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My First Fiasco

August 8, 2012

FiascoI had heard of Bully Pulpit‘s Fiasco game from various nodes of the Cortex and thought it would be an interesting game to explore. A GM-less roleplaying game designed to be played in an evening. A game based on the cluster-f@#% plots of my favorite crime movies. Sounded pretty cool to me.

Then I saw the segments on Wil Wheaton‘s most-excellent web series Tabletop where he, Alison Haislip, Bonnie Burton, and John Rogers played a Fiasco scenario written by Wil Wheaton and the creators of the game.

It blew my fragile little mind.

The game looked every bit as awesome as I had thought. I flew to my computer and bought both it and the Fiasco Companion within the next couple of days. I downloaded the .pdf files to my Nook and devoured them. Read both within a couple of hours. Then I printed off some charts, bought some index cards, two sets of black and white d6, and gathered up my Sharpies. I literally vibrated with the need to play this game.

So we invited some friends over and had a go at it. First, we watched the Tabletop episodes to introduce my friends to the concept–I was doing a horrible job of explaining it. Then, as they were still interested in trying it out, we chose the “Camp Death” playset, as we’re all fans of old-school slasher flicks. It used the alternate “stunt dice” rules, which may not have been the smartest choice for the first time, but figured “what the hell?”

The Set-Up

The Players: Shedrick (“Josh”), Amy (“Heather”), Michael (“Kevin”), Kristin (“Veronica”)

The Playset: Camp Death


  • Kevin and Veronica had a SECRET relationship: “Stalker and object of sick obsession”
  • Veronica and Josh had a FRIENDS relationship: “Alpha male/queen bee and sycophant”
  • Josh and Heather had a ROMANCE relationship: “Once mutual lust, now mutual disgust”
  • Heather and Kevin had FAMILY relationship: “Older sibling and “baby” sister/brother”


  • The woods
  • The way out of camp


  • Ominous findings…: Roughly carved occult symbols
  • Information


  • Heather needs “to get even” with Josh “for what they did last year”
  • Veronica needs “to get even” with Kevin

Act One

Camp DeathKevin and Heather have arrived at Camp Clearwater for another summer of fun. Heather is still upset with Josh–the two had been seeing each last year until Heather found Josh in her cabin with another one of the “kids” from camp (which set up a running gag with Josh saying “She was going to turn 18 in September!”). Kevin is worried that Heather’s anger is going to “kill his camp buzz” and tells her to chill out. Kevin’s here because he genuinely loves doing all the cool camping stuff.

In the meantime, Josh and Veronica have a discussion out in the woods. Josh can’t believe that Heather’s coming back–she’s going to completely cramp his style with the ladies this summer. He charges his worshipful toady, Veronica, with keeping Heather away from him while he works his magic. Veronica agrees, hoping that will mean she gets to spend more time with Kevin. “Kevin is so awesome.” Kristin, playing Veronica, did an awesome job of making her completely creepily involved in Kevin.

Josh and Kevin, cleaning out the boys cabins, discover a set of strange markings on the inside door of a closet. Kevin thinks they’re “Viking runes” but Josh swears he saw them on an Ozzie album or something.  They are completely creepy.

Josh and Heather run into each other in the lunch line and have a very public argument, both being completely nasty to each other with Josh saying something along the lines “It was a year ago, why are your panties in such a knot? Is that why you’re so gripey, nobody’s been up there to un-knot them for you?” Josh is that typical jerk that always shows up in these movies. You almost hope the killer gets him.

Kevin gets with Josh later to tell about “Weird” Billy–a new counselor who was a camper last year. Billy’s completely creepy and nerdy and Josh probably wedgied him pretty frequently last summer. According to Kevin, Billy knows all about the markings they found. He works at the main office. Kevin also tells Josh that the stuff he said to Heather in the lunch room was completely not cool. Josh made the excuse that she just drives him crazy and stuff and tells Kevin not to worry about it. He’ll go talk to Billy about these runes, though.

