Design by Jay Libby

Music Character Motivation

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Creating characters for role-playing games can be daunting at times. Players can spend up to two hours crawling through character generation and by the time they hit the sections on ‘about your character’ their creativity is either fried or they just want to play. Companies like R. Talsorian and Kenzer & Company, for example offer tables to help get your character fleshed out. Mark Miller’s Traveler had the first such table. They are easy to use and fills in a lot of back story blanks. But these tables get pretty repetitive after a while, especially if you play a lot.

One fun trick to really mix up your games using what is called a ‘Music Character Motivation’ method. Back in the really old days a Game Master could pick up the nearest record and make a table using the names of songs. The title of the song would be the motivation of the character. Imagine grabbing Europe’s vinyl The Final Countdown and having a character whose motivation was indeed ‘The Final Countdown’?  Where the character is about to leave behind everything they knew and might very well not come back.

With today’s wave of technology not many people have vinyl or even compact discs. Everything is on a playlist. If that is the case, the Game Master can just go to one of their playlists and hit shuffle, skipping the rolling of dice. The first song that comes up is the motivation for the character. In case you’re still not sure about how this works, let’s look at an example.

Because Jayson Elliot of TSR likes Jon Bon Jovi so much, we will be using the Bon Jovi album Slippery When Wet. Luckily there are only ten songs, so you really wouldn’t even need to make a table for it. Just grab a d10 and roll.

1-Let It Rock

When you hit the scene, you are the scene. Rules? Ha! Not you. It’s all about living a rocking life baby!


2-You Give Love a Bad Name

You’re a heartbreaker and a player. Other people? Please. As long as you get what you want that’s all that matters. And people are suckers for love.


3-Live’n On A Prayer

You have spent your life working for something bigger. And even when the chips get down, you still put your time in hoping for something more. Maybe someday that dream will come true. In the meantime you just need to survive. And with your significant other at your side, nothing is going to crush your dreams.


4-Social Disease

You like to think you are in control. But there is this one person that is totally messing up your mojo. And no matter how hard you try to ignore it, the need for that person is getting stronger and stronger. It’s also screwing with your life. You find yourself making more and more mistakes. All for love.


5-Wanted Dead Or Alive

Everyone knows you and they expect certain things from you. And no matter how hard you try, it always seems like someone is either out to get you or get with you. This life has given you a strange dull feeling that you can’t shake. But you stick to it because it’s all you’ve ever known.


6-Raise Your Hands

You are the best. You know it. They know it. And if they don’t know it they are about to. Even at your worst you come out looking just that awesome!


7-Without Love

You have seen a lot in your time. And no matter how bad it gets, you are the first to remind people that love conquers all. That love is that freedom that we all have and no one can take that from us. Love for people is all you need and even when the world is burning, you will still find time to love.


8-I’d Die For You

Your entire life is focused on that ‘one’ person who you’d sacrifice it all for. This person might not even know how you feel, but it doesn’t matter. You will always be there, even if it’s just behind the scenes.


9-Never Say Goodbye

Somewhere along the way you screwed up bad and it cost you that one big love of your life. You spend your time living with regret, drowning your sorrows and generally being blue. Every quiet moment is torture. Every song, every sight, everything reminds you of that person. And frankly, your friends are sick of hearing about it.


10-Wild In The Streets

You are in love with someone very special. You spend a lot of time acting all tough when you are around your friends, but around this one person you are just a kid in love. The only catch is their parents hate you. So there is a lot of sneaking around trying not to get caught. And if you get caught….you are so DEAD!

Slippery When Wet © 1986 Mercury Records

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