Christian Mods for In Nomine
by Rodney E. Barnes
"What is In Nomine?
In Nomine is a game about the ultimate struggle: between the selfless and the selfish, between good and evil, between God and Lucifer. Ultimately, though, it comes down to angels and demons both trying their damnedest to sway humanity to their side. Annoyingly though, humanity and its precious free will keep spoiling plans of both the diabolical and the divine. In the game, you can play anything from a human just awakened to the Struggle, a Soldier who is a little more powerful and a lot more in the line of fire, an undead creature or, as most do, an angel or demon. In Nomine is a modern role-playing game in which the players take the part of celestial beings -- angels and demons -- as they struggle for control of humanity and themselves. The celestials, powerful though they may be, are merely pawns in a much larger game being played by their Superiors, the Archangels and Demon Princes. Based on the best-selling French RPG by Croc." - From Steve Jackson's web site http://www.sjgames.com/in-nomine/
Some of the information in this article is for players of In Nomine, and therefore may make reference to things only In Nomine players will recognize. But I think both In Nomine players and future In Nomine players may find some of this information interesting.
In Nomine's World View
In Nomine has an interesting metaphorical view of the universe. Everything is part of a symphony. Everyone plays a part in the symphony.
"Angels hold a special place in the Symphony. They are God's instruments, charged with nurturing His creation in accordance with their natures. And angel's nature is his resonance, his deep attunement to certain aspects of the patterns of creation. Like finely crafted crystal, their actions ring through reality in cool, clear tones. But when an angel acts against his nature, it creates jarring notes of dissonance. The more dissonance an angel holds, the more likely he is to fall from grace...The self-proclaimed Diabolicals, the demons, were cast into the realm of Hell, from which they continue to plot the eventual subversion of the Symphony to their own dark vision...The Fallen angels found themselves changed, better suited to evil. But darkness has a resonance all of it's own, and denying their selfish nature brings painful dissonance to even the darkest of themes." -In Nomine, p.5
Fallen Angels Vs. Infernals
Which leads to another problem with the game, the difference between Fallen Angels and Infernals (Demons). In Christian theology, Demons are Fallen Angels, and to distinguish between two is not correct in reality. However, according to some theologians, it is possible, but not likely, that angels can continue to fall (cf. Gen. 6:1-4, also cf. The Ryrie Study Bible; Synopsis of Biblical Doctrine: Doctrine of Angels & Doctrine of Demons). On third of the Angels fell originally (cf. Ezek 28:11-19, Isa. 14:3-21, Rev. 12:4). So in order to make things clear in the game books, not reality, Fallen Angels would be those that fell after the initial fall, and Demons would be those who fell with Lucifer.
Role of Lucifer
The articles from Steve Jackson Games and in the book suggest that Lucifer is running around doing his own thing, but still in charge of the Infernals; this is true in Christian theology as well. But Lucifer also has access to Heaven (cf. Job 1), where he lays accusations before the throne of God against Christians. His concern has very little, if any, to do with Angels. He could care less about Angels for all practical purposes. So for game purposes, he's in charge over all the Demon Princes.
Role of God
The book also suggests a "watchmaker" Deist ideal for the role of God. And no mention of Christ is given at all in the game other than distinguishing two of the Archangels as being "Christian". To clarify, we should hold to the traditional view of the Trinity.
The Father: From a temporal point of view (us looking at God, not God looking at us), the Father is the judge on the throne, overlooking the world. History, weather, etc., are traditionally viewed as His responsibility. All praise and glory are to be ascribed to Him. It is His job to answer the prayers of the Christians, and His job to assign tasks to angels. In game terms, He follows the Reagan Management Style... He lets the archangels do all the mundane assignments and management for Him. So, to never have Him show up (as far as angels are concerned)is fine. But when humans are involved, that is a different matter.
The Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit (HS) has a lot of jobs with regards to humans, one of which is to be the Paraclete (Testimonial Witness) before the throne of The Father against the accusations of Satan (Lucifer). But with regard to angels, Scripture is silent. The d 1,1,1 roll being ascribed to Him does not violate anything in scripture or Church history that I'm aware of (cf. In Nomine, p.40).
