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Brown Notes in video games.


  • The Tomes of Eldritch Lore in the original Alone in the Dark (1992) will either weaken Carnby (Fragments from the Book of Abdul) or kill him dead (De Vermis Mysteriis) upon reading unless he is standing on the pentagram in the room where you find them.
  • In Anchorhead, continuing to read the Tome of Eldritch Lore in the church leads to a Non Standard Gameover where the protagonist goes insane, calmly smiling as she claws her eyes out.
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  • In Aporia: Beyond The Valley, the dark specter haunting the Valley can't approach and kill you if you take refuge among the blue-lit standing stones. Nonetheless, if you linger to watch it creeping through the woods from the stones' shelter, distressing music starts up, your controls freeze for a second or two as if you're paralyzed by terror, and frosty patterns cloud your field of view, hinting that your eyes are being impaired or flash-frozen just from looking at it. (Luckily, both effects end if it leaves or you do.)
  • Near the entrance of the Bonus Dungeon of Baldur's Gate is an idle skeleton. Your tour guide explains that there was once an enchanted picture on one of the walls that caused whomever looked at it to continue gazing at for all time. That skeleton was one of its victims.
  • The first Breath of Fire I game gives the Dragon Soul/D.Hrt, which is a song that reduces the HP of any dragon who hears it to 1. It will immediately waste Zog or Sara, and bring Ryu's HP down too since he's also a dragon.
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  • One of Eddie's solos in Brütal Legend is called "Face Melter", which causes massive damage to nearby enemies; killing basic infantry shows you the literal effect of a face-melting guitar solo.
  • In Cadenza: Music, Betrayal and Death the villain's sax playing paralyzes anyone who hears it.
  • Condemned 2: Bloodshot makes use of this. In fact, it's the main plot point of the whole series — the conspiracy responsible for the homeless population of the City going insane relies on sounds that, when heard/felt, have effects ranging from minor cranial hemorrhaging, causing omnicidal psychosis which just happens to coincide with protecting the conspiracy — and did I mention they're only omnicidal to people who are not Influenced? — to causing heads to explode — for emitters and your average conspirator, just birds, while the main character can generate sounds that explode human heads.
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  • In Corpse Party, reading all five of the victim's memoirs will have you performing whatever acts the person who wrote them did. Yoshiki will cannibalize Ayumi if you read all five, and Satoshi can be forced into a lobotomized state.
  • Discworld II has an unusual example where this is caused by attractiveness: examining the Elf Queen leaves Rincewind paralysed for hours. The consequences are fairly mild as this trope goes; the worst thing that happens is that he ends up getting thrown out of the Elves' dimension and having to get back in.
  • In Dishonored, Overseer Music Boxes prevent Corvo from using magic in their vicinity, as well as inflicting damage themselves with their sound waves.
  • A Doom Rickroll mod features a boombox playing "Never Gonna Give You Up" that is deadly to enemies (it is actually a DeHackEd-patched executable that replaces the chainsaw sprite, and vastly increases its range and damage).
  • Turns out that the songs of the Intoners in Drakengard 3 work this way. They can lead to anything from insanity to straight up Body Horror. It gets worse if one can no longer hear them.
  • In Dynasty Warriors 8, Sun Jian's new weapon, the Nine Rings Blade, releases loud, powerful soundwaves from its' rings that destroy surrounding enemies.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • The eponymous Elder Scrolls can have a number of such effects on the reader. To an untrained reader, the contents of the Scrolls appear to be inert and incomprehensible symbols that vaguely resemble constellations. The "unguarded intellects," those who know what the Scrolls are and have some ability to read them, are immediately and irrevocably struck blind. Only those initiated into the mysteries of the Cult of the Ancestor Moth retain most of their sight after reading a Scroll and seeing the future. Unfortunately, there comes a day when even an Ancestor Moth cultist reads a Scroll for the last time, forcing them into retirement. In all cases, those who read, handle, or even merely study the Scrolls without ever actually using them have a tendency to go utterly insane with alarming regularity. The Dwemer built a machine to read the Scrolls and record its results, circumventing the nasty side effects, which is the target of a quest in Skyrim.
