Ethereal Discord: Accent

By Michael Walton


I walked into the bar with my head high. The look in my eyes and my every move spoke of confidence. Confidence is the best armor -- it often keeps people from wanting to fight you. That's what I kept telling myself as I made my way over to the table. Perhaps news of my disgrace hadn't gotten up here yet. Even so, a demonic hangout is never a good place to let your guard down.

A break in the crowd showed me the party I'd come to meet. L.J. was drinking from a huge mug -- probably rum, as usual -- and chattering incessantly. Greta was drowning her sorrows in a tall glass of beer. I didn't recognize the third party at the table, though. Probably one of L.J.'s Ethereal cronies, judging by the outlandish mandarin outfit and features even more classically Chinese than my own. Doubtless he'd had to come in through the back with the Discordants. When L.J. waved me over to the table, I paused just long enough to snag a drink from a passing tray before joining my friends.

"Shiver me timbers!" roared L.J. as I approached, "You're a sight for sore eyes, Chen! Rest yer bones and join us in a pint." The pirate raised his glass and gestured toward the stranger. "This be one of my mates, the Jade Mandarin. He and I sail under Beleth's flag, arrrr..." The Mandarin acknowledged me with a barely perceptible nod.

"Wazzup, homie," I said by way of greeting. L.J. nearly choked on his rum, while the Jade Mandarin's eyebrows shot heavenward in what I'd come to know as an expression of extreme shock. Greta did better; she stopped drinking just long enough to give me a look of unfiltered commiseration before she went back to self-medicating.

"Ye never talked like THAT before, lad," said L.J., "I take it yer meeting with Nybbas didn't go well, then?"

"It's wack, bro," I replied, "Man knew I twisted 'im, an' he was all up in mah stuff. Jacked up mah rap an' tol' me ta chill fo' awhile."

"Shame, that," said L.J., "But I warned ye that plottin' behind yer Prince's back would get ye keelhauled. Ye and Greta are lucky that Nybbas and Malphas let ye off so easy. Princes be not always so merciful, aye?"

The Jade Mandarin nodded sagely and said, "The tiger roars to remind us that he is not a butterfly."

I shook my head. "Just one more way they try to keep a bruthah down."

"The nail will never know the joy of being the hammer," the Mandarin conceded.

Greta nodded in agreement. "Fargin' bastidges," she said, then she finished her beer.

This Discord has been compared to the Tower of Babel incident; those who suffer from it have their speech similarly confused. Angelic scholars have theorized that Accent is a weird variant of Superior-level ineffability, which would account for the fact that Superiors aren't confused by it. For some strange reason, beings with Accent can understand each other just fine. This Discord is rare among Celestials, though it shows up a bit more often among angels of Creation and demons of the Media. Ethereals are much more prone to it, especially those who were spawned by 20th century fiction. The effects on animal Vessels are even more interesting. Fortunately, the Discord only warps spoken communication; writing and the Songs of Tongues are unaffected. Consult the chart below for the exact effects.

  1. The sufferer has a lisp or other speech impediment or has a thick regional, national or subcultural accent. This doesn't usually impede communication, but it does attract attention. Animal Vessel: sounds clipped or drawn out in a manner that attracts attention but doesn't really sound unnatural.
  2. The speaker's Accent is noticeably inappropriate to his appearance (for example, a Celestial with an Asian Vessel speaking Ebonics). Animal Vessel: sounds like an animal of the same type but of a different size.
  3. The Accent becomes stereotypical or fake-sounding. The speaker has -2 Charisma when dealing with mortals who naturally talk that way. Animal Vessel: anthropomorphized, like a Human doing a really good imitation of animal sounds.
  4. The Accent thickens to the point that it impedes communication. The speaker is so difficult to understand that anyone hearing him must succeed on an Intelligence roll to know what he is saying. This understanding will remain for CD minutes, which is also the length of time one must wait before trying again after a failed roll. Animal Vessel: more anthropomorphized, like a Human doing a bad imitation of animal sounds.
  5. At this level, the effects of Accent/3 and Accent/4 are combined. Animal Vessel: the sufferer sounds like a Human indicating the animal noise rather than imitating it (as in saying, "arf, arf" or "meow").
  6. The accent is so stylized and stereotypical that it is clearly not a natural speech pattern. The sufferer's speech is almost completely unintelligible; the Intelligence roll to understand him now has the TN reduced by the sufferer's Ethereal Forces. Animal Vessel: sounds like a different sort of animal, but still of the same order (mammal, bird, etc., i.e. a meowing dog or tweeting eagle).


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