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Feb 03, 2023 7:58 AM
the ordeal
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Maybe after the ordeal he will be more qualified to deal with this?

Probably the best way to find the ordeal is to find the biggest source of Lone Power...ness. He heads out the door.

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He walks past a middle-aged woman. "--I found this sex board game and it's really livened up our sex life, my husband and I haven't had sex this wonderful since we had children--"

A teenage boy talking to his friends: "Look, if you want a stuffed animal, you want a stuffed animal. I don't see why anyone else should have shit to say about it."

Two twentysomethings: "Did you hear the aquarium and the petting zoo are both free now? Yeah, someone donated to it."

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Two things could have happened here.

One: Due to generally being happier and taking the effort to cultivate joy, he is more aware of other people's joy.

This would explain the first two things.

Two: WIZ 20, baby!

...if increasing his WIZ has managed to make this many people's lives slightly better, it's worth it. He won't die happy, because he would still very much like to avoid dying, but... it wouldn't have been a stupid risk.

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There is a miasma of purple coming from that bookstore over there!

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There's worse places to have an ordeal?

To the bookstore! To find out why it is evil!

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Cosmo's cover says "fifty ways to get YOUR motor going!" The bookstore has also put out an array of fidget spinners, stuffed animals, and similar, alongside a display of books with titles like The Dangerous Book For Children and YOU Can Learn To Sew!

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...he broke Cosmo. The other ones could in theory be in a non-magically influenced bookshop, but the Cosmo editorial policies wouldn't change that fast on their own?

...he's not sure how to feel about that. Presumably some people liked old Cosmo? On the other hand, less magazines in the form of "you are deeply inadequate in bed: women's edition" is probably good.

If he was an evil publishing corporation, what books would he publish? ...self help. Any ominious purple miasma from the self help section?

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Indeed there is!

Specifically, there is omnious miasma around the productivity books, the diet books, and about twenty percent of the relationship advice books.

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...Sounds about right. Are they all published by the same company, or a mix of companies?

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They are published by various subsidiaries of the same company. 

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That sounds about right. Thanks, Pentex.

Any non-self help miasma?

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Yes! Over here at strategy books about the game Trial for Champions!

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Isn't that a video game? Not sure how a video game could be evil, but apparently.

...gentle poke?

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The most popular game of Rebellion, a Pentex subsidiary, is Trial for Champions. Trial for Champions is deliberately engineered to maximize addictiveness while minimizing fun. Its matching mechanism is designed to maximize players' anger at each other, creating a frankly abusive playing community. The harassment is bad enough without the racism, sexism, and homophobia. Its lootbox mechanics encourage people to spend far more money than they intended to on the game. Their employees are in constant crunch time and are underpaid relative to the industry standard; the burnout rate is immense. 
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Oh, now he remembers! Wen Chao used to play that all the time.

...possibly still does.

And he'd say that it would explain a lot about him, but. Uh. He probably still would be the way he is, though TfC cannot be helping.

Note to self: improve world by ?having sex?  with the ?CEO? in such a way that the ?servers get shut down?

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There is some purple miasma from the newspapers over there! And from the textbooks!

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Poke of the newspapers and textbooks?

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This newspaper runs stories that scare people in order to keep them from doing things they want to do! In particular, it terrifies parents into being helicopter parents so their children don't get to have fun or explore the world, and terrifies women about having casual sex. 

These textbooks were deliberately written to be as boring as possible so that people would think that knowledge is boring and not take pleasure in the world as it is. 

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That tracks, with what he knows about newspapers.

... this is reconceptualising his schooling. (That's the latest editions of his high school maths textbooks. He remembers using them vividly! But not fondly!)

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He has looked at all the purple miasma in the bookstore. 

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He's spent enough time browsing in here that he should really buy something to be polite. But he would like to avoid anything expensive or... evil...

He buys a copy of the broken Cosmo.

Is there any ominous purple miasma in places nearby the bookstore?

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He doesn't get a chance to discover this, because instead someone grabs him from behind and puts a cloth over his face.

It smells of ether. 

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Okay, yep, this seems more traditionally Ordeal-y.

Its hard to struggle to stay conscious and struggle to escape at the same time.

He fails at both.

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He wakes up in a cell with a locked and barred door. 

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First step: he is not looking at the floor. So not looking at the floor. He remembers the instructions.

Second step: it's almost certainly not going to work, but he would feel very silly if he at least did not try the door. ...yep, that's locked.

Third step: check his manual to see if it's updated?

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