I’m currently working on the basic rules for using music in the game. As you may or may not have read here, the whole foundation for game setting rests on the idea that scientists at some point in the past created Harmonic Resonance Technology that could manipulate the underlying superstring structure of the universe. Harmonic Resonance Forks are built into various items, but the most important one for our discussion today is the Musical Instrument, from guitars to drums to flutes.
These Instruments can be played in two modes:
1. Safeties On: The Harmonic Fork is disengaged and the instrument functions as a normal one of its type.
2. Safeties Off: The Harmonic Fork is engaged and the instrument may be used to manipulate reality or focus sound into a killing force.
In game, characters will use their Harmonic Instruments for three specific types of encounter resolution:
1. Gigging: This is a simple attempt to gather Fame by playing to an audience, either solo or as part of a band, with the Safeties On. Audiences are generated by the Metal Master (the gamemaster) with a few rolls to take into account their mood and their musical tastes. Results can lead to permanent Fame increase, temporary Fame Points which can be used in social situations, or possibly the entire audience rushing the performance area to beat the band into the dirt for wasting their time and hearing.
2. Headcutting: Musical Duels which can be played Safeties On or (if there is really bad blood between the competitors) Safeties Off. Headcutting rolls are like Gigging rolls except that one side bids a performance level (the Difficulty of the roll) and makes their roll. The other side then tries to match that Difficulty with their own performance.
If the safeties are off, then all sorts of physical effects can be added to performance, which make it more difficult for the individual performer, but can cause serious damage to the opponent or even do things like throw them through the air or open up the ground beneath their feet so the earth can swallow them. The only defense is for the target to add their own effects to cancel out the incoming ones. Sometimes, if they think the roll will be too difficult if they attempt to stop all of the effects, they may choose to block only a few, letting the others past their guard.
The trick to Headcutting is the Fame generated is based not only on winning, but doing so without hammering the same combinations continuously. In addition, repetition is easier to block, so you can’t just ‘magic missle’ someone over and over again, you have to use your abilities creatively.
3. Sonic Wizardry: Duels are quick effect affairs, but the ultimate use of Harmonic Instruments is to play entire songs that can alter reality in a real, long term way. By playing specific chord progressions in an extended performance, the character can create ‘magic’ using effects from any style they know, integrated into their main style.
Effects for Sonic Wizardry will be leveled, so a novice in the Nazarite style will be able to light up the area around him, but journeymen musicians will be able to use that style to create light shows and illusions and masters will be able to create destructive beams of energy that will make even a Titan sit up and take notice.
While a single character can utilize Harmonic Resonance on their own, it is with a band that they can achieve even greater effects in all three arenas of music. The basic idea is you are only as good as your Style permits and even Grandmasters of a Style can only achieve their maximum potential with the help of a backing band. Our Nazarite Grandmaster might be able to plink a Titan, but with a great backing band, they could possibly destroy one and bring down any aircraft nearby with a massive Electro-magnetic Pulse.
HARMONIC RESONANCE INSTRUMENTS
I’m still working out the details on a lot of this section, but instruments are basically composed of three parts:
1. The Base Instrument: This can be a guitar, bass, drums, whatever. It also includes microphones to allow vocal wizardry. Harmonic Instruments are built to take enormous amounts of punishment and the Harmonic Forks inside them can survive the complete destruction of the instrument in many cases.
2. The Harmonic Resonance Fork: These are AdTek, and their construction methods are lost to the mists of time. They are a contested resource, for that reason, and the victor in Headcutting Duels usually claims the instrument of their opponent, or the Harmonic Fork if the instrument is destroyed.
Harmonic Forks come in Keys, with each Key representing a particular Style and it’s attendant effect, and Chords, a single Fork with numerous Keys. Whatever the case, a Fork of a specific Key cannot be used to create an effects opposite it’s Key (or the root Key of a Chord), so choosing the right instrument is important.
3. Sonic Amplifier: This is the lethal end of a Harmonic Instrument. Instead of using the Resonance to generate effects, it uses the fork to build up a burst of sonic energy that can be fired like a gun. The Amplifier is typically located in the headstock of a guitar, bass or other stringed instrument while drums tend to place them in the Bass Drum, but configurations can be customized to place it almost anywhere.
Mechanically, Instruments are defined by the following characteristics:
1. Attack: This is the Damage Rating of the instrument when the Sonic Amplifier is used.
2. Delay: This is the amount of time it takes to play out a single Effect.
3. Sustain: This is the maximum number of effects that this instrument can maintain simultaneously.
4. Release: This is the maximum duration of any effects generated.
5. Key/Chord: This is the Key or Chord of the Harmonic Resonance Fork inside the Instrument.
6. Forte: Certain instruments are items of such masterwork that their body actually enhances certain aspects of the instrument’s resonance. The Flying V guitar, for instance, is built in such a manner that it enhances any use of Sonic Wizardry to move through the air.
Although I’m still working out the gaming specifics of a lot of this, what I’ve laid out here is the basic idea behind using music as a weapon and a tool in the 31st century Metalsphere. I’ve attempted to make it highly thematic as well as useful, but am eager to hear ideas on how it can be made even better. Comment below and let me know what you think…