Actual Play – PTA Today – Hooray! (2/23/09)

GM: Sean Nittner
System: Primetime Adventures

This was one of our better PTA sessions. It started with Kevin having a very clear idea about what was going on (which is good, it’s his spotlight episode) and everyone else kind of wondering what to do. Quickly though we added in some details (It’s Mr. Bawl’s Birthday… and he doesn’t know it… and it’s April 1st) to get the story a little more texture, something to bounce off of besides just Kevin’s torture of Silas.

Opening scenes

Kevin slowly but surely wearing Silas down until he has no sense of self, no will to live, etc. Vern and Mr. Bawls seem apathetic to Kevin’s actions so far.

1st Scene – Kevin opens it up, torturing Silas and getting his Transformer porn site ready. Kevin needs to “procure” some more supplies but when it comes to taking a hose, Vernon sicks Richard on Kevin to put him in line. Unfortunately, Kevin has grown into a giant in the store. Not only does he have his (mostly useless) stoner buddies but now Borris, the paintball dodger has moved in as well. With Borris help (and a airsoft bullet to the head) Kevin cows Richard into peeing his pants and fleeing.

2nd Scene – In the bathroom. Mr. Bawls talks to Richard about the necessity of pants (Richard is washing his in the sink while wearing an apron) and tries to send him home. Eva breaks in an gets mad at Bawls for not telling her he couldn’t eat dairy products, which she doesn’t realize is the same thing as being lactose intolerant. After she leaves Richard confronts Bawls on Kevin and tells him he needs to do something about him. Vern comes in to aid by telling Bawls that he has to clean up urine in the hose isle. Stuck with a mop in his hands Bawls folds and realizes he’s got to do something before Choshky comes down and makes his life miserable.

3rd Scene – In the parking structure / tough shed. Vernon corners Silas who was crying in the shed and tells him to man up and face Kevin. There is much confusion about whether Vernon is insulting or encouraging Silas but in the end he walks into the break room to “confront” his master.

And that is where we left off.

What rocked

Higher stakes. It seemed like people really WANTED the stakes, which is awesome. It doesn’t really matter if you win or lose, but I like it when the characters really care.

Excellent performances. There was a lot of passing fan mail around. I really dug people’s encouragement of each other.

As before in Vernon’s spotlight, we really know what this episode is about and it shows. I felt everyone contributing to Kevin’s issue and making interesting scenes out of it.

Seeing the result of a completed spotlight. Since Veron’s spotlight he’s gone from the underappreciated old guy who won’t stand up for himself to the underappreciated old guy who doesn’t take any more shit. He’s become the personification of the underdog you root for and I really like that change. It didn’t happen immediately but I’ve been seeing it in the last couple sessions. I’m really hoping that Kevin’s change is as dramatic after this episode. Character growth rocks.

The NPCs are all different now. I haven’t tried to flesh out too many of them but Eva, Richard, and Silas are all different people now, instead of just amorphous blobs. I’m happy about this as they have become more interesting for the players to interact with.

Players being really explicit about what they wanted. Mr. Bawls told me what he was hoping for in preparation for his spotlight episode. Kevin told me what kind of conflicts he wanted to face in his. This is GREAT stuff.

What could have been improved

As I said in the beginning the other players were searching a bit to figure out what they are doing. We’re really got to set up some “episode themes” that are easy to grab onto before the show starts, otherwise the players can feel lost when they are told to frame a scene.

Time… I got to lunch late which meant the game was short. The upside of this, however, was that I was very mindful of the time and tried to really push each scene to its conclusion quickly. Less fluff, more action.

Looking forward to next week.