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Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: lumpley on October 03, 2004, 09:49:24 AM
Cyrus Dunn is walking among corpses.

We see his shoes in black and white. As he steps between the corpses they're black and white too - except that on every corpse, one thing appears in color. The green jewel on a ring, a green and yellow corsage, a pink dress. They're teenagers, all white kids, in formals - must be for Homecoming. They're on the floor of a warehouse. It's 1944 or so.

"How many bodies?" Emily says.

I count on my fingers: "16."

"Sixteen?" around the table.

We pull back slowly. The corpses aren't just heaped up, they're arranged, and Cyrus is standing there among them. He's a tall, spare man in a black suit and a hat, he's got a leather notebook and some chalk. The corpses are arranged like this (I'm drawing broken stick figures): H E L L. The blood is red, red, red.

Opening credits!

I don't remember whose idea it was to have the show be in black and white, except for where the supernatural has touched. I do know that on Cyrus' character sheet Emily wrote "intuitive insight" as an Edge and that we agreed at once that color would be our way of showing that. Whenever we look at something from another character's point of view - Joe's, Franks, Vicky's - everything's only black and white. Later on we'll show a photograph as Cyrus and Frank pass it back and forth. H E L L in corpses and when Frank's looking at it, the blood's gray, when Cyrus is, it's red.

It's cool about this game - the good ideas came so fast and got so taken-and-run-with that who knows whose they were originally. Emily thought of "Epidemonology" and this guy, Sherlock Holmes-esque, who solves demonic murders, but after that we were all just shouting things out. Like, who moved it to the forties in the US instead of Victorian London? Dunno.

Anyhow Cyrus' Issue is grief. His wife died. We don't know yet how or why. His Screen Presence goes 2-1-3-1-2, which seems very lead character to me. Left over from the game's Jack the Ripper roots is the idea that what demons do is cause people to commit baroque murders, and Cyrus is trying to deal them the way an epidemiologist would: finding patterns and vectors, studying outbreaks, looking for cures.

Anyhow he's there before the police, but we hear sirens, he's got to get what he needs and get out. We hear water dripping and we see drops falling from the ceiling into a pool of blood - the water's black and white and the blood's red, which we all dig quite a bit. He chooses a candidate, the girl in the pink dress, and draws around her with chalk. He has to draw through the blood. We see a shot of him down face-to-face with her. He talks to her and her eyes move behind her lids like she's dreaming -

But I rolled better and the cops arrive. Cyruse goes but leaves his chalk behind. Enter: Joe!

Joe Carboni is Carrie's character. He's a good'n. His Issue is self-hatred, manifesting as sudden outbursts of violence, and his Screen Presence goes 3-2-1-2-1. (This is the pilot, so everyone's is 2 today.) Joe's a Norman Rockwell-looking rookie cop with an older brother in the mob. His wife is the mayor's secretary ... and get this.

Quite independently, Joshua wrote on his character's sheet - his character's Vicky Vance, the reporter - wrote that she has dirt on the mayor. He's been sleeping with his, y'know. Secretary.

We hear this and we all go, oog. Oh yeah.

So this is the pilot, but next episode's Joe's and we gotta set that up.

Joe the rookie cop comes into the warehouse, looks, and goes white. His partner Hank went around back (he heard Cyrus but won't catch him, natch) and we hear him coming in - "holy..." We see Joe's shoes now among the corpses, standing in fact on the chalk line Cyrus drew. The girl's eyes are open and bright, bright blue...

And that's our first scene and we're all going woo! woo! rock!

It turns out that the kids' history teacher, possessed by a demon called Pity, strangled the kids then hung himself on meat hooks from the high ceiling above them so his blood drained all over them. Later on his corpse attacks Vicky and Joe and Vicky brains it with her typewriter and they hold it down while Cyrus puts it to rest, in the morgue where it belongs. There were plot holes and false starts which will make anyone who played go, on reflection, "hey, wait a second..." But so what. I'll call the most egregious of 'em "loose ends" and wrap them up again later on. What do you want from me? An hour earlier I was going "a rookie cop, cool, and it's in the forties now? okay..."

So let me recap the characters and then I'll say a bit about mysteries.

Cyrus Dunn, Emily's, demonologist. 30 or so, his wife was wealthy, he's kind of withdrawn - as a demonologist widower has some right to be. His Issue's grief, 2-1-3-1-2.

