Players Guide to Engel
Engel Players Guide
This is a general guide for players new to Engel and the specific Neo-Engel campaign.
The game takes place in the 29th century, a world far different from our own. Ecological disasters have changed the people and the landscape of the world, with massive flooding changing the look of the world, as well as the scarring caused by slowly moving pillars of flame called infernos that sweep over the landscape, leaving charred, dead earth in their wake. It is a new Dark Age, with many of the technological wonders of the ancient past long forgotten or reduced to mere relics. It is an age dominated by faith, as Europa and the Mediterranean area are dominated by a version of Christianity called the Angelite Faith, which rejects the humanism, secularism, and technology of the past in favor of strict faith in a stern god.
In this world, the Angelite Church is locked in a brutal war with the fringe communities called Junk Kingdoms, which reject the Angelite Faith and cling to the past, as well as with monstrous abominations called Dreamseed, which the Church proclaims are the spawn of Baalzebul, Lord of Flies, the fallen angel and enemy of God. The instruments of the Church against these enemies are the Engel, winged humanoids possessed of strange powers that the Church proclaims are the messengers of God, who answer to the Pontifex of the Angelite Church, a seemingly immortal, brilliant child named Peter the Second. Players will take the role of members of the various Engel Choirs, and engage in fierce battle to protect their faith, their Church, and their charges in a hostile future.
The world began to unravel in the late 21st century. First, a massive computer virus crippled most of the VirtualNet and the society that had become dependent on it, especially the V Chips implanted in most modern humans, encoded with all their pertinent data. A following rise in terrorism, conducted by various non-national groups led to increased conflict throughout much of the developing world. Then, successive outbreaks of a mysterious, incurable disease called Saint Vitus’s Dance afflicted the population, driving any adult mad, then swiftly killing them, after convulsions that resembled a macabre dance, and leaving behinds corpses fixed with a mad rictus grin.
This new plague had the effect of eliminating the adult population of the world over the course of a century, amid terror and nuclear warfare launched in the Middle East by frightened powers that suspected the disease to be the product of a terrorist attack on the Western world. With equal suddenness, vast pillars of flame, stretching up into the heavens, struck the polar ice caps, melting them and subjecting the world to massive flooding, restructuring the global landscape. Then, the pillars slowly began to move, creeping by inches, but charring the ground in their wake as they began to seemingly carve letters of a strange alphabet into the surface of the planet.
By the middle of the 22nd century, all that remained of the bulk of the world’s much decimated population were shell shocked children, who no longer were able to recall the past, or remember how to work the devices of the adults. As they aged, in fear of a new outbreak of St. Vitus’s Dance, they formed wretched, small scale communities, huddled in the remnants of cities and hording what little of the past they could understand and salvage. They were then confronted with a new threat, the Dreamseed. A plague of mutant organisms, resembling a bizarre cross of insect, arachnids, and crustaceans arose in the wake of the burning pillars, now called Infernos, that stalked the landscape. The Dreamseed fell upon the population of Earth, devouring multitudes. Without technology, or a common memory to hold them together, the survivors turned to the one thing they had left, Faith.
In 2163, a new Christian faith was founded in Rome, by a brilliant, seemingly immortal child called Peter and his disciples. It proclaimed that the Time of Judgment was at hand, but that God would send protectors to defend the faithful. These protectors were called Engel, and they first appeared following the foundation of the Church, in the form of winged humans with eerie powers, who stated they were the followers of the Archangel Michael, that they had arrived to protect the faithful against the Dreamseed, and that they were but the first of many to come.
This new faith, backed by the might of the Engel, swept Europa, turning it into a bastion of the Church, which ruled with a velvet gloved iron fist, backed by the might of the Engel. It warred with the Dreamseed, as well as with the communities, mostly in Spain and England, that rejected the Angelite Faith, establishing an uneasy dominance over Europa, ruling over a feudal, agrarian society as overlord, while warring against the ravenous Dreamseed. Joined by seven other orders of Engel, these beings ensured the Church’s control over Europa, and by the 27th century, the Church, guided by the un-aging, immortal Peter the Second as Pontifex Maximus, had secured its hold over a darkened world.
In the 28th century, new upheavals struck at the Church. An huge earthquake rearranged the landscape again, and a new wave of Dreamseed, called the Scourge, appeared, led by monstrous beings called Abaddon and Ravna, leading armies of Dreamseed called Enim and Rakshasa. The Church was driven back, with its professional army all but destroyed, and only the arrival of five new orders of Engel, as well as the reforming of an old order, saved the Church. Now, in the early 29th century, the Church is locked in another apocalyptic struggle with the Dreamseed, as well as the fringe communities called Junk Kingdoms, while dealing with heresy and unrest in its own territory.
