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Author Topic: [Primetime Adventures] Pilot episode - Cakewalk  (Read 3098 times)
Dionysus
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Posts: 47


« on: June 18, 2009, 05:04:10 AM »

Howdy again.
Yes, we just got through the pilot episode. We've decided we want to go ahead and play some more (so the 5 episode character arcs) but the pilot did feel a little .. disjointed? incomplete?

So - 5 characters slightly modified.
* Chief Atkins
Issue: Paranoia
Edges: Combat Veteran, Bridge crew.
Connections: Admiral Bennett , Head of Navy Intelligence.
Personal Set - Dark corners of the ship

* Father Michaels "Chaplain" (political officer)
Issue - Justify turning in family for Heresy.
Edges: People Person (Human Intel), Ultra security clearance.
Connections: His daughter.
Personal Set - Confessional (interrogation room)

* Doctor Kay Bennett
Issue: Disagrees with church stance on alien extermination
Edges: Xenobiology, Supreme practicality
Connections: Admiral Bennett, Her father.
Personal set - Research Lab

* Henry "Doc" Barnes
Issue: getting old
Edges: Experience triage medic, cybernetics
Connections: Ship's XO - War buddy.
Personal set: Medlab.

Everyone seemed fairly excited to get this underway. Overall it was good, but there were a few major hiccups at times. I'll go scsne for scene and point out what it felt like.

Pilot episode - "Cakewalk"

GM Intro - Set on alien world, in a domed city. Big crowds in the streets watching a televised announcement - The Emperor is declaring their planet of Eridani IV to no longer be a colony, but now a full member planet with all the rights that entails. Much cheering, camara starts to zoom on one table in a cafe. "The HMS Vengeance, newest addition to the fleet will transport an Imperial Governor to liase with the new government of our newest member of the Empire.".
People at table talking - "are we ready for this?
- "everything is underway already"
- "Do you have enough time to complete preperations"
- " We have 6 months before they get here, we'll be waiting"
fade to black and intro music.

Everyone seemed hyped and were jumping to do their scenes.

1 - Character, Chief Atkins, Docking bay of the HMS Vengeance
- Wants to show security is lacking on the ship - conflict succeeds + narration
Cheif comes aboard to meet the captain and XO, gathers his luggage and waits for it to be scanned etc - then he calls back the deck hand and asks "are you sure about this?" Then proceeds to pull out various little parts and put together a rifle from parts in the bag.

Everyone seemed fine and dandy. Everyone happy - the XO of the ship is annoyed at being "showed up", and captain is happy to have the chief there to tighten security. - Chief was given a fanmail.

2 - Character, Doc, Ground medical testing labs
- wants to disallow some VIPs on medical grounds - succeeds
- Big Centrifuge testing people for grav etc - the doctor is marking people not allowed, and gets into an argument with the Governor-to-be. Gov makes a fuss about needing experienced people, and Doc says - military vessels, military rules, they take the slow boat. Just as fading out doc says "right governor, you are up next", taking out his pen and charts.

Also, had people laughing, Doc got a fanmail.

3 - Here we encountered problems. The Xeno wanted a scene where she was supervising the unloading of her gear where because of her pre-planning she'd got everything packed nicely. She wanted her "practicality" to be the conflict, and she lost the conflict and narration rights. - Which caused her to get angry about "why should i bother makign up a scene if it fails"

This caused everyone to try to reword what was happening, or how the scene/conflict could have been setup.. Eventually she just said "delete scene, someone else goes on, i'll think of something else.

3b - plot, Father Michaels - about bringing on sealed containers.
- his conflict was going to be his authority as a "church" member, against the security - he wanted to be liked by the crew even though he's breaking security. Lost, but won narration.
The scene was a couple of templars carrying a huge sealed container with all sorts of warnings on it (biohazard, radioactive, etc) and there is a showdown between the ship security who dont want the stuff on the ship, and the father. He manages to get everyone to put their guns away, but the crew refuse to help with the loading, and just stand aside letting the templars struggle with the loading equipment and getting the sealed containers into the ship.

The liked the standoff, and people were intrigued by "whats in the boxes". Father got a fanmail.

