Music = Magic

(I know I should be working on any number of other projects right now, but this is one of those “Write it down or I’ll forget it” things – and the best place to keep things I don’t want to forget is one the blog.)

Since Jem and the Holograms is one of Robin’s favorite childhood cartoons and Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad is one of her favorite anime, I have, from time to time, contemplated running a campaign about musicians.  Attempts so far have not been particularly successful, but I think I might have figured out how to make it work.

Music = Magic

Not (necessarily) in the D&D bardic style, but rather in using the mechanics of spellcasting in order to simulate the drama and challenge of performing.  It seems to me that the music itself should be some sort of mini-game with its own evocative flavor, rather than being a dull series of skill checks.  There should be some magic to making music, and an obvious way to do that in a tabletop RPG is to use the game’s magic system.

(Alternatively, of course, we could always bust out the karaoke machine or LEGO Rock Band, but that has its own limitations.)

I’m just tossing out ideas here – I would certainly not claim to have the whole thing thought through – but…


Actually, doing “magic songs” could be perfect for Jem.  Let’s think about that for a moment in Savage Worlds terms.  Got an orphan who is down in the dumps because peer pressure’s getting to her?  That’s being Fatigued and can be cured by a song of succor.  Want to race in the Indy 500 in order to show up your rival?  Sing a thrashing song of speed to get your car moving or boost/lower trait in order to boost your Driving skill so you don’t crash into a wall.  Want to jumpstart a new romance?  That would be… Umm… We’re going to need a few new powers.

Concerts could be a way to earn Power Points or Bennies.  Maybe they’re essentially rituals?  There should be some reward system where the difficulty of the set list (or successes for invoking certain effects) grants extra benefits.  Maybe they’re used to generate Fame points for something similar to Pirates of the Spanish Main’s fame/infamy scale…

Dang it.  I think I’m on to something.  Too bad I don’t have the time to work it up properly.



  1. Reminds me of the Thundermancer from Savage Slaygoria. They are like heavy metal bards whose songs produce magic.

    1. It's been quite a while since I looked through Slaygoria. I'll have to take another look.

  2. I still like the core concept of it. Music as a its own magical power source. I think of using some mix of Fate Core and John Wick's magic from Houses of the Blooded. Concerts and songs should be like their own characters, but they only exist for that moment.
    Maybe that's the minigame of it: your Players get points to spend on the stats of the actual concert, get to give it a concept (like an aspect in Fate) and can invoke that concert based on how they create it.
    Each character can direct points in different ways, based on how all the stats fall, you know? Rhythm is something only a percussionist can get across, so they get a discount on changing points into the Rhythm stat- it makes thing work together better. Your frontman conveys the main feeling of the music for a lot of audiences, so maybe Song is the kind of stat for them- these are the words that inspire, possibly meaning Song is tied to resisting mental influences or inspiring morale. Bass gets in on the Rhythm angle too, but possibly has the advantage of tossing points more evenly than others. Guitarists have the easiest time paying for Melody, which helps with the body more, triggering mosh pits or waking long sleeping beasts.

    There is possibly more to go on here, but my main thought is that each role in the band should carry a discount for spending points on their skill. Each round a skill roll is made for the whole band- and each member gets to decide if they are going to spend points or focus on generating points. Then there has to be some sort of timing mechanic, which I think might be "no more points, no more song."

    Um... That seem kewl or am I drifting off here?

    1. I like it. I've had some similar thoughts about the "party roles." Maybe sometime next year we should collaborate on a rock n roll RPG.

      Sometime late, late next year, given all the stuff I'm committed to... Dang it, are there any grants to just quit your job and write niche RPGs?


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