One of the challenges of running a campaign in heaven is coming up with a metaphor that allows for conflict and continuity while still staying faithful to creating an idyllic environment with strong themes of altruism, duty, and grace.
Using the University of Heaven framework Words act like a combination of Department and Fraternal Order. Superiors serve as Deans, Masters as Professors, Friends as graduate students, Vassals as declared majors, Servitors as undeclared students, and mortal souls as an amalgam of auditors, townies, and board of directors.
It creates a world where all angels are invested in studying their Word (or at least the Word of their Superior) – and their obligations to the Corporeal World are more like a mix of research projects and work study.
Actual assignment to the mortal world would be akin to a term abroad. A period of immersive study that allows the angel to come back to Heaven with new perspectives (and possibly new Words) to share. Of course, some angels will “go native” while away from the Ivory Halls, and come back with scars and Discords that mark them as pariahs among their peers (true, there will also be angels drawn to such a “dangerous” and “damaged” individual, but they’ll be getting watched closely to see if they’re in danger in Falling from their studies).
Aside from the academic overtone, each Angelic realm (and Cathedral) will remain much the same as it has been described in the core In Nomine books. The real advantage of the Heaven as Academy device is that it allows for the creation of non-apocalyptic conflicts between the Superiors. Things like:
- Funding (essence) disputes
- Conflicts over guest speakers
- Fights over institutional goals
- Inter-Word Pranks
- Intra-Word cover-ups to prevent loss of prestige (or essence)
Much like Universities, each Word would attempt to protect its (lesser) angels from the consequences of their actions (up to a point), but would be willing to dole out its own internal type of discipline. This is not to say that Heaven would be safe (safety also makes it tell stories with compelling narratives), but many of the dangers would be managed. It’s a place where angels can go on adventures (as opposed to Hell where demons struggle to exist).
Should a Servitor of Lightning accidentally breaks the sample of Sarcolestes Leedsi he is researching, it would provide grounds for investigating how both Jean and Jordi would handle the topic of discipline (internal for one, external for the other).
Anyway, that’s the general idea. If you ran an In Nomine campaign in heaven, would you give the University model a shot?