NZRaG
New Zealand Roleplaying and Gaming forums
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

Primetime Adventures: Phoenix
Goto page 1, 2, 3  Next
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    NZRaG Forum Index -> General Chat
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
hix



Joined: 25 Jan 2006
Posts: 406
Location: Poison'd

PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2006 10:59 am    Post subject: Primetime Adventures: Phoenix Reply with quote

We took PTA (the game about designing TV shows) for 2 test runs in the weekend. Awesomely, we got to play two back-to-back episodes of one of the shows.

Players were Debz, Luke, Svend and Morgue. I was the Producer.

PTA starts with a pitch session - the group collaborating to figure out what show they all want. We listed out the genres we were interested in, beginning with a series that might have supernatural themes in it, then bringing up the idea of a noir. I put 'teen drama' on the table but after a while realised I wanted to remove it (because we'd created a supernatural teen drama in the previous session).

Nothing was firing till Luke started talking about disaster movies. I mentioned post-apocalyptic films, which didn't get much of a response. And then I remembered my idea for a graphic novel about the craziness surrounding Waco: the mammoth siege, the relationships between the FBI and the people inside the compound, the escalating tension.

And that was our show. We'd look at the human side of a religious cult, the small town outside it and how a seige would develop.

The cult is the Phoenix Group, one big 100-person seemingly happy family led by Carl Smith. We decided to leave it ambiguous as to whether there was anything supernatural or weird-science-y going on inside Phoenix's compound. It could be aliens, or cloning or whatever; we treated it like "What's really going on on this island" in Lost.

Our premise implied lots of characters: the charismatic leader, cult members, the local law. The next step was to figure out the 'stars' of the show, choosing protagonists that each player'll run. It was quite tricky getting a lock on who these should be until Morgue pointed out that they should make a family unit.

So Morgue, I'll tag you to talk about that section.
_________________
Cheers,
Steve

Gametime! A Kiwi groupblog about RPGs. Come and join the conversation.
multi-dimensional: my script-writing blog.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Luke
Site Admin


Joined: 24 Jan 2006
Posts: 2697

PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2006 12:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not to jump the tag but just a quick comment to say thanks to all the other players of this game for making it rock.

My comment on this early stage was that thought the concepts of family drama, the siege of a cult and noir seemed like an ill match, they dovetailed beautifully (the last one in particular was a surprise as it was dropped early on but seemed to flavour some of the later action considerably) Smile
_________________
Playing: Doomstones (WFRP2e); Shades of Terra (Exalted: Dragonblooded)
Running: Thousand Thrones (WFRP2e)
Planning: Incarnadine Crucible (Exalted: Alchemicals); Tale of Twin Kings, Angels of Death and the Lover Who Stole All Things (Exalted 1e)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
hix



Joined: 25 Jan 2006
Posts: 406
Location: Poison'd

PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2006 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I second that thanks. I feel like I know all of you (and myself) quite a bit better now, because of the character choices we made.

What I liked most about the pitch session was the resistance to easy choices - which we maintained through both episodes (I'm thinking of the Boyd/Lacey confrontation at the hospital in Episode 7).
_________________
Cheers,
Steve

Gametime! A Kiwi groupblog about RPGs. Come and join the conversation.
multi-dimensional: my script-writing blog.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Luke
Site Admin


Joined: 24 Jan 2006
Posts: 2697

PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2006 3:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hix wrote:
What I liked most about the pitch session was the resistance to easy choices - which we maintained through both episodes (I'm thinking of the Boyd/Lacey confrontation at the hospital in Episode 7).


I certainly learnt alot about the downside to making the obvious narrative choice too and it will be something I take to my RPGing elsewhere. I still can't get over how appropriate the results of the conflicts felt even when they were unexpected, though I think that our own narration made them "appropriate" in retrospect (which is all good).

As a slight topic jump, I reading With Great Power yesterday and I realised that it is almost identical to Prime Time Adventures, except it has a Dogs in the Vineyard system for conflict scenes (though not enrichment scenes) and a My Life with Master narrative arc. I am quite keen to try it out considering how much I enjoy PTA and DitV, and I will be interested to see how the experiences differs.
_________________
Playing: Doomstones (WFRP2e); Shades of Terra (Exalted: Dragonblooded)
Running: Thousand Thrones (WFRP2e)
Planning: Incarnadine Crucible (Exalted: Alchemicals); Tale of Twin Kings, Angels of Death and the Lover Who Stole All Things (Exalted 1e)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
morgue



Joined: 24 Jan 2006
Posts: 556
Location: Lower Hutt

PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2006 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just want to add to the shout-outs of thanks. This was a tremendously engaging exercise, and it gave me lots of positive spin for future gaming/writing etc. It was a damn good piece of creative work, I thought.

