*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
September 18, 2014, 03:43:27 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 36 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1] 2
Print
Author Topic: Budget, Session Length, and Fan Mail  (Read 4345 times)
Sindyr
Member

Posts: 795


« on: March 19, 2009, 04:46:39 PM »

1) If we want to play PTA for a four hour game session, but the producer runs out of budget, what happens?  I have thought of three options, all of which I have problems with: a) end early (which is not the goal), b) keep going, but the players then get to run roughshod over the Producer and his measley 1 card per conflict, or c) the Producer grants himself a free gift of extra budget, which hardly seems fair.  If there a better answer than these?

2) Having extra fan mail is obviously a very good thing toward helping one win conflicts.  Players get Fan Mail by awarding spent Budget Tokens to each other.  The smart play for player is to collude that they will work together to divide up the Fan Mail evenly and often - to the extent that the spent Budget Tokens might as well be distributed evenly to the players.  Assuming that the players in general follow this, is this a bad(tm) thing?  It seems to me that while players may have many differing priorities, it is not unreasonable to suppose that one might find a group of players that prioritize their success at winning conflict the most, and act accordingly in the aformentioned collusion.  To expect other behaviour or worse judge people harshly for working together toward the main mechanic would seem to be wrongheaded, IMO.  Thoughts?

3) A token of Fan Mail can either buy a card, or can buy an extra use of a Character Attribute.  As I understand it, Fan Mail spent for extra cards can potentially wind up as extra Budget for the Producer, but if you spend the Fan Mail for an extra use of a Character Attribute, that token is not "winnable" by the Producer.  Long Story short, if you can apply a Character Attribute, and you wish to maximize your chance for winning conflicts and minimize the Producer's, then you would want to prevent them from gaining Budget - therefor, in any case where you could bring to bear a relevant but exhausted Attribute you would always choose to refresh the Attribute instead of taking the card directly.

3a) Therefor I am assuming that the only occasions when you would spend Fan Mail directly on extra cards is a) if none of your attributes apply, or (possibly) b) if you in this conflict are already using all aplicable Attributes and still want more cards.  Yes?

That should get things started, in terms of my first few questions...   

Thanks.
Logged

-Sindyr
jburneko
Member

Posts: 1351


« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2009, 05:29:35 PM »

Hello,

1) The budget is a pacing mechanic.  When it begins to run out it's time to start wrapping things up.  This is just how the game works.  Assuming a group of three players a session lasts between two and four hours depending on the pace.

2) Fan mail is intended to be awarded for appreciating each others creative input.  I have NEVER seen the behavior you describe in practice.  If it were to happen I don't think mathematically anything would break but it suggests that you're not playing with the right group of people for the game.  In practice, I've seen the opposite problem.  That is, people's standards for being impressed are SO high that fan mail doesn't get awarded at all.  In my games I tend to have a large Audience pool that simply goes unawarded.

3) What you describe is correct and you're right that the Attribute would still have be relevant.  Again, in practice, I've NEVER seen this happen.  Not once.  People just spend the fan mail for the cards.  Similarly, I've never seen over use of Attributes.  It's a very rare game that I've seen people hit their attribute limit and then only usually only on one of their attributes.

Primetime Adventures works best with a group of people who are committed to the quality of the fiction and the characters as their primary priority and use the mechanics as an expression of that commitment.

Jesse
Logged
Sindyr
Member

Posts: 795


« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2009, 07:47:55 PM »

Hmmm, I can certainly appreciate that if you get just the "right" group of people, people with the "right" priorities or habits, no problems will develop.

Does this game (and that of other narrative type games) rely on getting a group of all the "right" people?  Or do the rules still work even if the people follow only them?  In other words, are players expected not to play to their most effective?

Also, any other ideas on how to play a session of PTA so as to last a particular time?

