Netflyer Oxford University Role Playing Games Society
Netflyer 31


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Welcome to the next world!

Armageddon has come and gone - the Heavenly hosts in all their glory routed the forces of evil. The Archangel Michael confronted Lucifer in single combat and cast him into the pit of eternal flame. Heaven and Earth burned, and were replaced with New Heaven and New Earth, in which the blessed and faithful souls could live in bliss for eternity. All that jazz.

God has revealed at least a part of his Ineffable Plan. The Symphony, which before the Final Trumpet was the all-pervading, underlying pattern of reality, turned out in fact to be the beta test prototype for The Computer, which since the Final Trumpet has been the all- pervading, underlying... Well, the Computer ensures that life is perfect. Nobody is hungry, or unhappy, or bored. There is no pain, or suffering, or evil, or waste, or want.

There are certainly no demons. Remember this: it will be important later.

Organisation

The Computer sees fit to organise the inhabitants of Heaven and Earth into eight Service Groups. Each group is headed by one or two Archangels - in the latter case the division between superiors reflects the diversity of the members of the Service Group, and never leads to tension, rivalry or internal politics (remember this: it will be important later). It is also important to note that the Service Groups operate together in harmony, with little or no friction or confusion between groups. This is because the Computer has arranged for various methods of smooth communication within and between the Groups. To disrupt this communication is sinful (see Sin).

Daily Life

Wake to a beautiful sunrise in communal clearing in forest. Eat a leisurely breakfast of freshly plucked seasonal fruits. Spend morning on gentle agricultural work (pruning vines, that sort of thing). Two hours lunch break with friends and family. Afternoon spent tying up the last few details for Unnecessary Vine Shoots (Disposal). Eat dinner. Relaxing evening spent storytelling or watching 'Divine Comedy' (Kobal's top- rating prime time show). Watch beautiful sunset. Bed.

Angels

The direct servants of the Computer are, of course, the angels. As an angel, it is your responsibility to ensure that everything goes according to God's plan. Of course, God isn't actually around at the moment, but that's OK, because he has left the Computer to represent His will. There are seven Choirs of angels. Each serves the Computer in particular ways, according to the nature of the Choir. Your Choir gives you a special ability (called Resonance, for historical reasons), reflecting the duties of the Choir.

Sin

Occasionally, humans and angels stray from the straight and narrow. The Computer, while perfect in every way, is not necessarily omniscient. Sometimes a human or an angel can commit sin and go unnoticed by his fellows. Of course, to fail to report a sin to the Computer is sinful, but nevertheless sometimes the friends of a sinner will conceal his sin. So sin spreads, until discovered by the faithful. There is no place for sinners in the New Order - the wages of sin is very frequently death. All humans and angels are constantly on the lookout for sin, since great rewards await those who serve their fellows by eliminating sinners.

Rank

In order to reward loyal service, and to divide responsibility, the Computer has arranged a system of rank. The lowest rank is Human - after all the humans are what it is all about, so they shouldn't have the burden of having to run the show as well. Humans never get promoted above Human rank.

The rank above Human is 'Angel' - the majority of angels hold the rank of Angel. It is the responsibility of angels to deal with sinners and the like, so they have access to more equipment and information than humans. However, some of the information is a little ... unpleasant, so for everyone's protection it is limited to the higher angelic ranks: in increasing order these are the Powers, Virtues, Kingdoms, Principalities, Thrones, and Archangels. There are only 14 Archangels, and only God and the Computer outrank them.

Golems

Golems are the pinnacle of achievement of the Research and Design Service Group. They combine all the latest techniques of magic and science to create safe, clean, obedient automata, whose sole purpose is to make life better for others. It is almost unheard of for an agricultural golem to accidentally be programmed for guerrilla warfare and to rampage across acres of countryside destroying all in its path. Similarly, no children's 'Skippy the Wonder Golem' has ever mistaken its owner's little brother for a basketball. It simply doesn't happen.

Classified Information

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS CLASSIFIED 'ANGEL', AND MUST NOT BE REVEALED TO HUMANS. TO DO SO IS SINFUL.

