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Author Topic: [PtA] Heritage - POP goes the Hood!! (warning: long)  (Read 9730 times)
JMendes
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« on: March 27, 2005, 08:45:33 PM »

Hey, all, :)

Yep. Last Friday was the day when PtA suddenly came together for us!

If you want background info on this, go read this thread about our first session, show generation and the first part of the pilot, as well as this thread about the second half of the pilot, including an extensive discussion of the problems we ran into.

Ok, first, screen presences (and issue, for reminders):
Michael Addler - 2 - Greed (relf-explanatory, really... this guy just wants mo'money)
John Hacket - 2 - Self-worth (John is the Foundation main man's nephew, and he thinks others think of him as just the nephew, and not deserving to be on the H1 team)
Val Shiang - 1 - Attonement (Val blames himself for his father's death, thinking that if only he had researched more, his father would still be alive)
Rowan Geddes - 1 - Grief (Rowan's husband disappeared under mysterious circumstances, and once in a while, she looses it)

Second, what the episode was about:
1) Tracking down "The Soul of Ra", a diamond whose wielder gains mystical powers over life and death; and
2) Further setting up Michael's issue, for next week's Spotlight Episode.

Third, "next week on". It's amazing how much five little ten-second blurbs can guide an episode. It's like each of us knew when to call in each blurb, and episode structure and pacing that emerged was spot on.

Fourth, some very relevant things we did different:

A) The first scene. Rather than starting off with the team briefing, I took a cue from Charmed and other shows and made the first scene revolve around the Bad Guy(tm) doing his nasty stuff, with the diamond, using it to kill some dudes. The Protagonists weren't even there. As a consequence, throughout the episode, the players already knew exactly what they were dealing with, and they were already figuring out how the confrontation would work. This made for good stuff later (see I below).

B) Before I even rolled credits, I asked each SP2 player to call a light character scene, unrelated to the episode plot.
John's player tried to ask his uncle's secretary out on a date. I called a conflict: if you win, she says yes because she likes you; if you loose, she says yes because you're her boss's nephew. The player won, and it was very cool. The date ended up not happening, because team had to go track down that diamond, but the conflict made this fact interesting in and of itself, and useful later as well (see J below).
Michael's player called a scene around his girlfriend connection and his nemesis, who happens to be the boss's son and interested in his girlfriend, in a very dysfunctional manner. They were in the caffeteria. I had the girlfriend accidentally knock the nemesis's tray to the ground, whereupon said nemesis lifted a hand as if to hit her. The player had Michael intercept the punch. Conflict: if you loose, you're gonna loose it and bitch-slap him; if you win, he's gonna loose his balance and fall on a chair. Either way, he's having you fired. Odd stakes, you may think. Thing is, we were working up to a "next week on" blurb, so we knew Michael was gonna be fired, but we wanted to find out whether he was actually at fault or not. Again, the player won, and it was very cool.

C) Roll credits, briefing scene. Michael gets kicked out. He spends about 80% of the episode away from the team. Point of note: the round-robin scene framing made sure he would get just the right amount of screen time. Further coolness ensued throughout the episode, with his character scenes providing an interesting backdrop contrast to everyone else's plot scenes.

D) Investigation conflicts. Oh, boy, did they work well. First off, all the "clues" that existed were to be suplied by NPCs, rather than found. This gave me the opportunity to always have a counter-interest. Specific example: two guys were murdered in a hotel room. John's player wanted to know what the hotel manager knew, other than what the police had told them. Well, the hotel manager knew plenty, but he had been bribed to keep his mouth shut. Conflict: if you win, he spills his guts; if you loose, he spills his guts, but will later place a phone call to the guy that bribed him earlier, who turned out to be the Bad Guy(tm). The player lost, and this paved the way to the Final Confrontation, in a very smooth way.

E) Non-investigative conflicts. One "next week on" blurb called for a parking lot fight scene, where Rowan (who has 'college kung-fu champion' as one of her traits) got attacked by Minions of the Bad Guy. She was investigating at a club where another guy had been found dead. We already decided the club employees didn't have any new info to give, so we skipped it. We had the scene begin as the bartender is appologizing for not being more helpful. That in itself was cool. The we had the guys come at her. Conflict: ok, we know you're gonna win the fight, so what else do you want? I want to actually capture one, so I can find out who sent them. Right, that's the stakes, then. One player protested that loosing wouldn't advance the plot, but I figured that just the fact that they're there advances the plot, because now we know that someone is physically after the team, and everyone was cool with that.

