The Zonehopper's Guide to the Perception Range

ENTRY A: It's Alright to Panic.

Hi there! If you're reading this, you're probably at about the same point I was reaching roughly a year ago, pretending for a moment that time is for real. I guess it is, from your perspective. Like me, you're probably noticing some new things about the world that don't seem to add up - things that you suddenly realize were always there, but that your mind glossed over or interpreted so differently that they were effectively invisible. Maybe you suddenly noticed there were a lot more colors than you remembered, or an extra number somehow between three and four, or that geese were never birds of any kind, in which case I probably don't have to tell you that they can't be trusted.

Maybe you've seen more than that. Maybe you've seen something reach out of an angle you didn't think was possible and pluck somebody's head off, and everyone else just carried on like they weren't obviously stepping around a decapitated corpse.

A decapitated corpse that might have gotten up, dusted itself off and floated straight into the sky like a headless Mary Poppins.

Yeah, I've seen it all.

But no, you're not alone. Not by a long shot. You've just started what they call "branchination," and the short version is, you're starting to perceive things the way they always were - or at least, the way they always could have been for you, specifically, which is every bit as real as they are for me or your neighbors or your dog, even when our realities clearly contradict with one zhgfont.

I'm probably going too fast, here. Let me see if I can put it some other way.

Imagine an online game. Statistically, you're probably familiar enough with the concept. Everyone is logged into the same game, but they've all got access to different content. They've all got their own set of modifications. Maybe to you, your character looks like a rabbit and your friend looks like a goose, but to your friend, you're both robots. What version of the game is the most "true?"

You probably want to say "the unmodified one. The original." But picture this: there never was one. The game never existed in any form until all these personalized versions came into being, and none of the players even realize they're collectively generating this entire virtual world themselves. Everyone's experience is equally real and unreal.

So, with that in mind, imagine this game is also running on an infinite number of servers, all slightly different, and you're logged into dozens of them at the same time. All their content is overlaid into just one seamless world, from your perspective, and you can log in and out of servers to adjust what you can see and interact with. Your friends are all logged into different sets of these servers at different times, but as long as they're logged into at least one of the same servers you're playing on, you exist for one zhgfont and can see some, but not all, of the same NPC's, environments and items.

This is sort of, kind of, more or less, imprecisely how reality really works, or at least the slice of reality we occupy, which is properly referred to as The Perception Range. The "servers" are called "layers," and the "players" are usually called "perceptoids." As for the game world itself...that's basically what we call a "zone," and if you travel far enough through the layers, you'll eventually hit an entirely different zone; a different game of a different genre.

Does this sound like one big trainwreck? Like it'd be an incomprehensible mess? Yeah. Pretty much. On some of those layers your car is an inanimate, inorganic machine originally invented in the 1880's and assembled in a factory before you bought it as a transportation device. On other layers, it gestated in the womb of an automobile broodmother, found you in the bottom of a cereal box and installed you as a plug-in nervous system optimizer. It isn't even proper to call these two scenarios different "versions." They are literally the exact same car, simultaneously. All that can change is which layer of which zone you're perceiving it in.

I've branched out through a lot of layers and a lot of zones since I began. There's a lot of stuff you're almost bound to run into sooner or later, and a lot of stuff we all tend to experience when our higher perception is just starting to bloom. I've left a lot of notes in a lot of layers you might find useful, but bear in mind that your experience may yet differ.

Stay away from geese, though.

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