Why I love Fiasco.

After thinking about it for a long time I decided why that is. And that has spurred me to write my first real blog post. I love simple reasons for the same reason that my favorite campaigns (for DnD, Cthulhu, ect.) are my favorite. I get to see the full arch of my character.

In a game of Fiasco you are taking that character and seeing the entire arch of the character from when you create them to where they end up because of one simple mechanic: The Montage.

While it might just be stupid teenage nostalgia the best campaign I think I ever ran (and

also got to play in when Dylan ran it) was a level 1 – level 18, year and a half long (with at least 1 8-hour session per week) of Dungeons and Dragons 3.5. Why? Because we (the 3 – 4 players) saw our characters go from a weak little adventurer to kings (yes, it was that game). Then I epilogue killed all of them – mostly because I didn’t want to run those characters anymore but also because that is what had to happen I think, so that the players would have something to be better than.

The most fun game I ever played in was probably a living campaign for the Supernatural RPG where I played a misguided hunter who had made a deal with a demon before the game began. I got to see how the character evolved and did a lot of stupid things in order to try and get his soul back while still trying to be a Hero – despite totally not being a hero at all. He eventually became the indirect villain in the game. The campaign fell short due to con season and school starting back up again so I never saw how he would gallantly fail, because he had to fail somehow.

That is what I like in gaming and why I like fiasco. Complete stories. Get you from a to b. Done.

Break A Leg! A Very Theatrical Fiasco – Fiasco Playset

Hi there Jank Cast listeners, JOHNKELLY here!

Tonight after playing the Boomtown Fiasco playset Megan and I sat down and did something we should have done a long time ago. File a restraining order against Timo? Nope. We made a fiasco playset to reflect the world of the THEATRE! We call it Break A Leg! A Very Theatrical Fisaco. To add a little spice we added some classic characters from shows to the relationships. We’d love any feedback on it in the comments section. So, read it. play it. Send in critiques. Enjoy our Preview Week Version:

Break A Leg – Preview Week Version

A Very Theatrical Fiasco Playset

Written by: John Kelly and Megan Pedersen

with help by Mike the Pro-Champion

Movie Night: Waiting for Guffman, Slings and Arrows, Extras, Noise is Off

Special Thanks: All the theatres we have worked at over they years that have given us inspiration for everything in here from the box of swords with no lock on it to “You’ll remember me when I’m famous!”
Also thanks to a particular production of Uncle Vayna and from JOHNKELLY to Columbia College Chicago

Relationships

  1. Romance
    1. Showmance
    2. Director and Cast (Member or entire)
    3. Thespian and Outsider
    4. Crush
    5. Secret Lovers
    6. One night stand
  2. Family
    1. Supportive Parents and Child
    2. Unsupportive Parents and Child
    3. Following in the family footsteps
    4. Jealous Siblings – Austin and Lee
    5. Spouses (Current or Separate)
    6. Dysfunctional Family – The Lowmans
  3. Work
    1. Stage Crew
    2. Actors
    3. Designers
    4. Director and Other (Local Playwright, Cast, Crew, Designers)
    5. Co-Directors
    6. Volunteer” Ushers
  4. Community
    1. Actor and Techie
    2. Cast-mates
    3. Diva Ingenue
    4. Bitter Rivals
    5. Community Theatre/Summer Stock Players
    6. Mentor and Protege
  5. Friendship
    1. Just for the show
    2. Drinking buddies
    3. Best Friends – Herratio and Hamlet
    4. Till the Bitter end – Vladimir and Estragon
    5. User and the used – Gloud and Fox
    6. Fair-weather Friends – Caesar and Brutus
  6. The Past
    1. Went to Theatre school together
    2. Bad Blood
    3. Used to own a Theatre Company
    4. Former Child Actors
    5. I’ve never met them. But I’ve heard stories.”
    6. You’ll remember me when I’m famous!”

