No one really knows anything about Him.
Well, that’s an overstatement. We know He speaks English, though His accent certainly got picked to death after Jerusalem. It’s a testament to bias of expectation that a lot of folks thought He sounded Palestinian (never mind that the Dome of the Rock was destroyed first). He doesn’t have an Arabic accent, or an American one, for that matter. He just sounds…weird. There’s a bizarre, hollow quality to His voice, which a lot of people assume is because He’s speaking from the Between.
That could be. I’ve heard other theories, though.
For one thing, I’ve been to the Between. It doesn’t make your voice sound hollow. Sound doesn’t act right in the Between, and it certainly doesn’t echo – that’s one of the reasons we can use it at all, because there’s no echo to make sound travel farther. For another, His voice isn’t “hollow” like he’s talking from the bottom of a well. It’s hollow like he doesn’t give a shit. He inflects in the wrong places, and His voice is just one degree of pitch off from being utterly monotone. I didn’t attach any significance to that until I heard about Monarch.
The Monarch Center for Autism is a special school in Ohio. They treat folks on all levels of the autism spectrum. It’s a subject with some significance to me, and so I knew quite a bit about the disorder before He ever showed up. I knew, for instance, that it had increased something like 600% in incidence over the last 15 years or so. That the latest numbers put it at roughly 1 in 150. That, yes, some of that was because of more sensitive diagnostic technique, but the cases of autism were just showing up like they hadn’t been a couple of decades ago. Ask any special ed teacher.
Actually, you’d get a different answer now. The numbers took a sharp dip after He took over. And I’ve got some speculation about that, too.
Anyway, after Jerusalem but before Cheyenne Mountain, there was a lot of speculation about His origins. Everyone with some nationalist or racial or ethnic grudge had a theory. White supremacists thought He sounded black. Taiwanese thought He sounded Chinese. Pakistanis though He sounded Indian, Indians thought He sounded Pakistani, and English though He might have sounded both. It was absurd. Maybe it’s because I’m an American mutt without any particular ethnic leanings, but I didn’t think He sounded anything. Just flat. And of course no one ever saw Him.
To my knowledge, the only time anyone alive has ever seen Him was when he came walking out of Cheyenne Mountain with the ocean behind Him.
So just a real quick one today: What does playing an Opener mean in game mechanics terms? Well, if you’ve read the last couple of posts, you’ll note that when you go through a Character Challenge you’re playing a card from one of your four Attributes. Specifically, you’re playing the top card in the pile, which is the only face-up one, or the Active Card. After you play it, the next one down gets flipped and becomes Active. If you’re out of cards in that Attribute, you’re Exhausted and cannot undergo Challenges with that suit until you Refresh (and I’ll cover that later).
Your rating in that Attribute determines how many cards you have in that Attribute, in effect, how deep your well of that particular resource is. Openers aren’t incapable of being humane or dealing with people, but their well isn’t as deep. They get fed up by people and interaction quickly. In game terms, they start with one fewer Humanity rating than they otherwise would.
Now, actually Opening gateways into the Between is a Stability Challenge, not a Humanity Challenge. So your ability to Open multiple times taxes your ability to cope with hardship and mental stress in general, not interpersonal interaction. It also means that the person who is completely cool under fire but who can’t have a frank discussion without getting snarky or shutting down is, quite possibly, an Opener.