F) Player-vs-player conflicts. I got over it. In PtA, I realized, I can enforce the level of conflict. John wasn't present in the caffeteria scene, whereas Rowan and Val were. Rowan's player called for a scene where she'd try to convince John to talk to his uncle on Michael's behalf. Michael says he doesn't know if he wants someone on the team who can't keep a handle on their temper. Rowan says that it really wasn't like that, he was protecting Veronica (the girlfriend connection). The whole discussion was framed very nicely by the way the earlier conflict had played out (see B above). I let the players argue for the better part of half a minute, then called a time-out and had them roll. If Rowan wins, John has to cave in and agree to talk to his uncle; if John wins, Rowan has to admit that John has a point. I didn't even roll producer dice. It was very contained and worked wonderfully! I can live with this. More on this issue in this thread.

G) One Bang. That's right, only one. But oh, such a cool one. Michael is in his office, packing up his stuff. His girlfriend calls him and says that if he apologizes to the boss's son, he might get reinstated. Michael insults the crap out of the guy, in a rather loud voice. This was a "next week on" blurb. One clerk overhears him, as she's on the phone herself. She says, 'don't worry, everything is set up, but now I have another idea, I'll call you back'. This was another "next week on". It was very cool, the way they merged together. So, this clerk calls Michael over and says, 'listen, some guys I know would love to have a solid contact within H1, and they'd be willing to pay big money'. Michael replies, 'didn't you hear, lady, I just got fired'. She replies, 'consider this further incentive to appologize to that idiot'. Now Michael's player looks at me and says, 'wait a minute, I have to choose between my pride and my greed', to which I add, 'and your loyalty to the team, that you'll be betraying in some way', and he goes 'crap, I hadn't thought about that, I need to figure out what I'm gonna do', and another player says, 'hey, good time for a commercial break', and we all go 'oh, yeah'! It was beautiful!

H) Fan mail was flying back and forth. The audience pool ended at 8, in contrast with 19 after the pilot. John's player spent 3 dice in one roll, then 4 in another. I ended the episode with 3 budget, the totallity of which were returns that I got back after the Final Confrontation. I'll get back to this when I talk about Creative Agenda.

I) The Final Confrontation. Remember when I was talking about the first scene? It played right into this. I saved 5 budget for it and made sure all the characters were there. (Michael actually joined the team just in time for this. How this came about was very cool and interesting as well, but it's extraneous detail. If you want to know about it, ask here and I'll add it in, but for now, it's sufficient for you to know that John ended up being instrumental in his return.) Anyway, here's what I said. You're all gonna get involved and we're gonna decide different stakes for each of you. And then, you're all gonna roll against these six dice I have in my hand. To Val's player, if you loose, you're going to agonize over how you should have read up more on this diamond and should have been better perpared for this. To Rowan's player, if you loose, you're gonna loose it and kill this guy. To Michael's player, if you loose, getting that diamond in your hands is gonna be what it's all about, and that'll be the final image in the scene. John suggested his own stakes. If I win, I want Michael to save the day, since he's back in no small part thanks to me, which will validate my worth to the team. Beautiful, isn't it? I had the Bad Guy point the diamond at Rowan, going for a kill, and then we rolled. John's player was the only one that won (having spent 4 Fan Mail), and he won narration as well. He had Michael shoot the diamond out of the Bad Guy's hand. The diamond flew through the air and landed in a trash can. Rowan's player suggested her high heel boots be used, and so she ended up stepping through the Bad Guy's throat. Val just kind of froze there. The final image was Michael feverishly digging the diamond out of the trash and staring at it, arms covered in refuse.

J) Final scenes. I just gave everyone full directorial power for these, and no conflicts were rolled. Val's player called for a scene in personal set (his appartment), where he's flipping through the pages of a book where we see a drawing of the Soul of Ra (the diamond). He is clearly distraught. Rowan's player called for a scene in her personal set (her office at the Foundation museum), where she's flashing back to the dead Bad Guy's eyes. She ends up sitting on the floor, crying. Another player has the camera focus on her one bare foot, then zoom out and fade to black. Also, remember John's date from earlier? (See B above.) Well, John's player called for a scene with his uncle's secretary, tying up that final loose end. That's it. Roll credits.

