Fantasy fiction intersected with fantasy politics on Wednesday when right-wing social media mistook the symbol of an eldritch god from a video game for the Communist hammer and sickle.
Wednesday afternoon, a pro-Trump mob stormed the United States Capitol building in an attempt to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden as the president-elect. Several members of the mob gained access to the Capitol interior and photographed themselves standing inside. In these photos, a symbol could be seen tattooed on the back of one of the men’s left hand (see sidebar image).
Blurry images of this tattoo soon went viral on Facebook, with people claiming that the symbol was the infamous Soviet hammer and sickle. People claimed this was significant because, after all, a man with a hammer-and-sickle tattoo must surely be a Communist. Some thought this proved that the riot at the Capitol was actually instigated by Antifa infiltrators, not by genuine Trump supporters.
But the symbol was not the hammer and sickle, as eagle-eyed (or perhaps nerdy-eyed) viewers soon noticed. It was, in fact, the Outsider’s Mark from the Dishonored video game series. While the Mark does have the same general shape as the hammer and sickle, the two are easily distinguishable in all but the blurriest images.
In Dishonored, the Outsider is a deity who rules the Void, the realm of primordial chaos from which magic is derived. The Outsider burns his Mark into the left hand of humans he favors, granting them supernatural powers such as teleportation and invisibility. The Outsider’s Mark is used as a general logo for the Dishonored game series, and it has become a popular tattoo among hardcore fans of the games.
At the time of this writing it has not been verified whether any of the Capitol rioters possess Void magic. But we can say with some certainly that people spreading this claim on social media possess poor eyesight.