Friday, July 21, 2017

Historicon 2017: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

My son Nick and I had another great Historicon. This marked the fifth year in a row that we ran our dreaded Musical wargame.  These are games loosely based around one or more Broadway Musicals and usually involve large numbers of people singing, usually off-key.

 This year the game was based on Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.  As in previous years, we awarded the coveted Wazzi Award for the "Best Actor" in our game.

Forum, which is based on several actual Roman comedies by Plautius, is about the slave Pseudolus who is seeking his freedom which has been promised him by his young master, Hero, if the slave can help him get his beloved, Philia, a virgin slave in the next door house of Lycus, a procurer, who had been promised to the magnificently psychotic general Miles Gloriosus.

The game took up at the climax of the story.  Hero, believing that Philia had died of the plague had gone to have himself killed in the Arena.  Philia was not actually dead but replaced by the head slave Hysterium disguised in drag and feigning death.  On hearing that Hero planned to have himself killed, decided she could no longer live and would volunteer for Human Sacrifice Day at the Temple of the Vestal Virgins.  General Gloriosus was planning a dramatic funeral for his deceased bride.  Meanwhile, Hero's shrewish mother, Domina, had returned unexpected from a visit to her mother while Hero's father, Senex, was scheming to get some quality time in at the House of Lycus.  Lycus was trying to get back into his own house, his identity having been stolen by Pseudolus as part of the plan to free Philia.  Finally, old man Erroneous was charged by a soothsayer to run seven times around the Seven Hills of Rome which will somehow reunite him with his lost children who had been stolen infancy by pirates. Got all that?
We started from point where Pseudolus and his love, the large but silent courtesan Gymnasia had just rescued Hero from the gladiators in the Arena.  They then had to rush across the city to save Hysterium from the funeral pyre and Philia from the sacrificial blades of the Vestal Virgins.

Keeping their priorities straight, the trio promptly forgot about Hysterium and went to rescue Philia.  Fortunately, a nearby chariot rental place provide means for a quick crossing of the city.  They were soon assisted by the assorted courtesans of the House of Lycus and a group of soldiers under an over amorous centurion.

Hysterium realizing that no help was coming, leapt off the pyre.  The enraged Gloriosus, pursued with the remainder of his soldiery.  The courtesans stormed the House of the Vestal Virgins, the sight of which caused a four-chariot pile-up. Various groups of gladiators, acrobats, and eunuchs, all hoping for a swipe at one or more of our heroes, added to the chaos, with the Head Eunuch of the House of Lycus bewailing the loss of inventory.

Pseudolus, Hero, Philia, and Gymnasis ultimately escaped the House of the Vestals by means of a fortuitously placed crane.  As they fled to a nearby chariot, they were spotted by Gloriosus.  The general however was spotted by Domina, who couldn't resist a man in uniform.  Senex took this as an opportunity to lead a parade of citizen into the House of Lycus, all singing about the wonders of female domestic help.
The end result was a raucous chariot chase across the countryside that involved an elephant and numerous camels.  In the end, Erroneous who was in the middle of his fourth lap, recognized the signet rings worn by Philila and Gloriosus matched his own. They were his lost children, and brother and sister.  Thus, the lovers were united, Pseudolus won his freedom and force Lycus to free Gymnasia.  A happy ending of course!

Here's a cast photo, all of the players did an exceptional job and played their characters to the hilt.  The Wazzi went to John Kerstetter who, as the Head Eunuch, had everyone in stitches with his running falsetto commentary.

And we won an award!


Simon Miller said...

Sounds absolutely fantastic! ow I want to see the film again. :-)

commissarmoody said...

My wife and I love this movie/play! Funny and it holds up pretty well to this day.
You have a great set up and looks to have been a fun game. I bet that table would be great for all kinds of Romen goodness in the future. be it wargameing big battles, gangs on the Aventine style games, Roleplaying and will work up to the fall of the Emperor.
How many of those buildings are scratch builds?