Impractical Applications (Taki at the Ruins)

It’s time again to see some nice impractical applications for this week’s tips.

This week, I’m going to focus on one of my more recent attempts to introduce a new character to my narrative.

Her name was Taki, and she was a musician. I designed her to go with a place I’d created (described in yesterday’s riff, here). Since this place was a city of spirits, I didn’t have to make her entirely humanoid, so I decided to have some fun. At the time, my main rule for designing musicians and groups was that they had to fit music I had access to; Taki was the representative for my selection of koto and shakuhachi music.

I introduced her first by reputation: Taki was a difficult hire, with a very strong and rather idiosyncratic collection of artistic principles. This allowed me to hook the players early; they were intrigued by her picking and choosing her hires, and wanted to see if they qualified. The later admonishment to, among other things, not step on her tail only hooked them further, as they wanted to know if it was a metaphorical or literal order.

Then they found her, practicing in a half-destroyed cluster of buildings under the starlight. “In the middle of the center building is a figure standing over a well-polished koto,” I wrote. “At first glance, she is a very large lizard, with four scaled arms reaching down to pluck the strings with her claws, her frills lying flat against her neck, and her throat sac vibrating as she flutes in accompaniment to her playing. Her robes are deep blue and come down to her ankles, and her scales are bluish-silver.” I then proceeded to elaborate on her. The group soon learned that she could either sound like a flute or talk, but not at the same time, and that she actually had to tickle her throat sac a bit to switch between them; that she had the reptilian habit of tasting the air around her (though not what she tasted), that she felt the past only looked good in the dark (by dark, she meant nothing short of a moonless night) and that as a result, she refused to linger long enough for the sun to come up again; and that she had a very strong philosophical bent and a tendency to speak in not-quite-riddles.

They never did finish their conversation, for that exact reason. She did, however, apparently work.

Until next time!

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