About a year ago I had a conversation with Cyclopeatron where I told him I was interested in tapping into experiences and emotions players already have when they come to the table (not too horrible experiences of course). Well I got to try it out Friday and it seemed to work okay.
The party set sail to find the Animal Island and a moose in order to bring it back for a payoff bigger than they've ever achieved. On the second evening they came within range of a small isle and heard song. The crew was entranced and stopped working the sails. The captain started steering toward the isle until Weegi the mage put him to sleep. All the players could hear was the horrid squawking of sea birds. Well, except Sybil, she heard something different.
I asked her player to think of a song she remembered from high school, one that filled her with good feelings and a sense of nostalgia, but not sadness. She said "okay." I said you hear that song coming from the isle.
Weegie and Z were getting frantic and afraid as the crew seemed useless. Then Z pulled out his cap. The cap is infamous with the players because everyone who looks at it has to save or be charmed. And players don't like being charmed in the middle of a battle. Z even added the feather of a golden puma pheasant to his cap, which also charms, for a bonus (I thought why not).
The crew was immediately won back and after a little bit the ship was heading into the night away from the threat. I love how such a simple magic item has become artifact like in the combination of power and reluctance to use it.