The Music Box:
This is an unremarkable and worn music box of wood painted dark brown. It requires a key to open and the key has been long lost. The lock is of excellent make, even if it does not look the part and is magically strengthened. Only the key or a dispel followed by lock picking can open it.
The music box is the creation of the warlock Mordalin, the fabled ruler of the lost realm. He was a practitioner of the darkest arts and his name will never be mentioned. If anyone does mention it, silence and scared whispering will surely follow, for it is taboo.
The box was found a long time ago in the heartlands of the lost realm, in the marsh of the dead. When the box was taken, the marsh dried out and became a peaceful place.
When someone opens the music box, the figurine of a lady clad in a black dress will begin to turn(2). Weird, slow music will play and slowly a thick fog will pour out of it. The music will not be stopped and the lid will not close until 10 minutes have passed. Strange marshlights / wisps will float out of the box along with the fog and after a while the surroundings will appear like a dark dream world. The box acts like a beacon to all restless spirits and roaming dead. The fog will not disperse for a day, unless the wind is strong. If left open, the area of the fog will widen until it covers tens of miles.
Driven to madness by his own ego, syphilis and personal failures, Mordalin fell to the basest of human follies; Chaos Worship. Under the tutelage of Futharius, the Clockwork-Master, Mordalin learnt the secrets of creation and the connection between music, speech and the Essence of Reality.
The music box is rumoured to have been his final creation, his last piece of work before insanity and Chaos claimed him at long last. While still technically existing, his is not a condition to be envied. Though created to become a nexus of his powers, the music box hastened the unravelling of his sanity.
Along with other odd musical creations and the demon infested Clockworks of Silmaroth, the music box is the legacy of Mordalin and Futharius.
Can it be said that madness and genius are but the opposite sides of the same coin? If so then Mordalin surely shone on both sides of that coin. A small town teacher, his origins are surely ordinary enough, for he taught music at the St. Mihan School in the city of ÃƒÂ›r-Kanesh. There his reputation grew for he was a true master of the Piano and his simple, yet masterful pieces are still played at schools and theatres even to this day. He received several invitations from large and powerful colleges in the same city, and even some from the metropolitan cities in the South, yet nothing would take him away from his home and his family, which consisted of two daughters and his lovely wife Mirala.
As his fame spread, it became increasingly difficult for him to remain in firm contact with reality, and his judgment suffered greatly, for he was tempted with all that fame can bring. It then came to be that he erred in his judgement and participated in several of the infamous orgies of the ÃƒÂ›r-Kanesh society of artists. Mordalin became more and more obsessed with his erotic indulgences and the rumours began to circle about his love affair with Madam Elothia Canuva a well known courtesan employed extensively by the nobility of the city.
His obsession with Madam Canuva became more and more obvious and at some point he openly admitted that some of his newer symphonies, masterpieces albeit startlingly weird, were dedicated to the frivolous courtesan. His wife Mirala could take no more, and she left him shortly thereafter, taking his beloved children with her.
At this time the rumours were circulating and they told that he had contracted syphilis and that the priests could not help a sinner such as him. Whatever the reason, Mordalin lost all contact with his children and soon thereafter with reality. His affair with Madam Canuva proved to be a short lived thing and when she was later found murdered at the riverbed by the Chapel of Fhalgharod, Mordalin was the sole suspect. His fame rescued him from the vengeful reach of the heartbroken nobles and Mordalin was committed to the Asylum of ÃƒÂ›r-Kanesh where he made a friendship of sorts with the Mage known as Futharius, a former associate of the Cabal of Irkic.
Some ten years later the two men escaped and the Asylum logs are the last known records of Mordalin, before his manifestation as the Ruler of the Lost Realm.
The music box doubles the strength and duration of all dark magic.
It weakens the will of the undead, making them easier to control and it helps the creation of undead.
The music box is tied to the forces of chaos and black essence and will inflict chaos wounds(1) during prolonged exposure. It will twist and bend even the restless spirits and inflict chaos wounds upon the corporeal ones. After years of exposure, everything and everyone will be horribly broken and manipulated, barely recognizable by even the closest of kin.
1) Chaos wounds are the manipulation of chaos on any matter. Skin might grow translucent, revealing the innards of the body, fangs might slowly protrude from the cheek and blood might replace chlorophyll in flowers and plants. (Or whatever fancies the GM in charge)
2)The origins of the music box remains a mystery, but some bards dramatically claim that it is the Madam Canuva and that her soul is trapped within. Other bards sing of his maddened regret, and how the figurine is similar to his wife Mirala, a true testament to the love he had lost. Whatever the origins, the music box is a potent testament to the musical magic of Mordalin.