    • The series' dragons are ageless, possessing divine Aedric souls, and have a form of Resurrective Immortality. They are said to "have always been" and have no concept of life, death, or mortality. When mankind in ancient times was under threat from the dragons and their leader, Alduin, they prayed to the Divines for aid, and their prayers were answered by being taught to use the Thu'um, the dragon's own Language of Magic, against them. The mortals created their own Shout, Dragonrend, using the words JOOR (Mortal), ZAH (Finite), and FRUL (Temporary), all concepts which are inconceivable to dragons. In essence, it is a Brown Note that is ineffective against mere mortals, but causes dragons to be temporarily incapacitated with confusion. In Skyrim, Alduin returns and begins resurrecting the dragons. The Dragonborn must find a way to defeat Alduin and rediscovers the Dragonrend shout. The Graybeards warn the Dragonborn against learning Dragonrend because it was a weapon forged by hatred and fury directed at dragonkind. According to them, to learn a Word of Power is to take everything about it into your soul. Since their leader is a friendly dragon, the Graybeards understandably don't want anything to do with a Shout created by hatred directed at dragons. Some other Dragonshouts qualify as well, such as "RII VAAZ ZOL" and "GOL HA DOV."
  • In Exile III: Ruined World, the dragon Khoth has a book of puzzles so complicated that reading them will cause the PCs to become dumbfounded.
  • The Correspondence — a mysterious ancient alphabet whose purpose nobody knows for surenote  — in Fallen London can drive you insane, or even cause your eyes to bleed or your hair to catch fire. And putting any more than six of its "letters" in a single object will quickly teach you that even lead can burn. And you can play around with it in the most unsafe manner, even making Correspondence symphonies.
    • Sunless Sea, in the same universe, proves it can only get worse: When wielded by creatures that can actually speak it (like Lorn-Flukes and Mt. Nomad), it can sink battleships. There's also Irrigo, a color that resembles a particularly intense violet, that basically destroys your memories with prolonged exposure. Places with enough Irrigo will cause the body to grow bone over its eye sockets to blind the person as a desperate safety measure. While the Neath has another six exclusive colors, some even holding their own strange properties, only Irrigo is this dangerous. And finally, there's the simpler writings that simply strike blows into your sanity, give you terrible nightmares and make people start screaming and clawing at their eyes. Pretty normal stuff in London, considering people tend to put these in their graffiti, to the point the police department needs to carry large carts full of acid to clean it up.
    • While it's fine for humans, "Pop Goes the Weasel" tends to cause weasels to explode quite spectacularly.
    • One event in Fallen London can lead to you unleashing a "torrent of vituperation" that causes fainting, makes two cats fall off the roof, and kills an elderly horse.
    • Sunless Skies: Without proper windows or just no windows at all to avoid looking at the dark, starry void outside, the High Wilderness will erode one's mind to nothing. Star-maddened people, usually found among bandits and explorers, are usually erratic and very violent.
  • In Fallout 3, Vault 92's experiment involved Mind Control via subliminal messages in white noise, which ultimately drove the inhabitants insane.
    • The mesmertron is a weaponized brown note which either drives someone into a homicidal rage, killing allies and enemies alike, causes their head to explode or makes them completely docile and obey any command given to them by anyone. This last one makes it the weapon you get when enslaving people.
  • In Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly: The horror of looking into the Hellish Abyss causes the viewer to become blind. This happens to Mio in the 'Hellish Abyss' ending, as she looks down while trying to pull Mayu up. The kicker? That's the good ending (in the original version of the game, anyway).
  • This is the implied way Harps kill in Final Fantasy — in the earlier versions, visible music notes stream towards the enemy and cause damage.
  • At one point in Forum Warz, you're hit by a Brown Note through your speakers which causes you to shit yourself into unconsciousness, although the intended effect was death. Later on in Episode 3, you get the chance to beat down the rogue hacker/Light Yagami wannabe who used it on you and return the favor, giving you the powerful Death Note attack.
  • The Infocom Interactive Fiction game Hollywood Hijinx features an unfinished film called A Corpse Line; the reason it's unfinished is that it's so horrific, anyone who watches it, even its creator, dies of a massive heart attack.
