Prime time adventures: the writers' room

Here we discuss the ideas that have been put forward. Ask about the ideas that appeal to you, the ideas that you want more information on.

Be nice. Do not dismiss an idea just because it reminds you of something or you think it has been done before.

To begin: Roger:

The Longest Fall

Why that title? What’s the feel here? Is the legal system they’re serving a fair one or a bodge up? Does one government dominate the expansion (probably the Chinese if it does). Why are they misfits?

London, NW* (historical/soap): What’s the focus? What brings the characters together other than the street they live in?

Orion Rising

Is this alternate history or secret history?

Too Meta For Words (modern): Are they writers for one series? (In which case see THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW) or a workshop for hire? In the latter case I’ve an alternative title for you: DEVELOPMENT HELL.


Fiends: Why do we like any of the characters? What are their job descriptions? Is there hope in Hell?


Should Have Been Done Long Ago

The seizure of the control centre is the start of the story. What’s the rest of it? Do the people who have led the revolution have the slightest idea what to do now? Is this a happy story?

An Examination of Secrets
Why Vienna? And who are our heroes?

Dr Bob

The Wall
Are we in the camp the whole time? Do we ever see things from the ‘native’ point of view?

The Retirement Home
Is this from the gods’ point of view or the staff?

First Contact
This is another one that could be played from either side. Are we the humans or the Imperial First Contact Team dealing with these outlanders?

And re-pitching the one from a con game Mike ran:
The Circus From Nowhere

This is a brilliant idea! Tell me more! (My memory isn’t good enough to hold any of the details…)


The Merriment of the Twisted Wheel

Why is it ‘Shakespearean’ exactly? I can see why that time period suits the other two sources

The E Men

Are they all lifers? Or is there parole?

As far as I can see we’re supposed to be flexible about our pitches, so please take all of this as “how I see it” and feel free to disagree.

The title is a description of orbit, and of one possible failure mode of EVA, and of the social situation that’s put you there. The space police is an international force rather than owned by one country, and for you to get posted there your superior has to recommend you and you leave your usual home-force promotion track… so you get all the awkward cops, the ones who insist on telling the truth even when it’s not convenient, the ones everyone knows are on the take but they can’t prove anything, the timeservers who drag down the whole department, and so on.

I don’t have strong feelings about national dominance but it should be an international treaty-based force. Quite possibly individual stations have their own security forces if they’re large enough, but security forces that can deal with workers getting drunk and starting fights may not be equipped for a murder investigation.

As I see it, that’s the binding concept (as with Coronation Street, I believe). Possibly in the pilot there’s a bombing raid and they have to pull together because nobody outside will bother to prioritise them over the rest of London?

Yes. :slight_smile: Depends on how we feel about it, and indeed this might not become obvious until fairly late in the game.

I would like the players to feel comfortable getting to the big stuff straight out of the gate. The enmities, love, dread, rage etc. I want people to be able to declare that they’re plain-dealing villains, like in the early plays. And I’d like to see the bawdy wit gamers have put to in-game use.

I think there is parole at some point.I imagine that it might be beyond the scope of the game(depending on what people want of course). I imagine something funny and sometimes wistful.

The Wall
Are we in the camp the whole time? Do we ever see things from the ‘native’ point of view?

Not in the camp all the time. After all, the whole reason for a wall is for security, so those pesky natives will be up to stuff all the time. Also you’ve got to source stone (or timber and turf) to build the wall out of, so someone local will be making a buck (denarius?) selling it to the Roman Army. And Farmer Giles will be complaining to his local chieftain when we build it right across his best grazing land. I guess it could be played either as Us (PCs) vs Them, or have PCs on both sides. (Now I have a mental image of the Britons from Chemsford 123!)

The Retirement Home
Is this from the gods’ point of view or the staff?

