0 thoughts on “Barbarians of Heavy Metal Design Diary, Volume II

  1. Nathaniel

    After a ton of false labor, it’s clear that my boy is going to take his sweet time being born. And as the tension of awaiting the ‘real deal’ mounts, I can’t really concentrate on anything else, so without further ado, I present to you…

    Ok, this is the central thematic thrust of the book and, considering the vast breadth of the subject material, is the one most folks will have questions about. After all, if you like Psychobilly music, you might want to know where it fits in to the Rocktagon, why it isn’t represented as a major school and why The Reverand Horton Heat isn’t a major saint. Let me clarify a few things for the music lovers out there:

    1. The Rocktagon (which VP will put up after this diary) (I actually put it up above, in the post. -TVP) is designed to create interesting gaming mechanics out of easily identifiable styles. It isn’t a properly academic discussion of rock and its family tree, but a way to get players interacting with the universe and provide them with eight very clear and interesting alternatives for characters (and many more besides that if you count the ‘posers’ and the fact that you can mix licks to create an incredibly diverse set of styles).

    2. While you and I might know the subtle differences between Thrash, Death and other types of metal, to the outside world, they all represent speed, emotion and raw destructive power over melody and precision. This creates a good general idea of what the character sounds like, encompasses a number of styles in a tight grouping that keeps the options simple for the layman (the Rocktagon would become a Rocktadodecahedron just for the various styles encompassed in Death alone), and also provides a clear opposition school, in this case Yngwie, which is all about classical precision and complex melodies.

    3. The names are all pretty much temporary at this point. I’m pretty set on Sabbathites and Nazarites, but the others are all in flux. The idea is to name them something that really encompasses the general feel of that type of music, but has a more metal name that sounds somewhat like a mystical derivative of the band that best represents that school.

    Well, with those explanations out of the way, here is a brief description of the various Books of Rock that make up our Rocktagon and the schools of Martial Music training that are set up around them…

    Sabbathite: The original Heavy Metal style symbolized by Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and Dio. Heavily identified with occultism, Sabbathites try to cultivate a demonic image in their music and style.

    Patron Saint: The Great OZ AKA The Prince of Darkness

    Imagery: Ozzy with his arms folded over holding a headless bat in one hand and a headless dove in the other.

    Opposition School: The Nazarites. The Judeo-Christian belief system stands opposed to everything truly dark and metal, in the Sabbathite’s eyes.

    Great House: House Dio

    Hayre: Metal popularized in the late 70’s, early eighties including Motley Crue, Poison and, most importantly, KISS. Very upbeat celebratory anthems with a bacchanal theme.

    Patron Saint: The 4-Fold One AKA The God of Thunder

    Imagery: A KISS amalgam wearing a combination of the 4 original members costumes and a head with the 4 faces of the original members. Arms are crossed, with an Hookah in one hand and a bottle in the other.

    Opposition School: The Nihilists. The followers of Hayre have an intense dislike of killjoys and party-crashers.

    Great House: House Simmons

    Led: Blues based heavy rock popularized by Led Zepplin, AC/DC and Deep Purple. Lyrically Deep and musically diverse.

    Patron Saint: Zoso AKA The Hermetic Twins

    Imagery: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant as conjoined twins. Page has an Axe and Bow, Plant is giving a banshee wail of great power and holds a Book with 4 mystical symbols on it.

    Opposition School: The Punks. The followers of Zoso find the brash, anarchistic Punks antithetical to harmony in the metalsphere, a disharmonious rejection of the hermetical order of the universe.

    Great House: House Bron-Y Aur

    Yngwie: Named for Ygnwie Malmsteen, the patron saint of Virtuoso Metal and including the likes of Randy Rhodes and other Guitar Gods.

    Patron Saint: Yngwie AKA The Axe Master

    Imagery: Yngwie Malmsteen holding an Axe.

    Opposition School: The Deadites. The Yngwies are the ultimate musicians (as far as they’re concerned) and the unlovely noise and imprecision of Death disturbs them to no end.

    Great House: House Rhodes

    Nazarite: Christian Rock like Petra, White Lion and Stryper. Has a mix from all the other styles (except Sabbathite) but the underlying theme is worship of the Judeo-Christian God.

    Patron Saint: Gabriel AKA The Messenger

    Imagery: An Arch-angel wreathed in fire and holding a Trumpet.

    Opposition School: The Sabbathites are evil incarnate in the Nazarite’s eyes, witches, sorcerers and satanic cohorts who stand between them and the salvation of the metalsphere.