  • In King's Quest VII, the player character dies if she looks at the undead Lady Tsepish's Nightmare Face.
  • Kirby is an unfortunate combination of a very loud singer and a horrifically bad singer. For these reasons, the microphone copy power (as well as the mike item from the first game) instantly wipes out all non-boss enemies on the screen.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, when Link reaches the source of the river in Ikana Valley, he is attacked by a ghost who plays an evil melody that drains his hearts.
    • When the aforementioned river starts flowing again, it activates the nearby Music Box House that scares away the surrounding undead by playing carnival music.
  • In Loom, the Big Bad mentions a legend that says that anyone who looks under the hood of a member of the Weaver's Guild will die instantly. The main character (a Weaver himself) is uncertain as to the veracity of this legend, but late in the game, one of the Big Bad's henchmen succumbs to curiosity...
    • Playing the game in hard mode lets the player actually see this happening. In any other mode, the game cuts away to another scene for a few seconds, then back to the main character, who is now mysteriously alone and completely unscathed.
    • In fact, the basic premise of most of this game could be considered a Brown Note. Singing or playing certain sequences of notes (called "drafts") can have a wide variety of effects on reality, from the innocuous (Dyeing) to the beneficial (Healing) to the horrific (Unmaking).
  • Lost Eden has the Instruments of Fear. Despite appearing to be nothing more than a trumpet, a drum, and a bell, they produce a noise which forces the Tyranns to flee when played by the right male party members.
  • The titular composition in Maestro: Music of Death kills anyone who hears it.
  • The Dreambeats of Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, which can put anyone who isn't a Pi'illo, Star Sprite, or Nightmare Bat to sleep. Bowser defends himself against them by covering his ears, though no reason is given as to why Mario and Luigi don't do the same.
  • In Mass Effect, this is why only strong willed individuals such as Shepard are able to withstand experiencing the Prothean Beacon and keep their sanity, as the sheer intensity of the vision has the potential to "destroy a lesser mind".
    • By Mass Effect 3, Indoctrination is believed to at least partly be a result of this, with infrasonic sound being used to render people vulnerable to suggestion. Additionally, the background material suggests that the Reaper Horn, the loud blaring sound produced by Reaper Destroyers and Dreadnoughts, is intended to induce panic in enemy forces by similar means. Developer commentary states that the sound engineers put quite a lot of research into what type of sounds instinctively frighten human beings, and combined them to make the Reaper Horn.
  • The advanced forms of the Trumpy viruses in the Mega Man Battle Network series can induce status effects like confusion and blindness or immobilize you while they play their music. They can be summoned to mess up your opponents should you obtain their corresponding battle chips.
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain concludes the series with a superweapon designed to turn common languages into Brown Notes. And the Big Bad Skull Face designed one for English.
  • The MOTHER series has a lot of these. Examples include singing Giegue into submission in the first game, Frank saying something nasty in the second, or Lucky's bass in Mother 3.
  • Onmyōji: Bakekujira has a horn he blows to call out to his missing mother, but its sound causes humans to spontaneously want to jump into the sea and drown.
  • Pokémon: Any sonic-based attack counts as this. The most potent of these would be Perish Song, a song that will make all listeners faint in three turns if they don't switch or have an immunity to sound attacks.
    • The Pokémon Mimikyu cover themselves in rags designed to look like Pikachu because their true form is so terrifying people and Pokémon can die just from looking at it, but they generally want to make friends despite this.
  • The (possibly) fictional game Polybius is attributed with the power to mess up the brain causing amnesia, nightmares and death.
  • Quest for Glory IV has the Ultimate Joke (apparently about the wizard and the farmer's daughter, that John Rhys-Davies calls "a killer"). Telling it will make anyone laugh, no matter the situation. It's just that funny. The catch is that you can only use it once, under the principle that a joke is less funny the more often you hear it. You use it against Ad Avis in the final battle, to distract him long enough to prepare and unleash your killing blow.
  • The game Rez was purposefully designed to confuse the player's neural processing of sensory input.
  • According to The Secret World, one of the many variants of the Filth takes the form of unnatural sounds and eldritch graffiti that can cause Filth infection just as easily as exposure to its usual oily black goo form.
