The PRP Discussion Thread

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Xyld
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The PRP Discussion Thread

Post by Xyld » Fri Mar 17, 2017 6:35 pm

I see a bunch of people running PRPs, but I have heard relatively nothing concerning people's experiences actually running them. I think it would benefit virtually everyone involved in one way or another to talk about their experiences running PRPs, share pitfalls, and give advice about what worked helped make for a better PRP.

This is the intent of this thread.

I recently ran a PRP named "Tales from the Night Shift" for a single PC (Christine Yorecaster). I had a lot of fun running it and, while I cannot speak for anyone else but myself, I believe tpo Christine had fun too.

The great part about running for a single player was that I could really make it a personal experience for the character. Early on, I looked at a copy of the player's sheet and I saw the things that she was strong in, who the character was, and where that character was focused. I saw skills, specialities and merits that she had invested in and would never get a chance to use in a normal chat experience, so I decided to base my story around those. More importantly, I took note of the backstory of the character because it was interesting and dark, but at the same time mysterious, nebulous and unresolved. In the end, I settled on the theme of horror working its way into a place the character thought was safe - the place of Christine's employment, a hospital.

I asked a few questions about the character’s life - about things she liked/hated about her job and the people she interacted with. I liked this a lot because it made it easier for me to flesh out the story and bridge my imagination with her expectations. There were NPCs who she made up and then there were a bunch I threw in there too. I think there were at least ten NPCs that were mentioned with many others understood to be in the background. This made for a stark and deliberate contrast when she found herself totally alone facing an unthinkable horror.

I know my own short-comings and one of them is that I am not very quick when it is time to post. That can be a very big problem, but it was easy enough for me to get around that - The descriptions of the setting and NPCs, some of the dialogue, and all of the narration were pre-written in advance. In fact, I had eleven pages ready to go in case the plot went that far.

The advantages to this was that it really made certain things, like the initial set-up, specific scenes and narrative element move faster so the player wouldn't get bored. It also allowed me to really manipulate the details of what the PC saw and experienced to get the proper mood going and steer her through the story that was unfolding. I was able to give her subtle cues about what was happening and where the story was going. In short, I was pro-active, not reactive.

Not having to think of everything on the fly was helpful, but I worried that it would seem as if I were rail-roading the player and rushing them through the story. Whether or not that happened can only be answered by the player, but she seemed a good sport through it all. I made sure to write in places where she was the driver of the action and not just a passenger, but I think it was because we were both coming from a place that was of mutual respect that it worked out well.

The story itself had increasing thresholds where if things went wrong, it would make it harder, or impossible to continue. We had fun with the mechanics, particularly where the PC went into surgery expecting to save one life, but pulled off some remarkable rolls to save three lives by rolling an amazing number of Successes. If she failed in this surgery, the PRP would have been short, but still significant to the PC in a different way. Ironically, it was her failure later that cut the last few pages from my script and made me write an ending on the fly, but made for the best and most poignant ending we could have ever hoped for.

Coming away from this, I got a better idea of how much writing I had to do to make the plot flow the way I wanted it to. It really should have been a two-scene affair, but with the truncated ending, I think it came out to be around five or six hours of time. (I was expecting 3-4 hours). That amount was just for one player with constant back-and-forth, however. Your mileage may vary depending on number of players.

Would I do this again? Yes and no.

The “No”, is simply because it was a great investment in time and effort on my part. Going through extra hoops just to run the PRP was a little off-putting, but I understand the reasoning behind some of it (I think). I also feel that I sacrificed a lot of time that I could be working on my two characters and keeping them engaged. I’m also afraid that if I help support the PRP effort that the larger things that need to happen for the game will be forgotten and fall by the wayside in favor of a bunch of unconnected, isolated, independent stories.

The “Yes” is because I did this for the best reason I could think of - to thank someone for being my friend over two iterations of Wanton Wicked. I have other friends who I would make the same efforts for, but to tell the truth, I would rather volunteer than to be asked - that way I don’t feel cornered into doing it and I will have more fun writing and running it. Having completed a successful PRP, I don't think that it is necessarily a matter of “if” at this point, but rather "whether or not I am inspired to do so."

