Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fiasco: Lessons Learned

This isn't quite a review or a actual play, just some thoughts after playing Fiasco for the first time the other night.

Fiasco is a roleplaying game from Bully Pulpit Games.  Its a game of powerful ambition and poor impulse control: you and your fellow players act (together or against one another) in a scheme that ends in stupid tons of violentness.  One of my friends made a comparison with Reservoir Dogs, which wasn't entirely inaccurate.

Its a story game, a kind of genre within the greater tabletop RPG sphere.  These games often have no GMs, and each player is given enough power to affect the story and drive things forward.  Fiasco is one of those kind of games.  We had fun with it, using the Dresden Files playset that came out a year or two ago.

Perhaps the first thought I have with it is a relishing of things going wrong: players choosing to have their characters fail and being okay with that.  I love that idea, and its theme in the story game genre, something that traditionally doesn't get thought of.  And Fiasco all about that idea.

Fiasco makes accepting failure and enacting it easier because the failure in this case, I think, isn't being forced onto the player against their choice.  The player is allowed to define their own failure.  That makes it work.  Adapting this into your own games requires some metagaming I think.

I've used this technique to get players to accept a dramatic failure, often by just talking to them before doing it beforehand.  And Fiasco makes it clear that the more agency this failure grants the player, the more willing they are to enact it.

Fiasco also has a elegant system of creating relationships between characters.  Fate Core has such a system too, forcing stories that connect the characters together.  So lets think about this, can one create a Fate group relationship map using Fiasco inspired mechanics?

Clearly the GM will create the necessary charts beforehand.  It would be managed in the same way as Fiasco setup, with emphasis on creating the connecting elements between characters.  If Locations, Needs and Objects are included, each clearly adds agency to the game for the players.

Optionally, the GM could also play in the Setup, using it to purposeful throw in a important NPC rival in the mix as well.  Player could also be tapped to describe what sort of elements they like to have listed, filling blanks for the charts.  I would also consider shrinking the dice pool rolled at the beginning of the setup, depending on many things other than relationships you'd like to see.

Hack and mod for setting and rules taste too.  If its a game like 3.5 that doesn't readily support mentor/protege relationships, or if the GM doesn't want to let one player have many more levels at the start of the campaign, then adjust the charts to reflect things everyone wants to potentially see in play.

Just some thoughts, I could potentially use this as part of a character creation mini-game.  Its good for group creation, but still leaves a lot in the player's hands to figure out.

Fiasco twas awesome to play.  Pick up a PDF copy of it and try it out.