Thursday, July 27, 2017

Lexicon Devil

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Scientists will tell you a ghost is no more than a memory and a memory is no more than a series of linguistic signifiers indicating some absent arrangement of sensations. What they do not know is that the language itself can become malevolent. The lexicon devil is a ghost composed of language, like a computer virus rewriting real life.

These incorporeal, invisible and untouchable ghosts are summoned when a violent soul does violence to language and those forms of language do not die with it—when the shape of the departed’s vocabulary and the particularity of their word choices is still powerfully active in the world: Dictators whose regimes carry on and deluded justifying mass murderers whose diaries are published for mass consumption, self-serving philosophers of injustice whose philosophies still influence the living can give birth to lexicon devils. So long as language is used in such a way as to make, for example, an immigrant “an illegal”, fascist death squads “freedom fighters”, or life-and-death facts into “nitpicks”, a lexicon devil may be loose. They seek to encourage in death the forms of iniquity they invented in life.

The soul of the devil is contained in a text, and that text will be the earliest still-extant text that expresses the violence of their creator’s intentions against the world—a diary, a speech, a private letter, even a note scrawled on a wall. The devil’s first act, once summoned, will be to take whatever steps necessary to hide at least one version of the text away and alter copies (including, if necessary, online and digital versions). The ghost can be exorcised only by finding the text and reading it aloud before witnesses in a room containing the devil. Beginning to read the text paralyzes the devil.

(Demon City Stats)

Calm: 0
Agility: 10
Toughness: n/a
Perception: 10
Appeal: n/a
Cash: 7 (via manipulation of online accounts)
Knowledge: 8

Calm Check: 6

Special Abilities:

Incorporeal and intangible: The lexicon devil has a physical location and moves at normal speed, but it cannot be touched or touch anything.

Sabotage language: Each round, the devil can transform one word per sentence of spoken or written language of any text in its presence, or one sentence alone on a given page of written text. It uses this ability to create false orders, requests and information in order to cause various unknowing pawns to carry out its plans. For instance it might change the address of a DEA raid to target an investigator on its trail, instruct a librarian—via email—to misfile the text containing its soul, or cause friends to offend each other with their choice of words. The ghost may (and will) alter texts in closed books in rooms it occupies but cannot operate a computer on its own—it can only change a text if in the presence of someone who accesses a page or file (the alteration will, however, affect the source code of that page, causing it to forever be altered whenever that page is brought up). Speakers who have had their words changed will not be aware of this.

Garble: Once per round, the devil can renders written or spoken communication impossible for chosen targets. The devil may make a target unable to be understood (including objects, like books, computers or phone) or unable to understand. Lasts one hour.


The devil cannot speak or touch anything and cannot speak.

The devil cannot move so long as the text containing its soul is being read aloud within earshot. Reading it fully in front of witnesses exorcizes it.


FM Geist said...

Ahhh such a nice Germs tribute

Question: is the world as it stands the product of *many* lexicon devils?

Also given what "political wonks for hire" look like: are some of them hommonculi of a Lexicon Devil?

Are organizations devoted to preserving certain works a sort of cabal to the text?

If the book possessing them is destroyed are they destroyed or permanently linked to the world (or do they bind to another copy)?

Zak Sabbath said...

the only one of those i can answer is the last one, and they simply move to the next copy. i suppose i should note that

FM Geist said...

I only think of that because it seems like there could be an unalterable world change by destroying a copy; which could be a neat hook:
Find a lexicon devil relevant to party aims and destroy the anchor and it becomes less a being than a metaphysical principle. which would explain resistance to this destruction as the devil ceases to exist and have direct agency which is something most beings cling to?