Panda Empress, First of Her Name
This was a playtest for a Fiasco playset called Fata Capuam by Redemund's Guild.
Cornelius: Wealthy citizen and rival of Tryphena. He has been spreading rumors questioning her pedigree and intends to end their rivalry once and for all in the arena. He has recently employed Lucius to build a toll booth (box office) outside the coliseum as a way to earn additional revenue.
Tryphena: Wealthy woman who takes what she wants without remorse. Cousin of Tiberius. She and Cornelius are rivals. Cornelius has spread rumors throughout the city questioning her lineage, and she intends to seek revenge by humiliating him in the arena.
Tiberius: Down-on-his-luck cousin of Tryphena. He has squandered his fortunes in chariot racing, and Tryphena has employed him to learn the truth about her pedigree in order to quell the rumors. He operates the toll booth (box office) located outside the coliseum and skims money off the profits earned there alongside Lucius.
Lucius: Scheming architect who built the toll booth (box office) outside the coliseum for Cornelius. Although he built a hidden compartment in the booth to skim money from the profits, he hopes to keep Cornelius as a patron and frequently bribes him with his own money. Partners in crime with Tiberius.
Location: Cornelius & Lucius: Official (Toll Booth)
Need: Cornelius & Tryphena: To Get Revenge (In the Name of the Family)
Need: Tryphena & Tiberius: To Learn the Truth (About My Father)
Object: Tiberius & Lucius: Valuable (Chest Full of Silver and Gold Coins)
Tilt: Mayhem: A dangerous animal gets loose
Tilt: Paranoia: A stranger arrives to settle a score
The scene opens at the games. Having no gladiators on the sands at the moment, Cornelius decides to check on the profits from the toll booth. His accountants have reported a discrepancy between what he should be earning and what actually reaches his home. He finds Tiberius at the toll booth, who successfully deflects his attempts to take the money by sharing some inside information: Tryphena has recently purchased a new gladiator -- a giant of a man called Tethius.
Sensing that his rival may have one-upped him, Cornelius hurries back towards the arena only to encounter Tryphena herself, who is more than happy to brag about her latest acquisition to a rather flustered Cornelius...until he mentions that this competition is to "honor their fathers." That wipes the smirk right off of her face.
Meanwhile, Tiberius has a chat with his partner, Lucius, to inform him of Cornelius's suspicions. Lucius cautions Tiberius to take less from the pot -- instead of stealing 1 coin of every 50, steal 1 of every 100. The stolen coins are fed through a slot into a secret compartment Lucius has built into the booth. Lucius takes his share of the coin and goes to visit Cornelius in his private balconey.
The games have been going well for Tiberius so far, in part thanks to some careful preparations Tiberius has made with the guards, gladiators, and coliseum staff. He greets Lucius merrily and accepts the bribe Lucius leaves with him in exchange for giving Lucius more work in the future. While he does inquire about the trustworthiness of Tiberius, he allows Lucius to talk him out of any real suspicion for the time being.
Unfortunately for Tiberius, neither his luck nor preparations hold for long. Tryphena's newst acquisition somehow manages to overcome Tiberius's gladiators and careful planning. Before the end of the event, he attempts to slink off unnoticed to sulk only to run into Tryphena yet again. Tryphena gloats over her victory and reminds Cornelius he should be more careful who he trusts to carry out his dirty work for him before finally allowing him to escape to find some liquor.
With the end of the match, Tiberius takes the coin from the toll booth -- all of it -- with plans to use it to repay his staggering amount of debt. As he's clearing out the booth, however, Tryphena arrives. She takes no notice of the money and inquires about what progress he has made obtaining evidence of her parentage. He reassures her he has learned the truth and that her pedigree is perfect, then informs her he has it on good authority (that of a certain architect) that Cornelius is taking in a good deal of money without paying it forward to the local government officials. Instead, he is intending to use the money to expand his own property. Tryphena offers him her thanks and extends an offer of dinner and a place to "lay low" until Cornelius finds someone else to blame for his misplaced funds, and the two part ways.