Fifth, Creative Agenda. This is me getting back to the issue of Fan Mail, like I said I would. Believe it or not, thinking back to how things played out and what Fan Mail was awarded for, this thing played out very Simulationist, with heavy emphasis on Color, seconded by emphasis on System. Yes, even with that one bang. Fan Mail was mostly awarded by 'Line of the Century' type stuff, with many dice also awarded for cool conflict and narration suggestions, but not because they were issue-ey, but rather because they were very TV-ey, and that's really what people were playing for. I can't vouch for the personal preferences of each of the players, because two of them I only met a few months ago, and we're just starting to get to know each other. (I got lucky in that they are Cool Dudes(tm), but that's not the point here.) My point is that, regardless of general preference, that's the CA that emerged from the various verifiable Instances of Play, and I was totally not expecting it.

Sixth and last point is after-game chat. A large portion was dedicated to finally naming actors to fill the part of the various protagonists and support casts. One player said this might help visualize stuff. So, throughout the next couple of weeks, we'll be gathering some pictures and mayeb throwing a page together. I'll post here if that happens. The rest of it was spent discussing how the game had gone. Mostly, everyone had a lot of fun, it really gelled well for us. Two of the players still had some trouble getting into character. One of those is the same one that didn't jazz too well to begin with, if you'll recall my very first PtA post (links at the top). He dislikes the concept of commercial breaks, which, he finds, break the immersion, and he still has some trouble recognizing this as role-play, though fortunatelly he has no trouble recognizing this as utter fun, so that's good enough for me, for now. Things may change when hs Spotlight episode comes up. I'll post here when that happens as well. One of the other two players, though. said 'you know, I was really disappointed with how the pilot turned out, but this time, I got into the character, I actually role-played'.

So, that's it! I was looking for something different, and I finally found it. I think that as long as I get to alternate between this and traditional RPGs, I can go on playing for another twenty years!

Thanks, Forge!

Cheers,

J.
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Andrew Norris
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Posts: 253


« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2005, 07:09:12 AM »

Congratulations, J, that's pretty darn exciting.

I felt like we might have been throwing too many differing opinions at you in those past threads, but it looks like you took all those ideas, customized them, and found your own way of driving the action.

Of the changes you made, I'd be curious which ones seemed to have the most impact. My guess would be establishing stakes for conflict resolution, because it sounds like you set up clear, interesting stakes for just about every conflict. Did you ever name stakes, and then adjust them when it seemed the player wasn't really engaged by them?

Finally, for what it's worth, I think Sim PTA, in the form of "Let's put on a show," is a solid way to play. Besides, if it turns out the show is about a particular Premise later, you and the players will have that much more experience with establishing cool Color to drive that along. And either way you all sound engaged.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2005, 08:50:29 AM »

Hmm. Some of that seems very odd, including some of the stuff that you're all exited about. That said, I can't really put my finger on why. Maybe somebody else can. I think there might be some drift happening here. Which is fine, because it seems that you've gotten things to work out.

Quote
He dislikes the concept of commercial breaks, which, he finds, break the immersion, and he still has some trouble recognizing this as role-play, though fortunatelly he has no trouble recognizing this as utter fun, so that's good enough for me, for now.
This is interesting. On the language thing, again...I'm guessing that players say, "I go to the trash can, and get the diamond out"? Correct? Or do they say, "My character [or insert character name] goes over to the trash can to get the diamond out"?

First person identification with character, and a desire for that, can say a lot about a player's CA. Put another way, I don't think that PTA intends to give any "immersion" at all in the sense that I think you're using the term. The fact that you're group is trying to have that, and dismayed when they're thrown out of it says a lot, I think. What's interesting, as you say, is that they're accepting of the fun that the style of play that PTA does provide, and acknowledge that it's fun. Where I think you need to get is to simply try to have players drop the attempts to "immerse" and just enjoy how PTA plays itself.