The Son, Jesus Christ: Jesus is on the right hand of the Father in heaven as an advocate for the Christian humans against the accuser Satan (that is, when He is not busy building the new heavens and new Earth that he is preparing for the Christian humans). More about the role of Christ follows later.
This is not to relegate God to a "watchmaker" with regards to humans, but with regards to Angels, it seems appropriate for a role-playing game.
The Role of Essence
"Essence makes the world go'round - literally. It is the energy of the universe, the backbeat of the Symphony. Essence can be used for any number of things, from fueling a Song to temporarily increasing a skill." (In Nomine, p.50).
Song's are basically "spells" and Attunements are basically "powers" that angels learn and use to effect their environment. Angels spend Essence to use these Songs and Attunements.
Essence is not gained from the universe, as the book says, but from the Father through natural law. There is no difference in game mechanics, but definitely a big difference in world view.
Good and Evil
The most important modification to In Nomine for the Christian Player is the idea of Good and Evil. It is assumed that the players will play a member of an Angelic Choir. In Nomine has Resonance and Dissonance as a way of measuring a characters ability to follow his or her nature.
There is no mention of good or evil, and no definition for them. In In Nomine, there is a level of grey area for angels to work. Picking up dissonance is based on how he or she relates to the her or his ability to follow his or her nature, and not based on doing evil. This is wrong according to the Christian World View.
According to the Christian World View, angels are holy. Holy means to be separated from evil and the potential for sin (another word not found in In Nomine). Sin is defined as any thought, word or deed that violates the character of God, in its broad sense. In its narrow sense, sin is violating any known law of God. Anything an angel does that is less than holy, automatically makes him a Fallen angel in reality.
But since this is a role-playing game used for fun and fellowship, and since we are mere humans, Dissonance is possible for an angel character. Dissonance is not sin, but is doing something that your character would not normally do. If an Angel develops Discord, he is automatically a Fallen Angel.
The Role of Choirs
Choirs are types of angels(read: races). A lot of the following information if for folks who have the book and a passing familiarity with the game.
A BALSERAPH WROTE THE DESCRIPTIONS OF THE CHOIRS! That said, the write-ups on the Choirs and Archangels is twisted and distorted. It does not present their true natures, though the game mechanics are the same. Thus the famed half-truth half-lie we always see from Balseraphs. Angels are HOLY, HUMBLE, and do ALL for the glory of Christ!
Malakim are never cruel! A vicious lie from the Balseraph.
Kyriotates are not "discordians". And they can not possess a Human being with its own free will. They can, however, "attach" themselves to humans and influence them (In Game Mechanics terms, it works out the same, but a distinction needs to be made for a Christian World View). Angels never posses anyone, but demons can posses non-Christians who allow them to do so. And Demons can so influence a Christian that he may appear to be possessed.
Grigori are not "furthest from the Divine" as the Balseraph wrote. And they were mot the fathers of the Nephalim.... the angels that fathered the Nephalim are locked in the Pit, the place demons fear most. When a demon is "destroyed", he is sent to the Pit, to wait with the Locust Demons for their eventual release and then judgement (cf. Rev. 18-20). Demons do not return to their "heart" in Hell, but go to the Pit.
The Children of Grigori
The children of Grigori, as described in the book by the Balseraph, would be the Nephilim, which were wiped out in the Flood of Noah (cf. Gen. 5-9). It is simple mythology on the part of the Balseraph to try to explain away the existence of vampires, mages, werewolves, wraiths, gargoyles, and the like. In fact, each of these has it's own origin, apart from angelic forces (left open for the GM to use as he sees fit).
The Role of Archangels
"The Archangels rule the Heavens, though they pull in many different directions. Yves is the elder statesman, Laurence the keen young general of God's Army with strong Michael at his shoulder, Dominic the stern Inquisitor who roots out heavenly heresy...There are many other Archangels besides..." (In Nomine, p.34). All angel characters are Servitors of one of the Archangels.
Archangels work as describe in the book. The difference being, they are holy! The section of the book that describes Archangels was written by a Balseraph to try to defame Archangels. So any implications or direct statements about unholy actions upon their charges is a lie of the Balseraph, and the Archangel in question will be the first to deny this. Here is where the GM can have some fun in disputing the lies written about the archangel he is playing. And the players can have fun learning the Truth.