    Great House: House Luther

    Nihilist (Formerly Alt): Alternative Rock from Nirvana to Goth rock. Basically nihilistic and obsessed with ‘new’ sounds.

    Patron Saint: The Suicide King AKA The Gloom

    Imagery: Kurt Cobain, arms crossed, with a shotgun in one hand and a joint in the other OR Robert Smith of the Cure, crying blood, with arms crossed holding a pistol in one hand and an Ankh in the other. Haven’t decided which, yet.

    Opposition School: Hayre. To the typical Nihilist, the simple, catchy, live fast and party hard rhythms of Hayre smack of commercialism, the ultimate evil to the Nihilist who sees life for what it truly is.

    Great House: House Nirvana

    Punk: Anarchistic and unlovely, Punk is the music of the ‘true’ rebels (at least as far as they’re concerned).

    Patron Saint: The Rotten One AKA The Anarchist

    Imagery: Johnny Rotten looking suitably crazed with a nimbus of light around his head giving a banshee wail.

    Opposition School: Led. The followers of Zoso are dinosaur rockers, old farts who try to impose order and beauty on an a decidedly random and uncaring universe. This galls the Punks whose main goal is to give the universe the finger and try to take it down with them.

    Great House: There is no House representing Punk as that would require an organization and leadership than is totally antithetical in Punk ethos. There is a section of the galaxy known as Punk Space, but it is actually nothing more than a whole swath of Star Systems with ever shifting borders totally dominated by anarchy and dedicated to the punk ideal. Occasionally, the pent up energy of this area will spill out into the rest of the universe as Punk Crusades, massive raids to pillage, vandalize and occasionally (when luck is on their side) conquer neighboring star systems.

    Deadite: Death, Thrash and other types of Speed Metal. Long on noise, speed, emotion and raw destructive power over melody and precision.

    Patron Saint: The Cowboy from Hell AKA The Sound & The Fury

    Imagery: Dimebag Darrell with a Cowboy hat on, grinning maniacally with one hand holding an axe and another stroking a Panther.

    Opposition School: Yngwie. Prancing, wussies with their finger exercises and their scales piss off the Deadites to no end, as they revel in the pure sound and fury of musical weaponry over artsy-fartsy technique.

    Great House: House Pantera

    Each house will have its own Heroic Backgrounds for each musical position a band might have, so you’ll be able to be a ‘Sabbithite Axe’ or a ‘Punk Beater.’

    In addition, there will be a set of musical ‘Licks’ that represent some of the musical styles of that School, like the Sabbithite’s ‘Devil’s Triad’ or the ‘Arpeggio’ of the Yngwie school. These will be used in the musical dueling rules.

    Finally, there will be a ninth school which will be for the lesser musical schools like Hip Hop, Funk, Country, etc. It will contain a set of generic backgrounds and Licks that you can mix and match to create these custom musical schools, but those of the ninth school will have flaws that make it harder for them to get along in headbanger society.

    Up Next: Rules…

    1. Nathaniel

      Some cool new ideas from the sleep deprived brain of a new father and a very helpful suggestion from Aaron Smith via private messaging on RPG.net.

      First, after really thinking about the travel mentioned in Warp Riders, I’m considering making almost all Navigators female, with the relevant precognitive and hyper-spatial sensing ability necessary requiring a rare mutated gene that must present twice in a chromosome pair to function, but is only found on the X chromosome. So only a XX will produce the correct results except in extremely rare examples. Furthermore, as they are all trained in the Great Church, they will be part of the ‘Sisterhood’ a group nuns that function as seers as well as navigators (with the rare male members being prophets who are rarely risked in interstellar travel).

      Why do this? I just think it is an excellent wrinkle, more than anything else. The idea of ‘Sister Seers’ is kind of metal in a way, as is the concept of rogue nuns (Warp Witches) who join pirate bands or explorator nuns who are seeking to rediscover lost systems.

      Second, Aaron Smith came up with something that provided me with another facepalm moment. He thought that spaceflight should involve music, and imagined something very similar to Audiosurf (which is amazingly cool). I think this is an excellent suggestion.

      Sound wouldn’t travel through the vaccuum of space, but I envision a giant ‘tuning fork’ or series of forks that vibrate at a certain frequency based on the music played by the Navigatrix and her backup musicians, a sort of improvisational Jazz type affair that changes based on the Navigatrix’s perceptions of space-time, allowing them to enter the fold and ride the warp to their destination.


