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The Prestige: Arcana Discordia

Playing the game of life with marked decks and loaded dice...

“Shoot into the air above us,” Isla commanded. The others turned to her, baffled that she could waste ammunition. Their enemy neared with every passing moment. They were surrounded.   "Why?" Damon asked.   "I want to see what happens." Isla replied. "Besides, they can conjure barriers. It's a waste of bullets either way."   The enemy rushed from the treeline, men and women dressed in red robes and armed with whatever they could find. Some held shards of glass in bleeding hands, others came with chains and lead pipes. Others fired their guns till running out of ammunition, only to pull curved blades from their robes.   “Do it,” Isla warned. “What's the worst that could happen?”    “Shoot into the sky?” Damon asked. “Shouldn't we shoot at the actual threat, Ms. Walker?”   "Are you not?” Isla replied. She aimed her rifle to the sky, and pulled the trigger. The others followed suit, emptying their weapons in a burst of deafening sound.   Tyler aimed, fired, and felt the kick against his shoulder. The bullets raced into the sky until the sounds of empty magazines clicked randomly all around them. Despite this, Isla and Tyler continued to fire. The heat built up in the barrel, glowing red-hot from sustained fire. Tyler wondered why he hadn't run out yet.   Click.   The moment Tyler asked, the gun answered. Tyler had a sneaking suspicion that it was his fault, like the very act of questioning it made it so. Isla's never stopped. Even as the cultists were near enough to be seen, it was Isla who decided when enough was enough. 
Bear with me, dear reader. Lets have a little thought experiment before we begin.
I'm thinking of 10 numbers between 1 and 100. It is one of the most random, most unlikely sequences.
Can you guess it?

Look at that answer... Do you feel cheated? Do you feel like the punchline to my joke? That feeling is why so many share resentment for the discordians. They feel like discordians get to break rules, when in reality, no rules were ever established in the first place. If you put a music playlist on shuffle, you'll be surprised to find it isn't actually random. There are rules on whether a song can repeat itself and whether the same artist can play again. These rules give the illusion of randomness, and the discordians know this. They exploit it and do so with every opportunity and hilarity ensues.


To Be The Exception

Arcana Discordia isn't just a genre of The Prestige. It is part philosophy, part lifestyle, and in some cases part religion. The Prestige is only one of many terrible wonders in The Web. The Discordians are the only ones who can wield this strange gift. This genre can only be gained by those who are receptive to it. While it still requires the rite, you have to die during the rite, pass the tests at The House of Cards, and then be taught by another discordian. This all assumes your lucky enough to understand its metaphorical nonsense, accepting a life where everything is a riddle. This lets you gamble with fate. You follow every gut feeling, and believe wholeheartedly in a simple truth: there is no such thing as coincidence.

Those who practice often lose themselves in the flap of a butterfly's wings. They stare, trying to follow the minute change in the air just to see where it goes and what may happen. While others would turn and run from an oncoming storm, these select few are the ones moving toward it. The Candlelight makes them more than curious. The desire to know is certainly present, but theirs is an instinctive drive to action and a need to observe. It is a desperate urge to peak within Pandora's Box. It's not to know what's inside the box, but to observe the result of releasing it.

The Discordians operate in systems, gathering information and making changes until they know exactly how to get the results they want. This would be impossible without Arcana Discordia. The genre grants them control no one else could have. It allows them to play the game of life with marked decks and loaded dice. Most who use the prestige don't even consider it a genre. The abstract concepts are a discouraging factor to many in the world and others refuse to accept that anything good can come from tempting fate.

Paradigm Shift

Chaos is one of many arcane genres that come with religious connotations attached to it. Chaos is a pantheon filled with black sheep. These metaphysical beings are active in the lives of those who hear them, even though it breaks the rules. Masters of the genre love their dark deities, but they hold no true religious traditions. Instead, they borrow from other systems of belief. Discordians shift their beliefs to what serves them best in a given scenario. They shift their paradigms and test their beliefs from every angle. They gain benefits from these faiths as anyone would, for their belief is genuine and every prayer given with an honest heart and a sound mind. Those who master the genre can "steal" benefits that cultists and clergy have access to including powers, use of relics, and a host of miracles. They do so with no strings attached.

