Hi, and welcome back to the MadisonPL blog. My name is Joe P and I’m here to tell you all about my experiences with items from our library!
Movies. Do you like movies? I love movies. I love referencing movies, I love quoting movies, and I love analyzing movies.
Games. Do you like games? I love games. Obviously. Well… it’s only obvious if you’ve been following along with my blog posts since it’s reboot not too long ago.
So what I want to talk about here is somewhat of a fiasco. Let’s define that using basic level Google-fu and Oxford Dictionary:
fiasco – noun. a thing that is a complete failure, especially in a ludicrous or humiliating way.
Okay, it might sound like I’m about to talk about my attempts at keeping a plant alive. It’s not.
(By the way, I bought three plants back in May and one is still alive and thriving – and it’s not the succulent… ‘cuz I somehow managed to commit plantslaughter by negligence with that one…)
We also aren’t talk about my dress sense even though it is a pretty apt description.
Nah. I want to talk to you about a game called FIASCO. I’m pretty sure Shawn talked about it in one of his blog post a long time ago. Shawn, if you could find that link I’ll replace this sentence with it.
Here’s a picture of the book:
It’s a really fun game and if you read my last blog entry, you’ll remember that I mentioned that I’m horrendous at explanations:
“This is an acting game. An acting game about poor impulse control and really bad decisions. We make our characters together and then improvise scenes as our characters attempt to accomplish their personal goals. I’m bad at explanations. It’s acting. It’s fun. Let’s… let’s just play.”
Several days ago was my girlfriend’s birthday but unfortunately we are adults and trying to schedule shindigs and hootenannies is tough. Thus, we scheduled a “Friend Birthday Game Day” with two of her best friends for the upcoming Friday and my lady specifically requested we play this game after many months of me talking about it. She and her friends used to run a radio show back in the day, so something like this is right up their alley.
And so, Friday came… and we spent a good chunk of the day sweeping and mopping our place, took a break to go on a Pokermans GO drive, swung by the grocery to pick up food for the get-together, and then waited for her friends to show.
Once they showed up, we ate a bit and then played a few other games to get our energy flowing. We played Spyfall and Coup, two of my favorite games in the entire universe. Once we got in the groove of things, we pulled out the book and I put on the TV the PDF of the playset I downloaded for the night.
I should mention that the game offers different settings to play in called Playsets. These playsets include everything we need to establish who our characters are and give a general vibe for what will go down in the setting. We settled on a playset called Heroes of Pinnacle City which deals with squabbling superheroes and the citizens of the city they are supposed to protect.
I reached into my ubernerd dice box and pulled out 16 6-sided dice, 8 black and 8 white – or two per color per player. We then rolled all of the diced and place them in a common pool in the middle of the table for the next bit. ctrl+b
- Kristina as Victor Valor a.k.a. Knock-Out – baker by day, vigilante by night
- Elizabeth as Officer Kamilla Curtis a.k.a. The Maestro – a by the book cop whose need for rules and order inspires her to become a supervillain
- Georgia as Miss Tidy – a celestial rabbit-girl-thing sidekick to Knock-Out, she forever reincarnates and imprints on whoever finds her first
- Joe as Brendan Brians a.k.a. Mr. Mischief – a bored immortal who is currently the mayor’s aide and sometimes dons a disguise to deliver… mischief
In FIASCO, a character is defined by their relationships to the characters to the left and right of them at the playing table. To determine these relationships, the playsets have a couple of pages of categories and details to pick from. Here’s a bullet list.
- RELATIONSHIP – there must be some kind of relationship between players sitting next to each other
- NEEDS – there must be at least one Need in the game shared between a pair of characters
- OBJECT – there must be at least one Object in the game shared between a pair of characters
- LOCATION – there must be at least one Location in the game shared between a pair of characters
So if you’re keeping track, for the four of us, there were 4 relationships, one need, one object, and one location. Each of the above items is divided into categories of general ideas. For example:
Kristina sees that there is a 6-sided die on the table with a 3 showing. On the page of Relationships, she sees that option 3 is “Secret Identities!” She puts that die in between Elizabeth and myself and I write down “Relationship: Secret Identities” on the card between us.
Here’s a picture to make things clearer:
Later on, someone else fleshed out the details of the Secret Identities with a die showing the number 4 meaning that our relationship concerning secret identities was defined by: “You love them, but they only love the mask.” We decided that we weren’t 100% on board with that and went with “Joe’s character is in love with Elizabeth’s supervillain character and it is in no way requited.”
Between Elizabeth and I, we got a “New Technology” Object which was then determined to be “30,000 robot civil servants, ready to be activated by the mayor.” We discussed what this meant and decided that Mr. Mischief believes the way to win The Maestro’s heart is to gift her an army of robots.