Mike
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ivan23
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« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2005, 09:13:14 AM »

J,

I can't thank you enough for going through all of this. Your initial posts of problems had fascinated me - I didn't step up b/c it looked like you were getting plenty of advice from folks with more experience, but it revealed a lot of things that helped me grok the system better. And now, I can see how it paid off; which is something I've sometimes found missing in advice-threads. Thanks a million.
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JMendes
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« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2005, 10:08:32 AM »

Ahoy, :)

Ivan, yeah, cool stuff, wasn't it? :)

Andrew, there were two things that really made a difference. One was careful control of conflicts, as you said. The other was careful attention to how players called scenes. Once I understood what all the advice was driving at, it became a feasible exercise. (This is including all the conflicting points of view, by the way, which were very helpful in getting me to understand everything.)

Also, note that I said feasible, not easy. :) I was dead tired at the end of the session. But it was a good kind of tired! :)

Mike, only one player failed to find immersion on a level that he's satisfied with it. All the others were really into their characters. The difference seems to be that they all recognize that 'character' seems to have a different meaning here, and one of them just didn't gel well with that different meaning. I'd withhold further judgement on this point until that player's character increases his screen presence. (Should be about a month, since we're playing every other week.)

Also, to answer your specific question, they all speak in the first person, except when they win narration, of course, whereupon they speak in the first person about themselves and in the third person about other characters and NPCs (as opposed to turning to the player and saying "You go over to the trash can to get the diamond out"). I don't find this all that revealing in and of itself, though, as in the past I've seen some of these players use first person PoV used for basically every stance in the book. (Yes, even director. "I get sick and start sneezing", for instance.)

When that one player pointed out those drawbacks, one other player replied with the 'I actually role-played' bit that I put in at the end. I too was fully into the game world, except for things like commercial breaks, the difference being that this gave me a welcome opportunity to take a short rest from what I found to be extraneous activity, so I didn't find it all that jarring. In other words, I think PtA is fully capable of providing immersion. It's just that how a player goes about 'finding' his character under the numbers is going to be a necessarily different process.

Thoughts?

Cheers,

J.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2005, 10:23:04 AM »

Quote
(Yes, even director. "I get sick and start sneezing", for instance.)
Sure, but I think this does say something about their state of mind.

Here's a better question. Do they drop out of first person to talk about things like the character's state of mind in the middle of a scene? "My character feels that he's under a lot of pressure here." That sort of thing? Or would that seem jarring to anyone? Do players say to each other, "Hey, have your character get offended about that, howsabout?"

I'm not going to go so far as to claim that doing this is superior for the mode of play in question, but I will say that such play can faciliate things a lot in certain circumstances in certain ways. When playing a game like PTA I never "get into" a character. They're just my tool for telling my part of the story.

Does that seem odd?

How did the players feel about the "immersion level" in the session before this one? With regards to the changes made to make this session enjoyable, did anything about this change at all? Or was that one player having immersion problems with the earlier session in terms of immersion as well?

Mike
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JMendes
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« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2005, 10:36:59 AM »

Hey, :)

Hmm... Too many questions, so, point by point, with appologies. :)

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Do they drop out of first person to talk about things like the character's state of mind in the middle of a scene? "My character feels that he's under a lot of pressure here." That sort of thing?
No, but:
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Do players say to each other, "Hey, have your character get offended about that, howsabout?"
Yes.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
When playing a game like PTA I never "get into" a character. They're just my tool for telling my part of the story.

Does that seem odd?
Yes, very much so. I think that's the mode of play that most players in my group(s) wouldn't actually consider role-play. Although, in fairness, I do understand what you're talking about.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
How did the players feel about the "immersion level" in the session before this one?
Hmmm... I think I'll just disregard the earlier sessions as data points, because I think we were just playing it wrong. The contrast was really just too stark. I wouldn't even recognize it as the same game, if I were viewing it from outside, I think...

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Or was that one player having immersion problems with the earlier session in terms of immersion as well?
Just for clarity, yes, it was.

Cheers,

J.
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ricmadeira
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« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2005, 11:03:39 AM »

Quote from: JMendes
this thing played out very Simulationist, with heavy emphasis on Color, seconded by emphasis on System. Yes, even with that one bang. My point is that, regardless of general preference, that's the CA that emerged from the various verifiable Instances of Play, and I was totally not expecting it.


