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Author Topic: Fiasco: Powerful Ambition and Poor Impulse Control  (Read 686 times)

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Offline ArionTopic starter

Fiasco: Powerful Ambition and Poor Impulse Control
« on: January 25, 2013, 10:32:44 PM »
Fiasco





There's a difference between a failure and a fiasco.  A failure is merely the absence of success.  Any fool can achieve failure.  But a fiasco is a disaster of epic proportions.  A fiasco is a folk tale told to others to make other people feel more alive because it didn't happen to them.
-Drew Baylor, Elizabethtown

Fiasco is a game inspired by films like Blood Simple, Fargo, and A Simple Plan.  In it you engineer and play out stupid, disastrous situations that exist at the darkly comic intersection of greed, fear, and lust.  It's like writing your own Cohen Brothers movie... and then acting it out. (Slightly altered from the blurb on the back of the book.)


So, what is this?

Fifteen million dollars is not money.  It's a motive with a universal adapter on it.
-Joe Sarno, The Way of the Gun

Well, the blurb above really says it all.  Fiasco is a game unlike any other role-playing game out there, in that it does away with most of the tropes and conventions that RPGs have had ever since Dungeons and Dragons first hit the shelves.  There's no one person controlling the game (ie, no Game Master, Dungeon Master, Storyteller, etc), dice only get rolled three times throughout play, and there are no stats, no combat rules, no rules for movement or making skill checks.  Instead, Fiasco is a pure role-playing game, meaning that while the dice may dictate the outcome of the story for your character, what happens between the first roll and the last is entirely up to the group.



Okay then, what's it like?

Jesus, but if you two are not the biggest pair of fuck-ups I've ever met in my entire life.  How did you ever rob a bank?  When you robbed banks, did you forget where your car was then too?  No wonder you went to jail.
- Melanie, Jackie Brown

First, also unlike most other RPGs out there, Fiasco has a definite ending; think of it as less of a game and more like writing a script for a movie.  There's the first act, where all of the characters are introduced and the basic plot established, the second act where everything goes pear-shaped and the characters try to keep their heads above water, and the third act wherein the story is resolved and we see who is left standing. 

During set up the group chooses a Playset for the game; this is the general setting in which it takes place, such as Small Town, USA, or Gangster London.  Then a number of dice are rolled (four for each player, two black and two white, d6's only).  With the initial dice-pool established, players take turns choosing elements from the game's Playset; these elements will determine the relationships between each of the characters, important locations, items, and the driving force behind the fiasco to come. This is done by choosing element with a number corresponding to one shown on a die.  Once all elements have been selected the player sbrainstorm and work out the details of their characters, what will happen during play, and so on.

Actual play takes place over a number of scenes, generally 4 per player.  During their scene a player gets to choose either exactly what happens during it, or if the outcome of the scene is ultimately beneficial to their character or not; if they choose the former, then the rest of the group determines the outcome, while if they choose the latter, the rest of group gets to dictate what happens in the scene.  Outcome is determined by giving the player in question either a White Die, for a positive outcome, or a Black Die, for a negative outcome, from the dice pool.  That player then gives the die they just received to another player of their choice to keep.

After each player has had two scenes the Tilt occurs.  This is when things start going south, when the fecal matter hits the rotation air-circulation device.  Each player rolls the dice they've accumulated so far and totals each color.  The players with the highest black and white totals get to choose Tilts, which are events or characters which upset the flow of the game and introduce complications.

Then there's another round of scenes, again two for each player.  The difference is that this time, when a player is given a die for the outcome of their scene, they keep it.  During these scenes players build towards the climax.  Once the last player has taken their scene, the Resolution occurs.  During the resolution the players again roll their dice, totaling the colors, and then they subtract the lower total from the higher total.  Next they use the remaining color and total to look up the over-all outcome on one of two charts; the farther away from 0 the player's total is, the better the outcome for that player.  Finally, players take turns selecting a die from their pile, describing what the die represents (ie, "This is my character barely escaping the police"  for a white die or "This is my character with tears in his eyes as the judge sentences him to life without parole" for a black die).

Once that's done, the game's over.

For simplicity's sake, dice rolling will either be handled by myself (and results posted in the thread) or using the dice roller included on the site (all results to be sent to the other players)


Why would I want to play?

There's no money, there's no weed.  It's all been replaced by a pile of corpses.
- Tom, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels

Sometimes the fun in a book or movie comes, not from the character(s) winning, but from them failing as spectacularly as possible.  That's the kind of stories that Fiasco is made for, ones filled with dark comedy and ridiculous situations that can't get any worse... until they do.  Fiasco is unique in the approach it takes to gaming, and has been regarded as a masterpiece of Indie game development.  Playing it, especially on a site like Elliquiy, will be more like collaborative writing than gaming.  It's a chance to play through Snatch, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Fargo, Blood Simple, Layer Cake, and any number of other movies that are in the same vein.


What are you looking for as far as a group?

