I've been wanting to do this setup for a while. I had the players choose an album to act as the framework and inspiration for the campaign as a whole. My players, always a group to challenge me, chose Journey's Greatest Hits. Now, my first thought was "ugh, not exactly a deep inspiration," but thinking about the songs, I actually warmed to the idea. Sure, most of the songs on that album are love songs (not always the greatest inspiration for RPGs), but there's often a mature, kind of wistful element to them. Plus, we also have songs like "Wheel in the Sky" and "Lights" that aren't love songs, and that imply travel and a sense of place. So that's cool.
Next, I had each player pick a band, and then I gave them a song by that band to act as the inspiration/theme song for their character. Here's what we came up with:
- Michelle chose Halsey, so I gave her "Drive". Her character is Mia Starek. Mia is a Classics major at the University of California (Santa Cruz). She's a Tri-Delt, formerly a "big sis" to Daisy. She also suffers from depression. She's 23, probably the most mature of the group.
- Travis chose Hozier; I gave him "Jackie & Wilson." His character is Kyle Thomas. Kyle is 25, the oldest of the group. He's a dropout, lazy, show-off, and utterly emotionally needy but distant. He's hooked up with most of the Tri-Delts, dated Heather when she was in high school, sometimes gets together with Mia.
- Megan chose Florence & the Machine; I gave her "Sky Full of Song." Her character is Daisy Bitcherman. Daisy was a Tri-Delt, but dropped out of college and now rejects her father's money and all assistance, and lives in, basically, a utility closet in a shitty apartment building. She's lost weight and her health is suffering, but she's sticking to her economic anti-capitalist principles, at least for the moment. She's Heather's younger sister, and crushing on Kyle.
- Sarah chose Ludo; I gave her "Anything For You." Her character is Patricia Allen. Patricia (do not call her "Trish" or "Patty") got back from a backpack tour of Europe to find herself, and is presently a business major. She works at a co-op and is trying to get Daisy a job there, and takes a class or two with Mia. She actually came back and tried to assimilate into college life for love, but she won't say who she's in love with.
- Melissa chose Taylor Swift; I gave her "Getaway Car." Her character is Heather Bitcherman. Heather is a Tri-Delt, and she's Daisy's older sister. She's obsessed with Kyle (formerly her boyfriend, but that's been over for years, not that you can tell Heather that). She's emotionally dependent and not as smart as she thinks she is, but she wants to be renowned and loved.
So, our first session of the game is based on this song:
We start off the game on Saturday, November 7th, 1992. Bill Clinton was just elected President this week, and the characters are going about normal Saturday things.
Kyle and Mia hooked up last night; Kyle was actually on a date with Daisy, but Daisy had to call it early, so Kyle showed up at Mia's door. Mia let him in, because why not? It worked out for her (Mia is under no illusions as to the nature of her relationship with Kyle). Kyle pulls on his clothes and heads out, but Heather spots him in the hallway and confronts him, loudly, about hooking up with Mia and who knows who else in the Tri-Delt house.
Mia, for her part, glides on down to the shower while Kyle tries to extricate himself. Heather, true to form, freaks out for a while and then softens, verifying that Kyle will be at the opening of the new sandwich shop later (free samples!). Kyle says he will, but not for long; there's an open mic later. Heather confirms that she'll be there, since Kyle invited her (he totally didn't).
Meanwhile, Daisy is hanging with Patricia at the co-op; she does some work and takes some food in exchange. Patricia notices a missing person poster on the wall - it's a grad student named Stella Aminat. She gets a strange feeling when she sees the poster, but isn't sure what it means.
Later, all five of them wind up at the sandwich shop (City Bites), snacking on the free samples and kibitzing. Patricia and Mia wind up chatting, trying to drown out the sisters bickering and fighting over Kyle. Patricia talks a bit about her experiences backpacking, and Kyle regales them with the time he went to Oakland.
And then the characters glance up, and note that the sun seems to be...changing. There's an eclipse happening, which is odd because none of them remember hearing anything about one coming up ("It's not like they schedule these", says Heather). Kyle and Mia go into the laundromat next door and check the TV; the newscaster is talking about the eclipse, but not in a "OMG SURPRISE ECLIPSE" kind of way, so they just assume they missed it. The characters watch the eclipse for a while, and Daisy and Patricia both feel...strange. Daisy, in particular, feels an odd kind of hunger, a sensation that feels wrong somehow. But it passes, and the group decides to go to Kyle's open mic (Patricia and Mia are somewhat reluctant, but they figure it'll be amusing at least).
The coffee shop is called Rocco's Beans & Things. Rocco D'Onfrio is a tough-talking Italian-American who opened the coffee shop after his restaurant failed, and it's got a lively open mic scene going. The characters order drinks (Kyle gets them all hand stamps so they can get beer), and Kyle goes up and does his song. Afterwards, Kyle makes to leave, but Heather goes up and does a poem that she wrote, which everyone kind of suffers through (note: Heather has the Talentless Drawback).
The characters split up for the night; Daisy goes home to her awful little closet, Heather and Mia go back to the sorority house, Kyle hooks up with a barista, and Patricia goes back to her apartment.
In the morning, Kyle wakes up to the alarm playing a radio. The broadcast is gruesome - Rocco was found dead in the back room of the restaurant. His heart has been cut out.
Next time, we'll learn what the characters do following that bit of horror.