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[PTA] And A Place To Fly Her

Started by Elliott Belser, January 07, 2006, 04:46:24 PM

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Elliott Belser

My friends and I had a setting, but no game to play it in (though we're working on that).  So - in the meantime, we ran a pilot episode with Primetime Adventures.  My friends are skeptical about PTA - most of them like more crunchy systems - but they agree a good time was had by all, and our pilot episode "got the green light."

So.  The setting is a homebrew science fiction one with mecha and an empahsis on psychology.  After we determined that no one was inspired by the military groups we came up with, we settled on the crew of the Tatiana, a courier ship caught up in a war. 

We were planning to make the PTA game kind of spoofy, but it quickly mutated into something more serious, about on the level of Firefly. Lots of jokes, but death is a real threat and the world is violent and dangerous, with hyperjumps that require coldsleep or bad stuff happens to your mind.  A series convention is skirting the edge of a scientific idea instead of resorting to technobabble.

Called it "And A Place To Fly Her," - the short form of a traders saying in this world, "Just give me a full tank and a place to fly her and I'll be content."

Li-chi played Hikaru Nohi, a, quote, "hot blooded mecha pilot."  Dishonorably discharged from the Confederation Space Force because her Issue, Disrespect for Authority, got her into trouble - she saw the rules and regulations as distractions from what she saw as the purpose of the Space Forces: defending Earth and the Colonies.

Anna played Planedos Elna, ships engineer and one of the alien Iinar (a culture, not a species).  Iinar have a rigid social structure based on personal and clan honor.  Elna's issue is her need to regain lost honor and rejoin her clan - Planedos means "wanderer," with a connotation of "exile" - after an accident brought down the west wall of an arcology - but she doesn't know that it was not her fault, but the fault of her nemesis, a corrupt bureacrat that ordered faulty parts and pinned the blame on her, acting sympathetic all the while.

Casey played Qalak, an expatriate from the antagonistic Draconian Empire, acting as the quartermaster of the Tatiana.  His issue is grappling with his identity as a Draconian alien after the Dracs open hostilities against the Human Confederation.

We decided that they would start with a mission to Tau Ceti, a system that everyone knew was going to bombed out by the Draconians.


We started off with the ship hurtling out of faster-than-light drive and careening right into a micrometeorite, hitting the starboard engine in such a way that it wouldn't shut off, and it was heading straight for the planet Kwannon.  This immediately ejected the crew from cold sleep as an emergency measure.  End teaser, cue theme song.

Qalak tried to wake the real pilot, who was groggy from coldsleep.  Hikaru tried to fill in for the pilot.  Elna, winning fan mail for quick thinking, attempted to eject the damaged engine.  We drew, and Lichi/Hikaru failed miserably while Anna/Elna got all three of her cards red.  The engine went FOOMP as it hurtled away.  The ship wasn't slowing down with Hikaru screwing stuff up ("I pressed this button, is that bad?" or something like it was worth fan mail), but it wasn't in immediate danger besides just heading for a planet very fast.  The real pilot took over and landed them safely on the planet, due to Qalak's success.

(I awarded fan mail before I realized that the producer couldn't because no one else was awarding much.  The players acknowledged that this was a problem after the end of the session and resolved to award more.)

Anna had the next scene.  On the planet, they tried to fix a badly beat-up Tatiana.  Qalak tried to get it fixed cheap as possible, listening to an offer to use cheap foamed alloy to secure the engine back to the superstructure, while Elna insisted on high-grade titanium.  They were having fun arguing about it and I suggested they draw to decide it, with the stakes for both of them failing being that they were mercilessly bilked.  Anna won.  Qalak sighed, said he'd go with the much more expensive titanium, and they got a deal because "You always bring her in so beat up..."

Casey's used his turn with the scene to have Qalak meet with Balarai, a Draconian, at a restaurant with Hikaru. (There was a brief pause as Casey prompted me for the name of his sudden contact.  I named him, then at the scene's end mentioned that players were welcome to make up that sort of detail themselves.)  Balarai said he wanted to get off planet as quickly as possible, "and do not ask why."  Qalak agreed.  There really was no conflict in this scene, but no one really cared, and we didn't draw for it - something we decided we decided we might do ahead of time.

Li-Chi's go.  She called a character scene where Hikaru ran into an old friend from the military, Yami.  Lots of awkward, uncomfortable pauses.  "Oh!  You got a promotion." "Have you got a boyfriend?"  "No.  And you?"  "Girlfriend on Kwannon." - Anna suggested he was an old boyfriend.  Accepting this, Li-Chi had Hikaru talk about how Confed could bring all the pirates and petty threats to justice if they wanted to, saying that she wanted Yami to respect her for her views.  She won the draw and I narrated Yami replying, "I don't follow all the rules and regulations because I like them - I just think they're the best way to defend Earth and the colonies."  Anna asked if you could award the producer fan mail, and we explained the fanmail/budget system again.

