Gear Shift: Musical Instruments

In the Gear Shift series, I make changes and tweaks to published gear and equipment (mostly from the Star Wars Roleplaying books). Where relevant, I add advice and additional items for other Genesys settings.


Many of the pieces of gear and equipment I'll be altering and adjusting in this series were listed in the published books with some good in-world description but no specific mechanical effects other than implicitly being tools for the job for some activity. These pieces of gear aren't unbalanced... With almost no in-game effects, they can't be over or under powered. But they aren't terribly interesting. When such gear costs 20,000 credits or more, it might be good for it to do something.

Why might musical activities be interesting enough to warrant skill checks or gear that modifies skill checks with extra mechanics? Well, it might be that you need a skilled musician to stage a distraction while you open the cantina's safe. It may be that, while the rest of the party is taking a month long interlude to construct an expansion of the party's homestead, your Colonist Performer character spends that time working at the cantina providing live music, and an extra revenue stream for the party. The cultural background for the Drabatans in Dawn of Rebellion describes their musically oriented culture and emphasizes how resistance against the Empire was spread through protest songs and iconic singers. What about using music to rile up a crowd and spread anti-Imperial sentiment in an Age of Rebellion game? And if a player in your party is set on being a musician, he's going to want an instrument that does more than occasionally adding b to checks.

Adjustments & Additions

So, let's take a look at the musical instruments described in Far Horizons:

Item Name Reference Encumbrance Price Rarity
Musical Instrument, Common Far Horizons, p.47 1-5 50-100 2
Musical Instrument, High Quality Far Horizons, p.47 1-5 500-1500 4
Musical Instrument, Legendary Far Horizons, p.47 1-5 20,000+ 10

These prices, encumbrances, and rarities are a reasonable base to work with, so let's expand a little. First, all instruments count as tools for the job when performing or recording live music. Instruments which a musician can play while simultaneously singing add b to related social checks. Instruments which require the use of the mouth and lungs merely make it possible to play music written for them and do not add b.

Common Instrument

A common instrument is usually constructed simply and functionally. Common instruments are therefore often sturdier than the more finely crafted versions of the same instrument, though it cannot produce sound of the same quality. Where generated t or y could damage a common instrument one step along its damage track (Edge of the Empire Core Rulebook, p.158), 1 additional t is required to do so.

High Quality Instrument

A high quality instrument is almost always hand-made by specialized artisans. When in the hands of a skilled musician, its sound is more precise, controlled, and even more pleasant than what a common instrument can produce. A character playing a high quality instrument as a part of any social check adds automatic aa to the results.

Legendary Instrument

Legendary instruments are not just handmade: each is one of a kind, produced by an expert in the production of that particular instrument. An instrument this rare is also often decades or even centuries old. While these treasures are extremely valuable, they are also often delicate because of their age. A character playing a legendary instrument must invest experience in a custom skill specific to that instrument. If the musician has no ranks in the instrument's custom skill, upgrade the difficulty of any checks made playing the instrument twice.

However, it is possible to achieve a profound, memorable, deeply moving performance with a legendary instrument. Once per session, the owner of a legendary instrument may flip a Destiny Point from light to dark and add a x result to a check made playing the instrument. If the player chooses not to flip a Destiny point or there are none to flip, the x may still be added once per session, but it is added without the normally concomitant s result.

Musical Instruments for Other Genesys Settings

The above instruments can be used almost without modification in Genesys, though costs may need to be adjusted based on the setting. And the many different settings open up new possibilities for musical instruments.

Item Name Reference Encumbrance Price Rarity
Musical Instrument, Digital The Story Spanner 1-5 250-3000 4
Musical Instrument, Magical The Story Spanner 1-5 8,000+ 9

Digital Instrument

A digital instrument may record its musician's performance for later playback. A player may make an appropriate check to play the instrument and save the net dice results. Later, when recovering strain during downtime, any member of the party may replay the performance as an incidental and spend S or A from those saved results to recover additional strain. Though this replay does not delete the recording, it does consume the recovery effects.

Magical Instrument

A character with the Bard talent (Realms of Terrinoth, p.87) may choose to use any instrument with the Verse skill and not suffer the b penalty to casting a spell for not having hands free. In addition, the magical instrument counts as a magic implement for the purposes of spellcasting (Genesys Core Rulebook, p.218).

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