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What We Played: Finished By Another Hand (Fiasco)

Sam Kabo Ashwell
user 30231972
Seattle, WA
Post #: 3
Orvus Ginchey was the only famous person ever to come from round this way. About twenty years ago he published a novel and a succession of brilliant paintings that earned him a cult following. Orvus was a total recluse, communicating with the world only through his sister Hope. His creative juices dried up after the first flush of fame, but Hope saw no reason to stop: she turned out more novels in his name, farmed the painting work out to someone cheap in a country very far away, and continued the charade for years after Orvus died. Now she runs an Orvus Ginchey Museum that brings abundant tourist dollars to the community... but her secret isn't well-kept, and everybody wants a cut.

Hope Ginchey (Sam), ghostwriter and pillar of local business community. Condescending. Good at getting other people to do things for her.

Emmett Rider (Greg), hapless ex-con, regular guy, and one of only two felons in town. Not as good at crimes as everybody expects him to be. Was paid by Hope to secretly dispose of Orvus's body some fifteen years ago.

Claire Ginchey (Martin), cousin to Hope, sheriff of the local PD (staff: two). Was high for most of police academy. Has a vague idea about what really went on with Orvus, but has vaguely kept it quiet out of a vague sense of the Good of the Community.

Shelly Mullins (Sev), second banana of the local PD (and dispatcher, and parole officer to Emmett, and everything Claire can't be bothered with.) Has bickered with Claire ever since high school. Keen on proper procedure, but still bent. The story opens as Emmett shares the secret with Shelly over one too many drinks.

Secondary characters:
Officer Coplin, golden boy of the Next Town Over PD. Likes kicking down doors, doing it by the book.
Nightwatchman, ain't got the best job in this town but that don't mean he has to take no guff from you, lady.
Andrew, only named member of the Fedstate Trooper-Agents. Really big Orvus fan.
Evangelical Couple, blissfully unaware of the mummified author buried under their home.

Things took off a little slowly, as we grasped around to get the hook right, because a lot of our premise elements were just a bit too open to suggest a character. Having a quite specific thing (object: valuables: celebrity memorabilia) was really useful as a nucleus.

But once we got that worked out, things flowed beautifully: a basic blackmail plot, except that the blackmailers were struggling to lay their hands on any actual evidence. Emmett had buried Orvus beneath a remote barn, but while he was in prison a housing development had been built on top of it.

We didn't have any Get Laid motives, so we compensated heavily by having all our characters believe that everybody was having affairs with each other (when really they were just conspiring.)

As ever, there were some loose ends: the recurring joke about the town only having two felons never quite got around to delivering Felon #2, and we had the idea throughout that the museum's contents might contain damning evidence, but never found a good specific answer. This seems to be a pickup-storygame thing; you can often see a space in the story that needs a fairly specific Good Idea, a space that'd need to be filled in fixed-work fiction: but you have to be able to cope if an Idea doesn't show up.

Also, somehow we managed to tell a blackmail story without ever going through the suitcase-of-money bit.

Nobody ended up dead, and there were only two arson attempts, neither executed with any competence at all. We mostly rolled fairly neutral final results. (Shelly lost her job, but bonded with Officer Coplin while being arrested and later married him. Emmett did his time again and reformed again. Hope hired an expensive lawyer, got off, and re-opened the museum as Orvus Ginchey: Conspiracy or Controversy?) But the epilogue-montage mechanic worked really well.

If there was anything wrong with this (and there wasn't much: it was an awesome lot of fun), it was that none of the characters quite seemed desperate enough. Hope never seemed to think that the blackmail wasn't something she could deal with, one way or another; Shelly and Emmett were driven by low-level resentment and greed.
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