Primetime Adventures Hack

edited February 2008 in Story Games
Inspired by a conversation with Christopher Kubasik, and JBR's A/B-plot hack:

In order to call a conflict, a player has got to point out how his character's Issue is involved. Otherwise, everything is Producer fiat. Possibly characters whose Issue is important to a conflict get an extra screen presence.

Comments

  • I don't like this at all and let me explain why:

    There are other interesting things about TV shows than character issues. Indeed, the majority of episodic shows don't really address character issues in any significant way. Why should I throw out these sorts of shows and have Yet Another Moral to Yet Another Story? Plot scenes are just as crucial as character development scenes.

    You'll never work in this town again! Get out of my office!

  • There are other interesting things about TV shows than character issues. Indeed, the majority of episodic shows don't really address character issues in any significant way.
    Oh man, I would pay money to see Christopher and JD debate this. At Orccon Christopher said to me that I could point to any scene in any TV show and he could tell me how it was about the character's Issue.

    Jesse
  • edited February 2008
    Ideally, yeah. That's why the plot/character divide is something of a misnomer. On a good show, every scene does both (and hits more than one character's issue).
  • Posted By: Jesse
    Oh man, I would pay money to see Christopher and JD debate this.
    I'm with you there. I predict at least one exploding head.
  • Law & Order is the most popular show on TV. I win.
  • Ba dong dong!
  • edited February 2008
    There's nothing to debate.

    Moreover, JD has brought Episodic TV into the mix. Which is cool. And "Law & Order" is brilliant.

    However, even the rules of PtA suggest the game is best suited for Serialized TV, not Episodic.

    So, I'm looking at The Shield, Rescue Me, The Wire, Lost, or Mad Men as examples.

    As for me, every scene in those shows at least illustrates the characters issues -- whether or not a heavy duty conflict is involved. They just do. That's how we know it was actually Vic or Tommy or Omar or Sawyer or Don Draper in the scene. We don't know it's that character because a certain actor is standing there on screen. We know it's that character because of how the actor is behaving. And that comes down to the a few select behaviors that can easily be encapsulated -- in PtA's terms -- as the Issue.

    Some people will see the wire mesh under the scene's structure, others won't. But that doesn't mean the wire mesh isn't there.

    There's no debate. Everyone should play the way that works for them.

    CK
  • Posted By: JDCorleyLaw & Order is the most popular show on TV. I win.
    I don't know dude, I could make a pretty good argument that the different ways the cops treat the people they deal with is rather central. McCoy struggles with his personal sense of justice vs what the law mandates he must do to enact that justice. On Criminal Intent Gorren can't stop at just the person who legally committed the crime he's got to find the person morally responsible for the crime. (My favorite bit of characterization is how the closer Gorren stands to you the less he thinks of you). It's extremely important to Logan that people get credit for doing good things, no matter how small, even if the person overall is a criminal.

    Jesse
  • Well, clearly there's character traits that are in the shows, that's not the same thing as saying every episode significantly advances character issues.

    And yep, it's less true for serialized TV, but the degree to which it is true is already encapsulated in the Screen Presence mechanic. If I'm a supporting character with a Screen Presence of one, I might get one, maybe two grace notes in the whole show, and the other thing I do is drive the plot. If someone says "but how does this affect your issue" the correct answer is "MY issue, what the fuck, HE's the spotlight character this episode".
  • Posted By: JDCorleysignificantly advances character issues.
    Who said anything about "significantly advance." I just want to see conflicts that are important enough to engage rules be about someone's Issue, that's all.
    Posted By: JDCorley"MY issue, what the fuck, HE's the spotlight character this episode".
    Then the spotlight character will point out the conflicts that hit his Issue, easy. If it touches on yours too, great: get an extra card. You matter this ep.
  • This is me talking about how I play. Other people play differently. The key thing is, I'm seeing people use the word Issue, and how the concept functions in play with grades of variation. Here's my take:

    Issue to me, for the purposes of Primetime Adventures, isn't something that can be advanced or not advanced. That's a function of the story and plot, and PtA rules handle that in the section under "Putting the Episode Together: From Scene to Story." The briefest sketch is -- establish a problem, add complications, add more complications, head to a climax and resolution of the problem.

    But that doesn't have anything to do with the Issues -- at least how I use Issues.

    I try to keep Issues lean and mean. The two Issues for the PCs in the most successful game of PtA I've run so far were "Pride" and "Obsessive Mechanical Genius." Those don't tell us anything about the story or plot. I don't want them advanced. All I want is the fulcrum upon which conflicts will turn.

    For example, the show was called "Last Rites." One of the PCs, a knight and renowned warrior one with Pride as an Issue, had a conflict with his King. The King wanted him to do one thing, and the knight wanted to do another. And the King was putting him on the spot in front of the knight's servants. We called a conflict, because the PC was either going to submit to the king, or blow up at the king because of his Pride. We played the cards, the Player lost, the PC submitted to the King.

    All that the Issue did was provide a fulcrum for the conflict. The scene was played out. And then, because of how the scene played out, we ended up with the next scene (which would have been a different scene, obviously, if the knight had blown up in fury against the king.)

    That's it. All I want from the Issues is some unity of behavior and structure for conflict, because the game can go all over the map. I liken the use of Issues like limiting the pallet of colors in a painting -- it provides unity, while the free-wheeling scene advancement allows all sorts of variety.

    So, how people use Issues, what they want from them, and even what they want from the play of Primetime Adventures itself is open to a lot of variety. So it's still all good.

    CK
  • Does it work better to see characters in episodic fiction as having 'best interests', in an IAWA sense, and serial fiction as having 'issues', in a PtA sense?
  • edited March 2008
    I like how you use Issues, Chris. Frankly everyone approaches it a different way, and I tend to be unsure how to advise people to proceed in concocting or addressing Issues. It tends to be a big jumble, which has its advantages, too, but I'm always up for hearing about the way others do things in case I can recognize it and help it along.

    Player input into the plot is a big thing for PTA. I wouldn't like to give it up just for the Issues, which may or may not be a big thing, particularly in pilot episodes (when you are still trying them out and have the opportunity to change them after if you want) or when you have players who may only barely tolerate each others Issues and be more interested in "what's happening". So the rule would be a bad fit for those sorts of players. I am one of those sorts sometimes! "Jesus, hitting me over the head with this again? Give me something new." Nevertheless if it works for you, I'm all for it.
  • edited March 2008
    Christopher Kubasik wrote:

    "However, even the rules of PtA suggest the game is best suited for Serialized TV, not Episodic." (couldn't get the quote function to work)



    I agree with this entirely. In fact as written, PTA isn't just suited for serialized TV, it's designed for it.

    I'm working on a hack for an episodic version of PTA, and with that issues and especially story arc and screen presence would have much different importance.
Sign In or Register to comment.