View Full Version : The Power of Rock

2006-01-17, 12:43 PM
Ok, so I have this concept for a campaign that's a little off the wall. In the tradition of every action/rock and roll movie ever, I want to incorperate the power of rock and roll (or music in general) to have magical effects.

I'll be using D20 Modern for this, with a change on the Perform skill. Basically they can use this skill to cast low level spells.

So for example: a wailing guitar chord can create a sonic blast and shatter a bank of windows, the power of rock and roll can turn arrows aside and assure that someone survives the volley (protection from arrows), or rock and roll inspires people to greater combat ability (bless).

So I need a system for this. I don't want everyone to have to take a funky prestige class so I'm altering perform to enable magic effects. I'm thinking Perform DC = 10 +5 per level of spell +/- 10 Depending on how cool/appropriate the DM thinks the trick is (like stunting in Exalted). The other question is, should I charge action points for this ability?

I don't want to break the system, but I do want this to be a very real very obvious way of getting things done. I want to see cool creative effects, not just people plucking out magic missles.

Yes this will make PCs stronger, but as their opponents will be rival rock bands they will also have access to the power of rock.

Are there any glarring holes with this plan? It's not really intended for a long term campaign, just a digression when our DM is a little burnt out.

Meat Shield
2006-01-17, 01:13 PM
Looks interesting. Definitely would be cool for any music geeks in your group.

I recommend reading teh Spellsinger series by Alan Dean Foster. Similar stuff - main character sings 'Purple Haze' on his magic guitar and a bright purple light emerges from it. 'Fly Like an Eagle' (with the line 'time keeps on slipping into the future') found a magical creature a three million year shortcut on his billlion year journey. Give bonus points to the players for using a real song that actually has game impact. Like the Police's 'Don't Stand so Close to Me' for the spell Forceful Hand.

2006-01-17, 01:16 PM
??? why not just have the bards have access to electric guitars? they don't even need to be real electric guitars, they could be magical-sounding-a-lot-like-electric guitars.

2006-01-17, 01:25 PM
This sounds interesting. As for the whole "I want to see creative effects." Your going to have to talk with the players about it. You could create a Music Spell list to exclude certian over-bering spells or someting

2006-01-17, 01:32 PM
I wasn't really thinking of going the rout of specific songs (that's how the adventures are based), but I think it would certainly be acceptable.

I did plan on talking to everyone ahead of time, after all this is a significant rules shift. I imagine after a bit people will find the groove of cool effects. (purple haze = cool, fireball != cool)

edit: additional content

As for the spell list, well, I'm feeling lazy enough that that sounds difficult and hard, but at the same time I don't want to limit players into the same boring spells over and over.

As for Bards with electric guitars, while cool, isn't the same setting. I'm using D20 modern which doesn't have a bard class (and has issues mixing with normal D+D). This is more of a post apocolyptic world where roving bands of... bands act for the betterment, or detriment, of what's left of society.

2006-01-17, 02:01 PM
'Fly Like an Eagle' (with the line 'time keeps on slipping into the future') found a magical creature a three million year shortcut on his billlion year journey.

That's been bugging me for YEARS. I was always confused as to why a shortcut was formed... I had always assumed it had to do with the bomb, or something.

2006-01-17, 02:21 PM
Somebody in one of my groups actually created a way of spellsinging in Exalted (my personal favorite use being "Wish You Were Here" when a couple of us got yanked out of Creation), so I see no reason why it couldn't be ported over, and I agree with the Spellsinger recommendations. Perhaps generalized effects using sheer sound-blasting could permit use of almost any song (though I think the theme of the song should at least sort of relate to the effect), and specific effects could require specific songs done well. If nothing else, it's a fun excuse to get people to share music or even write their own.

2006-01-17, 02:56 PM
Why does "The Power of Rock" remind me of Tenacious D?

How 'bout the power to kill a yak from 200 yards away... WITH MIND BULLETS!

