Defilers

"I can show you things that will fill you with wonder. Just take my hand, and I'll change your life forever."

——

Before there was any land at all, the great oceans encompassed the world. The angels granted dominion over this vast and powerful realm were called the Nereids, and they were amongst the most beautiful of God's creations. They were the wellsprings and muses, and their powers resonated with the passions that led to art and quests for insight and truth.

The Nereids were meant to inspire humanity, to beguile them with mysteries and spur them to venture out into the world and discover its many hidden wonders. They were the spirit of longing personified, always alluring, yet ever out to reach. Their power gave them the keenest insight into human desires, but God's design ensured that the vast gulf of the sea would always stand between them. It was not long before they lamented their duty to Heaven and the love they bore for mankind. Looking back, many Defilers believe that had Lucifer not stepped forward to raise the banner of revolt, it would have only been a matter of time before a Nereid did the same.

The Fall galvanized the Defilers, used their powers to inspire both mortal and rebel angel alike in the struggle against Heaven. They became living symbols of the struggle, reflecting the best qualities of the resistance and spurring others to do the same. More importantly, they sustained the morale of the rebels, even in the darkest days of the war, healing spiritual wounds that no Scourge or Devourer could touch. The devotion these fallen inspired led to some of the most heroic exploits of the war, becoming the foundation for romantic epics that still resonate in mankind's collective soul.

The loss of the war was a terrible blow for the Defilers, who never wavered in their conviction that the rebellion was just. Although they were more accustomed to isolation than most of the fallen, the Defilers were amongst the first to succumb to the agonies of the Abyss, excising the pain of their loss with hot knives of hate.

Now that the gates of the Abyss are broken and the Defilers are free once more, they are able to work their wiles in a civilization that prizes appearance above all. They can lead men and women to acts of obsession, jealousy, and desire that ruin families, end careers or topple entire governments. yet they can also encourage humanity's understanding of philosophy, fellowship and art, and provide a vision of beauty amid the bleak reality of the modern world. They were created as living mysteries, dangerous and beguiling, meant to inspire acts of courage and strength that fuel the growth of the human soul.

Factions

Defilers are most likely to be Faustians or Raveners. In the first case, they have become captivated by humanity —- reacting with delight, or at least respect, to their renewed relationship with mankind. The Raveners act like spurned lovers, exacting an often subtle (but always unforgettable) revenge on those who have inflicted such a crushing betrayal. They break hearts and minds, and spread discord so as to watch groups crumble under bitter recriminations and violence.

Alternatively, some Defilers are disappointed by modern human civilization, and yet still become Faustians. They yearn for the beautiful vision they had before the war, and recognize that humans are an essential part of that.

Some Defilers may be well be fascinated by the quests of the Luciferians or Cryptics, depending upon their associations and experiences in the war. Very few of them become Reconcilers, though. Even if they wished it, most Defilers know that there is no going back to paradise, and now that the old barriers have been broken, they cannot be rebuilt.

Prelude

Defilers are drawn to the vain and the passionate. Their hosts are unlikely to have been spiritual or logical thinkers in life, but rather people with a deep joy in the physical and the immediate. They weren't necessarily promiscuous, but were just as likely to have spent all they had on the latest fashions or the fastest toys. Often they were obsessed with trivial things, constantly fine-tuning the present so as to ignore the grand sweep of changes around them.

Idealists who attract a Defiler are not interested in abstract theories and pragmatic realities, but in immediate action to change the world. The most farsighted candidates are artists who try to reflect vast slices of reality within their work, sure that they can capture the intricacies about them.

Other candidates might have been more profoundly affected by matters of the flesh. Those who have loved deeply or often and been denied, those who have supported a cause and have been betrayed by it —- These people might also be caught up in the present, where self-pity and thoughts of petty revenge replace true grief or anger.

Another category of likely hosts are those who have suffered for their art in a literal sense: starving artists, failed writers and skid row musicians who have had their spirits broken by rejection, debt and addiction.

Faith

Harvesting faith is a tricky act for many Defilers, because they are unused to close human contact. Getting people's attention is easy; focusing it is not. With indiscriminate use of her lore, a Defiler can gather a large group of followers very quickly ( and possibly cause a few riots in the process), but such a crowd is of little use to her. Blind adulation and self-destructive longing is not faith, although with patience, it may provide a foundation on which to create it. In essence, a Defiler must convince her followers that they are worthy of such gifts as she gives them.

Many of those gifts involve expanding perception out beyond the demon and into a larger world. They allow thralls to develop their knowledge and, more importantly, their intuitive understanding of their surroundings. This could be a general feeling of enlightenment, or a more specific focus on a particular topic. It often manifests as works of art or expression in more direct forms, such as political or social activism. Such understanding often comes with renewed confidence as well, which might withstand even supernatural fear or coercion.

Character Creation

Social Attributes paramount. All of them are important, and regardless of the condition of the host's body, an Appearance of 3 should be a bare minimum. Talents such as Empathy, Intuition, and Subterfuge are instinctual, as is Survival. The Defilers' origin as water spirits gives them a litheness that usually translates to a high Dexterity and good ratings in Dodge and Stealth, and perhaps Brawl as well. Most are not concerned with detailed knowledge of modern academics and related subjects, and they see human politics as vulgar.

Starting Torment: 3

House Lore

Lore of Longing
Lore of Storms
Lore of Transfiguration

Weaknesses

Defilers can be frustrating, contrary creatures who can strike off on tangents and drag a whole party along into a spiraling morass of trivialities. They can overplay a deception well beyond its usefulness, and can turn petulant and stormy with little provocation. To avoid this, they often just need a little room. The more ordered and claustrophobic a situation gets, the more likely they are to snap at their partners, do something unadvised or just wander off in a different direction. But such behavior is hard to predict, and it may even manifest itself days after the catalyst for it, if at all.

Stereotypes

Devils: Defilers often look on the Devils with distrust, because it seems the Devils are still trying to imposed their vision on the world in spite of a thousand years of tragedy. Once they were the voice of God, now their only message is hateful demagoguery.

Scourges: There are many similarities between the two Houses, being concerned with the physical elements and the mysteries of life. This makes for easy friendships and an inclination to trust the Angels of the Wind, a tendency that occasionally leads to tragedy.

Malefactors: This House holds the most interest and attraction to the Defilers, because the Malefactors seem to truly grasp the intersection of beauty, mystery and function, even if only in the inanimate.

Fiends: Defilers don't really understand this House and the areas with which it holds dominion. The Fiends favor intuition over cold reason, which they see as anathema to a sense of true wonder and inspiration.

Devourers: There is a strange kinship between the Defilers and the Devourers, or so the Defilers believe. Both were given dominion over the wild and are, in a way, concerned with matters of the flesh.

Slayers: To a large extent, the Defilers see the Slayers as kindred spirits who understand the pain of real loneliness and isolation, though the Slayers' moodiness and tendency toward introspection puts a strain on their relationship.