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So I've been putting together a story in my chronicle, the premise in it is that the God Machine uses Pyros as sort of of fuel. The God Machine is using a Centimani to refine flux into Pyros. Prometheus is (was?) a fallen angel who took the primary source of Pyros with him.

Then I found the Qashmallim, which seem to be Angels (and Demons) respectively. I feel like I could do a search/replace on Qashmal[lim] and The Principle, and replace them with Angel and the God Machine, and general description would be indistinguishable.

For once, to my frustration, the writers have decided to be unambiguous and explicitly say, "they are not angels", including a repeat of this in Demon the Descent. Yet I've noticed that Demon hints that there may be some relationship between the God Machine and Prometheans (where I got the idea).

Technically this doesn't make my story impossible, I'm simply trying to discern where they come from and if their's a reason they're so similar to Angelic beings.

Has anything more been said about their origins, or this similarity, in books or otherwise?

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My Hypothesis is that this is a Life vs Machine, sort of scenario.

Demon the Descent p52

Some demons believe qashmallim are angels that somehow escaped the God-Machine’s control and now operate under a different set of principles. Whatever the truth, these beings resemble angels. Instead of serving an alien intelligence that craves order, however, the qashmal exists to foment change — whether in the form of growth and evolution or entropy and chaos. Additionally, qashmallim do not require Infrastructure to bring them into the world or sustain them.

Wise demons steer clear of qashmallim just as they avoid encountering angels. A qashmal will not attempt to apprehend a demon to bring him back to the God-Machine, but it is still a powerful supernatural entity with an unknowable agenda. It is likely to do anything, and its actions probably won’t benefit demons that get in its way.

Like angels, qashmallim are single-minded in the pursuit of their current mission. Occasionally a clever ring of demons will engineer a collision between the mission of an angel and a qashmal and let the two fight it out. Manipulating two powerful angelic beings into attacking each other is exactly as difficult and dangerous as it sounds, however.

Chapter 2 p56 of Pandora's Book is entirely on the Qashmallim and The Principle. Like the God Machine the Principle has several proposed theories (none of this is set in stone, but rather supporting some further theory)

p70

The Principle is not an intelligence, it’s a Darwinian force. The Principle is the cosmic blueprint, a kind of fundamental, ultra-terrestrial DNA chain that governs the single organism of Gaea, the world organism. The Pyros is the spark of Gaea’s life. It exists in a morphic field that joins and enlivens all the biomass of the planet. At some point, humans created flaws in the systems that govern Gaea. Some Awakened. Some bred with spirits, creating beings straddling two realms that should by rights be separate. Some died and remained living, becoming parasitic tumors, lesions on the planet’s biomass. And some somehow managed to harness the morphic field itself, draining it into Created beings that perpetuate themselves endlessly.

The qashmallim exist to rectify this.

p71

The Principle is a quasi-intelligent agency, a God-Machine that maintains universal balance.

the Qashmallim are composed of Pyros, this is highly unlikely to be true of Angels.

My thought is, that The Principle is perhaps a God Machine, but not the God Machine. And perhaps the Principle created the god machine to move the progress of the world forward. However, at some juncture the God Machine started to malfunction or its interpretation is different(maybe like Skynet the only way to end war is to end all life).

Update

Matthew McFarland states in a reply on one of the previews for Promethean the Created 2e

The Principle is not the God-Machine.

it is also hinted at that we may get some suggestions in this edition about the relationship, but no "truth" will be given.

Update 2

This weeks update for Promethean 2e, by Matthew McFarland, was on the Qashmallim

Qashmallim are not Supernal Entities (they’re born of this world’s Pyros, not the Supernal Realms of platonic forms) and they aren’t the servant-slaves of the God-Machine. Some demons, “Unchained” former angels, theorize that the God-Machine’s servants were created from qashmallim their master somehow captured, but the God-Machine’s commands are not the Principle, and its angels burn Essence, not Pyros. As such, if there is a relationship between the God-Machine and the Principle, it’s not one that the characters in the World of Darkness (who are, for all their power, limited in scope) able to understand. Put another way, you’re free to decide that relationship.

and then specifically on The Principal and The God Machine that's Matt's own Head Canon and will probably never be codified as fact.

In The World of Darkness According to Matt: The Principle was first. The Principle is many things – the spark of humanity, the desire for human connection, the lightning that created life from the primordial soup. Throughout the first few billion years of Earth, it was evolving along with all of life, looking for…something. It was undergoing its own Pilgrimage.

Once humanity arose, it found its purpose. It was able to shape servants – the qashmallim – from its endless reserve of Divine Fire, and send them into the world. Unfortunately, its own commitment to self-determination meant that it can’t really control qashmallim; they always have a bit of autonomy (which is why they fail sometimes).

Somewhere along the way, someone created the first Promethean. Might have been Hank, actually, or it might have been some collection of rocks arranged into a human form that some caveman, lonely after the destruction of his tribe, created. Who knows. But at that point, the Principle’s real purpose was cemented – guide the Pilgrimage of the Created. That is its chosen expression of its purpose.