4 - Char, Dr Bennett, Unloading equpment in her lab.
She wanted to have an incompetnt aide let some xeno-form samples escape, and the Dr deals with it (bringing in practicality). Wins narration.
The aide is unloading a cage and gets it caught in the boxes - cage springs open and a ball of fur and teeth screams and runs into the corner and starts eating wires - aide jumps on table and panics - asking about "what was it". Dr B sighs and gets out rubber gloves - and picks up the animal once its electrocuted. "Pity aout the loss, but it will taste better than the rations on board" She tosses the now dead animal to the aide - "please take it to the galley and have the chef prepare my dinner with this". She then turns and types out a requisition form for a new aide.

OK, had people in stitches. The Doctor is coming across like "Dr House", brilliant but has no feeling for other people or things - the idea of eating the monstrosity alien animal was just hilarious - especially the description on how to cook it :)

GM scene - on board the ship. Ship goes through jump and is immediately attacked. We had the various people getting ready "head between legs" The doctor in the galley trying to eat and getting upset when Grav goes away as the ship prepares to jump. Father Michaels praying for a safe jump, and the Chief strapping down in the bridge. As they come out of jump into the outskirts of the Eridani system, alarms go off as contact is immediately made with unidentified ships.

5 - character, "Doc", In med bay.
- wants to show how his long experience is good for the team. success, looses narration.
We had the med personel strapped down when the alarms go off - She's immediately launching into orders, preparing for incoming injuries. Also orders the team into protective gear and straps to be ready for violent manuvering - they are all greatful for this whe the ship starts firing engines and launching fighters and the "gravity" goes all over the place, but no one gets hurt.

6 - char, Dr Bennett, In her lab
- wants to show that her work is vital - succ and wins narration.
With the ship manuvering, charging weapons etc, the lights flicker a little and some of her work looks at risk - she opens the intercom to the bridge demanding that the captain send down an auxiliary power generator to keep the power fluctuations to a minimum. The Captain is frustrated "why now of all times" and is about to wave her off, when the Chief reminds him that "this is the Admiral's daughter, are you really sure? When he brings up the personel files they come up as "classified" with a note to accede to all requests. The captain apologises for the trouble, and send a damage control team down to her lab (struggling in the shifting G forces, bouncing through corridors carrying the aux power generator)

7 - plot, Chief Atkins, on the bridge
 - wants to show how he was already expecting trouble, and everything is under control - Succeeds
 When everyone is reeling from the suprise attack, the captain and XO are frantically yelling orders and getting pilots to fighters etc. The chief just  opens up the comms to the weapon crews - "Initiate plan delta", and the point defense weapons are immediately firing away at the incoming missiles. "Fire cannons!" which were already pointing back into the sensor blind spot. Massive explosions result as missiles are shot out of the air, and a Large fighter is obliterated as it was preparing to take out the engines by suprise.
Fighters are launched and the enemy fighters are scared away after a couple are shot down.

8 - plot, Father Michaels, in the confessional.
Wants to get the surviving pilot to repent his sins and confess. Fail.
He has the surviving pilot rigged up to wires and electrodes, interrogating and scaring him. The pilot is defiant and talks about how "the brotherhood will protect us, your evil inquisitors and governors will never find safety on Eridani!" Eventually, the pilot is "put on ice" and kept for later interrogation.

9 - plot, Doc and Dr Bennett, in the med bay (gm scene)
- They want the scene to be about discovering the enemy are not quite human.
Doc: I am still helpful under this pressure - succ
bennett: she learns what it is from the pilot's dna - fail.

We started out with a charred and explosively decompressed body being put through an autopsy. Doc is relying on his cyber implants to keep him active and precise after the heavy Gs of combat. Dr. Bennett is pouring over DNA samples. Alarms are tripped in the computer as it picks up "non human comtaminants" in the samples.

Father Michaels jumps in here and rolls for "the church confiscating the evidence". and wins

The med bay is sealed and "biohazard warnings" come flashing on. Templars in full armor some in - bringing the sealed containers. There is a wriggling mass that was in the body, the Doc sees this and backs away from the table. The Church scientist uses tools from the containers to grab the wriggling object, puts it into specially pre-prepared containers, and leaves. Dr Bennett was so engrossed in the weird DNA contaminant results on her screen that she didn't notice what the church guys actually came and took away.