My turn.  The next day in game time was... the day of the bombing.  We argued over the time scale of this and decided in the end that the engines hadn't had a full diagnostic run on them but that Elna and the spaceport crew attached and did work.  Mostly.  They were all inside and enjoying the ship's cook's pseudo-Polynesian food (the cook was the same alien race as Elna, but from different cultural group) when they heard an air raid siren and voices over the PA about "evacuating the planet." 

"We can take five people!" said Qalak.  "We have five spare cold-sleep chambers!"  Naturally, I had a sixth person scramble on board as they were closing, and had Balarai try to tell them to push that person off.  Elna said, "no, we can make it," and Anna drew to determine if she was right.

She failed and got to narrate.  Wow. 

Now, FTL travel in this universe hits you, if you aren't in coldsleep with your conscious mind shut off, with lots of low-power telepathic "attacks."  The Iinar culture that Elna belonged to sometimes chant to themselves to sink their minds under the chant and get through hyperspace mostly unscathed.  Anna said that this only works in groups, not alone, and Elna didn't know that and tried the chanting alone.  The engines held, but Elna fell unconscious into a nightmare state and started having flashbacks to the incident with the west wall.

Next couple of scenes, they woke up in Earth space and tried to wake up Elna, who did "wake up" and say "You have to check the west wall!  I don't think the west wall is going to hold!"  Hikaru tried to calm her down, calling her Connection, the ships therapist and doctor Gloria, to come in.  Li-Chi drew and won, and I had the narrative.  I explained the budget I blew as special effects - the distortion ripple used to represent telepathy, as Gloria, used to heal her mind and calm her down. 

"Can you tell me what year it is?" the therapist asked.  "Yes!" was the response Li-chi suggested.  "You're not in Iinar space.  This is a merchant ship.  Do you remember?"  "What's it's name?"  "The Tatiana."  "Did the titanium hold?"  Fanmail time, "more for the whole scene than the titanium line" as Casey put it.

The session ended with them trying to browbeat answers out of Balarai and failing to get the whole story.  "You've been out of touch with your people so long?" said Balarai to Qalak. "There's a new emperor."  "Oh, no, there isn't.  Oh, no, he DIDN'T!" was Qalak's response. 

They heard on the news about attacks with antimatter missiles on major space-ports and industrial centers on Kwannon.  "The extent of the fallout is unknown."  Li-chi drew to have Hikaru (successfully!) guilt trip Balarai.  Anna spent fan mail on Balarai's side, saying that she could understand loyalty to people no longer loyal to you.  Balarai insisted on taking them to the Confederation embassy.

They waded through a crowd, and I blew my budget on an assassination attempt on Balarai.  Everyone horribly botched their draws, and the assassin stabbed Balarai through the heart, ducked two grab attempts, and fled.  "Get him to a doctor, it's probably poisoned!" earned Qalak a fan mail.  Balarai told them to give a disk to the embassy without fail.  End episode, end credits.

Next Week, On And A Place To Fly Her.  I explained about this concept to them and they laughed.  Anna had the embassy blow up as everyone dived out of it, which made us all laugh.  Casey had everyone gather in the cargo bay while Qalak said, "All right.  Get these people off the ship, get the cargo unloaded, we have a job to do."  Li-Chi had Hikaru say, "I get kicked out of the military and THEN they're finally going to be fighting for something!" and then call her old boyfriend - who she said she wanted to make his nemesis: we agreed to this - saying, "Goddamit, Yami, pick up!  I'm not kidding!" and an image of a hanging phone.

We decided that the "always end on a conflict" bit isn't always useful advice - it usually is, but here were enjoyable scenes with no conflict draws.

Best scenes were the scene where Elna was flashing back and the character scene between Li-Chi and Yami.

We had fun, and will be coming up with an opening and ending theme song shortly - it IS anime, after all.

Anna B

I'm not sure i have much to add. I will say that while I knew Elna had been dishonored at the beginning of the game I didn't have any idea how until I started the flashback scene.  Making stuff up on the fly like that was differnet that the way I usually play but at lot of fun.

We used Icehouse pieces as budget/fanmail tokens which I though was nice touch. As someone here said about a map recently " It made it feel more like a game."

How we named the ship: I pulled out the Complete Works of Shakespeare" Flip to random page, I didn't see any thing good on that page so asked people "Who's your favorate Shakesphere Character?" El suggested Puck we didn't think it was right and I suggested Tatiana, which stuck.