Scenes of music: Broken Crown

Posted on Wed 20 February 2019 • Tagged with Scenes of music

Song: Broken Crown

They sneak up on her when she leaves the tavern. Several of them, all brandishing swords, sabers, daggers or spears. She smiles softly. There’s only ten of them. And she’d actually been hoping for a real challenge. Ridiculous. They approach. Slowly at first but more confident when she doesn’t run or scream. She adjusts her wide hat. The feather on it is slightly waving in the evening breeze.

She takes the rapier from her belt and raises it. The bandits are hesitant. They have not expected resistance. Her flamboyant appearance and the gilded rapier have thrown them off. They expected a traveling noble on a stupid quest for adventure. She takes two steps forward to approach the first bandit and her smile widens.

He raises his sword to stop her. Too late, much too late. In the time it took him to decide his next action her rapier has sliced through his jugular after she closed the distance with a leap forward nobody expected. Blood rushes out of the wound while he collapses. Some of it splatters onto her elaborate leather armor but the stains are almost invisible on its red color. The other bandits are furious. They attack ferociously. So the dance begins.

With flowing, almost dance-like movements she waves between her attackers, elegantly taking out one after the other without ever being touched by them. A slit throat here, a stabbed heart there, a hand clean cut off - the bandits are going down fast. To finish the last three she jumps out of range and shocks the first with a sudden burst of electricity, then sends sharp, cutting winds towards the second one, sending him flying. The last one is burned so quickly by an intense heat without flame that only ashes remain. She is skilled and her swagger was not a sign of arrogance - it was pure confidence in her well-honed skills as a duelist.

They picked the wrong woman to rob.

The song had me immediately thinking of a Western theme but I wanted something fancier than cowboys while still following the theme of confrontation. I liked the swagger of the Red Mage class from Final Fantasy XIV (FF) and thought to use this as a template for the character. After some research and questions to people I play with, I adjusted the combat scene to its current version. In contrast to FF it is more based on melee and less on magic; this is how I envisioned the scene in my head - it does not have to be a close representation of how the class plays.

Thanks to Zurin Arctus and Aruktai for their input on RDM style and gameplay.

Requested by Deithwen Addan.

Scenes of music: Greensleeves

Posted on Wed 20 February 2019 • Tagged with Scenes of music

Song: Greensleeves

The old adventurer tells the tale of his life to his friends and family one last time. He tells of his youth, of his prime, of his exploits and how his life has treated him until now, at high age. He has invited everyone to one last feast to celebrate because he feels he does not have much time left. They hang to his every word, for while he was only ever mediocre in combat, there was no finer storyteller in his time.

He speaks of years long past, of serving kings and queens. He tells of journeys across foreign lands, of conquests. He explains tense situations he barely survived and has his former companions speak about their common adventures. His life has been a long life and certainly a good life. A life whose stories are worth remembering; that is what he hopes to achieve with this last coming together - that his stories will be remembered even if he himself fades away.

He is a romantic if I’ve ever seen one.
I am captivated by his words and vow to carry his stories onward.

It took me only half the song to find a theme for it. The melody, despite being somewhat different from what I remember - I read this song is frequently used with a part for personal interpretation - and its varying tempo as well as tone sets up a story of multiple parts.

Requested by Kishuri Yllis.

Scenes of music: Riverside

Posted on Sun 17 February 2019 • Tagged with Scenes of music

Song: Riverside - (Originally a spotify link)

“The young nymphs are dancing near the river”, that’s what the uncle used to tell the kids whenever he told the story of that particular tale of his. “You’re not to go near them if you ever see them”, he emphasized.

Why would he say that when they are so pretty?
Why would he say that when their voices are so sweet?
Why would he say that when their dance is so enticing?
Why would you doubt their friendly intentions when they are inviting you to dance with them?

“The humans in their towns are too serious”, that’s what the old fairy told the nymph younglings. “You’re not ever to show yourselves to them”, she emphasized.

Why would we hide though?
Why would we stop our dance though?
Why would we not sing from the bottom of our hearts?
Why would we not invite them to our revelries?

That is the story told among the people who carry both nymph and human blood. You thought it was something more epic? Something from a legend? Nay, I tell you. It was a trait common to both nymph and human by nature: curiosity.

