[Fiasco] Firan style

edited April 2010 in Actual Play
I played Fiasco!

I created a Firan playset and invited some of my local friends who also happened to play on Firan. Firan is a MUSH with a low-magic, Iron-Age theme, and I've been running it for like 13 years now.

My brother Jason, who is only vaguely familiar with Firan, plus Tanja and Melissa (two Firan players) joined me.


I gathered eight gold dice and eight red dice (we didn't have black and white d6es), rolled them, and passed out notecards. I explained a bit about the game and we started. Having a few copies of the Playset I created helped immensely. We didn't have to pass the book around.

Jason and I shared a RELATIONSHIP: Crush and object of crush with OBJECT: Shamibelian war plans. (Shamibelians are the horned evil enemy race.)
Tanja and Jason shared a RELATIONSHIP: Servant and boss with OBJECT: Fine carriage and horse team.
Melissa and Tanja shared a RELATIONSHIP: Madame of the Dove and a prostitute with LOCATION: The White Dove (a brothel).
I and Melissa shared a RELATIONSHIP: Priest/ess and worshipper with NEED: To get out of the city, before the upcoming Shamibelian invasion.

We talked about characters.

I played a priest of Zutiv (Zeus-ish) who was a coward. We decided he was from the Hydra Clan (Firan has eight clans named after monsters and such, and each clan has particular traits -- Hydrans are rather Spartan in nature). Against all social expectation, he was a frequent patron of the ladies of the White Dove. That's how he knew Melissa's character. She was going to help him escape the city.

Melissa played the prostitute (Dove girl). She turned out to be a shifty and untrustworthy thing. Tanja played the Madam of the White Dove, and thus Melissa's boss. Jason played a manservant / bodyguard / wagon driver for Tanja. We decided he was half-Shamibelian, who are treated poorly in the city and are not trusted.

Melissa, Tanja, and I have a great deal of knowledge about the Firan setting, having been involved with the MUSH for years. Jason has had only passing engagement with it (in its early years as a tabletop game, and for a few weeks on the MUSH when it started). He seemed to have no problem picking up the setting as we played, though we three veterans would occasionally explain this or that. It mostly just added color. Stuff was explained about as quickly as I did, above.

I skimmed through the rulebook to read the play advice and explained the criteria for a good Need, Location, and Object. We ended up changing "Fine carriage and horse team" into a "bag of gems." The carriage and horse just didn't work for us. It wasn't grabby enough. The bag of gems seemed like it'd cause more trouble.

Act One

Play started up slowly, with a scene between Jason and Tanja at the White Dove. Jason set the scene: he was sneaking into the Madam's room to search the chest he knew she kept there. He had a tip that it contained Shami war plans (reincorporated from someone else's relationship, awesome!). We resolved it as turning out badly, gave him a red die, and his half-shami got caught by Tanja and her other guards and beat up. This became a theme. Jason enjoyed sending his guy into terrible situations and more than once during the game, commented that he expected him to die tragically.

I won't go scene by scene, because I can't remember all eight of them, but Melissa's girl was flirty and mischievous and manipulative. My priest was cowardly and tried to protect his reputation, but managed to go to his General (he was also a medic in the Army) and convinced him to let him out of service. There were arrests and imprisonments. There were "romantic" moments in back rooms of the temple (scandal!). The half-shami got beat up a lot.

The Tilt

I can't remember both parts of the tilt. One was "a stupid plan, executed perfectly," which we thought was terribly appropriate for our band of fools. Jason and Melissa ended up having the highest red and gold die totals.

We took a short break, talked about the story's direction, and all that.

Act Two

The situation rapidly went to hell for our heroes. Jason's character died in his first (of two) scenes. He was fine with this. Melissa turned on Tanja. Everyone got arrested and accused of various things. The act ended with everyone imprisoned.


When I played with Jason Morningstar at Dreamation this winter, we didn't play out a proper aftermath, according to the rules. Maybe we ran out of time? In any case, I wanted to try the rules-as-written.

We rolled our red and gold dice and looked up the finales in the book. Jason's ended up good. Mine ended up very, very good. Tanja and Melissa ended up poorly.

We took turns, going around the table, saying, "Here is , doing ." Jason substituted allies and whatnot. We had a surprise ending where his character (and mine) turned out to be FFI (secret intelligence) agents, though I was still a coward. The city ended up being invaded, if I remember correctly, but I escaped.

Everyone had a good time. Play lasted about two hours.


Some of the scenes were really short, especially at the beginning. We started to add more detail. Players were narrating what could happen rather than role-playing what was happening. A couple times, I just encouraged them with an eager and friendly "Role-play it!" and they downshifted into "proper" role-play. I have no problem with narration, but these were potential scenes between two players. With my encouragement, I changed a one-person narration into a two- or three-person dialogue. More fun for everyone.

My playset was about 80% fun. That's on me, as this was a playtest of the playset. Some of the stuff on it doesn't scream out "Fun!"

We didn't really incorporate the Tilt as much as we were supposed to, I think. I believe there were hints of a "stupid plan," but it wasn't a strong element.

As many others have said, the game benefited from my strong hand as facilitator. At one point, I had to remind people that I wasn't the GM, that they didn't need my permission to do stuff, and that they should be looking to everyone at the table for approval and smiles. Melissa and Jason have lots of D&D experience and Tanja has very little tabletop experience at all. None of them have really played a "dirty hippie" game like Fiasco.

Jason's a very experienced gamer and GM (D&D, Storyteller, TW2000, Cyberpunk, Runequest, Mechwarrior, etc.). He said he'd love to use Fiasco as a world-building tool, to develop a fantasy world's mythology, then play that world using some other ruleset (presumably Pathfinder). That's a pretty interesting idea.


