A few threads about... PRIMETIME ADVENTURES

Started by Moreno R., May 06, 2012, 08:26:44 PM

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Moreno R.


One of my long-standing projects was to write a series of posts with a "best threads compilation" for a indie rpg.  None of these compilation is at this time really ready or complete, but seeing that in three weeks the Forge will close, I post them now or never...

In the state they are now, these can't be really called list of "best threads". So I am calling them "a few threads about..."

These threads are obviously open to contributions: if you know a thread that in your opinion should be in this list, post the link

Primetime Adventures is really a very simple game, so there is no need of a lot of explanation: but it suffer from a couple of "widespread myth" about how to play it that really can ruin the game. Most of these threads are about this.

This is simply THE thread about how to play PTA: [PTA] Players wanting their PCs to fail?
it was followed by another thread that detailed how the Narrative Authorities are divided (and shared) in PTA:  [PtA] How are the narrative authorities working in this scene?

This is the OTHER thread about how to play PTA:  Chris Chinn's Actual Play thread [Primetime Adventures] Dark Fragrance

How to play the Producer:  NPCs and Producer

Talking about games that went wrong often is more useful that talking about games that went well...  Primetime Adventures] Pilot episode - Cakewalk

Last:  [PTA] Actual Play Actual Examples?

Only six threads? Yeas, as I said PTA is not a difficult game, if you avoid the effort to play it wrong... to make up for the lack of threads about how to play it, I add an historical section!

History of the game
This part has really no value at all for people who simply want to learn to play the game.  If you are one of these people, the game manual and the threads I listed before are enough. This part is instead for people who are just curious about the history and development of Primetime Adventures.

Matt Wilson registered on the Forge on August, 2002. This is how how he described his previous rpg experiences: And this is how he did found The Forge.

At the beginning his posts about his game design were about a game-in-development called "ghost". From what I read of these threads (this is an example), it didn't have many similarities with PTA: I don't know if it was the progenitor, but if it's so, the difference is too great. So I am skipping these threads, if you are interested search for post with "ghost" written by Matt Wilson.

In December 2002, after playing Sorcerer and Trollbabe (in these actual play you can see the first seeds of fan mail and narration rules) Matt (after talking about it for a while without giving it a name) posts about a new game, called "Peregrine": Peregrine: Can I sell you this game?:
It's the far future, and the characters are from a "lost world" called Caliban that has discovered ancient technology allowing them to travel the spacelanes. Crews of wandering explorers, in fragile ships equipped with a new and not-entirely-understood FTL drive, are out trying to find clues about their origin, and this mythical Earth place. The ancient technology refers to what is loosely translated as the Scourge, which apparently wiped out everything except Caliban. Is it a disease? An enemy? Nobody knows.
It's space opera, in the vein of something like Babylon 5. Not sticking to hard SF, but not exceptionally fantastical."

At first sight  the premise is much, much more similar to another game-in-progress by Matt, "Galactic" (the premise it's almost the same), but look at the mechanics:
Peregrine character story arc :Sources: Sorcerer's kickers, Trollbabe's rule where players can request a scene, octaNe's plot points, an interview with Joss Whedon, and some ideas from improv theater.

The game is set up like a TV show, with game sessions being episodes and overarching plots taking several episodes (one season). At the start of each season, each player comes up with a story arc for his/her character, something that relates to a personal challenge. It should be something that the character has to work at, like learning to trust others, or getting over a lost love, or dealing with unrequited love, etc. The GM, meanwhile, comes up with an overarching plot, with a major nemesis or whatever. In order for the characters to overcome the big obstacle, they have to work out their personal stuff.

With mechanics I won't get into, the players have opportunities for scenes during a game session that relate to their character's issue. This is decided at the start of the game session, and the other players cooperate to provide opportunities for such a scene. You can only have a scene every so often, and you have to have a certain number. When this scene is going on, it's that player's "special time." It's the job of the other players to make the scene as cool as possible, but not upstage the main character. As the characters check off scenes (say they need 5 to resolve it), it becomes harder to get a scene, so that early in the "season," you'll see everyone's issues introduced, and they will start to spread out with the uberplot mixed in.

playtesters for Peregrine  Try out the game that depicts a weekly space adventure TV Show, complete with commercial breaks, two-part cliffhangers, and character-specific story arcs.

