Actual Play – Camp Death (10/20/2012)

Players: Karen Twelves, Ben Monroe, David Ackerman, Michelle Formoso, and Sean Nittner
System: Fiasco
Playset: Camp Death

This game was an introduction to Fiasco for Michelle, and a 2nd game for Ben and David, so my initial goal was to be very explicit and procedural about how the game was supposed to be played.  Yeah, that lasted about five minutes as I immediately became enchanted with the game itself.

Twin Power

Several rules all collided to create an interesting coincidence. Karen, who was sitting on my left, picked a work relationship between her and Ben (on her left). Later that got drilled own to Forest Ranger and Camp Councillor. I picked a Local relationship between myself and Michelle (sitting on my right). That later was drilled down to Crazy drunk and Camp Councillor.  So, we would have had something of a dilemma as there can only be one Camp Councilor. Karen solved the problem beautifully by making the two of us Family -> Identical twins. I was Teri, she was Terri, and one of us was the “real” camp councilor, the other was just along for the ride. Which was which we would figure out in play. AWESOME.

We had three needs in the game. Karen and I shared “to get even… with every last one of those motherfuckers” which planted us firmly against everyone else, but fortunately we let that develop organically, so that when it came out we had motivation (power and money of course).  David and Michelle shared “to get away… with the money before anyone realizes it’s gone” and David and Ben shared “to get out of… a stifling relationship”.

The needs did a great job of keeping us busy and away from the horror threat. In fact they did such a good job that as the game was going along we kept thinking, uhhhh, we need some more killing. We got there, but it it took some brainstorming to make it happen.

Thoughts on the game

I loved being Karen’s twin. We did all the rediculous 80’s twin pranks you can imagine. I had sex with the ranger pretending to be my twin. We had a scene were I was in it but Karen declared it was actually her and we swapped character tents for a scene.  It was great!

I set my first scene going for the lowest stakes I could possibly imagine. Who will get out of bed to answer the phone that won’t stop ringing. It was great.

The first death did some wonderful things. It happened on accident. The owner of the camp (an NPC) showed up to inspect our progress and was was greatly angry that the park ranger wasn’t doing a good job up-keeping the small portion of the camp that was technically state forest property (the lake and surrounding structures, including the rickety lifeguard tower). Mr. Phillips (the camp owner) climbed up on top of the roof to show the ranger how shingling was done. The ended up having a tug of war match over a shingle, he “slipped” and went falling off the top of the tower into the back of the Ranger’s truck. His head landing right on the claw end of a hammer.  So, here was the beauty of this scene:

  1. Mr. Phillips came out of the gate as a strong, imposing, high status figure that had the rest of us scrambling. He needed to be in the cross-hairs and he was. A good NPC is a dead one!
  2. It really got the ball rolling on this being a ominous, horror game. Before that it was all camp hi-jinks  This showed that we were all in danger. And that we were in danger from a mysterious source.
  3. We wouldn’t know the ranger was the killer till later, but this made awesome foreshadowing in retrospect.

We decided on the “I always knew there was something wrong with that one” option for revealing the killer, which is essentially the group decides by consensus who it was.  This wasn’t really easy to do, as we had two deaths already but none of them that could be pinned on someone (both accidents).  It looked like there were two potential culprits. One who would have acted out of greed, trying to get her father’s money (the camp director’s daughter) and one, a supernatural threat, something Cthulhu-esk that “protected” the site from human interruption.  We decided, both because the camp was feeling more “haunted” than anything else, and because we liked the idea that all the humans players were super small minded and just didn’t have it in them to kill, that that it was a supernatural horror… which of course was the ranger. The whole thing wrapped up very much like a Lovecraft story. Horrible things were unearthed accidentally by man and by the time we had any idea what they were (not that we really did), it was too late.

I really disliked the “stunt dice” mechanic. Normally in fiasco people die whenever we want them to, and I’m sure in a horror game we could have had plenty of deaths. Instead of the stunt dice aiding pacing to ensure deaths, I felt like they hindered us. We ended up only having 4 deaths in the entire game, because there were 4  stunt dice. Had the stunt dice not been there, we would have had a lot more, I’m sure. The were a good reminder (seeing red on the table meant someone had to die) but the drawback of feeling bound by them outweighed any pacing advantage they gave. I think the playset is just fine but in the future I would play it without the stunt dice and let the players decide when someone needs to die.

I have to say it again, I loved being Karen’s twin. Usually, I think because we are in a relationship, Karen and I either play characters that are distant from each other, or even antagonistic to one another. I loved that in this game we concocted this “us against them” bond. Phillips had our money. The ranger (you know before we thought was all Cthuhlu monster) needed to respect Terri’s authority as camp councilor. Whoever they were, they had done us wrong (or so we believed) in some way or another. My one regret in this was type casting Karen’s Terri as the up tight one. I started the game playing the slacker drug-addled sister, which kind of forced her into the responsible role.

Ben pulled an absolutely awesome move. We had this object that I had totally forgotten about: “The power lines have been deliberately cut!” Right when things were getting ugly, (post tilt) he pulled that one. The lights all go out. The phenomenon lasted across several scenes, including one feeble attempt to get the generator turned on, or check the fuses or whatever, that led Teri into the basement, and of course, to her doom.

One of the tilts was something along the lines of “something stolen has been stolen again”. Naomi and Pam had stolen Pam’s late mother’s pearls (from her father), and those pearls because the total MacGuffin of the game. Everyone was chasing after them (even though most of us didn’t know what the treasure was, we just overheard them talking about valuables), and Naomi and Pamela were in turn trying to secure them. This of course, just put us in dangerous predicaments… where we died horribly! Yay for greed leading to disaster.

As appropriate for a 80s slasher film we had lots of sex. And everyone that had sex died, or turned out to be some unholy monster. Remember that warning kids: have sex and huge fanged monster is going to eat out your insides and wear you like a flesh puppet.

One liners:

Forest Ranger: “I’m sorry. Who are you again?” <pause> “Where are my pants?”

Pamela Phillips (owners daughter and crazy drunk): “Never do lines [of coke] before breakfast.”