13 April 2005

Read-through Review of Prime Time Adventures

This one is going to be short. Partly because Prime Time Adventures is a short game and partly because it's another that's hard to judge without actually playing it.

It's about roleplaying TV shows along the lines of Buffy, Angel, Alias, Farscape (those are all in there as inspirations). Adventure shows that are focused on characters.

The rules are pretty simple and they look fully capable of doing the job.

I particularly like the spotlight episode rule - each season, your protagonists gets one spotlight episode - all about them and their issues. Other episodes you'll be either normally involved or in a more minor role. Interestingly, you decide which is going to be which at the start of the season. This also determines how many dice you get to roll during each episode.

Another thing that seems to often be talked about is fan mail. This didn't seem so big to me from reading it, but it may matter more in play. The Producer (GM) may add dice against a protagonist from their budget (based on episode importance). However, this number of tokens then go into a pool. Any player may, once per scene, take a token and give it to another player in recognition of cool stuff they are doing. This is fan mail. Players may spend fan mail to get bonus dice. Seems pretty cool.

It looks good, I think it will be fun to play. I suspect the hardest parts will be thinking up good issues for the protagonists - that is, what complicates their lives all the time - and keeping the episode running in a nice TV-like structure. Scenes, acts, buildup all need to work right.

Overall? Well worth a look. It's going on the "to be played" list.


Luke said...

I recently ordered a copy of this for Conan. I can't say that I was that impressed. Though the concept is a good one and the execution was done well, I was left thinking if the book was really necessary or useful. It reminded me of Little Fears, a great idea, executed well but really it didn't need a book to do it.

I will be interested to hear how it plays out though.

The Gamester At Large said...

Hmm... I wonder if it's because the book is more of a toolkit for creating games than something you can just run that you thought that?

I've been pondering this in preparation for my review of Sorcerer (my other new purchase). In both cases, the games give you rules for running a style of game. However, in both cases you don't get a setting (or equivalent). Just advice on how to make one and some examples.

To be honest, I'm not sure what you mean by "a great idea, executed well but really it didn't need a book to do it" - I mean, it is a great idea and well done, but it's not going to be played by anybody if it isn't published, right?

Luke said...

Let me try and explain. I think it is because it doesn't contain anything that most people could come up with given 10 minutes to run a game from a TV Show perspective.

Again the closest comparison I can think is Little Fears. Horror with children, what a great idea, but it didn't need a book to flesh it out. Primetime Adventures presented a reasonable good idea but I don't see much use for the book after that. I would have read it and used the idea, but I don't think I would have even used the book again.

I don't know if I making any sense.

hix said...

Chip in about fanmail: we just used the equivalent in our TSoY game on Tuesday and it worked brilliantly for highlighting what conflicts everyone was interested in.

hix said...

As for the necessary/useful debate, there are 2 things I totally wouldn't have thought of on my own:

1. Screen Presence altering your ability to affect a conflict as it moves up and down.

2. Basing a scene around a meaningful conflcit about the character's Issue and only making one dice roll to see how it turns out.

The Gamester At Large said...

Ah, I think I see where you are coming from now, Luke. I don't agree though - and not just due to 'I wouldn't have thought of it on my own'.

The point is that the game is for running games like these TV shows. Sure, you could munge a different game into that shape using some of the ideas in here, but why bother? This game does it fine.

Luke said...

Number 1 sounds interesting. Please explain further.

hix said...

1. Screen Presence altering your ability to affect a conflict as it moves up and down.

So at the first session when you design your show, everyone decides on their Screen Presence over the course of the season, right? 1 means you're a minor character in that episode, 3 means you're the Spotlight character and all the attention is on you.

However, that's also the number of dice you have available to roll during a Conflict. So, you're most effective when the episode is all about you.

Check out "Moose in the City", I think it provides a good illustration:


The point: in trad games the focus is on the character. Their abilities don't very all that much from session to session (I'm thinking about slowly mounting XP in D&D, right?). In PTA, you don't think about your character, you think about your character's place in the overall Season. That means - because you have a lot of directorial input into the pacing and content of the game - you probably manuoevre your biggest conflicts to occur around the time of your Spotlight Episode, so you have the power to make things come out in your favour.

hix said...

Crap. That reference is: