This post is for the From The Zones community blog project, hosted over at Fate SF. I’ve never read the book in question, Roadside Picnic (which I’m going to rectify), but I think that I have a handle on the subject. So without further adieu, I give you the artifact known as the Tetragrammaton, in Fate Core terms.
In reference to your request to begin experiments using the artifact code named Tetragrammaton, we regret that we will be forced to deny it. While your research record has been stellar, it is highly doubtful that anything more than disaster will come from studying it. The device has resisted all attempts to interpret its function and use, and there have already been multiple incidents resulting from trying to do so. Namely, the appearance of several anomalous new stars in the constellation Lepus and the disappearance of the entire population of bluefin tuna from the planet. Current theory holds that many unexplained Zone phenomena may be the result of interaction with this device or devices like it. As a result, the device has been secured and isolated from any and all possible stimulation and will remain so for the indefinite future.
Dr. Hind Ali
Director of Visitation Artifact Research
The artifact known as the Tetragrammaton was retrieved by an unnamed stalker from one of the Visitation Zones. The stalker was eventually apprehended trying to sell the artifact on the black market and, once the Tetragrammaton’s danger was realized it was locked away. It was found that the disappearance of the population of an entire town was likely triggered by the stalker passing through with the artifact. A mysterious rain of organic material nearly 3,000km away was later identified to have come from that population. Once under observation, the artifact exhibited the ability to fundamentally change reality in unexpected ways. One researcher’s skin was turned completely translucent, and during this period new stars appeared in the constellation Lepus and the entirety of the world’s population of bluefin tuna vanishing (with the attendant ecological and economical disaster that would be expected). Following these events, the Tetragrammaton was completely isolated, and all interaction with it forbidden.
The Tetragrammaton resembles a fleshy starfish with a body about the size of a large dinner plate. It is completely inert and nonreactive to any stimuli, although it has been known to change colors. One recorded incident involving the aforementioned researcher was after it secreted an oil-like substance – contact with the substance turned the researcher’s skin translucent, but otherwise it did not react with anything else. A small number of individuals that have spent time around it have reported hearing a voice speaking indistinct words. These words have become to be associated with the unexplained events, and are known as The Utterance.
To date, only the effects of three of the five known instances of The Utterance have been discovered. It is assumed that the initial event when the stalker recovered the artifact was a sixth instance. A small number of religious sects have become convinced that The Utterance and its results are the work of the divine, and that should a seventh Utterance occur, it will be a major divine revelation. Even though the Tetragrammaton has been isolated, it is monitored through a double-blind system (to prevent it from receiving any feedback) and no more Utterances have been observed.
Permissions: Being in physical possession of the Tetragrammaton
The Tetragrammaton possesses an aspect known as The Utterance, which can be invoked or compelled to make changes to reality. These changes cannot be controlled, and the scope of how wide-reaching they can be are not known. To date they have been relatively limited in scope, and have not been beneficial (either from being outright harmful or just simply not helpful). The Tetragrammaton may possess other abilities, but they are unknown at this time.