Frank Mills, Meg's, Cyrus' best friend from high school. He was homecoming king and Cyrus's wife-to-eventually-be was queen. He's just back from Europe - 1944 remember - and he lost a leg. He's cool with that, it was less a sacrifice than he was prepared to make, but people are treating him differently than they used to and he doesn't know now what. His Issue is Direction?, 1-2-1-3-2.

Victoria Vance, Joshua's, reporter. She makes a tck-tck noise at people like you would to a horse and she smokes a lot - like in Cyrus' study where Cyrus went into his kitchen to pour her a gin and when he came back there were five cigarette butts in the ashtray. We have NO IDEA what's up with her, except that her Issue's vengeance, 1-1-2-2-3. Vengeance? For what? On whom? We'll find out.

And Joe Carboni, Carrie's, rookie cop. We got to see him being really mean to his wife - actually that scene mattered a whole lot, because it was such setup, I'll tell you about it next time. He also threw up on Eddie the morgue guy. His Issue's self-hatred, 3-2-1-2-1.

So, mystery. My big struggle with the game was the mystery. I'm like, I DO NOT want to have conflicts where what's at stake is, do you find the clue? How butt would that be? Figuring out how to make a mystery work took me most of the session and I probably won't really have it down for a couple of sessions more.

About halfway through, after a nice long bathroom break, I came back to the table and everybody was going over the clues and trying to figure out where to go next. I'd just sorted that out myself: "guys, the mystery is really easy. I just gave you the body on the meathooks in the ceiling, right? Wherever you decide to go next, there'll be the next clue! Just like a TV show. What we gotta do is hit Joe's self-hatred again, so let's have a scene where..."

That seemed to work.

And now here are four of the many, many awesome moments in the game. Probably each of us could name our favorite four and we wouldn't overlap.

Joshua revealing the dirt Vicky Vance has on the mayor, then looking over at Joe's character sheet just to read again the words "Issue: self-hatred." Baby.

Emily stopping me as I cut from a scene, to have Cyrus look at Vicky, just exactly the right look, and say "I'm going to need that film from you."

Carrie having Joe throw his uniform - he's unhooked the history teacher from the meathooks, carried him over his shoulder down the long ladder, taken him to the morgue, all while steeling himself and not throwing up again - throw his uniform onto his dining room table for his wife to pick up and launder and, in the same breath, having him say "isn't dinner ready yet?"

Meg suggesting that, since they're here in the high school, they should go look through some yearbooks. Everybody else was like, "...okay, I guess," but I was like, "oh YES yes, frickin yes, somebody give Meg some fan mail and here's why: every yearbook has a photo of the like history club in it, right? You look through them year by year, there's the history teacher: black and white, black and white, black and white, black and white, color."

The thing where the producer can't give or receive fan mail is just right, of course, but just like there were times when I was like, "somebody better give ___ some fan mail, cause I can't," there were other times when someone reached into the pile of poker chips and was like, "who's idea was that? Oh man, Vincent's." And they dropped the chip back into the pile with real disappointment.

We're going to play again as soon as we can. It won't be until November, alas.

Matt! I've loved this game since GenCon, as you know. I still love it. Moose in the City wasn't an abberration. Primetime Adventures delivers.

-Vincent


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: Matt Wilson on October 03, 2004, 11:27:32 AM
Rock on Vincent. That sounds like a hell of a show, no pun intended. Can I fly out and be a special guest star or something?

I recall some play reports from a while back where you describe your group doing a lot of basically in-play brainstorming. I think it makes you guys a good fit for the game. We did a lot of the same thing when we played Bridgewater (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=88692&highlight=#88692).

So compared to the quick-and-dirty Moose, how'd it go with multiple edges and connections? How did you fare with the budget? Anything trip you guys up?


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: Nazzi on October 03, 2004, 11:30:12 AM
And what game were you guys playing?


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: LordSmerf on October 03, 2004, 11:37:07 AM
Quote from: Matt Wilson
Rock on Vincent. That sounds like a hell of a show, no pun intended. Can I fly out and be a special guest star or something?


Hey Matt, are you implying that there are "guest star" rules for the game?  As it stands or planned?  Because i can see a lot of cool stuff you could do with that...

Thomas


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: Ben Lehman on October 03, 2004, 11:48:50 AM
Quote from: Nazzi
And what game were you guys playing?


Primetime Adventures, the game by Matt Wilson (his post is just right about yours.)

yrs--
--Ben


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: lumpley on October 03, 2004, 11:59:26 AM
Primetime Adventures lives here (http://www.dog-eared-designs.com/), on Matt's Dog-eared Designs site.

