# A Tone-Deaf Prophet

So, about four years ago, I was on a trip to El-Kharak, and...

What? You never heard of El-Kharak? You never heard of a city where you can find quantum physicist playing chess with cave painters? A city where blessed cheesemakers and damned tofu-pressers wage their eternal turf war? A city where soap merchants earn more on the packaging than on the soap...?

What about soapboxes? Wait - you never heard about prophets, either? Yes, prophets. If you know where to look, you'll see it's chock-full of them, each preaching their divinity like there's no tomorrow. And, for most of them, there isn't, since almost none of them has any valid claim to divinity.

Almost none.

Which brings me back to the point - as was I saying, four years ago, I was on a trip to El-Kharak, when I met a particular prophet that was a bit different than the rest.

You see, I was finishing my red herring when I walked past stalls with woolen fluff into a small, circular plaza. In the middle of it, there stood a young man (in fact, incredibly young for a preacher), surrounded by a thin crowd. It looked mostly displeased – but I couldn't tell whether that was a reaction to the prophet's words, or a horrible, rhythmless mess produced by assorted musicians behind him.

Curiously, the prophet himself seemed to enjoy that cacophony, and even gesticulated along to the noise from time to time.

I came closer, and I heard:

...for I have vast and varied powers! For I shall shower you with boons, for I shall save you from harm, for I shall pave your way to victory!

You might be of a common profession, and you might lack knowledge and skill, and the land might be swarming with ones superior to you. But believe in me, and employers shall fight for your attention, and they shall cover you with gold, and they shall praise your name to the skies, and praise your name alone! (Just don't think your peers will do the same.)

You might get bald and old, and your good health might sail away on the rivers of booze, and you might forget how it is to see your feet when looking down. But believe in me, and you shall have the stamina like you never drank, and you shall have the strength like you never ate, and you shall soar through the air like you never aged! (Just don't think it'll get any better once you actually put the bottle down.)

Your prodigal child might live the life free of care, and they might sleep on bags of gold, and they might dream of gag-tying you, and throwing you into a sound-proof room. Behind several locks. Inside a maze. Underground. Beneath a deserted island. In the middle of the ocean. Infested with sharks. Which are carriers for several flesh-eating bacteria. But believe in me, and every time you have a need, they shall come to you with tears in their eyes, and they shall crack their back for your spare change, and they shall proclaim, with truth in their heart, their undying love to you. And there will be no obstacle too steep, no sacrifice too high, no adversary too innocent, for them to save you from harm! (Just don't think they'll come to you by themself on weekends.)

The sky might be falling on your head, and everyone might tell you there is no time, and you might feel like you need to be in a great hurry. But believe in me, and I shall hold the sky, and I shall stall the ruthless hands of clocks, and you shall have all the time in the world! (Just don't think anything good will happen behind your back.)

In dangerous times, from lands ever far, invaders might come into your home, murder in their eyes, blood on their hands, with hate in their hearts. But believe in me, and believe in me truly, and you shall be surrounded by the brightest of my auras, and you shall channel the full might of my divinity, and it shall cut deep into them!

They might have the courage of a thousand men, and they might have delved into the dark places of the world, and they might have gazed into the unspeakable without a single blink. But speak a single whisper, and they shall know fear, and they shall scatter like roaches beneath your feet!

They might have the strength of a thousand lions, and they might have torn flesh like paper, and they might have lifted the mountains without a single drop of sweat on their brow. But place a single touch, and they shall know weakness, and they will bend like reeds under your hands!

And they might have cut down a thousand innocents, they might be the very incarnation of ruthlessness, and in their souls they might be not a single spark of humanity left. But give a single look, and their hearts will beat again, and they shall finally know peace, and they shall know value of all life!

Believe in me, for I can do all of this, for my name is-

...and before he could finish, out of nowhere came several angry scholars and chased him away.

The cacophony suddenly stopped, and the crowd started to disperse. I tried to ask bystanders if they knew his name. But most of them didn't know it – some, in fact, were surprised, because they were simply looking at the musicians and hadn't seen the prophet.

The only person who knew his name, refused to tell me, and advised me not to pursue him. She warned me that in his speech, he had spoken about giving his followers the blessings and giving his enemies the curses, but in fact, he always gave both, and always to those who could worship him. And before I had a chance to respond, she walked away, and so did the crowd.

And that's the story. I've been thinking about the prophet ever since, dreaming about what I could do with his gifts.

