August 2017

Fear of the planet Mars. Sufferers cannot bear to be under any sky that contains the Red Planet.

Fear of douches. Sufferers cannot be in any college town with active fraternity chapters.

Fear of buttons. Sufferers must use custom all-zipper clothing

Fear of chips. Sufferers cannot eat fried potato slices or use integrated electronics.

Fear of love. Sufferers spend all their time on the internet.

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1670 BC
Pharaoh Amenhotep VI decides that the eclipse is a sign of Ra’s anger and immediately vows to disband his brief flirtation with representative parliamentary democracy.

951 BC

Armies battling in central China pause their slaughter for an awestruck moment during the eclipse. Upon its expiry, the battle resumes as if nothing had happened.

217 BC
The Roman general Trivius witnesses an eclipse after praying to Jupiter for a sign of what to do in order to achieve victory. Inspired, he leads his men into battle blindfolded, resulting in a disastrous defeat.

5 AD
An African eclipse leads to a stampede of frightened wildebeest, trampling King Odayo II of Senemali and his court.

900 AD

An eclipse over the Yucatan convinces a Mayan ruler that the end of the world is at hand. He orders that all of his worldly possessions be hurled into a cenote, and then joins them after failing to pay his workers.

1491 AD
This widely observed Mesoamerican eclipse was dismissed at the time as portending anything ominous.

1603 AD

This eclipse is believed to be the inspiration for a lost Shakespeare play mentioned in the MacDunnagh Register: The Tragedie of the Sunne Blocke.

1962 AD
An eclipse over Antarctica leads a colony of Emperor Penguins to revert to their winter heat-retention behavior. Hundreds die of heatstroke on the ice.

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The Experiants are a group that milks unique experiences from the raw thought and emotion of the Astral. They contain them in ornate crystal spheres known as sensory stones, which allow an Experiant to relive the experiences trapped within. While they gather most such from the Astral itself, they are known to collect and even trade for particularly vivid experiences from travelers. They also must occasionally service corrupt sensory stones, which can be fatal to users as the experiences contained within them are all too real to the unprotected mind.

It is their belief that every experience is part of a great mystery they call the Cosmic Puzzle. The more unique an experience, the more insight they believe it will give them in solving said Puzzle. What will happen then is anyone’s guess, but the mere thought is enough to attract the more cerebral denizens of the Astral to attempt it.

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“Oh, don’t worry about this, it’s just niceocancer,” she said with a gentle pat on her bosom. “We’ve all got it here in the Nice Ward.”

“Well, I was hoping to break it to you more gently than that, but yes,” said Dr. Hawkins. “You’ve got niceocancer, Sally, as Missy says.”

“I am 1000% sure you just made that up,” Sally said. “I am seriously considering changing healthcare providers.”

“Oh, it’s quite real. Beneficial, even! Niceocancer is the rare positive form of cancer, and it results in you simply growing a spare organ.”

“Uh huh, yeah, right,” Sally said. “Can I know what my other in-network care options are? Maybe someone who doesn’t add a third latex boob to someone in the cancer ward?”

“I understand your skepticism, really, I do,” Dr. Hawkins said. “Here, meet some of the others. This is the largest niceocancer ward in the country after all!”

Sally followed, trying to get a signal on her phone to look up doctors who took Red Shield insurance.

“This is Kevin. He regrew an arm thanks to niceocancer,” Hawkins said.

“Ew!” cried Sally, revolted. “It’s a different color from the elbow down!”

“Well, he has an arm, doesn’t he? You’ve already met Missy, and this here is Gertrude.”

“She…she has three legs,” Sally said.

“Pride of the inter-city soccer league!” crowed Gertrude. “All thanks to niceocancer!”

“And that’s…Bob,” said Dr. Hawkins.

“Where’s his spare organ?” Sally said.

Hawkins was silent a moment. “Moving on,” he said briskly.

“Uh, yeah. What about me?” Sally said.

“Oh yes, that’s the only…complication,” said Dr. Hawkins. “Your niceocancer is…in your brain.”

