This was the third "mini-convention" organized at a game store in Oakland, called "End Game", which was organized in collaboration with RPGnet. I'd been to the previous events in April and July (cf. my End Game April Fool's 2006 Mini-Con Report and my End Game July 2006 Mini-Con Report).
There were 17 events scheduled in three time slots of 4 hours each (10AM-2PM, 3PM-7PM, and 8PM to 12PM). I think most but not all of the scheduled games ran. However, for this one, I was only able to get in one game: Primetime Adventures 2nd Edition, as run by Chris Hanrahan (who also runs the shop and organizes the con, as well as having two gaming podcasts).
This was a run of Primetime Adventures with the predefined concept of doing a Shadowrun TV series. However, we collectively created our characters and connections, along with the details of the setup. The event description was:
So Chummer, you think you got what it takes to run the streets? You got the chrome, the Neuyen, or the Magic to survive out there? Only way to find out is to run with us...
Join us for this Pilot Episode of "Runnin' the Core." Prime Time Adventures presents role playing in a more episodic televsion approach. Get a taste of it here using on of the most classic, deadly settings I could think of.
Most of the players were new to Primetime Adventures, and this was Chris' first time GMing it. Thus, there was a lot of time spent explaining the rules and concepts of the game. We also discussed jointly the concept. We started with the idea of doing a Shadowrun series, but it was open after that. We agreed to play a shadowrunning group doing a fairly typical job -- break into a facility to get something for hire.
We then went into coming up with characters. There were four players: Mike, John D'Amanda, Jarys, and myself. Mike started with the concept of a heavily-cybered soldier who was losing his grip on humanity, and inwardly afraid of what that would do. He went by the handle "Edge". I followed this with the concept of a lost sibling of Mike's solo who was the exact opposite -- a shaman who avoided any technological integration, who had no online or electronic identity. I at first was considering a brother, but I then decided to be a sister. We immediately started working out a history, though we decided that neither of us knew who the other was at the start. We were twins who had been separated when our parents went to jail. Her name was originally Alison, but she took the name "Amadahy" (meaning "forest water" in Cherokee). Her issue was "Zealot for Native States".
John D'Amanda wanted to play a werewolf, named Lon Fenris, a blade-using warrior type who was struggling with the bestial side of his personality. Jarys wanted to play a technomancer -- someone who had embraced an underlying union of magic and technology, whose name was "Ea". We eventually decided that Ea would be the central character for this pilot episode, so his Issue stat would be at 3 for the episode, though the others were also featured since they were introduced, with their Issue stats all at 2.
We also did a round of questions about each other. Chris as GM asked each of us a question about what another PC was like. Questions were ones like "What is he like in a fight?" and "What is her flaw/fault?"
We then went through the Shadowrun itself. We met the "Johnson" (the unfortunate SR slang for a go-between who arranges illegal operations). We then proceeded to our mission -- breaking into a research building to steal the data on a new ammunition round. We researched our target first, done as a scene at the technomancer's headquarters, which was filled with creepy organic technology that made the over-cybered solo very nervous. In a conflict, we acquired the list of personnel, and developed suspicions that this job was not what it seemed. However, I think because of the nervous solos, we cut short our investigations to go break into the place immediately (another conflict).
So we then had roughly three scenes during the break-in. We cracked the outer security and slipped into the facility, with my shaman in disguise as one of the scientists. However, the technomancer then ran into black ICE (i.e. lethal electronic security) and failed to overcome it. We then started guns blazing, and overpowered the suspiciously weak opposition. Escaping, we determined that this was a setup to discredit the company. I think John D'Amanda's soldier decided to sell the story to the media -- but in a conflict, I had my contacts spread that the story was a hoax to suppress it. We then contacted the Johnson and got our pay without incident.
Overall, this was a short 4-hour slot -- so the session should be viewed mostly as an introduction to the system for most of the players involved. The players were indeed intrigued by the system, and we did get through a basic plot with zero setup. There were some tensions, though, partly from basing it on a more traditional tabletop game. The mechanics mostly went smoothly, but there were some unclear points. When we succeeded in discovering things, Chris as Producer told us background information first, and then the narrating player was able to describe how he got that information. Also, there was no formal process of proposing a scene. Instead, we just proceeded from one action to another, more like in a Shadowrun game.
In story terms, I don't think it held up well. It was a tricky concept in the first place, I think. Also, the technomancer was the spotlight character but didn't have a strong issue. He had this tension between science and mysticism, and knew that his destiny was to bring Mike and my's characters together. But that wasn't very grabbable. Meanwhile, the plot we were involved in was a basic double-cross largely about the corruption of the police, which didn't connect with this. So, it was a fun pilot to make, but I doubt anyone would have picked it up for primetime.
I was only there for a short time this time, so I have fewer observations than the last time about the setup. The notable change to the format was that there was an hour-long break between the afternoon and evening slots to eat dinner. I did go to dinner with my friend Russell from San Diego, and Paul Tevis (who does the podcast "Have Games Will Travel"). The restaurant across the street had good food, but unfortunately took well over an hour to deliver it, so Paul was late for his game. However, in principle it was much nicer to have some dinner and chat time before the evening slot.