You're always a great help when somebody's puzzled, so I wanted to ask you:

Can you figure out the prophet's name?

I know that this might be hard, so I'll try to jog my memory and give you details that might have been important in the hintsight. I mean, hindsight.

While what the prophet said is what the prophet said, I feel that a few select phrases might have a subtle double meaning. Just don't overthink it. Also - the formatting is for your reading convenience only and carries no special meaning.

The musician were grouped into two bands.

The scholars carried small boxes. They were of no particular colour, but many were white.

#4 Further hint about the musicians:

Some of the musicians belonged to a three-person band. There were only two of them present, though. When asked about that, they said that the middle one rarely shows up, partly because most critics refuse to recognize him.

#5 Even further hint about the musicians:

The remaining musicians were members of a single band. They used to work in the textile market, but were forced to change careers. Since they looked as if they could be revolutionaries, I asked them if they were anti-establishment, but they said no, they were the opposite.

#6 An actual hint that's also the last, that also will probably solve the puzzle all by itself:

The names of the music bands, when combined with their "music", actually form a pun on the prophet's name. Because of the nature of the prophet's name, each band of musicians represents something specific and relevant to the prophet's name - but that is totally not obvious unless you know about the pun being there in the first place.

#7 Extra hint:

To determine the names of the bands, you need to look in the theory of literature for one and in the history of England for another.

#8 Extra-extra hint:

About that double meaning from #1... On your second reading of the prophet's speech, you should be aware that not every ailment is caused by an enormous belly - even when you assume it is.

#9 Extra-extra-extra hint:

I have it on a good record that many of these scholars are fond of jam. Especially the kind that's made of boars, deers, rabbits and pheasants.

#10 Yet another hint:

The bigger band's lucky numbers are 1811 and 1816. As for the smaller band, I'll rephrase what I said: the second person was missing.

Not-really-a-hint about an inside joke you probably won't get, but if you get it, the puzzle will solve itself (no, seriously, it's a non-hint if you aren't from that community):

Actually, I just remembered, that one person from the crowd told me to go to a place where, err, they play dies, I think? And ask for, uh, that one president? And something about the beard? And he will tell me all about it? Hm. No, that can't be right.

EDIT: I have numbered the hints for convenience.

• I think most puzzles here (including some near-universally agreed to be very good) get at least one downvote, and only the really-bad ones (of which this clearly isn't one) ever get any explanation of what's supposed to be wrong with them. Some people just have different taste. – Gareth McCaughan Nov 11 '16 at 14:58
• I would suggest releasing the hints more slowly, by the way, unless you think the puzzle is actually insoluble without them. (In which case they should be part of the puzzle rather than separate hints.) – Gareth McCaughan Nov 11 '16 at 14:58
• Does this belong to any of particular religion? Religious verses? Also the rectangular thing sounds like some kind of white clothing. – Techidiot Nov 13 '16 at 7:09
• Well, what is it related to? Computers, books? Just in case if you want to let us know. – Techidiot Nov 25 '16 at 19:28
• @Techidiot As Shadowen figured out (puzzling.stackexchange.com/a/46104/16550) it's related to computer games. – Dragomok Nov 26 '16 at 7:31

In this post, I am going to provide the canonical answer to the puzzle, as well as explain (briefly but, hopefully, succintly) what exactly went wrong.

## The high-level mistakes

Let me start by saying this puzzle is a mess. I think I've made every major no-no when it comes to publishing a puzzle, namely:

• putting in too much fluff,

• making that fluff metaphorically related, but not actually a part of the puzzle,

• being "clever" (instead of straightforward) about where fluff ends and puzzle begins,

• hiding vital clues in hints,

• releasing hints too early (in the same day) and too often (one hint a day is enough),

• mixing puzzle parts that refer to very specific and quite generic phenomenons,

• making these hints (overly) cryptic,

• introducing new elements in hints,

and the cardinal sin:

• trying to post two conjoined puzzles - of different categories and difficulty levels - as a single puzzle (and also having two seperate elements represent the same thing).

All of that on top of the fact that this is a genuinely hard puzzle.

## The answer - with commentary

The prophet's name is:

ludonarrative dissonance

In a highly likely event that you never heard of that term, it means

in video game critique, a state where themes of gameplay are in conflict with themes of narrative.

This is reflected in the title, because

someone who is tone-deaf wouldn't mind (musical) dissonance.

