In Nomine

Introduction to In Nomine


Overview of the Game

In Nomine is a game about angels and demons who struggle for control of Earth. Primarily, this means influencing the events to support their own vision of how reality should be. Player Characters can be angels, demons, humans aware of the War and potentially augmented by their awareness, as well as some others. Angels and Demons are quite high-powered compared to normal people. Not only are they stronger, faster, and of greater will, but they also have special powers as a result of their angelic or demonic nature. The "good" of angels versus the "evil" of demons is defined primarily by selflessness versus selfishness; demons are ultimately extremely selfish.

The tone of an In Nomine game can vary widely. When I run a game, I tend to make it a serious game— the War is serious, Heaven represents the side of the good guys, and souls are at stake. However, it's also a fairly cinematic game; this is about angels and demons after all, so it doesn't really make sense to get too bogged down into the details of fussy reality. That being said, the reality of character motivations and reactions still applies!


The Setting

The universe is divided into three planes: the Celestial Plane, the Ethereal Plane, and the Corporeal Plane. The Corporeal Plane is where much of the action takes place, and it is just modern day Earth (except that angels and demons are real, some forms of magic work, etc.). An angel or demon must have a vessel to exist on the Corporeal plane. This is, basically, a corporeal body that the celestial inhabits. An angel can take its (true) celestial form on the Corporeal plane, but it will usually be ejected from the Corporeal plane before long if it holds that form. What's more, this causes disturbance (see "The Symphony, God, and Lucifer" below).

The Celestial Plane is divided into Heaven and Hell. Whereas all of Hell is accessible, only the lowest level of Heaven is accessible to player characters. Human souls, after death, sometimes hang out on this lowest level. However, they may also ascend to higher heavens, which effectively takes them out of the campaign. Angels can go to Hell, but they have to be careful as many there would love to tear them apart. Demons, however, cannot go to heaven for long, as the divine radiance of the place tends to ablate them away. Most angels and demons spend most of their time on the Celestial plane. It is the favored servitors of the Superiors (see below) that get sent on missions to the Corporeal plane.

The Ethereal Plane, sometimes called "The Marches" is the land of dreams and myth. Humans (and animals) all have a "dreamscape" on the Ethereal plane, which they inhabit while dreaming. Additionnaly, creatures of myth, including the pagan gods, exist here on the Ethereal plane. (The pagan gods are decimated and weak as a result of the ascendance of monotheistic religions on Earth, as well as a crusade against them organized by Heaven several centuries ago.)


The Symphony, God, and Lucifer

The War started in the distant past when, after the Eden experiment, Lucifer and a third of the other angels rebelled against God. As a result of this, they Fell, becoming demons, and were cast into Hell.

Celestials— that is, those native to the Celestial plane, i.e. angels and demons— are able to perceive the interconnectedness of reality. The most common metaphor in use for this nature of reality is "The Symphony", and the perception is typically described as hearing. Angels perceive the true Symphony; demons, however, perceive a distorted version that is warped by their own selfish nature. Both, however, are able to perceive disturbances in the Symphony. A disturbance in the symphony happens when a celestial interferes on the Corporeal plane. The actions of humans, no matter the motivation, cause no disturbance. Whenever a celestial breaks something, harms someone, or uses a supernatural power, however, it disturbs the Symphony. Those nearby who can perceive the Symphony may hear this disturbance. Greater disturbances can be heard to a greater distance.

God does not show up in the game as a "person". Indeed, it might be argued that the Symphony is god, although Lucifer and numerous Ethereals would dispute this. Lucifer, however, is an individual, if a very powerful and scary one, and may well show up.

Exept for Lucifer— who will be seen rarely if at all— the most powerful beings in the game are the Superiors, the archangels and demon princes that all of the other angels and demons serve.



The two most important things about an angel are its choir (which is basically its race) and its Superior, the archangel whom the angel serves. All angels have both a resonance, as well as dissonance conditions. An angels resonance is a theme in the Symphony to which an angel is attuned; it represents something supernatural that the angel can do. Dissonance conditions are things that an angel should not do. If one violates one of its dissonance conditions, it means that it is acting against its very nature in such a way that the angel takes a form of karmic damage (just called "dissonance"). Too much dissonance in an angel can cause it to Fall. In addition, angels have attunements (powers granted to it by its superior), may know mundane skills, can perform songs (basically, magic spells), and may perform rites (to restore its store of Essence, which is what powers things like attunements and songs).

Choirs of Angels


The archangel that an angel serves provides the foundation for that angel's motivations. Each archangel is defined by a Word; some would say that the archangel is the Word, and as the importance of the Word waxes and wanes within the Symphony, so does the power of the archangel. Servitors of a given archangel will first work to promote the cause of Heaven, but as a very close second will work to promote their superior's Word in the Symphony.



My games typically have the PCs on the side of the angels, so demons are usually adversaries. Whereas angels come in choirs, demons come in bands. Demons have their own resonances and dissonance conditions. However, whereas an angel may Fall if it gets too much dissonance, a demon just becomes more and more twisted. Demons also serve Superiors, and receive dissonance conditions as a result. However, the nature of the service is usually different from the nature of an angel's service. An angel wants to further its superior's Word and probably loves its superior; a demon, usually, will try to further its Superior's word, but ultimately probably hopes to assassinate and take over from its top boss.

Bands of Demons

Demon Princes



In addition to an angel, there are other sorts of characters you could play. Also, in addition to demons, there are other sorts of adversaries.


Books to Buy

The stuff above gives you enough of an introduction to figure out what sort of character you might want to play, and even to play in the game if you aren't terribly interested in game mechanics.

If you want to learn a whole lot more about the game world, what goes on and how things work, as well as about game mechanics, the In Nomine core rulebook is the book to get. The book is out of print, but you may be able to find one used somewhere. However, you can also purchase a PDF of the core In Nomine rulebook.

Some people argue that the introduction to the world is more coherent in GURPS In Nomine. While that may be true— the organization in the core In Nomine rulebook does seem at times haphazard— I have to admit I've always liked reading the color text and short stories in the In Nomine line.

If you want to learn more about playing an angel or a human, the Angelic Players Guide (out of print and not available as a PDF, as far as I can tell) is a good reference, as is the Corporeal Players Guide.

If you're playing in one of my campaigns, please do not read any of the "Revelations" cycle, as I will want to use stuff in there as source material (under the assumptions that the players don't know it). The titles in this cycle include Night Music, The Marches, Heaven and Hell, Fall of the Malakim, and The Last Trumpet.