Well, whatever it was, it was definitely incredibly cool! :D

But if you want to have more bangs/Narrativism I think it’s you, the Producer, the one who has to press the issue… mostly by pressing the protagonists’ issues onto the table, eheh. Can’t depend on the players to do it by themselves.

In my case, I’ve even been setting myself up. I created a Nemesis (none of the other players have one, or at least they have never shown up yet). I created a contact who is not only a contact but my girlfriend and the ex-girlfriend of my Nemesis. I used the Next Week On rules (they’re so cool!!) to create the whole “Michael hits Nemesis, gets fired, what will he do now to get that steady monthly income back?” plot; you then turned my scene, where I would discover something more about the traitor within the organization (which would give me something to do while the other players were abroad investigating other things), into a “will you become a traitor in exchange for plenty of money?” scene… see how just by pressing my protagonist’s issue, Greed, you added an entire new incredibly dimension to the already powerful Pride vs Job&Money-at-end-of-the-month situation I had originally mapped out? Then there was the situation I framed around having a quiet dinner with girlfriend and having to dump (or not) the girl halfway-through to go meet the traitors and make some money. You really made it very worse by having the traitors’ spokesman (or, in this case, a gorgeous-looking spokeswoman) meet Michael at the very same restaurant where he and his girlfriend were currently dinning like a happy couple. That’s another bang right there! Not as big a bang as the other, but still pretty powerful.

Now I’m getting ready to do it all over again, and I used this session’s Next Week On to introduce the following: Michael’s treason gets uncovered by Nemesis, who is about to call his father (the boss for the entire organization) when Michael pulls out a gun and tells him to put the phone down. This isn’t yet a bang per se yet, since I have already decided to pull out the gun, but it has potential… like, what if said Nemesis doesn’t put the phone down, will I hurt him, or let him place the call, or do something else? What if someone (Michael’s girlfriend?) enters the room just then and sees him acting like some crazy maniac with a loaded gun in his hand? I don’t know if I can create a bang by myself for myself (where are the theorists? this could be an interesting subject!), but even if I could/can the producer’s input and handling of the scene (before it reaches the conflict and the narration goes to someone) would be instrumental in making it much more powerful and far-reaching. I’m not sure how this plot thread will be resolved (thou I have a couple of ideas, if nothing else comes up), but the one thing I know is that by the end of that episode (my spotlight episode) Michael still has to be a part of the team in order to take part in the rest of the episodes, sitting quietly in the corner with Screen Presence 1, while other players get their turn at the spotlight.

Anyway, my point is that the other players don’t seem to be actively doing this (setting themselves up for difficult decisions), except maybe for Rogerio, John’s player, who also seems to have a thing for getting his character into conflicts with screwy stakes. :)  Bottom line is if you want more bangs you have to introduce them yourself. Pressing home the protagonists’ issues just seems like a great way to do it. Will Rowan leave a disabled team member behind in a very hot and deadly spot to go chase after that thug who mentioned a couple of minutes ago her dead(?) husband’s name like he knew the guy pretty well? Will Shiang retreat to a safe place to study the situation extensively, risking more deaths and mayhem while he sits looking at a computer screen and dusty old tomes looking for a perfect answer that might not be there, or will he take decisive action now and risk going in right away, trusting good luck and a few well-placed shoots to get everybody out alive before it’s too late? Will John try to face this problem alone and try to prove his worth to himself or to others, or will he choose safety in numbers, maybe risk being called a coward, and have others save the day? Will he believe in himself enough to challenge his leader/boss/uncle that he believes is making a decision that will result in other people’s deaths?

This leads me to a question, did you thought up that “loyalty or money” situation before the session or did it come up in the heat of the moment? If it was thought in advance, it just shows only how a bit of thought and preparation can go a long way to help you come up with many intense and powerful moments, even in this game where players constantly grab scene-framing and narration away from the producer. If it came up during play, it just goes to show how issues are very powerful tools to act as your guidelines during the game and why trying your best to get them on the table results in other things besides “just” emulating the shows we see on TV.

Anyway, I’m incredibly happy with PTA. As a player, it allows me to do everything I want and take the game to places where I want to be (I just hope I’m not disrupting someone else’s favourite game style because of it). It cost 20 bucks, but it’s already proven to be priceless!

