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Author Topic: [PtA] The Last Shore - it's a wrap!  (Read 4208 times)
Per Fischer
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Posts: 203


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« on: September 28, 2005, 01:57:46 AM »

The Last Shore, Episode 5: Dear Elvira.

We played the last episode of The Last Shore yesterday, and we were all eager to get a sense of closure to wrap up the series. Write-ups of characters, concept and the first four episodes here: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=16501.0

At least I was terrified, right from the start, not to fuck it all up after four brilliant episodes with plot twists and shocks galore, and the whole evening I felt more restrained and more hesitant than I use to be.

We decided before play that tonight the ghosts would come out and play a direct part – not the least because one of the protagonists, Henrik, killed himself in episode 4, and only could take part as a ghost hereafter. We wanted answers. And we got most of them.

Our scene framing skills - with inherent possible conflicts - have been improving all the way, and in many of tonight’s scenes the conflict was there right from the start. On the other hand we had two scenes that ended without conflict, just because that was the natural thing to do, and because it provided closure to the whole series. We ended up with a short epilogue where each player narrated their protagonist’s aftermath, after rolling individual conflicts.

We learned that that Elvira had a child that was adopted. The child was born in a room at The Last Shore, and was in fact Henrik, one of the protagonists. We never knew who the father was, only that Henry, Elvira’s husband, wasn’t. Henry died in a plane crash and never saw the child.
The Last Shore estate was in fact a large fortune (we don’t know what or how much), and Linda Samuelsen, daughter of the deceased head mistress, had hired lawyer Weber to make sure she would inherit the lot. But it was Elvira, and her son Henrik, who were the lawful successors.

The ghosts of former inhabitants, and Henry and Henrik, appeared to get Elvira to face up to her past, but she couldn’t. In a last desperate attemot to get Elvira to commit suicide, Samuelsen’s ghost tried to lure E into the sea, but it was interrupted by Elvira’s connection, The Fisherman.

Henrik’s ghost put a curse on Weber, whose health deteriorated rapidly, until he was literally thrown out from The Last Shore by Elvira, Gustav and Henrik’s ghost. Weber leaving was one of the scenes without conflict. Weber was literally dying and in a very bad shape.

Elvira didn’t care much about the fortune, and eventually took her own life in the epilogue, by walking out into the sea to drown herself. A proper finih to her issue of loss.

What we didn’t learn was how Samuelsen died, and who moved her body to the fishing shed at the beach. The ghosts? Linda? Elvira? Gustav?

PTA is a lean mean roleplaying machine. It does few things and it does them extremely well, and leaves all the exciting and creative input to the participants. It is also hard work. You are “on” all the time during play, and that can be exhausting. PTA via IRC works brilliantly, except that the number of scenes are limited compared to what I understand is the norm in face-to-fact play, which again never stretches the game’s currency to the limit. I only used up all the Budget in the last episode, even though I put in a lot of Budget dice in every conflict.

Per
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Per
--------
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
pedyo
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Posts: 54


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« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2005, 05:09:02 AM »

What a Tv-series! Man, overall The Last Shore was pure fun. Lots of golden moments with goosebumps, laughing out loud or just plain "can this really happen?"
As promised, here are my thoughts on PtA and playing over irc. Since I haven't tried PtA irl, the two points will overlap a bit.
PtA is simple but allows for very complicated conflicts. We spent quite a long time finding the conflicts and at times this was hard work. On the positive side, it allowed us to discuss elements of our character - sort of like brainstorming the manuscript for an actual Tv episode, I imagine. On the negative, it tended to slow things down a bit. But, we got better at it, and I don't see any reason why PtA shouldn't take some getting used to. It is, after all, the first N rpg I've played.
Fan mail is pure genius - I cannot say that too many times. It makes for great play and it makes you reward each other as players (as opposed to characters). And that's really good - several times during play you'll effectively say to each other: "I dig what you're doing, thanks!" I feel, however, that we didn't award enough fan mail - I guess I'd like it to be flying around.
As Rune already said at the creation of the series, our Issues were rather "internal" and at times it became difficult to get them addressed through play - especially when it came to Conflict. I for one had a hard time with Elvira's "Sense of loss" - next time I play PtA, I'll make sure to have a more "active" Issue.
I got a very serious kick out of the collaborative, improvisational play-style. But, as Ep 1 showed us, it can easily get to be too much - part of being good at jamming is to listen and just show your support. It is very easy to play a never-ending guitar solo, so to speak. Sometimes you should just play that bass-line over and over and sit back and enjoy the groove.
We had a little trouble creating coherent storylines that satisfied out taste for plot or story arc. Jamming along makes it very easy to introduce new elemetns and sometimes very hard to follow up and have these elements come to a conclusion. I think that further experience with PtA and games of the same kind will make it easier.