Got an PRP-running experience, advice or observations? Please share them below.
Regentwill
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Post by Regentwill » Sat Mar 18, 2017 12:21 am

Okay, so I've run a number of PRP's, some of them have been one shot or two scenes, some longer. I did this on 4.0 and 5.0 as well as some other chats. I enjoy PRP's because A) I don't have the time or drive to be an official ST in that capacity, and B) I like the flexibility of people able to run short and to the point storylines that don't have an overarching plot I have to worry about.

I really enjoy running these things, I prefer to set them up like a quest in Grand Theft Auto, there's a basic premise of what should be done, but I completely improvise how you get there by the actions of the PC, I like people to have multiple ways to get into a building, so to say. I don't make you go through the front door. I don't look at sheets ahead of time, but I can see the benefit in that. But I do talk to players, and I'll usually come up with a PRP before I even have players, then get sign ups, then modify it a bit to play to the strengths of those characters.

The first couple months of this chat PRP has been super important. Things have been slow, official scenes have not started yet, so it's up to us, the players, to keep things interesting and draw attention. I am hoping when ST stuff actually starts it will blow us out of the water.

But that's a bit off topic! More on topic, a lot of people talk about favorites or running for the clique, I might run one or two scenes a month at the request of friends, but most of my official PRP's that I come up with, I take as first come first serve type deal.

Anyways, that's more ramblings and scarcely coherent thoughts on the matter. It's been a long day.
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BlerdLife
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Post by BlerdLife » Sat Mar 18, 2017 5:32 pm

I'll copy and paste my usual PRP opener here:

[ Before we begin I have my usual short preamble before I run a scene. Hello! Some of you I have run before and some of you this is our first time together so I'll do everything I can to make sure it's a positive experience. It is a bit of a smaller crowd but to make sure things don't get lost and everyone has the most ability to interact with the setting... there are a few things I do as an ST. First, noticing things: When I do a noticing roll I tend to give everyone a slightly different facet of the information. For example, Jessica's 3 successes might tell her about the object the person is holding where as the same 3 successes would give Sam information about the person's accent. I do this for many reasons but not least of which to make Investigation NOT a matter of who types the fastest being the main means of who participates. ]

[ Next, when there is a lot to do: People to talk to, things to investigate, spirits to search for, etc. I will make a list of all of the options and let everyone pick one or two to look into. This, in my experience, helps create that group feel of everyone working together. Finally, I will use color. Pink is me OOCly talking or sharing information. Blue means that I am expressly talking as an NPC who is a non-objective view. Yellow means I am giving straight up description. I will also try to use CAPS when speaking to a specific PC in order to make it so everyone can stay in check. Are there any questions? ]

Sometimes if I don't have a good sense of the group, I'll ask this all important question:

"What are things that STs do that make you feel punished?"

Some players don't want their NPCs arriving into the world just to be beaten up on or lost or hurt or needing to be rescued. Others live for it. Some players feel snubbed if NPCs don't recognize what they've accomplished. Others don't care. Some players feel cheated if things are really weak and they're prepared for a fight. Others hate feeling as if they're the other dude in a combat. So, I ask that first, too.
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Aetou
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Post by Aetou » Sat Mar 18, 2017 6:32 pm

BlerdLife wrote: Some players don't want their NPCs arriving into the world just to be beaten up on or lost or hurt or needing to be rescued. Others live for it. Some players feel snubbed if NPCs don't recognize what they've accomplished. Others don't care. Some players feel cheated if things are really weak and they're prepared for a fight. Others hate feeling as if they're the other dude in a combat. So, I ask that first, too.
Knowing the players and finding out what they want is probably the biggest thing.

Some groups want to spend 3 hours rolling the massive dice pools they've bought and feeling awesome when they roll 9 successes and things melt. Others want to be made to think and solve puzzles as players, rather than abstracting the tasks with dice, and might be happy if nothing gets rolled at all. Find out if players want a story, a puzzle or a fight then try and give it to them. Don't make too many assumptions though, even if you know the players well - it's more than possible for a player to be looking for a fight in one scene and a story in another.

