After the Mass Effect/Fantasy Age game and the Edge Of The Empire game, the next campaign our group found ourselves in was the starter module for 5E: The Lost Mine Of Phandelver. This was good for a few reasons. Firstly, we added a couple players that have been great to play with. Second, by the time we started, I had gone and bought the physical 5E books and started running a campaign myself so I was familiar with the system. And thirdly, it gave more structure that the previous games could stumble on.
Episode 1 of D&D 5E – The Lost Mine Of Phandelver: https://senstaku.podbean.com/e/lost-mine-of-phandelver-01/
At the beginning of the adventure, Silence was a version of Thom Merrilin from the Wheel Of Time novels, and not much more than that. Partway through play, I refined the character to include more of a tragic backstory to make her inherently a broken person that drew elements from George McFly of Back To The Future, Daria Morgandorffer from Daria, and Bernard Black from Black Books. This version of Silence eventually gave one of my favourite moments of any game I’ve played before or since. More on that later. Being a musically-inclined character, this list was easier to build than the others, but it’s not just a 1:1 rundown, there is more to it. Here’s the list:
“Right Now” by Tyler van den Berg
I knew I wanted to make a Bard as a character from the get go. Silence was found as a baby in a wrecked caravan by a traveling Bard named Masin Fells (who was a direct copy of Thom), who ended up raising her and training her in his ways. This represents the desire to entertain mixed with Silence’s natural enthusiasm.
“One Of My Turns” by Pink Floyd
Not long before Masin died from the simple passage of time, Silence would face all sorts of ridicule and abuse from people in the towns they’d visit, crushing that enthusiasm and twisting it into something cruel. Once the old man passed, Silence leant heavily into that side of things, owning the darkness people were attributing to her.
“Welcome To The Masquerade” by Thousand Foot Krutch
This song is representative of the shift in attitude Silence presented to the world. No longer caring and charming, but borderline malicious and conniving. She’d be more likely run out of town than leaving in good graces.
“Haven’t You Noticed (I’m A Star)” by Olivia Olson
Like above, this song is further indication of Silence’s attitude. She would go from spreading cheer and goodwill to spreading rumours and lies, making things more about herself than her audience. The song mentions having friends, even in a not-entirely-serious fashion. Silence categorically would NOT have any friends for very long, and certainly not once she left town. This is where we join the story.
“Fear Of The Dark” by Iron Maiden
While this is a direct reference to the game, being my personal selection for what Silence’s Bardic Inspiration sounded like (delivered via bagpipe), it also acts as a pseudo cry for help. She acts the way she does blatantly, wanting to get called out, because that’s the way people have only ever interacted with her really for years at this point, and to find a group of people that basically accepted her was strange.
“The Mercy Seat” by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Remember the mention of “favourite moment” from the introduction? This is this song. Silence and another character, Morne, split from the group while exploring a ruined keep to find a barred door in a tower. Silence acted in haste and opened the door revealing an owlbear that nearly killed her. After the fight, she blamed Morne for the situation, saying he had pushed her to save himself. This lead to a Zone of Truth based confrontation which Silence nearly cheated with the use of her magic. Nearly.
“Hurt” by Johnny Cash
Following that incident, the party basically abandoned Silence to her lies. She would reflect on the fact that this is part of her cycle, and that no-one wants her, all that jazz. Want made this roleplaying so powerful, at least to me, is that it wasn’t entirely made up. I was going through a rather severe depressive episode at the time, and a lot of the things Silence said were actually from me. I must admit, I’d been using these games as a kind of therapy, and finally having an outlet for everything was an amazing relief.
“Wanted Dead Or Alive” by Bon Jovi
One of the things about Silence is that no matter how many people she’d hurt or been hurt by, she’d inevitably bounce back, past transgressions buried if not forgotten. With a mission still to accomplish, she still needed the party she acted more subservient to them in order to curry favour, even if it was disingenuous.
“Fight For Your Right” by Beastie Boys
As above, this song shows Silence’s resolve and ability to shake off a lot of the harm that would have normal people repenting or at the very least apologising.
“I Touch Myself” by Divinyls
Again, another in-game reference, this time to Silence’s Cure Wounds spell. It was the only spell I had an alternate track for, the main song being “Bring Me To Life” by Evanescence. Mostly because I can’t resist a good pun (Cure Wounds is a touch range spell), but the song is about self-empowerment, which I believe fits.
“Enjoy The Silence” by Depeche Mode
At the end of the titular Lost Mine, the party found a portal that possibly led to another world, which worried Silence deep down. With so many stories left to experience, she was ready to leave at a moment’s notice rather than jump/fall through. Luckily the portal was shut down, but the momentary threat of upheaval beyond anything she had experienced prior was enough to convince Silence of the value of her lifestyle, broken as it is. Double reference for “words like violence” for Vicious Mockery, one of Silence’s bread and butter spells.
“4’33″” by John Cage
Did I mention I like puns? Not only is this Silence’s namesake, it was also the form her Silence spell took. Let me tell you, there’s nothing like classical music filtered through a set of bagpipes. This was one of the goals I set for myself in character creation.