PTA – A Galaxy Divided Ep. 3August 29, 2010
After a month hiatus for life, traveling, etc., we got back into our Star Wars PTA game.
I think we’re starting to hit our stride. Everyone’s got a feeling for each other’s characters, the situation, the conflict, and the Issues in play. As a GM, it’s easier to really spike the situation with sticky scenes, and hammer on the issues in crunchy ways.
We finally saw a good flow of fanmail. (Accidental drift #1- the producer isn’t supposed to give out fanmail. I’m not sure why.)
Now that we’re hitting that stride, I’m really seeing how much PTA is a Directive-heavy game.
I’m re-reading the book, and carefully looking at the advice on conflicts, and realizing that what is obliquely stated but not outright- is that good conflicts deal either with the protagonist’s feelings/attitudes OR how they influence other characters’ feelings/attitudes.
Given that both of the protagonists have issues about the war they’re fighting, it makes it easy to turn many, though not all, action situations into applicable, good conflicts.
Good and Bad Conflicts, a tricky line
What’s tough, though, is that there’s a lot of conflicts in which it actually works better to set the stakes as “who wins” and leave the moral choices an aspect of narration:
Gruchakla had a fight with his clone, winning the fight (run as a conflict. Jono, had won the stakes, though I won the narration. I described his character disarming and finally leaving the clone helpless, though Jono decided Gruchakla would actually kill the clone.
While certainly the real “conflict” and emotional impact of the scene was him choosing to kill (think Empire Strikes Back and Luke’s test in the Dark Side Tree) – it would have been terrible to use as a mechanical conflict. I mean, what do I set as the stakes, “If I win, you DON’T kill him?” It was a heavy choice that worked -because- it was a choice.
Having done some re-reading of the book, I’m thinking that conflicts should never make choices for a player and their protagonist, but they can focus on whether a character recognizes something about their own self, or another, or communicates/displays that personality aspect.
Scenes and Genre Conventions
We had a couple of hiccups in scene setting (Accidental Drift #2- player-request scenes, in turn order. d’oh).
A lot resolved when I pointed out that we don’t need to worry about actual logistics, but we can just do scene cuts- it only needs to make enough sense that an audience buys into the action, not that we show every step taken to fix a machine/get these people to help/the planning, etc.
What I also found helpful was we were good about referencing Star Wars genre conventions:
“Yeah, and then it explodes, all sparky-explosion like”
“And then there’s a screen-wipe, and there you are landing on the planet”
“Oh, this is Star Wars, I can’t say he’s an asshole, um, ‘That Nurglewomp will pay!'”
“Let’s bring back in N2-V2, our show budget could probably only afford one fully articulating droid, so we’re going to feature it as much as possible.”
Although this is mostly geek factor, one thing these descriptions were good for were helping us remember genre conventions of how stories would work for an 80’s Star Wars Prequel series.
We had a really intense session for under 3 hours. A lot happened and we’ve really set up a lot of conflict to kick off for the double-spotlight session next time. I’m also impressed with how the deeper I go with PTA, the more depth it reveals in play.
(Comments are open for Jono, Sushu, or Matt)