Matt, hitches: the big hitch was the mystery one, like I said. I'm positive I'll have more to say about it as I keep working it out. It's a how-to-run-mystery-stories hitch, not a Primetime Adventures hitch though.

I missed the rule where your character's not supposed to put a 3 in episode 1, right? I'm a bit intimidated by Joe's 3 next session, but it'll work out I expect. Carrie, Joe's player, is great. I haven't but barely roleplayed with her before.

Once I started finding conflicts other than "do you see the clue?" the budget-fan mail economy kicked in. It stumbled at first because there weren't conflicts really and I wasn't building a pool to award fan mail from. My goal thereafter was to end the session with 0 budget, which I didn't quite do - I had 3 or something, down from 24 plus whatever came back in from fan mail.

Coming up with the five traits was harder than coming up with one, that's for sure. Cyrus still has one not nailed down - an athletic trait of some sort that Emily's still musing about. I don't know if anyone intends to change any of their traits after the pilot, otherwise, but maybe they do.

There were some traits that didn't come up. Especially connections. That's fine with me, there's time.

So no, no trouble with the multiple traits at all.

Oh but here's a quibble. Reading odds vs evens on a batch of d10s is not as fast as I expected. Sometimes you roll 1 2 4 7 9 and sort them incorrectly, like 1 9 for odds and 2 4 7 for evens. It's weird. Maybe it's just us. Would you talk about the um technical specs that led you to that dice technique?

-Vincent


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: Matt Wilson on October 03, 2004, 04:42:19 PM
So I've had to edit and revise this post like four times, because the idea of doing mystery got my mind racing. Bear with me.

Regarding Dice:

The odds/evens approach is intuitive for me, but because it's a 50/50 split there's other ways you can do it if the handling time lags.

Here's two other options for ya:

Roll d6s with pips and look for 4, 5 or 6. It might be easier to distinguish the dice with more pips.

Or (Ron suggested this one) use playing cards and count red cards as successes. As you would with the dice, look for the highest card to determine the narrator.

Regarding Mystery:

I sorta overlooked this last time around:

Quote
So, mystery. My big struggle with the game was the mystery. I'm like, I DO NOT want to have conflicts where what's at stake is, do you find the clue? How butt would that be? Figuring out how to make a mystery work took me most of the session and I probably won't really have it down for a couple of sessions more.


Yeah, I think that if you look at the show as a character drama first and mystery second, you can use the mystery to just fill in blanks, and everything else is just riding the act structure.

Like this Vincent Baker guy said, it's all about what's at stake in a conflict. Not "do I find a clue," but "do I find one without creating complications." Man, I can think of tons of fun stuff to do with that. Every time the dice get rolled, everyone at the table is gonna have new story fuel for use later in the show.

I'm guessing the hard stuff would be A) saying what the clue is when they find one (though having the conflict involve the clue in some way will lift that burden from being always you), and B) when is the right moment in the scene to call for a conflict. B is the thing that takes me a couple episodes to feel solid about. It's different with every group.


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: lumpley on October 04, 2004, 08:01:00 AM
Quote
B) when is the right moment in the scene to call for a conflict. B is the thing that takes me a couple episodes to feel solid about. It's different with every group.

Yes! Several times I had to stop myself from rolling like you would in Dogs - the very instant that something might even possibly be at stake. I was like, "okay, let's roll dice! Yet there's not enough information yet! Vincent to brain. Brain? Come in brain..."

My players willing, I think we'll try d6s next time. We'll still do odds-evens but we can just look for that center pip.

-Vincent


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: John Harper on October 04, 2004, 10:48:35 AM
Me did a mystery the first time I ran PTA, too. It revolved around the source of the superpowers that the protags possessed, and the motives of those responsible. I sprinkled a few "clues" through the first few episodes (cryptic cut-scenes and the like) and then sat back and let the players connect the dots and draw conclusions however they wanted. This seemed to work pretty well. The players that were interested in the resolution of the mystery set up scenes that allowed for more investigation and let them narrate some facts and answers. The players that didn't care about the details of the mystery were free to focus on other stuff, with the mystery acting as a backdrop.

Since we all naturally did a lot of kibbitzing around the table, everyone pretty much knew the interests of the other players and what they were trying to set up. Meredith had some really cool places to take her character's love interest. Scott had the whole mystery thing figured out and was ready to drive it home. I never had to step in and provide any kind of big reveal to surprise the players and pay off the mystery. We all knew how the mystery was gonna go, and we worked together to get there. The surprises came as each protag hit their Issue along the way.

Edit to say: Your show sounds so cool. I'm looking forward to hearing more.