- There was a lot of argument about this scene. I really wanted to have the "alien" in the body, but bennett's player really only wanted DNA changes to show "disloayalty to the empire". I was also unsure how to handle the jump in by the father - he compared his succ/high number against the existing numbers. This scene felt very forced.

10 - plot, Doc, in the XO's cabin after the battle.
Wants to find out what is going on - succ, fail narration.
This was a talk between the XO and the doc, old war buddies reminiscing on old times. Doc is sayign that everything is harder than she remembers, but at least its exciting. Turns out that things will get much more exciting "are you sure you can handle it?" as the ship was sent out to investigate problems on the edges of the Empire - the governor etc is just a cover to avoid questions about sending the warship out there and avoid panic.

11 char - chief atkins - accosing the father in a corridor on the ship.
- chief wants to call into question the safety precautions of the church - fails and looses narration.
Father Michael is stopped in a little corridor with no one about but the chief - he is angry about having a "contaminant" outside the med lab which is designed for containing problems - he's asking for the templars, acolytes and the father himself to be scanned for contamination. "Its all taken care of - we have a lot of experience with this, more than you can imagine, and your scanning wont have any further use."

12 - char, Doc and Bennett, eating dinner in the galley after its al over.
- i dont actualy remember what we were rolling for here :( Dr Bennett is sharing her meal of "antarian spined squig" with the Doc, There was talk about how they are planning to get to the bottom of this - Doc was unhappy about having the contaminant taken away and made "classified", and Bennett is curious as to how the DNA changes were made by this contaminant - they both agree they have to get their hands on the bio-material - and they remember that there was a living pilot captured... Final talk about how the cakewalk of ferrying VIPs is not turning out how they expected.

scene ends with the camer shooting through the ship corridors until it ends in the sealed off section for church personell - and zooms in to be on the face of the enemy pilot frozen in the cryo chamber.

end of episode.
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Dionysus
Member

Posts: 47


« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2009, 05:20:33 AM »

The biggest issues were that the entire episode felt a little disjointed.

The whole "framing scenes" and "making conflicts" were extremely problematic. It felt more like the players were rolling to define the plot - and i had to keep reminding about getting the issue and edges involved - eg, the Father never actually mentioned his issue in any conflict.

also about "fluff scenes" with no conflict - seems that eveyone wanted more of these to add more flow to the story.

As a whole we thought it was fun, and they spent time trying to plot out their issue arcs. They were talking about a big head to head between the Dr Bennett and Father Michaels about "exterminating" the planet coming at the end of the 5 part series- The Doctor wanting to keep the aliens for study and use, while the Father wanting to wipse out the planet to prevent more contamination.
The Doc will have his issue of "getting old" come up early during fights with the enemy - working under the extreme pressures of battle for an early climax
The Chief will have a mid point climax - with the decision that the only way the suprise attack could have come is a traitor on the ship - and him finding the traitor will lead onto the argument about exterminating the planet.

Father - 1, 1, 2, 2, 3
Bennett - 1, 1, 2, 2, 3
Chief - 1, 2, 3, 1, 2
Doc - 2, 3, 2, 1, 1,

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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2009, 05:24:07 AM »

Hold off on replying, please, everyone. I'm experiencing a little hassle getting my post up.
Ron
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Dionysus
Member

Posts: 47


« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2009, 05:26:48 AM »

bugger. Dont know how to edit.

Basic issue for me - the game shows a lot of potential, but there is a lot of different opinions on how much should be "meta-planned" before scene even starts, what we are really rolling for - is it the player or character that is setting the conflict?

What would really help would be to see an existing TV show episode done up like a PTA adventure. Where are the scene breaks, what are the characters rolling for in conflicts etc. Say a firefly episode, or BSG, or even babylon 5 episode.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2009, 06:17:48 AM »

Okay.

Here's what I'm offering, for you to consider. I'll focus on what seems to me to be the most problematic scene in your account, with the character Kay Bennet. Incidentally, what I'm about to talk about requires being clear about who is the character and who is the player, so it'd be helpful to know the player's name, for clarity only.

