefers to present as a woman, and also she's completely insane, in that movie-style "does random things for no clear reasons and can't finish a train of thought" way.
Nobody knows exactly why she's insane, but there are two known possible causes.
First, Gabriel shares the word of Fire with Belial, the Demon Prince of Fire. Belial is only concerned with fire in the "setting shit on" sense, so Gabriel tries to downplay that, and it's metaphysically and mentally stressful to deny part of herself.
(If you see any sort of sympathetic allegory here, rest assured that it's only because I'm being nicer to this material than it really deserves.)
Second, Dominic - who is sympathetic to Christianity above other religions, mind - tried to have her put on trial for incorrectly dictating the Quran to Muhammad, because the final Quran was different from the draft version that Yves, the Archangel of Destiny, had.
Now, it's not a canon fact that Gabriel got it wrong. Gabriel was working on direct instruction from God, so maybe Yves (who may or may not be in direct contact with God) had it wrong.

Alternately, the possibility that Muhammad or later Muslim scholars got it wrong is mentioned.
(Some of this is from later books; the main In Nomine core book only mentions that Gabriel dictated the Quran to Muhammad at Yves's instruction, and Dominic wanted to put Gabriel on trial for heresy as a result.)
In any case, there wasn't any trial, because Gabriel stormed out instead. Sometime shortly thereafter, she started favoring a female presentation and went insane, and now wanders around spouting nonsense that may or may not be prophecy or genuine divine revelation.
Now, Gabriel's servants mostly punish the cruel; inspiring people is more other Archangels' deal. And flame, as a general concept, hardly needs much shepherding.
This is the fucking worst. Fuck Gabriel, fuck In Nomine, fuck this stupid bullshit.
It would be possible to take the general outline of this character and make some sort of better allegory about gender or mental illness but this extremely ain't it.
Nevermind that this mess is about the only time Islam gets mentioned at all in this book!
(Although, given the treatment Islam gets in later books, perhaps it's for the best.)
Much, much less important: Gabriel's Choir Attunments (the default powers she gives her servitor angels, such as your character) are gaaaaaaaaaarbage.
Most of them allow angels to tell at a glance if a person they're looking at is cruel in a particular, very narrowly-defined way.
Being psychic would be a heck of an ability in other games, but these attunements are so specific and often so redundant with the basic resonance of the angels who get them that they're hard to use ever.
Plus, since using them and finding a person who is cruel in this particular way usually obligates the user to punish that person within the next couple of days, using them at all can also be disruptive in a mixed party that is currently engaged in doing something else.
Why are Gabriel's angels so hyperfocused on punishing people, in any case? Punishment is Dominic's deal.
Part of the problem is that Gabriel's conceptual area, inspiration and prophecy, are already covered by Eli and and Yves. Even solo heroism is more Michael's realm than Gabriel's.
There's just so little of value in Gabriel's entire concept. I get that they're shooting for mad prophet to make sure nobody says "Why don't we just ask God what to do?" (while desperately trying to make Heaven less of a sausagefest) but the end result is just full of bad ideas.
I haven't gotten into mechanical specifics, but Mercurians who serve Gabriel have a very specific problem, especially if one of their stats is low.
Gabriel wants her angels to punish the cruel every (Celestial Forces) days, with the timer starting every time the angel sees a cruel person. (They don't collapse into balls of pain after a week in Heaven.)