      1. Aaron Smith

        You forgot one last part. Certain types of music, and certain songs will take you to specific places in the universe. If you find one of the “lost songs” you can go to a location that has been lost from “known space”.

        Specific types of music are keys to specific areas of space. If you’re willing to ride a jam session, you can go anywhere, but since music is codified into the 8 specific types, likely there are a ton of “lost worlds”, with all the accompanying adventure hooks and tags that go with that.

        1. Nathaniel

          It’s a very cool concept, but I’m trying to reconcile how that works with ‘Singularity Generators’ which is why I hadn’t mentioned it yet, and was going to revisit the whole concept once I got to the Warp Ships section.

          The main problem is that I want travel in BoHM space to be restricted, so you can’t just go from one system to any another system willy nilly. I want to allow for strategic ‘choke points’ that restrict travel along a certain set of hyperspatial lanes, which is the only real way to create ‘borders’ for interstellar kingdoms. Otherwise, anyone who wanted to hobble you would just attack your home world with everything they had, bypassing all those wonderful border fortresses you set up on other worlds.

          This can create the hyperspatial equivalent of trade lanes, border fortresses, and all sorts of other dark age travel assumptions, including the ability to get waylaid by raiders and taxed out the yang by unscrupulous petty warlords.

          1. Aaron Smith

            Well, a singularity generator is whatever you want it to be in a space fantasy setting like this. You have the control fins/rods/forks sticking out of the ship skin (or maybe just the front or back, or wherever looks coolest/most metal) for the “tuning forks” you were looking for, and just say “the music generates a singularity, which the warp witch then uses to make a fold in space and slip between the curves of space, into warp space.” Just like the song says. Thus, the tuning forks + music + systems to manipulate subspace are the singularity generators you’re looking for.

            As to the trade lanes, I was thinking that each song path was unique. You have to sing a whole concert to get from one world to another. You could in theory play and keep playing 3 concerts in a row, but that would be really hard, and thus risk being lost/die in warp space. The trade lanes are the established “safe” concerts that are known to get from place to place. If you just sing/play jam session style you’re exploring the wilds of the warp, and who knows where you’ll wind up. New trade lanes (concerts) are very hard to forge, because each time you do it your risking never coming back from the warp. That’s why you stick with the established trade routes (concerts) despite the mundane dangers.

          2. Nathaniel

            Actually, the singularity generators are actual physical devices put down in the past by the first warp ships who carried the means of creating a matching SG in the destination system.

            They act as ‘pitchers’ and ‘catchers’ in warp jump travel, one generating a fold and sending it, like a wave, in the proper direction (with slight modification to the curvature of the path to make up for variations in movement and so on by the resident Warp Rider) with the other catching and holding the fold once it comes within the vicinity of the system.

            Each system has between 1 and 4 of these devices, which determines how easy it is to get there from different systems. Lost systems will typically have had all of their SGs destroyed, allowing only passage into, not out of the system.

            I envision the role of the Warp Rider as such: identifying the disturbance in space caused by the warp fold using her unique psychic ability to do so, using harmonics to open a breach into the ‘hyperspace’ between the fold and lead the ship into it, and using her precognition to ‘see’ potential course deviations brought about by stellar movement and unforeseen obstructions and then make subtly shift the path of the wave from inside the hyper-spatial interface as it moves towards the receiving SG.

            As you can see, the SGs provide a firm technical basis for interstellar flight that limits travel in a universe where the technology is no longer fully understood. The ability to miscalculate, due to stellar motion and the vast distances involved, is always a danger as misjumps can end up sending you hurtling off to who knows where, especially if you are aiming for a point in space where the number of SGs is extremely limited. Out on the fringes, for instance, the worlds and conditions are barbaric due to a lack of regular supply from the inner worlds, as only the bravest captains with the most experienced warp riders (typically only those with the title of Navigatrix) will dare to travel there.

            Right, I’ve already gone a bit far and I’m going to leave further discussion on this until I can post up the Warp Ship design diary, otherwise, this comment section will get longer than the actual diary itself!

      2. Aaron Smith

        I love the idea of the Seer Sisters. Warp Witches is awesome. I like the idea of the lead musician of the band guiding the warp dive, either with keyboard or axe.

        This leads to all kinds of awesome images. I see a band in silhouette on the ships bridge facing a broad window looking out into a glowing twisted mass of psychedelic rainbow colors, playing for their lives.

        Now, how METAL is is that you must keep playing NO MATTER WHAT or OR DIE in the warp?

