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A Passionate Playtest: Pasion de las Pasiones


Now that the Kickstarter for Pasión de las Pasiones is upon us, I thought it might be a good time to revisit the playthrough that my home group did for this game. We were all very excited to get this game to the table. If you would like to see the original version of this article, you can swing by my blog here [1], and feel free to look around. If you want to take a look at the Kickstarter for the game, you can find it here. [2]

After trying to get it on the schedule for a while, my group finally managed to play Pasión de las Pasiones, and we had a great time. I had a few observations in play, but I’ll save that for the final bits.

Dramatis Personae

We had the following characters for our session:

Opening Scenes

When we open on El Turismo, he is interrogating a person in his “crime office,” with tiled floors and a drain in the center. His thugs hold a man still in a chair, and when El Turismo is done speaking to the man, he shoots him in the forehead. Immediately thereafter, he receives a call from his receptionist, and meets a woman from the government in his “business office” on the other side of the estate.

The woman tells him that the government may be extraditing him to Spain soon, but he tells her that it is a shame to meet under such sad circumstances. He seduces her, and she agrees that she will help him with his case when the time comes.

Valencia is visited by a smarmy lawyer that tells her that he is here to inform her that her husband, who recently died in a mysterious fishing accident while meeting with El Turismo, had a second, secret will. That will indicates that he had several illegitimate children, and that the estate may need to be liquidated to divide the fortune among them. While she is trying to determine what to do next, she invites the lawyer to stay on the grounds of the estate until she can read through the paperwork, and he agrees.

We see the camera linger on the top-most revealed heir in the file, a man named Hector.

We cut away to the parlor on the other side of the estate, where Soraya is entertaining a handsome older man, who has been courting her. He wants to take her away to his private island on vacation. She knows her mother won’t approve, but that makes it even more enticing. As the older suiter goes to leave, we see that Hector is this man’s “son.”

Aurora is getting the smarmy lawyer’s quarters ready when she receives a call from her mother, telling her that she is losing the family home. Aurora is upset, because she is already spending all of her money on her mother’s medicine, but she tells her mother to stay calm, and she will think of something. Her brother then calls, telling her that if she can raise about half the money that her mother needs for the house, he can invest it in a business deal that will make them all rich, and they will never need to worry about bills again.

Audience Reactions

El Turismo is causing quite a bit of consternation with the audience over his villainous actions right at the start of the episode. Valencia still comes across rather sympathetic to the audience so far. Our opening shot of Soraya sees her standing on the balcony overlooking the sea, with her hair flowing around her, which gets a positive reaction. Everyone feels sorry for Aurora from the start.

After the Commercial Break

Aurora is hoping to get an advance of some kind from Valencia, and goes to talk to her. She mentions to Valencia that Soraya is planning on taking a trip to her suitor’s island. She does not tell Valencia that this makes her sad for other reasons. Valencia tells Aurora that if she can convince Soraya to stay home and complete her schooling that she will help out Aurora’s family any way she can, and as an advance, she gives her half the money she needs for the house payment.

Aurora talks to Soraya and asks her to stay. She wants to know how well Soraya knows this man courting her. Soraya says that she has no reason to stay, because no one cares for her here. Aurora tells her that more people care about her than she knows, and this convinces Soraya to put off the trip.

Aurora calls her brother and tells him that she has half the money. He is very excited. Then she says that she will have the other half soon, and they won’t need to go in on his risky business deal. He is less thrilled. He says goodbye in a more ominous way than one might for hanging up the phone, and tells his sister that he loves her.

We then cut to El Turismo, standing next to the brother, who is surrounded by El Turismo’s thugs. El Turismo tells the brother that the penalty for lack of payment is well known, but for the love of his sister, he will keep him alive . . . but El Turismo owns him now.

Audience Reactions

The crowd turns on Valencia, because she is meddling with her daughter’s life now. Everyone continues to feel bad for Aurora, especially finding out about her brother and her unrequited love for Soraya. El Turismo is still terrible, but the audience didn’t get a chance to be wowed by Soraya.

More Scheming

Valencia sets up a meeting with El Turismo at an expensive hotel bar. She wants him to help her discredit the lawyer and all of the new heirs to the family fortune. She thinks back to her attempts to gather information on El Turismo, looking for records of his involvement with her husband. Unfortunately, El Turismo is well aware of these files, and in the corner of El Turismo’s office, in this flashback, we see that he has already been working with Hector to bring Valencia’s family to their knees.

As El Turismo turns down Valencia’s offer, we cut back to El Turismo’s plans, which show him sending an assassin into the family compound, eliminating the lawyer, and planting evidence that Valencia had him killed.

When Valencia leaves the bar, she is arrested. We then see her in a very posh prison cell, calling Aurora. She promises to make sure Aurora’s family will never need to want for anything if Aurora will just find the files that the lawyer had in his room, and burn them. Aurora finds the missing records, but she also finds other files the lawyer had, which implicate Valencia in the assassination of several of Soraya’s past suitors.

