Tuesday, June 13, 2017

SCRAP PRINCESS PLAYS FOURTH EDITION

When the world finds out what you've done, Scrap, they're going to stop inviting you to the yacht parties that the OSR throws every month.  They're going to cut you off from the Cocaine of the Month Club, too.

READ THESE REVELATIONS AND TREMBLE, O UNTIDY FALSITY

Devil
Heavenly Bureaucrat

So:

Zulin rules the world from his golden Heaven, and yet his clergy do not claim that he is omnipotent.  He is certainly not omniscient.

This is an oversight, and it must be corrected.

Heaven is a vast and unknowable mansion, filled with gardens and apartments where the faithful dead enjoy eternity.  It's also a vast and incomprehensible maze of offices and archives, because long ago Zulin decided two things.

First, all of the world must be observed, cataloged, and judged.  Sins must be observed.  Souls must be tracked.  Prayers must be quantified and tabulated, weighed against the current and prospective sin markets, and then the summary given to the Angels of Judgement.

Second, he had absolutely no desire to do any of this.

Zulin exists in his own part of the labyrinthine mansion, where he is currently engaged in what is best described as an eternal tea party.  He entertains and is entertained.  He is attended by gods and godlings from Centerra, the planet's interior, the moon, and other such ultraterrestrial locales*.  Importantly, he is also accompanied by several of his greatest foes, who are unable to leave due to the chains of etiquette (which bind even gods) and who Zulin is unable to defeat (because he would be overpowered).

Once, perhaps, the Bureaucracy of Heaven was knowable, in the sense that a single mind could see it all, or at least hold a mental schematic of how it all fit together.  But it's outgrown that.  It outgrew that a long time ago.


The Goals and Means of the Bureaucracy

At this point, you can surely see that heaven has a great need for spies, bureaucrats, census-takers, writers of ethical protocols, judges, lawyers, and art critics (to judge the beauty of artworks made to glorify Zulin, and quantify the amount of sin that such an artwork compensates).

Heaven does not know how many grains of sand there are.  It does not know how many hairs are on your head.  It does not know the dreams of every babe nested at its mother's breast.  But they are trying to find these things out.

Angels are absolutely rubbish at counting sand.  That fact hasn't stopped Heaven from trying, though.

For the most part, angels are summoned creatures.  They exist for a day or an hour, performing some task, and then vanishing with a contented sigh.  So while they might count a million grains before their happy death, that only amounts to about a shovelful.  (And a small shovel, at that.)

The true power of Heaven lies in its Law: the ability to dictate the laws of nature, the truth of any terrestrial fact, and their power over men and their souls.  While Zulin is objectively the master of these considerable powers, their actual enforcement goes to the vast and unknowable offices of heaven, which are staffed by living humans, of course.

So after that angel has tabulated a million grains of sand, who do you think it reports to?  She is a woman in a white robe, with a sun-disk wired to a her skull, and a small serpent living her her sinuses that verifies her sums with an approving nod.

The First Bureaucrats

Mathematics was rewritten in order to make calculus possible.  The laws of mathematics were codified, and all the heretic possibilities were imprisoned far from Centerra, in order that 2+2 would always equal 4 (as opposed to all of the regional variations).

The principles of economics were invented.  Then logic.  Last grammar.  These things were delivered to the priests in the form of gold-inscribed mirrors, and the priests were then taught to teach these things to the children.

After a decade had passed, the Heavenly Examinations began to be held in every provincial center.  The minds that shone brightest during these examinations--the inventor, the artist, the mathmatician, the scientist--were taken up to Heaven to become its first bureaucrats.

(Maybe this is why everyone on Centerra is so fucked.)

The Church's examinations have slowed, but never really stopped.  There is still an examination held in Coramont every year, where the quick-adding, powerfully-adept children are taken up to Heaven for blessed employment.  But they are a minority.  A drop in the ocean.  How could they be anything else, when Heaven is a place with no restrictions on population, and a great need for able hands to hold an abacus?

The families there are old and strange and specialized.  While they know a great deal about a particular thing, they know very little about everything else.  For example, while the Department of Tabulation knows the sums of the sand on a great many beaches, many of its bureaucrats are unaware that there is anyone living down there at all.  As far as they know, the vast bureaucracy of heaven exists for the singular purpose of enumerating sand.  And they are entirely satisfied with this view of the world.

(Do not think them mad, dear reader.  They are as sane as you are, and no less perceptive.  Who are you to judge?  You know as much about the purpose of life as they do.  And while you might know a great deal about the evaluation, purchase, and distribution of wine in the UK, I suspect you know very little of the arcane workings of the machine that you are reading this on.  Perhaps the Truth is to be found in there?)

I won't go into any more broad details.  The races of heavenly bureaucrat are too varied for easy classification, and too bizarre for swift elucidation.

Instead, here are a (partial, very partial) list of Scrap Princess' vile misdeeds.  All readers are advised to bring a bucket adjacent, lest her wanton prurience drive you to vomiting all over your no-doubt tastefully decorated home.

Note 1: Nearly all of these guys can summon angels.

Note 2: Additionally, each department has "interns".  Souls serving their sentence in Purgatory.

Note 3: These classifications might seem like each department has a defined, organized domain and hierarchy.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Each task has multiple competing departments assigned to it, and the Gordian knot of authority clauses sometimes means that a department ends up serving its own sub-department (and other such explosions of apparent nonsense).

Asmodeus, Baalzebul, Geryon (Arch Devil), Dispater
Ministers
The higher ranking bureaucrats of heaven are all heads of their respective departments, which is nearly the same thing as saying that they are the heads of their respective families.  They jockey against each other for access to the Office of Natural Law, where they have the swiftest means to dispatch their enemies and recruit more resources for theirselves and their department.

