A few observations on how to achieve successful, fun play in PTA, garnered in part from a recent ‘tips’ discussion on Story-Games, proven by actual play:
- SUPER IMPORANT RULE ONE: Keep Stakes limited to what the character wants out of the scene. Let me emphasize this: what the character (not player) wants (not ‘what will happen’).
- Bullshit: “If I win, a, b, and c happens, in that order, in this way, such that we needn’t even play it out.”
- Not Bullshit: “My guy wants to find out more about X if I win.” or “My guy wants to be impressively competent if I win.”
- This is so simple, and in the past I’ve seen it done wrong (and done it wrong) so many times.
- IMPORTANT Rule Two: The high card narrates the conflict, but THE GM STILL INTRODUCES “PLOT” FACTS. Put another way: “This is PTA, not Inspectres.”
- Bad - The narrating player says: “You beat him up, pow biff bang, and pull him up by his collar, and he admits that he’s working for… “FATHER DONNELLY!”
- Good- The narrating player says: “You beat him up, pow biff bang, and pull him up by his collar, and he admits that he’s working for…” *turns to GM to fill in the blank*
- Do not include specific consequences of failure or success when setting Stakes. Leave that up to the High Card player. Just. Say. What. You. Want.
Other good things to remember:
- The Producer frames all scenes. The players just take turns requesting scenes, providing a focus, location and an agenda.
- On the agenda: Don’t overcomplicate. The agenda should simply be what the characters are “up to” on the surface, not what the whole scene is going to be about.
- Not every scene must have a conflict.