Well, here we are in a room with two manky hookers and a racist dwarf.
-Ken, In Bruges

To start with, Fiasco is a game for 3-5 players (the book even says "If you have six players, play two 3-player games").  With myself included that means we need two to four other players to get the game going (I'd prefer a full group of five). 

Next, due to the nature of the game, players need to be able to post long, legible scenes for their characters.  Where two or more characters are involved in a scene (ie, the scene belongs to Player 1 but it involves interacting with Player 2) the players will take turns as needed.  Thus, I'll be looking at past posts from each potential player to try and find the best group possible.  Things that I'll be looking for are basically just decent writing skills;  I'm not saying that players will have to be best-selling authors and masters of the English language ( I know I'm neither ), but there's a point when one typo too many indicates poor writing skills and not simple mistakes.  That means good sentence structure, spelling, and punctuation.  Knowing the difference between 'their', 'they're', and 'there', and between 'two', 'to', and 'too', are absolute musts.

After that, while it would be helpful to have players who either own or have access to the book(s) or who have played the game before, this isn't mandatory.


Due to the nature of the game, all of the details of the game will be ironed out once we have a group.

Offline Wargtass

Re: Fiasco: Powerful Ambition and Poor Impulse Control
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2013, 05:58:03 AM »
While I don't have the time, I can endorse this game fully! We play it all the time in our games-club on sundays and even though we only have five or six scenarios it is well worth replaying every single one. If you haven't tried this out yet, I wholeheartedly recommend this very fun and crazy game!  XD

Offline ArionTopic starter

Re: Fiasco: Powerful Ambition and Poor Impulse Control
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2013, 06:32:26 AM »
If you go on Bully Pulpit's website, in their downloads section they have twenty or so more playsets you can get for free, as well as some other unusual and interesting games.  You guys should check it out.

Offline Videospirit

Re: Fiasco: Powerful Ambition and Poor Impulse Control
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2013, 05:16:53 PM »
I'm interested in this but I'm not sure if I meet your exacting standards for potential players.

Offline ArionTopic starter

Re: Fiasco: Powerful Ambition and Poor Impulse Control
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2013, 12:07:57 AM »
I wouldn't call them exacting; I'm not asking for anything a basic high school education doesn't provide.

As for those whose native language isn't English, I usually make exceptions; I can't bring myself to learn another language, so I can't go hard on someone else who does.  However, this is a game where one's ability to express oneself clearly and precisely is mandatory.

Offline Flaming

Re: Fiasco: Powerful Ambition and Poor Impulse Control
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2013, 03:04:10 PM »
Always wanted to play Fiasco.
Count me interested.

Online Meliai

Re: Fiasco: Powerful Ambition and Poor Impulse Control
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2013, 11:23:40 PM »
I would be very very interested in playing! I've only gotten a chance to try Fiasco once (and it was, to avoid the obvious joke, a bit of a disaster since a couple players just couldn't wrap their brains around the fact that you're not really playing to win) but I think I have a decent grasp of the mechanics.

If anyone is interested Fiasco was played on Wil Wheaton's Table Top youtube series a while back. It's a somewhat long series of videos (about an hour and a half if you watch all 3 I linked below) but definitely worth the time if you haven't played before, they helped me a lot (plus I have an enormous girl-crush on Bonnie Burton <3)

Here's the character generation video.

Part one of the actual game...

...and part two!

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Fiasco: Powerful Ambition and Poor Impulse Control
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2013, 11:08:25 AM »

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Fiasco: Powerful Ambition and Poor Impulse Control
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2013, 03:35:15 PM »
(Having a look over the playsets: Los Angeles 1936, De Medici, Havana 1953, and the Saturday Night '78 scenario that Wil Wheaton and his crew showcased all look pretty fun.)

Offline Videospirit

Re: Fiasco: Powerful Ambition and Poor Impulse Control
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2013, 11:00:02 PM »
Watched the Wheaton playthroughs, they did a lot of inter group discussion during the prep stages of the game. Are you sure that will work out well over the forum? Sounds like it will take forever to get the game started if we do it play by post. Are we going to agree to let the other players make decisions about our characters in order to fit them into whatever setting we end up weaving for this story?

Online Meliai

Re: Fiasco: Powerful Ambition and Poor Impulse Control
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2013, 01:30:06 AM »
The Setup/Character generation phase is a pretty important aspect of the game. Since there's no GM to drive things along, that's when all the players work together to hammer out what the actual story is going to be about. The Playsets, the sort of module-like things, only give you elements of the story, not the plot itself. It helps you determine how all the characters know each other, what goals they're striving for, specific locations where scenes take place etcetera. The plot itself, ideally, will rise organically from those elements. Since Fiasco involves a set number of scenes in which the story needs to play out it's very important that there are sturdy ties and strong motivations between all the characters so you don't spend the whole first act introducing yourselves to one another and getting acquainted. It also helps avoid the oh-so-common "five strangers with extraordinary skills just happen to be in this tavern at the same time and just happen to decided to go on a quest together!" scenario. That sort of thing can work for a D&D type game (even if it's a bit of a cliche) but it's not a very engaging opening for a more cinematic game like Fiasco.