The mainstay of the campaign, and the focus of the Angelite Church, are the mysterious Engel. Appearing as humans with eerie glowing eyes, and graceful wings, they possess strange powers that are far beyond anything a ordinary human could hope to achieve. They are born when children are chosen by groups of mercenaries for the Church, called Grimriders, who enforce a bitter tithe called the Tenth, culling a tenth of all children in a given time and place. These children are sorted and taken to the vast Engel monasteries called Himmels, where they are transformed by ancient machinery into the beings called Engel.
The original Engel were named after the Archangels who were considered their founders: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Ramiel, Raguel, Sariel, and Samael. Of these orders, called Choirs, the Raguelites were scattered when their Himmel was destroyed by the Dreamseed and an Inferno, destroying the process of creating the machines and sacred inks that transformed human children into Engel, the Samaelites conducted some strange ritual wherein all vanished into a raging Inferno, and the Sarielites retreated into obscurity in the shadows of the Church. This crippled the Church during the late 27 th and 28th century, forcing it to rely on the Limitanai, a professional Church army that sought also to reform the Church.
During the wave of Dreamseed in the 28th century called the Scourge, the Limitanai proved ineffective, and its seemed with the slaughter of Engel that all would be lost and the Church drowned in a tide of blood. A young, brilliant churchman and scientist called Khristos of Adrianoplis, managed to reverse engineer the tattooing ink as well as the master transformation machine, helping to restock the old orders, refound the Raguelites, as well as creating five new orders of Engel, four named after the archangels Azrael, Barakiel, Israfel, and Phanuel, while the fifth order was called the Elohim, the Children of God. These new Engel helped turn the tide against the Scourge, but not before Khristos perished himself, leaving behind a process that worked, but was unrefined, and subject at times to horrid failures.
Also disturbing is the appearance of dark Engel called Luciferites, which have dark skin covered in writhing red tattoos, red eyes, horns, and bat like wings. They claim to be followers of Baalzebul, fallen Engel, but no one knows who created them or how. They are enemies of the Church’s Engel, and help lead armies of Dreamseed against the Church.
The Engel are stronger, faster, and hardier that normal humans, and they live like warrior monks in their great monasteries called Himmels, training for battle and reinforcing their faith. Most Europans venerate them as the living messengers of God, while others, who secretly harbor humanist beliefs, see them as oppressors and dupes of the Church. Engels tend to be tall, graceful, with glowing eyes, and glowing tattoos in a language called Enochian covering their skin in fine, linear patterns. They have large, feathery wings, with skin tones and hues reflected by which order, called a Choir, that they belong to. Only the Sarielites possess no wings.
The form of Christianity in the 29th century is the Angelite Church, also called the Angelic Church. It is centered in Rome, and is fiercely monotheistic, incorporating many monotheistic elements of Islam and Judaism, wrapped in select Catholic theology and ritual. Its leader is the Pontifex Maximus, a young child named Peter the Second, who founded the religion, and is at least 700 years old, seemingly eternal and immortal. This faith is built around the Pontifex being God’s Viceroy on Earth, a leader both spiritual and temporal, who, while not quite a divine being himself, is still seen as a Messiah by the general population of Europa.
The Church is the temporal feudal as well as spiritual over lord of Europa, ruling some lands directly, and others through a temporal aristocracy called Diodachi, or Junk Barons, who horde ancient technologies, artifacts, and beliefs, enforcing doctrine through an Inquisition, and protected by Engels, orders of elite soldiers called Templars, sacred knights-monks called Sacristans, and a professional army called the Limitanai. The Church vigorously suppresses ancient technology, persecutes unapproved scientists and philosophers, ruthlessly burns books, and re-writes history to its own advantage. Its doctrine is simple. Serve God, obey the Pontifex as God’s Chosen Vicar, venerate the Engel, believe, not think, obey, not question, disdain the body and the mortal world, and follow the Faith in all aspects of life.
The enemy of the Church and mankind, these are semi-intelligent creatures ranging in size from mere flies to vast, flying behemoths and leviathans. They share the traits of insects, crustaceans, and arachnids, and seem to be able to inhabit all environments. They also share a voracious appetite for human flesh. Only Engel seem powerful enough to defeat them. They can appear anywhere, but seem to follow the vast pillars of flames called Infernos as they meander across the planet. The Church teaches that they are the spawn of Baalzebul, Lord of Flies, once the archangel Lucifer but now the Ha-Shaityn, the Great Adversary of God and mankind.
