Sometimes I use music to get myself into the mood for a session, not so much when I’m DMing (which I find a little distracting) as when I am preparing the atmosphere. Of late I have had occasion to drop the characters into the middle of a war zone, and in preparing the mood for that war zone I listened to a particular song, Chosen by VNV Nation. The lyrics to this song are from a short story by Guy de Maupassant, which it just so happens also describes a type of compromise, though exactly how essential or conceited it is I suppose everyone shall have to judge for themselves (I’ve not read the story). The lyrics of this song seem aptly suited to the theme of this month’s RPG Blog Carnival, so I present a version of  them here for those times when one needs to conjure a suitably chaotic war-zone feeling for a session. I particularly recommend listening to the song while reading the first chapter of Iain M. Banks’ A Song of Stone.

Orders shouted in an unknown, guttural tongue rose to the windows of the seemingly dead, deserted houses; while behind the fast-closed shutters eager eyes peered forth at the victors – masters now of the city, its fortunes, and its lives, by “right of war.” The inhabitants, in their darkened rooms, were possessed by that terror which follows in the wake of cataclysms, of deadly upheavals of the earth, against which all human skill and strength are vain. For the same thing happens whenever the established order of things is upset, when security no longer exists, when all those rights usually protected by the law of man or of Nature are at the mercy of unreasoning, savage force. The earthquake crushing a whole nation under falling roofs; the flood let loose, and engulfing in its swirling depths the corpses of drowned peasants, along with dead oxen and beams torn from shattered houses; or the army, covered with glory, murdering those who defend themselves, making prisoners of the rest, pillaging in the name of the Sword, and giving thanks to God to the thunder of cannon–all these are appalling scourges, which destroy all belief in eternal justice, all that confidence we have been taught to feel in the protection of Heaven and the reason of man.

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