I was “late” getting to game night this week (even though that’s pretty much my “normal” now), so I had to wait for a while before people were available to play with me. But this week was pretty unusual anyway, since the bulk of my time was spent playing a roleplaying game rather than boardgames.
Fiasco [RPGGeek] – News Channel Six Playset
I really wanted to actually play a game of Fiasco using my News Channel Six playset while it was still the Playset of the Month. I had mentioned it on our guild at BGG where Shawn had shown some interest, and then also managed to recruit Adam to join us last night. Britt whimped out and went home, leaving Adam, Shawn, Kenny (another co-author for the playset), and me to get all jiggy wid it.
I actually explained the rules to Adam and Shawn while Kenny was finishing up the longest game ever of 7 Wonders, so we got right down to the setup once he joined us. If you don’t know anything much about Fiasco, you may want to check out my “review” of it to have a decent understanding of what its structure is like. But this is the web of relationships that we ended up putting together:
- I was Clem Charger, the hot young investigative reporter for Action News Eleven who hid his Latino heritage
- Adam was Hal Wheatberry, my aging (in his 70’s) counterpart at News Channel Six
- Kenny was Alan Carmichael, the young reporter training under Hal Wheatberry at News Channel Six
- Shawn was Carmello Rodriguez, my ex-con brother who had a dubious and possibly sexual relationship with Alan Carmichael
Adam as the tired mentor, Kenny as the ambitious protege, Shawn as the good-fer-nothin’ ex-con, and me as the dashing investigative reporter
Adam’s and my relationship was tagged with a location: the scene of a grisly murder/suicide. Adam and Kenny shared the motivation to make a difference by getting their own recurring expose-style segment (which Adam already had and Kenny apparently coveted). Kenny and Shawn had an object, an illegal alien, tied to their relationship. And Shawn and I shared the need to settle things with that dude who landed me in jail.
It all Started With a Bang!
Since I supposedly knew what I was doing, I took the first scene and decided to establish it rather than resolve it. I (Clem Charger) was confronting Shawn, my good-fer-nothin’ ex-con brother, about the illegal alien who he had just smuggled across the border and was now sitting in his truck. He and I argued for a while, at least until we heard sirens and a police car showed up. I was in the process of using my local celebrityhood to shmooze the cop when a gunshot rung out from beneath Shawn’s truck. The illegal alien was dead, and someone was going to jail.
In the next scene, Adam was about to let Kenny go out and cover the above crime scene. He was pretty down on himself, both for his growing dementia and occasional bladder control problems, but Kenny tried to cheer him up. Unfortunately for Kenny, his encouragement worked, so Adam took the assignment himself and Kenny ended up holding the boom mike for the shoot. While in the middle of shooting, though, Shawn (secretly using his cell phone while in custody at the scene) called Kenny, who was apparently involved in the illegal activity as well. The police noticed Shawn on the phone, however, and ended up arresting Kenny as well once they rung him back.
Shawn then confronted Kenny in person once they were both in the same place (presumably in handcuffs, facedown on the hood of a patrol car), trying to get him to admit his involvement. “Aunt Marguerite” showed up, hugging onto Kenny and telling Shawn to back off. In the end, Kenny and I were released while Shawn was carted off to jail.
Meanwhile, I was giving a live newscast about the events of the evening and throwing my brother (Shawn) under the bus as much as I possibly could to milk it for all the ratings it was worth. My boss, Chester Henderschmidt, came by personally and praised me for my work. Since the ratings were so high, he was even giving me the midnight hour to do continuing coverage of the event. The highlight of this involved me interviewing myself (complete with cut-scenes of me asking questions and then answering them like I was having a conversation with someone else) about the event and the scars of growing up with Shawn as a little brother.
Adam’s next scene took place at the Coroner’s office, where he was trying to gather some more information about the illegal alien’s fate. He asked what was the cause of death, prompting Dr. Fung to reply sarcastically with, “Well, I may just be guessing here, but my preliminary assumption is that the exploded head is probably the root cause of his problem.” And as my self-interview played on the little black-and-white TV in the corner, they also discovered several cocaine-filled condoms in the dead man’s GI tract. Dr. Fung also gave Adam a business card for Dr. Janice Charger, a neurologist he went to medical school with who he thought might be able to help him with some of Adam’s ailments.
