morosophe (morosophe) wrote,
morosophe
morosophe

Primetime Adventures: My Take on the Rules, Part I

...in which Morosophe waxes long on the rules for creating a show concept and your characters.

For those who are currently playing in my Primetime Adventures game, and for the prospective player, I thought I'd put this out there to "refresh" everybody's memory on the rules.  I actually wrote this before we started playing, and I thought, since I'm posting absolutely nothing else, I might as well put this out where somebody might be tempted to read it.  To anybody else reading this, if I make no sense, or, conversely, make the game appear extremely interesting, go check out Dog-Eared Designs, the official website.

To start with, Primetime Adventures is a role-playing game that attempts to duplicate the creative processes involved in making a television show, particularly focusing on the contributions of the showrunner and other writers.  As it is an RPG, the players each take the role of a character within the television show, with the exception of the Director (GM), who kind of combines the roles of director, showrunner (particularly if there's some extended plot about which the other players are kept in the dark), and the actors of the players' characters friends, enemies, pets, etc.  Pretty much, standard RPG stuff, so far.

So, on to what actually makes up a game (or campaign) of Primetime Adventures:

The Pitch.  This is where everybody sits down and decides on the show premise they want to try to sell to the networks.  The basic requirement of a successful show is that everybody in the room would totally watch this if it actually were on television.  It should also inspire players with some character and plot ideas (unlike, say, "the world is taken over by evil and you have no power and no friends--and of course there's no religion to help out, either--but you'll still be forced to make pathetic attempts to fight the evil."  Oh, wait, I just described Midnight.  My bad.)

Example pitch: A vampire slayer and her two friends fight vampires while dealing with all the normal problems of high school.

Character creation: Each player (except for the director) creates a character they will play in the game.  (Well, duh!)  Characters are fairly simple: they consist pretty much of an issue, and a total of three edges and connections (which must be split 2/1; either two edges and a connection, or two connections and an edge).  Some questions to ask yourself when making a character: Who would you cast in this part?  What's his relationship to the other players in the show?

Edge: A character's shtick, the thing he is or can do really well, that he uses to get what he wants.  This can include D&D-style skills, such as "Kickboxer" or "Genius at repairing mechanical devices," but don't limit yourself to that.  Would "Debutante" work well for your show?  What about "Origami artist"?  It all depends on the show.

Connection: A person the character knows, who can help him out in tight places.  This is not a fellow player character, but, rather, an NPC of some sort.  Examples may include a friend, spouse, mentor, neighbor, carpenter, or annoying little sister.  Possibilities are much greater, though:  What about a dead mentor, whose advice you remember in times of trouble?  Or a game show host, or whoever answers the phone at the Psychic Hotline?  Or even that person you hate, the thought of whom spurs you on to greater effort?

Issue: This is really the heart of the character.  What's he dealing with on a day to day basis?  What's his biggest temptation/fear/desire/motivation?  What is this character <i>about</i>?  Addiction to drugs, used as a substitute for the real world and people around him?  Desire for revenge for the death of a loved one, fueled by the fact that he feels partially responsible for the death, as well?  Whatever it is, this is what the character will be struggling with every week on the show, at least until such time as their issue is resolved or subsumed in another issue.

Example character:

Buffy, a vampire slayer attending Sunnydale High.
Issue: desire to be normal, like everyone around her, despite her extracurricular activities.
Edge: Vampire Slayer
Connections: Giles, her watcher; Angel, a handsome, mysterious stranger


There is no "character advancement" in D&D terms; you don't start out fighting bunnies for XP and end up fighting the Tirask, long years later.  However, characters can (and hopefully will) change over time, as their issues advance and their skills change.

Example character changes: Willow
Issues: Terrible shyness that prevents her initiating relationships-->Belief in her own magical power to solve every problem-->Abuse of magic-->Addiction to magic-->Fear of her power (I know, I skipped about six issues there, but I think I got the first and last ones pretty much right.)
Traits: Computer genius-->Wicca powerhouse  (Note: Willow didn't forget everything she knew about computers; she just started using them less and less to solve problems, so it became less central to her character.)


For more advanced, optional components of the characters, such as a nemesis or personal set, I recommend you see the book.
Next time: Season Arcs and Screen Presence, or, the Wow! Factor of Primetime Adventures.

(Since I haven't written the next section, don't expect to see it anytime within the next two months.)
Tags: "primetime adventures", "roleplaying"
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