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Author Topic: [PTA] Spacehunter: Episode 1, Femme Fatale in Spaaaace!  (Read 1888 times)
Matt Wilson
Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 1121

student, second edition

« on: April 26, 2004, 08:08:04 PM »

Some of this is going to be dated, what with my latest and hopefully last major change to the rules.

Based on the stumbling blocks of the previous game, and on last week's "next week ons," Alan started us on Titan, waiting on an extradition hearing, with a seriously blank slate.

Alan narrated in a mysterious person watching us at the end of the first scene, and that probably was just enough. Not having that in there would have left us a little bit adrift, but now there was this interloper to consider when creating scenes. Combine that with the preview moments that we knew had to show up, and we were off.

We're on Titan, where Mark's character Gabriela is from. Good opportunity for some character development. He sets up a scene where she's at the library looking up technical things, and I suggest that maybe she should run into someone from her past. Boom, Alan takes it and runs like mad. We end up with this old semi-friend/colleague, and a reference to some old toadie who now has gained an influential position while Gabriela was gone. It's really cool to imagine this scene from an audience's POV. Why is she reading these articles? Who's the guy? What happened exactly that sent her running? Watching that scene put this thought in my mind: Character based scenes are like rolling a big boulder up a hill. There's this huge storing up of kinetic energy for use later on.

And now that I think about it, I guess it literally happens in the earning of fan mail. Huh.

So my guy is kind of wandering around. I have an open book, so I figure I should fill it in with some character development of my own. David's going through a divorce, so I have him go on the zepplin tour, which is packed with happy romantic couples (I sorta pictured this quiet shot where he's looking around at all of them, where he can't look anyplace without seeing two people together). But guess what, he kind of hooks up with someone while standing in line, at least as much as he's willing to.

James' character ends up getting suckered into some crazy scam that leads to his being kidnapped and sent off into conscripted labor. It made for a quirky comical subplot. They eventually let him go because he ends up costing them too much what with breaking things and so on.

Gabriela ends up at dinner with the former toadie, who's trying to get her to help him with some technical problems. We get a flashback scene that has to do with why Gabriela left.

Then I figure, okay, there hasn't been a good plot scene yet, and I tell Alan I want a scene where David gets mixed up with that mysterious presence that we saw in the preview. Ah, sneaky Alan. Guess who David's been hanging out with all this time? So he finds out his wallet's been stolen, and the nice lady hasn't come back from the restroom, and his ship access card is in his wallet, and holy crap.

Of course she is also the same person Gabrielle met in the library, who wants to try and steal secrets from her. And of course there's a sort of action scene and a showdown and stuff, and she gets away to cause trouble later on. I'm forgetting a whole bunch of stuff, I'm sure.

We haven't discussed it, but I'm wondering when Alan decided to tie all that stuff together. I don't think he showed up to play with most of that. Was she the villain only as soon as I suggested the plot scene? I don't know, but it sure felt spontaneous, and that made it really cool.

As noted in previous threads, PTA needs a bit of random determination to provide some parameters for narration, so it's just not "who gets to hold the conch."* I think that in a couple scenes in that episode, it would have helped. Everything we did that was character focused was outstanding. The plot stuff I think made us all sorta shrug, even though the ideas were pretty neat. We needed the suspense of not knowing what would happen. This coming thursday I've got some new stuff to try out, so we'll see how it goes.

*and to whom it may concern: now I can't think about PTA without getting Lord of the Flies in my head.


Posts: 1012

« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2004, 09:20:08 PM »

Hi Matt,

Here's a peek behind the curtain of what I prepared and what I improvised.

As we would be on Titan, Gabriella's home, I thought her nemesis, the Clavius Covenant, would try to steal her research on the interstellar drive from the Titan Institute andmaybe come after the rest in the ship. (This was suggested by Matt's "next week on" clip, where David is on the ship when the AI announces it's located intruders.

I came up with a reason why the crew had a few days to kill on Titan.  The local enforcers refused to release their captured prisoner without propper red tape.  I was doing to have David's ex-wife send her new boyfriend as a lawyer to expedite the red tape (and rub dave the wrong way).

However, before play started, we learned that Mark, Gabriella's player, would only be able to participate in this and one more episode.  We decided to change the focus of episodes and set Gabriella's Screen Presence to 2 this episode and 3 the next.  This change effected some of my choices.

The remaining prepared setting and situation for the players fit on two pages:

1) a one page script of the "Next Week on " ad, which showed the player's suggested clips, plus a little of setting for Titan.  

2) the first page of the episode script, with more info on Titan, and the characters discussing how they came to have a few days free on Titan (someone was contesting their right to take a prisoner off planet and they had to wait for red tape to clear).

I had everyone read parts from the two scripts.  The second one introduced a number of things of interest to tourists: manpowered flight suit adventures, a zeppelin ride, etc. then ended with Players improvise from here.

After the scripts were read, and players chose an activity, I planned to drop a plot hook.  Before I learned Mark was leaving, it was going to be the ex-wife's new boyfriend, but that no longer felt right.  Instead, I just described an audience POV shot of a mystery person watching the protagonists.

From there, I had no further prepared material.  Instead, I played with the research theft idea, and tried to hook it player's scenes as they created them.

The woman who joined Dave on the zeppelin started merely as a way to liven up an internal scene with some relevant external activity.  However, within a scene or two, I decided she would steal Dave's wallet and break into the ship for the plans.  When Matt suggested some trouble because of his reputation, I used a fight as an opportunity for "Sharon" to touch him and pat him over for bruises (really stealing his wallet).  From there it was only a matter of waiting till Sharon could ditch him and I could reveal what happened.

"Sharon" became "Thetis" (Gabriella's rival) only at the very end when Matt suggested it.  So when Dave encountered the intruders it was so.

Ike's (James) adventures did indeed provide a comic relief.  I kept having ideas how I could tie him back into Gabriella's plot, but somehow he kept moving further and further away - I just never felt it opportune to drop a hook.  So Ike ended up being shanghai'd and apparently signed on to 5 years indentured servitude to the all encompassing Titan Corporation.

Meanwhile, in the ship, Dave and Gabriella had a show down with the intruders.  Gabriella had Thetis hostage and another intruder had Dave under the gun.  They agreed on an exchange and sideled to the cargo lock, but met an impass when neither would release prisoner first.

Then I announced that the cargo lock rolled up to reveal the haggard Ike.  

At this point James suggested Ike had been rejected from servitude because he broke too many things and ate too much; then we envisioned this as an over-the-credits epilogue explaining how Ike just showed up.

We turned our attention back to the current sequence:  Ike's appearance distracted Dave's captor and Dave escaped.  Meanwhile, Thetis too escaped and dived out of the ship into pressurized Titan dock and fled.  

Final scene: Dave and Ike looking at Gabriella and wondering what these guys wanted from her.

Roll credits: we took a moment to recall James's escape scene again.

- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com
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