 It looks to me as if you were playing as follows:

Player asks for scene. Player describes scene. Player introduces conflict. Player and Producer draw cards. Player succeeds or fails. Someone narrates.

This is ... well, it's not going to work. A long time ago, Paul Czege articulated a key point that it is extremely not fun to propose one's own adversity and then resolve it oneself, and even less fun after that if you have to narrate it. For events in role-playing to be enjoyable, there must be some kind of back-and-forth which is not based on consensus somewhere in the start or middle of the process.

You are probably familiar with the extreme opposite which is widespread in role-playing:

GM states scene. Players state (minimally) preparations. GM introduces conflict (or at least crisis). Players state tactics. Players and GM roll dice. Players succeed or fail. GM narrates.

Despite certain flaws or pitfalls, this is actually more functional than the sequence I laid out above. At least in this case various people have to listen to one another establish actual content and then respond with actual content of their own. This not only makes the creativity social, it introduces time into the fiction as they do so.

PTA doesn't do either of these, actually. I have seen a number of people fall straight into the trap you and the group fell into, because they think it should run like the first sequence. That sequence is not actually what the book and rules describe. I think the book is a little bit light on the details of what to do so that that sequence doesn't happen (which is not to criticize it particularly; no author can anticipate all the ways to misunderstand, especially ways he or she never dreamed of).

The functional sequence for PTA goes like this:

Player requests a scene. Producer frames scene. Producer and Player develop scene. Conflict arises from both or either's action(s). Producer and Player draw cards. Player succeeds or fails. Someone narrates.

Do you see the crucial difference? The Producer does not sit mutely while the player is forces to generate everything about the scene. The player is not forced to create a whole scene, conflict, issue-relevance, and character actions alike.

The back-and-forth is different from the traditional sequence, and far more oriented toward generating emotionally-relevant conflict rather than a threat to the characters' lives, but it is the same in the sense that it's still back-and-forth as the fiction proceeds.

Basically, you guys are storyboarding. You're not creating a shared imagined space in which characters move around, enter and exit, do things, say things, react to one another, and otherwise "be." The conflicts are not forming organically from interactions and situational features, but being imposed in the abstract.

To take it to that particular scene:

Quote
The Xeno wanted a scene where she was supervising the unloading of her gear where because of her pre-planning she'd got everything packed nicely. She wanted her "practicality" to be the conflict,

OK, there it is, or part of it. First, she (the player) had to frame her own scene. You as Producer should be doing that; she can suggest it's about unloading the gear, but you decide and say. Maybe you put her into a corridor before she gets to the gear. Maybe you frame in one or more of the other player-characters. Maybe characters are there while she's unloading that you just make up. Or you say "OK, sure." But it's you, not her.

And as play proceeds, you are saying "So what do you do," and saying what characters say, just like "regular" GMing. Both of you, and any other players who've put their characters in or had them put in by you, are playing, not debating rules or setting stuff up or talking like stage-set choreographers.

Conflict arises from choices within all of that. The first and most obvious is that you could introduce an alien stowed away in her stuff. There's her Issue. You say, "What do you do?" Do you know it's time to draw cards yet? Yes, because the answer is no, because we don't know what Kay Bennett does yet. Always draw cards once you know what characters are doing. Is the alien terrified? Ready to bolt or attack, or begging for protection?

Choices about the setup matter a lot. For instance, if you'd framed the Chief into the scene (my first choice), you have Mr. Paranoid himself dealing with what he might see as a literal breach of crucial security, with alien-lover Kay now caught in the middle.

The Issue is key, but not for abstract debate. It's key because when you put relevant components into place through normal framing and play, characters take action which tap into the Issue. With those actions under way, then you draw cards, and not before.

Quote
... and she lost the conflict and narration rights. - Which caused her to get angry about "why should i bother makign up a scene if it fails"

She's absolutely right. If she did all that work to set up the conflict from scratch, of course she's invested in having it succeed! As opposed to being invested in how it might turn out, in which case, succeed or fail, it's still fun. Does that make sense? The latter happens when conflicts arise organically from play. When someone says "I want a Conflict Scene," it's your job as Producer to get as many components that potentially conflict into action in the scene, and that's all. From there, you play until you get the conflict; no one has to make up the conflict prior to the scene.