The line

You see, I was finishing my red herring when I walked past stalls with woolen fluff

serves as the demarcation line between red herrings and fluff and actual content of the puzzle.

The prophet seems to be enjoying

dissonance made by luddists and narrators - ie. ludonarrative dissonance.

Now, as to the meaning of every part...

# 1

You might be of a common profession, and you might lack knowledge and skill, and the land might be swarming with ones superior to you. But believe in me, and employers shall fight for your attention, and they shall cover you with gold, and they shall praise your name to the skies, and praise your name alone! (Just don't think your peers will do the same.)

Many MMOs feature storyline where your character becomes the Greatest Hero Who Ever Lived and play pivotal role in the in-game story, despite the game world brimming with other players just like you - and, if the statistics have any say in that, possibly far better in the game.

# 2

You might get bald and old, and your good health might sail away on the rivers of booze, and you might forget how it is to see your feet when looking down. But believe in me, and you shall have the stamina like you never drank, and you shall have the strength like you never ate, and you shall soar through the air like you never aged! (Just don't think it'll get any better once you actually put the bottle down.)

And here's the part referring to a too specific phenomenon - in Max Payne 3, you play as an alcoholic ex-cop quitting heavy drinking binge, but gameplay-wise he's exactly as effective before, as after going clean. There might be other games that feature story of recovering from addiction/illness, but I'm hard-pressed to recall any.

# 3

Your prodigal child might live the life free of care, and they might sleep on bags of gold, and they might dream of gag-tying you, and throwing you into a sound-proof room. Behind several locks. Inside a maze. Underground. Beneath a deserted island. In the middle of the ocean. Infested with sharks. Which are carriers for several flesh-eating bacteria. But believe in me, and every time you have a need, they shall come to you with tears in their eyes, and they shall crack their back for your spare change, and they shall proclaim, with truth in their heart, their undying love to you. And there will be no obstacle too steep, no sacrifice too high, no adversary too innocent, for them to save you from harm! (Just don't think they'll come to you by themself on weekends.)

This one is describing the benefit from a perspective of a character in the story, not the player. When the story talks about close, loving connection between the latter's character and the former, but the player can disregard any mechanics conveying that relationship, like by refusing any offer at time spent together (see: cousing Roman and bowling in GTA V). Or running over the NPC with cars. Or delibarately and repeatedly setting up the NPC to get pummeled by enemies, or at least to absorb collateral damage.

# 4

The sky might be falling on your head, and everyone might tell you there is no time, and you might feel like you need to be in a great hurry. But believe in me, and I shall hold the sky, and I shall stall the ruthless hands of clocks, and you shall have all the time in the world! (Just don't think anything good will happen behind your back.)

Quite often where the story says "you have no time!", the gameplay says "relax, there's no timer".

# 5

Is a three-parter speaking about the most characteristic aspects of the prophet ...

... stuff that often happens in cutscenes - hence cut deep into them earlier.

# 5.1

They might have the courage of a thousand men, and they might have delved into the dark places of the world, and they might have gazed into the unspeakable without a single blink. But speak a single whisper, and they shall know fear, and they shall scatter like roaches beneath your feet!

This refers to - how in many quite recent survival horrors, like Dead Space 2 - the story trying to scare the player with the exact same monster the gameplay forced to kill dozens of. Or, in other games, having the player's character surrendering to handful of piddly enemies in a cutscene.

# 5.2

They might have the strength of a thousand lions, and they might have torn flesh like paper, and they might have lifted the mountains without a single drop of sweat on their brow. But place a single touch, and they shall know weakness, and they will bend like reeds under your hands!

Lowly thugs easily holding really dang strong player character by forearms in cutscenes.

# 5.3

And they might have cut down a thousand innocents, they might be the very incarnation of ruthlessness, and in their souls they might be not a single spark of humanity left. But give a single look, and their hearts will beat again, and they shall finally know peace, and they shall know value of all life!

Player's character sparing his nemesis and saying "I'm not a murderer." in a cutscene - despite the fact that he murdered dozens of random guards just to pass through (example: Assasin's Creed II).

The angry scholars are

video game developers - there seem to be more devs nowadays that consciously strive for harmony between the narrative and the play.

As for

She warned me that in his speech, he had spoken about giving his followers the blessings and giving his enemies the curses, but in fact, he always gave both, and always to those who could worship him.

She's referring to how #3 and #5 talk about situations, where the player is negatively affected, and the blessing is "on NPC's side".

And that's the gist of it.

