Legends of Rock
This is a D20 Modern game setting.
This setting requires music and musical talent as a prerequisite to any character. As such the Preform skill is open to all classes. Also it is a given that this will strain some character’s ability to take skills and abilities that they would normally have, every class also gains +1 skill points per level.
Author’s note: Yes is might be easier to simply tell you to max out one perform skill, however this method leaves more options to your character. You can be proficient in more than one instrument, what if you are playing the front man who sings and plays the guitar? You might want to put a few points into other perform skill for solos, or requirements of particular songs. It’s all up to the style and backgrounds of your character.
An important feature of D20 Modern are character’s backgrounds. This setting makes less use of it, because everyone’s eventual occupation is musician or some other musical related job. Instead your characters have a genre. This list is too long to post here but take a look here and decide for yourself what genre you would like your character to be from.
effects: Your genre defines your play style. It is what kind of music your character is most familiar with and the sounds that they have developed playing. The answer to your next question is yes, you can play music from other genres but your characters do not gain the bonus from your background. While playing your genre your characters gain a +2 bonus to all skill checks related to that genre.
There is an argument for genre defying music or bands that don’t seem to fit into one particular category. These groups have the option of choosing two genres gaining the bonuses from both types of music. The downside is that audiences now expect that type of creativity from all of their music, and take a negative 2 penalty to playing every other kind of music. This is less about the band’s ability to play the music as it has to do with people trying to categorize them and the expectation of the audience.
Here is where some negotiations come into play. Backgrounds usually grant a bonus feat, and a wealth bonus. For the bonus feat think of something that would be appropriate for your genre. Examples could be for Power Metal- Archaic Weapon Proficiency, Rockabilly- Vehicle Expert, Punk- Brawl, Trance- Blind Fighting, Teen pop- Windfall, or any other combination your can think of.
Every song has several key points to it.
Genre is the the specific type of music that the song belongs to effecting player bonuses to playing within that genre.
Skill Requirement refers to the types of perform skill(s) and the number of ranks required to attempts to play it. Example AC/DC’s It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll requires bagpipe music, without that skill the song can not be played. Tom Petty and the Heart-breakers Don’t come around here no more requires a sitar at 5 ranks, or Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing requires a Piano at 8 ranks.
Level: A quick and easy way to doing all the math is to have a simple level system for some songs. If there isn’t any non-standard instruments or other particular skill requirements then the song is a standard song. This means that there is a vocal part, base, guitar, and drum part. The level is a quick and easy way to determine what level of band is needed to play it. Essentially a level 2 song requires at least 3 level 2 players with 5 ranks in the required perform skills.
Special Requirements: Some songs have built in requirements to the their performances that have become part of the rock mythos. The Stage show and the song have become so intertwined that it is almost impossible to separate them. Alice Cooper famously went on the Guillotine tour and used it as a prop for the song Ballad of Dwight Frye and thus the prop and the song have forever become connected. Judas Priest uses a motorcycle as part of the show for his song Hell Bent for Leather and became one of his famous antics one stage. Some other shows require massive amounts of pyrotechnics, or back up singers, dancers, choreography, or other types of insanity.
Author’s Note: Why make these special requirements? Part of the reason is to restrict the types of songs that you have access to. You do not have the entirety of the world of rock at your fingertips. You will have to go out of your way to find and procure these special requirements and add them to your tour bus. It also forces you as a musician and a band to not squander your special abilities and talents. If you already know how to play the harmonica or the bagpipes than you already met these requirements. It is a way to further define your musical style and develop adventure hooks. You need pyrotechnics…well there is this guy you can do this, but he has a problem… Eventually with enough time efforts and resources you can develop an insane show. Watch this video and think about how many elements are there and how you as players can develop that many elements over time.
Sex Drugs & Rock and Roll
authors note: I in no way condone the use of illegal substances nor encourage a hedonistic lifestyle. Drugs, addiction, debauchery, and other such over the top behavior is part of the rock and roll experience. Many of the greatest artists rock history have been destroyed by drugs, and their music has been lost forever.