Morris Johnston (Me), mayor of Main Street, is found in a pool of his own brains in an abandoned road house. Testimonies flood in, uncovering the corrupt nature of his leadership. Johnston had been engaging in underground sports gambling, as well as selling class A drugs with the help of his close friend and collegue, Commisioner Jordon (Jessica). The mayor had also been linked to the death of a baby. A drugs customer of his, Shiela (Will), was unconsious in Johnston’s house, having tested out a sample of his new shipment of Ketamine. While under the influence, she rolled over and smothered the baby of her ex-husband, Nate (Kimberly). Shiela was not a parent of the baby but had kidnapped it in an attempt at revenge at her ex-spouse. Since his passing, the Mayor’s family have receieved countless death threats and their homes have been graffitied relentlessly. Johnston’s grave has been dug up 4 times since his death. It’s fair to say the people of Main Street are doing the best they can to get their revenge at the corrupt politician for what he did to their beloved town.
The passage above is a brief retelling of my groups Fiasco story, centered around my character, Morris Johnston. The initial phase was a lot of fun, the combination of creative freedom when formulating one’s character and the restriction of only being able to use each rolled dice once leads to a really unique and natural story set up.
The scenario telling portion had a bit of a bumpy start. Our group was tempted to create a large portion of the storyline before acting out a single scenario. Maybe this was because there was an unaddressed anxiety about having to improv scenes (at least there was for me). As David stated in class in reference to the Fiasco Tabletop episode, they are all trained actors while we, emphatically, are not. For me, this aversion to improv acting faded as the game went on but was never fully eradicated. The group’s confidence certainly grew as the game progressed; because of this, I think if we were to play another round of Fiasco it would be an even more fun experience.
Before playing Fiasco, I had played through, in my head, how I expected the game to go. One aspect I hadn’t considered is the almost competitive nature of it. There was a real temptation to get one’s own character to ‘win’. None of the characters existed 15 minutes previously, yet we all genuinely cared about them and how they were perceived by the others. We all had an idea of how the story was going to go for our own character, and we would do what we could to achieve that vision. I recognised that the story could only really go well for one or maybe two of the characters, so around midway through the story I decided to revel in the disaster that was unfolding for Morris Johnston instead of resisting it. This was a difficult decision and required swallowing some of my pride. It is a testament to the power of RPGs that I was so fully immersed in the mind of Mayor Johnston that I almost forgot that I was playing with other people and that the overall playing experience is more important than my characters ending. This game is about telling a story about a group of people and their relationships, not a way to manifest one person’s need for success. Thankfully, I think I may have been the only person in the group that felt this way because nobody acted in the selfish way which enticed me so much.
They say that you overcome fears through exposure; that seemed to be the case for Fiasco. I am terrified of acting, yet it definitely became easier as the game went on. Fiasco also helped me look introspectively. Stepping outside yourself and playing through the facade of a made up character makes it easier to spot patterns in your behaviour. As Daniel Kahneman states in his amazing book Thinking Fast and Slow, it is much easier to spot biases and patterns in others than in ourselves. This is what caused me to notice the overly competititve and selfish style of play I was tempted by, and do something about it. RPGs are an incredibly powerful tool, whether you use them for fun, mental exercise, relaxation or self realisation.