I think you might be overestimating the "other players making decisions about our characters" aspect a bit. In the setup phase you choose relationships between your character and others' but you're not dictating their character to them. The relationships are usually rather vague or broad, and obviously if someone chooses an option that doesn't appeal to you, you should just say "hey that doesn't appeal to me, could you pick something else instead?" and, since hopefully your fellow players aren't megalomaniacle assholes, they should just say "Sure Videospirit, how about [this other option]?"

Since they can go by kind of fast in the Table Top videos, here's the Relationships page from Home Invasion to give you a better look at the sort of options available. Home Invasion is one of the free Playsets available on Bully Pulpit's website, the general concept is that aliens are infiltrating a shiny happy white-bread community that's starting to go downhill.



Downloading one of the free playsets might make things a bit clearer. You could play the same scenario ten times and have a vastly different story each time.

(Having a look over the playsets: Los Angeles 1936, De Medici, Havana 1953, and the Saturday Night '78 scenario that Wil Wheaton and his crew showcased all look pretty fun.)

These all sound really fun! I'm also interested in Home Invasion, The Manna Hotel, Camp Death, and Objective Zebra.
[edit] Oh, just downloaded the playsets that have been released since since my last downloading binge and Back to the Old House sounds fun as well [/edit]
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 03:08:20 AM by Meliai »

Offline ArionTopic starter

Re: Fiasco: Powerful Ambition and Poor Impulse Control
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2013, 08:44:55 AM »
Meliai pretty much nailed it :)

One bit of clarification as far as the decisions about other people's characters goes.  Players do end up giving up some control over their characters during the game.  When a player decides to choose the outcome of their scene, the other players decide what goes on during that scene; ie, maybe they decide that your character goes through with his plan to rob the bank, despite his misgivings.  However, exactly how that happens, how the character goes about it, is up to you.

As far as the prep and discussion between the players, I don't think it will be a problem.  I've been involved in a couple of games (mostly by pm or elsewhere) where there was extensive pre-planning, and they went off without a hitch.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Fiasco: Powerful Ambition and Poor Impulse Control
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2013, 04:11:29 PM »
These all sound really fun! I'm also interested in Home Invasion, The Manna Hotel, Camp Death, and Objective Zebra.
[edit] Oh, just downloaded the playsets that have been released since since my last downloading binge and Back to the Old House sounds fun as well [/edit]

All the Damn Time also looks pretty good... but it might be a little mind-bending for a first outing.

A game set in a "tourists-off-the-beaten-track"-style fiasco (cf. The Beach, Into the Blue, The Perfect Getaway, Farcry 3) could be fun, too, but that playset looks like it will need making from scratch.

Offline Phaia

Re: Fiasco: Powerful Ambition and Poor Impulse Control
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2013, 06:36:19 PM »
thank you thank you thank you!! Meliai ...I watched the 3 vids and they reminded  me so much of some of the old LARP I use to do back in college days...I so want to be in this
 please please please!!!

I dont care the set up I want to do this we will figure it out!!!

Phaia
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 07:53:47 PM by Phaia »

Offline ArionTopic starter

Re: Fiasco: Powerful Ambition and Poor Impulse Control
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2013, 07:13:41 PM »
All the Damn Time also looks pretty good... but it might be a little mind-bending for a first outing.

A game set in a "tourists-off-the-beaten-track"-style fiasco (cf. The Beach, Into the Blue, The Perfect Getaway, Farcry 3) could be fun, too, but that playset looks like it will need making from scratch.

Building a playset isn't all that difficult and is covered by the book;  Mainly the group just needs to select Relationships, Locations, Items, and Drives that are both fitting and really pop out, and then jot them down in the playset format.  That's an option for when the game gets up and running.


Offline ArionTopic starter

Re: Fiasco: Powerful Ambition and Poor Impulse Control
« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2013, 07:18:13 PM »
Okay folks, we're at four players thus far (myself and three others, who have been notified via pm), so one more and we'll be golden.  I'm going to go ahead and start a Set-Up thread over in NC- Freeform Small Groups, post a list of playsets that people have expressed interest in so far.  It's going to be in NC just in case the game takes that direction; whether it does or not will be entirely up to everyone.

The Set-Up thread can be found here:  http://elliquiy.com/forums/index.php?topic=164318.0
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 07:28:11 PM by Arion »

Offline Videospirit

Re: Fiasco: Powerful Ambition and Poor Impulse Control
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2013, 12:14:01 AM »
Well, guess I'm out, you guys have fun.

Offline Phaia

Re: Fiasco: Powerful Ambition and Poor Impulse Control
« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2013, 09:11:05 PM »
This looks to be a lot of fun...we have one more spot and yet to to set up...come on down for a

Fiasco! in Havana 1953!!

Phaia

Offline Phaia

Re: Fiasco: Powerful Ambition and Poor Impulse Control
« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2013, 03:24:33 PM »
Hey there everyone!!

We would love to have one more for this, tryingt o get the set-up working so come on down and join us for a real Fiasco!!

Phaia