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PTA: A Galaxy Divided – ending

October 10, 2010

We finished our PTA Star Wars campaign today… which was intense.

Story

The session before was both players’ Spotlight episodes, which meant we completely poured on the drama, and basically, this session was going to be mostly reflection about what happened and how the characters felt about things. That said, it being the last session meant I could hammer on the characters’ Issues full force with no regrets.

The war was mostly over- at this point, it’s just pockets of resistance fighting an unwinnable war, stacking bodies all the way.

Rihanna came to see that the Peacekeepers dogma of “necessary sacrifices” never actually ends- the sacrifices keep coming, forever, until atrocity after atrocity became the norm, instead of a price paid to move beyond it.

Gruchakla saw that the guerilla wookies he led were no longer the brave warriors fighting to protect their people- those warriors had died long ago, leaving the fanatics and bloodthirsty as the only fighters remaining.

Both decided to leave the war. On the personal level Rihanna’s relationship with Kenji had solidified and highlighted everything she was really fighting for. Gruchakla’s relationship with his father crumbled completely. After the session, I realized his father took on the role of all the people who Gruchakla had failed – demanding more ruthlessness, full of vengeance, etc.

Sen Jenak appeared again, this time, on his own side – offering both Rihanna and Gruchakla a chance to join his Jedi band – to retake Kashyyyk… and eventually the galaxy. Funny enough, it’s not so much that he, himself, was a great villain, as much as he served as a mouthpiece to the ambition and mindstate of violence and conquest which they both recognized at this point as being a lie.

They faced off with Sen Jenak, along with Gruchakla’s apprentice Ahba-naria, and despite having spent all their fanmail – they lost the conflict.

Ahba-naria is cut down, Gruchakla goes apeshit, leaving himself open, Rihanna takes the blow aimed for him and finally he cuts down Sen Jenak.

The end scenes were Gruchakla over their graves, “I failed again, but I’ll never stop trying.” and Kenji left waiting for Rihanna who will never come back.

Observations

I did well with the lessons from last time and kept plot elements to the minimum and just focused on wrapping up loose ends. Stake setting got tighter because of it.

1. Good stake setting makes failure totally interesting. You should never have a conflict with boring or crappy results, because framing the stakes should always put it along an axis of interest.

Gruchakla’s father challenged him to an honor duel and we set the stakes as “Do you win without hurting him badly?” The issue of winning isn’t at stake, it’s not hurting his father.

In other games, this would be difficult to play out because of the way most games handle combat and damage- it’s hard in most games to make “hitting too hard” a common issue that one can back up mechanically in an interesting way.

2. The more clear players are with the direction they’re going with their characters and a general sense of what they’re trying to do, the easier it is for the GM to frame a scene or for other players to frame scenes for them.

3. Players carrying over Fanmail between sessions does interesting things to the Budget. For example, in this session I got 3 extra Budget from carried over Fanmail, which really changed the tenor of the game. It’s kind of an extra little rule that really helps later episodes have more mechanical kick to go with the fictional investment.

We did a lot in 3 hours. I mentioned that most of my GM anxiety is that PTA requires so little prep that I worry I don’t have enough to run with. Jono and Sushu pointed out player anxiety kicked in because I was hitting them with good dilemmas and tough choices throughout play.

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