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on October 04, 2004, 02:18:37 PM
Man, that was a great game. So totally up my alley. I really, really want to play more. Stupid adult schedule.

Here's what I noted: the 50/50 split is OK, I guess, but since there's no effect to having lots, or few, successes, wouldn't it be better to have an easier to parse thing, like "highest number wins, if tied, second highest..."  I think the probability curves look the same. The only thing that changes (if I'm correct about the prob curves) is that the person who wins the conflict gets to say how it ended every time, unlike now. How much does that matter?

Anyway, the game was fantastic. I wasn't enchanted with the idea from the beginning, but it really won me over: I wasn't into the demon thing that much (having really gotten my fill working on Dogs), but I was right there when the shit hit the fan because man, I wanted to play Vicky so bad by the time we got rolling.

Here's what I think is so great: we started off with an idea. I wasn't so into it. 19th c. London doesn't call to me. But we could move it somewhen else! I think the 40's is particularly interesting, especially for playing a woman. Then I was prepared for disappointment because if we're not all the main character, we all have to run around doing stuff for whoever's playing the main character because it's hir story, but it's totally not true: the main character's there in service to the story like everyone else; being the main character is just one of Emily's (in this case) responsibilities.

... just like Star Trek doesn't concentrate on Picard every episode. And, now that I think about it, Knight Rider sucked for many reasons, but among them was the lack of non-Michael-Knight characters who ever had anything to do.

OK, so check this out: I think she's pissed because she was passed up for editorship because she's a woman. Jim has her job and they both know it. He's a perfectly decent editor, but he feels like he owes her, and so does she.

At least that's something to work with. I'm still not certain how that leads to vengeance, but there's something there. I wrote, then edited out, something about her having a superheroic thirst for justice, but I can't make it concrete. Fortunately, I have four more episodes (each probably a month apart) before I have the screen presence for it to really matter, so there's plenty of time to evolve.

I'm really, really interested in seeing how our mystery series works out because I've been trying to figure out how to do a proper mystery for years now.

Damn, I want to play more.

Check out a Very appropriate image (http://www.samuelsdesign.com/comics/big/crime_reporter.jpg) (and you thought it was the typewriter that was going to give Vicky back problems)

[edited by Ron to turn the image into a link, with Joshua's permission]


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: Valamir on October 04, 2004, 06:47:24 PM
So what's the NAME of this series.  Ain't no network exec gonna air a show called Epidemonology.  Its got to be a typical network combination of lame and yet catchy...like Dark Transgressions...or Night Hunters...or something.


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on October 05, 2004, 08:32:20 AM
Quote from: Valamir
So what's the NAME of this series.  Ain't no network exec gonna air a show called Epidemonology.  Its got to be a typical network combination of lame and yet catchy...like Dark Transgressions...or Night Hunters...or something.


The reason we play Prime Time Adventures is so we don't have to call it Dark Transgressions.

I really want to see more of the "epidemic" part. I want to see the spread of the 'disease'.

And if it's Satan, or some other Christian bullcrap, I'll be disappointed in all of us. Very, very disappointed.


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: Emily Care on October 05, 2004, 08:58:15 AM
This game rocks.  It orchestrates collaboration so beautifully.  Instead of having the players spend all this lavish time and attention on their characters, only to get that juicy stuff side-lined in the interest of "the plot", they become the plot.  The contradictions we create our characters to explore get to be the stuff from which the themes of the show arise.

Well f*ing done, Matt.

An aspect of it being a tv show that I didn't expect to be so cool was how folks would often narrate scenes by describing the shots. Especially Vincent, of course--giving us atmospheric images of rows of bodies or the blank blue-eyed stare of one of the victims--but also little establishing shots, like the close-up on Frank and Cyrus' hands Meg described, showing the lack or presence of wedding rings, and Joe turning green around the gills in the morgue.

I can't wait to play more.

best,
Em

ps Ralph, maybe I'd say this is gonna be a cable series, so we can take some liberties.  And as for the epidemic aspects, it strikes me that after we rid the history teacher of his demon only then did the students loose their demonic "color".  If we hadn't caught it in time, that cute girl in the pink prom dress would most likely have been out there taking out the general populous.


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: lumpley on October 05, 2004, 09:06:22 AM
Oh! Like one of us - I forget which - did at the beginning of the session proper, I want to point out: all the players are playing cross-gender. Worthy of going "huh."

-Vincent


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: Paul Czege on October 05, 2004, 09:18:08 AM
The reason we play Prime Time Adventures is so we don't have to call it Dark Transgressions.