Let me know if any of this makes sense. Also, let me know if the tone I've adopted in this post is acceptable to you. I am not posting angrily, but sternly. This was my choice based on certain aspects of your posting, not dictated by emotional reaction. I can adjust to a more nurturing approach if you would prefer.

Best, Ron
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Dionysus
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Posts: 47


« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2009, 07:14:39 AM »


 It looks to me as if you were playing as follows:
Player asks for scene. Player describes scene. Player introduces conflict. Player and Producer draw cards. Player succeeds or fails. Someone narrates.

Yep, that is EXACTLY how we were doing it. Mainly because we have never played a PTA before and it seemed like that is what its all about. The "player requesting scene" we really really dont understand the limits of that.

Quote
The functional sequence for PTA goes like this:
Player requests a scene. Producer frames scene. Producer and Player develop scene. Conflict arises from both or either's action(s). Producer and Player draw cards. Player succeeds or fails. Someone narrates.

Do you see the crucial difference? The Producer does not sit mutely while the player is forces to generate everything about the scene. The player is not forced to create a whole scene, conflict, issue-relevance, and character actions alike.

Basically, you guys are storyboarding. You're not creating a shared imagined space in which characters move around, enter and exit, do things, say things, react to one another, and otherwise "be." The conflicts are not forming organically from interactions and situational features, but being imposed in the abstract.

I also feel this is the crucial problem we faced. I as produced felt that there needed to be conflict in every scene, but was trying to get that conflict from the moment we started playing. The "fortune" was already decided before anyone even started RPing. I am 100% sure now that i was mixing up "scene framing" and "deciding conflict".

Quote
Conflict arises from choices within all of that. The first and most obvious is that you could introduce an alien stowed away in her stuff. There's her Issue. You say, "What do you do?" Do you know it's time to draw cards yet? Yes, because the answer is no, because we don't know what Kay Bennett does yet. Always draw cards once you know what characters are doing. Is the alien terrified? Ready to bolt or attack, or begging for protection?

That one jumps out at me - Can the producer just come out and put a stowaway alien in the luggage? What are the limits of "scene framing"? Can the producer just decide that characters x,y,z are present on a scene, and can other player's decide that their characters are just present, even if they have no conflict there?

One example was the chief. The player wanted him to be in the background of as many scenes as possible, him wandering around the ship mapping it and learning by heart all the nooks and crannies. Can he just write himself into a scene as a bystander, or does he need to pay fanmail to get involved?

Quote
The Issue is key, but not for abstract debate. It's key because when you put relevant components into place through normal framing and play, characters take action which tap into the Issue. With those actions under way, then you draw cards, and not before.

So when do you decide to draw cards? Is it a case of when someone says "no" thats the conflict start? Can there be scenes totally devoid of conflict?

Quote
Let me know if any of this makes sense. Also, let me know if the tone I've adopted in this post is acceptable to you.

God yes, the tone is perfect :) I'm looking for criticism. I KNOW something was wrong, I just couldn't work out exactly was wrong. I'm really looking for hints on how to make it flow better next time. So coming along and saying "dont do X, do Y instead" is spot on what i'm looking for :)

One big thing - winning "narration" by getting highest number... How does that work? So taking the fixed up scene in the loading bay. What are the limits on what the narrator can state or cant state?

Scene request: Character scene, Kay Bennett, In the loading bay
Question - can other players say their characters are there as well? Or is that up to the GM?

start playing out via characters... player decides that she wants a conflict and states that there is a stoaway in her luggage
question - can she do that, or is that GM decision? Or is that a cause for a roll? Or should it be restated as "can i get it past security? or something else?

At this point the chief's player says "the Chief would definently not like that, I want him to stop it"
Question: valid?


But thanks again for the feedback - helps a LOT.

Kentsu
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2009, 08:49:26 AM »

Hi Kentsu,

I trotted off to get my rulebook in order to confirm some of my points above and also to help with these. I think once you get over the biggest hump, the book turns out to be quite clear about most of your current questions.

