Legends, Prophecies, and Youtube

10 May, 2010

It’s no DM secret that songs can be great inspiration for a dnd session (an entire campaign in some cases). Here’s what my current game is going through: Alice of Human Sacrifice

If you didn’t want to watch the video, here’s a summary:

  • In the opening, there’s a voice talking about existing.
  • The video then introduces four different characters, all called Alice.
  • The first Alice had a sword and was known for killing.
  • The second Alice created a mad world through his song, then was killed.
  • The third Alice created a country through deceit.
  • The fourth Alice became forever lost in Wonderland.

Are you sure you don’t want to watch the video?

The theme and melody of the video is viciously creepy. There’s quite a bit of valuable visual imagery in the video, such as the alternate faces of the characters when darkness hits them and the golden locks of hair held by the bloody hands of the Red Alice, near the end. Certain phrases of the song also paint wonderful images, the only evidence of a murderer’s existence is the carnage she left behind, and a queen rules a country while fearing the decay of her body.

Also, it should be said that translating from a foreign language tends to make things sound more poetic in English. Either that, or Japanese is really depressing.

Revealing the Legend to the Players

“This is a legend that’s been passed down since before the start of the War.”

When the players were doing their Streetwise and information collecting in town, that’s what they were told.

The entire chapter’s taking place in this strange forest area. First, near a rocky cliff overlooking a lake, the party found the Third Alice’s tower. Following the legends, they decided to raid the tower. They were met with a strange amount of undead.

That Alice was the country’s queen,
possessed by a warped dream.
Fearing her decaying body,
she ruled from the summit of the country.

The party took what they can and left before this Alice, who they learned was a necromancer, could face them. From what they heard about this one in the legend, perhaps it was a wise decision to avoid her.

How this has to do with DMing

The song and legend, serves as a semi-predictable truth that players can follow if they pay enough attention.

Using the example above and following the legend, the players learned that being a country’s queen referred to a small “kingdom” of undead. Ruling from a “summit” meant a humble cliff with a wizard’s tower. Stretching expectations, that’s two credibility points to the legend.

With credibility earned by the legend, more emphasis is subsequently placed on parts left unconnected. If there are three statements that go together, and two are proven true, it is cognitive bias and a logical fallacy to take the remaining statement as also true. However, because we are playing DnD, situations are infinitely more interesting (and equally terrifying), the more that events match prophecies, and the more the truth matches the legend.

Using the example above “a warped dream” and “fear of her decaying body” are notable. What is this Alice’s dream? Does she fear her decaying body like the legend says? Do you even want to know? Are you sure you still want to believe in the legend?

DMs should award players clever enough to take countermeasures for legends and prophecies. Wise are the players that invest in blindfolds and a sword named Gorgon-Slayer when legends mention people turning to stone after one look in the woman’s eyes. Woe to the NPC king whose oracle tells him, “no man will strike you down” for the female assassin will say, “you didn’t really think that through, did you?”

Interpretation of a legend is always terribly ambiguous. The players know what to expect, but don’t know how to expect it. But it’s definitely worth their while to try to decipher what a legend has to warn about.

The cleric has already voiced her worst fear: if the second Alice is her storyline nemesis, her best friend, who was rumored to have gone insane after the events of the first campaign.

How Many Alices?

So, the party has indirectly found one Alice, a powerful necromancer. One is one of the player’s character’s worst fear. There are three more left, as well as a possible fourth if you count the voice in the prologue. The signs in the forest warn travelers to beware the bloody red path. Beware of the Alice, trapped in the forest, like a criminal.

Also, here are two videos that help the tone of the chapter. I also plan to draw similar inspirations from these.

Late Night Madness
Dark Woods Circus

Kehehe. These videos really impressed a dark and eerie mark on me, and I plan for the current chapter of The Dragon’s Hand to leave a similar scar upon the characters that wander Alice’s Forest.

-Lancar

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