Actual Play – The Zoo (8/17/2013)

playset_the_zooFacilitator: Jeremy Friesen…er Sean Nittner
Players: Three other fine folk
System: Fiasco
Playset: The Zoo

I was excited to play in a game with Jeremy and when I noticed he had a Fiasco table running I signed right up. We picked The Zoo setting very quickly (almost no debate at all), which is a great sign.

The Setup

The other players were new to Fiasco, but they took to the setup quickly. We had the follwing

Lawrence Chinn – An old hand at the zoo, who had been working there “too long” and was always “getting to old for this”. Lawrence was a good guy who never got a lucky break, and was modeled very closely after my good friend from college by the same name. He was a zoo keeper and because of his tenure, also a board chairman.

Relationship – Board Chairman and Zoo Custodian
Object – Administrative. Lease to the original zoo grounds.

Danny Iago – Danny was the custodian who should have lost his job years ago when an attendee slipped and broke his leg because water spilled on the floor of the bathroom. The zoo owner, however, had a soft spot for Danny, and so, after a big cover up, Fred Hicks instead took the fall…for the fall.

Relationship – The Past. Haven’t really spoken since the case was closed.
Need – To get respect from the one who left.

Abby Normal – Abby was a State Farm workman’s comp insurance adjuster who couldn’t let sleeping dogs lie. She knew that Danny should have been fired and she was determined to make sure justice was served. When she got word that another claim had been filed against “Anytown Zoo” she hopped on it faster than ninjas on hot apple pie.

Relationship – Illicit animal smugglers
Location – Around town… train tunnel behind the zoo, or as it was in Anytown Zoo, the mini train the zoo offered for tours.

Karl Dobson, Wolf Keeper – We established really early on that Karl and Lawrence were the only two actual keepers at the zoo. All the other work was done by usually well meaning but incapable volunteers. Karl, however was the wolf keeper, and that was it!

Relationship – Keepers. The only two actual keepers at the zoo. Lawrence has way more seniority and was effectively Karl’s boss, but he end up doing most of the work (and whining about it) away.
Need – To get out…once your favorite animal is secure. Karl wanted to “rescue” his wolves from the zoo. Lawrence just wanted to retire.

Lawrence Chinn – as above


Disaster strikes

True to the game we were playing, Games on Demand had a Fiasco of it’s own and Jeremy (who was coordinating) had to run off, which was a bummer because I wanted to play with him, but it worked out fine. I facilitated the play and we had an early romp through Anytown Zoo.

Karl started the action quick, with a tiger getting out of it’s pen. Hilariously, we didn’t actually address the tiger for a few scenes, so when it did show up, it was licking a little kid’s ice cream cone, while the child’s mother first freaked out and then threatened to sue. No harm came to any children or tigers in the making of this game.

The great part of that was that it really gave Abby something to sink her teeth into. The tiger go out during Danny’s shift, and she was hoping to leverage that investigation into re-opening the old case that got Fred Hicks fired.

Lawrence started off really passive. He didn’t want to be bothered by Abby, and he couldn’t stand Karl, but Karl was his only keeper, so he wasn’t going to fire him (even though he ignored the tiger on account of watching his wolves). Lare, as I depicted him, just wanted to be left alone and make it through his day. He felt perpetually harassed by the people around him. That all changed when sifting through paperwork to give to Abby, he stumbled upon the Lease to the Zoo, which listed him and Danny as the somehow inheritors of the property. HELL YEAH!

The Tilt

Folly – You can’t afford to lose it…but you just did.

Deception – The mighty fall…exceedingly hard.

Oh these were so good. Unfortunately, with a two hour slot, we were running out of time, so we decided to just do one more round of scenes instead of two. The lease was lost (and I don’t think ever found, even in our epilogues), Abby overly aggressive investigation techniques got her put under review by state farm, and Karl continued heedlessly forward to “rescue” his cubs.


Oh, it was all bad. Abby was fired of course. Karl was caught by the police with the mama wolf half in and half out of the hole he had dug for her. Lawrence had to run the zoo by himself and personally deal with the “a tiger almost ate my child” lawsuit. Danny somehow got away reasonably well, it turning out that he was Karl’s accomplice all along and made off with a truck full of stolen wolf cubs, abandoning Karl to the police and his fate.


Thoughts on this game

We talked a lot about, going for the most banal idea possible. Abby wasn’t an FBI investigator, she was an insurance claims adjuster. Just the same we ended up with some pretty gonzo action like chipping a whole in the concrete wall to free the wolves, and a tiger roaming the zoo. It worked though. The mixture of zany with mundane mashed up nicely.

The first scene was one of my faves. It set up a relationship that was later flipped on it’s head. Lawrence and Karl were together in the warthog pen arguing over who was going to feed the temperamental one. Karl didn’t care if it was his job, he was the “wolf keeper” and he wasn’t going to do it. The scene set up the status dynamic early on, that Karl was a pain in the ass, and nobody liked him. This paid off really well when it got tilted later. He had just assaulted Abby (by taking the badge she was waving in his face away from her) and when she came to Lawrence demanding that he be fired, I had this great realization that yeah, Karl was a pain in the ass, but he was my pain in the ass. Maybe it was a common enemy bringing people together, or just that Abby irritated Lare even more than Karl did, but I loved the switch when suddenly Lawrence was defending Karl!

Our aftermaths were brutal, as they should be. I don’t remember all the details now, but trust me, nobody was happy. And the zoo, it was a wreck!


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