In the supernatural plane of existence known as The Exhibition, time appears frozen - nothing is moving, falling objects are suspended motionless, the works. In addition to this, while outside visitors and their belongings move as normal, the inertia of native matter is 100x, maybe even 1000x what it normally is, which means that anything of much mass at all is impossible to budge, you can walk on water like it's stone, etc.

You can, with difficulty, move a feather that was floating in the air, and wherever you managed to move it to, it would remain suspended there. If you succeeded in putting the feather in your pocket, it would be very hard to walk away, as it would probably tear the pocket loose from your clothing and remain where it was in space.

There are some very good reasons to want to explore The Exhibition, which otherwise resembles a medieval realm. However, particulates in the air cause big problems. Water droplets from fog, or dust in a dusty room, even pollen, all accumulate on your clothing and hair and in your lungs and increasingly bog you down. This can be fatal! The modern-day solution would be a protective suit like this dry suit. It would still be hard to move through particulate-heavy air (would feel like wading through water or mud), but it would at least all slide off of you so it wouldn't get worse over time.

How can the canny explorers in my setting visit this place as safely as possible? Their base is a medieval fantasy world, though I'll take any technology plausible up through the Renaissance. There's magic in this setting too, but I'm looking for a mostly or entirely non-magical solution.

It doesn't have to be perfect, just better than nothing, and the less cumbersome the better. Lotus leaves might be a good start, but I fear that fashioning them into clothing would be prone to failure (holes made from stitching would tear when you started moving, etc). Maybe they could be layered overlapping on top of an undersuit with some kind of pitch or glue? But if the glue remained wet it would attract particulates, and if the glue hardened, it may become inflexible.

(Although I'm not aiming for hard-science plausible physics here, any tangents about other effects of this high-inertia plane are welcome, though I might ask another question about that.)

Update: Assume that gases aren't subject to this extra-inertia effect, only liquids and solids. So, in the absence of solid particulates, air pressure and breathing work as normal.

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    $\begingroup$ Breathing will be the killer. Unless you bring your own air supply - very difficult at the tech level you specify - your lungs will not function if it takes 100 - 1000 times as much effort to inhale or exhale. Particulates in the air are irrelevant when the air itself is effectively toxic. $\endgroup$ Jul 22, 2018 at 1:52
  • $\begingroup$ Good point. Well air itself shouldn't be toxic - if devoid of any heavy particulates (could be ensured by breathing through right kind of cloth) then the only mass you deal with is the mass of gases in air itself. It's not clear if air pressure would be 100 - 1000x higher (which would be fatal of course), as things aren't heavier, just harder to move. (Physically speaking maybe these are the same, but there's hand-waving at play here.) But I guess when breathing in, lower air pressure in your lungs would have a hard time pulling air in... will update question to exclude gases from this. $\endgroup$
    – tobek
    Jul 22, 2018 at 2:03
  • $\begingroup$ Is "belomagngings" a word that you intentionally used? $\endgroup$
    – ShadoCat
    Jul 22, 2018 at 2:56
  • $\begingroup$ Hahahaha I wish! I have fixed the bizarre typo thanks. $\endgroup$
    – tobek
    Jul 22, 2018 at 3:13
  • $\begingroup$ Is there sunlight/will foreign matter brought into the Exhibition change at all? $\endgroup$
    – Marbrand
    Jul 25, 2018 at 3:26

4 Answers 4


A set of good plate armor from the middle ages would work. The main thing is that the front pieces should all be angled back from the center. This would deflect the particles to the side rather than accumulate them. The helm doesn't even need to be very complicated. So long as the breathing openings are on the sides or bottom of the helmet, the dust will be deflected from the air they breath.

The main sticking point will be vision. If they can use quartz eye pieces, great. Otherwise, they will have to look down through overlapping slits to prevent forward motion from driving particles into the eyes. Every so often they would have to stop and either lean back so they can see ahead or raise their face shield to get a good look. Then it's back to watching the ground at their feet through the slits.

They may have to clean the front of the armor every so often lest they accumulate enough junk to make it very hard to move. This can be done easily by taking a step back and then going around the floating pile of junk.

Well traveled routs will have the junk pushed to the side already.

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    $\begingroup$ That's a good point about well-traveled routes! Now that you mention that, and angled armor, pushing an angled tower shield in front of you while walking would clear a path. Though some situations would require more versatility, in which case plate armor would do pretty well, being generally angled to deflect things away away. I'd worry about some flutes/ridges/joints collecting stuff, especially like water or snow, but a specially designed suit could be shaped to minimize that. $\endgroup$
    – tobek
    Jul 22, 2018 at 3:25
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    $\begingroup$ @tobek, I didn't think that water would be a problem. I assumed that the time stop effect would prevent someone from breaking the surface tension of the droplets and that they would act as any other particulate. $\endgroup$
    – ShadoCat
    Jul 23, 2018 at 5:06
  • $\begingroup$ that's also a good point, you're right. Water droplets might still get caught in crevices, but they'd probably roll off more easily than other particulates like pollen. I mean, it may be that if one worked out all of the physical ramifications of this effect, that even "sticky" stuff like pollen wouldn't behave as normal. Actually on second thought they might, I think they have tiny spines and ridges, which wouldn't have to move in order for them to get stuck in the normal matter of your clothing. Unless it's plate armor. $\endgroup$
    – tobek
    Jul 24, 2018 at 12:53
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    $\begingroup$ @tobek, that's the reason for a hard surface like plate armor. The tower shield would work well also. Maybe reserve the plate armor for the upper class and let the workers slog behind the shields. They might be able to angle the shields and snow plow the particles out of the way. $\endgroup$
    – ShadoCat
    Jul 24, 2018 at 23:09

Beeswax Cloth

People have been adding oils and bees wax to clothing (coats, cloaks, frocks etc) to make it shed water for ages.

Your explorers could take this technology and apply it to several thin cloaks made of fine hemp or cotton. Wear each cloak like a wrapper, or bring spares with you in a pack. When the outer cloak gets too laden, simply shed it and continue on.

Here is a link to a home recreation post on making a “cling-wrap” equivalent out of cloth, wax and oil. enter image description here


The skin of sharks or rays would provide material for a lighter and cheaper armor. Or the adventurers could span shark skin on a light wooden frame to make a shield / plow.

They have to keep the orientation of the skin. Particles slide smoothly from the snout of the shark to the tail, but are hindered in any other direction.

Please note that the processing of shark skin is quite complicated. Knifes to cut the skin become dull extremely fast, to sew you would need to use senews or similar strong material.


If air works as normal, the armor thing would work.

How large are the portals into The Exhibition? How long do they last?

Because people are lazy, and if you could for example bring a large metal shield and hook it up to a couple of oxen and have them plow a path for you - profit. Oxen are strong, and if they accumulate too much particulate you just get new oxen. They are cheaper than new explorer people.

Or, instead of thinking of the water vapor as heavy water vapor, think of it as a slightly solid wall. Heck, you could just climb over it if you wanted, right? If you needed to clear an area, bring a big sheet of metal and a lot of weights, put it on top and push it to the ground.

Then you don't need really bulky suits except for specialist stuff.

  • $\begingroup$ Portals vary in size and duration depending on skill and sacrifice of their creator, but yeah large portals for a while are possible so the oxen approach (ploughing the muck away!) is excellent. Climbing over would be very interesting. $\endgroup$
    – tobek
    Jul 24, 2018 at 20:45

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