• I await your next question. – user39732 Aug 27 '17 at 20:31
• ^vote with a note: This excellent puzzle analysis is a kind of wrap-up post. Analytical posts like this have lasting educational value at this site. (They also appeal to my nosiness.) Dragomok, care to add the term "wrap-up" somewhere near the top so this will be findable by those who care? (Nothing else would need to edited; wrap-up format is completely up to the author, and only some follow one template or another.) – humn Aug 27 '17 at 21:30
• @humn: Done. The term is to make searching for these kind of posts easier, correct? – Dragomok Aug 28 '17 at 5:43
• Thank you for adding "wrap-up," Dragomok! Yes, searching is the only way to find wrap-ups and their kin, as answers can't be tagged. – humn Aug 28 '17 at 5:45

Is he

Liquid Courage

or any variant?

• Unfortunately, this is not the correct answer - but it's a good one and I'm genuinely surprised how well it fits. – Dragomok Nov 13 '16 at 8:36
• But judging by appearances, you, out of all users who commented so far, are actually the most likely to know the answer. – Dragomok Nov 13 '16 at 8:45
• @Dragomok so it's Starcraft-related? – Ian MacDonald Nov 14 '16 at 19:56
• @IanMacDonald You need to think broader. ;) – Dragomok Nov 15 '16 at 11:09

stack exchange

I'm still thinking of how the quotes should fit. Some of them do directly in your face. Others links are hard to establish. It could even be that my solution is wrong due to the beard and dice hint. Then El-Kharak is my solution and the prophet stands for

serverfault.com

... is a stone-deaf prophet (found in the title of the riddle). ... provides a communications platform, but only for those willing to participate. ... him/herself will however not listen to you.

..for I shall save you from harm, for I shall pave your way to victory!

When you are in trouble and looking for a solution ... will provide you with a solution and solve your problems.

You might be of a common profession, and you might lack knowledge and skill, and the land might be swarming with ones superior to you. But believe in me, and employers shall fight for your attention, and they shall cover you with gold, and they shall praise your name to the skies, and praise your name alone!

The whole world is swarming with professionals, but write one question on ... and people will fight for your attention.

You might get bald and old, and your good health might sail away on the rivers of booze, and you might forget how it is to see your feet when looking down. But believe in me, and you shall have the stamina like you never drank, and you shall have the strength like you never ate, and you shall soar through the air like you never aged! (Just don't think it'll get any better once you actually put the bottle down.)

I'll put this one aside for the moment.

Your prodigal child might live the life free of care, and they might sleep on bags of gold, and they might dream of gag-tying you, and throwing you into a sound-proof room. Behind several locks. Inside a maze. Underground. Beneath a deserted island. In the middle of the ocean. Infested with sharks. Which are carriers for several flesh-eating bacteria. But believe in me, and every time you have a need, they shall come to you with tears in their eyes, and they shall crack their back for your spare change, and they shall proclaim, with truth in their heart, their undying love to you. And there will be no obstacle too steep, no sacrifice too high, no adversary too innocent, for them to save you from harm! (Just don't think they'll come to you by themself on weekends.)

People that have learned from your wisdom might outgrow your own reputation and forget who you were, but every time you come back to ... your children will listen to you and try to help you with your problems. (But not always on weekends)

The sky might be falling on your head, and everyone might tell you there is no time, and you might feel like you need to be in a great hurry. But believe in me, and I shall hold the sky, and I shall stall the ruthless hands of clocks, and you shall have all the time in the world! (Just don't think anything good will happen behind your back.)

You might be in dire need of a solution to a problem and everybody will be yelling at you to fix the problem, but come to ... and you will forget about time. (But the problem won't go away while you are searching for a solution)

In dangerous times, from lands ever far, invaders might come into your home, murder in their eyes, blood on their hands, with hate in their hearts. But believe in me, and believe in me truly, and you shall be surrounded by the brightest of my auras, and you shall channel the full might of my divinity, and it shall cut deep into them!

Your webserver/server/client might get hacked by Russians, Americans, Brits and Italians, but come to ... and the brightest professionals will be here to help you fix and reconfigure the required components.

They might have the courage of a thousand men, and they might have delved into the dark places of the world, and they might have gazed into the unspeakable without a single blink. But speak a single whisper, and they shall know fear, and they shall scatter like roaches beneath your feet!

... but as soon as they realize that your network is secure, they will scarper back into the holes they came from.

