Songs & Stories is a storytelling style challenge. Each player is given the same song to listen to, either a music video or just the music. The style, genre, lyrics, tempo, and pretty much every aspect of the song could be important, but it is the interpretation of the player which dictates what matters most. From this song, each player works independently of the others, without conferring in any way, to create a character based on or inspired by the song. The player may base the personality on the lyrics and the appearance on the rhythm, or they may decide the content of the music video dictates an origin story while the lyrics influence little more than the way the character dresses. It is entirely up to them.
While the players develop their characters, I build the setting, NPCs, and general plot. Everything on my end is based on the same song that the players must use, only I have a bigger canvas to cover and a broader brush to work with.
When all the characters are finished and submitted, I will work with the players to fine tune their concepts to fit the setting, which is finally revealed at this stage. This is where the players learn which city they are in, what the general plot is, and who the known NPCs are. We work together to adjust the characters and setting to blend together as best as possible.
Once all these things have happened, we’re ready to dive in! While it’s never guaranteed that any particular story will have more than a session or two, we will still launch the game to see how well everything blends together. If it works, we can keep going to a fitting end to the story. If it doesn’t work, we scrap it and try again with a new song. The fun here comes from the challenge of creation as much as the portrayal of the characters.
The video at the top of this page is the song and video the players were given to inspire their characters.
On the off chance you are not familiar with them, I highly recommend checking out Postmodern Jukebox. I chose their cover of Christina Aguilera’s Genie in a Bottle because it seemed like an exciting choice for the first Songs & Stories challenge. I haven’t seen the characters yet, but can’t wait to see what the players come up with!
What sort of character does this song inspire you to make?