Thanks
Logged

-Sindyr
Alan
Member

Posts: 1012


WWW
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2009, 02:40:24 AM »

Hi Syndr,

PTA is hard to break if you follow the rules. There's no need for the "right" people, only the right approach and that appears to be intuitive when players think in terms of playing a TV series. I've never seen the game fail.
Logged

- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2591


WWW
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2009, 01:06:55 PM »

I find it pretty obvious that PTA is not going to do anything for anybody if the group isn't on board with the game's presumed goals and parameters. Thus players who are constantly looking to minimize the budget with their choices will not be getting any satisfaction out of the rules system. It's easy to optimize and the optimal game plan is always the same, anyway. This is good for this sort of game, as the game is supposed to support your attention for dramatic events, not give out tools for ruining the GM. So I'd recommend either getting the players on board with the game's purpose (enjoying creative storytelling), or playing something else. Saying that "the rules can take it" is just foolish, I think; Monopoly rules can also take players not caring about winning the game as long as they can speak with funny accents, but that doesn't mean that playing the game that way is reasonable.

In practice the above has never been a problem for me, though, as the vast majority of players tend to pick up on the cues of the rules system well enough, even when they're not the sort to exactly listen to you when you tell them that the purpose of the game is to create a great tv-show. A player would need to approach jerk-level inflexibility if he insisted on trying to find a way to "beat" a game that has no competitive elements at all. Thus the whole scenario Syndr paints is pretty unlikely in practice.

As for getting the game to last the right length of time - I've never had a problem with the budget running out, as the Producer can certainly be careful with his spending while turning up the heat in the fiction, which in turn encourages the players to spend Fan Mail, which gives the Producer some more budget. Of course a long session will see lots of pretty low-resistance conflicts, but that alone doesn't break the game. Just choose well which conflicts you really want to make difficult and focus on those. Also, follow the game's advice on the four-act episode plan carefully - the Producer can easily pace himself in spending the budget if he takes care to spend the appropriate amount of time in each act of the story.
Logged

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
Sindyr
Member

Posts: 795


« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2009, 03:03:04 PM »

I find it pretty obvious that PTA is not going to do anything for anybody if the group isn't on board with the game's presumed goals and parameters.

Well, the game has a central mechanics by which to try to influence the story development to go the way you want it, so presumably the game's goals and parameters are that the group wishes to gather to tell a story, with the players trying to overcome the producer when the ships (or cards are down).  Therefor using the mechanics of the game itself seems not only good strategy, but also (therefor) expected and incentivized behavior.

Quote
So I'd recommend either getting the players on board with the game's purpose (enjoying creative storytelling), or playing something else.

The game has a mechanic by which the producer vies with the players to earn the right to choose the way the scene's central conflict resolves.  If the game's central purpose was the more vague "enjoying creative storytelling" ONLY, then there would be neither conflicts nor a resolution mechanic.

Quote
Saying that "the rules can take it" is just foolish,

To quote, "I do not think that word means what you think it means."

Quote
I think; Monopoly rules can also take players not caring about winning the game as long as they can speak with funny accents, but that doesn't mean that playing the game that way is reasonable.

If funny accents was a core mechanic to Monopoly, then your analogy would be apt.  It doesn't.

Quote
A player would need to approach jerk-level inflexibility if he insisted on trying to find a way to "beat" a game that has no competitive elements at all.

No one said anything about "beating" the game - that is you own knee-jerk reaction.  What was being discussed is the players acting separately and in concert to win conflicts with the producer.

Quote
As for getting the game to last the right length of time - I've never had a problem with the budget running out, as the Producer can certainly be careful with his spending while turning up the heat in the fiction, which in turn encourages the players to spend Fan Mail, which gives the Producer some more budget. Of course a long session will see lots of pretty low-resistance conflicts, but that alone doesn't break the game. Just choose well which conflicts you really want to make difficult and focus on those. Also, follow the game's advice on the four-act episode plan carefully - the Producer can easily pace himself in spending the budget if he takes care to spend the appropriate amount of time in each act of the story.

The mathematical piece that might be unbalanced with a unspecified length game isn't Fan Mail - after all, even with collaborating players, they cannot accrue Fan Mail any faster than the Producer spends Budget.  No, the real worry is that even after all Fan Mail and Budget is spent and gone, in the continuing game the Producer gets only one card per Conflict to the multiple cards the Players get due to their Screen Presence. 