Tethers

Heaven and Earth are connected by tethers. These connect a point on Earth to a point in Heaven, and can be used only by angels. Humans belong on earth, and may not enter Heaven. Tethers also act as angelic 'offices' on Earth, where humans go when they need an angel.

Vessels

Angels cannot exist on earth in their natural, angelic form. Those assigned to earthly duty are given 'vessels' - a physical form they can take when on earth. If an angel's vessel is destroyed for any reason, they return safely to Heaven. Assuming that their service is still required on earth, they will be assigned a new vessel and quickly returned.

Dissonance

Each Choir has a Dissonance Condition, which is the behaviour so opposed to the nature of the Choir that to commit such actions immediately alerts the Computer. The angel's report is usually interesting, creative, and futile. Additionally, each Archangel inflicts a dissonance condition on their servants, reflecting the responsibilities of service.

Demons

There are almost no demons. It is just possible that a few escaped the Final Battle. You are exceedingly unlikely to ever meet a demon. However, cases have been reported of angels on earth acting in an uncharacteristic and sinful fashion - on occasion dissonant behaviour has failed to alert the Computer. It has been determined that these cases are due to the possession of the angel's vessel by a type of demon known as a Shedite. The best solution is to destroy the vessel in question and sort out any mess as swiftly as possible. Great rewards await those alert enough to notice and deal with Shedite possession.

Typical debriefing after Shedite possession:
Georgeiel: '... and so when I noticed Frankiel sinfully pocketing Computer property, I fired up my flaming sword and took him out.'
Internal Security Seraph: 'Frankiel! Your previous record of service is unblemished! Do you care to explain your actions?'
Frankiel: 'I have no memory of the incidents described by Georgeiel.'
Internal Security Seraph: 'Hmm. A clear case of Shedite possession. Well done, Georgeiel. Both of you be on your way.'

CUT THE CRAP

[The following information would never be reported in this form, but is common knowledge in Heaven]

The Choirs of Angels

Seraphim, the Most Holy: The Seraphim are angels of Truth. Since the Computer is the arbiter of truth, their resonance is to test what they hear against the Computer's knowledge. Their dissonance, of course, is to contradict the Computer. Seraphim tend to be very careful about what they say, since they are the most obvious representatives of the Computer.

Cherubim, the Protectors: The duty of the Cherubim is to care for specific things assigned them by the Computer. Their resonance is to 'attune' to their subjects, so that they always know their position and condition. Their dissonance is to fail to prevent harm. Cherubim tend to be understandably obsessive - after all, where could a human be safer than locked in a box in a secure cupboard?

Ofanim, the Wheels: Ofanim are angels of motion, always on the go. Their resonance is for speed and direction: they always seem to know the best shortcuts, and can always run just that little bit faster than you expected. Their dissonance is inaction: if they pause for just a moment the Computer will want to know why. Ofanim tend to be politely referred to as highly strung, or impolitely as insane.

Elohim, the Judges: The duty of the Elohim is to be impartial and dispassionate. They strip away bias and subjectivity in order to analyse any situation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are more Elohim in CPU than any other Group. The resonance of the Elohim is to measure the emotions and biases of others, and it is dissonant for them to allow their own motives to affect their decisions.

Habbalah, the Punishers: Before the Final Battle, the Habbalah resided in Hell, tormenting the damned and luring the living to their doom. Of course they have now been welcomed to their rightful places in Heaven, where they still try to root out those unworthy of paradise. Their resonance is to enhance the emotions of others, or to inflict emotion, and it is dissonant for them to fail to follow their own desires. Habbalah tend to despise weakness, and take great delight in discovering and eliminating it.

Malakim, the Virtues: The Malakim are the noble warriors of Heaven. Although not all are physical fighters, all are dedicated to ideals of willing and loyal service, and correct conduct and behaviour. Their special ability is to check the Computer's records for any crimes committed in the past by others, and it is dissonant for them to disobey orders or regulations. Many Malakim are thought of by their fellows either as stuffy jobsworths, or unthinking zealots.