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The Astral Plane is where gods go to die, and where the great physical forms of dead gods rest. One group believes that these deities must be mourned, interred, and remembered–and for that purpose they laboriously constructed the Crypts of the Dead Gods out of the flecks of solid matter amid the Astral.

The Cryptkeepers, as they are known, believe that once a portion of each god that has ever perished is entombed in the Crypt, that they will then be allowed to ascend as gods themselves, each taking the place of one of the fallen deities. Each tomb contains a portion of a dead god from the Astral–normally not more than a small chunk–and, if possible, at least one mortal who worshiped them in life. Each mortal is carefully stripped of their worldly possessions and mummified.

To help in their cause, the Cryptkeepers also entomb others who die in the Astral. They accept payment in gold for anyone wishing to be buried in solid matter, rather than the formless void, and ship off whatever possessions come into their hands to the various transplanar wholesalers that do business in that sort of thing.

A key facet of the Cryptkeeper burials is that they are not unlimited. Space is at a premium and the most lavish tombs are reserved for the god-chunks that have been obtained. As such, the internments are a 100-year rental only, by the reckoning of the great clock in the center of the complex. After 100 years, the rental must be renewed and repaid in full. Otherwise, the corpses are raised to “earn their keep” as undead before being cast into a communal pit to extend the size of the Cryptkeepers’ island. 100 years of undead servitude, assuming that the reanimated last that long, is enough to purchase another 100 years of rest.

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Turnicus totalis
Forces the driver to make the next safe turn in the direction their blinker is pointing.

Signalicon permanatus
Turn signals will automatically activate, even outside of the car–disembodied signals will hover about the buttocks of any on-foot drivers for the duration.

Cut-innocenti reversi
Drivers who zoom ahead where one lane is closed only to try and cut in at the last possible second find themselves at the back of the line.

Contracti lorrius
Large white trucks that have never done an honest day’s work will contract each day they are not hauling a load or driving off-road until they reach a size appropriate for their daily workload (such as a Fiat 500).

Reflectus responsibilius
Cell phones will only show a forward view from the cab while driving.

Paradoxian fatalis
You will suffer a real version of the accident you just almost caused, in such a way that you will be the only one injured and no other vehicles will be damaged.

Emeraldia xenoptic
Since you can’t seem to see green lights, you will only be able to see the color green.

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“Our world is not like other worlds,” said Hub. “But other worlds are made for other purposes.”

“And what is the purpose,” said Nic, “of such a world as this?”

Hub waited a moment to reply, the lines of his face trembling as he spoke to himself, arguing both sides in an internal debate. “Our world is a puzzle box,” he said. “It was designed to keep a secret from all but the most dedicated.”

“What secret?”

“It’s better not to know!” snapped Hub. “To let that curiosity in is to be bones upon a distant shore, like so many of our youngsters.”

“I’m not interested in any of your secrets,” said Nic. “This is purely for my research.

“Beyond the furthest shores of the most distant of our lands, there is the Infinite Sea,” said Hub. “One must somehow be able to traverse an endless expanse of sun-kissed water.”

“Hmph,” Nic said. “And then?”

“The Endless Lands, devoid of aught but sun and soil. Crossing trackless wastes with no water is a challenge none have even been able to attempt. At least none who have returned.”

“And then the secret in the puzzle box?”

“No. The Unchiseled Rocks, a sphere of the hardest stone without a chink in its armor, infinitely thick.”

“And let me guess, beyond that, the Airy Air, air without end,” laughed Nic.

Hub bristled but said nothing.

“How do you know all of this?” said Nic. “if none have ever returned from even this ‘infinite’ sea?”

“Myths, legends, and song,” Hub said. “Passed down since before we knew how to inscribe them.”

“Uh-huh,” Nic said. “What else have you got?”

“Only this.” Hub pulled something from beneath his shirt: a glass vial filled with water. “I took these waters from the Infinite Sea myself, before I made the decision to turn back. Analyze them if you like. You’ll find it unlike any other water you’ve ever seen.”

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