In other words, the more scenes the game lasts, the more of an edge the players with a screen presence of 2 or 3 get over the GM.  Let's look at it this way:

The Producer starts with X Budget.  For each point he spends, that budget can wind up as Fan Mail a player has.  Let's posit 3 players, with Screen Presences of 1, 2, and 3.  Let's also posit that for whatever reason (such as the players all doing equally cool things) that they wind up over the course of the game dividing up the Budget spent equally amongst them as Fan Mail.  Finally, for simplicity's sake, and because this isn't a pvp Capes style game, but one where the players are trying to work together, let's posit that in each scene they either are working toward the same ends, of that they are at least not working cross purposes to each other, so that the Producer must deal with all their resources each Scene.

So, what does this add up to?  The Producers gets X Budget - in this case, that's 15.  The players will presumably gain 15 fan mail as the Producer spends Budget.  Let's say the session lasts for 5 scenes.  The Producers gets 1 free card each conflict, plus 3 Budget per scene on average in this game.  The players get1, 2 or 3 free cards per conflict, and also get the same 15 points in Fan Mail (the spent Budget, once awarded.) 

Let's just look at the one player with the highest Screen Presence.  Let's say that Joe's SP is 3 this game.  So, over the course of the session he will get:
-15/3 Fan Mail added = 5 points = 5 extra uses of his traits = 5 cards worth
-3 uses of each trait = 9 cards worth
-he also gets 3 cards by default each Scene.

So over a 5 scene session, he gets 5 + 9 + (3SP x 5 scenes) = 29 cards.  The Producer gets 15 + (1 default card x 5 scenes) = 20. Therefor Joe has almost 50% resources to spend than the GM in winning conflicts.

Let's look at Amy (SP=2) and Fred (SP=1) to see how they stack up against the Prod.

Amy = 5 Fan Mail + (2 SP x 3 traits) + (2SP x 5 scenes) = 5+6+10 = 21.  Even Amy has more resource clout than the Prod.

Fred = 5 Fan Mail + (1SP x 3 traits) = (1SP x 5 scenes) = 5+3+5 = 13.  The Producer has more than enough resource to likely defeat Fred's conflicts.

Now let's look at a much longer game - say, 10 Scenes.  THe break down of cards played per session can go:

Producer: 15 + (1 default card x 10 scenes) = 25 cards played this session.
Joe: 5 Fan Mail + (3SP x 3 traits) + (3SP x 10 scenes) = 5+9+30 = 44(!!)
Amy: 5 + (2x3) + (2x10) = 31(!!)
Fred: 5 + (1x3) + (1x10) = 18

As you can see, the balance of resources stayed about the same with Fred, but Amy gained a lot, and Joe is way out in front of the Prod.

This demonstrates that the longer the game goes, the more scenes occur, the better off the players are in terms  of being more likely to beat the Prod in Conflicts - which is obviously a goal of theirs.

Furthermore, we didn't even factor into it that frequently the players may be playing their cards in the service of their fellow player's goals - for example, if Joe plays a goal of "Joe's PC stops the bad guy from escaping this time", it's quite possible that the other players may be sick of the bad guy and really want him stopped, and may "pile on" their resources onto Joe's Goal.  If this happens, even Amy and Free, united without any help from Joe, can easily out resource the Producer.

It occurs to me that perhaps the amount of budget available to the Producer ought to be the same per Scene, no matter how long it runs.  That way the ratios stay fixed.

While we are on the subject, Matt or anyone else in the know, assuming cool players that frequently do cool things in game, how often is the spent budget tin NOT empty at session's end?

Thanks all.
Logged

-Sindyr
Sindyr
Member

Posts: 795


« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2009, 03:05:01 PM »

There are various spelling errors in the above reply, and I don't see a way to edit them.  My apologies.
Logged

-Sindyr
Alan
Member

Posts: 1012


WWW
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2009, 03:28:21 PM »

The game has a mechanic by which the producer vies with the players to earn the right to choose the way the scene's central conflict resolves. 

