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Our Song

As our current RPG campaign draws to a close, we’re already laying some of the groundwork for the next one. Advance notice on the PCs’ various motivations, skills, et cetera, et cetera helps the GM a lot. Ella is a novice GM, but we expect great things from her. Taking a page from my book—which I in turn stole from Tweet and Costikyan—she’s requiring us to provide a certain amount of character “fluff” in our character sheets: along with statistics like skills and equipment, we need less mechanical elements like an identifying quote, some important people in our past, an inconvenient secret, a graphic of some sort…and theme music.

Most people balk at drawing a portrait, but I’m not that self-conscious about my illustrative skills, which is easy to say when they happen to be passably good. It’s the theme music that’s proving tricky for me. I have a spotty familiarity with music; apart from a personal taste for Bach, Beethoven, and the Beatles, my music collection—both the collection on my shelves and the collection in my head—is a more a matter of cultural literacy than a brain that communicates in music, “the greatest hits of human history” compressed into twenty albums. And I’m missing volume 20: 1990-present.

As a result, I can think of several pieces which capture something of my intended character’s nature. What I can’t think of is one that hasn’t already been snatched up for a movie soundtrack, pressed into service for somebody else’s fictional action-adventure protagonist. Hollywood is a hungry beast; it employs full-time professionals to create memorable characters, and music fanatics to construct their soundtracks. Unable to compete with professionals, I’m finding it hard to pick music that won’t immediately fill the mind with the image of Mark Hamill, or Jackie Chan, or Humphrey Bogart in place of my character, speaking my character’s lines, striking my character’s poses.

Roleplaying is a creative art form, part writing, part acting. Humble though my own artistic efforts may be, they are my own. And I don’t want mark and Jackie and Humphrey delivering my lines; I want to deliver them myself.

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