“The mind is its own place and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.”
~ John Milton
Excerpt from the Promethean Gnoitalmanac:
Concerning Gygax Emanation and Extra-Planar Manifestation of RPG Entities
Theorized by Earth sorcerer Andy Crowley following his defeat of the demiurge, Bolth the Behemoth, the phenomenon known as Gygax Emanation (named for Earther, Gary Gygax, creator of the role playing game Dungeons & Dragons) theorizes that creatures and entities detailed in Earther role playing games manifest on other planes of existence as a direct result of being conceived of in the minds of players of these games. The phenomenon, if true, is noteworthy because it contradicts the common knowledge that access by consciousness to probability fields within the peculiar region of spacetime known as Sanctuary is impossible.
Crowley’s theory postulates that the intense, lucid mental activity that occurs in the minds of role-playing game players enters the probability vortices and, because probability manipulation by consciousness is not possible within the event horizon of Sanctuary Rim, results in delta quanta being shunted outward across the moebius bridge onto other planes of existence as manifested entities.
The theory further proposes that mental conception related to these games results in extra-planar manifestation while other human conceptions (such as religious, literary and pop culture figures) do not due to the presence of the unique electromagnetic, gravitational, and aetheric field properties generated by the specific geometry of the dice used in these types of games.
Credence is lent to this argument by the fact that the geometric properties of these dice – three-dimensional, regular, convex polyhedrons with congruent regular polygonal faces and the same number of faces meeting at each vertex – are identical to those presented by the Earth philosopher, Pythagoras, and popularized by the philosopher, Plato, as the Platonic solids: the fundamental geometric structures of three-dimensional spacetime.
There is also speculation that the resultant field mechanics from the interaction of the specific electromagnetic and aetheric fields generated by the intensity of a player’s fixation on the future outcome of the dice roll and the flux-prob field vacuum resulting from the roll itself is a contributing factor.
Should the Gygax Emanation theory hold true it would support the hypothesis that, although the ability of consciousness to manipulate delta quanta within the probability vortices inside Sanctuary Rim remains impossible, sufficiently vivid visualizations that occur within minds of entities in the presence of material components modeling the geometry of the Platonic solids may actually manifest substantially on other planes of reality.
Andy pressed his tongue hard against his teeth in the right side of his mouth and was relieved to feel nothing loose there. The taste of blood wasn’t going to mean dental work. Good. No ridiculous mother lecture.
The mischievous grin the others had come to fear split his filthy face as he pushed himself up from the cleat-tortured grass and mud, tossed the rugby ball to the referee and jogged back to the pack.
Andy had run about thirty meters, before they had taken him down – and he had let them do it. He knew he could score every time he touched the ball but he didn’t want to hurt anyone, and he thought it a reasonable exercise of humility to restrict the outside limits of his newfound athletic celebrity.
Despite not having cast a spell or trained in the high-grav, slow-time extra-dimensional, pocket octagon for over three months, he had retained a relative degree of speed, agility, strength and stamina that still dwarfed his schoolmates.
Momentarily, his thoughts turned again to his promise to never again cast a spell or leave his native plane of existence. His home.
Looking up to the grass embankment that sloped down to the pitch, he saw Lori and Shani clapping while Deb, more restrained and showing the appropriate amount of concern due a girlfriend who had just seen her boyfriend dragged to the turf by three Trenton gorillas, simply waved.
He struggled not to think about Deb and Saturday night.
Not even a week after he had forsaken the sorcerer’s path, he had asked her on a date. How could he not? Protecting her from his secret life had been the only reason he had not already done what everyone knew was supposed to happen. They had always been together. They would always be together. And on Saturday he was going to watch Flash Gordon with her again, listen to some Doors and Rush, and finally, after all these long years – he was going to make their relationship official, though he was still working out what that actually entailed.
As he smiled and nodded to the girls while he jogged back to the pack, Andy felt an incredible happiness: a sense of wholeness that was, while not mystical, still divine in some way that was new to him – and maybe always would be.
Habitually he snuck a quick look down at his hand where he held a purple translucent, icosahedron, the platonic solid from sacred geometry that was associated with the element of water. For the friends he played D&D with, it was simply a 20-sided die; but for him it was — even now that he had sworn off sorcery — a powerful personal charm.