Archangels refer to those under them as charges, not servants, as the Balseraph called them, as Archangels are humble bondservants of God, and they are to protect and encourage those humans in their charge. They do not use and abuse Charges like slaves for their own selfish ambitions as the Balseraph implied in his description of them. The Christian world view does not seek its own (cf. 1 Cor. 13).
Archangels are never hostile to one another. They may have some polite disagreements based on their purpose given them by the Father. Of which they may debate amongst themselves (actually, they are so polite and holy, it's more of a race to see who will apologize and submit to the other first!). They work together for the cause of Christ.
Balandine: He did not, nor will ever have, sexual relations with another demon or angel, or anyone. The reference to Beleth is a sick perversion of the real truth, which is the cause for Balandine's calling for the destruction of Beleth.
David: An Archangel would never believe in slavery or forced labor. I see him as the Archangel of Unions. The person of Saint King David is to be distinguished from David the Archangel.
Eli: The lies the Balseraph spoke against Eli are because of whom Eli really is! Jesus. Jesus Christ is the Creator. Eli is Aramaic for "my God". Angels who serve Christ directly are the ones who came to His aid following His Temptation, and are the least likely to ever gain any Dissonance. The Balseraph makes a sharp attempt at defaming Christ by writing about "Eli" as having "dropped out". He will surely be punished most sever. Eli is referred to in the Old Testament as "The Angel of The LORD (Yahweh)", which theologians agree is the pre-incarnate Christ.
Gabriel: Islam is listed by the Balseraph as a creation of Yves with help from Gabriel. They both would have a COW!! Not only is it not true, but they are both Hostile towards Malphas, Demon Prince of Factions for coming up with the idea and deceiving Mohammed. If only a disciple of Christ could have gotten to Mohammed in time, the schism of Islam would never have happened, and peace would be in Isreal. Isreal is dear to Gabreil's heart, as it is the place were he got to deliver the message of peace to Mary. He is still the heavenly messenger (The Herald of Heaven) from God, in spite of the maligning the Balseraph gave Him.... basically calling him crazy. In fact, he has a message for the Balseraph who did the write up, but He can't seem to find him yet...
Janus: He is not a theif! And neither are his angels. They may move something... ever lose your keys or misplace your remote control for the TV? His Angels are the ones who will help test humans with this sort of thing. The Balseraph was trying to defame Janus and make him appear chaotic. In fact, God wants change, but change is to be done in Order according to His plan. Of course, order from God's point of view may appear to chaotic from our temporal, human point of view.
Jean: the Balseraph levied one of the biggest accusations anyone can lay against the heavenly host...Pride. Jean is a very humble angel, and prefers to not even be called an Archangel at all. In fact, he does not control the creative ideas of mankind at all. Man was created in the image of God (cf. Gen. 1:27), and like God is both creative and free willed. That creativity is not under any control, save that of God's sovereignty. Jean does not look down upon mankind at all due to this fact. In fact, he is so humbled by their ability to create (something that neither he nor any other angel has), that he can barely keep up with the new technologies and innovations man comes up with....not the other way around as the Balseraph claimed.
Jordi: Angels of Jordi value human life more so than animal life, but animals are their Charge. This is different from the write up by the Balseraph, as he indicates that animal life is more important to Jordi. Animal life is important to God and to the angels of Jordi, as all life is a gift from God. However, protozoa, viruses, and plants don't count where Jordi and his angels are concerned. It is their job to protect and preserve animal life. Jordi favors humble vessels such as sheep, deer, rodents and canines, not cats, as the Balseraph stated. Anything soft, fuzzy and cute that doesn't have a prideful attitude like cats do). When Gabriel stopped Abraham from killing Isaac, and God provided a Ram, who do you think was the Ram? Yep, it was Jordi's vessel, ready to be sacrificed as a temporary covering for the sins of Abraham's family.
Marc: Marc does not use slaves! A vicious lie! The treasures of heaven are good works and the saints themselves! Marc is the archangel put in charge of helping move commerce, but it is the lowest job in Heaven. Nevertheless he does it with humble holy submission. The heavenly IRS's job is to prompt people to give and do good works, so the heavenly treasure will increase.
