Infini-Troupe, 20-FEB-2015 – An Artist is Hatched…

If you’ve noticed, there has been one of these articles about each of the Insta-NPCs products so far… We’ve dealt with a few unsavory types recently, so why not focus on the artistic ones this time?

Artists are one of the oft-overlooked story hooks for GMs in my opinion. Think about it. How many times does the bad guy turn out NOT to be an evil warrior, cleric, or wizard?

Have you come up with any? I can’t think of any in the adventures I’ve been playing in of late… But maybe it’s just me.

To that end, I’m going to issue a challenge…

insta-npc-6-coverTHE CHALLENGE (yes, there’s a giveaway with this one!)

If you come up with examples of modules or campaigns revolving around art or evil artists, leave a comment below and e-mail me at fitz(at)moebiusadventures(dot)com with the subject “ARTIST GIVEAWAY EXAMPLE” – I’d love to be proven wrong!! In fact – if you come up with a published module that has an artist or piece of art involved somehow and provide a reference I’ll send you a coupon for a free copy (through DTRPG) of Insta-NPCs #6: Shh… Artists at Work…!

Back to the Matter at Hand…

That’s where Insta-NPCs #6: Shh… Artists at Work… comes into play. This is a unique entry in the series because it offers three different ways of being used. First, it can help you create an artistic NPC for your campaign world. Second, it can help you create a GROUP of artistic NPCs for your campaign world. And third, it can help you create a piece of art for your game world.

Where might you use such people or objects? Well, let’s talk about that a bit. We’ll start by creating a lone artist (and focus on the other two cases in the next couple of posts).

An Artist is Hatched Born

In our last exploration we visited the Wild West, but this time I think we’re going to go back to a fantasy or medieval world for our artist to inhabit. Artists in this world often find patrons to support them for one reason or another.

The first choice we have to make is whether this is an individual we’re creating, or a group. We’ve already decided it’s an individual, so we can quickly move to the next step.

karaoke-logoAnd that next step is a bit like Schr√∂dinger’s cat… Is the artist alive or dead? If you’re scratching your head, let me explain.

Sometimes an artist’s work goes unnoticed or under-appreciated until they are no longer creating art. Their art can become worth much more posthumously as well, so this little fact becomes much more important if we’re creating a work of art than it does with an individual artist. As such, we’re going to choose to say that this particular artist is alive.

Phew, that was close. I would hate for our artist to be dead on arrival!

Next up we can learn more about our artist such as whether they were productive or not during their careers and what style they have chosen to use for their work. In this case, I roll a d6 and get a (3) “Regular” on the Production table and roll a d4 to get a (1) “Reality/Practical” on the Style table.

What does this tell us? Our artist is regularly productive – creating new works of art at a steady pace every few days, weeks, or more. And they tend to use a more practical, reality-based approach to their art – probably painting portraits, still life, or portraits.

Now we can determine what medium our artist uses to express him- or herself. Perhaps they are a sculptor, a painter, or a poet? A d20 roll on the Medium table gives us a (6) “Song.” So our artist is a singer of some variety and likely a performer. Note that we haven’t yet talked about whether this particular individual holds any true talent for their chosen profession!

Our next stop is the Dedication table. How dedicated is this person to their art? A d6 gives me a (1) “Hardcore” – which I can interpret in one of a few ways. This individual might be focused and intent on creating art all the time. Or they might take “hardcore” to a hard rock level, destroying instruments or using extreme behavior on stage to entertain an audience.

In this case, I’m starting to see a young lady focused entirely on her voice, lyrics, or melody to the exclusion of everything else. Each song becomes the focus of her world while in the composition process and when she is on stage performing. Our artist is starting to take shape!

Next we can learn more about her art through her Tools (a d20 gives us (15) “Drills”), her Loves (a d6 gives us (3) “Tone”), and her Subject (another d10 gives us (13) “Things”). Very interesting… I would say that “Drills” in this case relates to the voice drills she uses to keep her vocal instrument in tip-top shape. “Tone” I will interpret as “Pitch” and she prides herself on having perfect pitch during her performances. And “Things” might refer to such items as roses, sunrise, or weapons used in love and war.

So here’s what we have so far:

  • Individual or Group? Individual
  • Alive or Dead? Alive
  • Production? Regular
  • Style? Reality/Practical
  • Medium? Song
  • Dedication? Hardcore
  • Tools? Drills
  • Love? Tone
  • Subject? Things

Using the Pieces

cybergedeon-AL-singingMaybe you’re wondering how you might put these pieces together to form some kind of coherent picture of an artist… and better yet, how you might use that artist in a game?

