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When the council of angels threw Lucifer out of heaven after rebelling against him, God assigned a group of angels the task of watching over humanity to guide it along the righteous path. This group, called the Watchers, broke their oath and fornicated with man, creating a race of giants called the Nephilim. The leader of the Watchers, named Azazel, taught man the weapons of war to give them a fighting chance against their monstrous offspring. However, the council disapproved of this action, and cast the Watchers out of heaven, never to return. Rejected by heaven and by hell, this group set out to create their own destiny in the cosmos.

As heaven is inhabited by angels and hell inhabited by demons, the Watchers took up residency in purgatory as their new home. From there, they would take up arms as celestial professional mercenaries in the holy war, accepting jobs from various employers of different factions. They would no longer serve any master but themselves, and work for the highest bidder. As they have no loyalty to any one side, they can end up working for both sides of the conflict at various times, killing demons or their brethren depending on who was paying them at the time.. They would even export their services to other entities of the ongoing celestial war, such as Moloch or Baal. This state of affairs has gone on for millennia.

Although they are an effective fighting force, they are ultimately a small army playing a dangerous game with larger, more powerful forces. It would be simple thing for someone to see them as a threat, deciding to exterminate them to prevent them from helping their enemies, or for various factions to team up and destroy them. How can these mercenaries maintain the status quo while continuing to operate as they do?

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    $\begingroup$ Aren't these guys essentially immortal? Since the slain angels go to heaven, the slain demons go back to hell, and I guess the watchers go back to purgatory? Defeat them, and next year you have to face them again in battle. Or if they go to hell, then angels killing them strengthens the enemy, while devils defeating them brings your enemy to your breast. Ditto for if they go to heaven (although maybe they'd want that...) $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Mar 26 at 3:54
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    $\begingroup$ I'm sorry, who assigned a group of angels the task of watching over humanity to guide it along the righteous path? As it is written, it implies Lucifer did it, but I think you meant the council of angels (which would be "them"). If instead you meant God, you should have said God - or at least capitalized His pronoun. $\endgroup$
    – No Name
    Mar 26 at 6:33
  • $\begingroup$ Interestingly, this is exactly the situation of demons and devils in Forgotten Realms, with Yugoloths as the mercenaries. $\endgroup$
    – Daniel B
    Mar 26 at 9:19
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    $\begingroup$ @NoName Incognito has a loooong posting history involving stuff that's christian-adjacent (or at least, abrahamic-adjacent) thrown into a blender with some biblical fanfic and more modern story snippets and poured out into the "new question" form. I wouldn't pay too much attention to the fluff ;-) $\endgroup$ Mar 26 at 12:59

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They're valuable (so not erased) because they are the only ones who have free will

See the universe as a cosmic game of chess between two sides. The existence of a third small faction is deemed necessary by both the evil and good side.

This third faction can decide which side to join, while both the evil and good angels have no choice.
In the grand strategy, they are a kind of unpredictable variable, which prevents both sides to gain an upper hand on the respective foe. Destroying this faction would make the "chess" game deterministic, which is something that neither good nor evil want.

Maybe through some eons one of the side will be sure to win, but at the moment both prefer an unpredictable outcome to a certain one (since the certain one could be the definitive and unavoidable victory of the enemy).

Of course the existence of the neutral faction now is more a kind of consequence of their free-willed status, rather than a consequence of their "political" ability to avoid extreme consequences from either the good or evil side.

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Have you thought about politics?

1. The Watchers are a shady organisation that can do what others can not.

Both Hell and Heaven are high-profile political behemoths that cannot move without attracting attention. On top of that, both super-powers have to maintain certain images. Would not it be a complete loss of face if angels were caught doing some shady business? Or demons being kind to someone?

The Watchers provide their services to the highest bidder regardless of their political affiliation. Moreover, they maintain strict confidentiality and known for their 'money above everything' policy and complete lack of loyalty to anyone and anything outside of the Watchers themselves.

2. The Watchers have political leverage

Since the Watchers are exactly the ones who do dirty deeds they are privy to a lot of confidential information and have ways to make it public if any of the big powers makes a move on them.

3. No power can afford to eliminate the Watchers

This will work if 3 conditions are met:

  • Hell and Heaven's forces are equal or almost equal;
  • the Watchers, while weaker than Hell and Heaven, are strong enough to inflict damage sufficient to affect the balance between Hell and Heaven;
  • Hell and Heaven are irreconcilable enemies that cannot agree to work together.

In this case, whoever fights the Watchers inevitably loses to the other great power after the elimination of the Watchers. Therefore, both super-powers will rather maintain the existing status quo rather than risk it all.


In addition to these 3 big political reasons, the Watchers may opt for a decentralised cell-based organisational structure that makes their elimination very costly, time-consuming, and risky.

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  • $\begingroup$ I believe the concept of the three-way standoff between two stronger states and one weaker is shown very well in Brandon Sanderson’s Well of Ascension. You may want to read it... $\endgroup$
    – fartgeek
    Apr 1 at 2:08
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    $\begingroup$ There's another political aspect: they can act as go-betweens. There might be situations where Heaven and Hell aren't fighting but need to talk about something, or a situation might arise that both agree on the same sort of action, but their ideological opposition means they can't be seen to agree or engage in any sort of peaceful contact. An Angel having a meeting with a Demon would be political impossible. An Angel meeting a Watcher, while considered distasteful is acceptable.And if that Watcher later happens to meet a Demon, well, not the Angel's problem, and vice versa. $\endgroup$ Apr 4 at 16:49
  • $\begingroup$ Here's the trope: tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/KingmakerScenario $\endgroup$
    – jo1storm
    Apr 7 at 11:37
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killing ... their brethren

Interestingly, this is a very similar situation to mercenary armies in Italy. Mercenaries fought for whichever side paid them the most, of course. However the mercenaries saw themselves having more in common with other mercenaries than their employers.