Will follow up on the tag-in tonight, hopefully. Don't wait for me if people want to talk of stuff.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Debz



Joined: 24 Jan 2006
Posts: 43

PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2006 6:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll jump on the thank you wagon. Thanks to Hix and the players for this awesome game. I'd also like to say that I was _really_ impressed with PTA as a system - it had some excellent features for encouraging thoughtful collaborative storytelling. It was one of those RPGing experiences that is so intense it lingers on in your mind for days. I really _want_ to play out more episodes! I need to know what the final outcomes of the season will be. It is easy to imagine things working out in a variety of ways - everyone's lives, relationships and key issues/values are on the line.

I will also echo the earlier comments about how good it was for some character arcs and stories that so many of the conflicts didn't work out in a convenient or obvious way. There were times when I was so strongly wanting a character to make the "right" decision and then it transpired that it make so much more sense when they made the seemingly wrong decision.

Making bad decisions is so important for characters to develop their issues. I think as players we often let our like for characters make us want to protect them from disaster. To really create compelling drama and get the characters to a point where they will meaningfully develop, grow and resolve some of their issues takes cruelty. Way more cruelty (we're talking Joss 'butchering those characters we love' Whedon levels of harshness) than I'm not usually keen on. It's not about sadistically torturing characters for entertainment - it's about letting them hit that critical point, usually rock bottom, where they have to really accept or deal with something they are unwilling to and then they can react and develop past it. It doesn't necessary mean the character will grow into a better or wiser person so much as it means evolving the character into a more complex human being.

I also loved the use of the character 'issue' in PTA. It was a great tool for focusing characters' motivations and actions/reactions. The conflicts also worked really well - every scene had a great sense of purpose. Watching or playing out scenes were both rewarding because the system seems incredibly inclusive. I felt as a player involved not only in the decision making process for the overall set-up but also that I had a stake in the outcome of every conflict (and therefore every scene) regardless of whose characters were involved.

So good! I could rant for ages...
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
morgue



Joined: 24 Jan 2006
Posts: 556
Location: Lower Hutt

PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2006 12:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Right, characters.

We knew going in that we wanted to maintain a focus on events both inside and outside the compound, so we naturally gravitated to splitting the characters like that as well.

A few character ideas were loosely thrown around, but the kick came when Svend suggested a precipitating event: the kids are taken out of school.

(I don't remember if this was before or after Luke announced an interest in playing a kid in the compound - but Luke was the first person to find a character idea that suited him.)

While I enthused about the fantasticness of Svend's suggestion, Steve immediately identified that it gave us a character - the kid's teacher. In turn, we knew the kid's teacher would be wanting to investigate the compound, so another key character would be whoever was in authority in the town - the sheriff. After a bit of bandying about, it was agreed the sheriff would be a good protagonist. About this point someone - it might have been me, I don't remember? - suggested we could switch the gender expectations and have a male teacher and female sheriff.

That meant was needed one more character inside the compound. A few ideas were talked about, including having a middle-ranking member of the cult be a character, and having the cult leader himself be a protagonist (shades of Carnivale!) but we eventually seized on the notion of a second school student as being most appropriate.

Somewhere in there I pointed out that we were making a symbolic family unit with nurturant-parent/father (the teacher) and authority-parent/mother (the sherifff) and two children. This led to the easy role-allocation of the children, as the young questioning child (Luke's character) and an older rebellious teen. (Somewhere in here the sheriff was definitely confirmed as a protagonist, whereas previously we'd had the option of choosing another character idea.)

Luke had made his choice, and Debz I think chose the older teen next, making her a girl so we had gender-split in the children. The other two roles were between Svend and me, and we were both happy with either. I ended up taking the teacher, Svend the sheriff.

The suggested family-unit was resonating with us all - it created a clear structure of relationship development, suggesting that the characters will come to care for and rely on each other as the season progresses. It also immediately echoed the problems for our individual characters, which to a greater or lesser extent revolved around social dislocation/isolation, and worked as counterpoint to the cult's motif of large platonic 'family'.

We worked together coming up with each others' issues, contacts and edges. My teacher I named Boyd Peterson. I immediately knew I wanted him to be a relatively new arrival in the town, fleeing a previous failure to save a child he was teaching from an unpleasant fate - his issue was Guilt. I also immediately knew one of his contacts, his fellow teacher/mentor/friend, an older lady who ended up being named Carol Fletcher. Through discussion I ended up choosing an edge of Empathy and another contact, a cult member who was the very same child I had once failed to save - her trauma had led her straight into the arms of the cult. She was Lacey, and we would have a difficult, cautious relationship. So I had been set up with contacts in and outside the compound.

