Friday, 23 December 2011

Fiasco with Kids

As I hadn't managed to get my relatives together to play Fiasco yet, I figured I'd give it a whirl with my kids, and it was surprisingly fun and accessible to them, despite their young ages (5 and 8).

Creating the character relationships went very smoothly - rather than having them browse the playset lists, we just took turns rolling and took what we got. (Although I did edit out the untoward objects and the needs about getting laid!)

By the time we were done, Leah (5) was a veterinary surgeon (Dr. Daisy), locked in a rivalry with Morgan's character, Dr. Eggnog. (A certain gonzo element creeps in with kids!) My character, Burt Cummings was a vet school wash-out, having left when bowel problems made it impossible for him to afford tuition. Now, he's getting illegal surgeries done via Dr. Daisy (professional/client relationship). Our location was (of course) the Animal Care Clinic on Center Road.

We kept the scenes super short and punchy, so the whole game was done in less than an hour.

My girls play 'pretend' all the time, and what's neat about it is the constant out of character negotiation they do about their roles and the upcoming events. As a result, Fiasco's scene framing seemed very natural for them, and they rolled easily with whatever Resolves were handed to them.

After the end of Act One, we rolled two Twists, "Dangerous Animal (Perhaps Metaphorical) Gets Loose" and "Ugly Struggle Ends in Death". The former we played literally; Dr. Eggnog accidentally releases a rabid dog while hunting through the vet clinic for some dirt on Dr. Daisy; later Burt runs into it and gets hurt. I then showed up at Dr. Eggnog's place with a shotgun, looking for revenge (long story) and Eggnog ends up biting it, which Morgan was totally into.

We still had a few scenes left, so we followed the game's advice and played Eggnog's last scene as a flashback - Burt and Eggnog back in vet school, just chatting. There was no real conflict, but I found the juxtaposition between their mortal struggle and their earlier friendship surprisingly poignant.

Fiasco is a very lean game, and the mechanics are a lot simpler than the rules make them out to be, somehow - there's so much advice about how to apply them that the learning curve looks steeper than it is, partly because the rules are spread out through the fairly long text. The summaries are handy, but only as memory-joggers - "do some dice math". The whole game (playsets aside) could probably be printed on three pages, with all the advice following.

All in all, it was slightly too involved for Leah, whose interest waned when there were about three scenes left but Morgan said she'd play again without hesitation. Fun!