Mindblot Condition in Istralar | World Anvil

Mindblot

Ah, the dangers of overindulgence. Such a waste of talent.
— dismayed patron upon discovering the body
  Bards, scholars, and students all know well the benefits of epistolaeris powder, a powerful drug produced from chirophyllon leaves. The drug, which is often combined with other forms of stimulant to increase its beneficial properties, is regularly credited in colloquial discussions as the success behind many great creatives, as its properties invoke powerful mental imagery and the energy boost it is often responsible for will motivate many to reach for a pen or paints to capture what they see under its influence.   Yet there is little discussion of the drug's significant downsides. Mindblot, known more scientfically as epistolaxis agraphia, is a horrific condition that forms as a result of severe abuse of epistolaeris powder. The effects can be mild at first, but due to their mild impact, are more than often ignored until the condition can no longer be cured - much like alcoholism.   Studies of epistolaeris powder by the renowned scholars of Masdarat have recently commenced. Initial preliminary findings suggest that the fatal dose of epistolaeris powder differs between individuals, and that it bears some relation to innate levels of intelligence. The most susceptible are those with weaker constitutions, which by nature renders elves as one of the species most at risk of epistolaxis agraphia upon consuming almost any amount of epistolaeris powder.

Symptoms

I had little reason to suspect that he was under any substance's effects until it was too late, and before he was too far gone, he did reassure me that he had only taken the slightest pinch of powder in the past week. Would that it had been less! A minor boost to his mind, and for what benefit in the end? A gravestone better remembered among his fellows? A name that lingers longer in public memory?
— distraught partner of a deceased writer
  The initial symptoms of mindblot come in vague trickles only easily recognised by the most experienced medical professionals, meaning that they very rarely go noticed. Those who consume their addictive powder enjoy strong creative fits from the initial consumption, but those at risk of falling deep into the pit of mindblot find their hallucinations become far more vivid and travel across all of their senses.  
So deep, in fact, that reality begins to feel pale in comparison - and soon becomes so literally as colours begin to fade from their vision entirely, beginning with the loss of bright greens in most species. However, this does not seem to be related to the photoreceptors in their eyes; tests performed with possession have suggested that the issue with colour is not in seeing the colours but in processing the intake of colour, perhaps correlating with the condition's colloquial name of 'mindblot'.   The hallucinations and lack of colour are but the first signs. As the condition grows worse, so too do the symptoms. Those affected become short-tempered and irrational as they begin to experience sudden onset migraines that rob them of most reasoning, often blinding them or causing them to falter with extreme nausea.   If migraines are experienced, it is almost a certainty that the afflicted individual will never fully recover from their experiences with mindblot, as this indicates long-term brain damage.

Mindblot victim's sight by Hanhula (via Midjourney)

The migraines usually cause a severe lack of spatial awareness in an individual, and this, when paired with the light sensitivity and nausea that accompanies most migraines, prevents mindblot-affected individuals from seeking help for their issues and even from leaving their homes. This is potentially the most deadly issue, as without the ability to call for aid, an individual might succumb to the condition in days.   As the sufferer endures the intense pain and whilst still being wracked with hallucinations - hallucinations which regularly provide them a source of hope and a break from the pain of reality by numbing the pain with other sensations, at that - the condition progresses. They suffer devastating nosebleeds and spontaneous bruises as their blood vessels begin to struggle, much as those with various blood disorders such as haemophilia do.  

Mindblot victim's works by Hanhula (via Midjourney)

Subsequent anaemia exhausts the individual and exacerbates their other symptoms, often tiring them so greatly that they can do little more than lie there and exist in a fugue state of hallucinatory distress.   The final symptom, for which the condition is best-known, is its most confusing, and the sign by which it is understood the individual will not survive. Despite the intense stress placed on the body by the other symptoms, the individual descends into a state of psychotic writing with whatever implements are at hand - most often being their own blood, as formed from the relentless nosebleeds or through the odd wounds forming on their body.   Given a pen and ink, they will use those instead, even if they seem to have little motor control otherwise. In violent, jerking motions, they write with frantic speed in handwriting barely resembling their own in languages they do not speak. These are not half-formed ramblings, but instead are thoughts, sentences, and even stories told in tongues they have no reason to understand or even be aware of.
  No logic has yet been found in these strange writings, nor any reasonable cause for them aside from the brain damage induced by the condition. Studies have begun on the original drugs and plants to determine if a psychic link exists.