For example, a 10% decrease in the rate of sedimentation would vastly decrease the amount of free sand grains in the world, leading to less need for the Department of Tabulation, leading to more effective petitions by other departments for diversions of human resources.  The pendulum of power swings thus.

Changing the natural laws in order to improve sedimentation constants may also be accompanied by a concomitant rise in kidney stones and renal failure.  This is none of their concern.  Suffering is a normal and expected part of mortality, and if it ever gets out of hand, they can expect the Department of Tribulations to issue an injunction.

This is why we have such things as tornadoes and syphilis, by the way.  A loving god wouldn't create those things.  They're Unforeseen Consequences (one of the smallest and most understaffed departments).

How many more of these do I have to do**?

Barbed (Lesser Devil)
Bureaucrat of Weights and Measures

Looks like a guy in a robe and a pointy shoes with a giant scale strapped to his back.  Accompanied by a cylindrical brass 'golem' that weighs a very specific weight.  His job is to weigh things and record whether they weigh more or less than his brass cylinder.  He must also destroy things that are the improper weight.  Can alter weights, distances.

Bone (Lesser Devil)
Bureaucrat of Tabulation

Looks like a guy who is entirely laminated with counting beads.  Has the powers to shoot beads, which is a little underwhelming.  Also has the power to audit one character sheet per round and investigate the numbers there.  If he finds any mistakes, he can imprison your character for as long as it takes you to find the errors and correct them.  (DM: six seconds of real-world time equals a combat round.)

Enrinyes
Bureaucrat of Maculate Conception

Soft, pink androgynous person, pristine and slick inside their tight robe.  Ensures that the appropriate sperm reaches the egg, and that spontaneous conception occurs according to design.  Also responsible for making sure the womb catches the proper type of soul.  Can pick two people of roughly compatible biologies and summon up their hypothetical offspring to fight them.  Can also stir your flesh like a spoon in a vat of multicolored paint.  Also capable of shrinking down and swimming in you like a frisky salmon, but this option is distasteful.

Horned
Bureaucrat of Continuance

Ensures the smooth passage of time.  Makes that time is uniform within a time zone.  Carries out conversions at the borders of time zones, so that travelers between them never even realize that they are passing through them.  Makes sure that everything doesn't happen at once.  Keepers of the Doomsday Clock.  Sentinels against the dinosaurs gnashing their way up the timelines.  One of the many reasons that PCs shouldn't attempt to time travel.

Like like men and women with bellies full of flashing sand, each grain beating out a different tempo, which together allows the bureaucrat to keep perfect time.  Powers are varied, and powerful.  Their wounds heal quickly, arrows slow in their flights, and many of their opponents die of old age.

One of the largest and most powerful departments.  The Minister of Continuance is Apocalypse, the only Minister that is not human.

Ice
Bureaucrat of Imagination

Their job is to judge the objective value of a piece of artwork.  They use a complex system of reference books to calculate this value, which is measured in Good Deeds.  These measurements are then passed on to the Department of Morality.

They are strange people, with flowing robes that shift colors and abilities every round.  They fight through a system of counter-attack.  Every action brings a reaction.  Learning these reactions is key to defeating them, but by then it might be too late.

Lemure
Bureaucrat of Dreams

Soft men, with soft skin and soft voices.  Vestigial faces cover vestigial minds.  They are dressed very, very well, and they move very, very politely.  This is why they are so easy to kill.

They sit at the bedsides, invisible, intangible.  On their tablet, they listen to the murmurs of your animal soul and record your dreams with their stylus.  These dreams are brought back up to heaven for classification, sorting, and interpretation.

This is a very important job.  Revelations of the future are most often first seen in dreams.  This is how Heaven knows so much about what is going to happen.  These are also the guys sent down to kick over the dreidel when your cleric casts augury.

Pit Fiend
Bureaucrat of Morality

A head full of eyes and a dossier filled with your sins.  Metal-skinned men who can blast down a door with a word, or limit the actions of everyone at the table.

They do not perform the collection or the sentencing of a soul (that's the Department of Death and Eternal Life), but they certainly measure it.  They are responsible for keeping track of you and all of your good deeds and sins***.  They don't have time to watch everyone personally, all the time.  But they use methods of deduction and interrogation to collect the information they need.  They hardly ever make mistakes.

A soul has value.  Knowing where it will end up after it dies is therefore a useful fact, and those who control the dossiers on those particular soul are worthy of a fee per soul.  And so dossiers are traded within the Department of Morality.  Not individually, of course, but most likely bundled into vast portfolios of thousands of mortals of similar moral bent.

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*Scrap also eats cereal out of a shoe.  Like, the same shoe every time.  I don't even think she washes it.  I don't know where the other shoe is, who is eating out of it, or why we don't know about them, but I wouldn't be surprised if Scrap did something horrible to them to make them disappear.

**Also I met I guy at a gas station once who told me that once Scrap got drunk and made out with a  seagull, was also drunk.  The guy didn't buy anything except one of those heinous nut-covered donutoids though, so his ability to Discern Realities is probably pretty suspect.

***They would shoot vomit out their metal noses if they ever saw Scrap, though.  They were never trained to handle her.  (She would be a Level Nine Depravity Locus in their system of classification, though, if their system didn't stop at Level Eight.)

3 comments:

  1. Ensuring your slander is properly conveyed:
    Scrap got drunk and made out with a EXTRA SPACE seagull, WHICH/WHO was also drunk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't make those typos; it was Scrap.

      Delete