Needs

  1. To Get Laid…
    1. Once a show. Every show.
    2. To show whose boss.
    3. To get that part you’ve always dreamed of.
    4. To maintain your reputation.
    5. For the first time.
    6. To come out of the closet.
  2. To Get Revenge…
    1. For not getting that role.
    2. By ruining the show.
    3. For the humiliation you endure every day.
    4. On the one who broke your heart.
    5. For spelling your name wrong in the program.
    6. On the guy who makes everyone look bad.
  3. To Get Out…
    1. Of this damn business!
    2. Of this horrible show.
    3. Of this crappy town.
    4. Of my contract
    5. Of a relationship that’s turned weird.
    6. And to Broad-WAY!
  4. To Get Even…
    1. For that actor who can’t find their light.
    2. With a rival.
    3. With “The Establishment”.
    4. With the reviewer that panned your show.
    5. With those bastards for not giving you your check.
    6. With the people who just don’t understand good theatre when they see it.
  5. To Get Famous…
    1. Because I deserve it.”
    2. To Prove you wrong.”
    3. So I can make real art.”
    4. So my parents will accept me.”
    5. So everyone knows my name.”
    6. Just like __________.”
  6. To Get Respect…
    1. By doing this role justice!
    2. From yourself, by finally doing it once and for all.
    3. From everyone for atoning for your mistake.
    4. By getting a good review.
    5. I don’t need respect. This is art.”
    6. Because you have nothing left to life for.

Objects

  1. Props
    1. A real antique wheel chair.
    2. A porcelain Buddha that smashes each night.
    3. Alcohol – Lots and lots of alcohol.
    4. A live animal.
    5. A human skull.
    6. Two Hundred Christmas Trees.
  2. Weapons
    1. A Gun loaded with blanks.
    2. A big box of swords with no lock on it.
    3. A grenade. (It’s totally safe.)
    4. Gloves with claws on them.
    5. Nun-chucks.
    6. A Anti-Aircraft gun from when you did Mister Robert.
  3. On Stage
    1. A lamp that is wired poorly.
    2. A sandbag.
    3. Glow tape – lots of glow tape.
    4. A giant red velvet, flame retardant curtain.
    5. A trap door.
    6. A rain machine.
  4. Unsavory
    1. A giant bag of communal pot.
    2. A sex tape staring someone in the cast.
    3. Food stamps.
    4. Eviction notice.
    5. Pregnancy test.
    6. A secret shrine to Julie Tamor.
  5. Valuables
    1. The next show’s unreleased cast list.
    2. Keys to the theatre.
    3. Cell phone number of the director.
    4. The stage manager’s prompt book.
    5. The existence of a bad review.
    6. The real reason the last actor quit.
  6. Sentimental
    1. Stephen Sondheim’s autograph
    2. Tear stained love letter
    3. Security Blanket
    4. A director’s good note.
    5. Flowers from opening night.
    6. A Tony Award that belonged to someone else.

Location

  1. Front of House
    1. Box Office
    2. Cash Bar
    3. Lobby
    4. Coming Soon” Marque
    5. Bathroom
    6. Audience seating
  2. Backstage
    1. The Grid
    2. The Dressing Rooms
    3. The Booth
    4. The Prop Room
    5. The Green Room
    6. The Director Office
  3. Outside the Theatre
    1. Parking Lot/Valet Stand
    2. The 7-11 across the street
    3. The back alley
    4. The smokey stairwell
    5. The Salvation Army
    6. Hookah Bar
  4. Residences
    1. A tiny studio apartment
    2. A van parked behind the theatre
    3. Your parents house
    4. A 5 bedroom house with 7 people living there.
    5. On someone else’s couch.
    6. How do you afford this place?”
  5. Actor Bar
    1. Out front for smoking
    2. Passed out under a table
    3. The bathroom – maybe or maybe not having sex
    4. Behind the Golden T machine
    5. Holy shit, it’s tequila.”
    6. The techie table
  6. Cast Party
    1. The Director’s loft apartment
    2. Denny’s
    3. A restaurant that is far too nice.
    4. In a field in the middle of no where
    5. The local high school
    6. A Bowling Alley

Our Misspent Youth

The following is a blog post written by Ben, one of our original hosts about the game misspent youth. You can find his blog here.

—–

There will be feasting and dancing in Jerusalem this year
I am going to make it through this year if it kills me

–The Mountain Goats, This Year
At GenCon, I played an amazing new role-playing game, Misspent Youth, by Robert Bohl.  For a host of reasons, I can’t imagine something more appropriate to talk about in the first real post on my resurrected blog.

I should warn you ahead of time though, caveat emptor, that this post isn’t about Misspent Youth.  It’s about my favorite topic, and the only one on a day like this I seem to know much about:  me.

Misspent Youth allows people to come together and tell stories about oppression and how young people carve out their own identities in the face of that oppression.  Before doing anything else, the players create a world together.  They start by discussing bullies, and the things bullies do that they all hate.  With that foundation, the group creates an oppressive authority and adolescent characters who will, in whatever limited way they can, resist that authority.