    • Similarly, infected monks up in the Carpathian Mountains were supposedly capable of singing hymns that killed small animals within earshot.
    • Hearing Lilith's name spoken by its owner results in an immediate panic attack in any human hearing it. Supposedly, her other seventeen names can do even nastier things. In fact, even remembering her isn't safe, because memories of her can supposedly act with a will of their own inside the human brain.
    • According to the Mask of Kan'ami, some of Inbeda's more flowery expletives have to be very carefully translated from the demonic tongue into English, because a literal translation would boil human bowels and cause blood to leak from the walls.
    • Played for laughs when players explore QBL Media HQ and discover that they have been keeping the cursed videotape from Ringu in their archives, and a private showing has just killed everyone in the boardroom.
  • The Literature in Shin Megami Tensei IV causes the dwellers of Mikado to Go Mad from the Revelation that there exists lifestyles other than what exists in Mikado; Casualries (i.e. the working class) in particular develop a sense of resentment against the privileges and advantages that Luxurors (i.e. the upper class) have over Casualries. The madness is so horrific that it results in readers transforming into bloodthirsty demons. And it's not even any sort of supernatural literature; it's ordinary, modern-day human literature. The shock that the people of Mikado get from reading it is that bad.
  • In one of the first Visual Novels, Shizuku, people in a certain Japanese city were driven insane by "doku denpa", "poisonous radio waves". Because of the game's popularity, the word "denpa" entered the otaku lexicon, and is now used to refer to a particular genre of Moe electro-pop songs. The connection to the game - and to this trope - is fairly obvious to anyone who's actually heard one of those songs.
  • Lady Shiori in Sinjid has a paralyzing stare that does tremendous damage and immobilizes you if you happen to be looking in her direction. The paralysation and most of the damage can be negated by looking away from her, but you'll still take damage from it either way.
  • In South Park: The Stick of Truth, one of Jimmy the Bard's abilities is to play the Brown Note... with a giant alpine horn. If done successfully, he can make the enemies shit blood.
  • The Killer Wail superweapon in Splatoon emits an ultrasonic wave when used; this wave will scatter the atoms of any Inkling who happens to be in front of it. note  DJ Octavio uses it relatively early in the fight with him; it's no less powerful.
  • In Star Control II, learning too much about other dimensions draws the attention of some rather nasty Eldritch Abominations.
  • Demonica in Stretch Panic, a horror movie fanatic who was mystically transformed into a monster so horrifying that seeing her is fatal.
  • In Tales of the Abyss, Tear's Fonic Hymns are songs that have a myriad of effects, ranging from putting everyone that hears it to sleep (Nightmare) to a mass healer (Revitalize) to summoning beams of firey death (Judgment).
    • It's also implied that all magic in that game is some sound- "Oh Admonishing Melody,...".
    • The seventh fonon which allows fonist such as Tear to use healing spells is the fonon for sound and can cause healing, most magic and a hyperresonance which can teleport people into new locations and destroy countries.
    • Similarly, in the Tales of Symphonia OVA, Colette begins singing some creepy song that kills an army of Mooks in the second episode. (Given it knocks her unconscious its likely her spell, "Sacrifice".)
  • The basilisk bug from Team Fortress 2 let you do this to your teammates (and enemy spies).
  • Mystia Lorelei from the Touhou series has an unusual variation on this trope: her singing can cause night-blindness.
  • The Winter Windster in Wario World has an attack where its eyes turn red. The only way to avoid it is to keep Wario facing away from it while it flies around you. Fail to do so and it flies into Wario's mouth and inflates him like a balloon, then proceeds to hover him toward the spikes.
  • A noisemaker serves as this in Yoku's Island Express, which you must use to quite literally scare the crap out of a bat to obtain an item. If you're feeling sadistic, you can repeat until the feces are piled high.
  • Ys I and II has a corridor in Darm Tower where evil organ music is played that damages Adol. You must break the pillar on the balcony that is piping in the music to advance.
    • The Devil's Corridor is also an obstacle in Ys Origin. Each player character must nullify the music with a character-specific method in order to proceed.


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