Monday, March 19, 2012

Fiasco: Play Report

So I posted a review of Fiasco earlier, which coincides with the fact that I actually played it!

We had four characters (all of whom had Irish surnames because it was Saint Patrick's Day):
  • April Gallagher: Currently between jobs.  One night, April was driving home while drunk, and accidentally struck and killed Owen O'Kelley's parents.  Since that time, she's become involved with Sophie MacInnery, a local bookie, in the hopes of gambling to pay off her legal debts.  She's found Sophie to be a decent ear, as the two of them are quite racist.  April is also trying to string Owen along, knowing that he's loaded.
  • Catelyn Kennedy: Realtor.  She is currently trying to deal with her client and one-night stand, local meth head Owen O'Kelley, who claims his house is haunted.  She is also trying to deal with her cousin, Sophie MacInnery, because the two of them are currently engaged in a dispute over a replica Captain James T. Kirk captain's chair that their uncle left to them before he died.
  • Sophie MacInnery: Bookie.  Sophie is currently embroiled in a fight with her cousin Catelyn Kennedy about  a replica Captain Kirk chair that their uncle left to them before he died; she could always use the money, so she's hoping for some payment out of the deal, either by selling the chair or extorting the money out of Catelyn.  One of her typical customers is April Gallagher, who seems nice enough, as the two have taken to complaining about Central American immigrants together.
  • Owen O'Kelley: Meth dealer and addict who purchased a multi-million dollar home in the nice part of town, but refuses to stay in it because "it tried to eat [him.]"  Apparently, he and his realtor, Catelyn Kennedy, had a one-time fling in that house, and now he's trying to get back at her by sleeping with April Gallagher, who killed his parents in a drunk driving accident.
That's the setup.  Our Playset was the "Tales from Suburbia" Playset in the core book.  Gameplay in Fiasco is chaotic, as scenes jump into flashbacks, current time, and suchlike.  Try to stay with me; I'll be throwing everything out in chronological order.

Catelyn and Sophie meet at the storage unit where they keep this Captain Kirk chair.  Sophie wants to sell it; Catelyn wants to keep it.  Sophie says she'll let Catelyn have it for $10,000.  Around this time, Owen shows up; he's a Star Trek fan and has heard that this thing might be going on the market.  He thinks it should be in a museum (he literally quotes Indiana Jones, which cracks up the whole table).  Sophie maintains her idea that she's selling it to somebody, whether it's her cousin or another buyer.

Owen also takes this time to let Catelyn know that his house is haunted and tried to eat him.  She says there's very little she can do about that, but they agree to work something out, particularly because he'll help her pay for the captain's chair.

A couple of days later, Sophie calls April to come to her office.  She indicates April's last bet didn't come through, and she owes $5,000.  April asks how much time she has, and Sophie says she'll give her a week.  Sophie also indicates that she has another thing cooking — some underground fight club featuring Hispanics (I told you they're pretty damn racist) — and April says to put $1,000 on the biggest guy on her behalf.

April then goes over to Owen's trailer (he's been living there because he can't live in his house, as it tried to eat him, you understand).  She turns down his offer of meth (although she swipes some meth from the refrigerator when he isn't looking).  However, he says he'll give her his house if she'll sleep there overnight with him.  She agrees.  Before she goes, she asks if she can borrow $5,000.  Owen only gives her $500, which she takes.  She says she'll see him tonight.

Owen makes the call to Catelyn.  She'll be over, too, to sign the house over to April.

April arrives at the house to find Owen's scooter outside.  She knocks on the door and Owen answers, inviting her inside.  He leads her to a side room with a bed and several candles, where he makes it abundantly clear that he won't just sign the house over if she sleeps in the same house as him, but with him.

Before anything can happen, Catelyn knocks on the door.

Cut to a couple of hours later, when Owen is missing and April and Catelyn are looking for him.  April calls Sophie and tells her to get over to the house, because she has an exciting prospect for her.  Sophie agrees and hangs up.

Sophie arrives around midnight, and the three continue searching for Owen, to no avail.  Despite what April hopes, Catelyn indicates that no transference will take place without him.  April gives Sophie the $500, and then asks about the other opportunity.  Sophie calls her contact, Tom, who indicates that April's guy won and killed the other combatant.  Although it's pretty clear that this bites into Sophie's finances, she agrees to call the debt square and pay April an additional $5,000.

Even so, Sophie isn't pleased.  She breaks into a bottle of wine, and drinks a fair amount.  April joins her.

