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> [Shadowrun 2e] Rock Band Edition
Jeffrey Webb
post Jan 4 2010, 06:09 PM
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<Note - I posted this on RPG.NET, but since this is a Shadowrun board, thought I might get more feedback here...>

I've always thought that Rock and Shadowrun/Cyberpunk were meant to be together. Ever since seeing the opening of the first episode of Bubblegum Crisis, or reading about Johnny Silverhand in the first edition of R. Talsorian's Cyberpunk RPG, or seeing the Rocker archetype in Shadowrun 1st Edition I've been wanting to do something with the concept of Rock and Roll. The Shadowbeat suppliment is a book I've gone to over and over again for inspiration, and never really done much with it - except for an experiment in a Mechwarrior game on Solaris VII where a PC was the leader of a band that played the clubs of Solaris City.

I began to put this idea together for a Shadowrun campaign. It begins with four 20-somethings who are part of "the system". SINners. Wage slaves. They escape from their mundane employment after hours and on weekends by playing music and trying to break into the Seattle music scene. Slowly they are drawn into the world of the shadows, and will have to decide which side of the law they're on...

While working on the campaign concept, one of the potential players came up with an idea that has turned out to be friggin - sorry, fraggin' - brilliant, chummers. Why not use the Rock Band console game as a big, interactive RPG prop? I sat down and looked at the Shadowbeat rules system, and came up with the following:

When determining how well a performance goes over, the band makes a standard test against the lowest skill in the group, looking not just for successes but also for the highest success rolled. This is called the 'Impact' of the performance and and measures how much passion and soul go into the show. Impact can be negatively affected by untrained or unreheared musicians, inferior instruments, etc. It can be positively affected by good instruments, Sasquatch band members (I kid you not) and other factors. Multiply the Impact by the average Charisma of the band members, and you get a Performance Rating.

When the band (Zombie Suburbia) plays a gig, they must set up a setlist. When they were unknown newbies, it was three songs long. When they moved up to Opener status, it became four songs long and will increase with their popularity. As newbies, they were all allowed to play on Easy if they wished. Moving up a popularity level means two players must move to Medium, or one to Hard. From there, one more level of difficulty must be added each time they move up in popularity.

The Impact of the band is modified by the average number of stars they earn in the Rock Band game. At one star, -4 to Impact. Two stars is -2, three stars is no modifier, four is +2 and five is +4. They roll their band skill as usual, and add this modifier for their performance on the Rock Band game.

Thus far, it has worked beautifully. The players LOVE breaking out the instruments and performing then heading back into the game room to roll their Impact, finding out how well they did and how much nuyen they scored on their gig. Thus far we've played three sessions, and three gigs, and they quickly (second gig) made a name for themselves and moved up from Newbie to Opener.

One incidental thing that has been cool with this game is that since the players are starting out as day job SINners, there was little need for high priorities on money, and all of them are Human, so for three out of four PCs (pre-generated by the GM) skills or attributes are priority A or B. This has given us characters with good attributes, and enough skills so that they have good solid musical skills in addition to their job skills. Each character was designed to grow into a Shadowrun archetype as the campaign develops.
al,
Liz Castle is the only magically aware member of the group, she works as a trauma medic in a Barrens clinic. Her minimal spell knowledge (Heal, Treat and Stabilize) reflects her quick-and-dirty trauma medicine magical training. She has no knowledge (yet) of conjuring or any spells outside of the ones mentioned above, and is only now through the guidance of a doctor at the clinic beginning to understand that she is not destined for the scientific Hermetic approach, but is actually a latent Bear shaman. She plays lead guitar.
Rylan Esposito, bassist, works for Pizza Panzer- the only delivery outfit crazy enough to deliver an extra large pepperoni with mushrooms anywhere in the Barrens. It'll cost you more then 50 nuyen for a pie, since the job is hazardous and each delivery van has a driver, a gunner and a pizza runner. The runner is usually SINless and paid in cash or certified credstick. It's easier not to have to fill out the paperwork if an undocumented SINless slot gets himself geeked delivering a couple of meatball subs and a calzone in Halloweener territory. Rylan is destined to become a rigger, and his driving skills are already very good.
Patrick "Twitch" Duke is a good little sarariman from a family of sararimen working for MCT. He works in the software development division at MCT Seattle and plays a mean synthesizer on the side. When the players are playing Rock Band, he takes the drums that would be played by their NPC Drummer, "Fat" Tony Leonetti, an Orc. He has the nicest pad - having a Middle Class Lifestyle (the only PC with anything but Low). He recently aquired an Allegiance Alpha cyberdeck from a co-worker, and has been doing some quasi-legal decking in his off hours. He also plays paintball with the company team, which ironically gives him the best Firearms skill in the party at 1 (Pistols 3). Only Ryland has any skill at all in Firearms among the rest of the team, and that only because Pizza Panzer requires a minimal amount of range time from all it's drivers.
Alexis (NOT Alex) Duke is the Black Sheep of the Duke family. Rather than go to work for MCT like her parents and brother, she ran off and became a waitress at a number of rough Barrens bars (picking up some Unarmed Combat) before moving up in the world and becoming a barrista at an upscale coffee shop downtown in the Corp zone. She's a vocalist, and has been developing some skill in music management and songwriting - although the band inevitably covers the classic rock and roll of the late 20th Century. She's been crashing at her brother's place, as it's more upscale and safer than her edge-of-the-Barrens apartment. Quite fit, she is destined to become the team's Street Sam or possibly (if it serves the story better and I allow a 'fudge' in Priorities) physical adept.

