If you were a noble from Hell – how would you seize power on Earth anno 1889?

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The Chronicler
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If you were a noble from Hell – how would you seize power on Earth anno 1889?

I could really need some help fleshing out how much of an impact a small group of Baatezu could have on the late 19th century Earth. Here is the general idea so far (but I´m open for any suggestions):

A small group of powerful devils have arrived on Earth. Among them is the former ruler of Avernus, Zariel. She is weak, the result of Bel draining her power for centuries. She is accompanied by Nergal, master of pestilence. Accompanying these two powerful devils to Earth are a number of lower ranking fiends. A couple of erynies, two cornugons, a handful of barbazu, a few abishai and a dozen or so imps.

Behind the escape to Earth is Moloch. He has a small army, but he does not want to bring it to Earth until he can safely leave again. The exception being a host of mazzikim – incorporeal fiends – that he has gathered. He has no qualms sending them to Earth, where their power to possess mortals may be of great use.

He counts on Nergal to keep Zariel in check (which might be a mistake) and when she is restored to her full might they will return to Hell together to wreak vengeance on their respective enemies (Malagard and Bel). At least that is his plan, it remains to be seen if Zariel will play along with his scheme.

Questions:
• Where will they go? I´ve been thinking London – the most populous city on Earth and the capitol of the Worlds greatest empire.
• How will they go about seizing power? Who will they charm, possess, or corrupt? Will they go directly for people in high office, or their advisors?
• Zariel needs to feed on thousands of spirits to regain her power. I had an idea: Zariel creates a charity caring for the sick, then gets Nergal to create a cholera epidemic. The kind nurses that brave the epidemic make the sick say an odd prayer to the angel Zariel (unknown to them, but hey, what do you do?) for help. Thus they have forfeited their souls and she can consume them. Do you have any better suggestions?
• What will she do with her power once, or if, she gets it? I imagine she would want to start a war so she can discern who are the mightiest warriors on the planet and recruit them to her cause (I also imagine Nergals wish to spread disease might conflict with such a plan as Zariel does not want potential champions wasting away rather than dying on the field of battle).

Short background:
Gothic Earth is isolated from the rest of the Multiverse by an entity sometimes referred to as The Red Death (part of a scheme by Apomps to conquer the Prime Material Plane and then the entire Multiverse). Outsiders can enter Earth, but they can never leave, which means most beings with any sense avoids the place. For this reason, Earth has been largely forgotten in the Outer Planes.

A few years ago a group of Earthlings somehow managed the impossible and left their world. These humans have accomplished great feats across the planes. They have also had encounters with forces from Hell – some of which have been violent.

The dethroned prince of Malbolge – Moloch – saw the isolation of Earth as an opportunity. He managed to free Zariel from her imprisonment by Bel on Avernus and sent her to Earth. She is severely weakened, but in time she may regain her strength by feeding on the spirits of this populous world in relative safety (who would want to risk indefinite imprisonment by going after her on Earth?)

This will give Moloch a very powerful ally, and together they might both get revenge on their respective enemies in Hell, as well as reclaiming their thrones. He hopes that Zariel will be able to break the isolation of Earth from within when she has regained her full power, but is not willing to risk imprisonment himself, and will not join her before she succeeds in vanquishing the Red Death).

Zariel and Nergal might meet opposition from humans with some knowledge of fiends, like the Order of Sion (to whom my PCs belong), the Order of St. Peter, and possibly a Solar stranded on Earth (severely weakened after having been cut off from Celestia for a very long time). There is also a fledgling agency in the UK, called Scotland Yard Special Branch X, which deals with the supernatural. In Germany there is a somewhat older government organisation called KDPP, and France also has a similar organisation. There are numerous secret qabals too, fighting the Red Death, that might be mobilised in the battle against the devils.

Palomides
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Not too original; but...

This may be too obvious but 1889 would be a period where all the chess pieces around the world were being positioned for what would erupt as WWI.

On Jan. 30 1889, Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria and his mistress Baroness Mary Vetsera commit a double suicide (or a murder-suicide).
It would be very easy to re-write history as this being an initial attempt to corrupt/possess Rudolph. Perhaps the demonic forces failed but were still able to drive him mad.
Then the fiends scrambled to re-order things when their potential puppet died. His death put the line of succession for the Austria-Hungarian Empire in doubt. Archduke Franz Ferdinand was decided to be the next in line and his later assassination sparked WWI.

