Okay, Ogre Whiteside deserves some sort of canonization for running this impromptu PTA pilot.
We played this on Saturday morning, with a gaggle of people who couldn't get into other games. I can't even begin to recall all the people involved, but I'll try:
Ogre, Mickey, my cohort Jeremy Tidwell, David (can't recall the last name, gah!), Dana (another lastnameless person in my memory), Ralpha Mazza, Daniel Wood, and myself.
His pitch: a Saturday morning cartoon/children's show. I quickly countered with my experiences trying a show like that in PTA and how it fell flat, but we all bought into the idea of the 30 Rock treatment -- it's really a show about this show. We came up with character ideas and, over the course of the pitch, came up with the following:
* Susie the puppeteer & Sammy the squid. Played by Mickey. Hot slutty goth chick with a personality disorder that causes her to speak through her puppets to talk with people.
* The show's producer (whose character name I can't recall). Played by David. He was the one person really into this show helping people. Too bad for him.
* The wannabe child star whose dad was the sole sponsor of the show -- I cannot recall her name either, but we eventually just called her The Cupcake. Played by Dana. A girl who wanted to get into acting...in freakin' Detriot.
* Mr. Bluejeans, the show's head writer and reluctant farm guy host. Played by Ralph. His issue: he was in witness protection for ratting on the Mob.
* Stewart, the show's "kid wrangler." Played by Daniel. He was scared of kids and unable to control them, and would frequently kick them out of the "crying room" so he could use it.
* Moocha, the Ingmar Bergman-wannabe cameraman. Played by Jeremy. His issues is that he wanted to finally be hated...for his art.
* Marquis Wolfgang von Hate of the metal band Pain Lottery, the very confused and very inappripriate musical guest. Played by me. His issue: Trying to not lose his street cred when people find out he's actually into the show.
As the PTA-Producer, Ogre didn't have a chance.
Rather than play-by-play, some highlights: the concept of "the show behind the show" works damned well for the Whedonesque PTA vibe. I've tried other format shows, like a Band of Brothers-style docudrama, and it didn't quite work. With that many players, the format allowed us to fight amongst ourselves quite a bit. It was early on that Jeremy would end up taking the role of the antagonist in the show -- which we desperately needed, as it wouldn't have worked otherwise. Ogre could have brought in external conflict, but the formula of the show clearly dictated that we needed an internal antagonist, and even an internal character would have felt more external if played by the Producer.
Instead of doing 2s for everyone's screen presence, since there were so many people, we did 3s for Mickey & me, 2s for the producer & child start, 1s for everyone else. (I think) The people chose rather than had assigned -- it was early morning and there were a lot of us, so some people where more content to be supporting characters and hang back.
The overall beginning of the show:
* The Pain Lottery bus broke down outside the studio and the mechanic was going to be a while...and expensive, thus demonstrating how they got roped into being the musical guest.
* Early clusterfucks involving dealing with children, internal band politics, pleading for the show to actually work for once, and milking a cow that later died on stage.
* The obligatory puppet sex scene
(Someone else should talk about the whole Cow Scene. That was craziness.)
This set the tone, and the latter scene was there to help bring in Mickey's character's issue. (Plus, hey, puppet sex.)
At this point, random chaos was fun was I think people picked up independently that we needed to move this into plot-land. At least Jeremy did, as he began to weave together the core conflict of the show: attempt to emotionally destroy Ze Cupcake by having a host of children vomit all over her, all caught on camera.
There were some buildings scenes to that -- the producer pleading with Moocha to shoot the shot the shot well, with the ominous line of "Oh, you will get exactly what you want. And you will rue this day" and the reply of "Rue? Hmm. I don't think we should make rue, but yeah, it could be a cooking segment!" (Something like that.) And scenes between Moocha & Sammy the Squid to plot the destruction of Ze Cupcake by pouring ipecac into the children's punch.
In the middle of that was a side scene addressing my character, Marquis Wolfgang von Hate, connecting with a kid. The central conflict of that was "does the Marquis notice that the producer is filming it with the handicam?" The answer was a satisfying "no." So my character was geeking about Star Trek with this kid (with gems like "Life long and prosper all over those motherfuckers!") and later realized he was being recorded. We had a follow-up scene were I was demanding to have the tape, and the producer telling me he'd only give it back if he got three more shows out of me. Ogre, playing my bandmate and brother Saint Babykilla, agreed before I could say anything (as we decided it shouldn't be a conflict, since that produced more insanity down the road).
(At that moment, I figured out what I should be doing. In the 30 Rock paradigm, my character was Tracy Jordan, and this was the first episode.)
Then we had the big finish, where nearly everyone bought into the conflict of "do the children destroy the Cupcake with their vomit?" In the end, they didn't, because the children vomited (a condition we quickly negotiated before going to conflict was the fact that the children had to vomit -- they already ingested the ipecac) on the Pain Lottery trio instead. And then the Marquis told taught the kids a valuable lesson in moderation and hurling etiquette, something like that.
All while Moocha had to film it.
Seriously, it's some of the craziest fun I've had in a while, and proved to me that high-player table top games aren't inherently broken, if you have good players who can respect the dynamic.
Thank you, guys, for some kick-ass play.
There's a lot I'm leaving out because I hate writing long AP and I hate reading long AP, but that's what comments are for!