The side with an engraved 20 filled with the wax of a gold crayon faced him.
“As above, so below,” he thought and smiled again. Then he bent low and locked into the scrum in the flanker position.
And though he relished this moment in the new life he had chosen for himself, he crushed the purple 20-sided die into his fist with a ferocity that had become his way of forgetting what had happened; his way of forgetting Jasco; of forgetting that he was a coward; of forgetting that demon, that day on the astral plane, and all the reasons he had quit sorcery forever.
USSSR KE-Bridge Station Gagarin
Proxima Centauri system
Orbit of Stalin Prime
1984 AD SR
“Rasputin!” The teacher roared, slapping his pointer against his desk.
The boy’s head, which had been on a slumbering trajectory that would have terminated upon his desktop, snapped up so hard he worried for a moment he may have hurt his neck.
“Commander,” he blurted. The laughter of the other cadets filled the room.
“My apologies Andrei,” The Commander said. “I have tried and tried and tried to make re-entry mechanics more enticing.” He smiled and parted his thick Comrade-Stalin moustache. He was a kind man. Andrei was not afraid of him.
“Perhaps you should sleepwalk over to sickbay lad. You have not been yourself. I’d like the doctor to see what’s up with you.”
“Aye sir.” Andrei stood up, collected his books and made for the door. The room had now fallen silent to watch him leave.
At the door he turned quickly and said. “Sorry sir”.
“It’s okay, Andrei. Get the doc to sort you out.”
In the corridor, a plasteel tube that connected the outer ring of USSSR station Gagarin, to the main hub, Andrei Rasputin eyes darted anxiously here-and-there out into space looking for him: the fascinating clockwork entity that looked like a pirate: the metal man in space with the soothing, velvet voice and spectacular stories.
Angel? Demon? Alien? God? The young man’s sharp, curious, scientific mind had run the variables and had settled upon delusion.
Soviet Imperial Stellar Navy Cadet, Andrei Rasputin was 14-years-old, and though something of a star pupil, he had been reduced to something of a nervous wreck in the last 48-hours. Indeed, he was genuinely concerned he was going insane.
In his dreams of the last few nights, Twain, as the machine had called itself, had conveyed a stunning understanding of the Empire’s mission of hope, justice and equality. It seemed to want to genuinely help further the glorious stellar destiny of the red and gold hammer, sickle and stars.
“Those destined for greatness always suspect they are unbalanced at your age, Andrei.”
The voice was speaking to him now – for the first time in his waking mind. Somehow it was more lucid. More comforting. More real. His fear that he had gone mad was immediately gone and was replaced with something else altogether.
“You question your sanity because you have been conditioned to believe that all notions are generated by stimulus originating from outside the mind, from beyond the self – but this is not true. All great men are explorers of the realms within as well as those without. And you Andrei Rasputin are to be a great man.”
Andrei’s darting eyes fixed now outside the plasteel of the corridor upon the one called Twain. Sheathed in a lime-green glow, the machine-man floated in space. It wore a billowing white blouse, doeskin breaches and high leather boots that looked almost like Red Army officer formal dress issue. A massive sword hung at his side. On his head there was a floppy wide-rimmed hat with massive blood-red plume issuing from a wide black band.
The glowing amber slits of eyes, which through mysterious means were somehow capable of expressing kindness, beckoned to him. There was a smile in them – and a promise.
Why hadn’t the proximity alerts gone off? How was this possible? The metal man had come to him for three nights now, talking at length about empire, and destiny – and how he was to be the greatest leader the United Soviet Socialist Stellar Republic would ever know. But now – he was sure – the metal man was not in his dream. He was really here speaking to him in his mind, telepathically Andrei presumed. He had read enough science fiction and he was imaginative and open-minded enough.
“In the same way the founders of the republic brought all of humanity together and took them to the stars, you will unite the peoples of yet undiscovered worlds and unite all beings everywhere in the just distribution of prosperity across all known space.”
Then, Andrei felt a rush of ambition for he sensed truth in the robot’s words. His panic ceased and the clockwork gears placed in his mind through the dreams of the last few nights clicked into place, meshed together, and began to turn.