It's really not productive to think of the Producer as opposed to the players. His role is to provide opportunities for conflict in areas the players and their protagonists care about.

Also, note that even if the producer wins, it's holder of the high card that determines how things go against the protagonist. This may even be the losing player.
Logged

- Alan

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

Posts: 795


« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2009, 05:06:36 PM »

The game has a mechanic by which the producer vies with the players to earn the right to choose the way the scene's central conflict resolves. 

It's really not productive to think of the Producer as opposed to the players. His role is to provide opportunities for conflict in areas the players and their protagonists care about.

Also, note that even if the producer wins, it's holder of the high card that determines how things go against the protagonist. This may even be the losing player.

True, true - good point about the high card.  Of course, the more resources you get, the more cards you get - and the better a chance is that you hold the high card.

On other thing - I am not saying that the Producer is in opposition to the players, although I may have come off sounding that way.  However, the only way for the players to get their stakes is by defeating the Producer is a conflict, so there *is* a very real element of the only way to get what you want is beating the Prod in conflicts.  The Producer may not be in opposition to the players, but the players will certainly see the resources the producer marshals against their goals *as* opposition.  In other words - the only way for the players to get their stakes is if the producer "loses".

I didn't make PTA that way, it's just how the game *is*...
Logged

-Sindyr
Moreno R.
Member

Posts: 389


« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2009, 06:31:47 PM »

Hi, Sindyr!

Did you ever play PTA, and this was something that happened in one of your games, or this is an hypothetic case that you calculated after only reading the game manual?

Because, frankly, it smells of "hypothetic case devised as an example without having ever played the game".

First, your hypothesis: you start considering "normal" that the three players will gang up against the GM, playing all together like a "squad". But this is not normal at all. I have NEVER seen a game of PTA where there was no contrast, no tension, no discussions or in-fighting between the protagonists (and I have done demos at conventions with different groups who had never played before). It would make for boring television, and the players know this. More so, the game manual is pretty explicit in the examples about the kind of TV shown that is based on: thinking to play PTA to play "all united like a well oiled squad against the GM" is like playing Vampire and them complain that it doesn't do western well: different genre

Second, you consider the total of the cards and the budget and the fan mail, without considering at all the flow from one to the other. A flow that would be very familiar to someone who had played the game. At the start, the players have no fan mail. If they play the pilot episode, everyone has presence 2, and in any case with 3 players not every episode will have a protagonist at 3. The traits aren't always usable.  But the producer has already all his budget. At the start, most of the cards you counted for the players aren't there, but the initial budget is there.  The producer can overwhelm the players and win all the conflicts if he don't pace himself and don't wait for the last part of the game to spend most of the budget.  But if he do, there is much fewer budget spent that you counted, much less fan mail, until the end. At the end, the player get fan mail (but, remember...  only one fan mail every scene! Not more!), so they can spend most of that to win a single final conflict, or keep it unspent for the future.

Most players will save fan mail for the really important conflicts, so they will overspend on these, not using always the same amount: so...
...third:  you count cards, but counting cards is not the same that counting won conflicts.  Getting the second card give you a chance increase much more strong that getting the seventh card.

Fourth: you counted way too many scenes. A session of PTA is usually much shorter. And they don't always have every single protagonist in them.

Fifth: players will play "well" to get fan mail. The amount will NOT be even, and if the players agree to share fan mail without using that rule of the game, not only they are NOT playing PTA, but they seem rather masochistic to me: "well, boy, we could try to play well and enjoy this game, by why do it, when we could play very badly, bore ourselves silly giving each other meaningless tokens of false fan mail, only to win a game where there is nothing to win or to lose?"

Or, said in another way, the answer to "how can I avoid putting my hand in a meat grinder?", is usually simply "why should you put your hand in a meat grinder? Simply don't".
Logged

Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
Sindyr
Member

Posts: 795


« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2009, 08:21:40 PM »

Hi, Sindyr!

