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, ElizabethtownFiasco
is a game inspired by films like Blood Simple
, 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
, 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.