Monday, May 17, 2010

What can we learn from Fiasco to make other games more fun?

I've been thinking a lot lately about what makes Fiasco so much fun. I want to spend the next two or three days looking at what we can do to pull out some of the fun elements of Fiasco to use for your more strategy-based, traditional RPG's. To make sure we're all on the same page, I'll explain the basic rules and structure of play here. Feel free to skip down a paragraph if you're familiar with the rules.

Fiasco is a game played over two acts. Each act is made up of a number of rounds twice the number of players - each player essentially gets to play out two scenes starring their character per act. There's no GM (a huge plus for a pick-up game), so the turns work quite differently for Fiasco. Each player goes around taking turns where they have to make a decision: do I get to set the scene and the situation for my character, or do I get to resolve the main conflict of the scene? Whatever he or she choose to do, the other players get to establish the other end. The goal of Fiasco isn't to win or even survive. The focus is on making the most painful and difficulty situations for yours and everyone else's characters. Sure your character has a goal based on a need, object, or location, but it really doesn't matter whether or not (most likely not) your character meets the goal. So what can we take from Fiasco to make much more strategic, GM-centered games like D&D or Savage Worlds? Read on!

My first thought is that the game isn't truly competitive. Quite the contrary, Fiasco depends on everyone working together at all points in the game. There's no long, boring exposition scenes from the GM and each player's turn necessarily requires the assistance of almost all the other players at the table. Thinking about our game we played Friday night, there were many, many scenes where all four players were playing characters. Whether your character is in the scene, or you're playing NPC's (which is really a terrible name since there are no NPC's in Fiasco simply because all characters are portrayed by a player), you're involved.

So how do we get players more involved in play so the RPG resembles less of a board game and more of a group of friends re-enacting their favorite movie scenes? Savage Worlds does a great job of suggesting the GM let players who would otherwise be inactive to play the roles of NPC's. It's a simple solution, but I plan on using this strategy quite a bit when we resume my Day After Ragnarok Savage Worlds game. I'm going to try my best to be completely open on letting the guys, as a group, describe the features of the NPC after I give a very brief introduction with name and more obvious traits. I'm hoping they'll take advantage of the opportunity and create some really unique characters. I'm also hoping that this gives them some more ownership, affection, and empathy for the NPC's they encounter.

I'll have more tomorrow!

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