WotBS Song of Forms influences?


My insane players expressed the desire to actually sing the Song of Forms with the seela by composing some music and writing more verses.
(Vuhl may have suggested certain unorthodox ideas to them)
What real-world works would you recommend to use as a stylistic influence to set the right tone?
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I probably don't envision it the same way most people who played through the adventures did, because while I love classical music soundtracks for fantasy, I know common folk didn't play that stuff. I'm from southeast Texas, and in February 2007 when I was editing the adventure, I took a trip to New Orleans during Mardi Gras season, and I guess I had a different musical palette in mind.

I recall deciding that Gate Pass's traditional music had a sound reminiscent of American delta blues.

A modern example:

Or to be a bit more traditional:

Something like ten years ago we published half of a War of the Burning Sky novel, which went through the end of adventure 2. This beat (starts at 2:35) is basically the structure I used for a song that Rantle sings in that novelization, though his song had more lines in each stanza before going to the refrain.

While the Innenotdarasne Elves were mostly all dead by the time the campaign saga starts, I envisioned their music as being along the spectrum of bluegrass...

... to Christian revival music. You know, those long rapturous melodies that take their time (because, well, they're elves and they have time to spare).

And both types of music would have been influenced by the music of the local fey. Which, to use real world music as a baseline, would mean going back to field hollers and the work songs of enslaved people. Which, well, sure have about the same naughty word situation inspiring them as the Song of Forms did.

Here's an excerpt of how I described the song in the novelization.

The song floated eerily above the roar of the forest fire, and though Rantle could not understand the words, he grasped its meaning clearly. Its strangely familiar rhythm brimmed with loss and longing and a memory of beauty which its singers would not abandon, no matter how thickly death surrounded them.

Though he was sure it was just the shimmer of the fire’s heat, the trees appeared to dance with the song’s rhythm. When the music swelled, the flames dimmed, but always an oppressive weariness would creep into the singer’s voices, and again ash and cinders would howl on the wind.

He kept low as he crawled to a hill which overlooked the lake, and he struggled to discern the different singers by their voices and their roles in the song. A core group of at least four, three men and a woman, held the song steady, though other singers occasionally joined from scattered directions around the shore. Two of the men would sing a repeating chorus, while the third man’s deeper voice rose above them in counterpoint, wavering between pride and fear, before finally dropping to a sorrowful drone.

But then, through the despair would rise the woman’s voice, haunting and inspiring, calling out and uplifting the other singers.

The song went through two verses as Rantle snuck forward, and would continue through several more as he and Kathor observed, but as far as he could tell it never repeated fully. Every time he heard the woman’s piercing voice, he could not help but feel weak at the beauty of it.

Take that, and add words of a magic incantation, and you've got the Song of Forms.

But hey, death of the author. If you envision it differently, go for however makes sense to you. But I would encourage looking at sorts of songs people would sing while working: a regular form, with a main singer doing call and response to keep people focused on a tedious task while also taking their minds off how tedious it is.

Maybe consider sea shanties: Copy of 35 Sea Shanties (57-36 full track) - AC4 Black Flag In Game Soundtrack

Or wool waulking songs (though this is probably too happy and fast): Wool Waulking Songs

Thanks for asking this question. It got me to put down in text something that previously had only really been bouncing around my head.


Fascinating, thank you for writing this up. This is a completely different direction from what I was imagining, but at least "Wayfaring Stranger" does sound appropriate to me.

Meanwhile I found this old post which led me to Hymn of Fayth from Final Fantasy X, and then I stumbled on the Epic of Gilgamesh in Sumerian (sadly, not choral), which reminded me of Georgian polyphonic singing.

Of course, the players are asking me for more verses too. Did the novel had any more quotes from the song, by any chance?

The Song of Forms was untranslated, because I'm not a wizard. The song Rantle sings is something to cheer up some Gate Pass survivors while they're all despairingly huddled in a burnt out building halfway through the night.

Then there's a second song later that's a folk song about a drunkard who slips in a swamp and gets stuck and nearly drowns, until a mosquito bites him and he gets pissed off enough to pull himself free to try to kill the bloodsucker.

I do like the Hymn of Fayth, though.


Yeah, there was :D
It is quite good IMO. Even though the idea that Shalosha might be a 20-something elf creeps me out. (She was 100+ in my campaign)

I never dug the whole 'elves have decades of adolescence' thing. And I think 5e and PF2 have both mostly switched to "they biologically mature at the same rate as humans, but elf culture treats them like we do teenagers until about age 100."

Also, thank you.

Oh, and I think that link @hirou posted doesn't have all the text. I ended up writing more and finishing the fire forest storyline.

I wonder if @Morrus would be interested in doing some easy layout and selling it as an ebook.


yah, no, 100+ is probably over the top. If I were to design a really long-lived elf people, I'd let them physically mature slower than humans, orcs and halflings (half the rate?) and let them reach adulthood at 40-60. Which would be the mental equivalent of a 30-something human. Because honestly, I can look back at early 20s me and find some hard immaturities there. And looking at my 20-something friends, I see some of the same patterns here and there. So, I can see how a society would see twens as "yeah they're technically adults but still not fully mature, so please stay with your community for a bit longer"


For my WotBS game, I've been going with elves growing to physical maturity a bit slower than humans, and the equivalent of "mental maturity" by human standards at around the same time. Elvish culture, on the other hand, separates "not-a-child" and "full adult" by many decades. One of the reasons they have a superiority complex is that the younger races simply don't have a period of time where they become full members of society. Being 100 years of age is a formal requirement to participate in politics, inherit titles, be recognized as a master in anything, etc., and you're not supposed to have kids until you reach that age.

Shalosha is about 50 years old in this timeline, and was a young child when the purge happened, so she might have trouble crowning herself after Shaaladel is dealt with. Fortunately(?) for her, Shaaladel himself blazed a trail in that regard, conquering Taranesti and becoming the de-facto king a few years before he actually turned 100. He's around 150 now.

It's relatively rare for elves, especially fighting men, to live longer than 200. If you see that much combat, no matter how good you are, sooner or later your time will come. On top of that, living an active, productive life will cause the inevitable day that you take your last Trance to arrive sooner, rather than later. Those who actually reach 700+ are remembered forever as the wisest elders to grace society, and most of those individuals lead quiet lives, their primary contributions to society being things like advice, artistic expression, and magical study.

Of course, in your own game, you can come up with whatever you'd like for your pointy-eared fascists.

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