And that’s pretty much how character creation goes. I’ll spare you the process and just tell you the rest of the relationships.
- Elizabeth and Kristina
- Relationship: Rivals – Vigilante and By-the-book
- Location: Precariously Perched… at the lip of an erupting volcano, again
- Kristina and Georgia
- Relationship: Allies – Leader and overly-ambitious second in command
- Object: Ominous – The Mayor’s Corpse
- Georgia and Joe
- Relationship: Origin Stories – “Our paths have crossed over the centuries”
- Needs: To find out… what it is you’ve forgotten
FIASCO takes place over two acts, with each playing getting two scenes per act. In between the acts is something called “The Tilt” which I’ll tell you more about later. First, we return the dice to the central pool.
When it is a players turn, they can choose to either Establish or Resolve a scene:
- Establishing a scene means that the player will direct his/her own scene. They of course will be in the scene along with whoever else they want. The scene can be in the present, it can be a flashback, it can be pretty much anything. Once they have established the outline of the scene (minus the ending), all characters involved will proceed to improvise the it. At anytime during the scene, any OTHER player (even the ones in the scene, as long as it’s not the current active player) can grab one of the two colored dice on the table and place it in front of the current player. A white die means that the outcome of the scene is positive for the character, a black die means a negative outcome. The actors in the scene will then try to push the scene in that direction… whatever that means and however they see fit. Heck, death isn’t even the end of the game for a player. If death is to occur, the rest of the character’s scenes could be flashbacks or even as a ghost.
- Resolving a scene is the opposite of establishing. The other players will collaborate to outline a scene for the current player and the active player, at any point during this scene, gets to pick the white or black die from the pool and determine the outcome of the scene… or y’know… resolve it. Usually if no one speaks up, I like to force people into acting out a monologue.
After each scene, the die that was placed in front of the active player is given away by that player to another player. Note: It’s a good thing to have more of one color than the other, having an equal amount of each color is a bad thing. You’ll see later.
When the pool of dice is equal to half the total number of dice, Act One is over.
Here’s a rundown of how Act One played out (it was a while ago now, so my memory is fuzzy):
- A undetermined amount of time ago, Officer Kamilla Curtis and Knock-Out are on the scene of a volcanic eruption not too far from Pinnacle City (which we determined to be somewhere in the western part of Midwest, USA). While Officer Curtis (as she would prefer to be called) is attempting to evacuate citizens in an orderly manner, Knock-Out – in all his impatience – causes an accident costing the lives of several innocents, including children. This causes Officer Curtis to decide that in order to protect the innocent, world order must be established.
- Years later, Officer Curtis visits Victor Valor’s bakery to inspect for drugs. Victor excuses himself when a loud bang is heard behind the bakery; he finds a lone bunny in the garbage. He adopts the bunny because he loves cute things.
- The bunny in her cage talks to herself, happy that she has found someone to love her. She wonders if she should reveal her identity as a celestial humanoid rabbit. When Victor comes in, she transforms into her humanoid form and breaks the cage in the process.
- Flashback to the late 1800s. Mr Mischief(Mr Mischief), with his black long coat, bowler hat, and fantabulous ginger mutton chops, breaks into the lab of a rival supervillain known as Louie Laboratory. He wanders the lab for a moment before taking off his hat and pulling his best friend out of it, a rabbit he calls Miss Messy. He uses the alien tech which Louie Laboratory had amassed to perform a procedure on the rabbit to make her humanoid. The technology malfunctions and explodes, causing Mr Mischief to fall from a window believing his best friend has perished mid-operation.
- Officer Curtis visits the mayor’s office and speaks with Brendan Brians, the mayor’s aide. The bumbling fool of an aide interrupts the mayor’s lunch – everyone’s favorite fast food that thinks outside the bun. The mayor had ordered a selection of items that are soon to be off the restaurants menu. Officer Curtis enters. Moments later the doors to the office explode to reveal a masked supervillain known as The Maestro who proceeds to brag about her deed killing the mayor with a poison dart. Brendan falls instantly in love with this new supervillain as she walks away with the mayor’s tacos.
- Knock-Out and his new sidekick Ms. Tidy, arrive at the scene and investigate the murder. They talk to Brendan who lets them in. They note the corpse of the mayor and its condition before stumbling upon an envelope from billionaire inventor, Anthony Blunt. Inside the envelope are photos of an army of 30,000 robot civil servants and an activation key. When Brendan takes a look, he slyly pockets the activation key. Something about the sidekick bothers Brendan.
- Brendan comes to the realization that Officer Curtis and Knock-Out are one in the same. He dons his retired supervillain identity of Mr Mischief and activates the army of robots with the plan to gift them to The Maestro as a proposal. He researches Officer Curtis’s past and discovers the volcano incident. Using the vast amounts of stolen tech he has amassed over the centuries to create a volcano in the middle of Pinnacle City.
