There’s a great RPG called Primetime Adventures by Matt Wilson. It’s a heck of a game. It’s my favorite of the “indie,” narrativist RPGs. It’s really good stuff. I highly recommend it if you love good stories and good TV. It’s also a great one-shot or convention game, too.
Not only is PTA a great game in and of itself, it has really affected the way I look at running other RPGs, too, even D&D. In PTA you create a TV show and play through some episodes. Like with TV, not all the starring characters in the show (“protagonists,” in PTA lingo) are the star of every single episode. PTA uses a concept called “screen presence,” which dictates how much of the episode is centered on any given protagonist. Each protagonist will have a screen presence that will vary throughout the season. For example, in a short, five-episode season, Protagonist A might have a screen presence of 1,2,2,3,1. 1 meaning a minor, supporting role and 3 meaning A is the star of that episode. In fact, A’s not just the star, that episode is her “spotlight episode.” PTA defines “spotlight episode as:
Every protagonist has one spotlight episode per season, and it presents a player with a clear opportunity to reveal that protagonistâ€™s complexity. Spotlight episodes are the ones where the studio knows they have a doozy and promote it like crazy all week. For this episode, the spotlight character blossoms in front of the camera, and by the end, that character canâ€™t help but to have grown.
I really like the concept of spotlight episodes in RPGs. Sure, they often evolve naturally on their own, but I like the idea of planning an adventure around a certain character’s — and its player’s — personality, history, desires, fears, etc. in a way that might result in a big epiphany or victory (or defeat) that will change the character or how the player runs it.
Continue reading 101 Days of D&D: "Spotlight episodes"