Is my game N/S or just S? : I had this idea from an interview with Joss Whedon about his show Buffy, where each character has a "story arc," and Joss would know at any point in the season what that character was going through. I took this and dropped it into Peregrine. You pick an Issue that your character is dealing with (guilt, greed, honor, something both motivating and hindering), and map out how its intensity rises and falls over the season. So you know, for example, that in episode 3 your Issue will be at a 2.

Peregrine - the season in perspective in March 2003 is the last post that call the game-in-development "Peregrine", even if the name will be used again in a couple of threads about PTA as the "first playtest" of PTA)

In TV show offshoot idea Matt talks about using the rules for a InSpectre-like TV series.

The first mention of PTA is not from Matt, but from Clinton, in April 2003:
Passive-aggressive narrativism (Peregrine): I've been playing in this great game for the last month run by Matt Wilson. It's a game he's designed called Prime-Time Adventures, and our setting is called Peregrine. It's loosely based off Firefly and other space television shows, and is aggressive story-telling.
From the same thread, some info about the system:
Quick rules: the mechanics are super-simple, but work in play. The players roll pools of d10s with anything matching 7 or above as an Action. Each episode, each character has an Intensity ranking from 1 to 3 equated to how much the episode is focused on that character. When rolling the dice, you roll a number equal to 3 + your Intensity, but 1 to your Intensity are Setbacks, or bad things that happen that the other players narrate. Anyway - loosely-oriented story-telling.

After this, Matt began to post a lot about Primetime Adventures, if you want a more detailed account I suggest searching the forum, (there are "only" around 600 threads about PTA in the Forge Archive, after all... :-)

A thread from September 2003, PTA: Imperivm Confidential Pilot Episode talks in detail about the new post-gencon playtest rules, and then in October 2003 there is a really, really detailed actual play thread by John Harper about his PTA game PTA Bridgewater that will, become one of the game manual's examples.

In April 2004, Matt post about some conclusions from the playtests: [PTA] spacehunter, pilot episode and playtesting errata

The first printed copies of PTA arrive in August 2004, After this (and after the Gencon debut) the Dog-eared Designs (Matt) sub-forum is created, and there are a lot of actual play threads. But none, ever, is more famous than this:  Prime Time Adventures: Moose in the City: Vincent Baker, Ron Edwards, and other three long-time poster at the forge, play a kid's show with PTA.  This most famous actual play of PTA, ever!
((Vincent, the link to the picture is dead! Please put it online again and update the link! Then cancel this red paragraph))

Another Actual Play: Vincen't Epidemonoly, and Epidemonology 2: Playing Mystery with PTA.
Vincent and is group are the first, as far as I know, to use CARDS instead of dice to play PTA. He talks about it in Epidemonoly 2 (February 2005). We play with cards instead of dice. Red cards are successes, high card has buck-stoppage. This is going to be hard to explain, I think, but playing the game with cards is more fun than playing it with dice. I expected it to be just as much fun, but nope! It's more fun. I think it's because the interaction is streamlined. With dice, we count up how many dice everybody gets, then we roll them, then we count successes etc. With cards, dealing them out takes the place of both the counting up and the rolling. I'm like, "how many cards, three? Four? Okay, fwap fwap fwap fwap." It's a good little interaction. So I'd recommend playing with cards to anybody.
Matt's reply: Cards will go in as an official option in the whenever-I-get-around-to-it edition, which will probably exist as a pdf first.
(The "revised" edition of PTA with the Card rules was published for Gencon 2005. The pdf arrived only in december 2005...)

This is a run-down of the sales in the first two years: Two Anniversaries

The edition published in August 2005 is the same one we play today, so this "history of PTA" can stop here.  Bye!

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)

Moreno R.

Reading again the Dark Fragrance thread, I noticed that it didn't contain the links to Chris Chinn's blog posts about PTA, that I remembered being there.

Well, I was mixing two different threads together: the one with the links, and more about how to play Primetime Adventures, is this one:
[PTA] Driving Towards Conflict
I was following this thread with the intention to add it to my list, but I forgot about it. Why? Because it's incomplete, it needed a reply from Ron, but that Ron's last post for more than a month, as he was very busy in January.  I postponed the decision to add it to a reply that never came.

Reading it again, it's already worthy of inclusion, both for the posts and the links.  And the questions posted to Ron in the next-to-last message is already answered enough in the other posts I listed. So I am adding this thread to the list (read it after "Dark Fragrance")

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)

Larry L.