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Primetime Adventures Kickstarter

June 9, 2014

One of my favorite games, Primetime Adventures, is getting relaunched via Kickstarter.

It is one of THE BEST rpgs ever designed.  Period.

I’ve run/played in 3 campaigns over the last few years and it’s definitely the “go to” game for my group as something we know we can always come to and have a great time.

I’m just going to talk a bit about the design real quick and why it works so well:

Fan Mail

The biggest thing is the reward system.  Whenever a player does anything people at the table think is cool, they are rewarded a Fan Mail token out from the pool of tokens.  This was one of the first games to push the immediate on the spot reward system, and because it’s not just the GM, but anyone, what you find happens is people start keying in on what’s entertaining for the group as a whole.

Issues

Each character is defined by an Issue.  A core problem they’re facing that the story and the game is going to revolve around.  “Hide my past”, “Face my feelings”, “Make atonement”, etc.  What these do is become Flags and focal points for play – everyone knows this is what your character is about, so everyone pushes the story around these things.  The Issues tell everyone what the story should focus on, though not how to treat it, and what you improvise around it produces great roleplaying and gets you Fan Mail.

Spotlight and Seasons

Campaigns are a set number of sessions.  At the beginning of a campaign, you assign a set of numbers indicating your “Spotlight” – how much any session will focus on your character vs. your character sliding into a support role.  This helps everyone figure out which character’s plots to focus on more in a given session and pacing the overall stories, without necessarily dictating exactly what will happen.

Over the course of several sessions, you find that the flow of conflict grows as you become more invested in your characters and the stakes of what obstacles lay before you.  Not only that, but you start finding yourself flush or empty on Fan Mail and your choices become harder about when and how to spend, all under the same elegant rules from the start.

Narration Trading

One of the original narration trading games to come out, and one of the few to do it well.  PTA has two important things you get out of any conflict resolution: whether the goal succeeds or not, and which player is the one to actually narrate it.  Because this could be anyone at the table who took part in the card draw (including players whose characters aren’t necessarily involved in the conflict), you get a lot of fun narration that maybe you didn’t anticipate.   It also means it’s impossible to railroad this game.

Budget

The GM has a limited “budget” of points to spend to create conflicts.  This forces you as a GM to pick which conflicts matter – no more “roll to pick the door” if it ultimately doesn’t matter, you’ll start skipping that stuff because you’ll want to save your points for things that are interesting and fun.   It also gives each game session a short time limit, so you have natural stopping points in play.  The Budget Points feed the pool of Fan Mail to be given out, and the spent Fan Mail feeds back a portion of it into the Budget.

Dead Simple Mechanics

The game uses the standard 52 playing cards, that you can get anywhere.  Character sheets are small and easy to work with.  It really is an excellent game to introduce non-gamers to, or folks who like non-crunch games focused on Narrativist play.

Go support it! It’s a game I can’t say enough good things about.

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