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? Responses (24)
Excellant Item. Sorry, couldn't post more. In a rush
A very interesting concept, for the whole, though, I can't help but ask the question: 'Why?'
This has the potential to be a great item for a 'drag the ring to the volcano of doom' type quest, with a very large number of interested parties... and woe betide to the hero who turns to his charge in a time of need.
Mordalin dabbled in the darker arts himself and also courted the forces of chaos. He is the broken agent of chaos in my setting, now too ruined and maddened to rule the way he used to.
The Music Box was one of his last creations before sanity left him for good, a nexus of his power and a beacon to his subjects.
I just wonder ... if more could be made, the conquest of darkness might be difficult to stop.
This has got good potential, (a plus for being a creepy music box, not a sceptre or crown etc.) but I'd welcome if it was fleshed out more.
Ok, I added the background information of pre-Warlock Mordalin. There is more, and indeed there are some things yet untold. But for the sake of brevity, I will tell that tale another time. There is no need to know right now either.
Ok, I updated the story, organized it and tried to divide it into section for readability.
Hope you all like it and perhaps it can inspire?
Very creepy, very dark-fantasy, very Ancient Gamer.
I enjoy it, but some of the story seems somewhat disconnected from other parts. Other than that, this is a good old four stars!
Much better now. Very creepy indeed. I like it. :)
I would like to sail upon the same boat as the last few comments. (I do like the reformatting. It has made it twice as effective).
Upon reflection, it seems more appropriate for a story than a game. (And would be a cool story.) It seems a weak hook, unless someone is long exposed to it. Though it could be used as an explanation for a 'monster in the midst' sort of scenario. I need to contemplate application.
I do create some amounts of fiction that will never be included in my sessions: Background material to invigorate and intensify my setting. I publish these short stories for my players to read, so they will immerse themselves into my setting. It is quite good for the atmosphere really.
Anyway, this item could be at the source of mysteries and strange afflictions subverting the people of the land. Used in a Lovecraftian manner, it could be at the heart of the troubles, it's origins and location slowly unveiled by the Players.
I also used it in my 'cursed items vault' in the prophecies of Redemption. (My players would not touch it with a 10 foot pole, the evening was a success really.) Of course I had to add much to the scenario, to make it more playable.
What if someone found it, in some deep wault somewhere, and opened it. And then they ran, when the very walls of the cavern started to talk to him, and the box wouldn't close they were terrified and fled. How much of those tunnels would be infused with those fogs, and after being exposed to them for centuries due to the fear that the locals would develop for what lived there, would the tunnels ever heal or at least regain a semblence of what they once were?
Updated: Edited to fit the Strolen's Citadel v2.0 requirements
Updated: Changed keywords
That would be up to the GM who used it. In my setting all things could happen and your ideas are certainly interesting.
If I felt particularily evil, the players would experience all sorts of horrors, and chaos wounds can be veeeery nasty ;)
I think that this item is bloody brilliant. This is the most inspiring thing that I have seen for a long long time. I want to use it right now. Wait a second, I think I will.
Extremely useful as a powerful weapon for evil, but look at what cost. Evil mages might be able to destroy half of the world with this item, only to go insane and lose every gain.
And its so creepy. I would have the notes seem to linger just a bit too long if I were the GM, but aside from that, its perfect, and I agree with echo mirage that it gets extra bonus points for being a unique item.
Good Plot+ Excellent Item + Excellent feel= 5/5
Indeed, I agree with the above guys. Nothing more to say aside from Great work.
This item might not be the highest rated, nor may it have much in the way of Hall of Honour awards, but I just got the message that 'Nobody' loved it so much he actually made a tune for it.
This is an honour greater than any bestowed upon me on this site. Wow.
Thank you, Nobody. (I did not get that email though... I hope it arrives soon).
It seems I have been extremely remiss in not offering comment or vote for this submission. I intent to fix both of these errors. This item is awesome, both in it's backstory and the people who existed early in the box's history and in it's faux-gothic death waltz feel.
Another very impressive submission from you AG. It is inspiring!
Start a game with this item involved, take Nobody's music, endlessly loop it and play it quietly with dim lights when the music box is involved. Your players will never forget it. Truly a new level is reached.
As Scras said very gothic indeed, and as Dream said. Put this with the music that Nobody created for this sub and you have one hell of a game...
Wow, there are so many wonderful subs in the halls of the Citadel!
'Nobody' even made a tune for it!
Mmmmmm, delicious. I will use this in an upcoming sub this weekend!
How gothic and morbid and all that :) Kudos.