An Exercise in Fiasco

I fell in love with the RPG game Fiasco before I even played it the first time. After watching the game demonstrated on the TableTop podcast hosted by Wil Wheaton, I recognized how similar it was to performing improv theater and improv comedy, which I did and loved when I was younger.

So one day not too long ago, I tried to get an impromptu game going with some friends. Unfortunately, every single one of them were unavailable -- family obligations, work, you name it. They were all busy.

So I pulled out a Fiasco playset and decided to give myself an exercise in setting up a 4-character scenario. Here's what I came up with.

I used the playset The Depot, written by Martin Burnham and Jon Smejkal (downloadable here), which takes place at backwoods bus depot in the middle of a blizzard. Really smacks of Fargo meets Assault On Precinct 13 meets Identity meets The Thing, but way less scary and way more goofy people who don't know what the hell they're doing. Here's the setup:

"Snow. Neck deep and everywhere. Far as the eye can see. It doesn't look to be letting up any time soon and here you are in the middle of it, stuck, countless miles from where you want to be and going nowhere fast. You were fortunate enough to find shelter from the blizzard in a backwoods bus depot. Unfortunately, now you find yourself caught in an interstitial moment, caught on the threshold between a past you're trying to get away from and the future you so desperately hope to achieve. What happens to you during these trapped moments, as the time ticks away like snowflakes caught in a storm?"

After rolling the dice for 4 characters, I began to work through the playset for details, and came up with 4 relationships with workable needs, objects, and locations.

Ira Winstead is a truck driver who also runs a vending machine company as a side business. He happens to be stranded at the depot in question, but he's a regular there, and is friendly with the depot mechanic, Eddie Parsons. Eddie's not only the depot mechanic, but he's also a meth addict who gets his drugs from his dealer, Heather Redwood, who sells anywhere she can. Her business relationship with Eddie, along with the other people she regularly sell to, allows her to support her passion as a Tree Huggin' Hippie. She and her fellow hippie, Fiona Moonshine, have found themselves stranded at the depot while on their way to a forest retreat for a holiday. Fiona and Ira are sweethearts, with Fiona acting as Ira's "secretary" who actually handles all the paperwork and day-to-day operations of the vending machine company because Ira is too busy with his trucking business to bother worrying about anything else.

Between Ira and and Eddie exist a need: To Get The Truth > About What's In These Tanks.

The need between Eddie and Heather is To Get Laid > Before These Drugs Wear Off.

Heather and Fiona share a location: Wrong Place > Caught In the Vending Machine.

And Fiona and her boss/sweetie Ira share an object: Practical > Gallon Jug of Gasoline.

It's too bad that I couldn't actually play this out with anyone, because I think there's a lot of potential for this to become darkly comic and absurd pretty quickly. Not to mention that when you mix a drug addict and his dealer, a business owner who thinks more highly of himself than he ought, the woman he loves, and her female hippie friend, you've got the makings of a . . .

. . . wait for it.

A Fiasco.

There Is No Box.