Riverside is a quite focussed on its lyrics by itself; there’s definitely a story in the text. I did not want to stick too closely to what I heard, but only use it as a guiding line for my writing. The calm but not too slow piano in the background brought up a certain mood for exploration and a slight positive mood which is what I focussed on.

Requested by The knight of the routing table.

Scenes of music: No Stars

Posted on Sun 17 February 2019 • Tagged with Scenes of music

Song: No Stars

The singer looks at you. Directly at you. She’s not looking at the audience per se. You know she’s looking at you. You also know she’s weaving in the little Spanish intermezzos for you. For you are her love and she has learned to love your heritage, your language, your country in which you live together whenever she can rest from being on the road. Musicians are always on tour, they say. It’s not quite wrong, that much you’ve understood by now.

But you know it’s worth it. Nothing but standing on the stage and performing makes your sweetheart so happy. It does not matter whether she sings a sad song, whether she sings a desperate song, whether she sings a happy song. The look in her eyes, the wrinkles next to her eyes, the expression on her face are priceless. The time you spent together and the things you experience together gives both of you inspiration for you are as much an artist as she is.

You live together, you dream together.
In the starless nights.

This was one of the more difficult songs for me. It has this really slow movement which I found hard to transform into an elaborate story. Because of this I tried a short scene, something that is very focussed on the moment the music would be heard, like at a bar concert. I’m not sure I’m doing the singer justice with this. I tried to go for that dreamy moment when a lover is at her concert and still has this long-lasting affection. They still enjoy hearing their loved one’s voice after many years together.

Requested by Seren Seraph.

Scenes of music: Your Bones

Posted on Sun 17 February 2019 • Tagged with Scenes of music

Song: Your Bones

In all my travels across the realm I have never met people with such a strange custom regarding funerals as the Viirani. Their funerals are less funerals in the sense we know them from other people and more akin to dissections. They have a way to repurpose almost all parts of the bodies of the deceased. The bones of their ancestors form the columns of their culture, often quite literally. They believe that everything you do must contribute to the community. I find it fascinating to see that such a culture could develop from individuals not connected by a hive-mind like you’d find in ants, for example.

I look at the bloody and gruesome business. Everyone here is calm, even the young ones are used to seeing this. Theirs is a culture of warriors and hunters; bones will be parts of their weapons, their armor. The strength of their ancestors is with them, always. Other necessities and sometimes decorations are made from the less solid remains. Put your mind at ease, friend, they are not a cannibalistic culture. I know it is a thought that comes up when you imagine these rites I speak of.

The simple fact is that all of their society is organized heavily towards reuse of things. There is little they despite as much as wastefulness. Visiting them for even a few days is fraught with danger for me even though I try my best to leave my habits of our civilization in the cities far away. You don’t realize how much you take for granted until you’ve seen people living the other extreme.

When writing this piece I didn’t listen too closely to the lyrics at first. I let the melody guide me, then dove into the lyrics later. I want to interpret as a moment of loss, but not a moment of sadness. In addition, a story I’ve seen recently inspired me in regard of the reuse/recycle mentality. There is an arc in That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime spanning several episodes about a people eating their dead and their fallen foes to become stronger that gave me an idea to try something a little less offensive. I wanted the people to be admired, not despised.

Requested by Stephen Voss.

Scenes of music: Siúil a Rúin

Posted on Mon 07 January 2019 • Tagged with Scenes of music

Song: Siúil a Rúin

I see the woman every day when I pass by on my way home from work. She’s always sitting on the same boulder, next to an ancient oak. Sometimes she’s humming and on some rare days she’s singing a sad song in her clear, beautiful voice. I usually stop to listen. She doesn’t seem to mind. Only very rarely does she look up or even notices someone more than in passing.

The song is so sad that it brings me to tears despite all the things I’ve seen in my life. Her eyes and her soul are far away. I have seen the woman every single day without fail since I moved to this town fifteen years ago. She has aged but her resolve and her devotion has never wavered. I’m never sure whether to pity her or whether to admire her for the way she lives her live.

This one was the most difficult song I tried yet because I was not sure for a long while how to tackle this. Then I gave it some more plays and figured it would make most sense to stick close to the theme and the sad melody. I love the song and tried hard to write something that would live up to the emotion welling up when I listen to it.

Requested by Regin Theradiant.