I could say a number of things about creating a game like this, how I think it has an interesting hook, how I think it’s nice to focus on the kinds of people (adolescents) and the kinds of issues (freedom and oppression) that don’t get enough play in the gaming world.  And I do think all those things, although I don’t know how interesting those observations are, and there are surely people here more qualified than me to comment on how Misspent Youth compares with other games out there.

But, I’ve already told you I’m going to talk about me instead.  For me, this game was not just an interesting, thought-provoking way to role play while exploring these issues.  For the past year and three months, I have worked with oppressed young people.  The young men who I serve are all poor, they all have special education needs, have all had friends die in acts of violence (about half of them have seen a friend murdered).  They also are all involved in the juvenile justice system.

These are the forgotten members of our society, people who have been dealt the shortest end of the shortest stick since conception, since Jim Crow, since the Middle Passage, since one man (I hate to use sexist language, but it almost certainly was a man in this case) decided to put his boot to another’s throat and keep pushing and pushing until he got what he wanted.

That’s what Misspent Youth forces us to confront, how much of our history and our present are wrapped up in oppression, in maintaining privilege, in making sure people know their place.  And, because the game takes place in the future, we also have to confront whether we’ll keep living this way, keep taking everything we can from anyone who can’t defend herself.

But it also reminds us of something else, something so simple and beautiful it takes your breath away:  when one person, especially someone young, throws her own little monkey wrench into the machinery of repression.  Because, I can tell you from my experience in my job that our society had basically one message for our misspent youth:  comply.  Don’t think too much, don’t step out of line, listen to your case workers and your teachers and your parents and the cops and do whatever they tell you to.  And, whatever you do, never question the authority.  If, while reading the last sentence, you have decided that this seems like a recipe for creating broken people who will see nothing for themselves but a life of crime, congratulations on a) not being an idiot and b) not bearing any responsibility for what we euphemistically call the “juvenile justice system.”

I guess after all this ranting, I might tell you a little bit about the game’s mechanics.  We chose to fight an authority that was using state-sponsored religion to destroy history, although we could have fought a corporation destroying freedom or some similar option.  Then we came up with a variety of character concepts and each chose two.  Mine were “needs to be in charge” and “tagalong.”

After you choose your concepts, you choose a means, motive, opportunity, and MO for your character.  These were all fairly easy.  But then I froze.  Because the final thing I was supposed to choose when I created my character was her dysfunction, her deepest secret, the thing that lets her fight the authority but will ultimately destroy her, a quick synopsis of her innocence in all its wonderful, tragic glory.

But the only dysfunction I could come up with was my own.  I had been thinking about it all week, because I was almost certain that I was about to lose my job (I did, this morning).  I started to tear up.  I had talked about the job a bit earlier with my new friends and fellow games, against my better judgment.  I guess I was feeling vulnerable.

So I wrote it down:  she thinks she can change the world.  Because, you see, one of the things you can do is sell out your personal traits if you need to do something desperate to defeat the authority.  In essence, if your own skills and convictions betray you, you can start to behave like your oppressor, giving up a bit of yourself you can never get back for short-term success, even if, in the end, the authority is still winning by co-opting your soul.  And your dysfunction is always the last thing you sell out, after the authority has consumed every last bit of your own identity.

I think I still have mine, wilted little thing though it is, although who knows for how long.  I have clung to it over the past year, even as it has dragged me across our ransacked urban frontier, littered with broken lives and the bodies of children.

Maybe someone will give me the chance to sell it out.  Maybe I’ll take it.  I’ve seen too many good people do too many horrible things to think that I’m above much of anything at this point.

But maybe I’ll hang on, just a bit more, fight one more fight before I slide into all the creature comforts you can enjoy once you’ve given everything else away to the authority.

I don’t know.  But I do know that I want to thank Rob Bohl for helping me think these thoughts, and my fellow gamers for taking this journey with me.

And I want to thank the guys I’ve worked for over the past few years, for putting up with me, for opening up my eyes, for listening to me and letting me in, even though they had no reason to trust a young white guy with no idea how to help anybody.

If I have any shred of my dysfunction left, hopefully I will honor that trust by taking my finger and sticking it in the authority’s eye every time I get the chance.  If enough people embrace that message, maybe we won’t have to worry so much about our own misspent youth.

How is this Spam?

So we get a decent amount of spam comments on our blog here at the Jank Cast but today I found one so incredible that I couldn’t not share it.

I found your Blog when I was searching for cthulhu and I need to say, you do a really good job. You article helps me a lot! Thanks.

How does the spam bot know about Cthulhu? Does Cthulhu really control the internet? Thoughts