“YOU MURDERED HIM MID-TACO!”
As you can see, that act served as exposition and rising action. Now that 8 dice (of 16) have been used, we need to perform “The Tilt”:
- Each player rolls all of the dice in front of them and totals like colors. So they should have two numbers X Black and Y White. They subtract the lower of the two numbers from the other and the remainder is the result and the color. That’s… a horrible explanation. Basically if X>Y then X-Y=ABlack or if Y>X then Y-X=BWhite.
- Whoever has the highest in Black and the highest in white get to determine The Tilt.
- I can’t post a picture of The Tilt page here because it’s the main thing of the game and we’d like you to checkout the book sometime. Once I return it.
- The high black and high white players will roll all the dice and just like character creation they will pick parts of the tilt and details.
- BUT, each of the two players will pick a main category of tilt (Like REVENGE or GUILT) and will flesh out the details for the OTHER player’s category
- All the players are then to work this complication into the story they are telling
We ended up with Sudden Death of an Innocent and Guilt leading to a Showdown. We discussed what this meant and determined that Ms. Tidy was doomed for death and Knock-Out would seek revenge.
Act Two plays a lot like Act One except player’s are now making more of an effort to reach their goals and player’s will now KEEP whatever outcome die ends up in front of theme each scene. (I don’t remember a lot of Act Two, I’ll try.)
- Ms. Tidy attempts to contact Officer Curtis about the death of the mayor. She finds the officer eating tacos in her office and is murdered by the chaos of the volcano rising in the city.
- Knock-Out finds Ms. Tidy who with her dying breath gives Knock-Out a half-eaten taco. Knock-Out vows to avenge her death!
- Officer Curtis inspects the volcano and meets Mr Mischief who offers her the robots for her hand in marriage, she begrudgingly agrees and takes on The Maestro identity full-time
- Mr Mischief has half of the robots build a white picket fence along the path that spirals up the volcano to the perfect house which sits above the opening of the volcano on some high tech bridge. There’s a tire swing. Realizing the that Ms Tidy is in fact Miss Messy and piecing together that she reincarnates and re-imprints, he sets off on his rocket bicycle to grab all of the rabbits he can find.
- The celestial humanoid rabbit is found and Mr Mischief tries to force her to imprint on The Maestro to complete their perfect villainous family. Unfortunately, the rabbit has held onto the memories of a past life causing her great confusion
- Knock-Out takes the Knock-Out-Mobile to the volcano and destroys much of the white picket fence
- The superhero and supervillain find themselves at odds on top of a volcano… again. Knock-Out punches The Maestro into the volcano where she is saved by Mr Mischief on a flying white picket fence-robot contraption
- Mr Mischief brings The Maestro to another one of his hidden hide outs (this one decorated in red satin) and tells her that it is time for “The Ritual.” It turns out that The Ritual is just a ritual to grant her immortality like himself. I did hint that for a moment, Mr Mischief has to lose his immortality to fracture infinity to give to her – a chance to kill Mr Mischief – but the idea of eternal life is too exciting for The Maestro to realize the chance
- Ms Tidy/Miss Messy releases a horde of rabbits to save Knock-Out from the dangers of the evil “couple”
- Knock-Out decides to accept retreat to fight another day
- The Maestro considers giving up the fight but realizes that having Knock-Out around gives her meaning in life
- And to bring an end to the movie, Mr Mischief offers the idea of turning Knock-Out into an immortal butler
As you can see, none of us really met our goals and messed up things further…
In this section, each player rolls all of their dice in front of them and perform the whole subtracting thing again. Once everyone has a ABlack or BWhite result, we consult a table in the back of the book to determine the outcome of our characters. We all ended up with fairly low scores, all sub-3. The lower the number, the worse the outcome. We discuss how our lives have become completely messed up.
We then take all of the dice in front of us and do a MONTAGE! Each die (color doesn’t matter) represent a short vignette for what happens after the story. We are supposed to base these scenes on the AFTERMATH result, but we decided not to. I don’t wanna font edit the names now.
- Mr Mischief plans a wedding
- The rabbit is conflicted about her life
- The Maestro accepts that she is contractually obligated to marry Mr Mischief
- Knock-Out rebuilds his bakery
- The Maestro falls into a depression
- Mr Mischief thinks about life while looking over the Grand Canyon
- The rabbit secretly returns to Knock-Out
- The Maestro sits in her volcano home wondering if all this fighting for world order is worth it, she no longer has friends
- Mr Mischief comes home, looks at The Maestro and slowly peels off his adhesive mutton chops before asking her to accompany him on a friendly lunch outing with Knock-Out and the Rabbit
So yeah. It’s a fun game. I’m really done with this blog post now. It was a long one.
Review: Good stuff. Check out this book.