I did screw one thing in my above post: the scene-suggesting player does provide the focus, the agenda, and the location. We should examine what those mean, because I think my point about the role of the Producer is still valid.

Focus = development of character vs. advancement of the plot. This can throw people badly, especially when they think advancement of the plot means saying right now what that advancement will be. This statement signals whether we "hang out" with the character vs. "something happens to or around her," and that's all. All you have to do is say which, and nothing about it.

Agenda = general description of what the scene's about, what the likely conflict is. If I had my way, this would be removed from the rules. I know what it means because I've been so close to the design and play from its outset. But textually, it throws people off cliffs. What it means is: don't have your character sitting and doing something totally boring. Propose something that lets us know why it's interesting to see her here now, but ... and importantly, not what happens.

Location = where it is. Here's where I was most wrong; the player says this, not the Producer. No big deal, I hope.

None of these pre-set the contents of the conflict. I say again, none of these pre-set the contents of the conflict. That is left to play itself. Look at the scene creation example on page 57. Pretty minimal, huh?

I'm going to take your questions out of order, to put them into the order we'd see them in play.

Quote
Scene request: Character scene, Kay Bennett, In the loading bay
Question - can other players say their characters are there as well? Or is that up to the GM?

In looking through the rules, I see that if your character is not in a scene, but wants to be there once a conflict is underway, then the player pays a point of Fanmail to show up suddenly (Matt invented this while playing my game Trollbabe! Cool, huh?). But how about starting a scene? I think, based on implications of the phrase "contributing characters," that the featured player and/or the Producer can simply state that other player-characters are there as they wish. And of course, in the general spirit of PTA, "if they wish" can mean a positive response to one of the other players' suggestion that his or her character be there. It doesn't say that if Bob wants his character there and neither the featured player nor the Producer does, that either can say "no," but I suggest that might be the case. Bob can always hop in by spending Fanmail, if he wants and can.

Quote
start playing out via characters... player decides that she wants a conflict and states that there is a stoaway in her luggage
question - can she do that, or is that GM decision? Or is that a cause for a roll? Or should it be restated as "can i get it past security? or something else?

This would best have been handled by a fairly ambitious version of "scene agenda" at the outset. We did that all the time in our Heel game, for instance. During the scene itself, perhaps that would be better handled by someone (e.g. the player) suggesting it to the Producer. Important rule, page 60: "... the final responsibility for introducing conflict into play rests with the producer."

Regarding the roll, see my answer to the next question.

Quote
At this point the chief's player says "the Chief would definently not like that, I want him to stop it"
Question: valid?

As Producer, you ask, "What do you do?" (Also, I am having a hard time following your pronouns, what is the "that" and the "it" in this case?)  Note that this is not that player's scene!! So it cannot be about the chief's action vs. the Producer, it must be about aiding and abetting the development of relevant conflict for the xenobiologist. When the player says something like this, ask what the character actually does and says, and then ask what the xenobiologist player wans her character to do.

As currently stated, that phrasing is nearly useless. It doesn't contribute to the imagined space. It doesn't create imagery. It doesn't move bodies and objects. It is pretty much a statement of the character's feelings, at most. It means nothing by itself. You say, "What do you do?"

Never, ever draw cards in PTA regarding what someone feels or wants in the absence of a concrete, shared set of directed actions in the fiction. Same goes for "noticing things" too - the #1 top way to stop a PTA session in its tracks.

My answer is "valid, insofar as picking his teeth or scratching his ass is valid. But not even close to an actual contribution to play, and light-years away from requiring a card draw."

Now let's take this to the previous question, about how the xenobiologist character might prompt a card draw. Basically, it's the same thing. (I hope we've already dealt with "is it here," that's not cards at all, that's framing and ultimately Producer input.) "Can I get it past security?" You say, "What do you do?" See, her phrasing is trying to stay with outcomes, and you need to keep all phrasing in the context of imagined things going on, not what will go on. When she says she'll bundle it into a dead-body bag and get it through security, then you play the security guys, and ultimately - yes, someone will reach for the cards. If no one does and you think they should, you do it (i.e., the page 60 rule).

Quote
One big thing - winning "narration" by getting highest number... How does that work? So taking the fixed up scene in the loading bay. What are the limits on what the narrator can state or cant state?

