In Nomine in China

All the Tea in China

Tea has been around for almost as long as humans have boiled water. A hygienic practice on its own, the refreshing properties of Camellia sinensis and the medicinal properties of other herbs have changed entire cultures. Tea has inspired entire spiritual traditions – Zen Buddhism brought forth chado, the way of tea. It has reshaped whole countries’ history and economies: caffeine and sugar in the middle of the afternoon let European laborers continue a day’s work, and feeding those needs were racing clipper ships under the flags of England, Portugal, America, and more. We speak of a man steeped in a culture, a plot that brews, or an infusion of cash into a liquid market. While it’s not quite as universally central to human worldviews as, say, fire or war, its effects on human history are not to be underestimated, and the Angel of Tea is an old and powerful angel indeed.

Like the Word of Flowers itself, Camellia’s Word is based on a biological entity – camellia sinensis, the tea plant – but has grown far beyond that into metaphorical regions. Depending on the region of the world one is in, tea can refer to a drink, a time of day for relaxing, a diplomatic chat, or a delivery system for medicine. She has been very successful in spreading not only the drinking of tea but its connotations of a peace and health. Her service to Flowers’ ideals of peace is preventative, with an unguessable number of conflicts global and personal defused over a nice hot cup of tea (often having replaced ale or wine as a historical drink of choice in the region, to the substantial benefit of health and social relations). Camellia’s role in shaping these perceptions has been and continues to be significant. She is knowledgeable concerning the core agronomy of tea plants and their harvest, the pharmacopeia of Chinese traditional medicine, the economics and diplomacy of international trade, and the supernatural theories underlying a number of alchemical brews.

Camellia’s priorities are global, and she maintains supervision of lower-ranking angels and Soldiers around the world, from Japan to England and beyond. She was based in China early in her history, assisting with agriculture from the Lightning viewpoint, teaching humans effective farming practices and exhibiting medicinal uses of various brews. In recent centuries she has worked very closely with angels of Trade dealing with the economic ramifications of the East India Company. However, with the twentieth century’s string of violent Communist revolutions, Novalis assigned Camellia to be one of the key organizing angels for Flowers’ efforts in East Asia, and secured for her a strong Role in China. (Ma Lei, a midwife from earlier in this series, may have played a part in that changeling switch.) She now spends most of her time in Beijing, never coming within the walls of the Communist Party’s decision-making headquarters but often delivering sufficient brew-ready influence to let calmer heads prevail in times of tension. She gathers news from a network of agents and sends directives along with deliveries of fine-quality tea around the city, around the country, and to the far corners of the globe. When she leaves Beijing these days it is usually to travel personally to the Six Tea Mountains for this or that specially-aged harvest, as well as making quick use of a small, stable Tether hidden in the precinct.

She doesn’t leave for long – from her point of view, China is a land on a high simmer and ready to boil over, with protest fermenting within, military tensions on too many borders, and extraterritorial engagement worsening conflicts elsewhere. It can be handled, though. After all, it hasn’t even been a century since the local form of government changed radically, and there are humans yet that lived under an emperor. Already the central ideology is adapting to more widely-accepted socialism under the relentless slow pressure of real needs. It’s the job of Camellia and her troops to see that the pressure is kept up.

(Those troops are likely to be any of a number of Peace faction Words. Camellia is an angel that oversees one of the major aspects of Chinese culture that survived the Cultural Revolution, and she is both by experience and by temperament more able to relate to angels of Trade, Dreams, Lightning, and Creation than to War-faction Words. Camellia could make a good “default” coordinator for Heaven’s social goals as they relate to China and its global influences, possibly a line or so up from any 9-Force angels.)

Mercurian Master of Peace
Angel of Tea

Corporeal Forces - 4   Strength 8   Agility 12
Ethereal Forces - 6Intelligence 12Precision 12
Celestial Forces - 5Will 10Perception 10

Word Forces: 15

Vessel: quiet little Han Chinese matron/3, Charisma +1

Role: “Sun Lan,” Role/6, owner of a tea house in Beijing near Zhongnanhai, the Chinese capitol complex; occasional provider of fine teas for formal gatherings of the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.

Skills: Alchemy/3, Artistry (performance: tea ceremony)/6, Enchantment/3, Languages (Chinese (Mandarin)/native, Hindi/5, English/5, Japanese/3, Portuguese/2), Knowledge (Economics/3, Farming/4, Zen Buddhism/3), Medicine/5, Savoir-Faire/5

Songs: Ethereal Harmony, Corporeal Healing, Corporeal Sleep, Ethereal Sleep, Ethereal Solace

Attunements: Mercurian of Flowers, Cherub of Flowers, Seraph of Flowers, Angel of Tea, Heavenly Fragrance, Discriminating Taste, Metal Hews Wood*

*Non-canonical – see writeup of Awase, Archangel of Metal.

Artifacts: jian, Talisman/6 (Large Weapon (Sword)), Summonable; concealable bulletproof vest, Talisman/6 (Dodge), Summonable; Celestial Chime/6 (Cel. Calling) – this is a one-use panic button that whistles up a flight of six Novaline Malakim, who will show up armed to the teeth. The Chime is the type that has a “safety.”

Other resources: ownership of a small but prosperous teahouse; settled apartment of modern upper middle-class Chinese urban dweller; often in the company of an assistant or lower-ranking angel

Angel of Tea: Tea is part of Camellia. When she harvests tea leaves herself and later brews them, she may treat any person who has drunk of the infusion, up to a number equal to her Celestial Forces, as being in physical contact with her (though not necessarily close to her) for the next six hours, for the purposes of resonance or Attunement. This applies both ways, though most drinkers do not know to take advantage of it. Angels to whom she provides this ability must add 1 Essence to the brew per person to be thus affected; the first drinkers are taken in order.

Heavenly Fragrance: When brewing an aromatic drink, Camellia may select one ability she has that manifests as an aura, such as her Seraph of Flowers Attunement. The effects of the ability then manifest for anyone who inhales the fragrance, as if she were next to the recipient. The effects fade when the scent does, usually after a few minutes. As with Angel of Tea, angels to whom she provides this ability must spend 1 Essence per person to be affected. (It should be noted that she accomplish the same thing with Songs by constructing a serving of tea infused with the Song via alchemy, similar to the construction of a pastille.)

Discriminating Taste: Camellia’s connoisseurship is so finely developed that she can discern the chemical components of a “tea” – by which is metaphorically meant any liquid meant for consumption – with a Perception roll, by smell, sight (-3 penalty, impossible over media) or taste (+3 to target number, but exposes her to the effects). She gains an intuitive understanding of the chemicals, but, like any other potential holder of the Attunement, requires a Chemistry and/or Alchemy roll to be verbally precise about it. Fortunately, she’s very good at both.


The material presented here is the creation of William Keith, and is intended for use with the In Nomine system from Steve Jackson Games. This material is not official and is not endorsed by Steve Jackson Games.

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