Note: This is the fourth post in my series on our first experience with Fiasco, and why I designed a new playset for our first game. It makes sense to start from the beginning of this series of posts, though. That’s here.
In my last post on this series, I left off just after the Tilt part of our playthrough: that is, at the moment when things start to go wrong, the Tilt section of Fiasco.Well, we pressed on without taking a break, because we were short on time. I would have preferred a short break, like the rulebook suggests, but, well, it wasn’t in the cards. What was in the cards, though, was mayhem.
Basically, at the end of the last scene involving Scott, Damien, and Yun Sik, Damien had sent Yun Sik off into Itaewon to call his drug-dealing rivals and try score some drugs off them. Meanwhile, ever happy to have others do his dirty work, Damien sent Scott into those same rivals’ room to search for the drugs.
The next scene was Scott’s, and Miss Jiwaku set the scene with a wonderful amount of in-character stupidity: Scott had not only found the drugs, but snagged some for himself (which he pocketed) and tried some of it out. Then he went out into the hallway to find Damien, who was standing guard. Pretty quickly, Damien figured out that Scott was stoned, and hauled him into Jax and D-nice’s room. Damien grabbed the duffel bag of drugs, checked its contents, and was about to leave, which seemed like things were a bit simple, so I stepped up and made the phone ring. Damien answered it, which was when we learned that D-nice and Jax were drug-dealin’ GI women. (D-nice is a corruption of “Denise.”) So it turned out to be D-Nice’s boyfriend calling. Damien tossed the phone into a nearby class of water — oh, no, wait, it’s not a cell phone, is it? Anyway, Damien did something to the phone, so it wasn’t working. Then, he found Scott passed out on the bed, the drugs too much for his delicate constitution. He planted some of the drugs under one mattress in the room, hoisted the bag of the remaining drugs onto one shoulder, and Scott onto the other… and then, as two MPs showed up in the hallway, he selected a white die, resolving the scene positively for himself. He sweet-talked his way out of being searched and arrested, in part because Scott vomited his guts out at just the right time, and the MPs (played by Katrina and myself) kicked him and Scott out of the building in disgust.
Then we jumped to the next morning, when Jenna showed up at school. She confronted Ju Yeon about her, er, involvement with Scott and past dalliance with Yun Sik, but Ju Yeon brushed it off as nonsense, dismissing Scott as a loser, and Yun Sik as having a small penis. Even as she was about to go to the corporate head office and siphon out a pile of money, including Jenna’s forthcoming paycheck, Ju Yeon reassured Jenna that she was the one she really cared about, insisting that she wanted to leave Korea with her, to go to Paris, to be together in peace. Katrina had resolved Jenna’s scene with a black die, so she was, to some degree, suckered in by the promises of Ju Yeon’s everlasting love in exile.
Ju Yeon’s scene came next, and I resolved it positively. Ju Yeon showed up in a miniskirt and high heels, Yun Sik wanted to confirm that Ju Yeon was indeed going to go to the head office that day and get the bank account info needed to pull off his heist. Ju Yeon followed him (the long way, avoiding Jenna’s classroom) to the smoker’s balcony, and then when they were alone, she turned on the tears, reminding Yun Sik of his promise to help her and save her family; Yun Sik, for his part, was so eager to get the information, and to have Ju Yeon get it for him, that he reiterated his promise, and Ju Yeon, just to make sure he didn’t decide to backstab her, once again implied a sexual reward for him should things work out well.
The next scene was Yun Sik’s and we jumped back to the evening before, when Yun Sik had been in Itaewon, luring D-nice and Jax off-post to get them out of Damien’s way. Here is when we learned that Yun Sik’s English wasn’t really so great under pressure, and that he was painfully awkward with strangers. He told D-nice and Jax (again, played by Katrina and me) that he wanted to “score some nice drugs” and things like that–a really ridiculous, screwed up and awkward attempt at trying to be hip and get some contraband. D-nice and Jax were already suspicious–and preparing to give Yun Sik a beatdown–when Jax’s pager went off. It was D-nice’s boyfriend, having just been hung up on by Damien. D-nice called from a nearby payphone, and realized someone was in their room, messing about. So Yun Sik avoided a beatdown, because D-nice and Jax were gone in a flash, hailing a cab to head back to the base.
My memories get a little fuzzy at this point, but one thing’s for sure: Damien was with Scott in a car, taking off from the base. Somehow, they got into an argument about the terms of their team-up in crime, but Scott was so screwed up from all the drugs he’d taken that there were other, supposedly bigger things on his mind… like Ju Yeon, his (supposedly) virginal wife-to-be. Scott began to insist that he be taken to “Jenna’s hakwon.” He pushed and pushed until Damien relented and took him there. Damien stayed around, though, worried that a stoned Scott would lead the police straight to him… and his big bag of drugs, which I think he had stashed somewhere along the way.