Edit- This gives me a good idea to use with D20 Modern and Urban Arcana involving a Technomancer and his iPod. Every time he casts a spell, it plays a non-magical, but fitting song...

2006-01-17, 03:02 PM
I do believe that killing a yak with mind bullets would be an acceptable use of the Power of Rock.

2006-01-17, 03:26 PM
It would appear that you wish to turn the entire combat / skill / supernatural ability section into musical effects. That's cool, but I think you should expand beyond simple Perform. Otherwise you'll have a single attribute that determines the success or failure of a character.

I would suggest you take the spell list from a system you believe is balanced (3.5 D&D PHB is decent) and say "These are the effects music can create, if you can give me a good song / rationale for it." That way you don't have to come up with your own spell list. It is also inherently set up with a power ranking system - spells come in different levels and complexity and casting times. Adjust those to your music-thing. Longer casting time means you have to sing longer. Each component requires a participant (ie, a spell with a single component, like Verbal only, would only take a single musician to accomplish. But one that was V, S, M, F would require the cooperative work of FOUR musicians all at once - this would explain why bands work *together* rather than as a bunch of soloists).

You could either leave the Range and targets/Area of Effect as is, or require additional band members (or equipment) to get the music to effect more people at greater distance. Depends on how many players you expect in the group. If you want large bands with lots of groupies, then make spells require a lot of people to be really effective. If you expect a few players and no groupies, then stick with a simpler system and add in equipment (magic items, like stereo speakers and amplifiers and strobe lights and such) to fill in.

Now you need to worry about how often you want people to be able to do these effects. Is it whenever you want, like shooting a bow or swinging a sword? Or is it only a few times per day, like casting a spell or using bardic music?

I like the idea of it being limited like spells. Maybe give each musician a sorceror's spell chart... oh! Another issue is how many musical effects you want each character to know. If you want a lot of creativity and song choice, then you'd want to let people have wide repetoires like wizards. So maybe a wizard spell chart would be better, without the "spells known" limit of a sorceror. And maybe you'd bump up the number of "songs" a character learned each level, because so many songs require the group "casting" together (and thus having to know only songs known by other characters).

Is this working for you as concept stuff?

2006-01-17, 03:43 PM
Game mechanics wise, if you want to use Perform as your casting skill, make it a skill check like Use Magic Device, the perform check acting as if you were working on some kind of uber staff.

2006-01-17, 04:22 PM
Or possibly a magical axe? ::)

Another idea (extremely work-intensive) is to make a lower-powered version of epic spellcasting, with seeds and DCs. Only in this case they'd be Perform DCs instead of Spellcraft.

2006-01-17, 05:24 PM
I like this idea.. i don't know how to balance it. but i can't shake the idea of using real songs to power even ordenary spells.


haste (or timestop). "Rolling stones, Time is on my side"

lightning bolt "AC/DC thunderstruck"

I'm gonna see if i can fit something like this into a game :D

2006-01-17, 05:27 PM
If you read the fluff text on bards, it says that all their spell effects are accomplished through music. That's why every bard spell has the V component even if it doesn't normally list V for it. (which is odd, given that bards don't technically have to verbalize to make music - they could play an instrument or do a performance act like juggling, or mimery.)

2006-01-17, 11:51 PM
Vocal, in game terms here, means that it makes noise, not that your voice itself makes the noise. At least in the case of bards, Gamebird.

2006-01-18, 01:11 AM
at least 4 would work for rock, but what about folk, which is mostly single, or classical, which requires HUGE numbers of people, and then instead of cha, I would use int

Follow your heart-Walkin' Jim SToltz=atonement on another Bard, requires good AL
Just One Mosquito-Walkin' Jim Stoltz = repel vermin
Range of Light-Walkin' Jim Stoltz=plane shift to celestia or simaliar requires good AL
Help!-The Beatles=summon plannar ally of aproprate AL
Get Back-The Beatles=turning, of anyone of partialy opsite AL as cleric
The River-Dana Lyons=[summon natures ally[/i]
Kevin's Song-Dana Lyons=staus on any friend, infine range, even across planes.
Variours sea chanties(salior songs)= bonus to Perfesion(salior) checks

The Demented One
2006-01-18, 01:28 AM
First off, you need to read Soul Music by Terry Pratchett before you even think of doing this. Trust me.