And speaking of Rogerio, maybe you had another bang there. When Ana, Rowan’s player, framed that scene to ask for his help in bringing me back, he had to decide whether or not he would help out. I know the conflict was decided by dice so the final call was out of Rogerio’s hands, but before the conflict he choose not to be supportive. Just so other people can look at this more deeply, John, Rogerio’s character, has the self-worth issue and wants to prove himself to the team, who thinks he’s just there because of his family ties. Michael, the character he was supposed to help, was the leader of the team and would probably get that job back. So bringing him back would hurt him, now that he was the leader, and would maybe serve to prove again how dependent he was on family ties to solve things; plus, having an apparent hot-head leading the team doesn’t look very healthy. On the other hand, not helping in bringing Michael back, would cause him to be (even more?) despised by the other members of the team. Maybe Rogerio gave this some thought? Maybe it was a bang? Or maybe I’m reading way too much in a pretty simple and inconsequential decision, eheh.

Only Rogerio can tell, but it may be significant that, after the dice decided he would indeed lend a hand, he choose to help behind the curtains. If I remember correctly, not a single one of the protagonists knows that John was the sole deciding factor in having Michael re-instated. That should give John a powerful argument he can choose to use (or not) the next time Michael bitches about John’s family ties! Even if John resists the temptation to tell him, Michael is bound to find out (definitely on John’s spotlight episode) and maybe, just maybe, start respecting the man for the great guy he really is. Might even go as far as to apologise for the rough treatment he has given John. Oh, I can just see the audience anxiously waiting for something like that to happen. Male bonding, yeah! ;)

And it just occurred to me... John’s dinner invitation to his uncle’s secretary could also have resulted in another cool bang. If the dice had decided (or if we had not let them decide otherwise) that the secretary wanted to go out with him just for his money and connections, what would he do then? Would he withdraw the invitation? Would he keep it but try his best to show another side of him and get her interested in much more than his family and his money (that could have been the conflict for the die roll, for instance)? Or would he just go along with the date, have fun, get laid, and not give it a second thought? Don’t know if this is up Rogerio’s alley, but maybe it could have turned out into pretty emotional stuff.

Yeah, PTA really kicks ass!

Ricardo
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Matt Wilson
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2005, 12:46:45 PM »

Hooray!

Glad you guys had fun.
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JMendes
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« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2005, 05:54:19 PM »

Hey, :)

Quote from: ricmadeira
did you thought up that “loyalty or money” situation before the session or did it come up in the heat of the moment?
It was right then and there. Basically, when Ana suggested that someone had overheard you bitching about Simon (the Nemesis), I immediately knew who it was that had overheard you, and what she was going to do about what she'd just heard.

I knew to do this because my antennae were up looking for two things: one was ways to integrate the issues more; another was ways to insert the "Next Week On" blurbs. If you'll recall, Antonio's blurb was Ellen in a mysterious telephone conversation.

It just fell in place very neatly! :)

Cheers,

J.
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B0rg
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« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2005, 06:22:43 AM »

Hey, that was my sugestion, not Ana's! :P

Okay, after this thread I just had to get in it so I finaly registered and here I am! :)

I'm that player who's still having some trouble with PTA!
I play Val Shiang, etc etc, that info is already here on JMendes' posts...

I really think Mike Holmes is somewhat right on is impressions about my issue (didn't want to call it a problem, because, as JMendes said already, I do had fun at the sessions, a lot of fun on the last one specially!)

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Here's a better question. Do they drop out of first person to talk about things like the character's state of mind in the middle of a scene? "My character feels that he's under a lot of pressure here." That sort of thing? Or would that seem jarring to anyone?
(...)
I'm not going to go so far as to claim that doing this is superior for the mode of play in question, but I will say that such play can faciliate things a lot in certain circumstances in certain ways. When playing a game like PTA I never "get into" a character. They're just my tool for telling my part of the story.