I utterly concur. We had a PTA setup conversation last night, and what we're doing is a drama about astronauts and their families during the Apollo missions of the 1960s. The network executives are probably in favor of titling it Canaveral. But I'm hoping our email conversations this week produce a title that sounds like a show I'd want to watch.

Paul


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: hanschristianandersen on October 05, 2004, 09:29:50 AM
Hmm, maybe you could call it "Second Horseman".  Like as in the Second Horseman of the Apocalypse.

Jumping back a few tangents, though -
Quote from: Vincent
Yes! Several times I had to stop myself from rolling like you would in Dogs - the very instant that something might even possibly be at stake. I was like, "okay, let's roll dice! Yet there's not enough information yet! Vincent to brain. Brain? Come in brain..."


Hey Vincent, having just played Dogs, I was really interested in that observation.  Would you mind calling out one or two conflicts from your game that demonstrate how to do it "right" in PTA?


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on October 06, 2004, 06:53:17 AM
Quote from: Paul Czege
We had a PTA setup conversation last night, and what we're doing is a drama about astronauts and their families during the Apollo missions of the 1960s. The network executives are probably in favor of titling it Canaveral.l


I think Canaveral is a show about a bunch of bike cops on the boardwalk around Cape Canaveral. There are lots of bikinis.

Or maybe they're surf cops. Yeah, surf cops who guard the big water tank under the rocket engines!


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on October 06, 2004, 08:48:44 AM
Quote from: lumpley
Oh! Like one of us - I forget which - did at the beginning of the session proper, I want to point out: all the players are playing cross-gender. Worthy of going "huh."


How's about this: with three Protagonists being played by women and one by a man, the three women all see the available powerful roles (given the 1940s environment) as being in the hands of men. I wanted to play Vicky because she's a journalistic Rosie the Riveter and First-Wave Feminist.

So I would suspect that we're all playing cross-gender because there's a lot of gender conflict to be had.

We loves the conflict!

No one's Black, at least not yet. We'll see where things go.


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: lumpley on October 06, 2004, 09:38:36 AM
Quote from: Hans
Would you mind calling out one or two conflicts from your game that demonstrate how to do it "right" in PTA?

I'm not sure I'm the guy for the job, being the GM and all. J, any thoughts? Em?

-Vincent


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: Emily Care on October 06, 2004, 11:09:44 AM
Quote from: Hans
Would you mind calling out one or two conflicts from your game that demonstrate how to do it "right" in PTA?

Did Carrie have to roll to see if Joe tossed his cookies? If so, that was just right--Cyrus wanted to get everyone out of the room so he could check out the bodies, Joe was looking a little squeamish, so Cyrus starts asking Joe all kinds of graphic questions and showing him the bodies. Dice are rolled. Success. Joe yarfs on the attendant.  We must have rolled for that, right? If not, we lost an opportunity.

I know we did for the sister conflict that came later. When Joe had to pull the dead body off the meat-hooks. The conflict was also to see whether Joe could hold it together, and this time he did.  

We had a discussion at some point about whether it  was task or conflict resolution.  My recollection is that it varied. But the most important aspect of PTA conflicts is the fan mail.  Time after time, a flurry of dice were put in by the other players, usually supporting the player whose character was involved.  Once I recall, no one added anything, which I thought was interesting in its own self.  

In Dogs, the dice need to be rolled prior to description of the whys and wherefores of a conflict. Save that for your raises and sees. In PTA it felt right to have been able to set it up properly in character, then let fly with the dice, calling in the opinion of everyone else.

There's no reason why we couldn't have just made it all up without the dice. Except, of course, that its more fun this way.

--Em


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on October 06, 2004, 11:46:52 AM
Quote from: Emily Care
Did Carrie have to roll to see if Joe tossed his cookies? If so, that was just right--Cyrus wanted to get everyone out of the room so he could check out the bodies, Joe was looking a little squeamish, so Cyrus starts asking Joe all kinds of graphic questions and showing him the bodies. Dice are rolled. Success. Joe yarfs on the attendant.  We must have rolled for that, right? If not, we lost an opportunity.


Yeah, if I recall, though, the conflict was "do you get the squares out of the room?" and Carrie gave her dice to you.

I know we did for the sister conflict that came later. When Joe had to pull the dead body off the meat-hooks. The conflict was also to see whether Joe could hold it together, and this time he did.  