And carrying on with the songs=spells thingy:
Sad Statue by System of a Down--Inflict Light/Moderate/Serious/Critical Damage
Safety Dance by Men Without Hats--Freedom of Movement
American Pie by Don Mclean--Create Food and Water
Enter Sandman by Metallica--Nightmare
The Unforgiven by Metallica--Mark of Justice
American Idiot by Green Day--Feeblemind
I Palindrome I by TMBG--Mirror Image
Why Does the Sun Shine? by TMBG--Daylight
Particle Man by TMBG--Reduce Person
The Statue Got Me High by TMBG--Fly
Psycho Killer by Talking Heads--Phantasmal Killer

2006-01-18, 01:43 AM
Psycho Killer by Talking Heads--Phantasmal Killer

OMG! You're killing me, here.

2006-01-18, 07:11 AM
Particle Man by TMBG--Reduce Person

I would say that different verses have different effects.
Triangle Man verse, Bulls Strength
Person Man verse, Ray of Emfeblement
Universe Man verse, Enlarge Person
I would only let them use one verse per turn though.

2006-01-18, 11:45 AM
Gamebird I like your idea in parts. I wasn't intending for these things to be constantly used, so I was thinking about charging an action point for them, but I could go with uses per day. I didn't want things very limited as far as effects were concerned so mabye use the wizard spell list. My big problem with this is that I'm trying to just add a cool boost to other charachters. As D20 modern doesn't really have casters, I sorta want people to be able to play their normal charachters with the power of rock tacked on.

Mabye I'll allow any 3.5 spells of level 3 or below? That would give a list while still being very diverse and not overly powerful (these things shouldn't eclipse everything). I could also make an iterative difficulty (+5 DC) per song per day as a limiting factor (and as soon as you fail you are "rocked out" for the day). Yeah... I like that.

As far as the teamwork, I also like that. But due to the fact that almost every spell requires 2 or 3 musicians at once I think it's a little severe. I want a soloist to be able to make his way as well. Equipment is cool, but might take a bit of the mistique out of it. It would suck to be wandering through the post-appocolyptic wastes having to lug around amps and concert speakers (dem things is 'eavy). Mabye each musician should count as another musician every 3 levels. This would make it make sence that they use a band at first but eventually can break off for a solo career.

OH, and instead of going by components, go by spell level. Thus a first level charachter can get off little stuff alone, while a pair of first level charachters can try for a level 2 spell. That way a low level band isn't just shooting off Lvl 3 spells. They need to all make the DC (and all use their standard actions) in order to get the more difficult effects off.

I like this. And while I still won't hold them to specific songs (though they can use them if they wish), I think this is comming together.

2006-01-18, 12:34 PM
As far as the teamwork, I also like that. But due to the fact that almost every spell requires 2 or 3 musicians at once I think it's a little severe. I want a soloist to be able to make his way as well.

You could have them take feats. Like Silent Spell would allow you to cast a musical effect without needing anyone to do the V part. Or Still Spell would allow you to cast without needing someone for the S part. Eschew Materials for the M part. And there'd be a minimum of one musician required for any performance, obviously.

If you think that eats up their feats too much, you could grant them "bonus" feats like you're suggesting with the 1/3 levels. Or copy the wizard progression and use 1/... what is it? 4 or 5? anyway, more than 3.

As for equipment, I was thinking something sort of pseudo-magical, or just a recording. Like you could do the S component of a song and lip sync the words while a recording plays the basic music and vocals. Or you could have your musical track recorded and all you'd contribute was the vocals.

Or maybe you have a magic microphone that negates the requirement of an extra person for vocals.

Eh, just ideas. I like your concept.