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Soul Touched

"No! Not my child. This will pass - it will pass! She isn't Soul Touched, not - not yet!"
- An aggrieved father at a physician's diagnosis
  Regarded as something of a catch-all for inexplicable or incurable illnesses, 'Soul Touched' refers to any patient exhibiting signs of listlessness, fatigue, dramatic lack of appetite, pain without source, or general malaise. It is believed to be a kind of illness or injury not to the body, but the soul beneath.   To be 'Soul Touched' is not something that can be transmitted to another, nor is it guaranteed a parent will pass it on to their children. There are as many theories as there are storytellers as to the 'why' of the condition, with several smaller medical circles debating whether it is one condition, or many.   What is regarded as common knowledge is that some people are simply born Soul Touched. Others become that way, sometimes with an inciting incident or accident, others for no obvious reason at all. The condition shows no pox-sign nor blood marks. Physicians and Mages alike can find no cure to the ailment. For many, to be labeled Soul Touched is to be declared beyond saving.   Common theories as to why specific individuals suffer the condition while others do not range from the soul attempting to leave the body, to the wrath of The Stone Man, to afflictions of various organs. One region recommends dietary changes; another, fervent prayer.   Oftentimes, those afflicted will commit themselves to a lifetime of scholarship or solitude. As it is perhaps 1 in every 200-300 who will show symptoms in their lifetime, the condition is considered a tragedy when it strikes, and rarely as a threat.  

Transmission/Vectors

While no true transmission vectors have been verified, common beliefs with regard to the condition being catching fall into one of three categories.   1. Divine Transmission - a surprisingly common belief, that one afflicted has somehow invoked a god's anger (usually the Stone Man) or else their mercy (Again, typically the Stone Man) and by associating with the afflicted individual, one may fall to the same fate.   2. Vermin - Since it is known that various diseases can be carried by animals and insects, a common household pest is a convenient scapegoat. The exact pest varies from flies to lice to mice.   3. Touch - Though most in this category acknowledge it is more complex than a simple game of stop-tag, the thought that touching either an afflicted person or something they've touched routinely will pass on the condition does persist.  

Cause

As with much of this disease - there is no known specific cause. Public opinion favors Divine Retribution or accident of the soul, while some scholars and theologians insist it has a physical cause. Given similar symptoms appear in the elderly or terminally ill, it is thought that the illness reflects a distant call beginning to take up the soul's attention. Namely, the call of the winds, or death.   Some individuals are born Soul Touched, and in this line of thinking, are explained by near miscarriages or difficult births. For those who exhibit symptoms later in life, public opinion will either determine a causing factor (such as a recent severe illness or blasphemy) or put it down to the soul wearing out more quickly. That the condition does not herald death seems to be irrelevant.  

Treatment

Prescribed treatments for the condition vary dependent on the diagnosing physician's beliefs. Some patients are encouraged to spend their waking hours in fervent prayer, or dedicate themselves to a god's service in the hopes of gaining their aid. Some still attempt new concoctions or medicines, with varying degrees of success. More still encourage patients to simply try and find their joy at life again.   The treatments with the most success are those that combine multiple approaches. Recently, a treatment approach published by Lady Mari, Sensory Stimulation, has begun to circulate in groups related to the Soul Touched. Whether it will be adapted widescale or not is yet to be seen.
Type
Physiological
Cycle
Chronic, Acquired & Congenital
Rarity
Rare

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Cover image: by Zac Cain

Comments

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8 Jul, 2021 15:09

I absolutely love this.

