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Celestial v.s. Celestial
Author: Orri Eiríksson
System: D&D Planescape
'Good' doesn't necessarily mean 'nice'.
Everyone knows of the blood war, right? Tanar'ri and Baatezu? At least everyone who calls herself a planar. Not as known is the upper planar feud: Archons and lawful aasimon against eladrin and chaotic aasimon. And their anger, although not as constantly destructive, is righteous, their causes just – both of them. Some graybeard or another called the upper planar war a 'cold war'. It is very descriptive of what is going on. And sometimes the bubble bursts, and things get violent. Angry celestials are terrifying, even more than the fiends, because you don't expect it. This time the struggle revolves around a prime world, a world of mortals. It is a relatively peaceful world, known to it's inhabitants as 'Hlogrin', meaning 'lifegiver' in one of the native languages. Two major empires struggle to hold the reins of power. One empire, the elvish Seledrite kingdom, is influenced by the chaotic and individualistic celestials, the other, the human Grandir emirate, is influenced by the lawful and structured celestials. Both have recently taken direct action in the politics of Hlogrin, and tempers are flaring.
If the world of Hlogrin is to be saved from a celestial war, outside help is needed. Now, unless the PCs involved are true planewalking bloods, they shouldn't have anything to do with the troubled world. Diplomacy of the highest standard will be needed, as well as a good amount of guile. Combat, as anyone who knows anything about warring celestials realizes, should be avoided altogether.
-Events that might lead to war-
The incidents that have pushed the situation from peaceful animosity towards open warfare have been numerous, but a few stand out. A third nation, a warlike fiefdom of orcs, has recently fallen to the allied nations of Seledrite and Grandir, with the celestials taking direct action when the orcs, in despair, bargained with baatezu for aid. The combined celestial host crushed the minor baatezu incursion, but there have been serious disagreements on how the conquered nation should be handled. The Seledrites wish to depose their government but leave their territory intact, and the Grandir wish to annex the nation completely, dismantle their war machine and drive the orcs into the sea – literally. The alliance has broken, with both sides feeling their way of life threatened. Following the breaking of the alliance, the Grandir emirate has tried to forge a 'united nations' with all the other free nations, to 'ensure peace in all Hlogrin'. The Seledrites, in reply, have tried to forge their own alliances to 'contain Grandir aggressiveness'. And then, when everything was at boiling point, several eladrin were mistakenly killed by sword archons when they were flying a short-cut over Grandir's capital, on their way to meet up with their Seledrite allies. Typically, the eladrins refused to obey border laws, and the archons, just as typically, refused to bend even a little bit.
- The war spreads-
When celestials war, it tends to have repercussionst (thankfully, celestial war is almost unheard of). The PCs, relaxing in their favorite inn/planewalker coffee shop (probably in Lady's or Clerk's ward), will witness an eladrin and an archon come to blows in the streets of Sigil! As they stare in shock (or irony, as the case may be), they will overhear a grizzled old planewalker mention the world of Hlogrin and that those celestials are "probably one of the blekkin' leatherheads involved". Now, the PCs may not care much about some stupid little prime (which would, of course, be horribly arrogant of them...) but the celestial hostilities there seem to be spreading.... once the archon war machine or the eladrin horde become involved, there may be no turning back. And if the PCs don't much care anyway, they might just be hired as diplomats by either of the celestial groups, or even an outside group that doesn't want to see a upper planar version of the blood war. That, some say, is the main difference between the upper planes and the lower....the will to negotiate before someone has the upper hand. Of course, if the PCs don't care about *any* of this *at all* then they are probably
all wrong for the assignment. They should even consider not calling themselves 'planewalkers' anymore. There are three basic ways for the PCs to involve themselves in the diplomacy: on the side of chaos (eladrin, Seledrite), on the side of law (archon, Grandir), or as a neutral party.
The PCs will, most likely, be dealing with the leaders of the celestials, as well as the leaders/diplomats of the two empires. The main problem is that both the elves and the humans are in total awe of their celestial allies, and both the archons and eladrin are certain they are right – and won't give an inch. It's surprising that the war hasn't already broken out, really.
-A common enemy-
The negotiations could be a source for some very good role-playing, as the PCs are sent back and forth from the two celestial camps to deliver accusations and insults, which they must try to soften, and counter-offers that only nitwits would take. Unless the PCs do something really dramatic, like bringing in outside forces or authorities (like Hlogrin needs *more* planars meddling in it's affairs), they will probably not be able to prevent war. And the war is devastating. Before the eyes of the PCs, the celestials become what they hate the most...a mockery of themselves, fighting a pointless war which neither side will win easily and, most likely, have multiversal consequences. They become like fiends in their fury, fighting a blood war of their own. Fortunately, this doesn't last long. A large warband of Baatezu, foolishly trying to take advantage of the situation in stead of letting the celestials slaughter each other (perhaps someone actively hired them for this purpose...), teleports onto the scene. Suddenly, the celestials have a common enemy on the battleground, someone they hate more than each other. The change is dramatic...the fiends are crushed in a matter of hours by the joint forces of the archons and eladrin, and the celestials sheath their swords, resolute in solving the conflict peacefully.
The PCs can step in again in the second negotiations. Everything goes like clockwork this time, and the celestials could easily be convinced that their presence on the prime world is destructive and harmful to the natives. Nevertheless, the short war does have consequences. Besides freezing archon/eladrin relations, it may also be disillusioning for the PCs and others who witnessed innocent people being caught in a celestial war. Philosophers in Sigil rant and rave about how much celestials and fiends are alike, and the Bleak Cabal members actually go around whistling happily! All in all, it is a sad day for the upper planes. If word spreads about the PCs involvement, they will probably be regarded by most as heroes, concluding a potentially devastating war peacfully. However, many celestials will probably feel that the PCs are giving them a bad name by acting like they couldn't have negotiated peace by themselves, as they believe they could have. Vanity is the sin of the blessed.