  • Hey Adam, this is great stuff! I'm glad you charged in a wrote your own thing.

    I've had Tilt elements not fire as well - there's no really good way to press it if the game just isn't interested in going there for one of them. It's ultimately no big deal, as long as things are cooking and you are hitting other stuff.

    80% fun is about right. Too much fun and the really boring choices don't leap out. Those are the best ones.
  • I felt as if my friends were grabbing at the really obvious choices instead of surprise choices. Like once we had a Madam & prostitute relationship, someone tacked on the brothel location. On one hand, hey, they're excited about that location, so cool. On the other hand, I like a little more surprise or weirdness. More than that, I think "Madam & prostitute" already suggested a brothel, so that choice of location didn't really add anything to the story.
  • That's on you guys!
  • Absolutely.
  • Hey, cool. Another Firan player picked up my Firan playset and ran Fiasco (presumably at his game store in New Jersey). I'll get the skinny and post an update here once I know more.
  • I got permission from my friend to post his AP report. This was a totally independent run of Firan Fiasco. He runs Gamer's Gambit in Fairlawn, NJ.
    Scott Roberts:
    After seeing a friend of mine had picked up Fiasco, and having seen Adam commenting about the game on the channels, I downloaded the playset and printed it out and we tried it out.

    There were three players, none of whom (other than me) knew anything about Firan.

    Player 1 was LeMoine (Matt). LeMoine was a noble, allied in his scheming with Marsalos (me). Marsalos and he had a need to Find the Truth about the Twins. He had a brother...

    Player 2 was Quintus (Chris). Chris was a soldier who lived with Marsalos, and was LeMoine's brother. LeMoine and Quintus had an object, their Father's Dagger.

    Player 3 was Marsalos (me). In addition to living with Quintus and having a scheming nobles relationship with LeMoine, Quintus and I were rivals for a military promotion.

    As the story unfolded under these guidelines, a number of different things were 'made up' by the players.

    * Quintus and LeMoine were secret identical twins. Their father had scarred Quintus' face horribly with his dagger when he was young so that the boy would not be recognizable as LeMoine's twin.
    * Marsalos had received an anonymous messenger telling him that there was a twin in the military and that this could cause a scandal. He told his scheming noble ally LeMoine about it.
    * LeMoine wanted to find out who sent the messenger. Marsalos, of course, didn't know, so LeMoine brought his alarm to Quintus.
    * Quintus and LeMoine decided to try to find out out who sent the messenger, but they could not puzzle it out.
    * LeMoine went and broke into his brother's house and stole the dagger.
    * In a cutscene that I narrated, Faria met with A Hooded Man Cloaked In Darkness to talk about their "plan", which apparently had hit something of a snag.
    * Quintus went to Stellos to find out more information about the anonymous messenger. While Stellos didn't know about the Messenger, he DID know that Quintus had had his dagger stolen by LeMoine.
    * LeMoine eventually tracked down the messenger that had gone to Marsalos. Threatening him with the dagger, the messenger boy wound up slitting his own throat rather than giving up the person who sent the message.
    * Marsalos and Quintus got into an argument over the upcoming promotions, with Quintus being certain that he was going to be promoted. Marsalos had heard further rumors about their being a twin, and he was worried about that.
    * LeMoine and Quintus had another discussion where there was much emotion about how they would have to deal with this problem, and whether or not Marsalos had to be eliminated.
    * Quintus and Marsalos spoke. In this conversation they talked about no matter who was promoted, he would have to follow the other one, so no matter what happened they had to remain friends for the other one would be at his back.
    * LeMoine got worried that his own noble position was in jeopardy and there was nothing he could do about it.
    * Quintus--revealed now as the Dark Man who Faria was talking to (we did not know this in the beginning when he first appeared) confronts Faria. Apparently his plan to have Marsalos revealed as a secret twin was ruined by a mistaken messenger being sent to Marsalos! He beats up Faria and stalks off.
    * Quintus and Marsalos have words outside of their house, where Marsalos confesses that he secretly loves Quintus. Quintus rejects him and Mars leaves, dejected.
    * Finally, LeMoine and Quintus have a confrontation, where Quintus confesses to LeMoine his plan, and they have an argument about how this could ruin both of them. Quintus, believing that LeMoine had gotten all the good things of being a noble while he was left unloved by his father as a simple military man, winds up stabbing LeMoine with their father's dagger and killing him.
    * Marsalos comes upon this scene when he returns home. Quintus begs him to kill him, but Marsalos turns him over to the Guards.

    Quintus is arrested, and LeMoine is dead. In the aftermath, LeMoine's reputation is destroyed and Quintus winds up dying in Ellish. And in the very end, 10 years later, Marsalos is standing, holding one of his newborn twin boys in his arms, holding his old friend's father's dagger in his hands and contemplating what he must do in order to save him...

    It was a blast, and even my fellow players who knew nothing about Firan had a great time playing out the events. Not too much about the game needed to be explained (the fact that twins are viewed as bad), and the end confrontation where Quintus stabbed LeMoine was very powerful stuff!

    Fiasco is a pretty awesome game and I recommend it. (I also think it's a remarkably cool character idea for a twin that is scarred by his parents ON PURPOSE to hide their identical nature would be great on Firan).
  • "Faria" is a well known NPC on Firan. She runs the messenger service.
    Twins are bad in the Firan setting, as people believe that the two siblings share a soul (either one doesn't have a soul at all, or both twins have half a soul).
  • That's pretty cool! Playing with three is sub-optimal, and playing in a setting most of the players are unfamiliar with is as well ... good to know Fiasco can handle it. Thanks for reposting this, Dray!
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