Actual Play – Fiasco High (10/21/2011)

Players: Karen Twelves, Matthew Klein, Mia Blankensop, and Sean Nittner
System: Fiasco (soft aftermath).
Playset: Fiasco High

In preparation for the improv workshop for gamers (working title), the four of us (plus Jason if we can get him out there) are putting on in January, we decided to throw down with some Fiasco of our own. Mia had never played before but it didn’t matter, she was a natural. She is the improv instructor after all, it was no surprise that she took to Fiasco like a fire to a bridge.

We went through 8 or 9 playsets before we found one we were all excited about. I find that play sets I don’t have reflexive knowledge of (like time periods or cultures I’m not familiar with) are less for for me because I spend a lot of time wondering if I’m “doing it right”. High school was something we had all done (albeit a long time ago) and we knew it would be fun and easy to pick up.

The relationships and needs were great. A pair of privileged rich kids going to public school for the “principle” of it, a Russian foreign exchange student and some trailer trash that couldn’t read, but had the drug connection (stolen from her not-dad Francis). Pretty early on it became clear that of the privileged three, we all wanted to be liked best of them all. Once one person got attention, everyone else wanted it, it was very “glee” in that way. A few not completely superficial bonds were formed but mostly we were all just trying to fill the bottomless pits of our inflated sense of self worth. The poor (as in broke, not unfortunate) Spandrelle was alternately needed, envied and ridiculed and in the end she fled our suburbia nightmare, despite her feelings for “The Bron” (aka Chester Bronston, aka Chet).

What rocked

Mia and Matt were both really good at stepping back (even if just for a second) and either interjecting some cool story element (which they kept calling hits, and I would bet money are the same thing as “bangs”) or asking “okay, what is this scene about?” We stayed really focused throughout the game, very rarely was random gonzo ridiculousness brought up because we were on the same page, telling stories about kids in high school, not about pulp action heroes.

Objects really shined in this game. One was a love letter torn into little pieces and then taped back together again. It was a pictogram that like a mad magazine depicted different things if you folded it (specifically the spurned love between teacher and student). We also had a illicit drugs, namely pot laced with angel dust. That latter elevated the stakes quite a bit, but we kept it about high school students doing dumb kid stuff (namely getting high a lot).

Fiona, aka Fi Fi, aka just Fi, and her “pet” Russian foreign exchange student were awesome frenemies. Both of them adored each other, when the were being praised or looked up to by the other, but at the same time constantly struggling for status. I don’t know if I could have done that roll, they kept the status games going back and forth all night, which was awesome, competing over who would play Juliet in the school play.

Gaming with Karen, Matt and Mia is awesome. They are a ton of fun and great storytellers. Can’t wait to do it again!

What could have improved

We all rolled very low scores (I think the best was a white 4, I know I got a 0), and it was tough to narrate that kind of horrible ending for all of us. It seemed like someone should have made it out happy.

Even though we used the “soft aftermath” rules, a 0 is still pretty horrible. I narrated Bron beat up by the drug dealers who he stole from, unsuccessfully ransomed (his parents were in the Caribbean an not taking calls) and finally thrown out of a car, off the road and into a ditch, wrapped in duct tape with his throwing arm (he was school quarterback of course) broken. It seemed bad, but I don’t know if it was bad enough for a 0 and yet still seemed like I was stretching things and going a little gonzo from the otherwise very mundane story we had been telling so far. I think next time, I’d focus on his social life being destroyed (maybe finding out he was adopted, or losing all social status, etc).