Mini Campaign starting ideas

Hi, I’m thinking of starting up a mini-campaign (in between my current Dune one) and would like to bounce some ideas off anyone who might be lurking. I’ll be posting the general campaign starting ideas and plot below when I get a chance. Appreciate any feedback if anyone is here.

To start with, it should be clearly stated that the characters are all survivors of child sexual abuse (although none recall these events). While I will be describing some quite dark scenes to the players, I’m more of a ‘provide some details and let the players’ minds fill in the blanks’ rather than explicitly detailing every nuance type GM.

So, with that in mind, I’ll be posting below.

Note that the general setting is around New Jersey and New York, places I have never been to (I’m not American), so I am reliant on what I imagine these places are like from movies, TV, and other depictions in popular culture

Session Zero

The characters will all be Sleepers, all will have a Dark Secret that they don’t as yet know (repressed memories or occluded by the Illusion). They are aged maybe 21-22, although one of them can be several years older if they wish - possibly a different Dark Secret for them if that’s the case (see later notes).

Other than that, there aren’t any other restrictions I can think of for character creation.

The general idea is that all the characters are childhood friends from the same town (maybe one of the small townships outside Atlantic City, NJ). Most, if not all, have left the town some years ago - whether it to be for the bright lights of NYC or some other big city, or possibly education or employment somewhere else. Perhaps one might have stayed, despite the lack of opportunities, bound by obligation or something else, but unlikely.

While they had been very close as children, inseparable best friends, the characters have all grown apart in recent years - mostly due to having moved away but there may be other reasons. We’ll map out relationships between the characters at this time. If one of the characters has chosen to be older, they are the big brother or sister to another person close to the characters - one that died or disappeared many years previously.

It’s 2010 and one of the characters gets a late-night call that his/her uncle, Anton, has died unexpectedly in a car crash. He is being laid to rest at the Atlantic City Cemetery in Pleasantville in the next few days. Uncle Anton had been a kind of second father-figure to the other characters when they were younger, and they are all informed of the upcoming funeral too.

Obviously this is the hook to get the characters all together as a group but I don’t want it to seem too forced either

Whether or not the characters still have living relatives in town is up to them to describe but the character whose uncle died lost his/her parents earlier - they can make up their own backstory - and unless one of the other characters is related, Anton was their last living relative.

Uncle Anton

Uncle Anton is a bit of an enigmatic figure to the characters. They remember him as a big, jolly, man in his 40s around 10 years ago, but then he suddenly left Atlantic City to live and work in New York. Something to do with computers.

Their fondest memories are when he used to drive them down to the beach to get icecreams, in his 1963 Lincoln Continental Convertible, top down naturally, during those long summers that seemed to go on forever… He sure loved that car.

All they know about the accident was that it happened late at night, somewhere along Route 72, around 5 miles out of Barnegat Township, in the Pine Barrens. No other vehicles were involved. Anton’s Lincoln appeared to have just veered off the straight stretch of road, no sign of braking, and collided with a tree.

So that’s the basic premise and set-up. Next we start the gaming session with each character experiencing an unsettling event - they are dreams but the players aren’t aware of that, at least initially. Probably will run each dream sequence with the other players not at the table.

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Player 1 Dream

You are sitting in a diner, one of those retro ones, all polished chrome with a formica-topped counter and tables looking like it’s straight out of the 1950s. An antique jukebox sits in the corner playing but you don’t recognise the song. There’s a plate in front of you with a generous slice of cherry pie and a mug of steaming coffee sitting beside it. It’s very late and there are no other customers.

Here the character can make an Observe a Situation or maybe Investigate move. Hopefully the player doesn’t yet realise this is not reality but a dream. Give them some more details about the diner…

You slowly realise that not only are there no customers, there are also no staff. You can see into the kitchen, there doesn’t seem to be a cook and there’s no sign of a waitress.

If the character wants to investigate further, they can. The kitchen is empty but there’s a burger patty sizzling on the grill. The door from the kitchen out to the back of the diner is locked. If the character checks the restrooms, there’s no-one there either. They are totally alone.

Just then you are briefly illuminated by the headlights of a vehicle as it pulls up outside the front door. You can see a battered RV parked up, the engine still running. No-one gets out. What do you do?

Unless they haven’t already checked out the rest of the diner, there really isn’t much for the character to do except go outside. I mean the player could try to derail the game and just stay inside (which I doubt they would do), but then I’d just narrate the events unfolding anyway since it is a dream after all.

You step out of the diner and notice that the RV is still idling and there doesn’t seem to be anyone sitting up front. There is a door on the side of the cabin, an unusual shade of red, and you notice that it is slightly ajar. There is a faint bluish light visible behind the door, pulsing slowly. You are aware of a hum, kind of like the buzzing of electricity, getting louder as you step closer to the RV. The forecourt lights of the diner get unbearably brighter and the buzzing in your head is now a shriek as the lights explode around you in a cascade of sparks.

You sit bolt upright in your bed, you are drenched in sweat and are breathing hard.

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