The next day, Kenny went to the jail to try and get Shawn to stay cool and not continue to bring him into things. Shawn didn’t want to go along with it, but finally agreed that Kenny could do more for him on the outside than he could if he were in jail as well. But as soon as Shawn was released, he tried to find some government official who would look into Kenny’s immigration status, which he apparently though was not in order. Unfortunately for him, though, the only federal office he could find in town was the post office, who couldn’t really help him, but offered to ship anything for cheap that would fit into one of their flat rate shipping boxes. This seemed to strike a chord with Shawn, who left with the promise of bringing in a package that he would very much like to send to Kenny.
At this point, we rolled the dice we had collected and Shawn and Adam won the right to establish The Tilt, which serves to further add instability and chaos into the situation. The two elements they added were “Mayhem: Cold-blooded score-settling” and “Innocence: Someone is not so innocent after all”, which we needed to incorporate into the second act of the game.
The “Truth” Comes Out
Act 2 started with me going to speak with Adam at the dive bar where he usually hung out. Adam had apparently developed a fascination/obsession with Dr. Charger from the little picture on her business card, and he made me a proposition that if I could get him an evening with her, he would hand me proof that he had actually shot and killed the illegal alien in the first scene and total control of the investigative reporting market share. Dr. Charger was, of course, my wife, so I started out ingidnant, but later agreed to set up the meeting, and gave him a location to be at in a few days.
Adam’s scene took place as he was in a sleazy hotel room waiting for Dr. Charger. He was in his bathrobe and little else, and excitedly moved to the door when someone finally knocked. As the door opened, though, Kenny and a news crew pushed their way in for a “To Catch the Predator” segment. I burst out of the closet as well and confronted him with forged “proof” of his online communication with a 10-year-old girl and her 8-year-old brother, who he was supposedly going to meet here. He tucked his “goods” into his robe and ran away as fast as his feeble legs would carry him.
In the next scene, we saw Kenny having sexual relations with someone who turned out to be his “Aunt” Marguerite. And as he then went into another room to snort a ginormous line of coke, she got a phone call from Shawn, begging her to help him set the record straight. She was sympathetic to him, as when Kenny subsequently overdosed and asked her for help, she ignored him and left him to die.
Shawn then got a phone call from Adam, who had received the package that Shawn had shipped in the flat-rate shipping box. Apparently, it contained photos and other proof that Kenny had been involved in illegal activity and that he wasn’t even a citizen. Adam promised to help… if Shawn would kill me. So, Shawn got the gun that Adam provided to him and made his way to my house.
I was at home having martinis with my wife (Dr. Charger) and my boss (Chester Henderschmidt) and laughing about poor Adam. Shawn pounded on the door and basically told me that he was supposed to come and kill me. But he also said that he couldn’t kill his own brother, and instead begged me to help him clear his name and implicate Kenny. When my boss saw the gun, however, he had the cool idea that Shawn should shoot me somewhere relatively safe and blame it on Adam or Kenny, becasue it would make a better story. Shawn didn’t really want to do it, but I bullied him into it. Once he shot me, though, I took the gun from him and shot him in the head, drank another martini, and called the police.
After seeing the Action News Eleven coverage showing how I had been attacked by my own brother and managed to kill him in the ensuing scuffle (and the dramitization featuring a young local model playing my role), he made his way over to my house as well. Adam was still dressed in his robe, but after pushing his way in, he opened it up to reveal a suicide-bomber’s vest filled with explosives. He then proceeded to go on and on spouting his manifesto against all that was wrong in the world and modern news casting before triggering the bomb. Unfortunately (since the table had control of resolving the scene), he hadn’t noticed that everyone had slipped away while he was lost in his own speech, and that the cameras hadn’t even been on. So, he and my house exploded in a thoroughly meaningless and ineffective gesture.
Kenny’s last scene was a flashback from before the house exploded, in which he (still alive and totally wired on cocaine) tried to convince my wife that I was a worthless sack of poo and that she should poison me and my boss. She took the poison, but again (since we had control of the resolution), she decided to pour it out rather than kill me off.
And finally, Shawn’s last scene took place in the coroner’s office, where Dr. Hung was beginning his autopsy. However, I had apparently had a few too many martinis when I shot him, so the wound was not fatal, and he woke up when the scapel made its first cut.