We had a discussion at some point about whether it  was task or conflict resolution.  My recollection is that it varied. But the most important aspect of PTA conflicts is the fan mail.  Time after time, a flurry of dice were put in by the other players, usually supporting the player whose character was involved.  Once I recall, no one added anything, which I thought was interesting in its own self.  

Yeah. It's a challenge to use up that budget, for sure, but it seems to me that the key to the game is moving that fan mail around a lot and using your traits. We'll have to see how it goes, but I suspect the fan mail is more important than Traits, statistically, and we might want to conisider that aspect of the game and how it conveys the story.

Quote
There's no reason why we couldn't have just made it all up without the dice. Except, of course, that its more fun this way.


And fun it is! You know, I'm not sure the dice matter that much. The fan mail matters a lot and I think the dice are purely there to make it a little less deterministic than budget - vs - (fanmail + traits).


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: Matt Wilson on October 06, 2004, 12:04:05 PM
Quote
You know, I'm not sure the dice matter that much. The fan mail matters a lot and I think the dice are purely there to make it a little less deterministic than budget - vs - (fanmail + traits).


Among other things, the dice represent the audience perspective. As players of the game, you're not just writers and directors (and maybe actors), you're also the audience. And part of the fun of being the audience is not being sure what's going to happen. If you're watching a show that you really love, you know the story's going to be good no matter how it goes, but there's some fun in being surprised.

As for the rolls, I'd call 'em conflict resolution. Ideally, no matter how the dice land, there's something to say that propels the story forward.


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on October 06, 2004, 01:11:50 PM
Quote from: Matt Wilson
Quote
You know, I'm not sure the dice matter that much. The fan mail matters a lot and I think the dice are purely there to make it a little less deterministic than budget - vs - (fanmail + traits).


Among other things, the dice represent the audience perspective. As players of the game, you're not just writers and directors (and maybe actors), you're also the audience. And part of the fun of being the audience is not being sure what's going to happen. If you're watching a show that you really love, you know the story's going to be good no matter how it goes, but there's some fun in being surprised.


Yeah, sure, I see that, but right now they feel kinda awkward. Like V pointed out, it's hard to sort evens and odds. Pip dice seem like an OK way to do it, with the caveat that there will be more ties than with d10s, and therefore, calling the next scene will be a little more confusing.

You didn't answer my question above, though: if you're using d10s instead of d2s and choosing the highest number(s), the probability curve should be the same, but the high roll will always be the person who won the conflict, which isn't the case with the rules.

In fact, the d10ness of the roll is only there to determine who calls the next scene (and therefore, it's budget vs. fanmail, traits, and assistance from other players), but the d2ness of it determines who wins the conflict.

I'm really just trying to get this straight in my head because I was having a hard time seeing what was going on with the dice last weekend. Everything went very, very smoothly, but the dice made the timing stutter.

Quote
As for the rolls, I'd call 'em conflict resolution. Ideally, no matter how the dice land, there's something to say that propels the story forward.


Yeah, I like that a lot. I like how much everyone's on the same side, and that, win or lose, what happens next is good for the story, and therefore good for all players, Producer included.


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: lumpley on October 06, 2004, 01:18:56 PM
High die doesn't call for the next scene, but narrates the outcome of the roll. We actually played "narrates the outcome" to mean "gives the outcome final approval," with all narrations handled by the group. Which I remember saying, but I'm not surprised it didn't stick in your (or probably anybody's) head. "Group narrates, one person approves" is a very natural, unobtrusive way to play.

I'm not even sure that you, J, ever got to approve narration. The one or two conflicts Vicky was in, I might well have had the high die.

-Vincent


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on October 06, 2004, 02:59:48 PM
Quote from: lumpley
High die doesn't call for the next scene, but narrates the outcome of the roll. We actually played "narrates the outcome" to mean "gives the outcome final approval," with all narrations handled by the group. Which I remember saying, but I'm not surprised it didn't stick in your (or probably anybody's) head. "Group narrates, one person approves" is a very natural, unobtrusive way to play.


Well, I guess it's unobtrusive. I obviously don't remember it well.

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I'm not even sure that you, J, ever got to approve narration. The one or two conflicts Vicky was in, I might well have had the high die.t


Nah, but I was so excited about the way the game was going, I was chuckin' stuff in all the time anyway.


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: lumpley on October 07, 2004, 05:37:57 AM
Exactly!

What you didn't spot is me watching for "nah..." cues when Carrie or Emily had the high die. That's all there was to it.

