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Author Topic: [Conspiracy of Shadows] Experiment Seems a Success  (Read 1266 times)
Keith Senkowski

Posts: 725

On A Downward Spiral...

« on: August 03, 2004, 12:53:43 PM »


I decided a few months ago to try a new approach to running a game and so far it has been successful.  In the past my regular groups games suffered from becoming too cumbersome usually due to the GM (me) focusing too much on one thing (usually my own plot) or a single player taking the limelight and refusing to let go.  Eventually, sometimes after a singel session or two, these games self destructed out of frustration or simply lost their momentum due to lack of interest by too many parties.

So, I figured I would try a new approach since I wanted to run a continuous game (4/5 hours on Thursdays) set in my new game that I could use as a model when pitching it to others.  What I did/am doing may be old hat to some people so bear with me.

The first thing I did was choose to run the game in the format of a TV series.  I got out my notepad, wrote "Conspiracy of Shadows, Season One" and sketched out a rough pilot and ten follow up episodes.  The episodes are just ideas with a title like this:

Episode 003: Dog Day Afternoon
- get caught up in raid by brigands at caravansary
- instead of "cops" some sort of monstrosity outside picks off people
- try and convince brigands to let them help?

After that I decided that between sessions the floor should be open for the Players (and me) to add "off screen" action.  Basically I said write up and post any sort of scenes you think would work if this was a TV show.  Each write up that they put together they get an in-game reward for their character.

Finally, I made it a policy to try and promote their involvement on what is going on.  One of the mechanics of the game is a reward for evoking the setting.  Basically making crap up about the who, when, where, why and what of the game.  I took it one step further by asking the players those questions as often as possible opposed to telling them how it is.

These three things gave me a few unexpected surpises.  The Season Bible gave me a very loose structure so it made it easy for me to react to the actions of the players opposed to trying to shoehorn my ideas into the results of their actions.  Also, the TV show format really allows for a lot of creative freedom, like one shots that are related to the story but not played out by the primary protagonists.

The "off screen" action really helped some of the players come out of their shells.  One player in particular really has gotten into it.  He was the one I figured wouldn't be really all that involved, but has written a few "off screen" pieces and is really interested in playing as much as possible.

Finally, the forcing of the Players to tell me what is going on has been pretty successful so far.  This group of guys has not played much besides various incarnations of DnD and Palladium, so they started this game set to that style of play.  The first few sessions were pretty tough, but now they have begun to really get into taking control of the game.

If you are interested you can read a summary of what has been going on here at our site.

So, I guess my questions to folks here are:
Has anyone else tried this kind of stuff (TV Series, Off Screen Action & Making Them Do The Work) and what kind of success did you have?  Also does anyone have any suggestions of other things I might want to try?


Conspiracy of Shadows: Revised Edition
Everything about the game, from the mechanics, to the artwork, to the layout just screams creepy, creepy, creepy at me. I love it.
~ Paul Tevis, Have Games, Will Travel
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Posts: 16490

« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2004, 01:47:11 PM »

Hi Keith,

This is almost exactly how I ran Champions for many years, and it was almost entirely successful for certain goals of play.

I often tried out different little techniques too, such as writing out a series of questions that might be asked by a pushy reporter. But the most successful was a plain old player survey, mainly directed toward NPCs, mainly villains. It included stuff like ...

Who is your favorite villain of the last five sessions?
Who is your favorite villain ever?
Which NPC really needs to die?

... that sort of thing. I'd always get inspired by five returns of the survey (five players) and be ready with prep for a few more "seasons" (sets of issues) of play.

Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 10459

« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2004, 01:53:14 PM »

I was looking for links but I can't find any (help somebody), but Prime Time Adventures is a game that's explicitly about making a TV show. In fact, some of the examples sound a lot like your game.


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John Harper

Posts: 1054

flip you for real

« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2004, 09:29:40 AM »

Primetime Adventures:

Agon: An ancient Greek RPG. Prove the glory of your name!
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