I'll let other players write about their characters now. Tag x3! hix, say more if about this stage too if you will.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
hix



Joined: 25 Jan 2006
Posts: 406
Location: Poison'd

PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2006 6:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, I'm real curious as to why you all chose the Issues that you did (because they did all seem to work perfectly together).
_________________
Cheers,
Steve

Gametime! A Kiwi groupblog about RPGs. Come and join the conversation.
multi-dimensional: my script-writing blog.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Luke
Site Admin


Joined: 24 Jan 2006
Posts: 2697

PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2006 10:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Strange. I thought I came to my character last, both in terms of picking it and getting to grips with it.

The younger child was a real challenge. I wanted to keep him real but also liked the different perspective a child can bring, which if done right can be quite creepy and odd such as in Lost and 4400. The issue was “growing up” though took a while to pick. I think the family unit idea really helped as it allowed me to decide what place a youngest child held in a family and to extrapolate that out to the story we told.

Once this clicked a few other things clicked. I realised the child should be very much the observer of events. In many ways, the child asks the questions that the audience asks. This meant that the child’s nemesis had to be the ultimate big bad of the series, the cult leader despite a seemingly imbalance of power. It also meant that many of the child's issues were somewhat distant.

As a result, I must admit I was very glad that the character had the least screen presence of all characters in the 2 episodes we played out as he felt more like a supporting character, not just for the story but for the other characters. The child’s story was interesting but as the audience of the show would be adult it felt more important to use the child to make certain points in regard to the other characters than to explore his issues in depth.

Finally, I really enjoyed playing Saul. It cumulated for me in my last scene with the cult leader, where I had a moment where character said something true to him before I realised what it meant. That was his demand to be let into the Room (the cult’s torture chamber). For a few seconds, I wasn’t sure why I said it but it felt like the perfect act of defiance at the time and mirrored the opposite use of the idea in the previous episode. Morgue got it straight away, I quickly followed and after some discussion we understood that it was actually a crucial decision between growing up or staying a child.

Saul was a cool character to play. I really liked the way PTA built up an understanding of the narration leading up to each scene but then quickly brought you to an important point of character. At that point it then took some of the control out of your hands. By doing this, you were forced more to deal with the character as a independent persona and not just an alter ego. I found this really assisted in building the cause and effect of narration by forcing you to deal with the character's good and bad choices.
_________________
Playing: Doomstones (WFRP2e); Shades of Terra (Exalted: Dragonblooded)
Running: Thousand Thrones (WFRP2e)
Planning: Incarnadine Crucible (Exalted: Alchemicals); Tale of Twin Kings, Angels of Death and the Lover Who Stole All Things (Exalted 1e)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Svend



Joined: 13 Mar 2006
Posts: 86

PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2006 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As I recall, I had no strong vision for any of the characters, so having the framework of a family really helped -- specifically, the fact that we were going reverse gender expectations, and have the nuturing teacher being male, and the female sherrif (Molly) being the stronger authority figure. Giving her an Edge directly related to her career, "Authority", seemed an obvious first step.

Remembering Pratchett & Gaiman's comment in Good Omens that people don't invite tax inspectors to join their football team suggested that a good issue might be "Isolation". Morgue pointed out that sheriff is an elected position; this prompted me to see her as someone who was respected, but not liked, and I threw out a suggested second edge of "Ruthless". This turned out to be quite important in understanding the character: for example, when Debbie's teen Terri asked whether her boyfriend had been in pain before he died (in a carcrash), Molly's response was, "Yup."

(This actually surprised me a bit when I said it, but on reflection it made sense -- Molly was trying to jolt Terri out of her funk, and get her to see how suspicious the circumstances were, while still not trusting her enough to take Terri into her confidence. Of course, it turned out that Molly badly misjudged how to handle it, but Molly's inability to tell when she should trust people (and making bad choices when she did trust) was something of a recurring theme.)

Knowing the two Edges and Issue, and having the idea of the sheriff as the "sin-eater" of the town (as Morgue put it), choosing a Contact seemed straightforward -- someone who is also powerful in the town, but more integrated. Having a man who owns many aspects of the town, a sort of "Boss Hogg" figure (except less overtly corrupt and all-encompassing) who she has a good, long-term working relationship with seemed the right way to go. And it having him betray her (very limited) trust in him seemed more or less inevitable.

***

A quick comment about PTA -- one downside that people don't seem to have mentioned is that by having each scene relatively short, engaging, and containing a significant conflict that illuminates a character in some way, PTA games generate detailed, compelling war stories, and people's significant other may have to suffer through a blow-by-blow account of the game. And players may find that they are unwilling to let the story go, wanting to play through more episodes, and see what happens in subsequent seasons.