In the next scene, the last Scott-centric scene, Scott turned up at Jenna’s hakwon, having taken hits of whatever weird cocktail of drugs he’d pocketed the night before all through the night. He’d pulled off a scam! He was gonna be rich! He was going to get married to the pure, chaste Ju Yeon! He was stoned out of his freaking mind! Well… he ended up in the hallway of the school, near the smoking balcony, near Yun Sik, and if I remember right they argued as the scene ended… and Scott stabbed himself with a knife in a ridiculous, stoned-as-shit, self-destructive act of dramatic idiocy. Or maybe he attacked Yun Sik and Yun Sik stabbed him? I’m fuzzy on that detail, but either way, at that moment, one Tilt element was fulfilled. (The one involving magnificent self-destruction.)
In Jenna’s next scene, she caught up with Ju Yeon, and asked what the hell was going on. She stood there, talking to Jenna for a moment–basically, Ju Yeon warned her to get the hell out of the building, to go home right away. She questioned Ju Yeon about what was happening, and got on the verge of threatening her from what I could tell, but finally, Ju Yeon convinced her that for once, she was telling the truth and getting out of there was the best thing to do. Of course, Ju Yeon had also grabbed the drugs off Scott after heended up bleeding on the floor of the balcony, and planted them on Jenna, just in case… but Jenna seemed to leave immediately, avoiding the confrontation to come…
Next came Ju Yeon’s scene. She had the information she needed–the banking access codes. She was in the hallway when Yun Sik approached, wanting to confirm that the data-theft had been carried out successfully. But Ju Yeon didn’t want to talk about that, and used the sudden appearance of the hakwon boss as an excuse to go straight to the office and lock the door behind her. Yun Sik came to the office door, pounding on it, and threatening to break the glass. Ju Yeon ignored him, carefully typing the bank account information into her computer and transferring the money. (Which may not have been possible in the average South Korean hakwon in 1997, but none of us thought of that at the time. Ooops.) When Yun Sik threatened to smash the glass door in, Ju Yeon ignored him except to look at their boss’s door, which had a lock of its own; she could always retreat into there if she wanted. She ignored Yun Sik: his scheme had been clever enough, though he was unnecessary to its completion.
Yun Sik’s scene was next, and he gave up on her and went down the stairs and outside; he was in a full-on rage, and found Damien there, being his smarmy usual self. With sirens calling out in the distance, Yun Sik approached the man who (from his point of view) had screwed up his life, and came at him with a pocket knife. Here, the accounts get muddy. If I understand what Ian described a week post-game, Yun Sik stabbed Damien… except that other players remember it in the reverse: Damien stabbed Yun Sik with the pocket knife, and then took off, happy in the knowledge that he was rid of Yun Sik. (I think he even saw Scott getting stabbed on the balcony, and realized he was free of any dangers from his partners.)
Aaaaaand… I think I just blended Damien’s last scene with Yun Sik’s, but I’m not sure. In any case, Damien got questioned by some police, as far as I can remember, but the police were ineffectual and terrible and English (Katrina and I played them) and basically Damien was let go as much as a way of getting out of that uncomfortable conversation as because he was cleared of involvement in the crimes. But I’m a bit mixed up, and maybe Damien just left. Either way, he sort of got away with his crime, but was doomed to be haunted by the experience.
The epilogues are now quite fuzzy to me, as it was a long game session, but I’ll summarize them generally:
- Scott bled out on the balcony, thinking back on his horrible mistake and wishing he’d refused to get involved in the crime. There was a somewhat pathetic moment where he flashed back to getting involved, and it was like sad music playing.
- Ju Yeon and Jenna ended having some kind of bisexual swinger relationship in Paris, with Jenna always a bit paranoid Ju Yeon might betray her (and I imagine it was likely, but I decided not to show that “onscreen” since Katrina and I both ended up with over thirteen on our rolls at in the Aftermath: I got something like 14 on all-white dice, and I think she got thirteen on all black dice).
- Yun Sik also was regretful about his crimes, about trusting all these scummy people. He ended up in the hospital, surviving, but finally killing himself in the end out of shame and ignominy. That’s a fuzzy half-memory though, and I welcome correction.
- Damien? Well, he got away with his crime, but was haunted by the experience. Hardened. The kind of person who would make children cry. But he did succeed in one of his needs: D-nice and Jax did indeed get taken down, and ended up in deep trouble for the illegal drugs he left in their room. Damien got a corner on the drugs-for-GIs market…
The aftermath results actually fit most of the characters and their progression through the narrative surprisingly well–a really good aspect of game design, though of course I imagine that if the outcome had been opposite, it would have seemed that way too. Yun Sik ended up a mess, but there was a moment near the midpoint of the story where I imagined he, at the intersection-point of two complexly woven spiderwebs of criminal plotting, might indeed come out on top… all he needed was for one scam to come off right, and avoid being screwed out of the spoils. But in the end, he learned a lesson just as he died: when you need to come out on top in one plot, and avoid being screwed on the other, that’s like two full-time jobs–especially when people are actively trying to screw you over, get you killed, and so on.
Anyway, the epilogues really did fit the characters.
Next time, I’ll discuss my perception of how the game worked in terms of those issues I mentioned in my second post–the intercultural and language-barrier-related ones…