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1/10/2011

Paramalpheus' Apparatus

The Apparatus of Paramalpheus is a device comprised of two components: The psionic helm (a silver skull-cap meant to fit over the head of an average-sized man or woman) and the actualizing case (a casket-like, unadorned, lead lock-box about 8 feet long, 6 feet wide and 4 feet deep). These are connected by a delicate tubing (about 4 inches in diameter and 10 feet long) that is composed of a semi-solid substance which bears a passing resemblance to the veined flesh of certain deep-sea mollusks. There is also a set of two crystalline keys -- both are black and exceedingly convoluted in design.

Paramalpheus -- considered the eccentric's eccentric among metamagicians of the Second Aeon -- devoted much of his career to dream research and transubstantiation. He produced many odd, almost indecipherable texts that grappled with the subject. The most successful of these is unquestionably his Polyfixtures of Non-Being, a labyrinthine catalog describing the fruits of the old master's life-long obsessions. Described therein are no less than twenty-seven devices, the most notorious being the Non-linear Actualizer -- or simply the Apparatus, as it came to be known during the era of the Phantasmal Kingdoms*.

In order to make use of the device, one dons the psionic helm described above. The thing is quite comfortable despite a tight fit due to its moist, jelly-like interior -- entirely composed of the soft, pulpy material that, umbilical-like, connects the head gear to the lead actualizing case. Then to activate the device, the enhelmed user must enter a hypnogogic state. Any objects within the dream-vision of the user can then be transferred over to the lead case, which will create a dream-double of itself within the user's subconscious field. The number and size of such objects is limited by the dimensions of the case's real-world counterpart.

Objects created -- or, as Paramalpheus would have it, actualized -- in this way are completely substantial. In other words, they can be hefted, transferred and/or modified as though they originated in the real world. While some dream-objects show no signs of age, a certain number (35%) will spontaneously begin to dematerialize after 2d6 months, a process which can take up to a year (1d12 months). Dematerializing objects visually fade and become increasingly intangible, eventually seeking the lowest level of any building in which they are contained. Lead flooring or containers will prevent dematerializing objects from sinking in this manner.

Certain dangers are inherent to the actualizing process. There is a 1-in-6 chance that a wandering atavism -- a personal boogeyman native to the user's subconscious -- will secretly slip into the actualizing case. Naturally it would be highly undesirable for such manifestations to escape the case and venture out into the real world. For this reason the casket features a pair of heavy-duty, magically engineered locks which even the most skilled of thieves would find maddening. Even so, only scrying can reveal the contents of a loaded case. Without such magics there is no means for the user to be certain if anything unwanted has managed to smuggle itself out of his or her subconscious mind. Further complicating the issue -- the user must wait until the atavism has dematerialized before he can open the case without the possibility of it leaping, slithering, perhaps leaking out into the real world. Atavisms that prove to be resistant to dematerialization may remain in the case indefinitely, quietly biding their time until the user -- or perhaps his scion, or his scion's scion -- releases it.
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*Phantasmal Kingdoms: Haunted Jindelil and the Decrepitudes of Nembrin. Third Aeon kingdoms peopled by phantom immigrants from beyond the material plane.

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