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Author Topic: Passive-aggressive narrativism (Peregrine)  (Read 3886 times)
Clinton R. Nixon
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« on: April 17, 2003, 09:38:11 PM »

I've been playing in this great game for the last month run by Matt Wilson. It's a game he's designed called Prime-Time Adventures, and our setting is called Peregrine. It's loosely based off Firefly and other space television shows, and is aggressive story-telling.

Quick rules: the mechanics are super-simple, but work in play. The players roll pools of d10s with anything matching 7 or above as an Action. Each episode, each character has an Intensity ranking from 1 to 3 equated to how much the episode is focused on that character. When rolling the dice, you roll a number equal to 3 + your Intensity, but 1 to your Intensity are Setbacks, or bad things that happen that the other players narrate. Anyway - loosely-oriented story-telling.

The passive-aggressive part:

In tonight's episode, my character Friday was having his spotlight episode. Friday's a cripple, with his legs cut off mid-thigh - he had a bad industrial accident with sliced off his legs and killed his best friend. For his spotlight episode, he was alone on the ship while the crew shopped for supplies planet-side. A bounty hunter infiltrated the ship to kill the captain - who wasn't there - and take the Path of the Righteous, an ancient data module with arcane information on it.

The big Bang: the bounty hunter was Friday's old best friend, Jerusalem, who was supposed to be dead. He had a contract with the Oracles, people who will buy your body and take it upon your death, rebuilding it to work for them. The episode was tense dialogue between the two as Friday tried to reach his old friend who wasn't really there.

In the end, Friday - fatalistic to a point after his accident - blew himself and the data cube out the airlock, forcing Jerusalem to choose which to save. This was the real passive-aggressive part - I threw the hard thematic decision to the NPC. We found this interesting: I made a narrative decision myself for Friday to decide to die, but the GM had to make a harder decision: does Jerusalem still live?

In the end, he did, and he saved Friday, only to sustain major brain damage from vacuum. Friday ended the episode killing his old friend, who only lived in a coma on life support. It was heavy drama, but the decision-reversal is what stuck with me.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Clay
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« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2003, 05:40:52 AM »

Clinton,

Sounds really great.  I was a fan of Firefly, and seeing a game based off of it, with the same kind of storytelling, is really great.  I'd love to do something like that with one of my groups, when we get our current Call of Cthulhu campaign wrapped up.
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Clay Dowling
RPG-Campaign.com - Online Campaign Planning and Management
Matt Wilson
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2003, 06:30:51 AM »

Hey Clinton, thanks for posting this.

From a not-trying-to-shill-my-game perspective, that was probably the closest thing to a narrativist adventure I've ever run. I've wanted to generate that sort of thing in previous games but it never quite worked out. Then again, I've never been the GM of an actual N game.

In this game, each character is supposed to have a Spotlight episode, which focuses on that player's Issue. Clinton's character was the first in the game to reach that episode, and his character's Issue was a sort of grief-induced self-destructive behavior. He's kind of like Jayne on Firefly, except the players all have insight into why he's such a prick. Friday's grief is caused by the tragic death of his best friend. So that was my game creation fuel for the episode.

Coming up with the episode idea was fun. I thought, what would be more emotional than his friend being dead (I might have been inspired by Buffy and Angel, where loved ones are frequently turned into vampires)? In this case, I didn't have to do much except have the dude show up. I didn't know what would happen after that, but I figured whatever Friday did, it'd be a big deal.

The twist Clinton pulled made me crack up laughing, but it made for a hell of a story.
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2003, 07:45:16 AM »

Quote from: Matt Wilson

Coming up with the episode idea was fun. I thought, what would be more emotional than his friend being dead (I might have been inspired by Buffy and Angel, where loved ones are frequently turned into vampires)? In this case, I didn't have to do much except have the dude show up. I didn't know what would happen after that, but I figured whatever Friday did, it'd be a big deal.



