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Independent Game Forums => Dog Eared Designs => Topic started by: higgins on April 21, 2010, 12:41:25 AM



Title: Scene order in case of multiple participants
Post by: higgins on April 21, 2010, 12:41:25 AM
Hi all!

I was just wondering what are the best practices in resolving this. Let's take the example from the book p.28. Roxy's scene in a speakeasy with his brother Billy making a scandal. Let's assume the respective players sit side by side and the next scene would be rightfully Billy's. However, Billy just was in a scene with Roxy. Do you perform a next scene with Billy anyway, or do you skip over Billy to the next player, possibly refunding Billy's spent fan mail?


Title: Re: Scene order in case of multiple participants
Post by: Matt Wilson on April 21, 2010, 12:56:22 AM
Hi higgins.

It's not about who's in the scene. It's that the player gets to request the specifics of a scene. The protagonists can be in every scene.


Title: Re: Scene order in case of multiple participants
Post by: higgins on April 21, 2010, 03:24:36 AM
Hm, so, I can request a scene for another character if I want to?


Title: Re: Scene order in case of multiple participants
Post by: Welkerfan on April 21, 2010, 05:05:19 AM
Yup, whatever the player wants to request, he can, whether or not his character is in the scene.


Title: Re: Scene order in case of multiple participants
Post by: higgins on April 21, 2010, 06:24:37 AM
So, the real scene checklist, consists of Character/Focus/Agenda/Location? But the character not listed because everybody is assumed to build scenes around his or her own character most of the time?


Title: Re: Scene order in case of multiple participants
Post by: jburneko on April 21, 2010, 08:20:51 AM
The characters involved is part of the Agenda.  So let's say I'm playing a character named Alice and you're playing a character named Bob and Matt is playing a character named Carl.

On my turn I might do this:

Location: The alley behind Joe's Diner
Focus: Plot
Agenda: Bob and Carl arguing about what to do with the money they stole.

So, now you and Matt play out that scene after the Producer frames it and adds ant details he wants.

Jesse


Title: Re: Scene order in case of multiple participants
Post by: higgins on April 21, 2010, 09:30:28 AM
But in that case, the fan mail spending to enter the scene can be avoided most of the time. Someone starts to outline his/her scene and then another player interrupts with something that which effectively means "put my character in there too" and thus he doesn't need to pay the Fan Mail he should have paid when he wanted to enter the scene later. What's the point of that rule then? Spending fan mail to enter the scene effectively becomes "spend if you're too late to ask being in the scene in a first place". I mean, refusing to have the asker in the scene would just being a dick, as you simply make him pay one Fan Mail.


Title: Re: Scene order in case of multiple participants
Post by: jburneko on April 21, 2010, 09:40:19 AM
The spending fan mail to enter a scene is just to make people think twice before interrupting an already in progress scene.  Is getting involved right now that important or can it wait until next scene?  When I set up the scene I wanted to see Bob and Carl argue over the money.  If someone new enters the scene they're going to shift the focus of the scene however slightly.  They have to pay for that privilege since it's disruptive to my original requested scene.

Jesse


Title: Re: Scene order in case of multiple participants
Post by: jburneko on April 21, 2010, 09:49:51 AM
OH!

And for what it's worth a player buying his way into a scene only happens about once an episode in my games.  Maybe twice an episode during some of the more climatic moments.  So yes, it doesn't happen very often.

Jesse


Title: Re: Scene order in case of multiple participants
Post by: higgins on April 21, 2010, 10:19:43 AM
That indeed puts things in a different perspective. Thanks! =)

But... the example of play on p. 6? John still pays Fan Mail, although they're still setting up the conflict. But he's paying because Billy wasn't in Meredith's initial setup? Being the first example in the book, I somehow assumed two characters in a scene would always be a result of someone else joining in... or at least paying up for it.


Title: Re: Scene order in case of multiple participants
Post by: Welkerfan on April 22, 2010, 07:31:59 AM
The best example I can think of someone paying Fan Mail to enter a scene is the climax of the original Star Wars.  In the Death Star run scene, when Han shows up in the Millennium Falcon and shoots Darth Vader out of the sky, he saw that Luke's player probably wasn't going to win, so he played Fan Mail to enter the scene and dump a bunch of extra cards onto Luke's hand, enabling him to win.