This should be pretty damn interesting. Making the characters like this allowed for folks who are very broadly skilled, and in areas often unused (like music) or shafted by more combat-oriented players (like Etiquette or Negotiations). Some Karma up front should allow them to begin to pick up the survival skills they'll need in the shadows, along with a possible fifth PC who is more worldly-wise to show them the way.

Dunno if anyone else will find this idea interesting, but my group is loving the concept of integrating Rock Band into our RPG experience. It really gives the players a feeling of immersion in the game world, and we've already gotten some GREAT RP moments out of this campaign, and it's only three sessions in...
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Ophis
post Jan 4 2010, 06:59 PM
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I heartily approve of this idea. Makes me consider getting Rock Band and trying it myself...
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nezumi
post Jan 4 2010, 08:59 PM
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It's a nice tool, but I'm guessing you're missing the random vandalism and violence (I really don't know, I don't play Rock Band).
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Shinobi Killfist
post Jan 5 2010, 03:00 AM
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Even before the rock band part you had me sold on an awesome campaign idea. With it as a prop it adds an extra level of awesome.
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Snow_Fox
post Jan 5 2010, 03:37 AM
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QUOTE (nezumi @ Jan 4 2010, 03:59 PM) *
It's a nice tool, but I'm guessing you're missing the random vandalism and violence (I really don't know, I don't play Rock Band).

You forgot the groupies, roadies and trashing hotel rooms.
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Jeffrey Webb
post Jan 5 2010, 05:35 AM
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Yeah, I can't wait for our next game session. It is kinda neat seeing Shadowrunners start to creep out from normal, law-abiding SINner wage slaves.

Twitch has started dipping his toe in Decking water, but has now found his harware is adequate for spoofing the local music shop into thinking he's paid for a synthesizer, but woefully inadequate for any "real" decking.

Alexis had her eye on a handsome young coffee shop regular that she had served a time or two- she saw him at a club, and on approaching him found that he wasn't plugged in to a chip, he was wounded and propped up in a corner where nobody would notice by his assailant. She got him out of the club (telling gawkers that he was simply very drunk/stoned) and took him to a street doc recommended by Liz's clinic when they figured taking him to a legal clinic just might be trouble...

The shadows... they are a-calling... but nobody has really crossed the line in any meaningful way yet.

Enter a possible new player who is a Detective with Lone Star... his boss? Liz Castle's aunt, who turns out to be a Detective Lieutenant with the Star... This could get interesting...
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Sticks
post Jan 5 2010, 05:38 PM
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The 1st ed book Shadowbeat has rules for rockers and musicians, handy as reference or adaptable material if you can get a copy
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Red_Cap
post Jan 6 2010, 02:03 AM
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QUOTE (Sticks @ Jan 5 2010, 11:38 AM) *
The 1st ed book Shadowbeat has rules for rockers and musicians, handy as reference or adaptable material if you can get a copy


Apparently, you didn't read his entire post.

In other news, sounds like a great time. I play decent drums in Rock Band (and only Rock Band; turns out I'm tone deaf) and the campaign sounds like loads of fun.
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lordnth
post Jan 9 2010, 01:01 AM
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What a creative idea! Mad props for the courage to try something this out of the box, and great job on finding players to go with you on this mad mad journey!
Keep us posted will ya?
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wylie
post Feb 21 2010, 12:49 AM
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Rock band is a great prop!!
I used it with my group for a session. depending on how well they did, is how well the fixer paid them. one player was iffy about it, and so I didn't use it since.
one player liked it so much, he went out and brought his own game

as a GM, I loved it as it spiced things up and keep the players guessing, and it depended on how well the players played, not rolled the dice. as reward, i gave each player a free skill, having to do with playing music.
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