While not all metaphysical entities are "gods," many see themselves as such. They find discordians irritating, able to get out of even the most well phrased contracts and oaths. They leave well enough alone, however. Lady Luck is protective of her flock, and she can be a cruel, vindictive sort of woman. No matter how irritating discordians are, things always seem to go their way. Like a toddler throwing a tantrum at a grocery store, discordians seek to force odds into their favor.

The Value Of X And Y

by Pxfuel

At their heart, discordians are explorers seeking to understand cause and effect on an unprecedented scale. Imagine having the ability to alter the course of history in a nation of city states by simply throwing an apple at a wedding. The reason for this lies in the systems they exploit. Their time is spent gathering data, filling in every variable until the system is perfected. They want to control the way things happen and determine how, when, and why they happen. They set the wheels in motion and observe. If it works, they learned something. If it doesn't, they learned even more.

The Drunkard's Waltz

Discordians don't care for traditional methods of fighting. While there are many situations that occur where they are forced to actually aim their gun before fireing or show they have skill in melee combat, it is usually not as preferable to simply letting go and let chaos take over in what they call The Drunkard's Waltz. They stumble onto a battlefield, bullets racing by them. They use their command of luck, winning a fight and protecting allies merely by being present in the encounter. They are seen fumbling around during a fight. They kick things over, rearrange furniture, and break cookware, changing various conditions in their environment.

They may fall over, intoxicated by the power luck provides. The discordian then watches as events unfold before them. Their enemy may trip over a lamp, have their knees knocked out from under them on a table, and fall face-first into a pile of broken glass. It seems planned, but in reality, the results are just as surprising to the discordian as it is to their unfortunate test subject. Discordians dont control their gifts.

A discordian gives themselves over entirely to chaos, often not being in direct control over specific movements of their own body. Such things may appear silly, but no one will be laughing. While all this is happening, discordians cast various spells that have brutal effects of their own, turning a hilarious display of drunkenness to an intimidating feat of reckless action.

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Articles under The Prestige: Arcana Discordia

Cover image: by David Clode


Author's Notes

When I first wrote Arcana Discordia for Expedition Demeter, I was astonished how well it was recieved. Now that im working on The Prestige, I figured this would be the first genre to convert over to The Web. I put a lot of my own personal life into this article, and the theorems. Just with dates, very few people in my family were not born on or within a week of a major holiday. Mom on new year's day, dad on Halloween, cousin on Christmas eve, the list goes on. Both of my sons were born on the same day. My grandmother is notorious for winning casino jackpots, and the lottery. A week after she won a couple million, I played the first time ever and won 24 dollars, I was 24 years old. Coincidental weirdness is part of my family culture. These weird facts are, of course, just coincidence, but they make for a wonderful story. While much of what is on this article is new, alot has been copied from Expedition Demeter, particularly with the theorems. I wanted to maintain the theme of The Web throughout the series of articles. Synchronicity, along with chaos magick, chaos theory and quantum mechanics [which I butcher for the sake of fiction here] are all major inspirations. I actually have the apple of discord tattooed on my arm, as it's my favorite myth of all time and I love telling the story. I hope you like my article and thank you for sharing a little slice of me.

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Sage Timepool
Garrett Grace Lewis
29 Mar, 2020 17:33

Luck is always a fun power to play with! I've even got a whole ethnicity influenced by it in Qet! I like the chaotic edge you've given the Discordians and their powers. The quoted bits definitely help flavor things as well!

R. Dylon Elder
30 Mar, 2020 14:10

Thanks so much man! Gonna spot u back on these comments today. I love the idea of luck as a power. I ought to look at that ethnicity, sounds interesting!

Sage Timepool
Garrett Grace Lewis
30 Mar, 2020 16:39

They're the Coulqepluex (and by extension, their nation, Rektouzk) which you've already liked (and I would hope read before doing so) in the past! Blue guys with the arm spikes.

R. Dylon Elder
30 Mar, 2020 16:52

O.o I do not recall... hmmmm, I doubt I didn't read it. I skim every article I like, though admittedly, can't always read in depth, especially nowadays. Sorry if I gave that impression :( I likely forgot. Gonna rectify.

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