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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13299 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 55 - most online ever: 843 (October 22, 2020, 11:18:00 PM)
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Author Topic: [Primetime Adventures] Dark Fragrance  (Read 16884 times)
Roger
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Posts: 228


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« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2011, 10:50:23 AM »

Thanks for the link to the Producer's blog; it is, indeed, very interesting stuff.

So, Bangs.  Here's my concern about them, which might not even apply to your group, but I suspect it ties in a bit to what Jono is saying about how he played and his relationship to the character.

In my own PTA games and other Bang-driven games, I've sometimes fallen into the mindset that a Bang is a big "Gotcha!" moment for the player.  Haha, stupid player, bet you weren't expecting that!

I probably don't need to elaborate too much on why that can be problematic.  A Bang often is a "Gotcha!" moment, but for the player character.  It's quite common in tv shows to have situations in which the audience intentionally sees the Bang coming from a mile away, and are watching to see what happens when the character gets blindsided.

On the other hand, I don't want to say that surprised the actual players is, in itself, bad or problematic.  There's a lot of good play experiences that come out of exactly that.  But I have the feeling that given your particular situation, pulling something like a "Next time on Dark Fragrance... we see a shot of Han's father's office, and he's giving Han a big sack of money!"  It's still a big surprise for Han, but the players and the audience have some foreshadowing.

Anyway, it might be something to keep in mind.  I've been enjoying this AP thread.

One question:  Was there a pilot episode in addition to the 5-episode arc, or was the pilot episode 1 of 5?  If so, I see from the blog that you started with one Presence 2 and one Presence 1 for the pilot, which is a slight rules drift, so I'd like to hear about how that worked for you.


Cheers,
Roger
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Chris_Chinn
Member

Posts: 280


« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2011, 11:38:55 AM »

Hi Roger,

Yeah, we overlooked Pilot episodes being separate from the rest of the season.  I suppose it would have added a little more room to flesh out the characters and build Fan Mail, but it's gone fine both for this campaign and the one previous.

Overall, I think the key to good Bangs (and twists, etc.) vs. Gotcha! moments is about expectations and developed fiction. 

Good Bangs present you with choices you didn't know you'd have to make, but fit.  That is, it fits perfectly with the situation AND the characters, and helps you highlight your character at the same time.

Gotchas! violate the expected fiction.  Instead of fitting or twisting in creative ways, they break things.  What makes them problematic is that they're almost always pulled out as a way of removing player input - by giving unreasonable consequences to an expected action, a player's input is blocked and even punished. 

A Bang is a starting point of a meaningful decision, a Gotcha is a response to such a decision, in a way that nullifies it.

Chris
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Jono
Member

Posts: 16


« Reply #17 on: March 11, 2011, 02:21:53 PM »

So, Bangs.  Here's my concern about them, which might not even apply to your group, but I suspect it ties in a bit to what Jono is saying about how he played and his relationship to the character.

In my own PTA games and other Bang-driven games, I've sometimes fallen into the mindset that a Bang is a big "Gotcha!" moment for the player.  Haha, stupid player, bet you weren't expecting that!

I never once felt that a Bang directed at me was in any way unfair.  The "oh holy shit!" reaction I described was actually something I enjoy a great deal, because I know my next decision is going to be a crucial turning point for the character, one way or the other.  Like, when the guys decided to raid my family's house, it was time to either reject the revolution forever and reconcile with my father, or reject my father forever and cement my place as a leader of the revolution.  In a sense it was "the obvious thing" to happen in the story, because the conflicting loyalties had been implicit in my character concept from the beginning; this was really the fulfillment of my Issue.  But in the moment it still felt like a surprise.  I think you can know that something is going to happen and still be surprised by when it happens and the exact form it takes when it does.

When I've got a big character-relevant decision like that, I tend to prefer to make it in Actor stance, as in "what would Han Zhen do about this right now?".  I feel like that helps guide me to a resolution of the issue that feels true to the character, for me.  I use other stances for other types of decisions.  I got nothing against other people responding to Bangs based on what they think would be the coolest thing to see happen, or any other reason; this is just a personal aesthetic preference.  I would say the drawback of my preference is that certain fairly obvious "metagame" actions (ask other players stuff, do something genre-appropriate, make up information) tend not to occur to me as much in that frame of mind.

Those are just the pros and cons of my aesthetic preference.  I think this thread has helped me understand better what was going on.  Next time a situation like that comes up maybe I'll be better able to stop and ask myself "Hey wait, is actor stance the right approach right now or not?" as well as ask the other players "How much money is this?" or "What's the right wu xia trope right here?"  Thanks for talking with me about my issue, everyone; I don't feel the need to diagnose it further.

I do think there's some stuff I want to talk about related to the question of how a game can help establish those shared expectations of the wu xia genre, especially for people who are new to it.  This is a relevant question because both Chris and Sushu are working on wu xia related games, and one thing they can do that PTA can't is to define specific procedures that help set those genre expectations.  But I'll take that to a new thread in the Development forum.

Back to your suggestion, Roger -- we did foreshadow a lot of stuff in the "next episode" previews and we took the foreshadowing pretty seriously, recording the previews and doing our best to live up to them.  I think it worked well, but the biggest bangs were generally things that were not foreshadowed.  I think the technique you described is certainly worth considering in the future.

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I think this might be the flipside of a very good thread -- (PTA) Players wanting their PCs to fail? -- which I would recommend to your consideration.

That is a fantastic thread!  I've read it before (I've been lurking on the Forge since about 2007) but it's even more helpful to go back to it now and re-read it with my own PTA experiences fresh in my mind.  I don't *think* we were doing the pre-narrating, story-conferencing thing.  We did have a lot of talk about what could happen (especially between scenes) but when we went to the cards it always mattered who won narration because there were always important details left to narrate.
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