There should be some sort of warning label. Razz
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Luke
Site Admin


Joined: 24 Jan 2006
Posts: 2697

PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2006 1:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Svend wrote:
A quick comment about PTA -- one downside that people don't seem to have mentioned is that by having each scene relatively short, engaging, and containing a significant conflict that illuminates a character in some way, PTA games generate detailed, compelling war stories, and people's significant other may have to suffer through a blow-by-blow account of the game. And players may find that they are unwilling to let the story go, wanting to play through more episodes, and see what happens in subsequent seasons.

There should be some sort of warning label. Razz


Molly is so pregnant in Season 2 Smile But we need to ensure that it is a mystery whether the father is Mr Peterson or something of the cult's doing.
_________________
Playing: Doomstones (WFRP2e); Shades of Terra (Exalted: Dragonblooded)
Running: Thousand Thrones (WFRP2e)
Planning: Incarnadine Crucible (Exalted: Alchemicals); Tale of Twin Kings, Angels of Death and the Lover Who Stole All Things (Exalted 1e)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
morgue



Joined: 24 Jan 2006
Posts: 556
Location: Lower Hutt

PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2006 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Svend, I think the stuff you put my name to was hix. But I dunno. It all gets so hazy, trying to sort it out in memory. Maybe Luke didn't seize on his character first like i remember him doing? Anyway. I'm giving more detail as requested...

---

I went for an issue of guilt simply as a plot driver. I knew the teacher would have to be strongly motivated to investigate in order to get the series in motion, and a way to do that popped instantly into my head - he had previously failed someone by not investigating hard enough, and felt guilty about it. Simple. But it worked a treat. Smile
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Luke
Site Admin


Joined: 24 Jan 2006
Posts: 2697

PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

morgue wrote:
Svend, I think the stuff you put my name to was hix. But I dunno. It all gets so hazy, trying to sort it out in memory. Maybe Luke didn't seize on his character first like i remember him doing? Anyway. I'm giving more detail as requested...


Yeah, I think it will be hard to attribute stuff to people as there was so much contribution that it really gelled into one thing Smile

One thing that surprised me was how quickly we chose the screen presences for the characters over the 9 episodes and how we all seemed to have the story for each character so clear in our minds. We spent much more time just getting to the overall idea.
_________________
Playing: Doomstones (WFRP2e); Shades of Terra (Exalted: Dragonblooded)
Running: Thousand Thrones (WFRP2e)
Planning: Incarnadine Crucible (Exalted: Alchemicals); Tale of Twin Kings, Angels of Death and the Lover Who Stole All Things (Exalted 1e)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
morgue



Joined: 24 Jan 2006
Posts: 556
Location: Lower Hutt

PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2006 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Luke wrote:
One thing that surprised me was how quickly we chose the screen presences for the characters over the 9 episodes and how we all seemed to have the story for each character so clear in our minds. We spent much more time just getting to the overall idea.


In my experience, it often works like this - once you find the idea, it's like it's all there waiting for you to extrapolate.

Of course, sometimes it isn't like this at all...
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Guest






PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bwahaaa! I have some free time! Some thoughts ...

The Producer’s role in Primetime Adventures is to create adversity.
You might have noticed that I asked a lot of questions about your Issues, trying to see how they would apply and the different angles we could take on them. I think by not accepting them quickly we eventually got the same ‘click’ of rightness from your Issues as we did from the premise for the show.

The other thing was that, in my memory, plotting out the character arcs didn’t go back quickly to start with.
We all seemed paralysed by having so many options for where our spotlight episodes would go (your screen presence is rated from 1 to 3. Spotlight episodes are ones where your character’s screen presence is 3; they focus particularly on your character & your high screen presence gives you more mechanical power to get what you want).
It was only when we started focusing only on where our 3’s would go that everyone’s character arcs seemed to fall into place.

Here are the arcs for everybody:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 (Episode)
2 1 2 2 1 1 1 1 3 (Saul)
1 2 1 1 1 2 3 2 1 (Sheriff Molly)
2 2 1 3 1 1 2 1 1 (Boyd)
2 1 2 1 2 3 1 1 1 (Terri)

The beauty of plotting things out like this is that they gave us an indication of which characters would be introduced and foregrounded early in the season, and which would be developed later. For instance, at this point we knew that Luke’s character (the young boy) would have a conflict at the end of the season that would sum up the entire show. Terri’s conflict in episode 5 would (we assumed) lead directly into Sheriff Molly’s.
Back to top
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    NZRaG Forum Index -> General Chat All times are GMT + 13 Hours
Goto page 1, 2, 3  Next
Page 1 of 3

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group