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Author Topic: [PTA] Episode 1 - Are we doing this wrong?  (Read 8570 times)

Posts: 47

« on: June 26, 2009, 07:47:45 AM »

Hi again.

We got together and continued our adventures. I was left feeling curiously unfulfilled though - and we ended the game with me (the producer) having unspent budget.

Overall the feeling I had was one of struggling to find the conflicts.

Briefly - everyone was at 1 screen presence, except the doctor who was at 2. She wanted the episode to ramp up her "age problems", and to have more "high impact" physical action.

We played a little differently from last time. I think we had the setup of scene's much better. It was more along the lines of "this is set at X, and there is Y going on".

Eg, starter scene had everyone in the mess, and the reporters were causing trouble trying to get into the bridge. They all started talking from there. There is a lot of "meta talk" about things that could go in the scene etc, and occassional drops into talking about camera work, or some in character talk - but this is most definently a lot lot less in character RP than any other game we've played. The players seem to spend more of the time talking about what their character would say/do, rather than actually saying/doing it.

One example - Earlier on the reporters had been causing troubles for the doc - chasing him around the ship, drilling him with questions about why he works for the organised murderers of the military. It was a nice scene, nicely RPd out with questions and retorts, also describing the cameraman struggling to keep up etc. The conflict was "is the doctor able to outpace the young reporters" and he succeeded - after the roll we went straight to the doc's cabin after he slams the door on the reporters, and then limps to the chair to down some painkillers.

But it went bad when we had the reporter waking up in the medlab after being injured, we lept straight from "i want a scene where i try to convince the reporter he is wrong about the military" - and resolving that the doc failed, but got narration, to saying "the doc gives an impassioned speech about the military saving people, but the reporter can hear the cannon's firing at the mining colony and fails to believe".

The play process feels very much like
- lets talk about what we want to happen in a scene
- lets move the characters a biit to get to the conflict
- chance
- now jump to how they solved it...

"talk about future", chance, "talk about past"

I'm missing the "we are dealing with things now!"

Am I letting the "narration rights" say too much? Should that part be just "keep Rp'ing but keep in mind the conflict outcomes"...? Because the way we are going now it is just that the player who won just describes the rest of the scene themselves.

We had some nice story scenes come out - like the doctor and chief being trapped on a wrecked ship spinning madly out of control while saving the surviving crewmen, or the priest calling for a small mining station to be exterminated, then praying in the chapel afterwards, asking for help should he need to do the same for the planet they are heading for.

But nevertheless, i noticed a lot of players sitting back and just watching going on and not really taking part - which i've not had much of before.

I really dont know if i'm phrasing this properly, or communicating the feelings. But i want to try make things better.

Posts: 351

« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2009, 01:17:41 PM »

When we play PtA we don't narrate resolution as "talk about the past." We "deal with stuff now" during the resolution narrative. Perhaps you could try having the high card narrate what happens, rather than what happened, and see if the different focus changes the experience.

Also, I think it might help if you set a brief agenda for the scene and then roleplay the characters in the scene. Go to chance if roleplaying leads to conflict, but be cool with the idea that the scene may not result in a conflict, and that's ok.

James R.

Posts: 198

« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2009, 09:01:33 AM »

In my experience, pre-playing the scene too much is the kiss of death -- you end up kind of "writing the script", and then acting it out perfunctorily, and rushing ahead to the conflict because nothing interesting is happening, and also because you've lost control of your character to the commitee.  Also in my experience, sticking really closely to what the rules say about scene framing is essential -- if you do that, have the player call for a scene, have the GM frame it, and boom, start playing it out, interesting and unexpected things happen and everybody gets involved. 

In other words, this:
There is a lot of "meta talk" about things that could go in the scene etc, and occassional drops into talking about camera work, or some in character talk - but this is most definently a lot lot less in character RP than any other game we've played. The players seem to spend more of the time talking about what their character would say/do, rather than actually saying/doing it.

may be the heart of the problem. 

As far as narration rights go, when I've played, whoever wins narration rights closes out the conflict telling what happens then, and we move on to the next scene.  I'm not sure if that's the official way to do it.


I believe in peace and science.
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Posts: 17707

« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2009, 11:31:30 AM »

Hi Kentsu,

It may have been a step up from the first episode you guys played, or tried to play, but your group is still committing a fundamental error in playing PTA.

"i want a scene where i try to convince the reporter he is wrong about the military"

That's already shooting successful PTA play in the forehead. Well, I'm exaggerating a little, because there is a way to play in which this works fine, but as I see it, you can't get there right away. (Some martial arts practitioners say that they practice the somewhat artificial fully-prep, fully-extend methods of striking because in stress, the body "edits" the action down into what works in the moment. Practicing the full load-up, full body-action, full-extension technique means what's edited down carries as much power as it can.)

The player says: "I want a scene in which I'm talking to reporters in the [location]." I think you should establish among the group that this is all that should be said prior to framing the scene. Absolutely all. The conflict or planned problematic action should not be stated, not even a little bit. "Agenda" means talking to the reporters, and that's it.

And then, in the scene, when anyone says "I would" or "Then I could" or "And I might," your job as Producer is to say, "Folks, please say what you are doing. Just be in character like you would in any other game." (This phrasing is problematic if you take it literally, because it doesn't matter a bit whether someone says "He" or "I" when role-playing. But I think it's what they might need to hear in terms of playing in-the-moment.)

I think all the discussion of shots and angles and stuff is actually OK, as long as this more fundamental point is addressed and adhered to.

That's my advice and it's not guaranteed. I'm over here in my armchair, and all I can do is give you my reasoning and hope that I'm helping. It's built on my observation that what you are calling the better bits, in this session, are still not following the points/advice Matt and I gave you in the previous thread. You can kind of see that advice from what you're describing, but it's across the river and a little bit in the misty distance.

Best, Ron

Posts: 47

« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2009, 02:01:26 PM »

Thanks.. I think really pushing the "what are you doing now.. in character" is what might "fix" our game. As well as limiting even further the conflict statement in scene framing.

we'll see how we go next time.

Posts: 1

« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2009, 09:05:50 AM »

not sure if this has been beaten to death in other threads but in the game I'm currently in having interesting conflicts really helps and having the conflicts revolve around the players flaws.  The failures are a great way to learn about a character.  Things are going right when people throw in on the side of failure because that would make for better TV. 

From a previous thread.  Having a conflict were someone, lets say the priest, is sneaking something past security.  Having the conflict as he sneaks its past or not is kind of boring.
A better conflict may be: Win- The priest sneaks it past and the PC security commander  thinks he is a great guy.  Fail - The Priest still sneaks it past but triggers the paranoia of the Sec Com character  and the Security Command then has a personal mission to find proof that the Priest is up to something. 

A fun meta game in PTA is watching how people narrate their own characters failure.  Some people run with it others try to spin the failure in a positive light or as something out of the characters control.  That alone makes the game worth playing.

Also see about getting the players to include as many other players in their scene as possible.  Give props/congratulations/fan mail to a player who sets up a scene that doesn't include their own character.  (I know the director/GM can't give out fan mail but maybe convince another player or two to give out fan mail for such a thing).

I hope you can get a fun game going.  I found this game be a fun change of pace to more technical games.
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