Misery Loves Company
The Misery Loves Company was founded in -73 EC by the now-obscure inventor Richard Crowly-Akron. For a time, it was the premier recording company in Ghyll, but a series of mayhaps and misfortunes brought Misery Loves to bankruptcy by -66 EC.
Misery Loves began with Crowly-Akron's pre-pubescent fascination with theoalchemy and the "laboratory" he created in the garden shed. His father had hoped that parental encouragement of his interest in alchemy would cause him to outgrow his "chemically-dependent tinkering about," but rather the opposite effect ensued. After potting about with the pachyderm-ordered kits for a number of years, young Richie decided to branch out into solo experimentation. The result was a sensation that swept through Ghyll overnight, one only rivaled in modern times by the recent success of Banter Scarves.
Crowly-Akron's miracle product was the sound-reproduction system known as the AudioAerio. The exact technomancical details behind its design have not been released to the public, although rumor has it that the Aminfarances Institute of Science and Technomancy is privy to the minutia of its inner workings. Nevertheless, the general outline of technomancy is simple: the mixing of several kinds of gas in the patented AudioAerio machine sparks a theoalchemical reaction. The vapors that are the by-products of this reaction escape through special valves in the machine and in the process create sound. By varying the types and proportions of the gases used, the sounds produced can be regulated so as to reproduce everything from instrumental music to spoken word.
The Misery Loves Company (rumored to have been named after Crowly-Akron's ex-girlfriend) was dedicated soley to the manufacture and sale of the AudioAerio machines and the accompanying "Vials of Song." For several years, it enjoyed unrivaled success, but after the initial novelty of the product wore off, the company found itself facing a number of technical and marketing problems that would prove its demise.
Although the invention was indeed a breakthrough, there were a number of technical stumbling blocks that prevented it from becoming the perfect consumer product. The quality of the sound reproduction was not always consistent. Differences in air pressure and temperature caused the same vial to play as a high squeaky voice under some conditions and a low growl under others. Also, the best audio quality and widest range of sound could only be produced with the poisonous gases found in the Elminster Mire and the volcanic output of Pelon's Peak.
After several tragic accidents involving these substances, Misery Loves ceased production of the extra high quality vials, but the damage was done. Lawsuits were filed, and Misery Loves was forced to go deep in debt to settle the cases. In addition, public perception of the company swerved sharply to the negative. The bad publicity and product limitations, combined with Crowly-Akron's insistence on producing an inordinate number of Freege Horn vials, caused the company's very public bankruptcy in the beginning of -66 EC. As poor Crowly-Akron watched in tears as his invention was unceremoniously auctioned off, the Iganefta Recorder published report after report on the defects and limitations of the product, so many that the company name has since become a by-word for excessive misfortune. In fact, many young Ghyllians today are unfamiliar with the trials and tribulations of the Misery Loves Company: what was once first-order technomancical innovation is now merely a wise-crack.
--Lady Aleksandra 21:04, 19 Aug 2005 (EDT)