Hi! Smiley

Quote
Did you ever play PTA, and this was something that happened in one of your games, or this is an hypothetic case that you calculated after only reading the game manual?

Prepping for that (the first game) here.

Quote
First, your hypothesis: you start considering "normal" that the three players will gang up against the GM, playing all together like a "squad".

I didn't think I mentioned players "ganging up" on the GM until the paragraph 95% of the way through the post that starts "Furthermore, we didn't even factor" - most of my analysis leaves that out.

Quote
But this is not normal at all. I have NEVER seen a game of PTA where there was no contrast, no tension, no discussions or in-fighting between the protagonists (and I have done demos at conventions with different groups who had never played before).

That's terrible.  I am sorry to hear that - I prefer games where the players are all pulling together for a common goal.  After Capes left a foul taste in my mouth, so to speak, I was hoping (and had been told) that PTA would be quite the opposite.

Quote
Second, you consider the total of the cards and the budget and the fan mail, without considering at all the flow from one to the other. A flow that would be very familiar to someone who had played the game. At the start, the players have no fan mail. If they play the pilot episode, everyone has presence 2, and in any case with 3 players not every episode will have a protagonist at 3. The traits aren't always usable.  But the producer has already all his budget. At the start, most of the cards you counted for the players aren't there, but the initial budget is there.  The producer can overwhelm the players and win all the conflicts if he don't pace himself and don't wait for the last part of the game to spend most of the budget.  But if he do, there is much fewer budget spent that you counted, much less fan mail, until the end. At the end, the player get fan mail (but, remember...  only one fan mail every scene! Not more!), so they can spend most of that to win a single final conflict, or keep it unspent for the future.

Certainly, a very good point - my point was only that the *average* scene favors the player - possibly greatly or even inordinately if the players has a SP of 3, or there are many Scene in the session, or both.  Your point that the Producer will be able to win the conflicts in the first few Scenes if he wants to is true - in fact, technically he with his budget can win any few Scenes he wants to - so long as he is willing to surrender the majority of the scenes in the session.  (And of course, if he saves his Budget for later use, he hamstrings the Fan Mail tin).  On the other hand, I thought we were presuppoing that the Producer is not actively trying to oppose the players per se?

Bottom line is that his Budget resources become their Fan Mail resources, so that's a nigh perfect balance.  But the default one card per session versus their 6 or so *plus* their traits...  I dunno - food for thought in narrative game resource economy design...

Quote
Most players will save fan mail for the really important conflicts, so they will overspend on these, not using always the same amount: so...
...third:  you count cards, but counting cards is not the same that counting won conflicts.  Getting the second card give you a chance increase much more strong that getting the seventh card.

I could see that - overspending I mean.  On the other hand, I believe that if you analyze the card situation, you may be less prone to overspending.  Consider:

If the Producer has three cards out, to have double his chances you need to have six - a difference of three cards.  But when he only has one card out, you can double your chances with a only two cards.  In other words, if you and the Producer have three cards out each already, adding a few cards, while increasing you chances, does so in a much more limited and diminishing return kind of way.  You would get far more bang for your buck in success by holding back more when the producer puts many cards out, and adding a few extra cards when the producer has only one or two - and possibly little chance to score more if he is low on budget or obviously saving it up.

Furthermore, if the Producer has 3 or 4 cards out in a conflict that you really feel like you have to win, don't try to do it alone.  Enlist help.  Work with the other players, promising to aid them in their hour of need if they help you now.  With the right negotiating, you could get another 3-4 cards from your fellow players allowing you to double what the Prod has out - especially if you choose stakes that appeal to the whole group.

Quote
Fourth: you counted way too many scenes. A session of PTA is usually much shorter. And they don't always have every single protagonist in them.

I knew the second part, but not the first: How many scenes would a four hour session of PTA be expected to have on average?

