Heyward’s Mystical Organ

The DMG does have some great artifacts and relics that never showed up in campaigns but always were great to read about. One of this adventurer’s favorites is Heyward’s Mystical Organ. Not only is there an obvious 7th-grade male joke in the title, but at some point, this device actually showed up in one of the early proto-D&D games that I always imagine Gary and the boys playing when Chainmail was getting turned into the majestic Dungeons and Dragons. I have no proof of this being the case but I offer this as evidence:

1) This artifact makes too little sense to have been made up simply for the DMG.

2) It somehow has five prime powers [such as all possessor’s ability scores increase permanently by 2 or calling creeping death once per day or being able to restore youth to anyone once per month].

3) It also has five major malevolent effects [user transformed into a powerful but minor being from another plane who then leaves the game or shrinking 6 inches every time the player uses it. Imagine playing a short gnome who got her knobby little fingers on this thing. On the plus side, that gnome would be able find gems like no one’s business, what with her new-found ability to get through cracks.].

4) Why make it up and not use it?  If I thought of this thing, I would immediately cram it into whatever campaign I was in or running. “Yes, I know you supposed to go Against the Giants, but a messenger from the Great Kingdom interrupts your preparation with a urgent message. Your party is needed immediately; there are rumors of towns being driven made with the haunting sounds of an organ.” Also, what thief, chaotic fighter or magic-user would want to dive right in and start banging out some Attila or “Hello, I love you” by The Doors?

For those stalwarts who do not know Attila, it was Billy Joel’s second band. They put out one album, which Joel denied for a while, and it is either the worst record of all time or mind-blowingly incredible, depending on the source. I and about three other people compose the latter camp/source; much of the rest of civilization the other. There are at least a couple Perverse Osmosis songs that have more than a little “Brain Invasion” or “March of the Huns” in them. I first stumbled onto this psychotronic masterpiece courtesy of Mushroom Music, located next to Tulane’s campus in New Orleans. The store had an incredible old tape collection with copper piece prices. Digging through it one night, I saw the album cover and bought the tape. I listened to it several times but had no idea that it was the piano man on the keyboards and singing. I played it for Ultra one night and he gave me the back story. I don’t think he had ever heard the music; I had only heard the music, so once again, we should all thank Boccob for balancing it all out.


I am still looking for that person or persons who saw Attila on 1971. I would love to ask about the stage show.

One other Attila story: Ultra and I were selling jello shots in the parking lot at a Widespread Panic show; we had a deal where if a person knew who Attila was, he or she could have a free jello shot. Not surprisingly, there were no correct answers. One drunken person answered, “You mean, like the Hun?” We conferred and awarded him the jello shot. We also had an all-you-can carry for 25$ special, which was better received.

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