Mercurians, Friends of Man: The job of the Mercurians has always been to help individual humans with their problems. Mercurians have a deeply ingrained love for humans, and also of peace: they will always choose political solutions where possible. Their resonance is to detect what is important to a particular human, and their dissonance is to commit any form of violence (except, of course, against sinners, at whom they can lash out with impunity).

The Service Groups

Internal Security (IntSec): Run by Dominic, the Archangel of Judgement, Internal Security is responsible for preventing, uncovering and punishing sin, and for monitoring suspected and potential sinners. IntSec maintains both uniformed police and undercover operatives, including 'plants' in other service groups (and probably plants in IntSec given Dominic's paranoia).

Typical IntSec conversation:
Agent: 'Citizen! I notice that you are running past a "no running" sign'.
Human: 'Errr. No. Yes. Sort of. That notice only went up this morning, and I'm late.'
Agent: 'Late for what, may I ask?'
Human: 'Late for work.'
Agent: 'So, in addition to flagrant violation of safety regulations, you wish to plead guilty on charges of neglect of duty?'
Human: 'Errr..'
Agent: '..Unless it was wilful neglect?'
Human: 'No! It was negligent, I swear it! Please don't kill me!'
Agent: 'Very well. Report to the Mind Improvement and Protein Recovery Labs for corrective therapy as soon as your shift ends.'
Human: 'Thank you sir, right you are sir.'

Technical Services (Tech): Nothing ever goes wrong in Heaven or Earth, but when it does, you call Tech. Some time later, one of two things will happen. Either a servitor of David (AA of Stone) will turn up and explain that without the necessary paperwork his hands are tied but that such trials serve to strengthen us, or else a servitor of Jean (AA of Lightning) will turn up and explain that without the necessary paperwork his hands are tied, but that this particular model of soup dispenser was actually designed by a cousin of his, and that what has probably happened is that the rotorcator has worn through, allowing the spindle to chafe against the chassis, causing bilateral cross-demorphing over the surface, so as you can see fixing it yourself should be a breeze.

Typical Tech Conversation:
Tech: 'So without 673 stroke 4b, my hands are tied.'
Human: 'I may not have the paperwork, but I do have a mallet, and I assure you that your hands will be a lot worse than tied if I don't have a cup of soup within ten minutes.'
Tech: 'Then again, emergency regulation 184b does allow me to...'
Human: 'Just do it.'

Housing Preservation and Development and Mind Control (HPD&MC): The Archangels Blandine (Dreams) and Kobal (Laughter) are responsible for the comfort, well-being, and entertainment of humans. This makes them the first point of contact between humans and angels, resulting in low status, but a high degree of control over Humanity. Sadly, HPD&MC clerks spend more time dealing with red tape than anything else.

Typical HPD&MC conversation:
Human: 'I need a 673 stroke 4b.'
Clerk: 'A what?'
Human: 'A 673 stroke 4b. Authorisation for Essential Maintenance to Communal Savoury Beverage Dispenser.'
Clerk: 'Oh! You mean a 674 stroke 3b! Up the hall, first on the right.'
Human: 'That's where I just came from. They sent me here. I can see the forms on that shelf, so I will take one and go.'
Clerk: 'Stop! Thief!'
Passing IntSec Agent: ZAPZAPZAPKAPOW
Clerk: 'Another sinner discovered. Thank Heaven!'

The Armed Forces (Army): The Archangels Laurence (the Sword) and Michael (War) haven't had much to do lately. Occasionally an angel goes renegade and needs hunting down, or an annual harvest festival gets a little out of hand and needs crowd control, but the Shining Warriors of Heaven now spend most of their time polishing their flaming swords. They tend to be rather arrogant in their dealings with other groups, on the grounds that having won the War, they can do without anyone else messing things up.

Typical Army Conversation:
IntSec Uniformed Cop: 'We have a major riot on our hands here!'
Malakite of the Sword: 'Don't you worry about that. We'll have finished tactical analysis within just a couple of minutes, and we'll soon have everything sorted out.'
Seraph of Michael: 'Chaaaaaaaaarge!'

