Fiasco has been around for a while. First printed before the TTRPG boom of recent years, this indie roleplaying game by Jason Morningstar (author of the acclaimed Night Witches), steps away from so many existing conventions of the genre, that is stands alone almost as it’s own subtype of game.
In Fiasco, you and 3 other players will work together to create a story with colourful characters, over-the-top plots, twists, betrayals, and just a little bit of dark humour.
For long time Game Masters, the core appeal of Fiasco will be the fact that all players are on an even keel. You don’t need to spend hours preparing for a game, and rather than having on person who describes the events, you all take turns to contribute to the story.
Fiasco gives you all the tools you need to get the creative juices flowing. All you need is a pile of 6 sided dice, a pen and some post-it nots (or scrap paper), and you’re good to go.
So, how do you play Fiasco?
You begin by rolling all the dice so you’ve got a big selection of random numbers. Then, you choose which of the 4 settings your game will use. The settings are presented in the Fiasco book, and include iconic locations such as The Wild West, as well as more mundane options like A Quiet Southern Town or Suburbia.
Each setting has a number of tables. The tables include character options, relationship connections, things people want, things people have, as well as dramatic tensions and interesting locations within your setting. Each table has 6 items, numbers 1-6, and players will take turns choose an element from a table they want to add to the game by removing a die from the central pool with the corresponding number.
This might sound more complicated than it is – what’s happening is that the game is giving you simple procedure to add a bunch of elements which will naturally stitch together to give you the basis of everyone’s character, what everyone’s character desires, a thing to pursue, and dramatic hurdles (or adversaries) they must overcome to get it.
What happens next? Some good old-fashioned roleplaying! One at a time, players will have scenes that focus on their character. During this part of the game, the player is also part GM as they establish the scene, where their character is and what their character is doing. The other players may take on the role of NPC’s, or indeed their own characters.
Don’t worry – if you’re a bit shy, you also have the option of asking the other 3 players to set up the scene for you!
Once everyone has had to turns at this, you reach the middle of the game, and you roll on the ‘TILT’ table in the Fiasco rulebook – this will add a dramatic and unforeseen twist to the story, undoing carefully laid plans, plopping the plot on its head, and turning the game into (you guessed it), a true Fiasco!
Fiasco is a true roleplaying game. You don’t roll to see if your character succeeds of fails. You don’t unlock abilities or choose a class. You’re there to work with the other players to tell a story, and you’ll be surprised at just how naturally (And unexpectedly!) the story unfolds.
Fiasco is a game that provides laughter, dramatic tension, uncertainty, excitement, as well as a perfect creative and theatrical outlet for those who crave it (and for those who perhaps didn’t know they needed it!)
This game works just as well online as it does in person, and you won’t have to worry about using anything other than a video chat to play – only one player needs a book!