Lately, more intelligent Dreamseed have appeared, mainly in the vast mutated jungles of central Africa, and in the jungles of the myriad islands of the Indian archipelagos. These Dreamseed, called the Scourge, are either the warped, insectile-humanoids called Enim, or the vaguely serpentine Rakshasa. They are led by two abominations, Dreamseed mutants called Abaddon the Beast and Ravna the Destroyer. Their armies also include many Dreamseed creatures that serve as vile war beasts, who obey the Scourge without question. They are aided by a faith called the Cult of the Beast, that reveres Baalzebul, and dark Engel called Luciferites. They seek to overthrow the Angelite Church, wipe out the Engel, and enslave humanity under the Scourge as new over lords of the planet.
The collective term for any society on the fringe of the Church’s lands, mostly clustered around the Saharan Sea in Africa, the Deccan Highlands in India, and the Siberian Sea in Russia. They are small to mid sized communities, the largest only a couple of thousand people, clustered around arable land, ruled by a myriad of governments ranging from formative republics to outright tyrannies. All share the common traits of clinging to anything the Church condemns, forbidden technologies and artifacts, banned books, proscribed systems of government, as well as heretical beliefs, notably humanism, secularism, and technologism. Their tech ranges from the current era’s late Middle Ages/early Renaissance level, to horded artifacts from the antediluvian era.
The most notable Junk Kingdom is called Metropole, a decidedly French-African society, a secular, humanist, technologist republic, located on a large island near equatorial Africa. It has a steam powered society, complete with light rail, dirigible airships, and legacy war machines called machinae, but they are riven by a society split along class lines, as well as under constant assault by the Dreamseed of Africa. The Church is currently at peace with Metropole, but at war with other communities in the hinterlands.
Part of the fun of the game is the fact that characters don’t know that they’re the product of a genetically engineered super soldier program hijacked by a bunch of bright, scared kids who were also religious hysterics. A stretch, admittedly, but stranger things have happened. The machines they use to make the Engel are mostly automated and self repairing to a degree, so that a caste of mute specialists who learn their functions by rote from sacred engineering texts that they absorb as a form of ritual serves to keep the system lurching along. The Dreamseed are, of course, a rival nation’s biological warfare program gone amok. The Infernos are the orbital microwave satellites used to power the high tech society that collapsed, and now, uncontrolled after their sabotage by the terrorists of the 21st century, they pour out their power indiscriminately, charring the earth as they meander in orbit. Peter the Second is a clone, replaced regularly when gene replicant failure starts to hit him.
For the elements of my campaign, a few new surprises have been added in. First, is the mystery of the Samaelites. Not that Engel threw any surprises there; after all, Samael(Poison Angel in Hebrew) is a fallen angel. What happened is a cabal of Samaelites discovered the truth: they are genetically engineered super soldiers fighting for a corrupt, fascist religious institution that uses them as cannon fodder, and all this is enforced by a religious fanatic child who figured out how to clone himself as a perpetual child leader of a zealous, corrupt church so he can keep enforcing his dogma.
Naturally, the Samaelites were horrified, and they decided to do something about it. They converted as many Samaelites as they could to their conspiracy, and murdered the rest, including their own Ab. They then staged an elaborate cover-up, pretending to go into the Burned Lands as part of a mysterious ritual, when in actuality, they were eliminating the evidence that the loyal Samaelites were murdered by their own. The rogue Samaelites then proceeded to loot out their own Himmel, transporting the machinery and ink supplies to a secure location, and they fled to Africa. They finally stopped, deep in the mutant infested, polluted jungles of what was once the Congo, and built their first Pit.
They studied and reverse engineered as much as they could, experimenting with the help of the mutated locals, whom they controlled in a new religion, the Cult of the Beast, a philosophy designed to oppose everything the Church they hated, in their psychotic fury, stood for. As they endeavored to create new, more powerful Dreamseed, they managed to reverse engineer the Ink (actually a highly adaptive mutagen made from recombinant DNA) that creates an Engel. They arranged for a massive Dreamseed attack on the Raguelite Himmel to destroy the Church’s ability to make Ink, and they set about creating an army of new Engel of their own, the Luciferites. The plan was that they would then be able to overcome the Church and establish their own rule.
The Samaelites intrigued with anyone who was the enemy of the Church, notably the Cult of the Machine and the Technologists, all while hiding behind their façade, since they rightly believed that if Peter the Second managed to reason out who they really were, the Church would spare no resource and single mindedly focus on wiping them out. Instead, the Samaelites reveled in their own new found villainy, seeing themselves as ultimate revolutionaries. From there, it was only a small step to conclude that they were, as genetically engineered beings, humanity’s logical rulers and successors.
