Actual Play – PTA (12/15/2008)

GM: Sean Nittner
System: Primetime Adventures

We did lunch this time at Burgers and Brew. It meant more driving time and a shorter game. But, we managed to finish up the pilot episode, so I was happy. Total episode is looking like 3 opening scenes (no real conflict). 6 body scenes (with conflicts) and 3 closing montages (no conflicts). I think we can do that in two lunches.

What rocked:

We figured out the above format. Something that makes for ½ hour show. Like South Park or the Office.

It is getting easier to jump into the game. We started playing while eating, and it was pretty smooth.

The recap. Definitely reviewing what happened last time reminded us of what was going on and helped me create urgency (in the form of a health inspector and the chemical fire).

Gonzo wackiness. I really liked the health inspector actually warming up to the total loser Kevin. It was awesome.

Player narration. I didn’t get the high card every time this episode. Woot!

Mr. Bawls imaginary friend. The Drug Dealers and Gerald. All fun NPCs.

What could have been improved:

Setting stakes, driving towards conflict, etc. I definitely feel like I need to know more what a scene is about. These stakes don’t have to be big. They can just be “do I look like an ass” but they do need to be something that (however petty) the characters care about. I need to be better about articulating them.

I think that instead of me thinking about an external conflict (a.k.a. the health inspector). We should talk before the game about what that show is going to be about. It could be as simple as “the Christmas show” or the Show where Vernon drives around all episode in his friend’s car.

Actual Play – PTA (12/08/2008)

GM: Sean Nittner
System: Primetime Adventures

We had our first “real” PTA session. We managed 3 scenes and what I’d consider the first act of a 1 hour show. The characters met, and began to understand their current predicament. How the heck are things going to work now that the hardware store and the restaurant are merged? It hasn’t really sunk in to many of the characters yet, we’ve got the whole pilot to flesh that out.

What rocked:

Several of the scenes flowed into each other. Natural consequences of previous scenes opened up new ones. There were several times where we knew just what another character would do or would be based off the previous scene.

The gamer head space had a “real” feel to it. Let me explain. Often, since RPGs rely on imagination it’s easy to think of every scene as being in a different universe from the others. Many times players will have conversations to don’t seem to happen in any time or place. And if it does happen in a place, the place is nebulous. In PTA because we framed the scenes with locations, I could feel the connection between the sets. If someone was yelling in the restaurant, you could hear it in the hardware store, etc.

Employees (NPCs) began to come to life. I think I know what kind of idealistic flake boss Choshky is now. Well meaning but totally divorced from reality. The kind of guy that believes retail should be a turn key solution and is in for a big shock. Also the head cook, although I haven’t described him much I know he’s a big guy with a stained apron and a no-bullshit attitude.

What could have been improved:

Sadly, lots.

Scene framing. Framing the scenes feels awkward, the players have a lot of reasonability and are somewhat stunned when I say “what is this scene about.” I don’t think this is because they are unimaginative, I think it is because traditional games have taught us that the setting is controlled by the GM (or producer or whatever). This is a hurtle we all have to overcome and I’m going to try and be very supportive as we get used it doing this.

My presentation. I had some concrete ideas like the health inspector. He’s got meat on his bones. He’s got a purpose, and he’s going to drive conflict. Other things like the stores merging and some of the NPCs have come off somewhat limp and malformed, like the aborted fetus of a story. I need to have some decent inspiration to make something come alive and while I have that for some of the characters and sets, other pieces are lacking.

Conflicts. You know in every game, I feel this challenge. How do I present the characters with something they NEED to respond to without putting them in physical danger? Sure, ninjas are cool (in fact we might need some Ace Hardware Ninjas to show up) but this game is really not about that. It’s about retarded interactions between ridiculously mundane people and the tiny kernel of meaningful relationships that come out of it. I stick a health inspector with a list of fines in someone’s face and it should spell conflict, I just don’t think I’m bringing that strong enough yet. Must work on presenting conflicts quickly and decisively.

Getting the characters together. This is my chronic problem. I want one on one time with PCs. I love PCs, I love the shit they do and a greedily hoard it. I need to bring the other characters in and let them share the fun. Greedy fun = bad fun.

All that said I’m jazzed about the next game. The health inspector’s presence will create a major dilemma and most likely Choshyky will be nowhere to be found. Fun times ahead.