The Elvis Hook For PCs

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0874

I had two cool conversations recently with fellow game masters, and out of them I have one idea and one tip for you today:

Idea  The Elvis Convention

One GM has a bard PC whose background involves being famous.

So the GM has prepared a music festival in a town the PCs will travel to. And the festival is a gathering of cover bands who perform the famous PC bard’s best songs.

First of all, what a great player reward!

I suggested staging things out. (Another bad pun, sorry, I’ll try to change my tune.)

First the party enters the town and learns there’s a big music festival happening. Introduce the premise.

Then the PCs encounter someone dressed up like the bard. A funny coincidence.

Then the bard hears one of his songs being played over yonder and will spot a cover band. A cool little surprise.

Then the party encounters another troupe on a street corner performing one of the bard’s songs. Weird. What’s happening?

Then the PCs encounter centre stage with signage indicating the theme of the festival. And gathered are dozens of performers dressed up as the PC. Crazy twist!

The idea itself might not resonate with your campaign, but the tip is in the italics. There’s a nice little 5 Room Dungeon structure there on how to romance a clue or event and build it up over the course of a few encounters.

Start slow, drop the hook, build mystery or curiosity, confront, then unveil for the shock or surprise.

So anyway, out of curiosity, what does a GM do at an Elvis convention?

  • What if no one believes the PC is the real bard?
  • Maybe a serial killer’s victims are Elvis impersonators and he targets the bard PC.
  • What if an Elvis impersonator commits a heinous crime and people think the PC did it?
  • Perhaps the crowd thinks impersonators are better than the PC!

All kinds of mayhem. Cool idea, Caleb.

Idea  Crowd Kicks

The other GM shared how one of his players loves combats. So he made a pit fighting league for him.

After some discussion, we realized the fighter player also loves an audience. He gets his kicks performing in the pits for the crowd.

This is a core drive for some players.

Some folks need others to define what success is and how it’s measured. And they require a witness for validation. What’s victory without a crowd cheering you on?

Likewise — that emotional moment in movies when a character shows vulnerability or intensely expresses a personal value or belief while thinking they’re alone, but their romantic interest is a secret witness. That moment is so effective because we witness the witness!

So, next game, consider using witnesses in your storytelling to amp up the intensity and excitement of gameplay for players who like that.

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