Articles Comments

The Douchey DM » Misc » Inspiration from Song

Inspiration from Song

Continuing on from my last article, Ideas Are Everywhere, the other morning I was at work, headphones on, listening to a random playlist. Devildriver’s Pray for Villains came on. I’ve heard this song hundreds of time. I wasn’t even thinking about RPGs at the time, I was focusing on my job, but for some reason two lines jumped out and demanded attention:

“Every sorrow has its source and your conscience isn’t free”

“They pray for villains when their heroes let them down”

For whatever reason, my brain started thinking those were some interesting concepts for a Fiasco game. I thought it about it for a few minutes and decided these lines could work pretty easily into character or story concepts for most RPGs with a little creativity. Let’s look at a an example for each.

“Every sorrow has its source and your conscience isn’t free”

Source of sorrow: You’re a character who who is haunted by his inability to protect his family. Since you can’t forgive yourself for your failure, you’ve never gotten over the loss. Your grief weighs on you, a tangible thing, it infects everything you ever do. You find out who kills your family. They are the originator, the source of your sorrow.

Conscience isn’t free: You’re a pacifist. Maybe you were a fighter at one point, but somewhere along the line you gave it up to raise a family. When danger came knocking you stuck to your pacifist ideals and refused to engage. You were knocked out by the bad guy(s). When you woke up, your family was dead, wife and daughter showing signs of abuse, son hung up in the field in a cruel mockery of a scarecrow. So now your conscience weighs heavy about the loss of your family and your inability to protect them. So now you WANT to track down the bad guy and murder him for what he did…BUT you’re a pacifist. You don’t believe any murder is justified… but you can’t let what happened to your family go unpunished. And your rage, your sorrow, demands justice is meted out by your own hands.

This is a highly conflicted character with many facets: conscience, ideals, brain, and heart all giving him information, most of it drastically conflicting, on how to act. I also think, despite the subject matter, this character would be an absolute blast to play.

“They pray for villains when their heroes let them down”

Let’s say you and your fellow PCs are a group of not-so-innocent mercenaries. You don’t necessarily murder people for fun, but you’d sure as hell do it, and pretty much anything else, for a profit. One day you hear whisperings of a village somewhere far to the south that has put out the word that they will pay handsomely for someone to come in and kill the group that currently inhabits the town. As the story progresses it is revealed that the current group in the village came to town and rescued them from some kind of evil. The village was happy, giving them food, drink, and shelter for no cost. The current group, the “heroes,” liked this treatment. They liked it so much they never left. And now they just hang out and eat and drink whatever they want, they bully the local townspeople, and they have said they are NEVER going to leave. So the townspeople got together and decided to find a group of bad people, a group of “villains” if you will, to deal with their “heroes.”

There are some good possibilities there. Neither of these is the most original concept, but they are good story seeds just waiting for an ambitious DM to come along and put their own unique spin on it.

My point here, just like my last article, is that inspiration is everywhere. You just need be open to it. Walking down the street, sitting on the couch in your living room, or even listening to a song you’ve heard 500 times before. If you keep your eyes, ears, and brain open, inspiration will strike. Be receptive.

Written by

Living in his secluded mansion off the coast of Iowa, JimTo often spends evenings reading, role playing, and writing for DoucheyDM. His best qualities are being loud, rude, and obnoxious, but for some reason, people still love him.

Filed under: Misc

5 Responses to "Inspiration from Song"

  1. JazzIsBluesNo Gravatar says:

    Great article. I’ve got an upcoming game inspired by a Merry Wives of Windsor song.

    1. JimToNo Gravatar says:

      Please tell me it’s “The Bartering Whore”…

  2. John ClarkNo Gravatar says:

    Yeah, Mad Jenny’s good inspiration.

  3. Eric PiersonNo Gravatar says:

    Evenescence (SP?) had their first overplayed single turned into a story of a Red Dragon holding a Gold Dragon sire hostage in a 3.0 campaign some time ago…

    In the LARP community where you can have 30+ stories running in one weekend it is not too uncommon for a few writers to throw song names in a hat and then randomly draw them, using the songs as inspiration for writing a story. Of course there is a risk you listen to Overkill, Exodus, etc. and you pull some obscure Fleetwood Mac song…

  4. Kveld UlfNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve used music as an inspiration many times. I listen to music most of my work day, so things tend to come in at the edge of my consciousness and next thing I know, I have an idea.

Leave a Reply