Five Dramatic Tips For Your First Game of Pasión de las Pasiones
*Gasps in Spanish* Amigos, it looks like you’re preparing to run your first game of Pasión de las Pasiones! This game thrives on everyone at the table keeping the relationships and situations charged and volatile but the GM’s role to keep everything heightened is an important one!
So, the playbooks are chosen, safety tools are in place, your setting is all cooked up, your NPCs are ready to lend a hand in the twists and turns about to unfold…it’s all coming together. Before you call “Action!” on the opening credits of your first game though, here are a few tips for new Pasión de las Pasiones GMs to turn up the volume of your drama!
Make NPC hooks and moves attainable
It’s always a thrillingly delicious moment when a player character figures out what makes an NPC turn their loyalty towards a cause the player characters care about, or declare their loyalty to the characters themselves! In order to facilitate this dream team dynamic in a setting that you are creating, make sure that the hook is something that is attainable and expected in the narrative. No one can predict the future, (not even GMs!) but taking steps to giving your NPCs hooks and moves that will likely come up in the course of your game can really stir the pot! Hinting at these move and hook possibilities in the narrative give your players the clues they will need to maximize the tension possible in their relationships with your NPCs. Let them know that the hot doctor is newly single in your hospital setting, give him a hook about being asked out after work (or during!) and watch sparks fly!
Work secrets into your role questions
The gleeful shock when a splashy secret comes to light in a game of Pasión de las Pasiones can’t be beat, so why not start out with some intrigue already on the table? Weaving secrets into the role questions you ask during setup establishes tight relationships (maybe only one or two player characters know what's really going on) and raises the stakes for the rest of the player characters who will want to know how to get in on the gossip! Ask them how they know something clandestine about a setting, NPC, or even other player characters. For a final sprinkle of spice, have another player character create a different version of the same knowledge for a satisfying clash! Play tabloid and spread rumors between player characters, and watch the drama unfold!
Play with time
Getting swept up in the story being told in the current timeline is always fun, but highlighting the Flashback Moves is a fantastic way to add in twists and turns that will have the whole table shouting at the metaphorical TV. These moves allow player characters to shine in storytelling decision making, and add layers to the scenes they play out in. Asking players “would this be a good time to flash back?” or leaving the opening of “this will happen unless…did anyone make other plans?” to prompt them to jump in with the most delightfully unexpected storylines. If your game needs a jolt of intrigue, try out a flash forward episode. Where are the player characters now, and what new tragedies and spectacles have taken place since?
Raise the dead
Yes, you read that right! In many narratives, if the characters or audience have seen a body, that’s game over! Death just works differently in telenovelas. ‘No body no crime’ might still hold up in a game of Pasión de las Pasiones, but with the help of some clever dice rolling, just because someone is assumed to be out of the picture, that doesn’t mean the case is closed. If there’s a key NPC who is no longer with us in the game’s history or someone’s backstory, check in with that player to see if they are comfortable with and excited about an old rival, friend, or secret lover coming back to life. Unexpected NPCs can take the story in all kinds of different directions, and who doesn’t love a rematch with a villain everyone thought was defeated? Be wild with how they came back to life too, or the over the top way that they never were really gone in the first place!
Don’t be afraid to go bigger!
If you’re mulling over a plot idea and think to yourself “that’s too unrealistic, no one would be that dramatic,” you have struck gold! Impossible problems require improbable solutions, and your players have all the tools they need to turn up the heat on even the most familiar storylines. Throwing them into something completely off the wall lets them use moves in creative new ways, and create drama the likes of which our audience has never seen. Let your reactions and emotions be big too, celebrate your players’ wins, throw in that evil laugh after your villain monologue, dangle tempting solutions (with strings attached of course) with flair! Modeling over the top character reactions will help your players throw caution to the wind and in no time they will be swearing love confessions and making daring moves with the practiced ease of seasoned telenovela stars!
The stories you and your players weave at your Pasión de las Pasiones tables will surprise and entertain you, so make sure to take a step back and enjoy the ride! From deciding Last Time On scenarios to character meltdowns, you are guaranteed sensational moments every step of the way. Now ponte las pilas, and let’s play!
Kristina Sisto Kindel (any)