So.... we FINALLY got around to trying FIASCO out last night.
IT WAS A BLAST!!!
There were four of us, Josh, Marty, and myself, who are veteran roleplayers, and Jen, who played D&D once and hated it but is taking improv classes currently. Even with learning how to play (I read the rules through twice beforehand), it took us just under three hours to complete a story, from beginning to end. And it was a DOOZY!
Here were some of the more interesting highlights of the game:
• Ecoterrorists selling weaponized algae to the Ruskies
• A bizarre love triangle between mother, father, daughter with an unexpected pregnancy
• One of the Ruskies killed with a pickaxe in the first act
• One of the characters burning half her face off and ending up in a morphine-induced stupor
• Three out of four main characters dying horrible deaths by the end of the story
• All of us enjoyed it immensely!
The rules as read, seem a bit weird at first, but in play they're dead simple:
Setup: Roll 2 white dice and 2 black dice per player (in this case, 16 total). "Spend" the dice to "buy" and qualify Relationships, Needs, Objects, and Locations. There is one Relationship between each player as they sit around the table (4 total) - so no characters, per se. With four players, there are two Needs, one Object, and one Location. Once the dice are spent, the players discuss who their characters are based on their Relationships (and Needs).
Act 1: The dice are returned to the center. Each player takes turns playing their character in a scene. They can choose to Establish the scene and have the rest of the group Resolve it, or choose to have the group Establish the scene so they can Resolve it themselves. Resolution is accomplished by grabbing one of the dice from the center and finishing the scene, white signifying a positive outcome of the scene, black signifying a negative outcome. The die is then given away to one of the players other than the one whose scene it is.
The Tilt: When half of the dice are gone, the players roll their gained dice, group totals into black and white, and subtract the lower from the higher. The person with the highest white score and the person with the highest black score roll the remaining dice from the center and "buy" and define two new complications, returning those dice back to the center.
Take a break: Discuss how the game is going, grab a drink, take a potty break.
Act 2: Second verse, same as the first. It plays exactly like the first act, except you now keep the Resolve dice. Try to bring in the complications from The Tilt.
The Aftermath: All the dice should be in the hands of the players. They roll them as in The Tilt, but now the white and black values determine what happens to their characters as the story crashes into the ground. Higher numbers are better (fame, fortune), lower numbers are worse (death, dismemberment). Then players then take turns describing what is happening to their characters at the end of the story in short vignettes, "burning" a die each time. Use the format, "This is [character name], [doing something]."
Like I said, easier to play than to read.
Two final thoughts:
1. Josh asked if he could run one of the scenes as a flashback. There was a resounding "Yes!" We like how flexible the game is to this kind of thing.
2. Marty said he would have gone to see it if it was a movie. He's in the process of writing it up. Hopefully I can post it here...