Celestial Forces is a stat that is usually about 3, but can be 1-6.
Gabriel's Mercurians are Mercurians, so they can't violently harm humans, but the Attunement she gives them lets them inherently sense "those who delight in being cruel to themselves," and they can do their duty by spending a whole day helping such people not hurt themselves.
This duty, which takes a whole day, can be something a Gabrielite Mercurian has to do every single day, if that angel has low Celestial Forces. Even an average character has to spend every third day on what is very likely distracting downtime.
In a game where all characters have "day jobs," this would be reasonable, but it's another example of the lack of consideration given to how people would fit their characters into a group running around going on adventures in In Nomine.
That's enough Gabriel. I hope you like Chaotic Neutral!
Janus is the Archangel of Wind, and apropos of nothing, his illustration is a giant man draped in shadow with the proportions of Rob Liefeld's Captain America.
Janus is at once arbitrary and changeable, but also increasingly set in his ways, but also impulsive and... I really don't get any idea of what kind of personality he's supposed to have. He just does things for unclear reasons but everyone's fine with it.
It really feels like Janus should conflict with the more hidebound angels who favor stability, but even Dominic is specifically called out as just accepting Janus for who he is
Servants of Janus are rogues. It's an RPG, you want rogues, here's your rogue. Drive around very fast, steal shit, freak out the normies.
I'm really vague on what's supposed to be angelic about Janus's angels. I don't think good has to be boring but I do feel like there some be at least some lip service to their outlook or how what they're doing serves Heaven's cause
"Why does Janus promote change?" is a very basic question and it goes unanswered.
For angels who don't care about the rules, Janus's angels have one of the very strictest: they can't stay in one place for more than three days.
"Place" is construed very broadly; a city needs to be LA-sized before it's considered multiple places.
Janus's Cherubim turn their Resonance into Charm Person with no defense roll... I think? It's badly written.
I think the idea is that Janus's Cherubim only ever use it on a background character, who serves as a temporary assistant, but there's no actual rule stopping you from using it on whoever you want.
On the other end of the power scale, Janus's Malakim get a bonus to using explosives.

This book does not have rules for explosives.
Janus is just kind of there. He doesn't fit into the politics in an interesting way, and everything about his concept could already fit into Eli or Gabriel.
Before talking about the Archangel of technology, some real-world background on In Nomine might be helpful
In Nomine was released in 1997, in the last year or so before the dot com boom
Steve Jackson Games was always extremely online; Steve Jackson was close to the Austin hacker scene. So much so that the FBI (fruitlessly) raided SJ Games in 1990 and nearly drove them out of business
Same scene that Beto O'Rourke was apparently involved in, if you're following current presidential election news
Most SJ Games books from the 90s, when they mention the internet and technology at all, reflect the then-contemporary optimism that technology was going to be a revolution in democratizing the world and bringing down the barriers to free speech
it feels quaint in retrospect
In Nomine is, as far as I can tell, a little bit at a remove from that scene, but its main writer, Derek Pearcy, went on to work in the real world tech industry
As a result of this, the writeup for Jean, the Archangel of Technology, is more interesting now than it was at the time, because of its mix of anachronism and forward thinking.
Jean as a person is a controlling micromanager who thinks of humans as fundamentally lesser, but concedes their occasional flash of insight.
This is reflected directly in his angels' Dissonance Condition: while they themselves are allowed to use angelic supertechnology, they aren't allowed to let it fall into the hands of mere mortals without Jean's permission.
This is an efficient way to tell a story with rules. It doesn't just tell us what matters most to Jean - controlling technology - but also gives a straightforward thing for angels of Jean to do.
Jean's angels get some technology-themed abilities, some of which only make sense given a 1997 perspective on technology, and some of which have been overtaken by reality.
For example, Jean's Mercurians are all capable of communicating telepathically, which only makes sense as a technologically-themed ability in a "flattening the boundaries between people" kind of way
Jean's Elohim have the ability to summon a "pocket-sized computer" with "a high-speed wireless link to the Internet" that can "connect to any non-encrypted computer system with a serial port".

One of the suggested uses for this is checking Usenet.
One of Jean's generic Attunements is the ability to perform mathematical calculations in an instant.
Once you set aside the stuff that aged poorly, Jean's Attunements are ridiculously good. Ofanim can turn into electricity to travel through conductors, Cherubim can summon a cell phone next to their attuned targets, Kyriotates can possess inanimate objects.
The ability sets are thematic and useful, your role as an angel of Jean is clear, and Jean as a micromanager boss can be benevolent-but-exasperating, misguided, or why-is-this-guy-even-an-angel depending on the needs of your campaign. I really like Jean's writeup.
(Even though I would immediately look to use him as an antagonist in any IN game I ran, if for some reason I was forced to run an IN game.)
One thing. Jean is technically the Archangel of Lightning, not Technology.