I should clarify here that the cards do not ever establish whether "something is here," whether "something happened in the past" (exception: conflicts held in flashback, an advanced technique), or anything about what's here and what's happening. Conflicts are always about crisis in motion. The Stakes is a subset of that: whether what the player cares about most is the direct outcome, or some related phenomenon within the crisis like whether they keep their cool. What the Stakes cannot ever do is pre-narrate the outcome of the conflict in detail. The Stakes is a subset: one thing which can go either X or Y but not both, and one of which is what the protagonist wants right here and now and the other isn't.

Drive that into your brain. If the xenobiologist player says the Stakes are to get the alien through security, then the cards say whether it does or not. All else is left to the narrator, up to and including the security chief developing a crush on her because she had the guts to stand up to him (and assuming that this is not out of left field, that during the scene or earlier in play there had been some inkling of emotional tension between them). Whereas if that player had said that the Stakes are for the security chief to fall in love with her, then the cards would say whether it happens, and all else is again left up to the narrator: including whether the alien gets through the checkpoint.

See? The Narrator is huge. The immediate imagined situation (people in motion and dialogue!! not abstract), the formal Stakes, and the cards all have their roles, but what happens is bigger than that and uses all of that as components within it.

Whew. I better email Matt to let him know that he should come in and correct me where I screw up.

Best, Ron

Here are some of the core discussions about Primetime Adventures here at the Forge:
Prime Time Adventures: Moose in the City (August 2004)
Techniques for driving conflict in a scene (October 2004)
Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology, Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology ep2, and [PTA] a very good episode, a very hard session (late 2004-early 2005)
[PTA] Endgame - pilot episode and first time experiment... (April 2005)
[Primetime Adventures] The Heel, [Primetime Adventures] The Heel, episode 2, and Primetime Adventures] The Heel, episode 3 (Summer 2005) (shoot, I never got around to posting about the rest of the season, which we did play)
[PTA] The Tower (August 2005)
[PTA] Nightshade Alley-session 1.5 (April 2006)
[PTA] Players wanting their PCs to fail? (June 2008)
[PtA] How are the narrative authorities working in this scene? (August 2008)

I've missed a bunch, I know, and I was trying to keep from including everything, but please, anyone who can think of or find a thread which really dug into the issues, feel free to add.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2009, 08:51:22 AM by Ron Edwards » Logged
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2009, 09:03:03 AM »

Damn. Left out a key point.

Okay, the player has stated the focus, the agenda, and the location. Now the point is that the Producer establishes the actual scene. Not the player. Until this moment, in-fiction play has not begun and nothing is actually established to have happened, or that it will happen. Only when the talking is taken up by the Producer and he or she starts describing things, and when necessary (if no one is active enough), saying "what do you do?"

Pop that in at the end of my answer to the first question I quoted, and the rest makes more sense, I hope.

Best, Ron
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Matt Wilson
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« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2009, 09:25:07 AM »

Ron's got most of this covered.

I think people sometimes confuse agenda for conflict. Agenda is just what you're up to. It's useful material for the producer to create the conflict, but it isn't the conflict.

Like, say, Cara wants a scene where Nicola's in the lab examining this strange thing she found, and she wants it to be a plot scene.

I'm the producer, yeah? So we don't just say, "okay, draw cards to see if you can figure out what it is."

And Cara doesn't say, "okay, there's something wrong with my microscope. that's the conflict." Cara can introduce that as an interesting detail, but no way is she going to just sit there and be the author of the story.

Say she introduces that detail. Maybe I say, "great, so that slows you down and you're there later than you want to be, late enough that your love interest, the cute lab worker shows up."

"Oh no," says Cara. "He can't find out about this strange thing."

Now we've both agreed on a conflict. There's a pretty defined yes/no question in there, but there's lots of room to fill in details in the narration.


I'm lazy and pulled in a conflict from an actual game I was in, but I bet you can squint a little and see how that might apply to the stowaway conflict.


re: entering scenes. I think of the spending of fan mail as a veto action, as in "oh yes I am in that scene." If everyone's cool with it to begin with, save your fan mail for something else.

Hope that helps.

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