Communication is the biggest thing. Talk to people before, talk to people during, talk to people after.

After that, be flexible! I can understand wanting to have pages and pages of preparation, but usually just 1-2 pages is better. Think about the different options people might take, and the consequences you want them to face for them - and be prepared to let a scene get taken in a different direction that leaves 90% of your 'plan' undone.

A lot of that really comes with experience so, for somebody starting out with PRPs, perhaps the best advice is to start small and work up. 2-5 hours doesn't actually let you do too much and until you get a feel for that avoid grand plots and focus on good encounters. 1-3 encounters in an online scene is usually all you'll have time for.
Xyld
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Post by Xyld » Sat Mar 18, 2017 6:40 pm

BlerdLife, I liked how you had an Excel sheet ready for all of the players to post relevant info into for your reference. I thought that was something that could potentially be very helpful, but might fly under the radar as assumed standard operating procedure. I will have to incorporate that with some customizing. Shared Excel sheets might be a great way to deal with initiative too, now that I think about it.

I also liked the preamble you gave explaining how you run your game and what the expectations the players should have and what not. I did the same in my PRP and I think it proved to be very helpful.
Psychoclown
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Post by Psychoclown » Sat Mar 18, 2017 7:41 pm

I just say I agree with most of what's been posted here. I try to pre-write as much as I can. Opening setting, key NPC entrances, prepared speeches, whatever I can be reasonably sure will take place depending on the scene I'm running. A vampire religious ritual is less likely to go off the rails suddenly, so more can be pre-written vs a investigation/combat style PRP. One thing I will say, don't be too quick to push things along. I've found myself doing that a few times and cutting off players from being able to do some casual character building RP.

And an opening blurb about your style, philosophy, and general practices is very good idea. Communication is key. I usually do some form of a OOC blurb about what they can expect, how I run things, ect. Its also a good idea to know what your PCs want or can do, so they all get a chance to be the cool kid. Regent does a good job of that. In his vamp PRP for instance, everyone got a chance to show off their powers/skills/background. Daniel got some good stuff from Auspex use. Lidia used her Daeva charm and some other ritual she knew. Harvey got to employ his scary scumbag persona and utilize his knowledge of the streets. Giving everyone a chance to shine is a good approach.

And I agree with Regent's GTA philosophy. Let players be creative and adjust on the fly. I usually have a rough map of how things will go if no one throws a monkey wrench at me, but if/when they do, I happily try to alter things on the fly to make it all work. Now I may have some surprises planned, because I like to keep players on their toes, but if they do something clever that neutralizes that surprise, then I let them enjoy the positive results of their efforts. Conversely if they do something that seems foolish, I'm not going to hold back on the consequences.
TPO Jerry Lakin (Vampire) and Roy Kozlowski (Mortal+)
BlerdLife
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Post by BlerdLife » Sun Mar 19, 2017 5:36 pm

Xyld wrote:BlerdLife, I liked how you had an Excel sheet ready for all of the players to post relevant info into for your reference. I thought that was something that could potentially be very helpful, but might fly under the radar as assumed standard operating procedure. I will have to incorporate that with some customizing. Shared Excel sheets might be a great way to deal with initiative too, now that I think about it.

I also liked the preamble you gave explaining how you run your game and what the expectations the players should have and what not. I did the same in my PRP and I think it proved to be very helpful.
OH YEAH!

No, Excel sheets are life and love. BTW; feel free to take any of these resources and use them yourselves - make a copy. That's why they're open to being edited.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... sp=sharing

Sometimes, I'll admit, I'll forget and it usually shows because things get a little disorganized. This is another thing I'll have though I should have it more often.

https://docs.google.com/drawings/d/175u ... sp=sharing

To see what it looked like in use:
https://docs.google.com/drawings/d/1Bge ... USpDM/edit
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ChrissieN
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Post by ChrissieN » Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:55 am

*quietly steals*
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