Treatment

Lethargy and silence were old friends I greeted gladly in favour of the frantic visions I had become quite fond of.
— recovered individual
  As mentioned, complete treatment of mindblot is only possible up to a certain stage of the affliction's progression. Up to the point of migraines and unseen brain damage, many of the spells used in treating drug exposure also work on mindblot. Spells like alleviate addiction halt the condition's progression whilst in effect to buy more time for medical treatment to take place. Remove disease is capable of nullifying the condition entirely so long as it is caught early enough; its use must be paired with therapy to prevent the subject from re-exposing themselves to the addictive powder again and thus re-igniting mindblot.   The various levels of restorative spells may also aid in slowing the condition's damage, and the significantly more powerful Heal spell is capable of entirely curing an individual should there be a powerful cleric at hand to cast it - even if the individual is in the most deadly stages of the disease. However, permanent damage that has fully set into their mind may not be entirely wiped away with Heal. Current evidence suggests that the subject may retain erratic behaviour and unpredictable writing habits, even in tongues they do not understand, even past the casting of multiple Heal spells.  

Mundane Treatment

  Thus far, no mundane treatment has proved significantly effective in treating mindblot's advanced stages. However, initial treatment is effective in lessening its damage and halting its progression, or even outright curing the affliction so long as help is sought quickly. Antiplague tonics assist in naturally overcoming mindblot's woes, as do many natural healing techniques and medicines. Those affected by migraines will find that existing migraine medication does assist in alleviating their pain, though magical aid must subsequently be sought.   Additionally, there exist many therapy methods that have offered relief to sufferers even in more advanced stages as magical treatment is acquired. Though usually considered barbaric, straitjackets are beneficial in the case of mindblot to prevent the jerking motions associated with the final stage's writing, and other methods of sensory deprivation provide significant mental benefit to the sufferers. Depriving mindblot-affected individuals of as much stimulation as possible seems to drastically slow the condition's progression and allows them to rest in states varying between comatose and meditative as additional aid is sought.   Ultimately, however, mindblot is an affliction brought on by a drug created by magic - it can only be truly cured by magic.
Epistolaeris Powder by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
Scientific name
Epistolaxis agraphia
Type
Chemical Compound
Origin
Magical
Cycle
Chronic, Acquired
Rarity
Uncommon

Case Studies

The best-known case of this state of xenolalic hypergraphia was witnessed in the medical ward of the University of Masdarat, when a human man aged 23, formerly a sculptor famed for his works with marble, descended into a case of mindblot over the course of three months. His final month produced an immense work of writing in six different languages, none of which he had previously registered any understanding of and one of which had long since fallen out of use far before his birth.   Research into his history has yet to reveal any connection with the tongues used, but the works themselves cover topics ranging from medical procedures utilised in childbirth in the country of Vuorenmaa to a set of fictional romantic stories involving multiples characters from a number of popular fantasy series. The man expired partway through a treatise on religious rights and authorities in the Aletheian Empire, a nation he had never seen, after choking on his own blood.
 