Soraya is distressed at the arrest of her mother, and decides to take Aurora out shopping, and buys her a surprisingly slinky dress. Hector is enraged, telling El Turismo that Valencia’s husband ruined his family, and now that Soraya has turned down her suitor, the actor he hired to take her away can’t perform his part of the plan. Valencia is in jail, but that doesn’t ruin the family. El Turismo tells him to calm down and be patient.

Audience Reactions

Valencia is scoring big sighs from all of her meddlings in Soraya’s life at this point. She’s so unpopular that nobody is really all that upset with El Turismo over his actions. It’s just two terrible people doing terrible things as far as the audience is concerned.

Desperate Times

Hector finds Soraya out shopping, knocks out her driver, and kidnaps her. Aurora is with her shopping, sees this, and calls the police. As we see Soraya shoved into the car by Hector, we flashback to Soraya deciding that she may need to defend herself, and buying a handgun, which is concealed in her purse.

We see Aurora calling Valencia in prison, and then we flashback to Valencia cutting a deal for state’s evidence on El Turismo, and we find out that the federal officials are on their way to his estate, which is also where Hector, Soraya, and the police are heading. Because she called the police, one of the police cars picks up Aurora and brings her to the estate as well.

Hector pulls Soraya to him and demands that El Turismo do something more to help him destroy Valencia’s family. El Turismo taunts him, and Hector points the gun at El Turismo. Soraya takes this opportunity to pull out her gun and shoots Hector. As she is shooting Hector, Hector’s gun goes off, and Aurora walks in the door, taking the bullet from Hector’s gun.

El Turismo flashes back to the work he has been doing since this entire mess started, and shows that he has been putting together information that makes it look like he is entirely innocent, tying it all back to a blackmail plot by Hector. El Turismo, back in the present, leaps on Hector and punches him right in his gunshot wound, then hands over the “evidence” he has gathered on Hector.

Soraya runs over to Aurora to see if she is okay. She turns Aurora over, to see that she doesn’t have a serious injury. Soraya tells Aurora that she doesn’t know what she would do without Aurora, and Aurora says she feels the same. Soraya declares her love, and Aurora kisses her passionately.

For a brief moment, we started to see El Turismo’s more heroic side, but as he sees Soraya and Aurora kissing, he is enraged at Soraya, and the camera sees him slide back into the shadows in the corner of his office, with only his eyes showing. He’s still evil.

Audience Reactions

The audience loves this scene, but El Turismo is temporarily heroic, Valencia is still reaping the rewards of her efforts, Aurora is happy, and Soraya is content, so no one is playing to type at the moment. That’s good for a resolution, but let’s get back to the chaos!

Seeds of Tomorrow

Aurora accidentally tells Soraya that she can understand why her mother has done the things that she has done to protect her daughter. This gets Soraya interested in finding out exactly what her mother has done to protect her, and makes her wary of Aurora, just a little.

El Turismo gives Aurora’s brother a very dangerous future assignment, to prove that he has power over him. He is going to be smuggling drugs. He also sends photographs of Soraya and Aurora together to Valencia.

Valencia is home on house arrest, with only an ankle bracelet to show for her former incarceration. She calls Aurora into the room, and tells her that instead of living in the old family home, what if her family moved into the guest house, which is much larger than their home. She is thrilled and calls her mother, and Valencia knows she can keep a much tighter leash on Aurora now.

Final Audience Numbers
Using the questions for the bonus to the roll is unique, and reinforces the idea that the character’s emotional state and circumstance is as important as the action.

El Turismo goes back to being evil, and is ruining Aurora’s happiness! Bad man! Valencia will never stop ruining Soraya’s life! Why does poor Aurora have to put up with all of this?

In the Writer’s Room

We all had a lot of fun with this game. I think it worked well, especially for this being the first time we’ve used the rules. Using the questions for the bonus to the roll is unique, and reinforces the idea that the character’s emotional state and circumstance is as important as the action.

We did feel that the Leverage mechanics didn’t come in to play as much in a one-shot, but might have more time to build in a shorter arc. We also didn’t have many 6- results, but we had a lot of complications in the 7-9 range of the moves.

Valencia was on her way to a meltdown because of the amount of stress she burned for her flashbacks. We got some interesting character insight from people when they processed their feelings out loud, and I like that move for this genre.

Everyone got a good amount of screen time, but it felt like El Turismo and Valencia were driving the plot with their scheming, and Aurora and Soraya were doing a lot of damage control from being on the edge of their plots.

Initially, Soraya’s player was thinking of taking the “Twin” playbook, but we decided that for our first outing with the game, we’d rather see more “ground level” tropes, and the group said if they had a fifth player, it may have been more tempting. El Caballero didn’t excite anyone at the table, although no one thought it was a bad playbook, just narrower in focus than what they wanted to play.

What’s your favorite game for pure drama? What mechanical elements can help portray the drama and interpersonal relationships? What are your most memorable moments that have been driven by those mechanics? We would love to hear about it below.