Quote
Fifth: players will play "well" to get fan mail. The amount will NOT be even, and if the players agree to share fan mail without using that rule of the game, not only they are NOT playing PTA, but they seem rather masochistic to me: "well, boy, we could try to play well and enjoy this game, by why do it, when we could play very badly, bore ourselves silly giving each other meaningless tokens of false fan mail, only to win a game where there is nothing to win or to lose?"

In my example, I was positing players playing so well that they are continually receiving fan mail in equal proportions.  However, I must admit that I am leery when "popularity" becomes a basis for which story affecting resources get awarded.  I can easily imagine a very suave, popular, and charming player who is the best liked of the social group of players garning more than his fair share of such rewards.  (In that, people pay attention to his efforts more, not because his efforts are better, but because he is a "social" person and smooth...) But no matter.

Quote
Or, said in another way, the answer to "how can I avoid putting my hand in a meat grinder?", is usually simply "why should you put your hand in a meat grinder? Simply don't".

So, how do I *avoid* putting *anything* in a meat grinder?  Or said another way, do these questions have solutions? 

It's OK if the answer is "no".  It's probably true that PTA has a certain few flaws baked in, that if examined to closely or taken up by the players and used, the system breaks down.  Perhaps PTA is not meant to be so much an unabuseable system, but instead a system that works well enough, just so long as everyone sees what could be legally abused and then makes a pact to not do so.
Logged

-Sindyr
Alan
Member

Posts: 1012


WWW
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2009, 08:56:05 PM »

Hi Sindyr,

With respect, there isn't much to be gained from your pursuit of hypothetical questions when you don't trust our responses and make an effort to find worse case scenarios. Really, we're not making this up. PTA works well as written.

Read the rules. Play them as is as best you can interpret. Expect a session to last about 90 minutes or 2 hours. 2 hours of PTA is event-intense--no one will have the energy to play 4 hours.

Play the game, then come back and post about how things went. Then we'll be able to help you fine tune things.

- Alan
Logged

- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2591


WWW
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2009, 08:39:06 AM »

I agree with Alan. I don't intend to discount your arguments, Sindyr, but they simply don't make sense from the viewpoint of how the game actually works. I understand that you have a very clear vision of how the game should run, but that's because you're inserting your own assumptions that I don't think are actually in the text itself. I haven't read PTA in a year so I can't quote chapter and verse on this, but I did some pretty close-up reading on it when I edited the Finnish edition, and I didn't see the sort of player priorities you posit in there at all - the game simply assumes that the players are on board with the priorities of play, and that's that.

When I say "priorities of play", that's the place where your argument breaks down, by the way: you see, although you phrase it this way, players in PTA are actually not trying to beat the Producer in conflicts. This is not what the game is about. This whole thing of what players are trying to do in this sort of narrativistic game has been somewhat up in the air for several years, but we're finally now starting to get a handle on clear terminology for what the players are actually doing; perhaps it helps if I rephrase the game's intent in the same manner I'm using nowadays in my own, similar games: players of PTA are not trying to beat the game or beat the Producer's efforts against them, they are simply trying to advocate for their characters who struggle against adversity in their lives. Advocation itself, on the other hand, consists of two things: you express an interesting character for the benefit of the group, and you choose with sympathy on behalf of your character when important situations come up.

Does this distinction work for you? You see, when we're playing PTA, your projected resource problem never comes up because the players are never optimizing their resources with an eye towards winning conflicts - that is not their role. Instead, they are making moment-to-moment decisions on how to portray the intent and nature of their characters, and they're making choices as to what that character does. Specifically, when they are engaged in a conflict, they are not actually trying to win the conflict for themselves: they are evaluating how much their characters care about this situation and express that caring by investing more or less resources in the conflict. Drama then happens when consequences of these choices come back to haunt the character. Nowhere in this decision-making loop is there room for long-term optimization against the game system itself; individual characters might work together or against each other depending on the needs of expression the players have, players might spend lots of fan mail suddenly because they feel the need for their character to win the conflict... it's simply not possible to optimize this process to resource-drain the Producer while still playing the game according to its intent.