In the meantime, Veronica, who’s heard about the runes from Josh, gets Heather to come with her to Cabin 13, where the runes are carved. “They’re very pretty wood carvings. We can look at them together if you want to…” Heather can even “bring Kevin, if you want to. Kevin is so dreamy. And awesome. Just awesomely dreamy. You’re so lucky to get to spend time with Kevin…” Heather agrees to come with her, but is weirded out by Veronica’s behavior.

Meanwhile, Josh goes to the office to talk with Billy (played by Michael). Billy is the prototypical nerd: lispy, high voice, very creepy and knowledgeable about things he has no business being knowledgeable about. He explains to Josh that the markings in Cabin 13 are satanic runes and that a group of Satanists used to perform burnt sacrifices on the way out of camp, where there are more markings. He can take Josh out there if he wants…but the Satanists always took out “dicks and bullies” first, so he better watch out…

Heather and Veronica are in Cabin 13 and Veronica shows the markings to Heather. The cabin is lit by candles, making the markings look more ominous in the dark. She takes them in, commenting that they’re creepy as Veronica is mumbling strange words behind her. Then they stop when a massive “bump” takes place just outside the cabin…

And, at this point, no one knows where Kevin is…


  • Innocence : Somebody is not so innocent after all
  • Guilt : A showdown

Act Two

Heather rushes to check out the noise–and finds Billy, lying dead by the cabin, his head bashed in. Kevin is there, having heard the noise as well. Kevin brings up the fact that Josh was going to see Billy and was the last one to see him. Heather and Kevin decide to run to the office. Heather takes a trail into the woods…but Kevin is waylaid by Veronica–who is completely creepy and clingy.

Heather runs into a panicked Josh in the woods. Apparently, Billy took him out near the way out of camp. Josh heard something odd in the woods and Billy went to check it out…and then screamed. Josh panicked and ran into the woods–chased by something, or someone, he couldn’t see. He joined Heather in her dash to the office to get to a phone…

Kevin, shaking off Veronica, makes it to the office. He picks up the phone and gets emergency services (911)–but then the phone is cut off. The lights go out…

Heather and Josh make it to the office. It’s dark and quiet (“too quiet”). Josh leads the way in candlelight provided by Heather–who had kept one of the candles Veronica had lit in Cabin 13. In the flickering candlelight, Josh sees movement and calls out “who’s there?” Then something leaps from the darkness at Josh…

It’s Billy! And he’s wearing a mask made of Kevin’s face. The two struggle, but finally Josh dies with large knife in his chest. Meanwhile, Veronica springs up behind Heather–wearing Kevin’s face! “Now I can be with Kevin forever. And I’ll have him all to myself…” Heather and Veronica struggle while Billy kills Josh. Heather manages to break away and runs, screaming, out of the camp. A sheriff pulls up, alerted by Kevin’s aborted phone call, and rescues Heather, shooting her two assailants with a shotgun as they refuse to “freeze” in their pursuit of Heather.


Josh got a White-0 : “The worst thing in the universe…” so we decided he survived…though as a broken man in a sanitarium. He was a jerk anyway. And Veronica got a Black-15 : “Awesome. Insanely great…” So we decided she not only survived, but is still at large… Heather, of course, survived and Kevin, poor fun-loving Kevin, is no more.


Fiasco was a hell of a good time. We may not have gotten all of the rules right, and our story had plot holes you could drive a double-wide through, but it was fun and invigorating. I definitely want to try it again…and maybe even write-up a playset at some point.

  1. Michael permalink

    One correction, Billy did jump Josh in the cabin, but it was Veronica who showed up wearing Josh’s face – that creepy obsessed freak killed me! She confronted Heather wearing her brother’s face, poor Kevin, I just wanted to have a good time… 😦

    • Ha…I was literally making that correction as your comment came through. Amy corrected me last night. That’s what I get for not taking notes…

  2. Wow, looks like it was a blast! I’m curious about the stunt dice, though. When did they come in play?

    • Oh…you’re right…I didn’t get into that. Essentially, you replaced 2 whites and 2 blacks with different colored dice. When assigning them to a player, you decide if it is white or black but…if a stunt dice is assigned to a scene, someone (either PC or NPC or someone off-stage) dies.

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