Tuesday, 24 February 2015

A Week In Stories - February 24

Let's see if I can be a little less long-winded about the roleplaying games, shall we? I make no guarantees. However, let's start with TV, with all three of the shows I watch regularly right now:


The Flash - "Fallout"

Hey, we finally got to see Victor Garber in the present! Nifty!

And yet again, this show did what I like it for - it didn't hold its secrets too dearly. Joe told Barry what he'd discovered, leading to mental repercussions of future failure. Again, far more interesting than withholding it and waiting for the shoe to drop. No Linda this episode, though. Too bad.

And Grodd at the end! Eep!

Agent Carter - "Snafu"

The moment I liked best in this one was how quickly Sousa and Thompson believed Carter when she finally started to come clean. I had a theory that both of them wanted to hear that she was innocent, and how, and would jump at the chance. They both arrived there through very different means (and Peggy nails them on how they have refused to really see her as a person), but it was a nice moment of development for both. The end of the episode too, we had a consequence that I quite liked. I was upset with the death at the end of Agents of SHIELD midseason - because I wasn't sure who it mattered to, among the other characters. I mean, really mattered to. Who was that character important to? If I'm drawing a blank, you have an issue.

In this case, the character wasn't personally important, but will leave a major gap, and so it worked. Also, while we were given some good emotion, it didn't feel forced. I like my shows to have consequence. I just don't like it when those consequences are, in fact, inconsequential. (Also, on Agents of SHIELD, they had been squandering that character all season. Boo. I still love you, Agents of SHIELD. Just make the next death matter to someone, if you're going to go down that path.)

Arrow - "The Return"

Yet again, they aren't holding back secrets, even though this one could tear Thea apart. I am applauding, yet again, how they go right for the meat, and then the fallout. Thea knows the worst about Malcolm Merlyn, and she is pissed. Rightfully so, and I'm glad they're backing off from trying to make him a misunderstood villain that maybe we should like. I love John Barrowman, but he's doing a great job playing a bad guy here. Don't wreck it.

It was also unexpectedly emotional to see Tommy in flashback. I'd forgotten how much I liked that character!

Roleplaying Games

Shakespeare, VA

We finished character creation for the new game I'm running, using a Drama System setting, but playing using PrimeTime Adventures. It's set in a small town in Virginia with a world-class Shakespearean festival. I am leaning away from the meth use and more towards theatre politics and weird things that live out in the woods.

We played about half a session, and I didn't really get a chance as the GM to push anyone very hard yet, but it was really good for setting the scene. (This is mostly because I wasn't really sure what people's character issues were going to be until just before the game began.)

It started off with a readthrough of the play they're doing in the game, which is Macbeth, because if you want weird and creepy, and a story of ambition and dramatic falls, it's got to be Macbeth.   I had little one page scenes from the play for people to read interspersed with the characters setting up their relationships, and I was happy with that. It's already been requested that I dig out a longer one for next episode. I am happy to do so. (One character didn't get to read, as she got screwed out of a part, and hired on as a stagehand. So she mouthed the lines while I read Lady McB's part. I think that worked well.)

As a cast, we have a Black actor in his 30s trying to recover from a disastrous play he did with a certain director, for which he took a lot of flack. He got the break of playing McB, but then discovered they'd brought that certain director on when the last one disappeared. We have a young actor who has returned home to this small town to play Banquo, but is also reeling from his sister's recent death. We have a local man who always wanted to try acting but was afraid, and unexpectedly got cast as MacDuff. We have a local young woman who never left home for her big break, telling herself it was for the best.

I think I did a good job of making the director universally hated within minutes, which was the goal. Bill's character needs him as a nemesis, so no point in trying to make him beloved. A couple creepy things started to happen right away, with the actor playing McB running into the local eccentric in the woods, and the actor playing Banquo coming across what appears to be the ghost of his dead sister in an alley, with her mouth sewn shut.

I have no idea where we're going from here, but I am looking forward to it!

Paper Dolls

Last night, we played another session of this game, in which we each play three versions of one character, and it is mostly notable because a couple of characters, who had certainly had villainous tendencies, crossed the line into doing truly terrible things. To wit, stealing a four-month-old from her mother. To be precise, one of my characters was insanely jealous that another of my characters (a version of her from another world) had a baby, and, with the help of someone else, devised a plan to steal the baby. The mother is a wreck, as you might imagine.

Which was difficult to play, to find the line between committing to that emotion, while not screaming and wailing so loudly that Melissa and Stew's neighbours might get worried. Heartbreaking. That poor character (her name is Bee) is so fragile emotionally anyway, and this might really destroy her. Or change her. We'll see.

It's been fun finding those lines between playing the same person, but having them be notably different. We're all trying to be Tatiana Maslany here, and it works surprisingly well. There were some major shocks, and the plot line moved forward in a way it hasn't for an episode or two, so I am happy.

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