1. bandella

    bandella New Member

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    How to hurt a character's vocal cords?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by bandella, Nov 13, 2017.

    First, I just discovered this forum and don't know how I've lived without it all this time. Hi!

    Second, my story takes places in your standard medieval fantasy setting, so some reasonable suspension of disbelief is okay (though I'm trying to keep the fantasy aspect to a minimum). My character is a bard who runs afoul of a king who doesn't appreciate his less-than-flattering songs, so he decides to make an example of him through torture. This primarily comes in the form of taking his livelihood from him and ruining his voice. I'm thinking there could be some sort of concoction poured down his throat that would do it, but what? Is there some sort of physical trauma to the throat that could do it?

    But here's the kicker: my character still needs to be able to speak. I figure his speech will be severely altered from what it was, so I'm okay with it being raspy or broken or otherwise affected. But what could be done so that he couldn't sing (or at least not well anymore) but could still speak, with or without difficulty?
     
  2. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    Hmm. During the Carnal Sins sidequest in The Witcher 3, the antagonist force feeds his victims an aqueous formaldehyde solution as part of his ritual killings. Coincidentally, one of the victims is a singer/playwright, targeted to send a message to creative types critical of the local religion. Something similar might work here, though I'm not sure on the potential lethality. In the example I mentioned, the attack on her was interrupted, so the force feeding wasn't completed.

    The real problem I think you'll run into, with any sort of liquid concoction, is plausibility. Why bother with chemicals when a king can simply order his tongue ripped out?
     
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  3. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    Two thing immediately leap to mind; both very simple and very easily within the realms of what a non-magical fantasy world could do.

    Firstly; make the guy breathe a whole lot of smoke. Not just smoke, you aren't trying to suffocate him. Just dangle him over a bonfire or something. It's not a myth that smoking screws with your voice and this will do it just fine. How long it'll take to permanently wreck your voice is kinda debatable, but certainly not very long if you just kinda leave him suffering for a long while. Extra point for making the smoke more noxious with chilli or similar to make it more painful. Dude will definitely be screaming and charred and hurt but not dead; could speak but singing seems unlikely.

    Secondly (and somewhat more grizzly) just make the guy fucking scream. If you can make someone scream hard enough and long enough they will eventually do permanent damage to their vocal chords. This really happens to singers, particularly to screamy metal singers and plenty of them have had to go have vocal chords surgery (off the top of my head Don Dokken had exactly this happen). Turns out there is a lot more technique than you might think to screaming, at least if you don't want your larynx to fall out. Anyway I'm sure you can come up with some creative ways to make someone constantly scream for a protracted period and really anything will work just fine here. It takes time for sure, but since you're already torturing the dude then that's not that big a deal.
     
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  4. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    SO3 gas is a byproduct of nickel smelting that when it comes into contact with water, creates sulfuric acid and is the main cause of acid rain. If inhaled, it creates layer of sulfuric acid on mucous membranes damaging them. This affects throat tissue, vocal cords and the lungs causing some pretty nasty scarring that affects the throat and voice like a life long case of strep throat and leaves lung problems that resemble cystic fibrosis and pneumonia. It wouldn't be difficult for someone with some sort of alchemical skill to produce, but I have doubts as to how practical it would be to use as a punishment.
     
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  5. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    I like the methodology but I think in somewhere with pre-modern medicine this would pretty much just kill you and in fairly short order, at least you wouldn't make it through a winter.
     
  6. bandella

    bandella New Member

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    Wow. You guys are fast. And super helpful. Thanks!

    Actually, both of those line up with other things I was imagining for this character. He's a pretty boy (which is part of his charm and what makes people want to listen to him), so messing up his face is a given. Part of his ordeal will also be suffering irreparable damage to his hands to keep him from playing music as well. I thought just smashing them would suffice, but scarring them up, along with his face, via a fire would provide a little extra insult to injury, literally.
     
  7. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    Sounds like a plan. Maybe something painfully ironic for the last touch? Maybe make a lute (or whatever) out of iron, cover the head of it in pitch, set fire to it and tell the guy to play as he breathes the smoke and the whole instrument heats up in his hands?
     
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  8. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    Like how Snow White's evil queen was forced to dance in red hot iron shoes at Snow Whites Wedding. Nice!
     
  9. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    I think we can all agree that irony is the greatest punishment.

    Oh, wait, no being slowly tortured is probably the worst punishment. The irony is just the cherry on top ;)
     
  10. bandella

    bandella New Member

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    You guys are deranged. Clearly, I've found my people. Heh. Thanks! :)
     

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