Title: Re: Scene order in case of multiple participants
Post by: higgins on April 22, 2010, 08:34:16 AM
Cool example, but I don't see how it's game-mechanically feasible. Han's player has to:
a) Aid Luke with fan mail, which he could do anyway, and not entering the scene himself, he would have had one more fan mail to add to Luke's pot!
b) If he did enter the scene, he must also beat the Producer's difficulty for his appearance to have any effect!

The only way that I see this working is... Producer has come up with only two reds, while Luke has none. Han's player has only one fan mail and can't in any way help Luke to have two reds. So, he uses the fan mail to enter the scene, triggering every possible Trait he has, hoping to beat the Producer. Or am I missing something?


Title: Re: Scene order in case of multiple participants
Post by: Welkerfan on April 23, 2010, 08:59:54 AM
May just be a misunderstanding that led to a house rule, but we've always played that you can't just lay your own Fan Mail on someone else's cards.  Your protagonist has to help influence the outcome in some way.  But, that is probably not the rules as written.


Title: Re: Scene order in case of multiple participants
Post by: higgins on April 23, 2010, 12:42:37 PM
It is indeed your house rule. How else can someone not in the scene have a chance in winning the narration rights? Look up Outside Influence on p48.


Title: Re: Scene order in case of multiple participants
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on April 23, 2010, 12:55:06 PM
Yeah, that's a house rule - players can spend fan mail for others easily enough. However, the point of Han's sudden appearance is clearly not to help Luke per se, but rather to redeem himself as a hero.

As for spending fan mail to enter a scene, remember that there are multiple steps to playing a scene:
1) Order the scene from the Producer
2) Producer frames the scene
3) Free play
4) Conflict declaration
5) Conflict resolution
6) Close scene

Step number 3 is the one in which you pay for getting your character into the scene. (You could also do it in step 4, but in practice that means just delaying step 4 and going back to 3 so you can introduce your character before the conflict is declared.) You might have to do this because your character was not framed into the scene to begin with; it's not a given that the other player or the Producer decided to put your character into the scene to begin with, and in some scenes it wouldn't even make sense for your character to be there from the start. Typically you end up paying for entering a scene because the scene develops during free play towards issues and details that concern your character, and you therefore come to have an unforeseen stake in the proceedings. For example, a scene in which your character's girlfriend was supposed to just talk with a rival ends up violent - perfectly reasonable for the player to decide that actually, he wants his character to interrupt the events and ride to the rescue.

It seems to me that if you don't see a point to the rule, then your free play is not being sufficiently powerful in determining the direction of play; this is a pretty common "wrong" interpretation of PTA, there's plenty of discussion out there about how you're not supposed to just storyboard the scene as cooperative speculation and then move directly into conflict without ever having an opportunity for roleplaying dialogue and actions of the characters. (I'm putting "wrong" into quotes because some people seem to actually prefer playing the game in this way, so more power to them.) A clear sign of a weak free play step and a too elaborate scene frame is if the players don't see any point in playing the scene after it's been framed: you're not supposed to determine what happens in the scene when you frame it, you just open it by stating the time, place and immediate participants of the action. The freedom of action the players have in step 3, above, is what might or might not bring about the need to introduce more characters into the scene.


Title: Re: Scene order in case of multiple participants
Post by: higgins on April 24, 2010, 01:03:38 AM
Step number 3 is the one in which you pay for getting your character into the scene. (You could also do it in step 4, but in practice that means just delaying step 4 and going back to 3 so you can introduce your character before the conflict is declared.)

Ah, so, when the cards are in you can't enter the scene anymore? I guess it makes sense as you now know what everyones hands are... I was starting to think that paying fan mail was something of a penalty for joining in when knowing everyones hands, but banning entering the scene from that point makes sense too, but it also makes the scene less flexible.

It seems to me that if you don't see a point to the rule, then your free play is not being sufficiently powerful in determining the direction of play;

Truth be told, I haven't played anything yet. I'm simply trying to "get" the primary concepts of the game before actually running it. I'm going to run it with my non-regular group, and a single TROS one-shot aside, it's going to be the first indie game for them (and TROS aside, for me as well). Most of them have D&D3.x/nWoD background, one of them almost exclusively D&D3.x/d20Modern. When I introduce them a system that is purely narrative, I can't afford to being vague about the mechanical stuff. I need to be able to say, "No, you can't enter the scene once the fist card is flipped over, because..." and then back my statement up: "...because you already know everybodies hands and can use it to your tactical advantage, which is not in the spirit of the game." And I don't need to do wthis because they're dicks who want to ruin good fun, but you know how it can be for mechanically inclined players...

this is a pretty common "wrong" interpretation of PTA, there's plenty of discussion out there about how you're not supposed to just storyboard the scene as cooperative speculation and then move directly into conflict without ever having an opportunity for roleplaying dialogue and actions of the characters.