IRC is slow and that's really the worst part of playing through this channel - we got around 5-6 scenes each time and at times people were waiting, waiting, waiting for the next line. In my experience, the worst expression of the slowness of irc came in the episodes where my character's Screen Presence was 1 - I often felt that I didn't contribute enough (actually, this is also because I did my best not to jam too freely after ep 1). I suspect that facial expressions, short outbursts, laughter etc will play a huge role when playing irl.
Irc, however, is brilliant for brainstorming and it's a great way to get some roleplaying done without having to leave home - you're sort of still home but also it's "gaming night" - for me, that makes a huge difference (I have a young daughter, a girlfriend who attends university evenings and I play in a band - I'm very busy and evenings are often "sacred").
I plan to play PtA in a couple of weeks with some non-gamer friends and I'm looking forward to it (the scary thing is that we're going to be staying in a vacation house on a small Danish island...) - and I really hope that the experience from The Last Shore will pay off.
Best
Peter
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Peter Dyring-Olsen
Munkholt
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« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2005, 06:03:17 AM »

We had a little trouble creating coherent storylines that satisfied out taste for plot or story arc. Jamming along makes it very easy to introduce new elemetns and sometimes very hard to follow up and have these elements come to a conclusion. I think that further experience with PtA and games of the same kind will make it easier.

It might be different playing IRL when you have times for more scenes. As a Producer I would probably also have a "plot cheat sheet", where you could just describe in a single word every time a new plotline was introduced. For easy reference and collective memory bank.

IRC is slow and that's really the worst part of playing through this channel - we got around 5-6 scenes each time and at times people were waiting, waiting, waiting for the next line.

OTOH, when the scenes were really jamming, the line-by-line dialogue did wonders for suspense.
X: "You see, Y ..."
(pause)
X: "I didn't quite tell you the truth about your mother ..."
(pause)
X: X clears his throat.
(pause)
X: "well, the thing is, she's not really dead."


This was particularly true when it was more than one player coming up with twists. And that's another thing: the timing, because you get the whole statement at once, without any player grimace to give the surprise away. Sometimes you'd be in the middle of conversation, and then suddenly, somebody would throw in something outrageous.

Definetely worth thinking about when you play IRC, when to press return and how much info to cram into each line.
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Worldly power!
Rune
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Posts: 6


« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2005, 06:51:08 AM »

Random comments off the top of my head:

- Because we had to deal with one or more mysteries that were created during play, and because everybody had (I believe) a hard time pulling all the threads together, we often fell back on implying plot points rather than stating them: was Gustav a nazi or not? Was Elvira good or evil? What was the deal with Samuelsen? Why was Weber after Henrik? We didn't really know, and we couldn't always connect the dots, so often we'd just hint at possible connections. I think this worked in some cases, but there were times where I wished we'd been able to make more sense of the story. It's hard to go from chaos to order.

- As we found out that we could only do a handful of scenes, we started spreading them out far more, to focus on "key moments" rather than to the whole play-by-play. This worked well when we understood where the episode as a whole was going, but it's hard to round something as complex as a chapter of our story off with only 5-6 scenes.

- We played what I believe to be a very freeform variation of PTA: players controlling NPCs almost when they felt like it. This was great fun, and at times helped steer scenes more: when the player requesting the scene had something more specific in mind, he'd often take control of an NPC or two to bring his ideas about. It was, however, also a source of confusion and chaos: who's controlling who, and where are they steering the scene.

- In a mystery, the easiest answer when something is to be revealed is to reveal another mystery beneath it (onion layers). I felt we did this a bit too often. It was difficult to steer the story towards "making sense", but I felt that some of the best moments came around when we tried to do that: in the latter half of the series, we were a lot better at revisiting earlier plot points rather than just steering in new directions (for example: in ep4, Henrik using his knowledge of Gustav's parcel (from ep2) to get him to cooperate in giving him the poison, rather than inventing some new random connection or reason Henrik could pressure Gustav).

- Things probably weren't made any easier by the fact that we had almost no noteworthy NPCs, and only one who really formed any coherent opposition. The struggle for all the characters was very internal.

Enough for now. I think I sound overly negative: I'm not. I had a great time playing all the episodes, but I would like to see more support structures (Thomas mentions a "plot cheat sheet") put in place to make the game flow even better.

- Rune
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Jonas Ferry
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« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2005, 11:47:34 AM »

I don't know if you've answered this somewhere, but how did dice rolling work in your game? Did you use an IRC dice bot you can recommend or did the GM roll privately?

PTA feels like a superb game for IRC, in that most of the handling time for conflicts should involve talking, setting stakes and narrate results, and not dice rolling, tactics, and table checking.
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One Can Have Her, film noir roleplaying in black and white.

Check out the indie RPG category at Wikipedia.
Per Fischer
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« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2005, 12:32:02 PM »

We used the dicebot for dice rolling, and we had all interactions in one channel - talk, chat, discussions, in-character speak, directions and dice rolling.

I normally keep game mechanics in a channel for themselves, but dice rolling in PtA is both very unobtrusive and essentially part of the game's drama, and it flowed along with everything else beautifully. And you roll once a scene.

Yes, PtA handles very well indeed in IRC.

Per
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Per
--------
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
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