Friday, 8 May 2009

Take a Lyric, Make an Adventure

Sometimes when I'm about town listening to my iPod a line leaps out at me and I think, "I wonder what a game based on that lyric would be like?"

Here's a few that ocurred to me recently:

Fountains of Wayne, Survival Car - "Don't you wanna ride in my survival car?": A group of adventurers in a post-apocalyptic scenario kit out a knight rider-esque radiation-proof vehicle and travel the lenghts and breadths of the continents, picking up other survivors and fighting crime.

Bob Dylan, Thunder on the Mountain - "Gonna raise me an army, some tough sons of bitches, I'll recruit my army from the orphanages": A gang of orphans escape from their cruel matroness's clutches and then go on the rampage as a group of mercenaries.

Rival Schools, The Switch - "We'll move to a foreign town, in Argentina, if you're down": A group of hardened criminals flees from a botched bank job to Buenos Aires. Hijinks ensue.

Queens of the Stone Age, A Song for the Dead - "That's the study of dying - how to do it right": Some adventurers try, rather like Gotrek and Felix, to find a glorious death, but keep somehow failing.

Morrissey, Every Day is Like Sunday - "In the seaside town that they forgot to bomb... Come, come, come, nuclear bomb!": The adventurers trek across a nuclear wasteland to find the semi-mythical and last remaining seaside settlement of an enemy race, so they can nuke it and finish them off for good.

And that's enough adventures based on song lyrics.


  1. Good post. For decades I have sat listening to tunes as I worked on upcoming game encounters and campaigns, and a lot of ideas were born therin. Place, NPC,s, all kinds of stuff have flowed out of my ipod, and my more primative listening devices...

  2. I remember seeing, online somwehere, a fantasy campaign setting based entirely on Metallica song titles and lyrics.

  3. Those are particularly good choices.

  4. It would have to be Metallica, wouldn't it?

  5. I've read that. It was pretty cool, I'd love to see an update for Death Magnetic and (to a much lesser extent) St. Anger.

  6. Jimi Hendrix, Voodoo Chile Slight Return - "I stand up next to a mountain and I chop it down with the edge of my hand."

    The adventurers must confront and defeat the towering Jimi-Golem, whose rampages through the Northern Peaks threaten the local dwarven communities.

    Just my two bits. :-)

  7. There's also a misery-packed post-apocalyptic horror campaign setting for Burning Wheel which is based on lyrics by death metallers At The Gates. The production values are lovely, and they've been quite clever with the references, but I can't imagine how anyone would play it.

    I've also seen a couple of people base a campaign on an album's track listing; each of the song titles becomes a scenario, and they're run in the order of the listing. I'm sure someone blogged about them, but I can't find the link now.

  8. For a significant portion of my life, the Smiths were my Only Band That Mattered, and I like Morrissey's solo material an awful lot as well. So I nearly lost my shit when I heard the song you quoted being used in an commercial, with some generic Nickelback-sounding motherfucker scrodeling it.

  9. Brunomac: Ah, those primitive listening devices. Amazing to think that most of my formative gaming years were spent listening to music on cassette.

    Rach: I'm a complete philistine when it comes to Metallica. Most overrated band ever. Although maybe comments like that will alienate 90% of my readership...

    Mike: Very nice. How about Foxy Lady - there's a Werefox on the rampage, seducing unfortunate menfolk willy nilly, and only the brave adventurers can stop her...?

    Kelvin: The problem with that is that I think it would get kind of rail-road-y. You'd have to have everyone willing to tug in the same direction.

    Scott: There's nothing that won't be corrupted for adverts. The worst thing is, I bet it was being used in a totally non-ironic way, with the implication being that it would be great if every day was Sunday and people could watch American Football. Totally missing the point of the song.

    What do you think of the new album? It's not bad, but on balance I actually think I prefer You Are The Quarry, of his latest work. First Of The Gang To Die got so much playtime on my ipod, and I still love it.

  10. I have yet to hear the new album in actual album form ... I've heard dribs and drabs from pandora and youtube. I was hoping to make his April 1 show in Columbus -- in fact, I was hoping to go for the Gaslight Anthem on March 29 and crash for a few days -- and I put off buying the album so we could listen to it on the road trip. The road trip didn't happen, and I still haven't bought the album. :(

    I do like some later Morrissey -- I'm probably getting a "You Have Killed Me" tattoo at some point -- but I feel the same about Morrissey as about any of my favorite artists. I got into the Smiths and then Morrissey at a certain time in my life, so the music from that period is highly evocative of where I was at then, and it's what I still listen to.

    (I swear, I don't even know if I've heard a Bad Brains album after the first three.)

  11. I'm not sure it is any more railroady than any other pre-packaged campaign. I probably just didn't explain it very well.

    Essentially, you just take an album, note down the track listing, and write a series of scenarios inspired by the track names (and lyrics possibly).