Actually that would seem jarring to me at least! I kinda blocked on my last character scene where all there was to do was describe my characters feelings about what had hapened on the session.
This is my first time playing an Indie game, it's even my first time playing a not so mainstream role playing game. I usually am very simulationist, specially on character and setting, maybe even system and I'm used to getting a lot more under my character's skin! That was mostly my notion of roleplaying!
Now, with PTA, what I'm feeling like is exactly that doesn't work like I'm used to. The character seems more like a tool and that's still some thing I have to learn how to use in a different way.

Right now, when I think about it, I had more fun seing the complications of the other characters than my own. I'm on my character as a tool to help the story of the other player's characters.
I dunno if JMendes is right that it will change when I have a greater screen presance, maybe it will.

On the other end, I'm not that curious to see how my character will turn out.
Ric is all excited about the bang's and the banging possibility of the game! :) I love that to, but I seem to like it more on other characters. Both my "Next time on" scenes where made with that in mind, the first one to increase the all plot, and this one, to complicate things to Ric's character a little more (and also to define my character a little better, but in an imersive kind of way attempt!)
The thing is, because of the type of fun that I'm having with the game, I enjoy it more when other characters are in trouble than my own. (I'm the kind of guy who likes to roleplay every little thing in his character's life and really enjoys it, I really don't need for my character's life to be exciting, I usually just enjoy the imersion part). So here I kind of feel that I'm just letting my character fall on a kind of suport role.
I like the part of molding the story but I do tend to think more on lines of what can I do with my character to make the other character's stories better and less on what can I do with my character to make his story more interesting!

Other thing is that I usually enjoy the imersion with the character so that I can find out what will happen. Because here I now most of what will happen and/or have such a big role on deciding what will happen to my character than I feel that satisfaction more when thinking on the other characters than on my own. For that reason bang's don't seem so important to me now!


I'm enjoying the game but much more in a "watching a TV series" kinda way and much less in a "roleplaying" way. I understand it's just another style of roleplay but I still have to get used to it!



I understand that must of this stuff probably didn't made much sense but I always had trouble expressing exactly what I feel and I still don't understand all of it myself!
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[B0rg]
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2005, 08:17:10 AM »

That was actually pretty clear. IMO.

Quote
The character seems more like a tool and that's still some thing I have to learn how to use in a different way.
Actually, just to be clear, that's just how I do it. There's nothing innately wrong with the style of play that you're using.

The potential problems here are whether or not the system can support the style of game you want to play well. Also, more complexly, other players may glom on to some of the techniques that are often used to make a game like PTA flow smoothly with the sort of play that it's best suited to support. If so, that can cause problems with your enjoyment, potentially. Not neccessarily, actually, but it's just something to watch out for.

So you have a choice here, which is to either keep playing as you have with some potential difficulties (which may never materialize), or try to adjust your style of play.

I think you sense that it's just something different, and fun itself. The question is whether you're willing to engage in that something else, or if you want to make the experience what you're used to getting from an RPG.

Also note that there are some who will tell you that "Immersion" as such is not actually couterproductive as a goal playing narrativism. To some extent this is a semantic issue, because nobody really "gets" what other people mean by the term immersion. It's one of those terms that's defined by everyone personally. But it may be possible to play narrativism while immersed in some way.

What you can't do, is make decisions based on "I'm the character" and based on "what would be cool for me (and the other players, likely) in terms of where the story is going?" As an example, but not indicative of the line that delimits the modes, if you feel that you can't make decisions based on OOC information that you have, but your character does not, even if the decision was plausible for the character to have come up with, then you're probably simulationism leaning. That is, if the "appearance" of the player in the decision-making process bugs you, then you're likely to be playing simulationism. If, OTOH, you can allow OOC information to color your decisions (again, still only making plausible decisions), then you can be playing narrativism.

Don't know if that helps.

Mike
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Valamir
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« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2005, 11:20:01 AM »

Quote
I'm enjoying the game but much more in a "watching a TV series" kinda way and much less in a "roleplaying" way. I understand it's just another style of roleplay but I still have to get used to it!


I have a theory about that.  It goes something like this.

For most people who learned to roleplay in the mid-late 80s and 90s the whole "be your character" idea was the way it was done.  It was often presented even in game rules as what roleplaying is.

So today when there are more and more games that are less "about" the Immersion this seems jarring (note:  "less 'about'" doesn't mean "can't do it"...just that its not the assumed focus).

