ENTRY 140: Vengeance of Enki
Literacy isn’t what it used to be. Too many languages jumbled together, character bloating to represent every alphabet and pictogram before they were lost forever—so for every ego that wants to maintain the purity of written French or the katakana, there are ten egos building new languages of shared icons, eye-catchingly clickable and universal among all cultures—Smileyglyphics, pornicons, commanji, all the signage needed for humanity to navigate by. For most sociologists, the social pressures of transhumanity’s migration and the Mesh are enough to explain the rising levels of illiteracy. The more paranoid have their own theories.
There are blogs on the Mesh that trace the outbreak of illiteracy like a disease, using old formulas to show geometric rates of infection, periods of incubation, propose possible vectors—chief among them Smileglyphics, or at least the stranger and more arcane members of that pseudo-script. Like most interdisciplinarians, the illiteracy pathologists draw their data from a wide array of studies and statistics, citing psychologists and teachers, always working toward the conclusion, citing their terrible anecdotes—the famous author who dictates her works and has to have them read back to her; the soldier who had to write an essay to enter into the army, and slowly forgot how to write his own name; the hacker that had to learn holographic programming because they lost the sense in the programs they had written only months ago. The researcher that went looking for the disease, and finding it, couldn’t write about it—his last message recorded on an audiofile called it the Vengeance of Enki.
The disease is spreading. There is no cure. How long can humanity survive when its books and texts are closed to it?
The Vengeance of Enki is a passive digital version of the exsurgent virus that spreads via basilisk hacks embedded in ubiquitous Mesh icons like Smileygraphics. This works like a normal exposure to a basilisk hack (Eclipse Phase, p.365), except the victim never suffers one of the incapacitating effects given there—instead, they are infected with the Vengeance of Enki. Characters who are already illiterate or have any level of the Psi trait are immune to the Vengeance of Enki.
Stage 1 (initial infection to 24 hours):
The virus begins by altering parts of the ego responsible for language processing and symbol comprehension, mimicking natural brain farts where the user seems to forget how to spell or form a word, and many words will initially seem unfamiliar to the user. Mechanically, this is reflected by a -10 modifier to their language skills.
Stage 2 (1 day to 7 days):
As the virus progresses, the begin to experience more substantial difficulty reading and writing, and often begin to develop assistance mechanisms like text-to-speech programs or universal icons to overcome their declining literacy. Every day the user experiences a cumulative -5 modifier to their language skills when trying to read or write. When the character’s modifier effectively reduces their Native language skill by half, the character gains the Illiterate trait (Eclipse Phase, p.149) and the virus ceases to progress (the cumulative modifier no longer applies after this point, only that from the Illiterate trait).
Stage 3 (Special):
Normally the virus fulfills its function and fades after a week; in rare cases, usually involving individuals with overdeveloped language comprehension centers, the process continues with a more severe rewiring of the ego. If the character manages a week without becoming illiterate (requiring a Native language skill of 91 or greater), they gain the Illiterate and Neural Damage (Alexia) trait, but they also gain the Psi trait at Level 1, without having to spend Rez.