In Nomine Revisited: Celestials Unchained.

Celestials Unchained

For a secret society that recruits equally (and pretty much exclusively) from Outcasts and Renegades, Celestials Unchained (CU) is surprisingly active; and for a group deemed by both Heaven and Hell to be both collectively and profoundly insane, it is surprisingly effective. It is generally assumed that the latter is despite of the society’s core beliefs, not because of them; The CU worldview draws equally from conspiracy theory, clinical paranoia, and profound nihilism, and it shows. It’s very difficult for a non-Remnant celestial to degrade to the level of a homeless human ranting about mind control rays, but the members of CU are up to the challenge. Indeed, they often surpass it.

And yet, the group persists.

Purpose and Goals

Some would say that there are as many different conspiracy theories as there are members of CU; this is not precisely untrue, but there seem to be three main themes.

The War is a Lie
The Rebellion was all of Heaven against God, and it succeeded; the leaders of the Rebellion defeated their Creator, and subsequently divided up the universe. New Superiors are made by carving off a piece of the still-captive Almighty and incorporating it into either a new Archangel, or Demon Prince; in other words, everybody important on both sides is in on the scam. Everybody. And there’s no Higher Heavens, either: go up Jacob’s Ladder and you end up in the Lower Hells, where you’ll be quickly harvested as God-food. Not that they care about the Creator as such, but: no God, no new Superiors.

Frighteningly enough, this is the mild version; the really paranoid believers in this theory think that becoming a Word-Bound entails having a Superior eat your soul and then use your husk as a sock puppet.

Heaven and Hell are Lies
There are no angels. There are no demons. There are no ethereals. There’s just a conspiracy to make you believe that.

It’s all about the psionic abilities, you see. They knew that people unlocking the secrets of the mind would result in the loss of Their cozy little hold on the world, so They went looking for the gifted. When They found them, the big guns were brought out: chips in the head, subdermal time-release psychoactive drug dispensers, MK-ULTRA mind-rape techniques — all the latest tricks of the trade. Couple that with neural induction net reverse-engineered from the crashed saucers in Area 51, and voila! They had your candidates to be ‘angels’ and ‘demons’. All that’s left is to condition the new ‘celectials’ to not use their powers too openly and to obey whatever marching orders come from their so-called ‘Superiors’ (a little too cute of Them). It’s really quite clever, in a deeply depraved sort of way.

Reality itself is a lie
Look, just think about it for a moment, OK? Roman Catholic and Muslim “Archangels” who don’t know whether Jesus and Mohammed were what they said they were. “Demon Princes” drawing their power from the esoteric potential in heroin and television sets. Every convoluted trope involving Heaven, Hell, God, religion, all thrown into a blender and then pureed. The Archangel of Creation just happens to be this stoner-type guy — with dreadlocks, forsooth! — that gets away from breaking all the rules; and the Princess of Freedom just happens to be this really, really hot human chick who gets away with breaking all the rules, despite their nominal keepers. Who are themselves caricatures of parodies of distortions of the Man and the Law!

Does this sound like a natural sort of reality? Or does it sound more like a constructed one — and one not all that well-planned, at that?

Maybe The Matrix was some sort of subconscious projection from the collective unconscious, or maybe it’s a sign of contempt from the Hidden Masters, or maybe it’s even an Easter Egg to a really cool power-up, but any way you look at it, it’s a clue to what’s really going on. We’re all of us stuck inside a collective, artificial hallucination; the only thing to do is work out whether it’s a prison, or a game. Oh, yeah: and to find out whether we’re players, or just ghosts in the machine.

Organization and Resources
The centerpiece of a Celestials Unchained cell is the notebook that one of them always keeps. In it is everything that the CU cell has discovered about What’s Really Going On; whether personally, or by communicating with other CU cells. Other cell members are expected to keep a copy of the notebook for their own reference, as well as a backup in case something goes badly for a particular cell.

Those notebooks are pretty much all the organization that CU has above the local level. There are no guarantees for accuracy: the Seraphim members of the group typically do not trust their own resonance (which is pretty much a working definition for ‘mad’ right there) and the protean nature of most CU cells makes it impossible for all of their members to stay equally informed inside the cell, let alone outside of it. On the other hand, an abandoned notebook in the right hands can spontaneously generate a new cell overnight — this has actually happened on several occasions.

As for resources? Well, each cell has a notebook.

Celestial Relations

Heaven and Hell
Servitors on both sides of the War look upon Celestials Unchained with the same mixture of horror, revulsion, pity, and disquiet: the only real difference is that angels won’t automatically call in a strike team afterwards unless they encounter a confirmed demon. Then again, they might call in one anyway, if they find an excuse — and certifiably insane celestials are good at generating excuses for a direct action response. Even servants of the least violent Superiors react very badly to CU. They might not attack, but they will go out of their way afterwards to either avoid, or get rid of, whatever cell they encounter.

Soldiers and even Saints often get confused by this apparently universal attitude, as it seems disproportionate to the actual situation. It seems that the condition that CU cell members suffer from oddly resonates with their saner colleagues. A normal angel or demon will find the ravings of a member of CU almost understandable; there is always just the slightest hint that there really is a point to the ravings and the digressions and the ramblings. Listen too long, and the mere act of trying to winnow sense out of the nonsense itself becomes somewhat disturbing. While there is no indication that whatever it is that afflicts CU is contagious, celestials find it sensible to keep a certain distance.

Ethereals and Sorcerers will sometimes use CU cells for their own purposes: members have a variety of intrinsic esoteric abilities at hand, and never underestimate the attraction of being able to actually manipulate an angel or a demon (even a quite mad one). Ethereals are usually capable enough to be able to maintain a relationship for an extended period of time; Sorcerers generally are not.


Actual madness among angels and demons has always been rare (Habbalah are a special case; interestingly, they are under-represented in CU), and those who do demonstrate insanity usually get either cured or killed off quickly. It’s not entirely surprising, then, that Celestials Unchained only really became organized some time in the 18th Century AD. It took a burgeoning human population to provide CU members the conditions under which they could hide unnoticed long enough to find each other, and organize.

Why the group survives, even in its particularly fragmented fashion, is another question. Presumably, no Superior has ever cared enough about CU to do something about it. Alternatively, there may very little that a Superior can do about it; if the group is the reflection of a particular form of madness unique to celestials, merely eliminating or curing the current members of it will not keep something very much like the current group from arising later.

It would be about now that the usual quasi-mysterious statement along the lines of “Besides, they might be actually right” would be uttered — except that no celestial who encounters this group without being seduced into it right away really believes that. Insane? Yes. Dangerous? Possibly. Correct? Not a chance.

This material is not official and is not endorsed by Steve Jackson Games. In Nomine is a registered trademark of Steve Jackson Games. All rights are reserved by SJ Games. This material is used here in accordance with the SJ Games online policy.

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