Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Music, Chimes, and Singing Golems

Long, long ago, before the Swordfish Islands ever came into being as a concept, I was reading through the AD&D DMG looking for interesting magical items to put in the paths of my players, and I "rediscovered" the Chime of Opening. I've read the magical items section of that book hundreds of times, but the possibilities surrounding the idea of a chime that can open things had never resonated for me. This is probably because I *love* playing thieves, *love* getting my hands dirty with lockpicking, and absolutely despise anything that makes noise and might reveal my location, or attract unwanted attention.

On this night however, I was struck with how awesome it would be if an entire civilization was built around this "opening via sound" idea, and began pondering the societal repercussions of this mechanism. I ultimately passed on using the chime as treasure in that game, deciding that a scarab of insanity and horn of blasting would be more fun in the hands of the players, but the idea stuck with me.

Fast forward several months, and Wintergreen, The Diviner and I, first begin discussing the game that would become the Swordfish Islands. I decided I really wanted to run with this magical musical stuff for our lost civilization of elves, and combining it with their love of stoneworking, the "Singing Golem" was born.

Below is a rough draft of the Singing Golem. Enjoy!

Name: Singing Golem
Size: 4' to 7' tall
Description: Singing golems are animated constructs carved from single blocks of solid stone into idealized elven forms. They were made from only the most beautiful and exotic types of stone, and were carved to resemble males, females and even children as the aesthetic tastes of their makers fluctuated with the inconstant currents of fashion. Many of the statues are nude, or covered in ways that merely enhance their eroticism. Singing golems are so named because their lower jaw can open, similar to a wooden nutcracker, and sound magical chimes contained within their head or chest. The golems are typically only capable of emitting a single note or chord, but some more elaborate individuals can sing a short series of notes and chords. Few singing golems are found in good condition. Most are riddled with cracks, in pieces, missing limbs or weathered to the point of being featureless, and yet the original enchantments of the elves still hold, allowing them to wander, sing, and attempt to complete their last programmed tasks.
Diet: None
Social: Solitary, unless originally designed as a set.
Den: Singing golems require no rest or sleep, but their elven owners often constructed storage rooms for them in their homes and active golems will still attempt to return to these designated areas at their assigned times, even if ruined, underwater, or otherwise inaccessible.
Combat: Singing golems are not equipped or programmed to fight. They were constructed purely as ornamental servants to display their creator's social status and magical aptitude. Most were also specifically programmed to not retaliate to aggression so their master could dispose of them in spectacular fashions.
Trade: Chimes (see Special), and their bodies or pieces of them would be prized by any who collect aesthetically pleasing and exotic things.
Quote/Rumor: "The elves that didn't kill each other were turned to stone. Sometimes you can even see them wandering in the jungles. Just don't look into their eyes."
Special: The elves of the Swordfish Islands locked their homes and belongings with music instead of conventional mechanical locks. In addition to filling the role of servants, transport, labor, gardening, etc., singing golems acted, quite literally, as the keys to the elven kingdom. The golems are capable of being magically "programmed" to perform a variety of simplistic or repetitive tasks by skilled magic users.


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