My theory is that for most players who say they prefer Immersion, what they really are referring to is that they are most familiar and most comfortable with Immersion.  That's what they've been doing for years, that's what they're good at.  They've developed their Immersionist skills to a fine art.  So when taken out of that comfort zone they feel a little lost.  Their usual way of reacting to game inputs (being in character, seeing through the character's eyes) has been taken away and replaced with something less familiar that they're afraid they don't know how to do as well.

A typical reaction that I've seen then is for some of those individuals to decide that they prefer Immersion and they don't like games where they're asked to be unimmersed, and to turn their back on the other options.

My theory, however, is that only a fraction of the practicing Immersionists actually prefer immersion.  Mostly they are just more comfortable and familiar with immersion and haven't really explored other options thoroughly enough to be able to judge which they prefer.  Sort of like someone who's only ever eaten Chocolate Icecream claiming that Chocolate is their favorite...hard to say for certain until they've given some other flavors a try.


I'd be particularly interested in your thoughts on this as it pertains to your PTA experience over the next several session B0rg.  Clearly you've been enjoying yourself and are open to the continueing to explore this sort of play, so I think you're in a good position to comment.  I'd like to hear what you'd conclude about this style of play...especially after a few more sessions...i.e.

"I've given it a shot and have to decide that while its ok, I definitely find Immersion more enjoyable"

"I've played enough PTA now to know that I really do enjoy this play as much as I enjoy Immersionist play.  It just took me a while to get in the swing of it, but now I could play either way as long as I know what to expect going in".

or even "Wow, it will really be hard for me to go back to playing fully Immersed now that PTA has started to really click with me.  I'll never look at roleplaying the same again"
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B0rg
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« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2005, 04:51:04 AM »

Quote from: Valamir
My theory, however, is that only a fraction of the practicing Immersionists actually prefer immersion.  Mostly they are just more comfortable and familiar with immersion and haven't really explored other options thoroughly enough to be able to judge which they prefer.  Sort of like someone who's only ever eaten Chocolate Icecream claiming that Chocolate is their favorite...hard to say for certain until they've given some other flavors a try.


That's probably a big part of it alright!

The only times I've played non-imersive games, it was always on a Gamist task-resolution type of game and I mostly don't like gamism, at least when it's based on task-resolution mechanics so non-imersive play may have been stuck to that! I never had a big problem with non-imersion per se but only if it happened in a secondary way. Mainly imersion but with OOC allowances to increase fun in several ways.

Now, the all idea of getting together with this group and playing different games that ended up with PTA was exactly to try out different games and different ways of playing. Experiment new things and such! So I'll definetly keep playing it! With more time I'll probably have a better grasp of it but for now it's a bit like you said, I really don't know yet if my feelings about it are because I prefer imersion or because I'm more used to it. For now I do enjoy imersion more but 3 sessions (with two of them not so good because we where still learning how to play it) isn't much to tell!
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[B0rg]
We r all as one!!
We are The Borg. We are Eternal. We will return. Resistance is Futile...

If freedom is outlawed, only outlaws will have freedom!
Frank T
Guest
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2005, 06:31:53 AM »

Hi,

J, I'm glad to hear our suggestions really worked out in practice.

Ralph, your theory seems to be supported by an observation raised in our German RPG forum. We were agreeing that roleplayers who have been GMing for a long time often find it easy to adjust to player empowerment and the like. Now, there might be GMs that actually immerse into setting and NPCs and run the game on a strict "cause and effect" base. But most GMs I know prefer different techniques that are generally the same as used by players in, for example, PtA. It would seem logical that GMs feel more comfortable with it because it's  familiar to them.

BOrg, I read from your first post that you basically shy from beeing faced with essential decisions for your protagonist. You'd rather just have him in a more static situation. Consquently, Val isn't set up for a lot of conflict. His issue could well be used for just displaying a state of beeing, rather than for character developement.

Frankly, I don't see any reason why this should be a problem. Sure, it's not narrativist. But who cares as long as it promotes functional play? Your Spotlight Episode need not contain any bangs if you feel unconfortable with that. It could as well just illustrate Val's grief more deeply. The episode plot could be designed to support and reflect that. On the other hand, you might want to give the whole bang and narritism thing a try. It's fun, you know.

- Frank
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