We all rolled the dice we had collected all game long, and used that to inform our final fate. I had 3 white dice and 1 black, and ended up rolling a 10 white, which was really good for me. In my montage of scenes, I made it to a bigger market in Dallas, found and married a new hot, young trophy wife, and ended up laughing about the story of Hal Wheatberry and my crooked brother to my new family.
Kenny had a decent result as well, pretty much ending up where he started. So after suffering a few lumps in the aftermath of the incident, he finally became a real “investigative reporter”, except that his main assignment was reporting on the sanitation grades of local restaurants.
Adam didn’t fare so well. Of course, he was already dead, but even his ghost found only frustration as he was forced to listen to me laugh about him with my new wife and kids.
Shawn actually rolled a perfect zero on his dice (white and black were equal), which is the “worst result imaginable… worse than death”. It involved going to jail, being shackled to another inmate, and then it got worse from there.
Time: 117 minutes
Ratings: Adam* 8, Kenny 10, Shawn* 7.5, Norton** 9
Clearly, I love Fiasco. I was just listening to the House Rules podcast (episode #10) at Giant Fire Breathing Robot, and they were discussing how hard it is to find time to play RPG’s. But how can you beat a game with no prep, no GM, and which gives you a story like this, from start to finish, in under 2 hours? It’s certainly not the experience that most people attribute to a roleplaying game, but for me at least, it’s a heck of a lot better.
But again, I love the game and helped write the playset, so I’m a bit biased.
Before we got started with Fiasco, we played a hand of Chronicle. For the first time that anyone remembers, I actually managed to pull off the all-Evil victory!
Time: 13 minutes (for just 1 hand)
Score: Norton 2, Adam 0, Shawn 0
Ratings: Norton 7.5, Adam ?, Shawn ?
Neuroshima Hex [BGG]
I’ve played a lot of this on my iPod and finally managed to pick up a real copy via trade a few weeks ago. Adam had played a lot on his iPod as well, but we had to teach Kenny the basics before we got started. He had plenty of time to figure thing out while Adam and I beat up on each other, though, and it was very close as the game drew to a close. In the end, Adam’s mobility and having the last move let him get into position to get the 1-point win over both Kenny and me.
Time: 62 minutes
Score: Adam* 9, Kenny* 8, Norton* 8
Ratings: Adam 8.5, Kenny ?, Norton 8
I really like this game a lot. The asymmetrical army composition is so cool, where you really have to learn the strengths and weaknesses of every faction and play with them differently. I don’t know that I’m totally in love with the 3-player game, though, because I’m afraid it may have the same problem that most 3-player combat games have – where one person may benefit too much when other players fight. But the simultaneous combat element of the game may actually mitigate that a little bit, so I won’t make a snap judgment right now. In our game, for instance, we kept each other pretty close, and that’s what let the person with the last move have the ability to leave things in a way to get the win.
But I’m really excited to play this many, many more times. I also really want to try out the 4-player team game, because that could be a very interesting twist on the system as well.
Other Games Played
Time: 40 minutes
Score: Alex 60, Britt 56, Ken 53, Stacey* 49, Diana* 48, Chris 47, Sceadeau 47
Ratings: Alex 8, Britt 8, Ken 8.5, Stacey 8, Diana 7, Chris 9, Sceadeau 7
Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer
Time: 35 minutes
Score: Joe 76, Shawn 67
Ratings: Joe 9, Shawn 10
Time: 17, 19 & 21 minutes
Game 1: Chris 60, Diana* 52, Stacey* 46, Alex* 39
Game 2: Chris 60, Diana 49, Stacey 44, Alex 38
Game 3: Chris 57, Alex 55, Diana 44, Stacey 42
Ratings: Chris 8, Diana 8, Stacey 8, Alex 7.5
Time: 45 minutes
Score: Sceadeau 175, Alex 115
Ratings: Sceadeau 8.5, Alex 7.5
Time: 55 and 55 minutes
Game 1: Sceadeau* 79, Ken* 63, Britt* 43
Game 2: Sceadeau 58, Britt 35, Ken 31
Ratings: Sceadeau ?, Ken 7.5, Britt 7.5
Score: Brad* 290, Shawn* 250, Sean* 220, Joe* 210
Ratings: Brad 7, Shawn 7, Sean 7, Jow 7
Time: 78 minutes
Score: Brad* 85, Joe* 64, Shawn 56, Sean* 37
Ratings: Brad 9, Joe 8, Shawn 9, Sean 9
* First play for that Person
** Remember that I am now called Norton