Garage Band

I keep starting this paragraph and having to stop. I'm trying to write about music, but it means too much for me to be able to sum it up in a few lines. It's art, and art is too interpretable to be codified with words. It's moving and disparate, overwhelming and cursory, incidental and pronounced, complex and elementary, and uncounted other things that vary from person to person, moment to moment, piece to piece. There's a reason musicians are celebrities, why every good movie has an unmistakable theme, and why when you see the driver next to you at the light bouncing around to the music you're bound to turn on your radio and try to find the same station. It's all the same: music enthralls people, and in a deeper way than tales of epic heroism or vanquished evils ever have.

Who wouldn't want to be a part of that?

Garage Band is about being someone who makes music. There're no other frills to this game. You don't live in a world where music's been outlawed -- you live in our world -- and music doesn't give you supernatural abilities that you use to fight the forces of darkness. Music doesn't need to give you cool powers because making music is powerful on its own. You and a handful of friends are bandmates. That's the premise.

But everyone's heard stories of bands, and they're about the bands. Their music is the unifying aspect -- there wouldn't be a band in the first place if not for it -- but these stories are about the people who make music, not the music itself. Roleplaying games are, as the name suggests, games in which you step into the role of a character in a stories, and that character is a complete, coherent person. Sure, you're a drummer, but that's not all you are, and that's definitely not who you are. You've got a boyfriend who's sweet but too possessive, dueling passions for insects and sappy movies, a father who's stiff and lonely and a brother who loves you more than anyone else; you also play drums in a band called Downtown Pumpkin every night on the west side of town. The rest of your bandmates have their own stuff going on, some of which comes back to you and the band itself. These aren't backstories; they're lives, and you have to have a life in order for music to be a part of it.

As you can probably tell, Garage Band's a narrativist game. It's more about the story you're telling than gaining experience and blowing away every audience. That said, you can play a local rock band or an international supergroup. You aren't stuck playing in a traditional rock-and-roll group, either, so if your gaming group wants to be an MC and posse or a string quintet, go for it.

Farther down the line, I'll introduce you to Grove City, Garage Band's default setting, though you can of course play where ever you can get gigs.

That's GB in brief. Rock on.

What Is This?

I started designing roleplaying games in 2001. I had a lot more enthusiasm than I did talent or exposure, but darned if that was going to stop me. Garage Band was my first attempt at roleplaying design, and it's probably gone through more drastic revisions than any of my other systems. At the moment, I've got a set of mechanics that works just fine, but I don't like 'em. It's my baby, though, and as hard a sell as it is (and as low as it is on my To Do list), I believe one day I'll finally get her to run the way I want.