And then there’s the God-Machine. The God-Machine is from the future, but the thing about time travel is that it’s irrelevant when it happens, as long as it does. The God-Machine has its own agenda, but its agenda is a lot more complicated than the Principle’s. In order to interact with the world, though, the God-Machine copied a lot of the Principle’s “software.” That’s why its angels always have enough free will to Fall.

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The sample adventure sequence in the Promethean books ties the Qashmallim more firmly to the God-Machine, culminating in (if I remember correctly) the party confronting a Qashmal guarding one of the fulcrum gears of the God-Machine.

The specific difference that's clear to me from the books is that Qashmallim are tied to the Pilgrimage. They exist in order to enable this alchemical transformation from base matter to refined matter. That doesn't mean they're always helpful, but their Mission always seems tied to the refinement of the world. One could regard this as an enormous occult matrix, but it doesn't seem to have the same feel as the inscrutable God-Machine plots.

Personally, my head-canon is that the Principle and the God-Machine are rivals. Maybe the Principle created the God-Machine and it went out of control, or maybe the Principle is actually some sort of universal axiom that the God-Machine is attempting to subvert.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Funny I also had the thought of that possible relationship between the God machine and the principle \$\endgroup\$ – xenoterracide Sep 12 '14 at 14:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Pandora's Book gives idea's for what the Principle is on p69, comparing and contrasting to the ideas for what the god machine is... glancing at these it sounds as though a flaw occurred in the system that the qashmallim are trying to rectify. (conjecture) The system that was probably mean to be governed by, or is the god machine. \$\endgroup\$ – xenoterracide Sep 13 '14 at 18:54
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The book Demon Storyteller's Gude has an entire Demon/Promethean crossover section titled "Lead Into Gold," with a subsection dedicated to this question:

Intelligence Operations: The Principle and Qashmallim

The Principle is an abstract entity with such mastery over the world’s occult underpinnings that it can be mistaken for a god. Its origin, goals, and purpose are unclear; it operates through the qashmallim, supernatural beings it seems to create for specific purposes. Often, the Principle puts the demon in mind of something else that fits that description, something she’s all too familiar with: the God-Machine.

The similarities these entities share with the Machine and its angels are immediate and striking, but they end as immediately as they begin. The God-Machine is a constructed being, made of factories, engines, and power plants; it affects the world according to staggeringly elaborate conspiratorial schemes, and it uses Essence as its universal fuel. The Principle, on the other hand, is almost a gestalt consciousness that comes and goes as Pyros gathers or disseminates. It is an agent of change in any and all forms, using the enigmatic qashmallim to bring forth creation or destruction to suit its own passing whims.

What are the qashmallim, though? If the Principle is a twisted reflection of the God-Machine, the qashmallim are its angels. They have a physical presence, whereas their creator’s is a purely spiritual one, and they act in service to the Principle, interacting with the world where it cannot. While they don’t use Cover, even the angelic form thereof, they appear as “humans” with alien personalities and inhuman powers. Their goals are as varied and nebulous as the God-Machine’s, and the qashmallim are as unquestioning as any Angel is.

The qashmallim manifest as varied forms made from scintillating fire when they discard their human shape. The shape can vary, from a burning wheel, to a halo made of a double-helix, to a pair of wings, but when not disguised as human, they’re always pure fire.

Qashmallim don’t care very much about demons or their schemes in most situations, but when they do, they can be devastating enemies. The reason is a power that only servants of the Principle have, to the relief of every Agency in the world: No matter how well-constructed it might be, the qashmallim can see through Cover. If pressed, a qashmal willing to give answers simply states that it only sees life and that masks are irrelevant. The implications of this statement are unnerving at best.

As terrifying as an encounter with an angel-like being that can see through Cover may be, the qashmallim are harmless to demons who don’t interfere with their plans. These plans are esoteric and strange, even by the God-Machine’s standards. One might turn a library book to a certain page and leave it on a table, while another murders an innocent mortal to send a message to a distraught Promethean. Demons may not be likely to run across a qashmal in the daily life of one of the Unchained, but when provoked, it can become every bit as dangerous and frightening as staring down an angel. On the rare occasions when a qashmal’s mission intersects with a demon’s Descent, it would be wise to tread lightly.

The confusing nature of the Principle’s messengers leave demons with a single question that nobody can answer: if the qashmallim are so much like angels, does that mean they can Fall?

And it offers hypothetical interactions between the Principle's agenda and the God-Machine's under "Missions."

Enemy of my Enemy: A God-Machine cult has teamed up with a group of Alchemists. Together, they are experimenting with integrating Pyros into Infrastructure as fuel, apparently on the orders of an angel. A qashmal leads a small throng of Prometheans to a ring of demons, and bids they work together to put a stop to these experiments before something catastrophic happens. It refuses to explain or give any further information, but the little intel it does give checks out. What does the ring do? Do they work with the throng?
Cheaters Never Prosper: A demon attempts to make a soul pact with a Promethean to give him humanity out of morbid curiosity. The result is a Firestorm. The demon and Promethean have both vanished, and angels and qashmallim have been seen cooperating to investigate the site of the Firestorm. What happened? Why are the God-Machine and the Principle working together, or are they just working in proximity, each blind to the other?

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