-Vincent


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: Matt Wilson on October 07, 2004, 06:05:40 AM
That sort of "quiet veto power" thing is an interesting way to handle the high-die narration rights. Did you interpret it that way in the text, or are you adjusting it a bit to accomodate your group's style. Am I understanding it right that the "narrator" as determined by the high roll isn't necessarily the one in your group that's doing the talking?

For those watching at home, the default method, the way I imagine it, is that the "high-die guy" has the floor, and gets to do the talking, and the other people can make suggestive outbursts that he or she can accept or refuse as desired.


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: lumpley on October 07, 2004, 07:21:28 AM
Well let's see.

First of all this is a new group, we don't really have a style yet. But I chose to enact the narration rules this way on purpose, because that's what I wanted for our style. For what it's worth I don't think you'd'a found it shocking: there was never a time when the high die guy didn't talk, for instance. But we didn't do any formal "now ___ has the floor, now I do" procedural stuff.

I think that "who's saying yay-or-nay" is more important to a game dynamic - any game dynamic - than "who's talking," and I've thought so pretty much since I playtested Otherkind that one time and it was hard and uncomfy.

Moose in the City was the same way - all talking all the time, with veto rights passing to the high die guy.

-Vincent


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on October 07, 2004, 08:06:24 AM
Huh. Look at that. That's some pretty good GMin'.


Title: Epidemonology insights
Post by: Meguey on October 10, 2004, 10:03:47 AM
Ok, the game is great, and I'm thrilled to be playing with Carrie &  everyone else. But especially Carrie, since she's been a huge 'potential gamer' in my head for a year.

My in-sights: I really liked the freedom this game gives players to describe and edit sceens. I was able to really get in there and tell the sceen in the diner where Frank and Cyrus are chatting the way I saw it in my head. One thing I really like is how the framework of 'tv show' lets me overtly bring in and name things like camera angle and lighting and such that would not only not work for many other games, it would clearly break the feeling of the game.

I love the fan-mail economy, because it really rewards good play, good ideas, and nurtures good agreement between players, and that's cool. The scene-setting was great for me, because I often feel a bit like I'm in a black-box stage when playing, because the setting has not been set. I'm already looking forward to the next series of PTA, to see if the settings hold up as well.

I got very little screen-time, but felt like I had pivitally important sceens. I felt free to say 'ok, this is the sceen where I do the exposition thing, and the audience gets that we're old friends, I dated his wife in high school, and that she's now dead, and that Cyrus has done this sort of investigating as a semi-hobby for a while.' That left us free to cut to the good bits, where Cyrus shows Frank the crime-sceen photos (in black and white to Frank, camera changes to Cyrus POV, and there's color all over them, thus illustrating the point of the color earlier), and we realize that there's way too much blood fro the minor scrapes on the strangled youths. I even got fan-mail for my timing on saying "Then who's blood is it?" and the scene cut to Joe and Ernie and one of them saying "I don't know." which was just great. I am looking forward to seeing our supporting cast ideas come forward much more next session.

Speaking of sessions, the method of determining screen-time is brilliant, and makes everyone fully engadged in the current episode, knowing they are not key, knowing their turn will come.

I do have to respond to Joshua though:
 
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How's about this: with three Protagonists being played by women and one by a man, the three women all see the available powerful roles (given the 1940s environment) as being in the hands of men. I wanted to play Vicky because she's a journalistic Rosie the Riveter and First-Wave Feminist.


Um, I looked for what character I wanted to play, and then what gender it was. I wanted to play someone that would be tied into the political situation at the time, to increase the feeling of setting, and being a part of 'the good war' seemed perfect. Yet I wanted to be around, so I couldn't be on active duty. Being injured in duty and ok with that seemed especially cool, and when I put all the pieces together, that character was male.  Emily originally envisioned a Sherlock Holmes guy, and the character was male from the begining. I don't know what Carrie's process was. I don't think I was at all looking at the power positions and going for the male ones.

Another strong possibility for me was the Black woman blues/torch singer, with interesting connections that would have included some clan stuff and some early civil rights stuff. But that's a different show; I wanted to be able to freely focus on the demons as disease, not on the 'demons' of society. (I think sometimes that can be a problem with any work - knowing where the story is and not trying to tell more than the story at hand) Noone's playing a closeted homosexual (that we know of) or a political activist or a migrant farm worker, either.

And J, that photo's not exactly a candidate for reduction surgery. Remember the clothes of the era, the tailoring, and the way underwear was built, and rethink that angle. Or, just be really clear that Vickie being really painfully chesty is part of the character, and not just a stereotype you're falling into.