        1. Nathaniel

          That is exactly what I’m seeing! Now imagine a Navigatrix and her back-up band playing Warp Riders with that image in your head!

          Not only do you have to keep playing, you have to do so flawlessly or you’ll misjump and end up who knows where, or die as the hyperspatial shell collapses turning the warpfold into a full fledged singularity that crushes the ship to a point before dissolving into the aether.

          Still trying to get the exact physics together, but the conceptual imagery is forming nicely…

          1. the venomous pao Post author

            I’m digging all of this quite a bit, guys. I’ve only got one thing to add…

            I’m cool with the “all women” thing but there *has* to be a way for a man to wind up as a Navigator. Or, at the very least, there has to have been one in the ancient past. The man known as…

            St. Smalls, The Oddyseer.

          2. Nathaniel

            As I mentioned earlier, a very rare few males are born with both the hyper-spatial sensing and precognitive abilities necessary for warp travel. I left this open as an ‘out’ for those who might want to play such a character.

  2. Dan Williams

    Hey Nathaniel. I’m really liking what you’ve posted so far, and I can’t wait to get a finished copy of BoHM. I do have a few thoughts/suggestions/ideas you might consider regarding the Rocktagon and the Books of Rock. Of course it’s your game and you should design it how you see fit, but a few things strike me as noteworthy.

    First, Yngwie. Yngwie himself conjures images of immense technical ability, which I feel isn’t totally at odds with the Book of Death, since so many bands in that area do emphasize technical skill. Of course many more don’t, but the way it is now I feel like some legendary modern bands are left without a place to go (Death, Morbid Angel, Nile, etc). I’d change this Book to represent power metal more fully, as the Book of big poppy choruses, keyboards, and fruity sung vocals, as well as fretboard wizardry. I’ll note that I read your top post here, section two included, and agree with it, but I think if you’re going to be using 20th/21st century bands as inspiration in the far future, it would make sense to have a place for some of the biggest/most influential bands of today. Of course you shouldn’t try to include every musician who ever touched a guitar, but I think the Really Big Names need a home.

    Secondly, the Nihilists. Personally I’d make this the “black metal” Book, and leave Cobain, Smith, et al out of it entirely. In my mind those guys are firmly in the “poser” camp. I’m under the impression that you want to fold black metal into the death Book, and I think that’s a mistake because black metal strikes me as one of the more flavorful (in an RPG sense) subgenres. Cast these guys not as Death Cultists, but rather Nothingness Cultists, obsessed with the end of the universe and taking their place in the Void. There’s a ton of cool lyrical themes in black metal you could draw upon, from nihilism and Satanism, to Norse mythology, Tolkien at his most metal, environmental conservation, suicide, and extreme anti-commercialism (which sets them up in opposition to hair, particularly as hair is feel-good party-time metal).

    Third, death. Not much to say here, except I really don’t like calling these guys deadites. I love Evil Dead as much as anyone, but such an obvious reference feels weird. Also I’m not sure about Dimebag as patron saint, but I’m having a hard time coming up with a better one. Maybe a fictitious Nathan Explosion more-metal-than-everyone type? Not Explosion himself, as it’s too referential and might get you sued. Kragnar the Killhammer, Death Metal Barbarian?

    Fourth, punk. No real complaints from me here, but don’t forget that there are tons of smaller offshoot genres here, full of RPG flavor. Hardcore, crust, crossover, grindcore (which could also work in death), hell, even some thrash bands fit in here. You’ve got anarchists, socialists, vegans, freegans, gutter punks, all sorts of interesting character archetypes here, many of them quite militant, many of them quite into drugs. A Cattle Decapitation-style group of militant vegans who farm and process humans into food? Totally awesome, and totally metal.

    The other four look pretty solid to me. Led as a name I’m kind of on the fence about. On the one hand it conjures the alchemical mysticism Led Zeppelin are famous for, but on the other hand I still find it slightly awkward to include an explicit reference. On the third hand, Led Zep deserve credit as originators, and no other band sums up that book quite as well. On the fourth hand, intentionally misspelling things is pretty metal. Hmm.

    Hopefully your eyes haven’t imploded after this massive missive, and I hope it’s helpful, whether you like any of my ideas or not. If you’d like to discuss any of this further, I’d be more than happy to oblige.