The problem is that lightning plays basically no role in his writeup, nor are we given any idea of what Jean was like in a pre-modern era.
The only reason I can think of that he isn't the Archangel of Technology is because of the plot device with Gabriel, where sharing your word with a demon may drive angels insane.
(There's a Demon Prince of Technology btw.)
It would be possible to make Lightning a bit more part of his theme - technology and "eureka!" moments make a lot of sense together - but Eli, Gabriel, Novalis, and Yves already have inspiration as a big part of their themes.
Jean also has a lot of overlap with Yves, which I'll get to a bit later.
Jordi is short and sweet. He's the Archangel of Animals, and if he were entirely omitted from this book nobody would miss him.
Jordi doesn't care about people, just animals, so why he's in this book about people completely mystifies me.
Jordi's angels "cannot allow themselves to be swayed by the concerns of human society," on pain of suffering Dissonance. This is not practical for a game set in human society.
Jordi, for himself, isn't heavily involved in Heavenly politics and doesn't want to interact with people.
A big problem with Jordi is that human are metaphysically elevated above mere beasts, and this is a known fact (and, indeed, a big part of Lucifer's beef with God)
A Jordi who was interested in humans as animals, as creatures with base needs which cannot be denied, would be interesting
Contrasting with David's ascetism and straight up cruelty, or the strictly controlling nature of Dominic and Jean
But as written, Jordi in In Nomine is just an anti-human Luddite.
Laurence is the Archangel of the Sword, and more importantly than sword stuff, he's the general of the armies of Heaven and the main Christian Archangel.
Laurence's angels are pretty boring. They get a bunch of generically fighty abilities, and Larry's dissonance condition is "disobeying either the word or spirit of his orders", which is fine.
Laurence's Kyriotates get a vessel that is the body of a soldier/cop who died meaninglessly, "such as a Marine caught by a landmine while on leave, a policeman shot by fellow officers in a drug raid, etc."

I feel like this is a specific circa-1997 movie reference I'm missing?
Laurence has a ton of metaplot stuff tied up in him, though, some of which wouldn't be properly explained until later books.
First off, Laurence is relatively younger than most of the other Archangels; he wasn't elevated to Archangel until the war with Hell was well underway, and he's the third commander of Heaven's armies, after Michael and Uriel.
Michael stood down from his position as commander after being put on trial by Dominic.
Uriel disappeared permanently into Higher Heaven, after being put on trial by all of the other Archangels.
So Laurence is the commander of the armies of Heaven, and unlike Michael and Uriel, was appointed that position by the other Archangels, his peers, not by God (who does not communicate directly with Heaven in any reliable way, mind).
This is, incidentally, how Laurence can be a believer in Christianity in particular. Laurence (and the rest of Heaven) does not have any special information on the divinity or specific nature of Christ, and is taking that much on faith, same as anyone else.
This is kinda read-between-the-lines stuff in the In Nomine core book; what it means to be an angel who is a practitioner of Christianity or Islam is more clearly explained in later books.
(The sum total of actually-divinely-inspired religions in In Nomine is Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, although access to Heaven is based on the game's own idiosyncratic idea of good works in life.)
Laurence and Dominic are the two patrons of Christianity in In Nomine, but while Dominic thinks it's a good idea, Laurence is an actual believer. A Catholic, to be specific.

(How he reconciled clearly fallible doctrine with his own life as an Archangel is left vague.)
The Game Master's Guide, released two years later, tried to patch up a lot of this very vague and confusing stuff about angels who practiced mortal religions.
The long and the short of it is that all monotheistic religions are worshiping God, and that plot devices and the Archangels in charge of making sure people don't know everything have made it impossible to determine the specific veracity of many religious claims.
So while angels know for a fact that they themselves exist in Heaven, and either are old enough to remember when God used to speak to the angels directly, He doesn't do that directly any more and they don't know anything more about Jesus (let alone Jesus's nature) than humans do.
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to Jay Allen
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!


This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!