Actually, this is EXACTLY how I got that the game should be played when reading the book. Frame the scene, immediately force conflict, play cards, then narrate/roleplay. I almost shelved the game because of this, but since the other parts of the game were so awesome, I decided to roll with it and see what happens. I'd reeeeeeeeally appreciate some tips on this "true" way and how to handle this, as for me this seems the weakest link in the game and most incompatible of how I've used to running stuff.


Title: Re: Scene order in case of multiple participants
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on April 24, 2010, 12:10:51 PM
Yeah, people have been complaining about the perceived lack of free play. It is there, however: the scene frame only determines where and who, while the couple of minutes of roleplaying per scene define what the characters are doing and why. The amount of roleplaying should not be massive (under ten minutes in any case per scene), but it being there is important for character ownership and actually understanding the cause of conflict on a gut level. And of course, not all scenes have conflicts.

As for entering a scene when the cards are on the table, that's not something I would do - nobody should have any need to get into the scene at that late moment except for some unnecessary bipartisan need to mess up with a conflict. If you want to make sure that the right party wins a conflict, get in early or spend fanmail or whatever; don't look at the cards and call for a do-over afterwards, that's just demanding rerolls in other games for no good reason.

On the other hand, it's OK to introduce your character when others are merely initiating conflict. The Producer says that we have a conflict here, these are the Stakes, and you can still interrupt at that moment to say that no, actually, I was thinking that my character would enter the scene here. Basically as long as the cards have not been dealt the scene is still in free play and the conflict is merely speculation.


Title: Re: Scene order in case of multiple participants
Post by: higgins on April 24, 2010, 01:29:22 PM
And of course, not all scenes have conflicts.

I can't find the quote of course, but I think I read a post lately where Matt said that the conflict and the scene are the same thing. That he doesn't differentiate between them.

As for entering a scene when the cards are on the table, that's not something I would do - nobody should have any need to get into the scene at that late moment except for some unnecessary bipartisan need to mess up with a conflict. If you want to make sure that the right party wins a conflict, get in early or spend fanmail or whatever; don't look at the cards and call for a do-over afterwards, that's just demanding rerolls in other games for no good reason.

How would you handle the mentioned Star Wars scene then? Where Han arrives to save the day (or redeem himself as a hero)?


Title: Re: Scene order in case of multiple participants
Post by: Welkerfan on April 24, 2010, 01:51:13 PM
Yes, Matt has said that, but, in practice, don't worry about it.  If a scene ends up just being a color scene which either sets up a conflict for later or illustrates the outcomes or effects of a previous conflict, that's okay.  For example, let's say Mara and John are in a scene where they are arguing about getting married.  The conflict and scene ends with John shouting that he doesn't really love Mara at all.  The next player might call for a scene with Mara in her room crying.  This scene could just have some free play and narration, with Mara showing the audience just how hurt she is.  It doesn't really need a conflict necessarily.  If this turns out to be really short (poignant, important, and cool, but short), then I as producer would probably have the player who requested the scene request another, one that isn't really just a tag-on to the previous scene.  Otherwise, in my experience, the player can feel a little cheated--there needed to be a scene where Mara cries to herself, but it isn't really a scene in the PTA actually affects anything sense.

As for the Han Star Wars scene, this is how it might have been played out:

Producer:  All right, Luke, so the stakes of the conflict are, "Does trusting in the Force help you to succeed?"  Let's go to cards.
Han:  "Wait!  I want to buy into the scene and enter the conflict.  Stakes are "Do I redeem myself as a hero?"
Producer:  "Awesome!  Anyone else got anything or can we deal them out?"  [Deals cards, everyone spends Traits, etc.]
[Both Han and Luke win.]
Producer:  So Vader is chasing you down, Luke, and you've switched off your targeting computer, so it's really hard to concentrate on the exhaust port.  You sense that you are about to be hit by his turbolasers...
Han:  ...When all of the sudden, the millennium falcon appears out of nowhere and and blasts Vader's fighter off into space.  "...Now blow this thing and let's go home."
Luke:  And I close my eyes, feel the Force guiding me, and send two torpedoes directly into the exhaust port.
Producer:  You both fly out of there just as the Death Star explodes.  You save the day!


