[Fiasco] split from Meaningful GMless Games

edited October 2010 in Story Games
At Jason Morningstar's suggestion, I am posting my frustration, albeit a mild one, with Fiasco.

Basically - what is up with one person deciding whether things go well or badly for the whole scene? The scale is irksome, in that this aspect of the mechanics left me wondering when I, the Resolver, should intervene with content.

The advice from the text is negative - rather than saying "Do this," it says "Don't do this." That's totally fine, of course. And it goes like this:
Fiasco said (p. 29):
just avoid scenes that are aimless, don’t advance the plot in an interesting way, or are self indulgent. You don’t get very many scenes! Make them count. Be bold.
Okay, I can dig it. My only frustration, I guess, is that there's only one fulcrum in the conflict of a scene. I think it's fine to limit yourself to one conflict per scene - - unless you want to layer an argument (whose outcome matters) into a firefight or something (whose outcome presumably also matters). But if I'm playing Polaris, a fight scene brings on a series of negotiation about the narrative, wrestling over details and broad strokes alike.
With Fiasco, I get just one shot. And I wanna know how other people feel about this.

Comments

  • The rules actually say that the decision is about "where that character has a good or bad outcome in the scene" (I'm paraphrasing).

    So the scene can still go in any one of many directions. But it's up to the person to decide what happens to their character only.

    The scenes don't even need to contain PC conflicts, for that matter. I've had a scene where two NPCs were discussing a police case and deciding whether the PC was perhaps involved and should they go after him. But in the end, the scene was definitely about the PC and whether he was going to be able to proceed with no flack from the cops.

    Does that help at all?
  • edited October 2010
    Posted By: Zac in Davis
    Basically - what is up with one person deciding whether things go well or badly for the wholescene? The scale is irksome, in that this aspect of the mechanics left me wondering when I, the Resolver, should intervene with content.
    Hey Zac,

    Are you talking just about scenes where the spotlight PC has chosen to resolve? I assume so, since you said "one person".

    Those scenes are often more fun for me in Fiasco, because the game is asking you to be as mean as possible to that player's character. If someone chooses to resolve and gives themselves a positive outcome, then the other players should totally put that dude's character in the trunk of an El Camino, bound in high-test fishing line, with a soiled wad of hundred-dollar bills in his mouth, regardless of what has come before.

    The fun in those scenes is the creative energy expended by the player trying to work out what happened and how on earth it's going to end well for his character. The fact that the outcome is a foregone conclusion doesn't keep it from being exciting, it's what lets it be exciting.

    For my money, anyway.

    Also, I'm with Chris in that some non-conflict scenes are okay in Fiasco, esp. if they give other players some new plot elements to work with.

    * Fiasco is also one of those games that came effortlessly to me, for whatever reason. I think most people have some games they click with, and others they have to work at. Maybe we can get a session together at Ice Station Nerdly if something falls through.
  • Okay, so the Resolution only affects a single PC. Polaris limits conflict to a similar scope, more or less.
    As far as the "two NPCs" conflict, I will quibble and say that because it holds the interests of PCs at stake, it is a PC-based conflict. Even if the PCs are miles away from the activity in question, at least one player has a strong stake in the situation, and thus the mechanics need to have a way (in any game, not just Fiasco) for players to intervene in any conflict that involves them.

    I'm just rambling, though - obviously, Fiasco can do that.

    I'll admit that I've only played Fiasco once, and it only involved me and one other person. That was, no doubt, a huge factor as to why the game felt kind of diffuse and a little hiccupy in terms of producing content. I think it'd shine a lot better with three or four players, and it seems, on reflection, like the main reason why we struggled was for want of enough cooks in the kitchen.
  • Hey Zac, thanks for starting this thread!
    Posted By: Zac in DavisI'll admit that I've only played Fiasco once, and it only involved me and one other person
    Fiasco is a game for three to five players.

    Scene resolution is explicitly, emphatically, not about conflict. There is no conflict resolution. It is about outcomes. The only decision to be made, either by yourself if you choose to resolve or by your friends if you choose to establish, is whether the scene's outcome is going to be positive or negative for your dude.

    You can have a positive outcome and lose, lose, lose. You can have a negative outcome and stomp the opposition. Getting the thing you want by killing someone is generally a negative outcome - your dumb character is happier for the moment, but they just murdered someone, which is probably not going to go well for them. Related to this, once you know the general tenor of the scene's outcome, there can be any number of conflicts, moments, interactions, fights, whatever needs to happen to support the fiction in the scene. Sometimes (usually), a scene will be a scene, but sometimes it will stretch out a bit and breathe, include cut-aways to other characters, flashbacks, a couple of different interactions, and so forth. Groups find their own rhythm.

    The precise definition of positive and negative are going to vary widely, both from scene to scene and from group to group. Leaving this utterly ambiguous was a conscious design choice. The choices you and your friends make will inform play and make the game do what you want - that's my hope, and it seems to work pretty well. At its core Fiasco is a structured freeform game.
  • Posted By: Zac in Davis
    I'll admit that I've only played Fiasco once, and it only involved me and one other person. That was, no doubt, a huge factor as to why the game felt kind of diffuse and a little hiccupy in terms of producing content.
    As Jason suggests, I think you totally voided the warranty. I couldn't quite make sense of your difficulty, actually, because I didn't even think about playing with two people. (Having played with groups of three, four, and five, I think four is the perfect number.)

    There are way more great Fiasco playsets than I will ever have a chance to play, though, so if you want to get a game together sometime, at the Strat or elsewhere, hit me up. I'll have some free game-time come November.
    Posted By: Jason MorningstarAt its core Fiasco is a structured freeform game.
    Huh. You're right. It *is* freeform. The dice are only there to lull and reassure us.

    I feel so dirty now.
  • edited October 2010
    Posted By: Brian MinterI feel so dirty now.
    See? Now you know how I feel all the time. It's what he does.
  • @Brian: Strat sounds good! I usually can't make Thursdays, though - - maybe sometime in the near-er future, if you want!
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