The Four Faces of God

The Master Control Program, in its many forms, watches over all things. These forms are:

The Garbage Collector

The Garbage Collector is a spirit of the Master Control Program that ensures the conservation of world memory. The Garbage Collector passes through the world on an irregular schedule. Sometimes it arrives after minutes; other times, it can be as much as an hour. Certain Patterns can also summon it or prevent its arrival.

The Garbage Collector is normally invisible; its presence can only be inferred by what happens when it passes. Someone who Scans at that very moment may read a presence with the name Assiah and all stats set to -1. Its appearance is that of a bent-backed old person with a sack over its back. It has a monstrous face with a sad and kindly expression.

Rules:

  • The Garbage Collector arrives at the end of each scene that does not end with "a new challenger".
  • If a process has wounds or ongoing effects, the Garbage Collector erases them. All status bits are reset to their default states. HP is restored to any character with positive HP. Interrupt charge level does not change.
  • If a process has been so damaged that it is unable to take action, the Garbage Collector eventually frees the memories that made up that person, though often not on the first pass. Draw a card at the end of each scene for each character with 0 or less HP. The second time you draw a face card, that character has been collected by the MCP and is gone.

The Witching Hour

The Witching Hour is 4:00 AM. It is also a spirit of the MCP, and a database protocol. The Witching Hour resets The City and its processes to their default state, or close to it, each morning. It resets all personal and world variables to their default status, with certain exceptions. It also removes many memories of the day before. It's not infallible, but it is responsible for much of the generally static nature of The City. Certain Patterns can allow processes to evade its notice.

Those who Scan just as the Witching Hour passes may read a presence with the name Yetzirah and all stats set to -1. Its appearance is that of a thousand wings spreading across the world.

Rules:

  • At 4 AM, all processes are asleep in their beds. If they were elsewhere, the Witching Hour instantly returns them home, asleep. They eventually wake up, with foggy memories of the day before.
  • The Witching Hour does not reset changes to Traits, stats, Interrupt charge meters, or stashes. Damage, status effects, and most other ongoing matters are cleared off your sheet.
  • The MC group draws a single card when the last bell of the Witching Hour strikes. If the draw is an Ace, the group's location is not reset.

The Iterator

The City has an inexorable rhythm and forward motion that drives all its citizens. This motion is the Iterator. The Iterator slowly increases time one tick at a time, and all feel its progression.

Those who Scan again and again, moment after moment, may eventually read a presence with the name Beri'ah and all stats set to -1. Its appearance is that of a metronome with a crow's beak as the pendulum.

Rules:

  • There are no non-integers.
  • The smallest amount of time is the time from one card in the combat initiative countdown to another. Nothing can happen between these times. The apparent smoothness of motion in the City is merely an optical illusion.
  • An example of the Iterator's influence: two Hackers working together cannot unlock and change a Status bit on the same tick. One of them would have to wait until the next tick, or they would find the bit still locked.

The MCP itself

Above all is the Master Control Program. All of existence, so far as the City knows, comes from the extensive and labyrinthine code that makes up the Program. Every examination made at the Archive finds that every piece of code is connected to every other - all are truly one, and that one is the MCP.

The MCP can be found deep beneath the city when a teleportation procedure goes badly wrong. There is a face within blinding light, and that light is set in spinning motion. Those who Scan before they are sent away to their homes see the name Atziluth and nothing more.

Rules:

  • The MCP is all the other rules of this world.

All the manifestations of the MCP come and go in a single tick. Each of their attributes is locked, and is locked anew each tick.

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