And they might have cut down a thousand innocents, they might be the very incarnation of ruthlessness, and in their souls they might be not a single spark of humanity left. But give a single look, and their hearts will beat again, and they shall finally know peace, and they shall know value of all life!

..and even though your hardware might die or be shutdown, come to ... and we will bring life back into your hardware.

etc. etc.

• While it might be the answer, you are encouraged to provide a full explanation of your reasoning. – IAmInPLS Nov 16 '16 at 14:00
• The more I think about it, the more this answer works! – Areeb Nov 16 '16 at 16:50
• Great answer, but unfortunately not a correct one. – Dragomok Nov 16 '16 at 17:45

Are you:

and are the two "bands"

AM and FM?

Note that in regards to the hints:

Members of the FM band deal with music, and AM band tends to be Talk Radio, which is not very anti-establishment

Some other evidence:

You might get bald and old, and your good health might sail away on the rivers of booze, and you might forget how it is to see your feet when looking down. But believe in me, and you shall have the stamina like you never drank, and you shall have the strength like you never ate, and you shall soar through the air like you never aged! (Just don't think it'll get any better once you actually put the bottle down.)

Convert your voice into radio waves, and they travel through the air forever at the speed of light, and thus never age.

People that have learned from your wisdom might outgrow your own reputation and forget who you were,

Radio is somewhat obsolete, replaced by the internet and HD

The sky might be falling on your head, and everyone might tell you there is no time, and you might feel like you need to be in a great hurry. But believe in me, and I shall hold the sky, and I shall stall the ruthless hands of clocks, and you shall have all the time in the world! (Just don't think anything good will happen behind your back.)

Again, radio travels travel through the sky at the speed of light, and do not experience time.

In dangerous times, from lands ever far, invaders might come into your home, murder in their eyes, blood on their hands, with hate in their hearts. But believe in me, and believe in me truly, and you shall be surrounded by the brightest of my auras, and you shall channel the full might of my divinity, and it shall cut deep into them!

They might have the courage of a thousand men, and they might have delved into the dark places of the world, and they might have gazed into the unspeakable without a single blink. But speak a single whisper, and they shall know fear, and they shall scatter like roaches beneath your feet!

One simple ping of radar can detect thousands of enemies

I think there's more clues that match, still working on it. Let me know if I'm on the right track...

• The prophet is way younger than radio (hence why he looks quite younger than most prophets), but I'm impressed either way. I didn't even know that FM/AM was used by different categories. However, you didn't address the crucial part of the musicians, ie. the spoilered thing I mention in the last actual hint. (I should probably start numbering the hints.) – Dragomok Nov 17 '16 at 18:16
• Also, I didn't know you can put spoiler blocks next to quote blocks by using <blockquote>, so +1 for that, too. – Dragomok Nov 17 '16 at 18:19
• "...radio waves [...] speed of light..." e_e – feelinferrety Jul 19 '17 at 21:44

Is he

The Internet

Reasoning:

The Musicians:

Represent a dial-up connection

Second paragraph of speech

The ability to use the internet is often more impressive to older individuals with less experience with it

Third paragraph of speech

Your age and physical ability are essentially irrelevant online

But speak a single whisper, and they shall know fear:

The power communication to create change

...you shall be surrounded by the brightest of my auras:

The computer monitor

But place a single touch

Both blessing and a curse:

A useful tool, but a potential time waster

The angry scholars:

Represent annoying pop-ups (the boxes may be the buttons within the window)

• Really creative answer, but unfortunately not the correct one. I really like how you managed to explain scholars, since they indeed represent something specific, and your explanation for musicians is so, so fitting. – Dragomok Nov 16 '16 at 17:53

Extra-extra-extra hint (#9) resolves to

game-jam. Not sure if I'm helping anyone here though... This confirms OP's comment about Zerling_man - this riddle is very heavily tied to gaming.

• Although partial answers are OK, this one is very short. Maybe add it as a comment instead? (I see you have enough rep to comment.) – Rand al'Thor Nov 25 '16 at 22:52
• This is correct. :) – Dragomok Nov 26 '16 at 7:29
• Sorry, I wasn't logged in when I clicked comment and it said I didn't have the rep.. then I logged in and it gave me free rep! Yay! So next time it will be a comment :) – Shadowen Nov 28 '16 at 20:11

In view of the later hints it seems clear that the larger "band"

is composed of Luddites (the historical [hint 7] Luddites were active between 1811 and 1816 [hint 10], and they were former weavers [hint 5]). What that means in the context of video games, I'm not sure. There appears to be a blog titled "Video Game Luddite" whose author disapproves of in-app purchases and network-based game distribution; maybe something along those lines?