8 Jul, 2021 23:58

I loved the image, except when I got to the dripping wax catcher, I was thrown off by it's obviously modern printing on it. Consider "blurring" it out with something like Gimp perhaps.   "Regarded as something as a catch-all", I think the phrase is something 'of' a catch-all.   "dramatic lack of appetite" A lack of appetite is rarely 'dramatic'. 'Sudden' maybe, but even then I would just leave off the adjective as you don't use adjectives for the other conditions, and it isn't necessary/doesnt' add to it.   "a kind of illness or injury" consider "an assault" instead since you don't even know if it is an illness or injury. Either way, comma after injury or assault (if you use my suggestion).   "To be 'Soul Touched' is not something that can be transmitted to another..." It is more concise to simply say, "The 'Soul Touched' condition is neither transmissible nor inheritable." However, it appears as if you allow for it to rarely be genetic. If so, then try this, "The 'Soul Touched" condition is not transmissible and has an extremely low chance of being inherited.   "There are as many theories as there are storytellers as to the 'why' of the condition, with several smaller medical circles debating whether it is one condition, or many." This is a run on sentence. You are discussing two things, the why and the what with no obvious connection. I would consider breaking it into two sentences. Also, the what part should be combined with the first paragrah that discusses the what.   Then the second paragraph can focus on the why. So for the why, 'Since it is not transmissible nor inheritable, no one knows how a person develops the condition. There are as many theories as there are storytellors.' or something like that.   "What is regarded as common knowledge" Clunky phrasing. Consider just simply saying, "As a result (re: the above paragraphs), most people believe that some are simply born 'Soul Touched'. Also, be consistent about your use single quotes around the disease name. Further, diseases aren't usually captialized nor have single quotes around them. Unless you plan to keep that consistently through your world, it is easier not to here.   Ok, so I finished that sentence starting "What is regarded..." AND, I don't like it. So what is regarded as common knowledge is that it can be caused by anything. That's just...not useful information. Have "common knowledge" be something generally specific about it, not a laundry list of everything, even if that generally specific is not actually true.   "The condition shows no pox-sign nor blood marks" You discussed symptons in the first paragraph. Keep this with that, even though it is an absent symptom. Also, why do we need to know what it doesn't show? I mean, that's a long list, right? So unless what it doesn't show is relevant, it is not necessary.   "Physicians and Mages alike can find no cure to the ailment. For many, to be labeled Soul Touched is to be declared beyond saving." Ok, this really is what this paragraph should be about. So, to expand upon it, talk a little about how they've gone about it. Expand on the efforts, failures, setback...something here to show how difficult it has been to find one.   "Common theories as to why specific individuals suffer the condition while others do not range from the soul attempting to leave the body, to the wrath of The Stone Man, to afflictions of various organs. One region recommends dietary changes; another, fervent prayer." Ok, back to common theories as to the why. Keep this with the other why in the above paragraph. The last sentence, "One region" belongs with the cure paragraph.   Question, do all these theories hinder finding a cure? Do they lead to quackery and false cure claims that desperate people flock to? If so, add that.   "Oftentimes, those afflicted will commit themselves to a lifetime of scholarship or solitude. As it is perhaps 1 in every 200-300 who will show symptoms in their lifetime, the condition is considered a tragedy when it strikes, and rarely as a threat." Ok, a lot going on here. Why do they commit themselves to a lifetime of scholarship or solitude? Might be interesting to explore that. The 1 in every 2-300 belongs with the transmission paragraph, if at all. Because you can say the same with rare. Not sure why you need the number. Why would this condition that is not transmissible ever even be considered a threat? I'm not feeling it. It is not transmissible. It doesn't even seem to be fatal. So, I'm not getting any feeling of threat here.   Note on the sections below. Why don't you just put the information in the paragraphs above with their associated sections below. It's weird to go from transmission to cause to cure, to only do the same thing. The intro stuff can be instead about symptons, affect on a person's life, affect on society...I feel like I don't want to read the sections since I have already read it in the intro.   Transmission/Vectors "While no true transmission vectors have been verified, common beliefs with regard to the condition being catching fall into one of three categories."   Ok, earlier you say with conviction that it is not transmissible. Here you leave it in doubt. Keep with the conviction and talk about how these beliefs have arisen as a result of so little information (and perhaps a whole lot of superstition)? I dunno, not sure I'm happy with that either. Basically, I felt "While no true transmission vectors have been verified" was weird and you need to make sure you are consistent with whatever you say about transmission in the previous paragrah, and then make sure it we understand that despite that, beleifs have arisen.   "1. Divine Transmission - a surprisingly common belief, " Hmm, maybe I just don't know your world, but why is this surprising? If it would normally be obvious, that's fine. else....meh I am not comfortable, but again, maybe it is because I just don't know your world. Also, it would be better to use a colon or a hyphen after belief. Creates a strong pause and makes it read easier.   "or else their mercy" consider deleting 'else'.   "that one afflicted has somehow invoked a god's anger (usually the Stone Man) or else their mercy (Again, typically the Stone Man) and by associating with the afflicted individual, one may fall to the same fate." Ok, again, this feels strange. It sounds like it is two seperate thoughts. Are these people therefore shunned? What is the impact of this belief?   "of stop-tag" is stop-tag a thing in your world? Ok if it is, I just don't know.   "will pass on the condition does persist." exist will be better. Persist would indicate effort has been made to kill this thought, and you don't talk about that.   Cause "As with much of this disease - there is no known specific cause." Try, "As with other aspects of this disease - there is little known about the cause"   " Given similar symptoms appear in the elderly or terminally ill, it is thought that the illness reflects a distant call beginning to take up the soul's attention. Namely, the call of the winds, or death." Me likey! But to be born with it would make this belief weird.   "Some individuals are born Soul Touched, and in this line of thinking, are explained by near miscarriages or difficult births. " Consider rewording, "The birth of soul touched individuals is often attributed to difficult births or near miscarriages." By the way, how DOES one detect this disease in newborns when the sypmtoms are not physically obvious. That would be something to consider.   "public opinion will either determine a causing factor (such as a recent severe illness or blasphemy) or put it down to the soul wearing out more quickly." this should be reworded. I've never heard "public opinon" determining the cause of someone's illness.   "and find their joy at life again" Hmm, you never discuss the impact to a person except to say scholar and solitude. So this seems non-sequitor. It would be great to have a discussion about the impact on a person, society, and their role in it.