Production, Logistics and Commissary (PLC): All agricultural and industrial production and distribution is controlled by PLC, according to 'Service Targets' laid down by HPD&MC. Members of PLC tend to be unutterably dull in demeanour, but beneath the surface will be desperately scheming in their attempts to meet their quotas, expand their influence, and gain promotion.

Typical PLC Conversation:
PLC 1: 'OK, so we need to get fifteen thousand tonnes of cod liver oil to the Yucatan by this afternoon?'
PLC 2: 'Not quite. We need to increase Yucatan cod liver oil consumption by fifteen thousand tonnes before this afternoon. I hate it when Kobal's boys get going.'
PLC 1: 'Hold on a moment. I have an idea. We need some paper, pens, a hovercraft, a small child, and as much bunting as you can lay your hands on. Meet me here in half an hour.'

Power Services (Power): Earth has to be powered by something. Fortunately Gabriel (Fire) and Janus (Wind) are quite good at that sort of thing. Unfortunately, no- one else has a clue what they get up to in there. Their servitors manage as best they can, and everyone else hopes for the best. Not even IntSec interferes much.

Typical Power Conversation:
Power: 'OK, all done. I think. Call me again if the explosions don't stop.'
Human: 'Great. Thanks. What's that fizzing noise?'
Power: 'Beats me. See ya.'

Research and Design (R&D): Despite the fact that everything is perfect, Eli (Creation) and Vapula (Technology) constantly come up with gadgets that make it even more perfect in bigger, better ways. In theory, Eli's boys work mostly with mystic artefacts, and Vapula's lads with super-science, but in practise they use the same labs, and have a tendency to bolt on anything lying around that looks cool. Unlike Power, in R&D even the Archangels never know what is going to happen next.

Typical R&D conversation:
Human: 'So what happens when I flick the switch?'
R&D: 'Good question. That's what experiment means, you know.'

Central Processing Unit (CPU): CPU is the Computer's favourite Group. Its responsibility is ensuring that the Computer's information and techniques are complete and up to date - in short the Computer listens to CPU above everyone else. The head of CPU is Yves, the Archangel of Destiny, and his servants are understandably rather smug now that the entirety of reality has reached its Destiny. So, whenever there is a problem with another group, the Computer's first response is usually to call in a hotshot adviser from CPU.

Typical CPU conversation:
CPU: 'This new procedure ought to increase this department's efficiency by at least 40%. Good day.'
Human 1: 'So. I take the circuit board off the conveyor belt and stamp it approved.'
Human 2: 'Yep.'
Human 1: 'And then you put it in the case.
Human 2: 'Yep.'
Human 1: 'And neither of us actually uses this testing device.'
Human 2: 'Nope.'
Human 1: 'So if it doesn't work, we've approved faulty parts.'
Human 2: 'Yep.'
Human 1: 'We're dead.'
Human 2: 'Yep.'

Service Group Politics

There is a constant covert struggle between the Groups for power and influence over the others. It is mostly carried out at the upper levels of command, but lower ranked members of all groups tend to pick up on current thoughts as to who 'the enemy' is. In fact, inter-group politics is limited only by the high degree of intra-group backstabbing, since anyone too successful against another group is likely to be taken down by jealous comrades.

HPD&MC and PLC are regarded by the other groups as 'unskilled', and therefore in many cases beneath contempt. However, they also between them have almost complete control of Earth, and much of Heaven, so their upper ranks can still exert influence when necessary. Tech and Power are the next up the ladder, and would be able to consolidate great power if they could co-operate. However, Tech thinks of Power as dangerously insane, while Power thinks of Tech as soulless automata.

Each of the four remaining groups thinks of itself as outside any kind of Service Group politics. The Army looks down on everyone, as does CPU, while IntSec tries desperately to maintain its 'neutrality' whilst manoeuvring against the rest. R&D is actually the least involved in any power struggles, since its members tend to care one way or the other, but the products of R&D are coveted by all 7 other groups as 'Aces in the hole' for any situation.
Steve Jessop