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[PTA/Shadowrun] The Foundation; using PTA as a refocusing tool

Started by Thomas D, October 09, 2006, 04:17:54 AM

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Thomas D

With two of five members of the player group gone for the weekend and my notes for the game session missing, we decided to play a flashback game session of The Foundation, focusing on the three characters we had.  They suggested giving me ten or fifteen minutes to prep something, but I did have a beginning of a mission ready, so I suggested we do a PTA session.  Previously, we had ran PTA as our campaign opener for our Shadowrun game with much success.

There were some pretty neat things that happened in the game session, but there's two observations about the game that stood out. 

The first was the time for scenes and what happened in the scenes.  When we're using the SR game rules, we're spending about two hours per session (one of the players in today's game told me to interrupt them more often and get the game focused).  In this PTA session, we had about a scene every twenty minutes.  PTA-wise, each scene was about moving the plot forward or about moving the plot forward while focusing on character development.  When we're playing SR, the group is focusing on minor objectives instead of furthering the overall story.

The second was a complaint about the game engine.  None of the players felt any tension with the way we do the reveal.  We played with the d20s instead of card or d10s.  When there was a conflict, we'd do stakes and then resolve.  To bring out the tension, the other players suggested we do every conflict resolution like the car chase example in the book – reveal the first randomizer (card or die), and narrate a step of the result, then at a point in the narration, reveal the next card or die and continue narrating.  Keep going until the end.  Here:

The final scene involved the group in a jeep at one end of a rural airstrip.  Their plane for the exfil is sitting at the other end of the dirt runway, surrounded by military troops.  The stakes involved escaping – win and the military doesn't know they're with the Foundation; lose and they've dirtied the Foundation's rep.  We did the roll-off and boom, we knew right away what the result was.  Instead, we would reveal the first die on either side and one of us narrates how they floor it towards the rifle-toting troops.  The second die, and they're getting closer to the plane.  Bullets and magic a'blazing.  Third one, and we're diving into the crops around the side, avoiding the explosion of the troop transport.  Fourth one, all is revealed, and the EM pulse that took out the drones also knocked out the communits of the group; they won't be able to reach a Foundation hacker to get rid of the incriminating video files before the files are sent out everywhere.

So here's the refocusing tool part.

What we came away with was a pretty good plan for the rest of the campaign.  We'll keep playing SR, but every third game, we'll switch to PTA to refocus on the characters.  I learned more about one of the player's characters in this two and a half hour session than I did in two prior four plus SR game sessions.  The players enjoyed PTA, but they have expressed a desire to play something with more of a tactical experience.