Title: Re: Scene order in case of multiple participants
Post by: Welkerfan on April 24, 2010, 01:59:35 PM
Also, one other thing to note about players entering the scene.  Once your in the post-cards, resolution and narration portion of the conflict, it's sometimes okay for other characters to appear as needed, so long as they aren't really involved in conflicts of their own.

For example, let's say you're playing in a Western game with one character being a young teen, Caleb, whose Issue is self-confidence and competence.  He's gotten himself into shootout with no one around to help him.  The stakes for the conflict are "Can he win this fight on his own?"  He loses, and his super-gunslinger older brother appears and shoots the guy over Caleb's shoulder.  Caleb's brother wasn't in the scene at all up until the high-card narrator introduced him as the explanation for why Caleb didn't get his stakes.  Caleb's brother didn't have a conflict of his own; he was just an implement in Caleb's conflict.

A good example of this kind of thing is River Tam in Firefly.  A lot of times, she appears near the end of the scene and says something clever and poignant that makes the other characters think.  She isn't really in the scene's conflict; she's just helping to resolve the stakes.


Title: Re: Scene order in case of multiple participants
Post by: higgins on April 24, 2010, 02:16:38 PM
Great examples all! Thanks for the insight! =)


Title: Re: Scene order in case of multiple participants
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on April 25, 2010, 03:51:37 AM
The issue of whether a scene should always have a conflict is an interesting one; I don't know what Matt has said on the subject, but if it's as you say, then I do pretty much disagree with him. I don't mean to say how his game should work, but I have some interest in this type of game as a game designer, and my own work inspired by PTA doesn't make conflicts mandatory in scenes. The conflict is an outcome of the events of the scene, so even if conflict seems likely at the outset, we need to allow the free play to prove its presence instead of manufacturing the conflict in a forced manner. Specifically, mandating a conflict is problematic in that if we require a scene to have conflict, then the scene framer (Publisher in PTA) can actually force a conflict on a player who is not invested in having one. This means that players need to be much more cooperative about scene framing instead of being arbitrary, which in turn leads to increased story-boarding as players strive to figure out the right conflict before starting to actually play the scene. (For a more specific treatment, consider Zombie Cinema (http://www.arkenstonepublishing.net/zombiecinema) - PTA is a dominant influence on the game's overall structure.)

Welker's got good stuff on the practical examples - that's how the game goes. I don't share the conviction about the supremacy of conflicts and the need to treat conflictless scenes as "not really scenes", but that's a minor point so long as non-conflict play is actually allowed.


Title: Re: Scene order in case of multiple participants
Post by: Welkerfan on April 26, 2010, 02:04:09 PM
And Eero, I do agree with you more than I realize I sounded in my last post.  If a scene doesn't happen to have a conflict, it's okay, it was just a major hurdle for our group the first few times we played PTA that we would go almost whole episodes without conflicts because we didn't push for them to happen in the game.  We, without realizing it, resolved things by consensus or never challenged characters' Issues very hard.  It's helped us to think of scenes as being somewhat synonymous with conflicts (as an aside, Matt's comment to this effect was very much an, in passing, "how I play" type of comment), as that has pushed people to call for scenes that are more likely to involve conflicts and to let conflicts happen when they should.  Before, we often sidestepped conflicts that should have happened by subtly resolving them before they came to pass.

The point about treating conflict-less scenes as "not really scenes" may just have been a fix to a problem we encountered with my group.  That practice of letting a person call for a second scene if it ended up just being a short conflict-less spot came about after the Mara scene actually happened in play.  The player wanted a short shot of Mara crying by herself and breaking John's picture, but she didn't want to use her request for what amounted to a relatively minor piece of color.  The player said this to me, and that is what led to the "short color scenes can just be said by anyone and aren't really requested scenes" convention of our table.  But it's not any hard and fast rule by any means.  We still have quite a few scenes that end up not having conflicts, especially early in an episode where hooks are just being laid and Chekov's guns loaded.