Sufferer's desk by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
 

Etymology

The colloquial name of 'mindblot' is derived from the use of the epistolaeris powder it is caused by. As the powder is used to 'open the mind' and induce creativity, the condition resulting from it is seen as a blot on the mind's creative functions. It also relates to the loss of colour vision and comprehensible writings later in the affliction's progression. It is believed to have first been used in the early 5600s as epistolaeris powder began to spread through the world in higher amounts.   The scientific name of 'epistolaxis agraphia' is similar enough in etymology, and was chosen by the College of Medicine at the University of Masdarat. 'Epistolaxis' is considered to be an amalgamation of the words epistolary and epistaxis, combining two of the condition's most iconic indicators. 'Agraphia' indicates the intense loss of energy associated with anaemia and migraines experienced by advanced sufferers, initially established in the name before the xenolalic hypergraphia was properly studied or understood.
 
Restrained patient by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
If there would be treatment for this most vile affliction that was worth making without the involvement of magic, its creator would be rich in those circles dependent on these drugs, and our society would suffer for it. The rarity of the magics that cure it, and their costs, prevent our society from suffering a dependency on substances.   Tis a shame about those who die, but they are almost certainly aware of the risks.
— Shiari university lecturer, speaking anonymously


Cover image: Mindblot cover by Hanhula (via Midjourney)

Comments

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Dec 3, 2022 16:49 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

I really love the idea behind this condition! <3 The etymology is very nice and the name is just perfect! And it was fun to see the example of different victims and the list of all that they've created under the influence of the disease. It must be really hard to resist the temptation of trying a little powder to get some inspiration... And it does sounds as if something is trying to speak through them, with all those visions and dead languages... But then why would that thing want to write fanfiction of popular fantasy books? XD

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Dec 3, 2022 17:12 by Aster Blackwell

I agree that it seems like there's something else going on! I wonder if you would find anything if you compared all of the writings of afflicted individuals to each other.

Jan 1, 2023 13:14 by Han

Veeery possibly... ;) That's a mystery for my players in my second game to find out. After all, it's in a university setting...


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Dec 3, 2022 17:11 by Aster Blackwell

The case study on the sidebar was chilling. I love this article, it's both terrifying and fascinating.

Jan 1, 2023 13:14 by Han

Thank you so much! I had a lot of fun with this one, and major props to Cato for the conditions challenge in the first place.


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Dec 4, 2022 05:56 by Deleyna Marr

Absolutely terrifying. But I can definitely see how there would be a temptation to try it, especially during World Ember!

Deleyna
Jan 1, 2023 13:15 by Han

Right? Who wouldn't want to try something THIS useful? ...I mean, if you're careful, surely the risk isn't thaat high...


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Dec 6, 2022 23:13 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Terrifying and detailed - I love it. :) I really enjoyed the section on etymology!

Jan 1, 2023 13:16 by Han

Thank you! I should really include the etymology section in more articles - virtually all of them have some fun links to IRL language, but I always forget to mention it. (See: the entire rest of my WE, where I forgot to do this.)


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Dec 9, 2022 18:03

Woah, a terrifying descent into madness!

Jan 1, 2023 13:16 by Han

Ehehe. Thank you! Be careful when taking writing-assisting substances! ;)


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Dec 30, 2022 11:57

This is amazing! I love the idea behind this and how it devolves. Really creative.

Orlos, a planet in perpetual balance.
Jan 1, 2023 13:17 by Han

Thank you so much! Definitely thanks to the symptoms in Cato's condition challenge.


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Jan 7, 2023 18:54 by Fall

A refreshing take on the classical artist's drug, epistolaeris powder, its effects and subsequent side effects are presented to us with amazing art and wonderfully inspiring writing. Great job Hanhula!   P.s. I've featured this article in my New Year's Resolutions article <3

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Jan 20, 2023 06:53 by Polina "Line" Arteev

Thanks for letting me read your article on stream! ❤   This article is so beautiful and full of detail, and I really appreciate the way you approached this condition from practically every angle, all the way down to the etymology. Really loved reading it! :D


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Jan 26, 2023 12:43

Hi ! I only discovered this article now, and I really liked it. Your art and CSS is on point, and the description of this condition was fascinating: a decent mix of some discussion of addiciton, with a supernatural and frightening twist.   Congrats for this piece!

With love,   Pouaseuille.