Fiasco: A Review

Over the past three weeks, we played a roleplaying game called Fiasco. Overall, I really enjoyed Fiasco because of the openness of the game proper. Everyone gets their time in the spotlight because of how the game is structured. This can be an issue in some TTRPGs that rely heavily on roleplaying.

Session one consisted of selecting the wild west playset, Boomtown, character creation, and Act One. We rolled all the dice in the center of the board and then went round-robin, choosing how our characters’ relationships. This was the hardest part to understand for me. Your character traits, relationships, and everything else are pulled from the communal pool of dice. For players new to roleplaying systems, I think this works really well at giving them a place to start, however I would have liked to have more agency over the choices I made as I could see much more interesting plot threads that what we got. However, the game we played was a total blast, as you will soon see.

I ended up playing Lonnie, the horse whisperer whose most prized possession was the tear-stained love letter left by his husband, Dino (A player in the game), who had up and disappeared in the middle of the night. Character creation is one thing that Fiasco does right. Conflict of interest is one of the main focuses of the game, and by working together to establish motives, the plot of the game became clear. Lonnie goes to his outlaw cousin Annie, another PC, with a half-baked plan to kill his husband in a fit of rage. As the session progresses, it becomes clear that Annie has her own agenda. She robbed Dino way in the past for a whopping $20,000 and maybe planning to finish him off once and for all. Annie meets up with her old partner in crime Samira, another PC, to pick up some firearms, and the spark of an old romance ignites. As it turns out, Samira works for Dino at his general store next to the old church. At the end of session one, we were primed and ready to go for the tilt.

Session two was where **** hit the fan. Lonnie and Annie were determined to off Dino. Meanwhile Samira in crime was hatching her own plan so that she and Annie could ride into the sunset while everything burned around them. Dino, now played by a new member to the group, tried to reconsile with Lonnie at the church where they first came together as a couple. Then Annie arrived and tried to convince Lonnie to pull the trigger and off the man who caused him so much pain, but Dino had succeeded in planting a seed of doubt in Lonnie’s mind Our tilt was someone panic and panic, Lonnie did. Seeing this moment of doubt, Annie shoots Lonnie in the leg and gets into a scuffle with Dino. Samira arrives and tends to Lonnie’s would while thinking about stabbing him. The fight continues until Samira suggests that Annie and her just leave Lonnie and Dino. Annie agrees yet she sets the church on fire on her way out. The session ends on a cliff hanger with The Aftermath saved for meeting three.

Session three was a rather short one for us as all we had to do was cover The Aftermath. Throughtout the game when each seen ends, the PCs where not involved get to decide if the characters involved got good or bad endings. Now is when you total up the die to determine your ending. Lonnie got a bitter end where he lived through the encounter with his cousin however the wound never quite healed right. Lonnie blamed everyone but himself and this sour attitude caused Dino to leave him again. The game ended as it began, with Lonnie reading a tear stained love letter.

Fiasco works to facilitate leadership in numerous ways, chief among them being: knowing when to step down and let someone else have the spot light. Fiasco heavily relies on improvisation and the best improv scenes work best when everyone is complementing each other and building on what everyone else establishes. In our game each person had several opportunities to lead a scene in the direction they wanted it to go and we supported them in that moment.