I wasn’t thinking of gods at all. More like where Highlander immortals who age but don’t die go when they can’t wave swords around anymore. Or Vampires who just can’t be bothered with all the Masquerade style politicking. For some the young whippersnappers don’t want great-times-n grandma around any longer. For others its a nice quiet place to hide from a world which won’t stand still. Think of all those school stories of ‘teens with special powers’ and make it an old folks home instead. Filled with Victor Meldrews and Last of the Summer Wine, or that storyline in Cloud Atlas where Jim Broadbent leads a rebellion at the care home.

First Contact
This is another one that could be played from either side. Are we the humans or the Imperial First Contact Team dealing with these outlanders?

Either is possible. If we want investigation then being human and discovering alien stuff is less meta than pretending we think humans lay eggs or worship mobile phones.

And re-pitching the one from a con game Mike ran:
The Circus From Nowhere
This is a brilliant idea! Tell me more! (My memory isn’t good enough to hold any of the details…)

The original con game backstory was a magical country had been erased from existence/history by its enemies, but that only applied to things and people within the country’s borders at the moment it happened. The travelling circus was touring the USA at the time. Everyone in the circus came from the magical country and thus had magical/supernatural powers. The stage magician who really did use magic to do his tricks. The strongman who really could bend iron bars. The performing tiger who was really a shapeshifter. And Michelle was playing an ordinary girl who had run away to join the circus. Enemies would attempt to sniff out the magic and erase us like they’d erased our country.

There is definitely hope in hell, for demons. Dammed souls, not so much. Demons work in various hierarchies, serving more senior demons, and there are possibilities for advancement. Of course, blackmail and character assassination are key elements in getting promoted, but you also have to get the work done.

There probably aren’t going to be any characters who are actually nice, or likable. They can plausibly have appeal through wit and ingenuity. The characters’ bonds are inevitably going to be fairly mercenary, rather than the emotional bonds that are more normal in a TV series, according to the rulebook.

This would work as an In Nomine campaign, though I’m less sure about it for PTA.

For some of them, they’ve known each other for a long time. After decades, even sworn enemies find they have more in common with each other than they do with the young folk.


This sounds something like the ‘international’ areas in China in the 1930s. Lots of money to be made, lots of varying authorities and styles of doing things. And what law there is having to improvise.




The fun thing would be how much the demons resemble humans. And perhaps how long it takes for the audience to realise what they’re watching.

Oh and let me throw in something I should have mentioned earlier:


The staff at a school for the unusually talented take refugee from the little monsters who they have to teach. A cross of PLEASE SIR and GRANGE HILL with HARRY POTTER or perhaps SUPERNATURAL.

(With admin hat on: I’ve moved these two threads into a new Play by Post category.)

This seems as though it’s poised on the edge of choosing its direction - a bit like Babylon 5, which didn’t make it clear what it was going to be “about” for much of the first season. That is not necessarily a bad thing.

Just as a side comment (since I’m not looking to take part in this venture), a number of years ago I ran a minicampaign about a Reality TV series made in Hell (where the formula was created, of course), in which lower-level entities formed teams that competed to tempt mortals. The PCs were sent to a small, slightly old-fashioned Lutheran-affiliated liberal arts college in the Midwest. The players had fun, but found the game mechanics utterly frustrating, as it was almost impossible for a being with less Forces than a full demon to be effective at anything.

I found IN NOMINE a bugger to run just from a mechanical point of view. The humans vanished into the undergrowth when compared with the Celestials.

But that wasn’t what I wanted to say!

Conversation has died down! Have we asked all the questions we want to ask? You astonish me! Let me ask then if you want to go on to the next stage?

If so then I think each of us should nominate one of the other people’s ideas that they want to see developed further and then the proposer should flesh it out into a Drabble (100 words) presentation.

Is that fair? Or is this too early?

And so that I don’t squash discussion I think I’ll go last this time.

I dunno guv. Some sort of progress makes sense.

Difficult choices, but for now I’ll plump for The Last Days of the City.

I’ve been locked in meetings and traveling for work. Sorry for delay. Have notes in progress for a reply today.

A late question!