~Meguey


Title: Re: Epidemonology insights
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on October 10, 2004, 08:32:55 PM
Quote from: Meguey
Ok, the game is great, and I'm thrilled to be playing with Carrie &  everyone else. But especially Carrie, since she's been a huge 'potential gamer' in my head for a year.


I'm happy about that, too.

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I love the fan-mail economy, because it really rewards good play, good ideas, and nurtures good agreement between players, and that's cool. The scene-setting was great for me, because I often feel a bit like I'm in a black-box stage when playing, because the setting has not been set.


I hadn't thought about the issue like that, but you're totally right. You can look around and see your setting.

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I got very little screen-time, but felt like I had pivitally important sceens.


Yeah, I want to see what you're going to do with Frank. I'd really like to see him onscreen more. I'd particularly like to see him bring something to the long-term plot that no one else can. He's such a humble character compared to the others, but I'd like to see what his hook is.

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I even got fan-mail for my timing on saying "Then who's blood is it?"


In most games I've played, this would have been the line of the year. Because of PTA's dramatic setup, there were line-of-the-year-grade lines constantly.

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I do have to respond to Joshua though:
 
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How's about this: with three Protagonists being played by women and one by a man, the three women all see the available powerful roles (given the 1940s environment) as being in the hands of men. I wanted to play Vicky because she's a journalistic Rosie the Riveter and First-Wave Feminist.


Um, I looked for what character I wanted to play, and then what gender it was. I wanted to play someone that would be tied into the political situation at the time, to increase the feeling of setting, and being a part of 'the good war' seemed perfect. Yet I wanted to be around, so I couldn't be on active duty. Being injured in duty and ok with that seemed especially cool, and when I put all the pieces together, that character was male.


Yeah, that's what I'm at here: in order to play someone in the segment of history, and segment of society, you're talking about, you had to play a man. I'm not assuming any sort of nefariousness on your part.

 Emily originally envisioned a Sherlock Holmes guy, and the character was male from the begining. I don't know what Carrie's process was. I don't think I was at all looking at the power positions and going for the male ones.[/quote]

OK. It was just a hypothesis.

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Another strong possibility for me was the Black woman blues/torch singer, with interesting connections that would have included some clan stuff and some early civil rights stuff. But that's a different show;


... and that's too bad. You're right, of course, but that's a neat character. Maybe we'll do some sort of Prohibition-era thing (which I lovity love) and you'll get to play her.

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Noone's playing a closeted homosexual (that we know of) or a political activist or a migrant farm worker, either.


I keep thinking about something Carrie brought up at one point: the story of Unions around this time is rife with drama, villains, politics, and drama.

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And J, that photo's not exactly a candidate for reduction surgery.


Yeah, that comment actually came from a less relevant, but boobier, picture from this page of comic illustrations. I changed my mind about the illo, but not the caption.

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Remember the clothes of the era, the tailoring, and the way underwear was built, and rethink that angle. Or, just be really clear that Vickie being really painfully chesty is part of the character, and not just a stereotype you're falling into.


No, I'm actually thinking of her at this point as being pretty athletic. I was thinking about the nominal beauties of the day (which she is), and was thinking about airplane nose art and Varga pinups, but I think it's more interesting if her sexuality is frank but non-sex kitten.

Anyway, I was deliberately using a stereotype, but it got less fun, as you'd expect. Not much there.


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: dunlaing on October 18, 2004, 06:57:08 AM
Quote from: lumpley
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B) when is the right moment in the scene to call for a conflict. B is the thing that takes me a couple episodes to feel solid about. It's different with every group.

Yes! Several times I had to stop myself from rolling like you would in Dogs - the very instant that something might even possibly be at stake. I was like, "okay, let's roll dice! Yet there's not enough information yet! Vincent to brain. Brain? Come in brain..."

My players willing, I think we'll try d6s next time. We'll still do odds-evens but we can just look for that center pip.

-Vincent


You could try getting some d6s and using white out to remove all but the middle pip. That way you end up with a die that has 3 sides for 1 and 3 sides for 0.


Title: Primetime Adventures: Epidemonology
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on October 18, 2004, 07:28:40 AM
Reducing the number of sides on the dice means that you'll get more ties on who calls the resolution of the scene. But I don't think that really matters all that much. Most of the time, everyone chips in anyway.

So you could use d4s (oh, how I love its tetrahedral perfection) and color two of the points. If a colored point faces up, it's a success.

You could use any dice and color half the sides one color, half the sides another.

Anyway, it doesn't really matter. Whoever gets the highest dice wins works, too, except that whoever succeeds in the conflict automatically says how it ends.