But you could still keep the focus on Britain under the assumption that there is another faction of fiends in London setting up machinations to push the British Empire into war even earlier. The PCs would be involved with foiling these plots and delaying Britain's eventual push to war

Some non-evil things that were happening in Britain that year that your players might play a hand in bringing about:
August 14–September 15 – London Dock Strike: Dockers strike for a minimum wage which they eventually receive
August 26 – The Children's Charter is passed in the United Kingdom; for the first time it imposes criminal penalties to deter child abuse

Some events in the world that could be re-written to seem more occult-like:
-Paiute spiritual leader Wovoka experiences a vision, leading to the start of the Ghost Dance movement in the Dakotas.
-May – the 1889–1890 influenza pandemic is first reported in the Central Asian part of the Russian Empire. It spreads throughout Russia and other parts of the world
-Yellow fever interrupts the building of the Panama Canal.
-Vincent van Gogh paints some of his most spiritual works including "The Starry Night"
-A huge locust swarm crosses the Red Sea and destroys crops in the Nile Valley.
-November 14 – Inspired by Jules Verne, pioneer American woman journalist Nellie Bly (Elizabeth Cochrane) begins a journey around the world in less than 80 days (Bly finishes the journey in 72 days, 6 hours and 11 minutes). You could write her as collecting data from various sources reporting on fiendish incursions

-June 19 – A Neapolitan baker named Raffaele Esposito invents the Pizza Margherita, named after the queen consort of Italy Margherita of Savoy. This is the forerunner of the modern pizza.
[I don't see how this would tie into a campaign - but I'll be damned if I don't make the effort to salute the invention of pizza]

The Chronicler
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Thank you Palomides!

That is an awesome set of ideas!

The influenza pandemic of 1889-90 is absolutely perfect. Nergal is obviously behind that. And if Zariel can get her hands on a substantial part of the one million dead (their souls, that is) she will be well on her way to recovery.

Perhaps he is behind the yellow fewer also. Distance is nothing to them, and it might make sense to create separate outbreaks in various parts of the world so as not to cause to much suspicion. One major clue will be the presence of the same charity (secretly making deals with the dying in Zariels name, promising to end their suffering).

It makes sense that Zariel will want to instigate a major war. In fact, so does the Red Death, and it has been putting the chess pieces in place with that goal in mind for quite some time. I think an alliance with their deadliest enemies, the agents of the Red Death, might be one of the more plausible ways for the players to match the devils.

I like the idea of the Crown Princes suicide being an act of defiance against the fiends trying to either possess or manipulate him.

I am sure there will be place for the creation of the first modern pizza as well. One of Apomps agents, a Shator, is posing as an italian nobleman. He has a strong incentive to protect Apomps masterplan by helping to get rid of the devils, and might invite them to Italy :-)

Palomides
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Appendium

Glad I could oblige.

Regarding the yellow fever outbreak delaying the construction of the Panama Canal, I was thinking that you could rationalize that (aside from just spreading disease) it also prevented the US from rising further in political power as most of the power needed to be in the hands of the dying European empires to make a war between them even more inevitable and devastating.

You might even write an adventure where your players try (and fail - partially or completely) to stop agents of disease from traveling to the Americas to further weaken their growing power

The Chronicler
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US - rise to power

It´s an interesting idea to incorporate the US. The PCs haven´t been there yet so that would be an adventure in itself.

I imagine Zariel would rather have the US enter a war than to keep them out though. Maybe she already has her eyes on some promising veterans from one of the US colonial wars, either an American soldier or an indigenous warrior.

As for the dying European empires: Apart from the Ottoman Empire being constantly nibbled at, and a somewhat demographically challenged (compared to the German Empire) but highly militarized French Empire, they are seemingly at the peak of their strenght in 1889. It will take a truly great war to reveal their internal weaknesses and make some of them crumble.

Another scheme by Zariel might be to engage the US in a parallell war. To provoke a conflict between the US and Spain a decade early for example.

The idea of stopping agents of disease from traveling to the Americas could still be used however. But I would imagine that being all Nergals doing, against the wishes of Zariel, and that she might even attempt to halt his efforts.