Scenes of music: Gold and Slaves

Posted on Mon 31 December 2018 • Tagged with Scenes of music

Song: Gold and Slaves

“Quick”, she tells us. We keep to our guide, faces deep in the hoods of our disguises. The sun burns as we hurry along. She leads us across the markets. “You mustn’t let others see how much you detest the slave trade.” She had told us that many times already. We still had trouble not acting, not caring. Slavery goes against so many of Gibraltar’s teachings. But we had a specific goal here. We were on a mission that took priority over our resentment. I take a short look at the people. Almost all of them have resigned to their fate. They all look like they haven’t gotten a single meal for days. I tend to feel little for others but this misery is too much. Ashamed I look away and continue following our local guide as the rest of my team does. I am certain they each have their own thoughts about what they see here. Currently we can’t risk to cause a diplomatic incident though. We are to retrieve a certain object in the possession of a local businessman. Gibraltar had made it clear that it was of the utmost importance that the university was not to be implicated in this. He also stressed that a legal, nonviolent way of retrieval was highly preferred.

Truth be told I shouldn’t even be here. I’m here because I complained about boredom and the university system being useless. So the Administrator decided to teach me a lesson by including me in a mission even though my education was far from finished. How do you even get the idea to send a first year student on a foreign trip, no matter how great the rest of the team?

Two of them made pretty clear how they felt about an absolute beginner joining them. Not so the team lead - but on the other hand I knew Kakysha already. She’s professional and wouldn’t let her feelings influence the potential success of a mission. I was worried and distraught by the thought of going on a mission. I would’ve never even chosen this life, but sometimes you just aren’t given a choice. Kakysha was one of the most commendable fighters at university though. Most of her performance evaluations were amazing. Those things gave me some comfort and made it just a little easier to do this - to go hunting for a relic in a foreign nation.

This one was gathering dust in my drafts folder for a long, long time because I never thought this would fit what I usually write. I am publishing it now since it was a major inspiration for some of the scenes I talk about; the combination of atmospheric music and intense narration going hand in hand.

Scenes of music: You should see me in a crown

Posted on Mon 31 December 2018 • Tagged with Scenes of music

Song: You should see me in a crown

You wonder why it is that they always hurt you. They also make you hurt others. You shut out the pain and cut them down. Puppets. You pretend the other kids are the same as the training puppets earlier. The screams are muted. You only hear the sounds of your blades and their blades. Everyone is dying.

This is what the training is every day, every month, every year since you were taken. You don’t know how long you have been in this place. The only thing that matters is survival. Survival and the crown. The others have made a crown out of scrap metal and glass shards, because that is all you have when you’re not made to fight others. The one who owns the crown is in charge. You only want to be left in peace. When you have the crown, the others will leave you alone. Or be left in pieces.

The crown is symbolic - it cannot be worn without pain, it cannot be gained without pain, it cannot be held without pain. Nobody wants to be a ruler here.

When writing this one, the greatest hints were the recurring metallic sounds that I immediately associated with blades. It was the young sounding voice and the crown in the lyrics that made me think of a horrific death camp for kids.

Requested by Hax Silverstone.

Scenes of music: Soul Surrender

Posted on Mon 31 December 2018 • Tagged with Scenes of music

Song: Soul Surrender

You hear the righteous choirs singing in your head. They sing of glory and destruction. They sing of conquest. You rush ahead, up the stairs, along the castle walls. The guards try to stop you but you dodge some. You attack some others to throw them off balance. You run. You practically fly because you have your sights set on your goal.

This time, this glorious night you will succeed and throw the empress from her throne. You’ll get the justice you wish for, the justice your family deserved ever since it has been driven from these lands. You’ll stop her reign of terror, that’s what you keep repeating to yourself. No locked door can stop you now. The magic in your veins allows you to break them with a single touch of your hand.

Your allies have done their deeds as well. They poisoned the high guard and its numbers are reduced to a handful of soldiers. The rest has come down from food poisoning. Knocked out but not dead. The only death tonight will be her, her life yours to take. That has been your intent ever since she deemed all of you unworthy of continued existence. You feel the steel of your blade in your hand. It sings for blood. Blood of the oppressor.

Spirits high, but blade held higher, you barge into her quarters. No one dares fire an arrow here. She seems to have expected you and draws her sword, a wicked grin on her face.