Michael, what sort of tone do you see for Five Children and Them?

Conversation has died down! Have we asked all the questions we want to ask? You astonish me!

My work doesn’t permit faffing about on the internet, so I can only participate in conversations when I’m at home (and not otherwise occupied).

Nominations… is that one nomination in total, or one nomination from each person (I choose one of yours, one of Roger’s, one of John’s, etc)?

I had to look up what a Strudlebrug was!

I nominate London NW.

should have been done long ago i saw the activists as old. First generation from the launch reaching the senescence and concerned about the legacy. I envision the story as much about the ship’s response as about the activists. I do not see this as a happy story.

an examination of secrets. I like Vienna for this as after both wars and occupations there is an opportunity for it to be secret history. I also like that it is towards the east of the old Europe setting. I think the heroes are circus folk style entertainers or agents of the civic infrastructure of Vienna reacting to them. Like Paul Giamatti in the Illusionist who is interested but compromised. I think this may sideswipe @DrBob with circus from nowhere unintentionally.

@DrBob in The Wall is it about the culture of Rome coming to the frontier or are the legionnaires from throughout the empire? That is, are multiple frontiers meeting here rather than civilization at a frontier?

@MichaelCule for king’s Euphranian how direct are the magical resources? Strange and Norel or Gygax? Were there embassies that vanished as well? Could a network of treaties have reappeared with the kingdom?

@MichaelCule for WDNE is this explicitly horror? What is the worst the supervisors can do to a PC vs what can happen on a mission?

@MichaelCule for happy valley are all the characters from the same social strata (the jocks frex) or is it a cross section more like the breakfast club?

@RogerBW on longest fall is it a procedural like law and order or is there more of an arc like Veronica mars?

@RogerBW on S.S. Exile is it pacific or Atlantic or both? Are the sailors actually exiles as a result of their actions or exiles because they just don’t belong?

I nominate Speak the King’s Euphranian Man!

I see it as an overall arc story, with procedural plot-of-the-week. The ideal mixture would be about half and half, though the proportion might shift in individual episodes.

I was trying not to over-specify, but in my vision of it, it’s Europeans and Americans going round the western Pacific. Everyone has a reason for not being in Europe/America, whether it’s “One day I’ll make my fortune and go home” or “I can’t show my face anywhere with an honest police force”.

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Bureaucrats and senior officers could be from all over the Empire - people making their name by doing Important Stuff for the Emperor. But they’ll be playing down the fact they are from Hispania or Germania or Judaea and being all We Are Roman Citizens, bringing the enlightenment of Empire to the hairy arsed barbarians. The Legions was probably raised in the UK (???), but will not be locals - they’ll be from faraway places like Wales or Kent. The Auxiliaries will be from somewhere else in the empire entirely.

A fair amount of this would be up for grabs in the character gen part of the game.

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OK, a lot of points to answer.

I think we should (since we are giving others a lot of work) we should just ask for one for this stage. If the one you like most has already been chosen choose your second favourite!

On the tone of FIVE CHILDREN & THEM: since this originally started as a re-imagining of Narnia and other magical kingdoms I would start it as pure magic and wonder and gradually reveal the darker side their ‘magical mentor’ figure is keeping from them. And then, hopefully, show that he has a good reason to use these many young lives.

For the King’s Eurphranian I was imagining the Strange and Norrell end rather than Gygax. If they could have fireballed Napoleon’s cuirassiers they wouldn’t have run away. Yes, there would be treaties. I imagine a desk at the F&CO in London that hasn’t seen any action since WWI suddenly becoming relevant again…

WDNE isn’t so much horror (though it has horror elements) as ‘Challengers of the Unknown/Fantastic Four’. Heroes against the strange. The management has its own agenda but the action teams see themselves as heroes and are to some extent justified.

I originally thought of having the characters be all teenage girls with the conviction that they didn’t used to be teenage girls did they…? But I think the thing that would tie them together is that they are all new arrivals and find Happy Valley odd.

I have some writing to do!

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