by Max Barry

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Noopraxis/Magic Primer (WIP)



Nous & Phylax
World Presence



Noopraxis is a term which broadly refers to the ability of certain beings - known as noopracts - to impart the content of their will onto their surroundings through usage and manipulation of a cognitive, metaphysical phenomenon known as the nous. Widely considered to be a paranatural or "magical" concept, it is a central aspect of Khoronzonite religion, and is for that reason regarded as a hostile, alien force by those outside of it.

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Phylaxolysis is a radically transformative process
One that can be as excruciating as it is elevating
The fundamental concept upon which noopraxis is derived is the nous, an intrinsic property of all sentient minds that exists alongside their consciousness, which emerges with, and is inherently inseparable from, the capacities for subjective experience and decision-making. Dormant and inactive over the course of most individuals' lives, yet remaining affixed to them throughout their existence, it is roughly analogous in nature to the concept of a "soul". Its own characteristics - while going wholly unexpressed in the majority of cases - correspond to the mind of the sentient being it resides in, and differ depending on its cognitive traits and complexity should it somehow be made active.

Within the physical world, the material substrate inhabited by the nous' corresponding consciousness, whether the neural tissue of an animal, the circuitry of a computer, or any other form of matter-based structure that houses a mind, is termed its phylax, with beings whose minds exist within such substrate being referred to as phylaxic. The relation between the nous, the mind, and the phylax bears a certain complication - the nous technically exists independently of the phylax, though it remains indirectly bound to it in phylaxic beings by virtue of the mind being given form only by the phylax's material properties. It is this that prevents the nous from expressing itself in the physical world - contained within the bounds of physicality, it exists as a shadow of the mind within the brain. This barrier, however, can be surmounted through a process known as phylaxolysis.

By stimulating one's nous through the partial or complete absorption of another of similar or greater complexity, one can initiate the process of unbinding the nous, and by extension the mind. This is typically achieved among sophonts via consumption of another sophont's phylax, either alive or as quickly as possible after the victim's death - while the nous does linger for some time after the phylax ceases to function, it immediately begins to fade out, eventually leaving it without a trace. This consumption momentarily pushes the nous into an "excited" state, in which it can be driven to its tipping point through constant, high-intensity sensory and emotional stimulation until finally breaking through. Upon completion, the now lysophylaxic individual gains initial, rudimentary access to noopraxis, using the capabilities of their mind to a vastly greater extent and in entirely new ways.

Despite possessing activated nooi, lysophylaxics invariably remain dependent on their phylaxes to varying extents - rather than having their nooi wholly unbound, they are instead left with "wounds" in their phylaxes through which the nous seeps out. Their dependency on the phylax and their capacity for noopraxis vary proportionally to the extent of the wound, which itself also has certain properties based on its state - a more "intact" phylax will gradually seal itself shut, while a sufficiently "broken" phylax will gravitate towards further dissolution. In both cases, lysophylaxic individuals must constantly, actively work against their own nooi to preserve their capabilities - the former incurs a gradual weakening of noopraxis and eventual return to baseline phylaxia, while the latter, if left uncontrolled, leads to the collapse of the rational ego.

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Immaterial is the form of the Aphylaxion
Incomprehensible to the human mind
Within the physical world, as it is generally understood by humans, the default state of a sentient being with relation to its nous is that of phylaxia, or being phylaxic. This property is the defining trait of the Phylaxion, of which the local universe is part. Conversely, in the "other side" of existence known as the Aphylaxion, minds, and therefore nooi, exist wholly independently of any physical form, thus being in the state of aphylaxia. Also known as the Abyss in Khoronzonite religious parlance, the Aphylaxion is seen as being formless and limitless in nature - an infinite sea of pure, unbound minds collectively dreaming their surroundings into an ever-shifting landscape of existence.

The separation between the Phylaxion and the Aphylaxion is inherent in the beings that inhabit them, as well as the conditions of existence in the two realms themselves. The Aphylaxion, while greatly varied in internal composition and structure across its "regions", largely lacks any form of conventional dimensionality or physicality, while exposure to it wears away at any vestiges of phylaxia present in the exposed nous until forcefully breaching its last ties to its phylax and releasing it uncontrollably into the open. Conversely, aphylaxic entities have no means to act upon the Phylaxion in the absence of a material vessel through which to channel their volitions.

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The first steps into noopraxis are small
While leading to possibilities beyond reckoning
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Forbidden gods of the Plague
Loathed and feared by mankind
Noopraxis is extremely rare and poorly understood on Earth outside of the Supremacy, widely believed to be directly tied to Khoronzon and the Martian Plague rather than an independent, universal phenomenon. It is strictly banned by most world governments for this reason, as well as its requirement for homicide, and is ruthlessly persecuted, with the rooting out of potential noopracts serving as a justification for mass surveillance, political repression, and summary arrests and executions in many jurisdictions. This view is largely a result of the Martian Plague bearing the first recorded instance of noopraxis in human history and subsequently wreaking immense devastation with it during the Martian War, while the extensive use of noopraxis by the Supremacy continues to support the general human view of it as an adversarial force.

Conversely, Khoronzon's own stance on noopraxis is entirely the opposite - all Khoronzonite citizens are mandated to undergo phylaxolysis at the age of majority, as well as to maintain their noopraxic abilities within approved standards through continued consumption of feed-thrall brain tissue. Much of the Supremacy's infrastructure, particularly communication and information technology, is built around noopraxis, including the national intranet that its citizenry uses in place of the world wide web.

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Approved by Sovereign Oversight
The Emperor Watches