The Nailsuit Variations: Frag Man

Various Pelgranes have written mini-posts inspired by a different filtered image of a mysterious man in a suit of nails. Gareth’s contribution is a scenario hook for Fear Itself.

We received a request to reset your password. If this wasn’t you, you can safely ignore this email.

If this wasn’t you…

What if it was?

Naked, nascent, the thing that crawls out of the Outer Dark is small and translucent, the only real solidity to it in its teeth and strangling fingers. The Frag Men crave existence, but cannot endure the crushing weight of our reality. Not without a shell. So, they steal one.

Identity is made up of many small fragments, and each one that the Frag Man takes makes it a bit more real, a little bit stronger. They’re identity thieves. Frag Men are related to Skinners (Fear Itself, p. 92) but more subtle in their methods.

They start small – they creep into mailboxes and steal junk mail and credit card offers, but that gives them a start. They hide in your apartment and answer your phone, mimicking your voice and sectioning off sections of your life. That dental appointment, that new client, that hot date – it belongs to the Frag Man now. The shift to zoom calls and online messaging has been a boon for the Frag Men. If you ever used to use a particular messaging service, but then let it lapse, then there’s probably a Frag Man there now, pretending to be you. They squirm into crawl spaces and attics, gnawing holes in wires so they can insinuate their gelatinous tendrils to hijack your internet and phone lines. By night, they creep out to steal your photos and sniff your cologne.

It’s expectation that gives them shape – the more a Frag Man can convince other people it’s you, the more it becomes you. Once it’s got a little solidity, it can mimic faces – crudely at first, but the mask accretes quickly. Sometimes, it grows so quickly that the Frag Man loses itself for a while, forgetting it’s a monster from outside reality and believing itself to be the person it’s copying. That phase doesn’t last long, though. The Frag Man’s hunger means it must, eventually, consume the identity whole, moving into the victim’s life and taking over entirely.

Then it’s just tidying up the loose end of the original. Frag Men don’t kill their victims immediately – these days, identity is biology, too. They hold their victims long enough to harvest a good supply of urine, blood, hair, skin follicles. Fingerprints, too, can’t forget those – a quick slice with a sharp knife collects those.

Once the Frag Man’s secure in its new identity, swanning around in its new human shape doing human things, a new compulsion seizes it. Like a salmon returning home, the Frag Man is drawn back to the Outer Dark. It does this by fostering cells of cultists, taking part in vile rituals, summoning other monsters, widening breaches in the Membrane – and letting more nascent Frag Men into our reality.

A nascent Frag Man isn’t that dangerous. It’s the mature, established ones that pose a real threat. When damaged, a Frag Man doesn’t bleed – it leaks identity. Bits of its stolen persona fly off and lodge in people nearby, and the psychic shock of having part of your identity overwritten with someone else’s isn’t something humans handle especially well. When damaged, the Frag Man begins to unravel, fragments of its stolen identity whirling around it like leaves on the wind. When slain, it blows away, leaving nothing but a hollow in the world.

All That Remains

Trivia: It’s weird – Bob’s still really good at trivia, but he was surprised when you reminded him about that time you were both on the winning pub quiz team last year.

Computer Use: Ok, there are signs of Bob’s computer being hacked – but it all stopped six months ago, well before Bob started acting strangely.

Streetwise: I know that guy – he provides forged documents. Fake IDs for underage college kids, fake passports. Why was Bob meeting with him?

Abilities: Aberrance 6, Health 16, Scuffling 8

Hit Threshold: 3

Armour: -1

Awareness Modifier: +1

Stealth Modifier: +1

Damage Modifier: +0

Identity Fragment: If a Frag Man takes damage, it splinters – shards of its stolen identity explode outwards, as if its body was a thin, brittle shell. If this shard hits someone nearby, that person absorbs some part of the victim’s stolen identity. (If there’s nobody near the Frag Man to grab the dislodged identity-fragments, then the Frag Man reabsorbs them shortly afterwards – healing the damage dealt instantly.)

Roll a d6 to determine what sort of fragment gets transferred. The fragment overwrites the victim’s corresponding trait – so, if you get an Investigative Ability from the Frag Man, you lose rating points from one of your own abilities.

1-2. Memories

3. 1-6 points of General Abilities (chosen by the GM

4. 1-3 points of Investigative Abilities (chosen by the GM)

5. Risk Factor

6. Outer Dark Fragment (see below).

The target of this ability gets to make a Stability test (Difficulty equals the damage inflicted +3) to resist this ‘infection’. If the test succeeds, the fragment fades quickly. If the test fails, the fragment burrows into the target’s mind, reducing the attacker’s Stability rating by 1 and stunning the attack for a number of rounds equal to the margin of failure.

For example, Sarah shoots the thing that’s pretending to be her friend Bob. She hits and deals 5 damage, causing a chunk of Bob-ness to calve off the wounded Frag Man. The GM rolls and gets a 5 – Sarah now gets one of Bob’s Risk Factors, overwriting her own. As this was a one-shot using the Stereotype rules, Sarah’s Good Girl archetype gets replaced by Bob’s Brain archetype. Sarah now gets to make a Stability test at Difficulty 8 – if she fails, this change is permanent, and Sarah’s mental health is permanently damaged as she tries to reconcile her personality with the Bob-fragment lodged in her mind.

If the memory-fragment is a fragment of the Outer Dark, and it borrows into the target’s mind, then the target always suffers a Black-Out when Losing It (Stability -1 to -5) or a Black-Out With Teeth when Shattered. During these fugue episodes, the target serves the interests of the Outer Dark.

Fear Itself 2nd Edition is a game of contemporary horror that plunges ordinary people into a disturbing world of madness and violence. Use it to run one-shot sessions in which few (if any) of the protagonists survive, or an ongoing campaign in which the player characters gradually discover more about the terrifying supernatural reality which hides in the shadows of the ordinary world. Will they learn how to combat the Creatures of Unremitting Horror from the Outer Dark? Or spiral tragically into insanity and death? Purchase Fear Itself in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

Leave a Reply

This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By browsing this website, you agree to our use of cookies.