Suddenly, he knew his place in history. Like Genghis Khan, Alexander, Stalin, he would conquer and in conquering bring prosperity. How had it taken him so long to see his place in the world.
He felt the hair on his skin stand on end and a snap of momentary cold. Then, inexplicably he was floating in space, face-to-face with the man of metal. And he was not afraid. Somehow he was warm. Somehow he could breathe.
“I have come to facilitate the future of the empire,” said Tin Prince Twain. His voice was comforting and paternal. It appealed to the boy who had never known his parents.”
“How am I breathing?” he managed to say through his excitement. His elation.
“You have only just begun to understand the things you can do.” The Tin Prince put his hands on the young soviet space cadet’s shoulders. “It is my purpose to introduce you to your potential.”
The plasteel corridor, where Andrei had stood just moments before, was now filled with cosmonauts brandishing Kalashnikov atom-scramblers. They pointed and yelled at the two figures floating in space. Andrei’s clever mind quickly surmised that the implosion of air rushing in to fill the vacuum created when his mass was transferred out of the space station must have set off an alarm. The thought of the claxons blaring all because of him only accentuated his excitement.
Andrei Rasputin in this moment felt more important than he had ever felt in his life.
The Tin Prince smiled at him, but the smile was not for the boy.
He smiled because he knew his plan had worked; and because it had been so simple.
The boy’s young, untrained and accessible mind had given him everything he needed to use against him. The Earth history in this universe was the history of communist triumph.
The Red Army’s seizure of the German war machine in the first days of World War II; the subsequent communist uprisings and annexation of Europe; the invention of the Kurchatov-Einstein Bridge generator and resultant 1948 stable moon wormhole; the Yellowstone eruption and fall of America: and the 1977 mission to Alpha Centauri and colonization of Stalin Prime, the first human interstellar settlement: all of it lead to this moment and this boy. The coincidence of the surname of the Andy Crowley of this universe was not lost on Tin Prince.
“Rasputin,” Aleister Crowley’s soul chuckled at the familiar name. The notorious mystic, Gregori Rasputin, had been an intelligence asset of his inside Russia when he had worked with British intelligence in the early decades of the 20th Century. It was so perfect that a Rasputin would serve him again; that it would be a Rasputin who would wield the Glass Grimoire; and that it would be a Rasputin who would rise to this native universe, the Prince’s universe, and in due time, all universes — all by way of the purest, deepest form of communism imaginable.
How fortunate, he thought, that the discovery of wormhole generation and sub-space travel had driven the space exploration of this Earth. They had little to no interest in what they thought to be the lifeless worlds of their own solar system and had gone directly to travelling to the stars. It amused him to think of the Pentarchy and that used-car salesman Pharaoh of Mars trying to remain hidden from these Earthers!
It would only be a matter of time before these discovered that magic was possible out here beyond the Rim.
Then, a discomfort began to set in as he realized he was contending with too many unknowns. Suddenly he just wanted to be home.
The brash, adventurous Aleister Crowley part of him had worked a sorcerous miracle in getting here and getting exactly what he needed. Maybe all rather too easily he felt at this moment. Now, the Sam Clemens part of him was exerting its propensity for reason, caution and restraint.
It was time to go.
Before returning to business, the robot from the universe next door indulged in one last moment of self-congratulations.
As a master of persuasion, he had known that the ultimate carrot for consciousness was happiness, and that happiness was won, not as most people assume, with wealth, or pleasures of the body, or even with status and respect. True, lasting happiness is the product of one thing: meaning.
And over the last three days he had presented this lonely, curious, orphaned space cadet with the prospect of a grander, nobler life of meaning than any Earth human in history (the history of this multiverse at least) had ever conceived of.
Then with a gesture and an utterance in Latin into the soundless vacuum of space, there was the twinkling of a bottled soul traversing spacetime followed by a flash and swirl of eldritch green.
And as the terrified cosmonauts of the Soviet Socialist Stellar Republic KE-Bridge Station Gagarin looked on in horror, the Victorian clockwork sorcerer and their young comrade – now a would-be ruler of a communist empire in the stars – simply ceased to be where they had been.