One Book Wonder Game: Fiasco RPG

Fiasco by Bully Pulpit Games

Do you like the kind of movies where the characters are charismatic and a bit crazy and by the end, everything has gone horribly (and hilariously) wrong for everyone?

YOU WILL LOVE FIASCO.

Or maybe you’ve always wanted to play a character like that but your regular group (or game) doesn’t handle PvP well?

YOU WILL LOVE FIASCO.

Do you have a group of gamers chomping at the bit to play, but nobody wants to step up and GM?

YOU WILL LOVE FIASCO.

Have plenty of people who want to play RPGs, but scheduling conflicts that make a regular campaign impossible?

YOU WILL LOVE FIASCO.

Hate games with so much dice rolling and math that you lose sight of the story?

YOU WILL LOVE FIASCO.

Did I mention YOU WILL LOVE FIASCO? Well, YOU WILL LOVE FIASCO.

One Book, Endless Possibilities

The official description of Fiasco:

Fiasco is a GM-less game for 3-5 players, designed to be played in a few hours with six-sided dice and no preparation. During a game you will engineer and play out stupid, disastrous situations, usually at the intersection of greed, fear, and lust. It’s like making your own Coen brothers movie, in about the same amount of time it’d take to watch one.

What you’ll need to play:

  • 3-5 players (Got 6 people? Assign one person to be “Misc NPCs.” This works GREAT!)
  • Fiasco book
  • Playset (several playsets included in the book, others available for download!)
  • Black & white d6s, 2 of each color per player (you can obviously substitute other colors depending on what your dice collection looks like – red/blue, purple/green, whatever!)
  • Scrap paper and pencils
  • A sick and twisted mind

Playing The Game

Everyone at the table helps create the characters by selecting character relationships, locations, objects, and needs using the playset and the pile of dice. You’ll have a relationship with your table neighbors: maybe the guy to your left is your husband and the girl to the right is your hairdresser/drug dealer.  Then you’ll share either a location, an object, or a need with each of those people.

Once these things have been selected, it’s pretty easy to hash out character concepts with the help of your friends at the table. In my first Fiasco game (using the playset ICE, which is in the book), I was in a penguin-worshipping cult with the guy on my right. I was a priestess and he was my acolyte and whenever we had a scene together, we ended it by having hot ritual penguin sex. (What that involved, we’re not quite sure. Possibly lots of arm-flapping.)

In Act One, each character has two turns. During your turn, you can choose to set the scene or resolve it. (You can’t do both!) As an introverted player, I love this aspect of Fiasco. Sometimes when it gets to be my turn, I’m not sure what I want my character to do. I get stuck in analysis paralysis and then I start to freak out that everyone is staring at me and I’m holding up the whole game and AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Fiasco gives me the out of saying, “You guys set the scene” and then sitting back and hearing the craziness my friends come up for my character. Then at the end, I can say, “This will go well for me” or “I think this probably should go poorly.”

If the scene went well for you, take a white die from the pool and award it to another player. If it went poorly, use a black die.

After each character has had their scenes, the game moves into The Tilt. Dice are rolled and certain complications are thrown into the mix. In ICE, one of our Tilt events was that something precious was on fire. The way it played out was that the warehouse caught on fire and my character had to choose between letting a penguin die or saving it (at the expense of her own life). Being a priestess of the penguin cult, I’m sure you know what she chose. I spent most of Act 2 being 95% dead and scorched. (And it was awesome!)

In Act Two, each player gets more time in the spotlight. Things will be going horribly wrong at this point. You may die during Act 2. You may kill another player during Act 2. Whatever happens, it will be spectacularly horrendously laugh-out-loud fun. If your scene went well for you, take a white die from the pool and keep it. If it went poorly, take a black die.

For the Aftermath, you will roll all your personal dice, do a wee bit of math, and consult the table to see how things ended for you. Maybe you got lucky and got off totally free and started life over somewhere far, far away. Maybe you suffered a fate worse than death. Or maybe you got lucky and died quickly.

The final round, each player gives several “This is me” statements based on their fate. For example: “This is me in my orange jumpsuit, meeting my very burly cellmate for the first time. His name is Bunny.”  Or maybe: “This is me, on the Maury Povich show, trying to figure out once and for all who my baby’s daddy is. This is my third appearance.

When you die in Fiasco, it is awesome. Or at least, it should be. If it’s not, you’re doing it wrong! Both times I’ve played Fiasco, my character has ended up dead. In the ICE playset, my character died when a bunch of her (god’s messenger) penguins picked her up and carried her on their backs down a hill (penguin sled!) and into the frigid ocean.  It definitely cooled off her burns… but then she drowned. In the Alma Monster playset (by my boyfriend, DaveTheGame), my character was transformed into some sort of tentacled horror, presumed dead, and then thrown into a woodchipper by her pot dealer, who used her ground-up remains to make a special blend of marijuana. How cool is that?

Fiasco lets you and your friends create a crazy story that you’ll be talking about for months (maybe years!) to come. Check out Fiasco today. You can even get it in PDF and play tonight!

About e

Since 2008, E. Foley of Geek’s Dream Girl has been helping geeks from around the world find love. She writes amazing online dating profiles for her fellow geeks and guides them through the perilous waters of the dating scene and out the other side. She's totally proud to report that she's even caused a couple geek weddings! She lives in Maryland with DaveTheGame, her adorable cats, Mr. Peanut & Don Juan, and Titania, Queen of the Cocker Spaniels. (Email e, or follow @geeksdreamgirl on Twitter.)

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