Making PTA work – hooray

Played another session of Primetime Adventures last night – our Ironwall series.  There will be a summary of events from this interesting and interestingly low-key episode, but just a few notes on making the game work.

(This is not a super challenging thing for everyone, but I’ve struggled with it as a GM and Player in the past, so I still think about it.)

1. I felt like I was checking the book a lot in our first session – doubting and double-checking everything I said.  Last night, I purposely put the books far to the side and just ran with what my gut told me was the right rule for this or that bit in the conflicts.  Better.

2. All that stuff about setting stakes in the game? Yeah. Ignore that.  When there’s a conflict, ask “What do you want?”  Get that answer.  If someone tries to answer with “If I win, then X happens.”, kick them in the junk, and repeat your question.

Corrolary: If two (or more) people are saying what they want in the same conflict, make sure that it’s logically possible for them both to get what they want at the same time BEFORE you draw cards.

GM: NPCs don’t want stuff – at least, it’s not stated by you – they take what they are given as a result of the player’s success or failure.

3. Saying what actually happens as a result of the card draw is the job of the narrator, NOT the person saying “What I want is…”

4. It’s the narrator’s job to say what happens after the card draw, but is still the GMs job to reveal… you know… previously unknown stuff, not related to a player’s character.  Narrator doesn’t say “And then Joe reveals the murderer is… JANET!”  Saying who the murderer is falls to the GM. (Unless a player wants it to be them. 🙂

That’s it. That is making the game work.  Mostly? Point #2.


  1. I’m still leaning toward the camp of “The best part of PTA is the pitch process, everything else doesn’t get in the way, but doesn’t really help, either…”

  2. At some point we’ll have to take a poke at Mortal Coil, which incorporates parts of the pitch process into regular play.

  3. Yeah, you got me wanting to do PTA again, now that you’ve hammered the kinks out of our collective understanding of it.

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