Clinton & Matt -- this Actual Play account rocked. I was green with envy, and could easily see the game as Sci-fi series episode. Good stuff! I wish I could get my group to make kick ass decisions like that more often, Clinton!

Matt -- I'm not a Buffy / Angel watcher at all, so I missed that influence. But, what I DID see was the return of Duncan Idaho in the second Dune novel. It's been years and years since I read it, but I recall that he's cloned by a guild of assassins or something similar, but retains some of his loyalties to Atreides. Just an aside.
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Matt Snyder
www.chimera.info

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2003, 05:55:55 AM »

Hi there,

I'm not so sure that "passive-aggressive" is really the best description, and I'm pretty sure that you used the term semi-humorously (right?).

I'm thinking about the difference between powergaming using Drama mechanics (which is often dysfunctional) and hot-potato story-driving Drama mechanics play (which is often functional).

In the one, it's about "I'm not taking responsibility for what happens, you are, and by the way, don't displease me," and in the other, it's about "Yes, your parachute works - but there's a hole in it!" "But I fall into the haystack!" And back and forth.

Best,
Ron
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2003, 07:22:54 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards

I'm not so sure that "passive-aggressive" is really the best description, and I'm pretty sure that you used the term semi-humorously (right?).

I'm thinking about the difference between powergaming using Drama mechanics (which is often dysfunctional) and hot-potato story-driving Drama mechanics play (which is often functional).

In the one, it's about "I'm not taking responsibility for what happens, you are, and by the way, don't displease me," and in the other, it's about "Yes, your parachute works - but there's a hole in it!" "But I fall into the haystack!" And back and forth.


Yes, I used it humorously. Looking at your descriptions, it seems like I fall into your power-gaming category (with the caveat that I had a plan if the NPC didn't save my character.) Maybe I'm missing something here.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Matt Wilson
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2003, 10:08:39 PM »

Quote
I'm thinking about the difference between powergaming using Drama mechanics (which is often dysfunctional) and hot-potato story-driving Drama mechanics play (which is often functional).

In the one, it's about "I'm not taking responsibility for what happens, you are, and by the way, don't displease me," and in the other, it's about "Yes, your parachute works - but there's a hole in it!" "But I fall into the haystack!" And back and forth.


From my viewpoint, I think the latter is closest to what happened, but the system limits how complications like "there's a hole in your parachute" can be applied. It's pretty unlikely that things will get too hot-potatoey, and if they do, it's not the GM who's causing it.
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2003, 10:29:02 PM »

I really didn't understand that comment from Ron above. It seemed vaguely derogatory, but I couldn't figure in how it fit with what happened. There wasn't any real powergaming or hot-potato going on - I fully knew Friday could die if I didn't roll well or his friend didn't still live somewhere in that body.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2003, 06:35:10 AM »

Hello,

I think I have to start over - or better, just bag it. Clinton, I'm not saying anything derogatory. Your post just kicked off a big-scale comparison in my mind, not a judgment or even knowledge of your session. I'll take some time to mull it over, and discuss it some other time in some other forum, rather than try to resuscitate a failed try to say it the first time.

Best,
Ron
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Matt Wilson
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2003, 08:19:11 AM »

Quote from: Clinton
I fully knew Friday could die if I didn't roll well or his friend didn't still live somewhere in that body.


Well, the difference was that the character wasn't taking responsibility, but the player was. By the way, a character in PTA can't die from bad die rolls. It's up to the player.

Quote from: Ron
Your post just kicked off a big-scale comparison in my mind, not a judgment or even knowledge of your session. I'll take some time to mull it over, and discuss it some other time in some other forum, rather than try to resuscitate a failed try to say it the first time.


I'm interested in that. The hot-potato idea you mentined made me think of those frenetic card games like Speed. The powergamey reference actually makes me think of knee-jerk reactions to railroad-style GM-ing. Your chance to break from the GM's destiny is to say "well, that's what my character would do, and I can't help that."
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