The result was a significant drop in bloodshed. Where armies loyal to a state/city/leader might consider fighting to the last man, mercenaries would not. If faced with an overwhelming force, mercenaries simply surrendered instead of fighting. On the battlefield too, mercenaries would generally refrain from killing other mercenaries where possible. Battles became closer to counting coup, and very few lives were lost.

It seems likely that your Watchers would follow the same principles. Naturally they would fight the other side, but there would be no reason to kill their own.

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They routinely take precautions that make wiping them out too difficult to do in one fell swoop.

Thus, anyone who takes out even every one of them possible knows that the remainder will immediately throw in with the opposite sides. They may even had declared that in event of direct attack on them, they will join whoever offers them the head of the person who commanded the direct attack.

Thus, the benefits of wiping them out are counter-balanced not only by the benefits of being able to hire them on occasion, but by the danger of throwing much of their forces into opposition.

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Their offspring protect them.

Derided as monsters, rejected by Heaven and Hell, by men and their parents, attacked with weapon and every manner of supernatural fury, the Nephilim refuse to give up the good fight. They have burrowed deep and created their own place in metaphysics. They have forged their own society. Wielding the awesome magical powers of the Hegelian Dialectic, the Nephilim are able to dismiss insoluble contradictions, choose a third option besides true and false, disagree with all sides, open paths and gates where none exist, and manifest themselves as a terrifying force of untrammeled and fallible creativity.

The Nephilim hate the parents who rejected them, but they hate all the others. So long as those entities continue to play their petty power games among themselves, the Nephilim are content to let them simmer in their miseries. And yet, the Nephilim refuse to abandon their parents the way they were abandoned. So if the Watchers get into deep trouble they can't end on their own, their children will step in to restore the balance.

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It's in the best interests of both Heaven and Hell for them to stay fairly neutral, and to even guarantee their security.

So long as they retain their independence, they provide about the same amount of utility to both sides of the war. They're useful to both sides for doing shady, off-the-books operations.

However, if they were ever directly attacked by any one party, then they would surely seek a direct alliance with the other side.

A change in the allegiance of so many highly skilled mercenaries could very well tip the delicate balance of the whole war. This is especially true since so many of them have fought for and know the military secrets of both sides. Their mercenary contracts hold them to keep that information confidential, but all agreements are forfeit upon a direct attack from a former client.

Therefore, neither Heaven nor Hell dare risk trying to "exterminate" them, lest it fail to wipe them out and instead merely drive them into the waiting arms of the enemy.

In fact, because both Heaven and Hell understand this, both sides have actually extended guarantees of protection to the Watchers: "If our enemy attacks you, then swear to fight only for us and we will defend you."

This leaves the Watchers to play a delicate balancing act. Both Heaven and Hell would rather they remain independent than risk attacking them— But only so long that they remain neutral. If they were ever to be seen as favouring one side over the other, deliberately or not, then they would surely be destroyed.

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Difficult to reach

The Mortal Plane is at the hub of a variety of different worlds. Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, Limbo and other nameless places all link to the Mortal Plane, but not to one another. At least not easily.

Travelling to the Mortal world is "down", requiring little effort for any faction, but returning home is more difficult. Angels, Demons, Nephilim all need to recover when they return home.

Consequently, each world is inherently well fortified by being at the top of a Space/time "hill"
To reach them, an army would need to enter the mortal realm, then go back "up" to their destination, leaving them exhausted in some way when they reach their enemy. Easy pickings for the well entrenched and rested natives.

This explains why the war is largely a stalemate and why a mercenary special-forces faction is useful.

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Double Agents all the Way Down

The Watchers have convinced both Heaven and Hell that they are acting as a double agent.

Each of the major factions is convinced that when the final confrontation comes, the Watchers will reveal themselves as allies, combining forces to defeat the other major power.

Thus the Watchers tell both sides that working for the other is merely a ruse, a gambit to get them inside information and place agents in advantageous positions.

The result of this is that the Watchers work very hard to ensure that neither Heaven nor Hell gains a decisive advantage in their endless war. Whenever one power appears ascendant, the Watchers must very subtly derail their success, since the Watchers cannot allow either side to feel confident enough to force the final confrontation.

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While being effectively a single association, this is known only to a few elected; on the outside they operate under two different "brands", one serving each side of the fight.

Casualties among the low ranks are part of the game, and high ranks take care of passing the needed information to the other side when any potentially dangerous operation is being planned.

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The only way to fight for every side and profit is to withhold your troops at sensitive moments to prevent friendly fire, make sure no-one who sees this survives, and to disguise your people as unaffiliated or create separate organizations to brand them under while keeping the actual membership of the central organization secret.

In short you may create a mercenary group "sons of god" and another "sons of the fiery sword" or another "scions of the roaring wheel" etc etc and divide them among other factions but have them all know one another while full introduction to your entire organization is not known.

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Your watchers do not fight as a group. They fight as individuals, so if one of them is caught doing some shady double agent stuff, that one watcher is blamed, not their whole race. The individual watcher is disavowed by the others. That's the accepted price of being a watcher.

Also, make it so that the watchers are legendarily tough, so that the idea of attacking them en masse is frowned upon.

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