The Gassy Gnoll: Musically Inspired Stories

Last weekend this Gassy Gnoll caught up on the latest Dr. Who episode – “The Rings of Akehaten” – I was struck by how well a plot based around music soothing the savage beast worked. In the episode, a religious order was formed to continually sing a series of soothing melodies to keep an old god asleep so that they wouldn’t destroy them. And their diligence kept the “god” asleep for thousands – maybe millions – of years. It’s such a simple idea I’m surprised I haven’t seen it used in any gaming modules.

Gassy Gnoll

Gassy Gnoll

For example, why not have a religious order dedicated to keeping a volcano from erupting? It may seem like a primitive response to a geologic process, but perhaps there’s a clutch of dragon eggs at the bottom that refuse to hatch so long as they can feel the vibrations through the magma pool…

Or maybe there’s a race of beings particularly susceptible to sonic vibrations and they have been kept at bay for hundreds of years while a group of monks continues to sing a series of songs at a particular frequency and volume…

I’m honestly shocked we don’t see more stories involving monastic orders. Imagine how effective a group of musical monks could be if they were all singing songs with a ritual component. In a war-torn area, monks may travel from town to town following the path of destruction simply soothing the survivors.

At the same time I understand why designers avoid music in their stories. Though it may be a universal constant across all cultures (expressing grief, joy, and even myths through lyrics and melody), composing such works can be exceedingly difficult. If everyone could write truly amazing songs, can you imagine how much more crowded traditional radio stations would be?

Have you thought about using music or musical traditions in your games? If you have used it, how did it work out? Any examples you can bring to the fore for others exploring those options?

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5 comments to The Gassy Gnoll: Musically Inspired Stories

  • I have sort of the opposite — in the main town of my campaign, there is a temple dedicated to keeping a god-like being asleep by keeping the place completely silent, with vows of silence and spells. They call him Kraken and he would rampage Godzilla style if awakened.

    I think I got the idea from a story or fragment by Aleister Crowley where he described evil monks chaning ‘Shiva, Shiva, Shiva’ hoping to awaken Shiva the Destroyer and bring about the end of the world. There is also a Lord Dunsany story with a similar theme — as long as a certain sleeps, he will continue to dream the world into existence, but when he awakens…
    Mike Monaco recently posted…What the fluff? Over 100 followers!?My Profile

    • Fitz

      @Mike Monaco – Love that response. The absence of something is just as key as the unceasing nature of something else. Thanks for sharing!

  • Izetta Wuensche

    good post, yeah I like that Dr Who episode too 🙂
    Izetta Wuensche recently posted…kojecMy Profile

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