I watched Little Miss Sunshine with my girlfriend the other night, and was really enjoying it, even though it was the 2nd time I had seen it. I know many people don’t like dour/black comedies, but I do, and it really is a great movie. Anyways, without going into a review of the movie, something started forming in my brain. This movie may make a good role-playing adventure. Now not exactly the same plot as the movie, but the whole traveling across the lands with a dysfunctional family, etc.
I think it would work in either a fantasy or post apocalyptic campaign setting, or even old west (say Deadlands). The group would be hired by people needing to travel across the plains, wastes, woodlands, etc. I was also thinking if it worked with one of the players they could be related to this group somehow, which would also create some great role-playing avenues.
My initial idea, based off the movie is a father who is a farmer/former fighter (lvl 1-3) who retired and began farming, but has the whole “winning is everything” attitude (just like Greg Kenier’s character in LMSS) and he spouts off annoying mantras to his family at the weirdest and most inopportune times. A wife that met the husband during his fighting days, she was a showgirl or actress or something and got knocked up and went with the husband to the farm, now is weatherworn, haggard, and unattractive. She pines for the days when she was in the limelight, acts apathetic to attractive women in the group and fawns over the men in the group (especially if she thinks she has a shot) while the husband isn’t looking. There can be any number of children, but I honestly wouldn’t push it past 3, and give them flavorful dysfunctional personalities that can clash horribly or nicely with the players. Finally, if you want to throw a grandfather in there that is foulmouthed, drug addicted, and sexual promiscuous, and a apathetic self-loathing character in there, it will add nicely to the story.
So now that we have our cast of characters and you’ve developed personalities, I would make a random encounter chart, not just enemy/attack encounters, but random stuff as well like, the car/wagon breaking down, or horse dying, children get flu, emotional breakdown of one NPC, dirty secret revealed by NPC to PC, arguments by NPC’s that could pull PC’s into it, NPC (maybe elderly grandfather) steals from PC and is now wearing item, bold as brass, etc.
The whole of the adventure is yours to decide, so I won’t go into that, but this will flex yours and the players Role-playing muscles, because that’s what it mostly is. Have one or two combat encounters to protect the family while the father, with his winning attitude, gets in the way, but largely it should be about getting this wretched family to where they need to be and dumping them off before the PC’s go crazy and kill everything.
Go ahead and leave feedback on the idea or shoot it down, constructively please.