fugue

From the BBC, Why do men go missing?

“They are not missing to themselves. It is only the people who are left behind who see them as missing”, he says.

“There is a small group of people who go missing for a week or two and then reappear not being able to remember what happened. That’s often because of work stress.”

The US medical encyclopaedia, the Merck Manual, describes dissociative fugue as “a disorder in which one or more episodes of sudden, unexpected, and purposeful travel from home (fugue) occur, during which a person cannot remember some or all of his past life”.

Continuing my current trend of grabbing news headlines and turning them into story backgrounds, I consider fugue to be compelling.

In the world I see – you are stalking elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center. You’ll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life. You’ll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Tower. And when you look down, you’ll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying strips of venison on the empty car pool lane of some abandoned superhighway. – Tyler Durden, Fight Club

Thoughout the evolution of humanity, there have been men and women of great stature. They became our leaders, survivors and martyrs. Most of the time they are normal members of society, living out their lives in quiet anonymity. It is only in these times of adversity, when others look for someone to lead, to save them, to die for them – that they step to the fore. Afterwards, they cannot explain their activities, as if they were acting under the control of a higher power.

This is the Fugue.

While gripped by the Fugue, a person’s perceptions are altered. Often they are able to see things with astounding clarity and sense the right thing to do. They may be gifted with extraordinary abilities by the Fugue and feel drawn to dealing with the event which caused it.

If they are unable to resolve the cause of the Fugue Event, either through inaction or failure, then it is possible they may never recover from the Fugue and may continue to live apart, still not cognisant of their real name, the identities of their family or their calling in life. Sometimes, after years, the fugue may subside and they may find themselves separated months or even years from their previous life, as if plucked through time to the future.

Fugue can be played in two ways.

  1. One-off: you are handed pre-generated normal people who will imminently be involved in a Fugue Event. Once handed their Event cards, they will be told which way to act, what abilities they know about and if the GM is feeling nice, the resolution clause for the Fugue Event. The Resolution Clause may be omitted to give a more “Quantum Leap” feel.
  2. Campaign: we take a step back and adopt a more “Nephilim” or “Quantum Leap” look at things where there is an outside force, played by the players, which makes the individual act out of the ordinary. The outside force as well as the normal people must be generated. The player, however, looks after the outside force as a heroic archetype. At the start of every session the player will be given his current normal person to play and must wait until the appropriate time before he can access his heroic archetype. A GM could be cruel and demand that there are preconditions for activation: situations, sights, triggered memories, keywords

This kind of reminds me of Miracleman, the absolutely fabulous superhero serial by Alan Moore. If you haven’t read it, stop right now and go and read it.

It would be possible to run Fugue with the same normals every time but there would have to be reasons why anyone would be in these situations day after day.

Suggested abilities:

Senses – enhanced senses or extrasensory perception
Strength – capable of lifting five, ten maybe fifty times normal…
Speed – maybe someone can move at double, triple or much faster than expected.
Healing – can heal a horrific injury, cure a disease..

Use of abilities:

These abilities should not be “always on” but should be summoned.To simulate this in the game, allocate the players a number of Fugue points with their Fugue Event card. Each point can be used to summon the Fugue ability for a scene (think no more than 3 panels in a comic).

System:
Oh it really doesn’t matter. I’d use either ERIS or SNCC for this. SNCC would seem to fit better because it doesn’t have Strength statistics and so it’s much easier to fluff it.

What do you think?

About matt

Gamer. Writer. Dad. Serial Ex-husband. Creator of The 23rd Letter, SpaceNinjaCyberCrisis XDO, ZOMBI, Testament, Creed. Slightly megalomaniac
This entry was posted in Commentary, Game Design. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to fugue

  1. aidan says:

    Perspective is funny. You think this would make a good game – I see it making a good movie. Anyway, putting on my gamer hat (dusty old thing), this would be a fun one-shot game but I’m not sure I’d want to play it as part of a long campaign.

    It would also make for a great scenario or recurring character in an X-Files style game.

  2. matt says:

    I do see it in a cinematic perspective. I think a series of shorts not unlike the Twilight Zone could do it well. For a longer game – what makes these people different? Why does the fugue return?

Leave a Reply to matt Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *