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Author Topic: [PTA] Actual Play Actual Examples?  (Read 5861 times)
Thomas D
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« on: August 15, 2006, 08:29:47 PM »

I just posted something similar to this over at story-games.com, but thought I'd ask here.

I'm in the process of selling PTA to my current gaming group as a game system for our Shadowrun game.  I've pointed out a few things that I wanted out of a game system, and the increased player input into the gameplay in PTA is one thing that I want but am not certain how it would work in actual play.  Our group has two people who are used to role-playing games where the GM is the one that creates and moves the game world and players only affect the game world in minute ways by rolling dice or by making dialogue choices when encountering NPC's.  When I tried to describe the narration authority bit to the other players, it sort of came off as a random player becomes the GM for a few minutes.

The other thing that might be a problem in perception is how the conflicts play out.  In PTA, it seems that we have a role-playing bit like any other RPG, up until we get to a conflict.  At that point we discuss our stakes and resolve them, then it sounds like we just play out what we just rolled/drew for.

Take a look at the example of play titled "Bootleggers: Example Conflict -- Narration".  What I see here is we've already done our stake setting, we've determined the results of the stakes, and we've found out who has narration authority.  The example reads:

So how does that happen?  She suggests Billy does catch her in the club, and it makes for a big scene and embarrasses her friends, but it also draws the attention of the bouncer, who realizes that Billy's just a teenager and throws him out.  Roxy is humiliated and flees the speakeasy, leaving Billy out in the alley to be scolded by James and Robert for not being tactful enough.

I read this as in actual game play, after we find out who has narration authority, that person says what is going to happen and then -- even though we already know what is going to happen -- we roleplay that out.  Whoever has narration authority becomes the GM through the end of that scene, then the Producer becomes GM again (until the next conflict).

Am I correct in these assumptions?

And now to the point I was hoping to get to several paragraphs ago -- I've read several AP posts about PTA, but most of them seem to be high-level posts that don't really show the post-conflict narration in enough detail that I can say "Aha!  So that's how a game session would look!"   What I'm looking for is a good example of how we get from the conflict to determining narrative authority and how the story changes going from a Producer being in charge of the narration to another player being in charge of the narration.  Can someone suggest a good AP thread or two that illustrates this?
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Aaron Smith
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« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2006, 07:22:06 PM »

Bump, since I'd really like to know the answer to this as well.

Also, I'm working on putting something like PTA and Wushu together, and I'm wondering if anyone has any ideas how I can keep the goodness of PTA's scene resoultion, while adding the detail frenzy that Wushu inspires.
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Matt Wilson
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« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2006, 07:44:10 PM »

I don't know of anything out there that's like a transcript of play. How it is in the book is pretty much how I do it when I play. There's nothing missing.

Quote
that person says what is going to happen and then -- even though we already know what is going to happen -- we roleplay that out.

I don't do the 'we roleplay that out' bit when I play. After we agree on what happens, we're done with the scene and move on. People will think of clever lines and camera angles, but we don't act out the scene.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2006, 06:52:17 AM »

Hi there,

I think I see the problem. It's right here:

Quote
it seems that we have a role-playing bit like any other RPG, up until we get to a conflict.  At that point we discuss our stakes and resolve them, then it sounds like we just play out what we just rolled/drew for.

Take a look at the example of play titled "Bootleggers: Example Conflict -- Narration".  What I see here is we've already done our stake setting, we've determined the results of the stakes, and we've found out who has narration authority. 

What that means is, you're going past the point where you should be drawing cards. The text in PTA can be misleading about this, or least it can be mis-read, such that people drive way past the point of narrating what's going on (or what will go on) when they should have drawn cards ages before.

Once you have a fictional conflict of interest at hand, then draw cards. By "setting stakes," all you need to say is that character A can't get what they want because of whatever character B is doing, and that character A is gonna do something about that. Draw and play the cards right at that moment, with tons and tons of unknowns still waiting to be established.

