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One of the first things asked by people catching their first glimpse of the Funky Horror is usually "What on Earth is that!?" After the awe, however, usually comes the inevitable "What's that funny pod thing on the lower ring?"

The "funny pod thing" is, in fact, a state-of-the-art (Board art, so really very advanced indeed) artificial environment. Using techniques gained from dozens of mundane domed environments, and the Board's own applied knowledge of self-contained habitats, they have constructed a perfectly stable generic medium, suspended in an ultraclean vacuum. Using a fractional eddy from the mighty Reality Control Array below, they can manipulate it to produce all manner of conditions within. Boardies call it their "scale model of the world", and while it doesn't always host combat trials, having many other uses (simulations, tests, scientific or magical experimentation, etc), so-called "war threads" are currently the main customers.

"Warthreading" is a term whose origins are obscure – the practice of challenging others to mock, or even real, trial-by-combat is deeply rooted in Board tradition. Live-fire exercises have an obvious use in training, and while casual or recreational combat/games can take on all kinds of bizarre forms, formal duels can be deadly serious matters. Deathmatches are officially verboten, but the controlled environment of the pod (and Board medical wondertech) can render even crippling injuries nonfatal.

Drama aside, not all duels involve combat – poetry contests, drama competitions, and even "art exhibitions" (employing the malleable environment to sculpt aesthetic forms) are not uncommon. Even the actual wars are usually relaxed affairs (training exercises are another matter, of course), taking the form of cartoonish mock battles or historical re-enactments. Informal teams are common throughout the Board, and the games of a stationwide league are regularly broadcast on internal channels. Oldbies disdainfully note that younger Boardies have a bad tendency to assume the real world will behave to war thread standards, endangering themselves and others.

For all the utility of the technology, there are drawbacks. When not given a signal to form an environment, the medium defaults to a disquietingly organic white paste. This paste is highly dangerous, being laced with self-replicating nanostats and impurity-removing immunity agents - hence the need for a layer of vacuum. M-Div mages note, with a hint of unease, that the goo seems to have some form of proto-soul, like an amoeba or bacterium. Some Boardies wonder just what High Command are up to, experimenting with different environments so close to the huge RCA, itself capable of warping the fabric of reality systemwide...

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