“Ms. Abigail “Lungs” Harkens has been a hit on the celebration circuit of the city of Congr’aal. She was discovered as a young member of the Choir of Angels, a youth organization dedicated to literally singing the praises of the Church of the Mother. Abigail was plucked from the thirty or so talented youth at the age of 15 and groomed as a student in the highly selective College of Bardic Studies. As with all bardic students, she was required to find a patron to pay for her education and Lord Baer took her under his wing.

A graduate of the bardic college, she now spends her time not only composing songs but working with local musicians to hone her vocal talents. She has been clocked to hold a high C note for no less than a minute and has on occasion been accused of breaking glass with the power of her voice. The rigorous drills she completes daily have proven too much for several popular operatics in the royal theatre (rumor has it they passed out attempting to complete only two of what Abigail calls her “basic” ladders).

Harkens now performs exclusively at noble parties organized by Lord Baer himself, happy to hone her skills and perform in front of a live, appreciative audience. Two of the most requested songs in her repertoire include ‘The Long Walk Home’ and ‘A Hair Too Close.'”

She’s not a villain, but could easily be a pawn in noble or political circles. She would also have access to some of the nobility less likely to rub elbows with the general public, making her a good spy candidate for circulating at certain exclusive parties to gain dirt for political leverage.

Depending on who or what her patron lord may be into, she might also be kidnapped in an attempt to get Lord Baer to complete some onerous task or transfer some portion of wealth or property to criminals. Or, she might be a target for assassination – as a high profile toy of the nobility who may be more accessible than the nobles themselves.

Or it’s quite possible she’s discovered some ancient song or series of notes that has some form of magical power over her audience. What if she could hypnotize a group of nobles to make them do something for her?

I can also imagine a series of mysteries surrounding a criminal who murders artists to make their art more valuable… That wouldn’t be helpful in Abigail’s case (tough to “sell” recordings without that technology), but might be interesting with a Jack the Ripper flair.

The idea here is to create a character who the PCs may interact with or may not – but could be pivotal to certain plot points in an adventure or campaign.

Next time we’ll work on creating a group of artists all seeking some common goal…

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2 thoughts on “Infini-Troupe, 20-FEB-2015 – An Artist is Hatched…”

  1. There are actually a lot of things that use artists to drive the story. I don’t have the titles handy, but I know I have read stories involving artists as the main characters. Additionally, you see them crop up in Anime and Comics as well.

    In role-playing games, I have seen it across the very old Marvel Roleplaying Game, White Wolf’s Vampire: The Masquerade, and Shadowrun. In the Marvel RPG, they had a module (inspired by Days of Future Past) where a mutant about to be executed by Sentinels was a former lead singer — its been a long time, I might have gotten that one wrong. The characters have to make a dramatic rescue if she is to live.

    In Shadowrun, they had a number of modules involving musicians (Mercurial, Dark Angel, and One Stage Before). They also have modules involving the simsense — movies you experience by basically riding shotgun of the lead actor. Some of the more extreme elements of that were in Dreamchipper and some other modules that I’m blanking on.

    In Vampire: The Masquerade, any vampire Toreador adversary would really qualify. In the Giovanni Chronicles I: The Last Supper (aimed at the 18+ crowd), a aspiring Toreador character is harrowed by a vampire that makes the artist perform for their supper. No matter how good it is, the vampire berates the character, and then forces the character to use blood to enhance their art. (Whether being cut to shreds while performing, or using their blood as part of their artwork.)

    In the Giovanni Chronicles II: Blood & Fire, the characters interact with a Toreador Vampire obsessed with making angels. If the characters don’t intercede, a vampire proceeds to kill a child to make her “an angel”.

    Interesting, Earthdawn took a different tack. To prove that people aren’t a host to Horrors, everyone has to be able to demonstrate they have artistic or craftsman abilities. Thus the players are required to have a skill relating to that. It ended up being an inspiring reminder that a character should have skills outside of their main focus to show that they are well-rounded individuals. Something I’ve carried with me since then for most characters I create.

    1. @forged – Thanks for the great comment and mentions of how other games are handling artists. Keep an eye out for your copy of Insta-NPCs #6 in your e-mail!

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