As the war against the Church ground on, the council of the Samaelites withdrew more and more from active affairs, hiding themselves behind a shroud of secrecy and mysticism every bit as controlling and rigid as the Angelite Church’s, while focusing on using bio technology of the most horrific type to extend their lifespan. The new generations of Samaelites were even indoctrinated in the Cult of the Beast without knowledge of their true existence, as that was believed to produce better warriors for the movement. In the end, the revolutionaries have transformed into a mirror image of their enemies, justifying any manner of atrocity and deception as for the greater good, while manipulating the faithful to their own petty ends.
By the end of the 27th century, the Luciferites were driven back and contained by the Church, but the renegades only considered this a setback. After all, the Angelite Church had no way to manufacture Ink, so no more new Engel, while the Luciferite re-engineered Ink was effective, if unstable. The Luciferites continued their long term goals, not being affected by the Great Earthquake. After all, it didn’t matter to them if the Church grew wealthier or controlled more people, since the Luciferites were poised to extinguish Angelite Christianity. Their Cult of the Beast was gathering recruits by the thousands from the Junk Kingdoms, the Junk Kingdoms themselves were resisting the Church, forcing the Angelites to consume vital resources and irreplaceable Engel, the Church had been penetrated by secret cabals that owed their allegiance to the Samaelites, and dissent among the lodges had been fomented, leading to the Militarists challenging Papal authority and seriously investing in forbidden technology.
With all this going on, the former Samaelites were ready to unleash their greatest project: a new army of Dreamseed, genetically engineered like the Engel. Called The Scourge, these Dreamseed were stronger and more violent, as well as more cunning, than previous Dreamseed, and guided by two engineered mastermind-generals named Abaddon and Ravna. This horde was to be released against the Church at the same time as a pawn of theirs, Cardinal Lucan De Vries, was to publicly assassinate the Pontifex. The Church would thus be in the midst of an internal crisis, forced to reveal the charade of Peter the Second’s constant cloning, when at the same time it would be forced to confront the massive hordes of the Scourge.
Things did not go as planned, however. De Vries killed Peter the Second, but chose to use poison, his favorite weapon, as he was unaware that the Pontifex was a clone. The private killing allowed a new clone to be activated in secret to replace the deceased one without anyone in the public realizing what had happened, de Vries was condemned publicly and forced to flee, and Peter the Second’s prestige and power was enhanced by the fiasco. De Vries was forced to flee Europa. The Luciferites picked him up, brought him to the African Pit, and made him their puppet, installed as anti-pope of the Cult of the Beast. De Vries was already unhinged from religious hysteria following his failed assassination attempt, and the revelation of the truth sent him over the edge, turning him into a charismatic monster, sustained by medicines and fluids made from human bodies, and by cybernetic implants, who called thousands eagerly to die for the Cult of the Beast.
The Scourge itself was more successful when unleashed, destroying large numbers of Engel and wiping out the Limitanai at Martyropolis, but a random factor upset their plans. It seemed these armies would finally wipe out the Angelite Church, when random chance again intervened in the form of a monk named Khristos of Adrianopolis, a member of the Order of Saint Gregorius. He was a brilliant archeologist and researcher, and his search for antediluvian artifacts for the Church led him to a vast, sunken legacy ship off the coast of Italy.
This vessel was filled with machinery and cargo, all once the property of the European military and related to their super soldier program, and all in excellent condition. Khristos’s discovery of prototype Ink and a prototype inception machine for the Engel convinced the Pontifex to allow him to salvage the wreck. Khristos also discovered some uncorrupted V chips and computers. He took the risk of implanting one in his brain, using the auto-implantation machinery and downloading the data from the computers on the ship. He was thus able to use this knowledge to reverse engineer the process, creating a substitute Ink which wasn’t as reliable as the original, but worked sufficiently to produce new Engel.
Khristos managed to renew the stock of Engel, as well as design new Engel, and these were hurled into battle against the Scourge, driving them back. He used the proto-type machines to create new inception machines, and he designed, as a safeguard against losing the Ink and inception information again, three super-computers, manufactured from the sunken ship’s computers. He named them the Sarim, after Metatron, Sandalphon, and Melchizedek, and they were keyed so that only Peter the Second could access them. These innovations allowed the Church to survive the Scourge, driving them back, and upsetting the Luciferite schemes.
Unfortunately, Khristos’s reward for saving the Church was to be murdered by a over-zealous Inquisitor, without any Papal sanction, who then went on to destroy Khristos’s computers and V chips, which he believed were blasphemous. Though the perpetrator was brutally punished and executed by the angry Pontifex, the Church had still lost one of its most brilliant minds and had to make do with the inventions he had provided them. These were the new Ink, the upgraded original Engel, and the Neo-Engel. Despite attempts to reverse engineer his work, the destruction of Khristos’s notes, V-chips, and assistants by Inquisitor Luciano has left the Church almost back to where it was at the beginning, reliant on legacy technology that could barely be maintained, and not replicated.