    1. Nathaniel

      All comments are appreciated, Dan, as I want to get as much feedback as possible in the organizational stage before actually getting down to writing. Here are my thoughts on your points:

      1. With these groupings, and the bands that exemplify them, I’m really trying to get across the idea of a belief system that is derived from the origins of Rock in the late 20th century, but has been subtly altered over a 1000 years to become more than their musical roots. In this instance, it pays to think of the Rocktagon in much the same way as Arthurian mythology. There was once an Arthur, he once did great things, but over a long period of time and interpretation by various authors, he has become almost a deified figure, with all sorts of powers and accomplishments attributed to him that are probably more about the ideal of Arthur and Chivalry than the fact of Arthur, who was in all likelihood a sub-roman warlord of British ancestry.

      In the same way, virtuoso metal (in the case of the book of Yngwie) has gone from being a musical style for which a particular performer was a well known example, to a way of life, a set of codes and beliefs that exemplify the virtuoso lifestyle, with the most prominent example of that music, Yngwie, becoming the ideal in much the same way that Arthur defined Chivalry or Musashi defined the ultimate mastery of the sword. Does this mean that no Deadites have style, precision or virtuosity? No, but the followers of Yngwie are zealously religious about it and that irks the Deadites, who prefer power over form, to no end.

      2. The Rocktagon is not just about metal. It is about all rock, and the alternative and goth scenes of the late 80’s and 90’s, whom the Nihilists represent, were the rock of their era. Nirvana and the Cure were as musically influential as Metallica, The Sex Pistols, Sabbath and Zeppelin, regardless of your actual musical preferences. The music itself was a reaction to the ‘hair’ bands of the eighties, hence their place in opposition of Hayre on the Rocktagon. Could this include Black Metal? Sure, but it is more about the thematic concepts and outlook than the way you play your guitar, which is why Nirvana and the Cure can exist in the same school.

      3. Pantera was the ideal behind the school of Death as one of the most widely recognized examples of the various speed/thrash bands (and fellow Texas boys to boot), and as so much of the power and imagery of that band was centered around the late Dimebag, whose death was extremely violent, he was just perfect.

      I wanted to use real world musicians, by the way, for a number of reasons. The first and primary reason is they are easily recognizable symbols for the styles in question, but they are also extremely easy to caricature (Ozzy, bless him, is the William Shatner of metal) yet still recognize even if they aren’t exactly labeled as ‘Ozzy’ or ‘Robert Plant,’ and represent music that characterizes my youth in the 70’s and 80’s. Fictional musicians just wouldn’t have the same impact, wouldn’t be as recognizable and wouldn’t harken back to the heydays of Rock in the same manner.

      4. I was going to discuss this further when we got to the diary on musical dueling, but let’s talk offshoots, here, as it is a fair point that I need to make fairly clear at this stage: all the main schools are just the beginning and musical styles can be mixed freely (except where opposition is concerned). Each character will start off with four points in styles in the same way as Attributes, Combat Abilities, and Careers. Your school determines your main style, the one for which your standing is judged (sometimes punitively if there is an Inquisitor on your tail), the one it is easiest to get licks from and the one for which you get the schools special Style Ability. After that, you can add ranks to whichever styles you like.

      So you want to play a Black Metal character? Take Death as your school at 3 and then take a single rank in the Nihilist style. You want to play music like The Sword? Take 2 ranks in Sabbathite, 1 rank in Led and 1 in Death. Want to go Psychobilly like Reverend Horton Heat? 2 ranks in Punk and 2 ranks in the ‘outsider’ style of Country should do the trick.

      So, you see, rules wise, it’s very flexible and you can make anything from a pure Metal band to a hip-hop funk metal band ala the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

      5. I’m still on the fence about Led for the very reasons you stated. Unless something particularly brilliant is thought up to replace it, it will probably remain Led, especially as the alchemical/hermetic sciences were obsessed with turning base lead into gold, and the members of this school are the alchemist-scientists of the Rocktagon.

      6. My eyes are very much intact and I’d like to point out that even if I don’t use an idea, you force me to think about and defend my own positions in a reasonable manner. When I can’t do that, then my position probably needs rethinking, so you’re still doing me a great service.


      1. Dan Williams

        Hey again, Nathaniel. Thanks for the reply. I’m glad you took my post the way I intended, as food for thought, not me advertising the superiority of my ideas or anything like that. I wasn’t really concerned, but some people get a little touchy sometimes. Also, I’m glad your eyeballs survived, because here’s round two.

