Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Devil's Jukebox

The so-called “Devil’s Jukebox” is a malign, arcane device that may be encountered in shabby dance-halls, two-bit gin-joints, or lonely roadside bars from the outskirts of the City to the coast of Hesperia. Its presence often heralds some sort of tragedy or misfortune--it has been seen in farm towns just before devastating floods, and captured in the background of crime scene photos of gangland massacres.  Often though, the Devil’s Jukebox causes its own tragedy.

The device is supposedly the only existing Schreckwalder Lapsit Exillis model jukebox in existence, the last model personally designed by company co-founder Wolfram Schreckwalder before his seclusion--and the tragedy that followed. No one knows how the device came to be imbued with magical power, though there are always tales that it was made on commission for some extraplanar power.

It plays standard 78rpm shellac records, though no one has been able to change the records in this machine. Attempts at removal lead to another copy of the record in question re-appearing in the device, and the removed one crumbling away to dust with a hint of brimstone in the air. The jukebox does change its own records from time to time, though no one can predict when this will happen. It can hold up to twenty records, though no one has ever heard more than a handful of the songs in its repertoire and lived to tell about it.

Here are a few of the songs that have been heard played by the machine, and the magical effects that occur when they play. Effects last as long as the song plays (4 minutes, or less) unless noted otherwise. The jukebox seems to play these songs at random, and it starts or stops as it will. Songs may be selected by number, but few are foolish enough to actually make it play:

1. “Devil’s Blues” by Springheeled Jack Jamison: The attentions of an infernal entity are drawn to one of the people present, or perhaps them all. The length and nature of the attention is variable, but it is always troublesome in character.

2. “Take My Soul” by Wendell Clavinger: One person present has there soul trapped elsewhere--likely in some item at some remote location. Their body functions normally but appears to be in a coma.
3. “It’ll Come Back Around” by Billy Barrow and His Jazz Revenants: Ghosts of dead enemies/foes materialize and attack or otherwise bedevil those present.  Additionally, any dead bodies present will rise as undead.

4. “Don’t the Time Just Fly?” by the Legendary Smaragdine Mountain Boys: While only enough time to for the song to play seems to pass for those present, d100 hours pass outside--possibly even longer.

5. “Gallows Swing” by Los Hermanos Acuna Western Orchestra: Within an hour of the song playing, a lynch mob of 10-30 will seek out one of those present and attempt to deliver swift justice for a violent murder they are sure the individual committed.

6. “Poor Me” by the Gentlemen of the Road: One person present (at random) will lose all their wealth and non-magical possessions by a series of seemingly coincidental misfortunes over the next week.

7. “Sea of Tears” by Tic Doloreux and his Orchestra: All present are struck with intense sadness. Those who fail a saving throw will become suicidal and attempt to end their life unless the song ends before they can do so, or they are prevented by others.

8. “Must Have Been the Moonlight” by Irena Dubrovna: One person (at random) present when the song plays is stricken with lycanthropy, though this will not necessarily be evident until the next full moon.

9. “You Make Me Crazy” by Hugh Strange and the Bedlam Orchestra: Everyone hearing the song is struck by an unreasoning frenzy wherein they attack each other in a murderous rage. They take no actions requiring forethought or planning (like casting spells) but will employ available weapons.

10.  "Missing You Missing Me" by Jonny Favorite: Everyone hearing the song becomes permanently amnestic regarding some important memory in his or her life.  This varies from forgetting a single important fact, to complete loss of identity.  Occasionally (30% of the time), someone present will have memories replaced with ones not their own.


John Matthew Stater said...

These are so good I want to punch myself in the face. Your command of the era is amazing - I mean, you get the feel right. I'm looking forward to the book!

Trey said...

Omigod! RPGs do lead to self-injurious violence! :D

Seriously though, thanks for the kind words and encouragement. I do make a really effort to come up with "period" sort of details/accents. I'm glad there appreciated.

satyre said...

They certainly are.

Wonder if there's a recording studio at a crossroads somewhere?

Unknown said...

It's true though. The City is the thing I'm currently most excited about in the RPG blog scene. For years I've kicked around ideas for a setting inspired by Steinbeck and Faulkner and Chandler, but it's never gone anywhere.

You're hitting exactly the right notes here, and showing immaculate taste. I haven't seen a single entry that wasn't a knockout.

Trey said...

Thanks guys. What can I say, other than its gratifying to know that people are getting something out of it! It's funny, I talked to a few friends in the "real world" about the City a fair amount before my blog with typically sort of perplexed responses. I guess it shows there's an audience for everything somewhere. :)

And Satyre--I'm sure there's a music studio at the crossroads, but it may only be open 'round midnight...

Anonymous said...

Again, Trey, all I can say is: WOW. You have a knack for outdoing yourself (and the rest of us) that really blows me away. I cannot wait for your game to come out.

Trey said...

Thanks, though I must respectfully diasgree and point of that you're the undisputed king of the unusual and evocative magic item.