This weekend, I ventured north to NC Game Day. I've been attending this event for about eight or nine years now. Three times per year (in fall, winter, and spring) folks gather at NC State to game; it started as an idea on ENWorld and grew from there. As a semi-regular, I've gotten to know some folks a bit and really look forward to visiting and gaming. This time, the crowd was small, as it usually is at the winter Gameday, but I brought most of my family along. We also met Risus Monkey and his family there as well, reuniting at least a portion of my old Virginia gaming group.
As I've come to expect, I played in two awesome games Saturday. In the morning, I played Sir James Pennington, IV, spoiled noble traveling to Venus, in Risus Monkey's Moon Solider's Must Die Risus game. We successfully (if inadvertently) delivered the card-shark assassin to her target on Venus. Sure, we may have destroyed the Venutian Space Liner in the process and laid the seeds for civil war on Venus, but those are minor quibbles compared to the mighty triumphs of kicking Moon-Men butt while properly attired. Clothes were a big part of Sir Pennington, you see.
The afternoon session was an eagerly-anticipated game of Fiasco. I've wanted to play Fiasco for months and could think of no better place to play it than at NC Game Day with Risus Monkey and other experienced gamers. If you haven't heard of it, Fiasco is a GM-less story game that emulates the convoluted, profane messiness of a Cohen Brothers film. Our session had both profanity and messiness in spades and was generally a riot. I was concentrating on playing too much to take any notes, but I hope Risus Monkey posts a session recap. Fiasco has a brilliant set-up system that semi-randomizes important elements of character and play (relationships, things, needs, and places), but then sets them all on the table for everyone to see and build a story from. The story-building strikes a very nice balance of cooperation and competition between players; we all had to work together to move the story forward, while we were all also working to position our characters to come out ahead in the end. That didn't work out so well for my character Riley Coppedge, as he ended up a cripple, stuck in the small town he had sworn to destroy. Serves him right, I guess.
We used a lot of flashbacks in our Fiasco session. Likely they were over-used, as we created an extraordinarily complicated timeline that inevitably collapses into its own plot holes with careful examination. Having just read Robin Law's post about a different way to spin drama, however, I began thinking. Could Fiasco be played in reverse? Let us begin with the ending, or at least the penultimate scene. Knowing how the story ends, then it falls to the players to figure out how everyone gets there, working within the constraints to facilitate drama and entertainment. I am not a game designer, but I really wonder what sort of system could help bring this about.