Saturday 22 May 2010

Memestorms and Ideocults

The folk of the Wilds of Nagoh seem almost uniquely prone to outbursts of religious or socio-cultural hysteria, and to infection with a wide variety of passing fads, quixotic ideals, and other such hobby horses. For every pseudo-medieval castle town or classical city state on the map there will be a dozen or more nomadic tribes, eremitic communities, utopian communes and personality cults, each with its own strange ideology.

Part of this tendency towards apparently insane behaviour can be ascribed to living in a post-apocalyptic world where magic, monsters and interfering godlings are facts of life. In a world gone mad, sometimes madness is the right survival trait. But there are also other, oft-overlooked, founts of strangeness in the Wilds.


Mind-affecting haunts, infectious curses tailored by long-dead geniuses of the biothaumic arts, or a form of free-floating psychic mass hysteria (as ever, the scholars are divided on the exact nature of the phenomenon), memestorms can lie dormant in unknowing host populations for generations before taking effect. Although these infections sometimes cause physical symptoms similar to more mundane diseases, and many also result in gross morphological changes, the primary and characteristic effect is infection with outlandish - but sometimes beneficial - neurochemically-enforced behaviour patterns.

Most memestorms are highly infectious to humans and kindred races, requiring those exposed to carriers of the sickness to make a save vs. poison/death or suffer the effects themselves. Their removal requires the casting of both remove curse (to undo the neurological changes wrought on the sufferer) and cure disease (to kill the infection). Either/or casting will result only in healthy carriers of still active and infectious memestorm strains, or non-infectious sufferers.

16 Sample Memestorms

1. Giving Plague - The sufferer feels driven to divest themself of all worldly goods.

2. Excelsior Fever - Typified by soulful staring at the skies in its initial stages, and later by an unshakable desire to ascend ever higher. Infections generally end tragically in steeple-jacking and mountaineering accidents, or when ramshackle towers and flying machines fail catastrophically.

3. Jabbering Ague - Sufferers become prone to fits during which they they suffer from outbursts of speech in ancient languages. When translated some of these are useless, others are snippets of information about the ancient past, or post-hypnotically encoded secrets, or spell formulae.

4. Builder Frenzy - Infectees labout under an unwavering compulsion to assemble objects into abstract symbolic or representational patterns. Anything that comes to hand will be pressed into service (potato mountain in Close Encounter)

5. Demolishing Mania (aka Iconoclasmiasm) - The antithesis of Builder Frenzy. Sufferers are overcome with the compulsion to tear it all down and flee the wreckage of their former homes in search of who knows what. Highly infectious, entire villages and towns have been known to succumb in a single night of wild-eyed mania.

6. Migratory Compulsion - "Go into the water. Go into the water."

7. Immuring Frenzy - "We have to get under the earth. It's not safe on the surface!" The subject begins compulsively digging, either with their bare hands, or with whatever tool comes to hand. A nuisance to the neighbours if they live on the upper storey, and a disruption to trade if they start in on the market place. Potentially deadly if they succumb while on soft earth.

8. Wainbrurm - The sufferer becomes fixated on low-toned, repetitive rumbling sounds. They will spend all their time obsessively following farm carts, or do themselves lasting serious injury by placing their heads against the wrong parts of mill wheels or trip hammers.

9. Sanguinary Quietism - Sufferers won't initiate violence, and become distressed and sickened by the sight of blood. The infestion is bloodborne, and easily transmitted by the spray of fluids caused by violence. Catastrophic for predators if it enters their food source animals.

10. Slayid - The sufferer becomes fixated on aural stimulation, constantly drummming and hammering. Those sufferers most far gone yowl and screech at unpredictable intervals. Some lucky few are able to lead semi-normal lives, but the worst cases are horrible indeed.

11. Acquired Corporeal Revulsion Syndrome - Some part of the sufferer's body becomes abhorrent to them. They become convinced that they can only survive if it is surgically removed. Quite how heartless or liverless sufferers manage to survive the voluntary renunciation of their vital organs is unknown, but, through some quirk of fate, magical or biological in nature, survive some do.

12. Red Star Fever - Sufferers forcibly share all goods with those around them, giving and taking as they require with no regard for social or legal norms. A viral form of "to each according to his need". Many Goblins suffer this.

13. Communicable Ahistoric Bias - A viral psychosis triggered by the smell of decomposition attendent upon death. Sufferers entirely forget about the deceased, regarding them as fictions rather than real people and their mortal remains as loathsome trash.

14. Asocial Demophobia - A visceral loathing of crowds, and of the urban areas they inhabit. The longer the infection persists, the smaller a group needed to trigger the violent withdrawl from society. Sufferers tend to flee their homes, ending up either as misanthropic trap-setting hermits, or as dinner for the crows.

15. Nam Shub - The sufferer lacks self-will. They will obey the instructions of the last person to speak to them to the best of their ability to understand. In advanced cases even the most self-destructive commands will be mindlessly obeyed.

16. Cleromantic Compulsive Syndrome - The sufferer entirely abdicates personal decision-making responsibility, instead obeying the divinatory properties of dice, coin tosses, or other totemic objects. Sufferers of similar strains will be uncannily in accord over what their divinatory devices tell them. Those infected with different strains will argue viciously and interminably over the correct interpretation of same.


IdeoCults of the Wilds

So what becomes of the disease-ridden lunatics affected by the memestorms? Although many die or are incarnerated for the protection of themselves, their kin and neighbours, others escape into the Wilds, scraping a living among others of their own strange, outcast kind

Gun Eunuchs of Draozz - A large, evangelical group suffering from a particular strains of Acquired Corporeal Repulsion Syndrome (or, as they argue, 'liberated from carnal hunger thereby') the infamous Gun Eunuchs have found meaning as self-emasculated worshippers of a giant gun-spewing stone head. Their raiding and slaving parties are led by Taks Eksile, a sword-wielding, moustachioed warlord whose accent never matches his stated origins.

The Henon - Singlehandedly give the lie to "the wisdom of crowds" and living embodiments of the proverbial madness of same, the Henon are a floating carnival of social levelling and mob rule. A rigidly anarchistic group of transvestite mummers, the Henon chant obscure slogans, commit nonsensical and sometimes dangerous pranks, and assault any percieved authority figure who crosses their path.

The Slayidheads - hammer-wielding louts in bizarre costumes, led by a loud-voiced captain possessed of unnatural charisma. Slayidheads are hopelessly fixated on the repetitious pounding noises of their hammers, often to the detriment of their health. They are sometimes pressed into service as cheap labour when roadbeds or building foundations require flattening.

Circoncellionites - A quasi-religious body, all of whose members are deliberately infected with Sanguinary Quietism during indoctrination. Dedicated to spreading their creed of universal pacifism through the swords of others...


  1. Gun Eunuchs - awesome. I recently finished that book, fun in a '70s apocalypse sci-fi sort of way.

  2. If you ever do a Memestorm Table, there should be one entry in which the "meme carrier" is absolutely correct ...

  3. Very cool. I wish "jabbering ague" was a disorder I got to diagnosis in my day to day job. Maybe I'll just start diagnosing it anyway.

  4. You Sir, are a genius. This is superb, I've always wanted to do something that incorporated memes as autonomous agents using humans as pawns, I'm not sure how I'd use it, it suggests to me a kind of post-singularity Extropian/Transhuman weird science fantasy setting and as such is extremely distracting.

    More facetious gittery please!

  5. *back of the net*

    Totally mint Chris

  6. I see what you did there. Very clever!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...