Lucius arrives at the toll booth to find it cleaned out and the door tot he secret compartment open. He hurriedly bricks it up and goes to find Cornelius. He finds him stumbling home, rather drunk, and informs him that his hunch was correct -- Tiberius has stolen the money from the toll booth! He also informs Cornelius that Tiberius is Tryphena's cousin, causing Cornelius to immediately jump to the conclusion that Tryphena had set this whole thing up to rob him of everything.
Cornelius finds his way to Tryphena's estate, where he makes a nuisance of himself by drunkenly yelling at her front gate until she steps out. She honestly tells him she was not at all involved in the plot to rob him of his money from the toll booth and reminds him that Tiberius's reputation is well-known to the people. How is it her fault he failed to check his references before hiring him? Once again, he brings up her parentage and questions her legitimacy, which causes her to outright accuse him of slandering her good name. He tells her that he'll show her, then stumbles off towards the coliseum with the intent of curling up in his empty toll booth for a good cry.
When he leaves, Tiberius steps out of the shadows to consult with Tryphena. He admits that he's surprised Lucius hasn't taken the fall for stealing the money. The pair decide Lucius is a loose end, and he needs to be taken care of. Tiberius promises to arrange an accident to befall him for a small fee, to which Tryphena agrees and sends him on his way.
Tiberius stops by the toll booth to try and learn why Lucius wasn't blamed for the theft. As he's trying to open up the secret compartment, Cornelius finally stumbles in. Tiberius rushes out, and Cornelius gracefully falls flat on his face. Seeing his opponent so drunk, a wicked idea takes root, and Tiberius helps him to his feet and into the coliseum. He escorts him down to the gladiator pits and, after both bribing the guard and suggesting Cornelius would like a little alone time with the gladiators, he leaves Cornelius to his fate...only to find Lucius outside.
Sensing Tiberius's intent, Lucius corners Tiberius on the ledge of the coliseum and threatens to throw him to his death. Tiberius tries to out-talk him and offers him 75 silver pieces and a new patron if Lucius lets him live...and also the chance to save Cornelius, if he would like to take it. Lucius agrees to let him live, but he drags him back down into the slavepits alongside him, where they find that the situation has changed.
When Tiberius left, he apparently failed to properly lock the slave pits up. The slaves have escaped! And they've locked the guard and Cornelius into the cells in their place. The guard points out a spare key to Lucius, but when he turns his back on Tiberius, Tiberius attempts to use the purse filled with silver to knock him out. The plan backfires spectacularly, and Lucius turns in time to punch him with the iron key ring.
Knocked to the ground, Tiberius tries desperately to make Cornelius see reason: that Lucius is not his friend and that Lucius is actually the mastermind behind the whole plan! (He mostly does this by pointing out how impatient he is and how he stole all the money right away, so he's obviously not smart enough to have planned the whole thing.) Even though he's still quite drunk, Cornelius eventually does understand and orders the guard to arrest both men.
Meanwhile, back at her estate, Tryphena is just getting ready for bed when she overhears a scuffle. Not the idle sort, she goes to investigate and finds a stranger poised over the bodies of her servants and guards. He's obviously a gladiator -- that much is clear from his weapon and armor -- and she demands to know what he's doing in her home. He reminds her that this is not her home -- it's his. She took the property from his father, then condemned him and his family to lives as slaves. The obvious threat does little to ruffle Tryphena's feathers; instead, she politely asks him how his parents are doing and learns his father was killed in the arena only recently, and he has no idea whate fate befell his mother. Losing interest in the conversation, she reminds him that if he had been a gladiator, perhaps he might have won his freedom and reclaimed his property then turns to go back to bed...and the stranger, enraged, throws himself at her with murderous intent.
When dawn comes the next day, chaos and destruction have been left in the wake of the fleeing slaves, and the locals -- government and underworld alike -- want to know who to blame. Most of the blame is shouldered by Tiberius, whose poor standing in the community makes him the obvious target. Sadly, before he can be condemned, he is killed by the underworld. Still thirsting for vengeance, the government officials turn to Cornelius, Tryphena, and Lucius. Tryphena and Cornelius rat out each other's schemes and bring each other down, while Lucius is left without any patrons, without any money, and without the chance to earn any money.
Awesome. I really did no know someone had actually played this. Even though this was "ages" ago I would still like to express my gratitude for such a throughout debrief.