Around 2 AM, April and Sophie are still drinking in the makeshift bedroom when Owen returns, crashing through the window, naked, covered in blood.  Some of it is his from leaping through a pane of glass, but some of it appears to be...someone else's.  Sophie's gun comes out reflexively, but it returns to its hiding place when it's obvious he's not doing anything.  He's alive, but unconscious.  April, Catelyn, and Sophie (likely wisely) decide to leave.  Catelyn calls 911, and they get into their cars.  As they drive away, Catelyn starts driving erratically — breezing through stoplights and stop signs.  After some frantic cell phone calls, it becomes obvious that her brakes are malfunctioning (unbeknownst to anyone, Owen cut her brake lines while he was away).  Despite being drunk, April speeds around her, gets in front of her car, and makes bumper contact to slow Catelyn's car to a stop.  They manage to get out of the situation with only some crumpled bumpers.

Catelyn thanks her, and asks if she can get a ride.  Since April's drunk, she deigns to drive, and offers to let April stay at her house for the night.

The next day, a hungover April calls Sophie and goes to her house to collect her gambling winnings.  They're about to seal the deal when there's a tapping on Sophie's window.  Her gun comes out, and she checks — it's Owen, wearing a hospital gown and bracelet.  April asks to bring him inside and Sophie agrees.  When Sophie leaves the living room to go get April's money, Owen urinates on her couch and vomits on her floor before passing out.  Sophie gives April the wad of cash and asks her to leave, which she gladly does.

April calls Catelyn and takes Owen to her house to finish the paperwork.  When they get there, he asks to use the bathroom.  He's in there a long time before Catelyn checks on him, and she opens the door to find him face-down in the toilet.  Catelyn calls 911 as April pulls him out, and she starts doing chest compressions.  He starts awake, and responds by strangling her.  She passes out around the same time he does, and Catelyn is left as sirens arrive.

As the paramedics make their way in the house, Catelyn begins to explain about the pair, which confuses the EMTs as they only heard that a lone man was the one here.  As they call it in, they enter the bathroom to find only April, still unconscious.  The EMTs finally load her onto a gurney, and call the whole mess in.

Once she's alone, Catelyn thinks for a while.  She finally decides to sign Owen's house over in her name.

Cut to a few days later.  Sophie has a couple of guys delivering the chair to Catelyn's new house.  After some tense words are exchanged, along with the $10,000, Sophie and her movers leave.  As they do, an errant foot kicks some dirt aside to reveal a jar of money — apparently Owen has been burying his meth earnings all over the yard.  Sophie covers the jar again and decides to return later to dig them all up.

In the epilogue, Owen tangles with some cops.  April is trying to break into Catelyn's new house at the same time Sophie returns to dig up the money.  The two come across each other in the dark, and Sophie fires a shot, wounding her.  Catelyn calls 911, and Sophie jogs around to break into Catelyn's car and hotwire it.  She manages to get inside and do so just as the police arrive, but is surprised as April appears in the backseat to strangle her.  To make matters worse, Sophie learns the hard way that the repairs to Catelyn's brakes weren't as thorough as they should have been.

Finally, Catelyn also lets the police know about the money buried in the yard.

The final tally is: Sophie's probably dead, Owen is who-knows-where, April is probably crippled for the rest of her life, and Catelyn is sitting pretty in her new house.

...and that's Fiasco.

Addendum: The system is indeed pretty simple and easy-to-learn.  We made (which is to say, I made) a couple of mistakes regarding the Tilt and the Aftermath, but it was still fun and basically worked.

In the future, it will be easier to keep those things in mind.


  1. Owen sounds like he would be right at home in an episode of Breaking Bad.
    I love Fiasco, every single one of our games has been epic. It's good to hear that it worked equally well for you. And it's a fairly forgiving system when you make mistakes, you can just wing it and gloss things over by storytelling.

    1. I think a couple of us will end up playing again on Saturday, before D&D, and I'm pretty excited to revisit it.

  2. Fiasco has always interested me, but I've never been sure I could pull off the integrated Fargo-esque wacky of the characters.

    1. It flows pretty naturally, actually. And there's nothing wrong with being the straight man — Catelyn was the straight man in this game, and as you can see, it worked out well for her. The chaos will push through at some point in the game, because all these elements are vying for something bad to happen.

      Basically, it's the chaos of every role-playing game you've ever played, distilled into a one-off so you're not really attached to your character.

      (Actually, it's most like the setup of a Cthulhu LARP: several people have goals, and it's highly likely that some of those goals are mutually exclusive. The game pretty much writes itself from there.)


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