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Author Topic: [PTA] Series creation and teaser scene  (Read 3141 times)

Posts: 182

My name is Jon.

« on: January 22, 2007, 08:36:02 AM »

(Note:  I didn't get permission to use names, (I forgot to ask) so I'm forced to use initials instead.  I know this isn't easiest to read, so I added bold type to the first initials.)

It had been a while since I had spend times with my friends E And AE was an old friend from way back, who cut her teeth on second Ed AD&D and later delved into Heroes unlimited and World of Darkness.  A played D&D in his distant youth, but had only played here and there in the last several years. 

After heading out for dinner and a movie (Pans' Labyrinth - Awesome) we got back to their place (E and A are married) and discussed meeting up more in the future, to repair old ties.  I suggested a biweekly or monthly game for Sundays, and they were very up for that. 

So I put two games in front of them.  Dogs in the Vineyard and Primetime Adventures.  We talked about both, and though E was VERY interested in Dogs (she studies Religion at the Local University), A was all over Primetime Adventures.  Because it had been a while since A had played, and... well, we had no dice, Primetime was picked. 

I suggested that we brainstorm a TV show.  A was all over this, and E kept looking at me as if I had sprouted some sort of appendage on my place.  It was an interesting example of where E's more recent experiences with traditional role playing games was actively working against her.  She asked for some time to develop her character's back story and present it later when she was happy with it, but I asked her to do it at the table, where we can toss in our two cents, and collaborate on the details.  As a total convert to group character creation, I wanted to nip situation of "I'll go over here to create my back story, you go over there to make yours, and the two will be completely incompatible for the setting, situation and other characters."

I went with the clever suggestion on the PTA forum of starting with what we didn't want.  No Police Procedural dramas from A, no out and out Comedy from E.  That was it for the not want.  They both wanted fantasy, but gritty, the kind of thing you'd see on HBO, with blood, sex and violence. 

I also suggested casting actual actors into their roles, which really helped the imagery and solidify who that person was.  It's a great little tactic I've used my previous Primetime games.

We hammered out a situation.  It was gloriously collaborative, from suggestions thrown out by everyone there (and excitedly encouraged from myself!)  The setting is two kingdoms on the brink of peace, but betrayed into war.  A negotiation between the King of the human kingdom and the King of the Elves is cut short by a twin assassination. 

E plays Alexia, an Elven Princess (Tolkien style), the younger sister to the Elven King.  Keira Knightly was thought of in this role.  Alexia's Edge was "Arcane Archer" which defined her magical/martial upbringing.  Her connection is her brother (The actor playing him isn't discussed), her other connection is the Wizard that trained her in the arcane arts (Played by an older Richard Harris).  Her brother is assassinated before the series begins (or as the first scene of the pilot) so we liked the idea that the connection would assist her through her memory, in flashbacks.  Since the Elves in this series are ageless, there is several lifetimes worth of flashback material available to work with.  Her personal set is when she is practicing her Archery. 

A plays Jack Farmer, a Royal guardsman and personal friend and bodyguard of the King's Son.  He thought of Daniel Craig for the actor of this role.  His Edge is Professional Soldier, and his connections are his brother, a simple farmer, and the King's Son.  His personal set is a prop, the King's son gave him a present of an ornate compass, with the inscription "may it always lead you in the right direction".

I don't recall having an issue for Alexia to work with, but Jack's was all about self worth.  The establishing setting was set up to have the Human Prince be killed, ending the line of succession and throwing the entire country into chaos, making it easy for the Elven forces to conquer.  The death of the King's son was due to Jack's failure to protect him from the assassins.  We imagined his final word to be "Protect Alexia, save the kingdom.  She can bring peace to her people and you must bring peace to ours!" 

As a professional soldier, trained to follow orders rather than give them, Jack has to come to terms with his own doubts and rise to the challenge, becoming the hero that the people need, the general to lead them to victory. 

Since both people had connections to dead people, we made it so that Jack talks to the dead Prince, who alternatively helps or hinders him (whatever's cool).  We decided it would be up to the audience to determine whether or not the Prince is imagined, or a ghost, or something else, and leave the truth obscure.  We also determined that the Prince was a young black sheep, who shirked responsibility and tended to flaunt his position as crown prince, and not all of his "advice" would be useful.

Jack's brother was a result of one of the sets.  We figured that a lot of season one would occur in a rural setting to where the two protagonists would be working through their problems and attempting to organize a resistance against the Elven invaders.  Jack's family farm, with his brother and family still running it would add in some tension.  If someone discovers Alexia's true identity (naturally she's disguised) then the brother and his family's lives are forfeit.  That makes for a great sense of tension, as they have to tread carefully.

With characters done, they wanted to know "how this works", so I suggested we do one scene, from one of the later episodes.  We went through the steps, and I got A to go through the player requests.  Character Scene, at the Farm, with an agenda of "Jack confronts a bandit raiding party".  I suggest that this is a clip being run on a talk show, and the actor Daniel Craig is setting up the shot.  "The farm and the local village is being harassed by bandits, who are stealing food and supplies for their own.  Jack has discovered that they are deserters from the human army, and is going to confront them."

I narrated Jack chopping wood when his brother yells, "they're coming!" and he sees lit torches and the gleam of swords in the nearby wood.  5 men, all wearing torn and battered armor and weapons of the Human kingdom, step out and move swiftly to the barn. 

had Jack take the hatchet and head off the bandits, standing between them and he barn door.  He yells at his brother to "get back!" to which the brother obeys, taking his kids and hiding in the farmhouse, watching through the window.  Jack grips the axe and glances back, seeing his niece staring at him, open mouthed. 

says "I can't kill these idiots with her watching.  I'm going to try to talk them down."

I say, "You're one guy.  They're gonna attack and get horribly slaughtered for that mistaken assumption."

And so we began conflict!  I walked through the way it worked, and gave E a fan mail point to spend on "me or him, whichever outcome you think sounds neatest".  She spend it on Jack, and I mock pouted.  A pulled in his brother for an extra card with the rationale "I can't expose him or his family to the horrors of war, killing them is easy, this is not."

We flipped cards, and initially it looked like I was going to win, but his second heart won out. 

We continued the scene.  the bandit leader talks about "the knights don't know their arse from their mother, they can't lead worth a damn.  We get sent like chum to a shark.  So we lit out, the group of us.  No soldier should follow some noble brats playing at being soldier!" 

And then Jack says "You call yourself real soldiers?  A real soldier wouldn't hide in the woods like a coward and steal from honest unarmed men and women."

The leader, abashed, agrees to work on the farm and secretly train others for the resistance.  E had Alexia come in at this point (it normally cost a fan mail and I let her know) and say "So when are you telling your brother about the men you just hired to work on His farm?"  And Jack does a "oh yeah, whoops".  Thus ending the scene.

A was really uncertain of what to do at first, being thrown into the situation, but it really helped to have E and myself offering suggestions.  The quote of what Jack said was all him at that point, and it was awesome. 

Both player enjoyed themselves and definitely wanted to play again.  I promised to get together to play again this Sunday, and this time it'd be either the full pilot, or the first episode. 

I do have a few questions.  I'll number them to make them nice and fast to answer. 

1.  Should the conflict have been thrown down before the "Coward" comment, like I did it, or after? 

2.  The conflict is done, was it correct to keep role playing the scene, with that outcome firmly in mind?  Or should the outcome just get summarized by A?

3.  Two players for Primetime Adventures.  Is two going to work with the fan mail economy?  Has anyone any experience with 2 player PTA, and how the economy did or didn't work?

Hi, my name is Jon.
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