Michael: He is not a Seraph, but a one of a kind Choir of angels, of which he and the pre-incarnate Christ is (and was in Christ's case), called Archangel. He is the leader of the entire army of angels in heaven. He is also known as the Angel of Salem (latter named Jerusalem). As opposed to his description by the Balseraph, he is the Angel of Peace, not war. Peace is gained through superior firepower (Jesus's sacrifice), therefore the effects of being an Angel of Michael are the same in game mechanics terms. All the other Archangels get their orders from Him, as He is God's "Commander and Chief" of the heavenly host.
Novalis: He is not a "flower child" as the Balseraph stated, and his angels do not go to Grateful Dead concerts, unless they have a good reason to. They are more often seen at board meetings and peace talks trying to get the humans to work together to solve their problems peacefully. To the Balsereph's credit, Novalis was heavily involved in the 60's Jesus movement. To Novalis' credit, almost all the wars in the last 50 years have been won at the peace talk table.
Yves: The angel of Destiny is not much different then his description except: He is a Cherub. He was not created first of the angels, Michael was. He did not name God, God named God. A discussion within the Trinity came up with the name; Yahweh - I AM for The Father, Holy Spirit for Holy Spirit, and Yeshuah (Jesus - Yahweh Saves) for the Son. The Balseraph who wrote him up, was trying to get the reader to think that Yves is the powerful manipulator. A being near omniscience who invents religions for humans to follow, and who is a dark background for the light to show up on. Who does that sound like? Could it be Satan? The Balseraph was trying to get the reader to think good thoughts about Satan through using the description of innocent Yves. Yves, in reality, is the archangel of randomness. What number comes up on the die when you roll it is under the law of randomness which God put Yves in charge of. So the game mechanics of Yves' angels are the same.
The "Marches" are the realm between the dimension of Temporal Reality, and the dimension of Essential Reality. Temporal Reality is this World we live in as humans. Essential Reality (also called Eternal Reality) is the dimension of Heaven and Hell. The Marches is the realm of ideas. C.S. Lewis' Narnia Chronicles, J.R.R. Tolken's fantasy works, Steven W. Lawhead's fantasy works, etc.. all dwell here, in the realm of ideas, The Marches. Ideals in the Marches can be good, evil or indifferent. So the existence of pagan gods, etc., is in the realm of The Marches. God may allow an ideal in the marches to cross-over into Temporal Reality for one reason or another, and the angels may have to deal with it (game seeds for GM's).
How do you know what a Square is? Because in the realm of ideals, there exists the ideal square in your mind. Thus when you see a square, you know it's a square because it matches the ideal you have in your mind. Weird stuff for GM's to play with.
An appropriate holy appearance is available as determined by the GM. For example; "Horns" can be a Halo of Light. A "Tail" can be an independent Flaming Sword (cf. Gen. 3:24). There are additional Numinous corpus available for Angels as determined by the GM. I know of no scripture to support Numinous corpus, but that is not to say that they can't be used for game play purposes. But I have a real hard time with Angels having hoofs and spiked tongues... the appearance would have to be holy some how.
Use of Scripture
The use of scripture is never really discussed in In Nomine, but in the Bible, we find that Angels and Christ used scripture on each other a lot. The Temptation story of Jesus, found in Matthew 4:1-11, were Jesus (Eli) was tempted by Satan (Lucifer), we see a "war" of scripture from memory taking place. To duplicate this battle of memory verses, the Christian game should include just that. For lack of a better term for this form of intellectual combat, I call it ScriptCasting. If a player wishes he can recite from memory a Scripture verse to subdue an opponent or monster. The character can do this in place of a song. The verse recited must be recited with no more than 10% mistakes. You can't recite the same verse ever again against the same opponent or type of opponents. It is up to the GM weather you can use a particular verse again or not. When spoken, the opponent is subdued as dictated by the GM. The GM may even have some sort of literal sense of the verse befall the opponent. It is up to the GM how the outcome works. The GM may disallow certain verses that are inappropriate or are too short (ie. John 11:35 "Jesus Wept"). Also, some opponents may take several verses to stop.
These guidelines should help you in playing a game of In Nomine from a Christian world view, and not from a secular world view. I hope you enjoy the game, and if you have any comments or questions about these, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org