Let the details and specific features of any outcome lie with the narrator, who is unknown until the last cards hit the table.

I cannot over-emphasize: do not pre-narrate actual outcomes. This is where the text of a lot of current games is going awry. It's even getting to the point where people are reading this (broken) procedure into games which explicitly do not have it, like Dogs in the Vineyard.

Matt, this is the discussion you missed at GenCon. I really needed you to be there ...

Best, Ron
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Moreno R.
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« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2006, 07:44:00 AM »

I cannot over-emphasize: do not pre-narrate actual outcomes. This is where the text of a lot of current games is going awry. It's even getting to the point where people are reading this (broken) procedure into games which explicitly do not have it, like Dogs in the Vineyard.

There are games where is explicitly written in the rules to pre-decide what will happen if the conflict is won or lost (I am thinking about "conflict resolution" in The Shadow of Yesterday, for example), so for the player isn't always so easy to understand what the game author mean with "stakes resolution"  (I would like to add that the concept of "stakes" is becoming so increasingly blurred for me, reading different definitions in different games, that I almost would like to see a different word used for each kind of "stakes", to avoid misunderstandings. Or at least it should be explained carefully in the rules)

Ron, do you think that pre-determining "what will happen" before rolling the dices (or seeing the cards or whatever) is "wrong" in general (at least in the way it transform the conflict resolution in a sort of "fortune at the end" roll), or were you talking only about PTA (and DitV and other specific games)?

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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
Matt Wilson
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« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2006, 08:09:33 AM »

Quote
Matt, this is the discussion you missed at GenCon. I really needed you to be there ...
Man, I'm really sorry I missed it. Yeah, Ron's right. PTA works better if you roll, and then include in the narration all the stuff that leads up to the resolution of the conflict, not just the results of the resolution.
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John Harper
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« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2006, 11:37:22 AM »

Yes, TSOY's text advocates the so-called "broken" way, and boy, does it ever work great. I think "broken" is SUCH a bad term for that kind of conflict resolution, which is really just the "training wheels," hold-your-hand version, to ease you into the general concept.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting your stakes-outcomes before resolution. It works, and can make for great, fun play.

What Ron is driving at is that the PTA and Dogs way can be even more fun. If all you do is the pre-resolution hash-out method, you're missing out on a very rich and cool form of conflict resolution. The PTA way is a little tricker to understand at first, but trust the text and try it out, like Matt and Ron say. Go to resolution when the conflict of interest appears, and let the narration of outcomes come after.
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Cabbagetom
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« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2006, 08:53:23 AM »

I would suggest that the narration question depends on the players you have and the mood in the room.  The last session I ran I actually let the players take over narration of beginning of scenes for the first half of the episode.  It was a pilot and I wanted to encourage them to invest in the story.  Which they did with aplomb, by the way.  Surprisingly this didn't hurt the game at all, and by the end of the pilot I was taking more narration at beginning of scenes so that I could throw in some 'oooh' moments.  This helped the pretty trad D&D playing group of role players adapt to the responsibility of playing PTA, but also letting them enjoy it.
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Doyce
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« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2006, 11:00:01 AM »

Okay, help me with this, because today I'm stupid.  I've also been doing a lot of HQ and TSoY-like stake setting for conflicts, which is apparently the training wheels version, and I'd like to see precisely how folks are saying PTA works in this regard, and to test my understanding of how DitV works it.

I will give an example, to frame my question:

Scene: PC-1 and PC-2 are talking with NPC-A.  The PCs want to get inside "the building" and have a look around.  NPC-A owns said building, and doesn't want to let them in there.

HQ or TSoY:
1. GM sez, when it's clear that there's a conflict: "Okay, if you guys win, the guy fails to stop you from getting inside.  If you lose, he manages to stall long enough for the local authorities to show up and further complicate things."  The players agree to these stakes as part of that whole hippy "free and clear" thing.

2. Everyone rolls, the result is determined, and whoever (probably the GM) narrates how, precisely, it shakes out.  PC-loss indicates a high likelihood of a followup conflict.