        Before I get to anything else, I have to admit I’d misinterpreted your plans for the Rocktagon. For whatever reason I had it in my head that it would work more like, for example, Tribes from Werewolf: The Apocalypse, where you just pick one at character creation and follow that tribe forever. It never occurred to me that it would be like the careers system from the other Barbarians games, even though it makes perfect sense. This one bit of information cleared up a lot of my original concerns, and now I can conceive of pretty much any musician fitting into the Rocktagon.

        Your point about Arthurian legend is well taken. It makes a lot more sense that the schools would follow hazy legends from the mists of time, rather than rigid litanies of who did what, to whom, and when. It’s also a lot more metal that way. You’ll have to cut me a bit of slack here, as it’s difficult to critique a book that hasn’t been written yet.

        You’ve also gotten me on-board with Dimebag. Putting my personal biases aside (I’m not the biggest Pantera fan), he represents the Deadite school better than anyone I can come up with. Plus you’ve got a great opportunity to work his death into a sort of martyrdom. 1000 years could easily transform “Some lunatic shot Dimebag!” into “Dimebag sacrificed himself in the name of metal!” Caricatures of historical figures definitely resonate much more deeply than fictional characters, especially given metal’s obsession with the past. It’s almost a form of ancestor worship already.

        Now that I understand how the Rocktagon works, I don’t mind the Nihilists so much. Those guys definitely have a place in rock history, and it’s unfair of me to exclude them based on personal bias. There definitely is room here for black metal types, though it has more to do with worldview, lyrical themes, and obsession with new sounds than it does with the music actually sounding similar. Many BM bands are rigidly orthodox, but there’s a recent trend emerging of bands expanding their sound beyond traditional BM parameters. A combination of Deadite/Nihilist sounds perfect for a black metal character, though I might also add a rank of Sabbathite or even Punk.

        This brings me back to a few questions I have about the Rocktagon system. It’s not important to me if you answer these directly or save them for the Rules update, I’m mostly asking out of curiosity.

        First, I’m under the impression every character will have a primary school. If so, does this mean you have to have more ranks in your primary than other schools? Say I’m trying to represent Circle The Wagons -era Darkthrone. I’d give them 1 rank each in Deadite, Nihilist, Sabbathite, and Punk. Does that work, or do I need to make sure their primary school (Deadite probably) has 2 ranks and drop another school?

        Second, how does opposition work with regard to multiple schools? Are all opposing schools forbidden, or only the school opposing your primary school?

        Third, ranks of zero. Is this allowed as in BoL careers? I’m thinking that, for example, a rank 0 in Hayre would allow me a karaoke-quality performance of Dr. Feelgood. I don’t necessarily understand the music or why and how it works, but I can sort of “fake it”. Somewhat related, do all characters choose 4 schools, BoL careers-style?

        Finally, I just want to mention that I love the idea in a post up above of space travel requiring a musical performance. It’s thematically resonant, highly cinematic, and just sounds fun as hell to roleplay. It also livens up travel quite a bit, and avoids the temporal oddity of players saying “We want to go here” and the GM replying “OK, you’re there. Now what?” Plus, a form of travel that introduces a risk/reward mechanic that isn’t a random encounter table? Sign me up. If you only take one idea from the feedback here, take this one. It’s perfect.

  3. Nathaniel

    I was waiting until the relevant rules section to discuss Style Ranking and the music system, but in hindsight, it might have cleared a lot of things up for folks if I had done it here. But, now that that’s been explained, here are the answers to your other questions:

    1. You don’t have to have more ranks in your primary school, you can even have less, but your status amongst your peers will suffer and an Inquisitor from your school may decide that you aren’t metal enough and have you shunned from decent society or even killed.

    Still, this leads to some interesting character concepts, like the Sabbathite who just really isn’t all that into evil or the Nihilist who really just wants to write happy songs about peace and love. There are a lot of potential adventure hooks that can be centered around these types of characters trying to find their place in the universe without ending up as scavengers, slaves or worse. I dare say a lot of these types of folks end up running into the embrace of the Church and returning as Monks/Friars.

    2. The only opposition school you have to worry about is the one opposite your primary. Remember, your primary school is your ‘religion’ in many ways, the basis of all your morals and beliefs, while your opposition school are the ‘heretics’ that deserve your scorn. Other schools are alright, some are even cool, but your school is the ‘One True Way of Rock.’

    3. Yes, you will get 4 styles and 4 points to put into them in the same manner as Careers. And you’re description of Rank 0 as a ‘Karaoke’ singer who listens to the music, knows the words, can sing along and might even know a little bit of the history of a few of the main players but is otherwise incapable of recreating that style is very apt.

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