Friday, June 20, 2014

Deck Of Fridays 23: Left In The Dark

Morlocks in George Pal's The Time Machine (1960)

Welcome back to DECK OF FRIDAYS, our weekly feature here at FATE SF! Each week (more or less) since the release of the Deck of Fate, we have made a draw from the Deck of FateRPG Inspiration Cards, or another Aspect-generative randomizer. Then we do something interesting with it, using the Aspect as inspiration for a campaign or scenario seed, a situation, scene, location, NPC, thingie, etc.

This week's draw from the Deck of Fate is a card with the Aspect: Left in the Dark. In English, that's a commonly used colloquial expression that denotes not knowing what's going on, often due to the conscious agency of someone who is in the know. But we're interpreting it more literally today.

At first I thought of poor Gollum.

Then I remembered the Morlocks.


For the Morlocks, being left in the dark is a rite of passage. Sooner or later, every Morlock youth is drugged, rendered unconscious, and then abandoned in the underworld. In the cold and the dark. They're alone, with no food or water. 

Those who survive, make their way back to their band.  They gain a true name, a mate, and the beginnings of social status: a key to a machine, locker, or room in the underworld. Morlocks who don't survive, well, sooner or later their bones get discovered when someone trips on them in the Dark Galleries. Those bones get kicked swiftly into a dark corner to be forgotten. Or they are quickly claimed, pocketed, and later carved into fetishes and weapons.

But there's another way that Morlocks get Left in the Dark. All Morlocks love the things below, but their kind are also driven by a deterritorializing impulse. Bands move on, seeking new living spaces and places to labor freely by crossing the narrow dark spaces between the worlds. New machines. New galleries and rooms to conquer and explore. 

Now-useless keys soon become charms and wards.

At first, the Morlocks moved about in time and space using the Visitor's time machine. Later, they found similar machines created by others. The Morlocks spread to still more worlds. The machine tenders thrived wherever they found galleries to explore and machinery to tend underground.

In time, the Morlocks found other ways to squeeze between the worlds. There are passages in the dark, gates that open onto branching tunnels walled by absolute darkness. Shamans take the lead; the rest of the clan follows. Morlocks traverse these tunnels by forming chains of hands. Some even use real chains to bind one to the next. No one wants to be lost forever, blind in the dark. 

But on every such journey, someone stumbles and loses hold of their fellows. Or a link in the chain breaks, as if of its own accord. Those whose chains break lose their way; they cannot see in this dark between worlds. They find themselves alone, in a pocket of darkness. 

They quail, brood, and curse that darkness.

And the darkness curses them back. 

Those left in these dark interstices grow strange. They grow strange: their bodies change in gross and subtle ways. Their minds change. They hunger and thirst, alone in the dark. 

They become perverse desiring engines, seeking to transform others.

Those left in the dark When others pass, they extend a foot to trip other feet. They bite and break the chain tying one traveler to the destiny of another. 

Misery loves company. Mutation abhors a vacuum. 


  1. Good to see Morlocks getting out and about. They tend and sometimes build some pretty strange engines and mechanisms. did I tell you about the Morlock Mediums?