The other band,

from which the "second person" is missing [hint 10], is presumably a reference to the classification of shoot-'em-up games into "first person shooters" and "third-person shooters"; I think there's at least one that tries to be a "second-person-shooter" but for obvious reasons that isn't common [hint 4]. What actual name we're looking for, though, isn't clear to me. In literature [hint 7], there are terms like "narrative voice" but it's not obvious how to apply them in the video-gaming context. "Point of view"? "Perspective"? "Persona"? "Protagonists"?

It's not clear to me what

being musicians actually corresponds to in this metaphor.

Returning to the original question, all the things offered by the prophet

seem like things that happen in video games (which we already know, from the "game jam" hint 9, are involved here; and, besides that hint, the OP has confirmed that video games are what the whole thing is about).

So, for instance,

great stamina and strength, and powers like flying, are common abilities of video game protagonists; a common gimmick in video games is a temporary ability to speed up your actions relative to the rest of the game; etc.

But my ignorance of this domain is boundless and

if there are particular games being pointed at here, I have no idea what they are. I am not any sort of gamer myself and the descriptions are too abstract for my google-fu to help much. Some of them sound kinda Mario-like (plumbing is a common profession, and the character seems at any rate not to be especially young, and some the "power-ups" the prophet offers seem like the sort of thing you'd get in platform games) but the fit isn't obviously good enough to convince me.

Perhaps the prophet

represents in-app purchases or something of the kind, promising all kinds of boosts to the player's abilities. (But in a competitive game like an MMORPG, the other people you are competing with can buy the same thing, hence the skeptic's warning.)

In that case maybe the scholars

are carrying traditional computer game boxes, to symbolize their opposition to the model where games change radically after you buy them.

But I don't think this quite works:

it seems like these scholars should be emerging from the ranks of the Luddites, but they actually appear to come from elsewhere. Also, I don't see the alleged pun.

• Wow. For both bands, you got them 50% right before taking a sharp turn in a direction I wasn't expecting - but makes sense based on the muddled, tangled web the whole hint section had become. Your answer is the closest so far - but deals with economy, while the intended answer deals with something less down-to-earth. – Dragomok Feb 3 '17 at 14:57
• Still, as you said yourself, you couldn't get the meaning behind the bands making music while the prophet was talking, nor the pun - which is the actual reason I was eager to keep the bands in instead of streamlining the puzzle. – Dragomok Feb 3 '17 at 14:58
• Wait, did I get the first band right (as per your last comment) or 50% right (as per your first)? Or do you mean I correctly identified who they are but my guess at their significance is completely wrong? – Gareth McCaughan Feb 3 '17 at 21:25
• I'm sorry - you figured out the first band's name right, but their significance is wrong. – Dragomok Feb 4 '17 at 8:45

Partial answer based off of Gareth's:

The two bands represent

3D games (the three-person band) and 2D games (the Luddite band). The 3D guys are missing their second member because there isn't really a "second-person" perspective, just first-person or third-person. The 2D group is represented by Luddites because 2D games have gone/are going out of fashion in favor of 3D games. However, I'm not sure how they relate to the prophet and the prophet's name.

The scholars represent

Game developers - specifically, indie game developers, since game jams tend to be mostly popular with hobbyists. If I'm right about that then that leads me to believe that the prophet is perhaps a spokesperson for a large game corporation.

A possible (but probably wrong) answer:

The prophet is a cheat engine. Game developers don't like him because their games won't be played properly. But I can't figure out how that ties in to 2D/3D.

I'm also trying to figure out how the cacophony of music ties in to any of my theories, and why the prophet doesn't seem to mind it.

A minor point that I didn't see anyone mention - El-Kharak is Arabic for

Miraculous/unusual/supernatural. But I don't think that's significant since the city seems pretty unusual right off the bat.

• El-Kharak is an actual word in an actual language? Ops. I really went too heavy on all the fluff. – Dragomok Feb 3 '17 at 19:53
• Welcome to the site! Good try, but not quite it. As I said earlier, the bands will make sense once you realize that their names form a half of a two-word pun (or two thirds of a three-word one, depending on how you're counting). EDIT: I should probably confirm that the band name both you and Gareth use is correct. – Dragomok Feb 3 '17 at 19:57