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🎨 Creative Punk Rock Campaign Ideas?


Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
RPGnet Member
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A cyberpunk 2020 chronicle, with an emphasis on medias pretty much does this. Everyone is in the band or the immediate affiliates. They don't do corporate assaults (vertical dungeons) all that often. So it is all aggression, posing, hitting the streets and hitting back, the occasional punk prank, and violence in the right spots.
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Registered User
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I think the most important detail would be that the campaign centers on an urbanized setting. The powers-that-be have to seem oppressive, yet unable to control the movements of the populace. There have to be places for the bards to perform and places to hide: taverns that the city guard doesn't want to go in because it could trigger riots, and the classic extensive sewer system.

Steampunk seems like an obvious direction to go, maybe Eberron? Maybe drawing on China Mieville's New Crobuzon novels. But it's the urban scale that's key.


Brilliantly Crazed
Validated User
Here’s a thought: set it in Cheliax. If you don’t know Golarion? Basically think a totalitarian state that is literally run by Devils. It’s a Lawful Evil stompy boot of the state sort of place.

And now you’ve got your punk band, co-opting demonic (NOT infernal: all Chaos) imagery in their act to inspire the people to overthrow the oppressive state. Why demonic imagery with the spikes and shredded loom and stuff? Well they’re the enemies of devils but Edgy!

Other things to get involved:

Celestials, who are all for smashing the infernal state AND genuinely good guys but are philosophically opposed to anarchy. Note: THEY can make sell-out job offers too. Everyone talks about the temptation to evil, but they’re trying to tempt you to law.

Proteans (Pathfinder again) have taken an interest, because they love creativity and chaos. Artists pushing that as an agenda? They can be quite helpful patrons. But, being Proteans, their being involved leads to Interesting Times all around.

Demons, several factions, who hate Cheliax and the infernal state with a burning passion but, even more, hate how the band is stealing their look without adopting their evil.

Azatas, the chaotic good version of Angels, who love what you’re doing and how much it gets up everyone’s nose. They love what you’re doing enough they’re going to start up a couple of rival bands! And may the best one win!

Cosmic Hobo

Madman with a Boxed Set
Validated User
Sounds like a blast.

Also watch This is Spinal Tap and A Mighty Wind. Some stealable ideas there.

System-wise, almost anything rules light would work better than D&D. HeroQuest. Fate Core / Accelerated. Over the Edge. Risus. If you’re familiar with any of those you should seriously consider switching over.

Not to repeat but to reinforce: punk is about anarchy (actual political anarchism) and telling the Man to fuck off. Whoever the Man is. It’s anti-state and anti-capitalist. Push the money troubles and tempt them with selling out. There’s got to be a battle of the bands at some point. This can either be a straight rock-off or a literal brawl. Or both. It all works with punk.

Rival bands can either sabotage your PCs or help them. Depends on the need of the game.

Definitely have local authorities confused and alarmed by the group, their look, and their music. Townies don’t get the look or hair. Push the alienation and differences without being a dick about it. Some documentaries on the early days of punk might help. Especially check out the controversy surrounding the Sex Pistols release of God Save the Queen. The British authorities lost their goddamn minds.

If you stick with D&D you could make a skill challenge out of playing a really important gig. Instead of just one performance roll, make it endurance and performance and whatever else. Draw it out and make ’em sweat. You can pull something similar in most systems.

If you have the time read Henry Rollins’ book Get in the Van. If you don’t know, he was the lead singer of Black Flag, a seminal hardcore punk band. The book is his memoir of touring with Black Flag from 1981 to 1986. Your friend might have a copy.

ETA: If you watch the Great Rock n Roll Swindle, just remember it’s fiction. McLaren didn’t form shit. The band existed before McLaren.
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Brilliantly Crazed
Validated User
Disagree about the rules-light. In dnd, at least in Pathfinder, it’s really easy to have an all bard party with multiple rolls and specialization.

Agreed about the money troubles. Add in having to narrowly escape The Man after every performance, with increasingly ludicrous escalation of what they’re doing to trap them.

You need to have at least one fake gig set up by the baddies to arrest the bands and dissidents listening both. Forced to work with your hated rivals to escape! And protect your fans!

In a horrible twist, the band’s mascot animal is kidnapped and replaced by a shapeshifting imp!


Brilliantly Crazed
Validated User
In a completely different genre, do a Sailor Moon (or Equestria Girls...) style plot where alien invaders have come, and are enthralling the populace with their oppressive siren song! And also draining their life energy to do something sinister!

But there is hope in the form of the PCs, overcoming the gimmicked cookie cutter Droid Bands and their insidious minions out to sabotage you! Start a revolution!

And try not to go broke before you do.

Devil's Avocado

Registered User
Validated User
If you can, get a copy of Goodnight Jim Bob: On the Road with "Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine" for inspiration. You can argue about whether Carter USM were technically punk or not, but there's no better book for describing the life of a moderately successful "alternative" band. In particular, unlike most biographies the book carries on after the band stop playing to packed audiences and end up back in grotty pubs.
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