Friday, August 14, 2015

99 Crimson Balloons




I was in an Italian deli / sub shop today, grabbing lunch for myself and a crew of people.  So, I was standing there waiting for sandwiches to be made for about 15 or 20 minutes.

That 80's classic "99 Luftballons" song by Nena came on the radio.  Obviously, I know the English version, too - "99 Red Balloons".  Undistracted, I really listened to the song - even though I couldn't understand anything other than "luftballons", which means air-balloons, basically.  You gotta get those syllables where you can.

Anyways, I decided to actually read the lyrics online just a few minutes ago.  I was shocked to find a deeper message than just watching a bunch of balloons (probably red) floating up in the sky.

Apparently, the idea for the song came from the guitarist who noticed balloons being released into the air.  As he watched them move toward the horizon, shifting and changing shapes like an alien spacecraft, he wondered what might happen if they floated over the Berlin Wall to the Soviet sector.

                                        "99 Red Balloons"                              

You and I in a little toy shop
Buy a bag of balloons with the money we've got
Set them free at the break of dawn
'til one by one they were gone
Back at base bugs in the software
Flash the message: "something's out there!"
Floating in the summer sky
Ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine red balloons
Floating in the summer sky
Panic bells, it's red alert
There's something here from somewhere else
The war machine springs to life
Opens up one eager eye
Focusing it on the sky
Where ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine decision street
Ninety-nine ministers meet
To worry, worry, super scurry
Call the troops out in a hurry
This is what we've waited for
This is it, boys, this is war
The president is on the line
As ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine knights of the air
Ride super high-tech jet fighters
Everyone's a super hero
Everyone's a captain Kirk
With orders to identify
To clarify and classify
Scramble in the summer sky
Ninety-nine red balloons go by

As ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine dreams I have had
In every one a red balloon
It's all over and I'm standing pretty
In this dust that was a city
If I could find a souvenir
Just to prove the world was here
And here is a red balloon
I think of you, and let it go


So, I decided to come up with a spell tribute.  Even though I earmarked this for Crimson Dragon Slayer (even the album came out in 1983!), I believe any OSR game worth its salt could find this usable.

99 Crimson Balloons

Also known as 99 blood balloons or spheres of blood, this spell of the fourth level was crafted by the bloodlust sorcerer Chang Xikurr during his time imprisoned in the ultra-zone.

Upon casting this spell, the wizard summons exactly 99 spheres filled with a dark red substance - they are actually filled with blood... demon blood!  The spheres rise into the air quickly and burst soon after (the very next round).

When they reach a certain height, the spheres explode, dousing everyone within a 30' radius of the caster in the blood of demons - which makes them fight and kill and war as if Hell itself were goading them on.  Not only do they act like demons, but they begin to resemble them also... horns, crimson flesh, cat eyes, hooves, claws, forked tongue, sulfuric stench, tons of back hair, the whole nine (or ninety-nine) yards.

The blood's effect lasts 3d6 rounds.  Mechanically speaking, those sloshed with infernal gore receive an extra attack each round - but only if the player describes his character's violent escapades graphically.

After the bloodlust has subsided, there's a period (2d4 rounds) of wistful reflection where nothing but moping around and gentle weeping can be accomplished.
___


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VS