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[Fiasco] A failed suicide, a house fire, and a sleazy manager eaten by a bear

John Marron

Exoticising the other
Validated User
So, I know I'm late to this party, and folks are probably pretty tired of me going on about this game, but I've now played 3 games of Fiasco in the last week, and thought I'd share my impressions.

I've been off Indie games for a while now, after buying a bunch a couple of years ago that just didn't work for me. I've in fact vowed not to buy any at Gencon (irrational, I know), but broke that vow this time after Rick Neal showed me his copy of Fiasco. I was sold immediately when the game was described as "Coen brothers, the RPG", and snagged a copy from the IPR booth. It turned out to be my favorite purchase of the con.

We played twice at Gencon, once using the LA 1936 playset (a playset is a set of setting/situation elements specific to a particular place/time/style you want to play), and once with the Tales from Suburbia set that comes in the book. Both games were tons of fun, so I got my home group to play last night, and we used the Touring Rock Band set from the Bully Pulpit website.

I won't go into the details of our games (although all three were wicked fun), but I did want to talk about what I like about Fiasco. A lot of indie games are so laser focused on playing one specific story that I just don't see a lot of replay value in them, or even a reason to play them in the first place if you don't have a strong interest in that specific story. Fiasco is also laser focused, but on producing a particular style of story, that of a small time caper gone horribly wrong (think Fargo). What makes Fiasco a game I plan to play many, many times are the playsets. By varying the time, place, and thematic elements, each playset feels enough like a whole different story to make them all interesting, even though they all share the same general arc (things spiral down from bad to truly awful). The playsets are so fun, that about three pages into reading the book, I was possessed by the need to write one of my own.

Another great aspect of Fiasco is the lack of prep needed. And by lack of prep, I mean you don't need any. Not even one second, beyond someone reading the book and gathering some scraps of paper, dice, and a pen. As I described it in one of the Gencon threads, you go from 0 to awesome in 2.5 hours. This is a game you can whip out on those nights when some people can't make your regular game, and everyone who is there will have a great time telling a really solid story.

Just so this is more than fanboy gushing, I have noticed (in my small amount of experience with the game) one problem. Each of games (Noir, Suburbia, Rock Band) was progressively a little weaker, and I think this comes mainly from lack of familiarity with the subject matter (movies, books, etc.) that the playset was trying to emulate. Everyone in the Noir game was very familiar with noir movies, and it was easy to come up with appropriate characters and scenes. The suburban game was a little trickier, and the rock band was even more so (it didn't help that the guy playing the ex-child star turned singing idol chose to have a barely trained grizzly bear as part of her act...) If everyone comes into the game with a pretty solid understanding of the type of story the playset is set up to facilitate, it stands to reason that the actual story produced will be tighter.

That said, all three of our games were really enjoyable, and I plan to play a lot of Fiasco in the future.

John
 

The Dragon Master

just this guy, you know?
Validated User
It's definitely an awesome game (you may well also like Shab Al-hiri Roach, also by Bullypulpit Games). I got a chance to play it this past Monday night and had a blast. Ours involved confederate money, a civil war era musket, a misunderstanding during a theft/kidnapping (one character thought the gun, heretofore referred to as Mildred, was a person he was kidnapping, the other knew it was a gun), and a shotgun wedding turned funeral. The game didn't go as smoothly as I'd have liked, but I blame that on it being our first run through. It's definitely on my to-buy list.
 

Cruciger

let's straight talk
I played Fiasco last weekend using the Ice Playset. Five players, four romantic relationships, and one "the ones who found the body." Act one was pure soap opera with detectives and act two turned into a twisty mess of secret identities, conspiracies, infidelity, and crimes of passion. Shockingly, we managed to get a coherent plot out of the thing and tie up all the loose ends before the montage.

I have no clue how my normal group who used to think Vampire: the Requiem wasn't enough action for them ended up enjoying a gay soap opera game, but it was great fun and we'll probably try another playset when we feel like roleplaying but nobody wants to GM.
 

SweeneyTodd

New member
Banned
Holy crap, I didn't realize Jason Morningstar also wrote Fiasco. I'm a big fan of the Roach, I'll have to get around to picking this up.
 

John Marron

Exoticising the other
Validated User
I thought of something else I like about Fiasco last night, a serious lack of laser-sharking. In most of the playsets so far, the stories are primarily about real people in real places and times, which is a refreshing change of pace from the normal gamer need to bolt some supernatural element onto everything. Don't get me wrong, I like my magic and elves as much as the next gamer, but I also like finding the drama in the lives of everyday average human beings.

John
 

FruitSmack

Active member
Validated User
Our first game was using suburbia and we went with old folks getting caught up in Social Security fraud (ie, one character's wife died and he and his sister never reported it).

It was fun and chaotic and the story really did play out like a Coen-esq caper flick; even down to the cranky Korean War vet who blew himself up with an old mortar round.

We're playing this weekend with some out of town visitor/friends. Should be fun.

aaron
 

theuglyknight

None Other
Validated User
I can dig John's statement about laser sharks, don't get me wrong I'd use a supernatural or science-fiction play set, but I love just how seriously fucking wrong this game can get without going there. We had a ball with the replica Klingon sword, and when we play tonight I'm aiming to get the bong made from the skull of a 13 year old girl into the game.
 

D-503

Cosmonaut
Validated User
I thought of something else I like about Fiasco last night, a serious lack of laser-sharking. In most of the playsets so far, the stories are primarily about real people in real places and times, which is a refreshing change of pace from the normal gamer need to bolt some supernatural element onto everything. Don't get me wrong, I like my magic and elves as much as the next gamer, but I also like finding the drama in the lives of everyday average human beings.

John
It can be an issue with GMless play though. You only need one person to intoduce gonzo elements and then they're part of the fiction.

I've tended to experience gonzo creep in GMless games, though to be fair not in Spione where the genre was very clear.

I know everyone has a veto, but exercising them can suck the fun right out of the session.
 
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