A Column on Roleplaying
by Robin D. Laws
Excerpt from an Ordo Veritatis threat analysis report (draft version)
Author Codename: Coastpoint
In this department we think often of ODEs (Outer Dark Entities) but too little of a parallel phenomenon, one I will, for lack of a better term, call the Outer Dark Intersection. For the rest of this paper I will use the acronym ODI, while recognizing that it has not been officially recognized by the OV style guide.
Intersections differ from entities as follows:
- Chiefly, ODIs lack sapience, loosely defined to include such signs of intelligence as personality, individual motivation, learning, and the ability to communicate*.
- They lack bodies, although in some cases they might be said to have, or be, structures.
- Accordingly they lack locomotion. An ODI might wink into existence or disappear but once manifested in our reality does not visibly shift position by means other than materialization/teleportation.
In short, where an ODE reminds us of a person or animal, an ODI appears to be a place. We can talk with, or be attacked by, an ODE. We can enter an ODI and move around inside it. While inside, we might confusingly believe ourselves to be under assault, or to be encountering intelligent/autonomous beings. In fact, we are interacting with psychic projections, generated by the interaction of our minds with the irrational variant space of an ODI.
The classic ODI would be the haunted house of legend and lore. When entering a haunted structure, a top investigative priority must be to determine whether it is:
- an ordinary building infested by ODEs
- an ordinary building manipulated by Esoterror agents to create the impression of an ODE manifestation
- an unreal building partially present in standard physical reality, and partly present in an intermediate zone between us and the Outer Dark (see below)
In a house haunted by, say, Dementia Larva or Kooks, the structure itself, though it may be trapped or unstable, serves merely as an environment for the threat. A haunted house acting as an ODI is itself a supernatural presence. Agents entering it project their thoughts, fears and expectations regarding haunted houses into the ODI. It responds by presenting them with their dread imaginings—incorporeal spirits, eerie whispers, hurled objects, vivid visions of past crimes. Generally, in keeping with our notions about hauntings, they begin with the minor and eerie, finally escalating into the downright mind-shattering.
An ODI may locate itself in our world only long enough to trap one victim and then vanish. The Phantom Toolshed, seen in Rochester NY in the spring and summer of 2008, followed such a pattern. Various at-risk teens reported seeing this shed, where according to urban legend money or drugs might be stashed. Some witnesses recounted incidents in which they came across the shed in an alley, industrial park or backyard. Though drawn toward it, they for assorted reasons chose not to enter. At least three others did go in. They found tools inside—a hammer, a hacksaw, a nail gun—and removed them to show their friends. In three cases they later used these as weapons in savage attacks against friends and family. All three had undergone complete psychotic breaks. Our Veil-Out procedure ensured that mental health professionals labeled the detailed and similar accounts of their time inside the toolshed as hallucinatory. In fact, all three recounted a journey through a labyrinthine subterranean network where they witnessed scenes of historical torture, were imprisoned or restrained, and saw their own worst thoughts enacted before them. Each found the toolshed in a different location within the same twenty block radius. Our agents ended the Intersection by finding the buried remnants of an old graveyard ritual, performed by unknown persons sometime in the early 19th century. During that era the upstate New York area became known as the Burned Over District due to an explosion of spiritualist and psychic activity. The pre-Esoterror cult responsible for the rite has yet to be identified. Research continues, with tantalizing hints suggesting that some precursor of the OV smashed the cult and dispersed its members—regrettably leaving the seed of an Outer Dark Intersection behind for later generations to contend with.
What activated the fruits of this ancient rite in 2008 remains unclear. A likely cause would be lone wolf activity by a naïve supernaturalist. However I cannot yet discount the possibilities that fully aware Esoterrorists sometimes hunt down such traces of old magic and, by no doubt twisted means, renew their force.
An ODI can overlie a mundane structure, as occurs in classic haunted house style Intersections.
Particularly brutal murders, especially those where the remains of victims or perpetrators remain buried on site or nearby, render buildings vulnerable to these intrusions. Discovering the truth behind these old crimes and/or destroying (or properly interring) the remains has in some cases suppressed the uncanny in such places. However one cannot underestimate the certainty of razing a targeted building to the ground. Before doing this investigators must be sure that they have truly uncovered and neutralized the factors making the site a vector for Intersection. Absent such precautions, the Intersection may attach itself to them. In the unfortunate aftermath of Operation Glad Strike, agents declared a haunting case complete. Then the lead agent arrived home to find her own condominium transformed into a new host for the ODI experience.
Stepping within an ODI’s boundaries takes one into a space unlike our own. It cannot be the true Outer Dark, because:
- contact with it does not bring immediate madness and destruction.
- Outer Dark Entities cannot use it as a portal to bypass the Membrane and enter the material world.
I therefore posit an intermediate space, a fold in our reality that defies psychics while packing a destabilizing emotional charge. The Intersection displays some qualities of the Outer Dark, but they are manifesting here, not taking us there. An Intersectionalized structure may appear larger and more circuitous than measurement of its exterior could possibly allow. Note that, unlike outbreaks of the Ocean Game, the experiencer never hallucinates anything that would contradict the notion of being inside a structure, albeit a very strange one.
Inquiry into this area remains dangerously preliminary. Please find attached my proposal for the formation of a new working group. Included is a series of reports on a location in northern Saskatchewan where we might find, and study, a mine shaft infected by an ongoing Intersection.
*This is not to say that all ODEs possess all such qualities—some varieties for example display no documented propensity for communication.
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