Game Poem 39: EDP

EDP is a game poem for a handful of players, somewhere around four or five.

The term “EDP” is an acronym, generally used by law enforcement officers. It stands for “Emotionally Disturbed Person” and refers to a situation involving someone experiencing a severe emotional disturbance.

The play will be set in an institution, or in a questioning room in a police station, or someplace similar. One player will be designated the EDP. The character played by this player is entirely sane and rational, and must convince the others of this fact. The other players have brought the EDP to this place because they are convinced that they are seriously mentally ill, and must be held for their own protection, or the protection of others.

Each player, including the EDP, begins with one coin or token. These tokens will be used at the end of the game to determine the winner.

To begin, the interrogators will ask the EDP to tell them once again if they know why they’re there. The EDP will describe the circumstances that led them to be taken into custody. This could be some kind of scene or public arrest, or perhaps the authorities just showed up at their home one afternoon and brought them in without telling them why. It is entirely up to the EDP to provide these details, and the interrogators must accept whatever they say as true.

The disturbed player must continue to convince their captors that they are balanced and stable, but their examiners will attempt to twist their testimony into a light that shows how completely deranged they truly are. Every piece of evidence that the EDP might be of sound mind should be reframed to demonstrate their insanity. The interrogators, however, may not fabricate facts or details from whole cloth; they must turn their clearly unstable detainee’s assertions against them. The more that they insist that they are sane, the crazier they must be shown to be.

If, however, at some point, one of the interrogators begins to believe that the EDP is, in fact, in their right mind, they may declare them sane, and excuse themselves from the questioning. They will hand the EDP their coin or token, touch them on the forehead, and become a voice in the head of the disturbed person. Whatever they say from that point on will only be heard by the EDP, even though they say it out loud.

The EDP still believes that they are sane, but now they have a new voice inside their head telling them things, telling them what to do, telling them how much trouble they’re in, telling them that everyone is against them, telling them to behave normally, telling them that they’ve got to escape, telling them that it’s no use, telling them that their captors intend to torture or kill them, and so on. Press them hard. It is the duty of the EDP to respond as if these voices are truly coming from inside their own mind, but to continue to convince the interrogators that they are fine, and they should be released.

When the disturbed player has a voice in their head, they may release it by giving them all of their tokens, touching that player on the forehead, and dismissing the voice aloud. The dismissed player is no longer able to speak or interact with the scenario, but keeps the tokens they’ve collected for scoring purposes. If there are more than one voice in the EDP’s head, only one may dismissed in this manner at a time; if the EDP has no tokens to remove a voice with, they must wait until another player declares them sane to do so.

The game ends after a predetermined amount of time, or after all the interrogators have declared the EDP sane. If time runs out before the EDP can convince everyone else that they are truly not deranged, they will remain in a facility for the foreseeable future, and the non-disturbed player with the most tokens wins. If, however, the EDP manages to talk all of the interrogators into believing that they are sane, they win the game, regardless of how many tokens they have. They will, of course, have some extra psychological problems now, but those can be sorted out next time…

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