The Word

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The Word is a colloquial term for the language used by blanks with the right knowledge and connections to influence the properties of an instance, unallocated space or even other blanks. In short, the Word is a programming language unique to the Matrioshka - and since all blanks exist within the Matrioshka, the Word is akin to magic with respect to how it interacts with their world.  

Description

The Word is a specialized subset of the Chime language. Without specialized knowledge, a speaker of Chime might know no or few word snippets with any effect on their own. Even if known and understood by a speaker, however, the full power of the Word also requires a combination of permission (usually granted by ranking elder or choir blanks), metaknowledge (one must recognize that one has access to this power), intentionality (one generally cannot use the Word unintentionally), and creativity to access.   The use of short Word snippets may be effective as blunt, short-term solutions to problems, but often more complex constructions must be used to achieve ongoing effects - including the creation of new instances, blanks, and blank-specific resources (i.e. items). Word snippets can be combined and expanded upon to create verses which can be called upon at a later time to cause more complex effects. If the Word is a programming language, then verses are scripts.  

Catalogue

Publically available Word arguments are generally lumped into thirteen distinct categories, each of which is further subcategorized based on specific use cases. A further three categories of arguments are reserved for low-level concepts relating to the fundamental functionality of the Matrioshka itself. These latter categories are not shared with anyone except between the original elder blanks to enter the Matrioshka due to the potential danger such snippets present to the Matrioshka's continued survival. As the Word must be capable of describing a reality so pristine and physically accurate that not even living beings can distinguish it from the True Instance, its lexion is expansive beyond the capability of a natural mind to contain all at once. This complexity provides an extra layer of protection against attempts to 'hack' the Matrioshka by outside powers - should anyone ever discover the location of the Matrioshka or any of its backup faciliites in the first place.

Manifestation

A use of the Word may or may not be accompanied by a physical manifestation depending on the type and scope of the desired effect. A Word snippet might conjure a fireball, call forth an outre being from beyond the boundaries of an instance, or carry the speaker through the air on a gust of invisible wind, for example, but it might also cloud the listener's mind or allow the speaker to temporarily suspend their own autonomic responses with no outwardly visible effect.   Typically, if there is a visual manifestation for an utterance, it will include a hue dependent on the category (see above) from which the root Word snippet was drawn. This hue is entirely dependent on the argument's category and not entirely suppressable, allowing others who see it and have a knowledge of the Word to attempt to identify the effect just before it fully manifests. More complicated utterances, such as verses, are more difficult to identify based on manifestations in proportion to their complexity. Clever speakers might also attempt to obfuscate their use of the Word through a variety of means, including weaving them into tongue twisters - the Word equivalent of 'spaghetti code.'

Localization

Leaks

Rarely, elder or choir blanks who have lost their memories temporarily as residents of an instance may spontaneously recover their ability to use the Word without the understanding of what the power is or why they shouldn't use it in said instance. In these cases, the user is often percieved by the otherwise ignorant instance blanks as possessing the gift of magic or divine blessings.   Such was the case in the Candledusk Instance, where several embodied elder blanks began to re-manifest the power of the Word simultaneously. One such blank happened to be the head of a secret society of occultists looking to summon a non-existent 'Lord of Fire,' and suddenly becoming empowered with the word allowed him to grant his followers permissions and implement their heretofore impossible supernatural designs for the world. The cult summoned 'undead' by corrupting the blanks of regular instance residents after their deaths and summoned 'demons' by calling shamblers, murmurtwist colossi, and other horrible amalgams into the instance. The resulting conflict between this cult and others in the instance looking to stop them nearly brought about the end of the instance, eventually requiring the intervention of Substrate members to resolve.   After the Candeldusk incident, control over permissions relating to the Word became more strict while organizations like Broken Eternity sought exploits and means by which they could covertly escalate their own permissions. The arms race between the official governing bodies of the Matrioshka and splinter factions like Broken Eternity are ongoing, creating no end of headaches for those simply wishing to pursue the Matrioshka's original purpose.   Less commonly, priveleged or dangerous snippets of the Word might escape from laboratories or archives located throughout Unallocated Space. While the basics of the Word are theoretically understood, there remains room for creativity and the discovery of unexpected conflicts or knock-on effects. For example, a laboratory instance involved with the development of physical models for ways to access a new True Instance might accidentally make the Word snippets they use to access the Matrioshka's external sensors available to the public during a conference, allowing those of a voyeuristic bent ot spy on nearby inhabited systems in the Origin Instance. These leaks are usually not catastrophic, but information security at such sites is always being tested and upgraded to forestall the day when something dangerous might escape and find it's way into the hands of those with malicious intent.  

Legality

In general, the legal consequences of using the Word relate to the effects of the usage, not the usage itself. Blanks who are citizens of the Substrate are free to make use of the Word as they see fit, provided that they do so in a safe, responsible, and considerate manner. Blanks who demonstrate both great proficiency with the Word and a record of trustworthiness may even see their permissions escalated, with offers to join the Committee on Instance Design Standards following soon thereafter. The major exception to this rule is that the Word is generally not to be shared with instance blanks who have not yet 'graduated' from their instances to take up citizenship with the Substrate. This restriction includes both intentionally sharing knowledge of the Word with instance blanks (i.e. teaching) and unintentionally using the Word or allowing its manifestations to be witnessed within instances where the blanks are not so prepared. The Substrate and ComInDS take operational security of this nature very seriously, especially given the dreadful results of the irresponsible use of the Word in the recent past.


Articles under The Word


Cover image: by Ferdinand Stöhr

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