DitV:
1. GM sez, as soon as there's a blushing hint of a conflict: "Okay, what's at stake is 'Does Brother NPC-A stop us from getting inside?"  The players agree to this.

2. Everyone rolls, and the Raise-See interplay-roleplay IS the conflict playing out, up to an including the likelihood of possible followup conflicts.

PTA:
1. GM sez: what?

2. What happens, and when, exactly?
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Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.
Matt Wilson
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« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2006, 06:17:11 PM »

First of all, in PTA, "can we get in the building" is an inappropriate subject for a conflict. How does it relate to the issues of the protagonists?
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Aaron Smith
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« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2006, 08:07:16 PM »

Matt is of course correct, since that's how he designed the game, but if you wanted to run this specific 'sneak into the warehouse' scenario using PTA, it would probably work like this.

Scene: PC-1 and PC-2 are talking with NPC-A.  The PCs want to get inside "the building" and have a look around.  NPC-A owns said building, and doesn't want to let them in there.
PTA:
1. GM sez: Ok, lets use this as a conflict. What do you want from this scene? What exactly are you working towards?
2. PC-A: Well, I want to get inside the building without being scene or causing a fuss.
3. PC-B (optional) I'm really jelous of PC-A and can't stand to let him waltz into this warehouse with no legal authority at all, so I'm going to ruin this opportunity, and make him take the legal channels.
4. GM sez: Ok, and the NPC-A wants to keep you out of the warehouse all together, making sure you never see what he's hiding. Lets draw cards.
5. Cards are drawn, fan mail is spent, etc etc.

Where I think Matt is headed is that the conflicts in PTA aren't about 'do you get into the warehouse?' Much like Wushu, the PC's are assumed to be hypercompotent, and anything that moves the A plot along (the monster of the week, to use Buffy Speak) is an automatic success, UNTIL a PC's Issue shows up, and the PC's character growth wants conflict with what's happening in the story. It's not about if Buffy can kill the monster this week. It's about her dealing with the monster turning her best friend's jelousy against her.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2006, 05:52:34 AM »

Hey,

I was right originally to insist on a face-to-face when discussing this issue with people. The internet can't handle it.

Thomas, I think my advice will help. John, if you want to know more about the whole stakes-issue thing, I suggest that Clinton is the person to talk to, rather than me.

Best, Ron
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Thomas D
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Posts: 27


« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2006, 08:29:49 PM »

Thanks to all the respondents.  I think this and the companion thread at story-games will really help our game group.
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Christopher Kubasik
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Posts: 1153


« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2006, 07:11:14 PM »

Hi Matt,

I just played PtA for the first time at a Con in Los Angeles this weekend. Great work!

Questions:

In the Story Games thread (I've signed up, but waiting to be approved), you said that the conflict should be stated in terms of the character's Issue. But what about scenes that are about the Plot? Is there a distinction between these two kinds of scenes, or what? Because of the conflict is about the PC's Issue (which makes sense to me), then why isn't EVERY scene an Issues scene?

Thanks,

Christopher
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"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
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Christopher Kubasik
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« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2006, 10:05:35 PM »

One more question:

What about scenes that "hang" with the resolution of a conflict left unresolved.

I'm in the middle of watching a second season The Shield episode right now.

Julian, gay and devoute Christian, believes he's been "cured" of his homosexuality, and has proposed to a single mom he's known for seven weeks.

He asks his partner to be at the wedding in a week's time. His partner knows he's gay. She says this is crazy. He says, "I'm cured, I'm doing this."

He's trying to fit into the police force as a "normal" man; she needs a partner who's honest with himseld so she can trust him.

The scene ends with neither of them budging on their internal issues -- even the wedding invite is left hanging between them and then we cut.

The stakes grow again when she meets the fiance and tells Julian, "If you don't tell her about your past, I'll tell her." But still, that's the last line of the scene.

Does PTA do this? If so, could you help me see how the scene work manifests this?

Thanks.
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"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
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