These same concerns rule over how Fan Mail is distributed and how the Producer chooses to spend his budget. Believe it or not, the game is actually built to favour the player characters in conflicts simply because that makes better television. This does not mean that they win all the time, either - the Producer has much discretionary power over when he's going to blow his Budget, and he'll pretty much choose the most interesting and important conflicts for that. So the dynamic ends up working in the end despite the seemingly overwhelming resources the players have; the Producer just accepts his role in providing adversity and makes most conflicts relatively low-burning, while allowing for a couple of big and important conflicts per session.
Logged

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
Matt Wilson
Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 1121

student, second edition


WWW
« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2009, 10:10:08 AM »

My advice is look at the conflict resolution--which you might actually think of as scene resolution--as the least important thing of all the rules. Direct everyone instead to all the "jobs" line items, like say yes to the scene, etc. Imagine what it would look like if you were just playing without cards and coming up with things by consensus, and then add the cards to that as an opportunity to be surprised as the audience.

In all honesty you could play this game without budget and just say in a conflict you roll a d6, and 4-6 your protag's issue does not fuck things up in a scene. The budget, fan mail, traits, all of that lets you make that outcome a little less random, lets you put in physical form how much you're invested in what's going to happen.
Logged

newsalor
Member

Posts: 83


« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2009, 05:31:54 AM »

But this is not normal at all. I have NEVER seen a game of PTA where there was no contrast, no tension, no discussions or in-fighting between the protagonists (and I have done demos at conventions with different groups who had never played before).

That's terrible.  I am sorry to hear that - I prefer games where the players are all pulling together for a common goal.  After Capes left a foul taste in my mouth, so to speak, I was hoping (and had been told) that PTA would be quite the opposite.

It's cool that you prefer games where players are working towards a common goal. However, that is not in question here. The contrast, tension, discussion etc. is between protagonists with the players happily cheering them on, kibitzing and enjoying the flow of the story. The players are supposed to cooperate, even if the characters are working against each other time to time.

In actual play I've observed that often when two protagonist characters are in a conflict with each other, most often the players care about how their characters are portrayed, not so much about who "wins". Winning a conflict does not end the need for cooperation, everyone is supposed to participate in the narration offering suggestions etc. with the high card holder directing the process.

As a director I'm trying to create situations and conlicts that are cool either way. If the players trust that however the conflict resolves, we are left with a cool situation, why care about some powerstruggles between players? Anyway, the protag players combined will have more cards than the director, so the high card usually goes to them. And as the director I'm not trying to make them fail, I use more budget if I want more of an chance to narrate or if I want to make things more exiting.

I don't think that there are any universal answers to the questions in your first message, but I'll try to draw from my own experiences.

1) How I would deal with a 4 hour session of PTA?
  • I could cut it in half. If you follow the story arc advice in the book, 2 hours or so of play should complete an arc. Do a cliffhanger, commercial brake and start anew.
  • I'd save up my budged. You don't need to have a conlict at the end of every scene. If the game drags on, the odds are that it's because of long discussions etc. that don't necessarily need conflict.
  • I would pick up the pace. It the other players aren't keeping a good pace, I'd use my turn to request a scene to keep the story going and cut ahead in the story.

2) How has the fanmail economy actually worked in play with my group?
  • Usually conflicts don't involve every protagonist character. If you think about TV, no character appears in every scene and no character cares about every issue.
  • Most scenes have a conflict, but others just build color, develop characters or their relationships. 4 conflicts or so is a good estimate, but I've never ran out of budged so far.
  • A lot of  fanmail remains unused. A couple of points isn't given as fanmail and players often hoard points. If I need more budged, I try to encourage players to give fanmail try to get the hoarders into a conflict.
  • The smart play for protagonist players isn't to optimize the use of fanmail so they can have the maximum amount of power over the course of the story. If you are doing that then you are distracting attention from the strengts  of this game. Misguided gamism or something? Your friends aren't going to respect you more if you "brake" this game. It is childishly easy and beside the point.
Logged

Olli Kantola
Pages: [1] 2
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!