This was an easier request. I was already familiar with the song from many hours playing Final Fantasy XIV and its grand theme invites an equally grand scene, like a battlefield, or something with a lot of fast action and drama. I believe that political impact is important for this piece, that’s why I had an assassination in mind. Or rather, a noisy coup then a sneaky assassination.

Requested by Anja Kreutz.

Anno 2205: Stories of Possible Futures

Posted on Mon 31 December 2018 • Tagged with Video Games, Stories

I wanted to play Anno 2205 for quite a while because of its setting in the far future, being able to colonize the moon and all that, but I was never entirely sure it is the right kind of game for me. I usually stick to more story based games. However, after giving Surviving Mars a try and finding it overall very enjoyable, my opinion against buying the title wasn’t as strong as before. I consulted a friend who ensured me that if I liked Surviving Mars, there’s a very good chance I’d like Anno 2205 as well. Some time later, I snagged the game as well as all its expansions for €14.

Overall, I immensely enjoy seeing different visions of what our far future could look like, be it The Expanse, Anno 2205 or Surviving Mars, maybe even Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I truly hope we - as the human race - will make it that far without annihilating ourselves over petty conflicts or choking in our self-made garbage problem. Now, what is it that makes these scenarios more interesting? They have visions of what will be better, but the makers of these works of fiction acknowledge that the future will also have its own problems - something that comes up too rarely in “clean” fiction like Star Trek.

  • The Expanse has a myriad problems, from Earth’s overpopulation, to the political climate of Earth versus Mars, to the general suffering of people in what’s called the Belt.
  • Surviving Mars has at least one scenario in which a Third World War is happening on Earth. Leaving Earth for Mars is pictured as dangerous but also very promising, while conflicts on Earth don’t cease. While your Marsian colony is backed by an entity on Earth, you can make it without overly relying on them.
  • Anno 2205 has its own share of political problems with the first wave of colonists on the moon being very unhappy and taking military action against your cooperation back on Earth. The game also acknowledges climate factors, like arctic nights and smog. The further you progress the more you might be horrified by how much of what you ship around the globe are actually not necessary products but consumer goods. It’s a crass reminder of how far consumerism has progressed. I wonder if it might have made sense to include some waste management mechanic to convey a more ecologic perspective for the future.

With that prelude out of the way, let me tell you about a corporation called Abstergo Industries (I usually choose that Assassin’s Creed-inspired name for companies in video games).
Abstergo Industries started out relatively small in a region called Cape Ambar in Earth’s temperate region. It was there that they collaborated with Ibarra-FoxCom when trying to lift an old ark out of the depths of the ocean - a project that is still ongoing.

In trying to face the needs of both its customers and its employees, Abstergo expanded to Kinngait Protectorate, a region in the arctic. The company showed both its resourcefulness in settling the uninviting region as well as its good will towards the Arctic Custodians by helping with repairs and research concerning one of Earth’s Climate Stabilizers.

Dedicated Abstergo security professionals stopped several attempts by terrorists trying to disrupt Abstergo’s supply lines and operations. Its growth progressing smoothly, the company was proud to launch its own space station hosting a wealth of scientific experiments. Furthermore, their expansion onto Luna was a great success, with the first base being situated in Iwamoto Crater. Here, a collaboration with Cassian Industries led to a very profitable operation in mining meteroids. Only a while later, Abstergo would settle in a second lunar region, Novikov Crater, to help with refugee relief efforts.

Using a massive fleet of cargo ships, shuttles and space elevators, Abstergo grew from a small company into a massive MegaCorp and expanded into one more region - Vanha Plains in the Tundra. As the company developed, so did its awareness of logistics and environmental needs, leading to the implementation of several optimizations in its production processes building on scientific breakthroughs from its orbital science team. Fewer transport routes would be needed and more goods could be sourced locally. Additionally, in order to provide a clean environment for its inhabitants, Abstergo started separating sectors into living and production areas, leading to happier and healthier citizens.

With Abstergo drawing a healthy amount of investors, financial options seemed to skyrocket, leading to the company aquiring settlement rights for Walbruck Basin, Greentide Archipelago and Wildwater Bay. Development of these areas is still in progress and reports about local activity are scarce. Rumors have also surfaced about a potential health hazard from Vanha Plains, but the company keeps a tight lid on these issues.

Abstergo Industries has announced it will enter the stock market later this year.