Monday, 27 May 2013

Fiasco: The Sins of Anarchy's Sons

On Friday night I ran a FIASCO using the Sins of Anarchy's Sons playset created by Chris Groff and Rob Wakefield which is loosely based on the hit FX TV Show, Sons of Anarchy.  If you've not seen the show it's follows the exploits of an outlaw motorcycle club (the Sons of Anarchy MC) trying to keep their powderkeg of criminal activity from blowing up in their faces.

I've run FIASCO a couple of times before with varying degrees of success and decided to change things up for this session.
FIASCO by Bully Pulpit Games

This time I decided to be the "Director"

FIASCO is cinematic in concept and I've found that players can often struggle with closing a scene because they try to resolve all of the loose ends right there and then.  I've put this down to in part to their lack of experience with FIASCO but mostly because they all want to get in on the action and develop their own stories.  The role of the director is to look at the whole picture and shout "CUT!" when he spots a great cliff hanger, one liner or that the players are drifting from one scene into something else. 

As director I also get to play any NPCs which get created and through them drive the story in interesting ways, primarily to stop the players from having meatshields, but also to create conflict.

My players are very familiar with other RPGs which contain concepts of self preservation, character progression and achieving goals collaboratively.  FIASCO is about going to hell in a handbasket in the most messed up way possible and this is difficult for players to reconcile.  It really only works, If they manage to put away any silly notions that they're going to come out of this alive and start to selfishly concentrate on achieving their own NEEDS.

How it went

Here's the setup for friday's game (with TILTS)

Friday Night's Sins of Anarchy's Sons Setup (Click image to enlarge)
Mel Carver's high school friend Misty turns up at the Junkyard (which doubles as the MC's Clubhouse) claiming to be on the run from a Federal Taskforce Agent (Mario Marquez) who used her as an informant against the Colombian Cartel.  She wants the MC to kill the fed and destroy his list of informants and is willing to pay the club a lot of money in return.

Flashback to a couple of months ago when Spanner, Dice, Blanco and Bull are dismantling a stolen car that Bull and Blanco acquired.  Inside the door pockets of the Red Ford Taurus are 8 kilos of coke.  A heated debate ensues as to where they got the car from and how they're gonna turn the uncut coke into a huge amount of cash.

Flash forward to Blanco and Bull burying a teenage meth chef in the desert after having just shut down his laboratory.  His wallet has fallen on the ground and they discover he's Ernesto Marquez.

Bull and Blanco have set up a meet with Agent Marquez to buy the list of informants from him.  Marquez is receptive to this as he is trying to rebuild his life after his wife kicked him out, blaming him for the disappearance of their son Ernesto.  During the exchange muffled cries can be heard coming from the trunk of the agent's SUV.  For some unexplained reason a very pissed off Mel is being held captive in the trunk.  She manages to get free and stabs Marquez in the groin with a tyre iron, Bull and Blanco finish him off by shooting him in the head and they take his car and body to the Junkyard.

At the Junkyard the MC agree to meet with the colombians and give them Marquez's head as a gesture of good faith.  The rest of him gets put in a bath tub full of battery acid... (nice).  They also decide that Misty is too nice to hand over to the Cartel (particularly as she was very grateful to Arnie) who will end up killing her for being a narc and so Dice doctors the list of informants and removes her name.

Flashback to Puff and teenage Meth chef Ernesto in bed at Puff's house.  Bull calls asking Puff to come to the clubhouse to discuss how they're going to cut 8 kilos of coke and distribute it.  With hindsight this scene doesn't quite work in the timeline (as Ernesto should be dead) but nobody noticed at the time.

The MC members meet with the Colombian Cartel's representative General Garcia who is grateful to the MC for disposing of Agent Marquez.  He then asks them to help locate the people who stole his 8 kilos of coke for which he will pay them $250K.  As he departs in his Humvee he tells them that he will contact them in two weeks, if they haven't found the thieves he will kill them all.

Back at the clubhouse Puff, who still carries a torch for Bull, has just observed him getting freaky with Misty and so shoots her in the head from outside his window.  Bull throws the Misty onto the floor, grabs his gun and leaps through the window.  The back of the clubhouse is littered with junk and he ends up cutting his foot on something and giving up the chase.  Dice goes to look around outside and finds Puff's monagrammed derringer outside Bull's window.

Arnie calls a chapel meeting to decide what to do about the mexicans and Bull and Blanco decide that two of them have to be given up to the Cartel and it isn't going to be them.  Bull punches Arnie who then pulls his gun.  Dice tries to ring his FBI contact and relay the whole confrontation to him but in the fracas his phone is knocked from his hand and spins out onto the chapel tabel.  Everyone's eyes are transfixed by the phone as a voice crackles "Hello... This is Agent Johnson".  Arnie shoots Dice through the head.

Meanwhile Mel has taken Agent Marquez's SUV out of the junkyard to dispose of it when she is followed by a rival gang of mexican bikers intent on killing the taskforce agent for some reason.  She runs one of them off the road but the others open fire on the SUV causing her to veer into oncoming traffic and getting hit by a semi-trailer.  The SUV spins off the road and down an embankment.  Barely alive she is beginning to think about how to get herself out of the crumpled vehicle when the bikers turn up to finish the job.

Unfortunately we ran out of time to complete all the scenes, but as there were only white dice left in the pool everyone just took one.

Almost everyone survived the Aftermath but in typical FIASCO fashion most were "dead on the inside"  The final scene was Puff trying to hitch a ride down a lonesome desert highway with her life in tatters.

What I'll do differently next time

Character Generation - We usually manage to get about 3 hours of actual gaming done on a Friday night, character generation (in my experience) normally takes a group of 5 players (or 6 in this games case) about 50-60 minutes of dice rolling consulting charts and mulling options.  This leaves about 60 minutes for each act which means it's quite a push to get round the table four times and allocate all of a players dice.

I put this delay partly down to my players coming to the table burdened with other RPG experience, and partly the "picking" aspect of the games character gen, so next time I'm just going to give them the option of either rolling two dice (finding the result and then choosing which relationship card to write it on) or choosing one of the available pregenenerated setups.  I hope that this way we can reduce the prep time and get down to the enjoying the mayhem.

Roles with Conflict Built In - Even using all the presets, the players managed to engineer characters who all had some connection with the MC and were not in roles of direct conflict, for example no-one was playing a cop or other town luminary charged with shutting the club down.  This may have been a direct result of the playset's design and to be fair we didn't really need it to create a good enough game, but I felt it didn't reflect the feel of the show where the MC are beset on all sides by authority figures trying to crush them.  Hopefully future games (with different playsets) will result in PCs with roles which already have the conflict built in to them.

Did They Enjoy it? 

Only two of the players had any experience with FIASCO, and about half were familiar with the TV Show.  Despite this, everyone said that they'd had a good time, it was refreshing to play something totally different and would definitely play again.  It was by far the best FIASCO I've run so far and I can reccomend the playset to those gamers (and fans of the show) wanting to recreate their own little version of Charming.

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