I played Fiasco!
I created a Firan playset
and invited some of my local friends who also happened to play on Firan. Firan is a MUSH with a low-magic, Iron-Age theme, and I've been running it for like 13 years now.
My brother Jason, who is only vaguely familiar with Firan, plus Tanja and Melissa (two Firan players) joined me. Setup
I gathered eight gold dice and eight red dice (we didn't have black and white d6es), rolled them, and passed out notecards. I explained a bit about the game and we started. Having a few copies of the Playset I created helped immensely. We didn't have to pass the book around.
Jason and I shared a RELATIONSHIP: Crush and object of crush with OBJECT: Shamibelian war plans. (Shamibelians are the horned evil enemy race.)
Tanja and Jason shared a RELATIONSHIP: Servant and boss with OBJECT: Fine carriage and horse team.
Melissa and Tanja shared a RELATIONSHIP: Madame of the Dove and a prostitute with LOCATION: The White Dove (a brothel).
I and Melissa shared a RELATIONSHIP: Priest/ess and worshipper with NEED: To get out of the city, before the upcoming Shamibelian invasion.
We talked about characters.
I played a priest of Zutiv (Zeus-ish) who was a coward. We decided he was from the Hydra Clan (Firan has eight clans named after monsters and such, and each clan has particular traits -- Hydrans are rather Spartan in nature). Against all social expectation, he was a frequent patron of the ladies of the White Dove. That's how he knew Melissa's character. She was going to help him escape the city.
Melissa played the prostitute (Dove girl). She turned out to be a shifty and untrustworthy thing. Tanja played the Madam of the White Dove, and thus Melissa's boss. Jason played a manservant / bodyguard / wagon driver for Tanja. We decided he was half-Shamibelian, who are treated poorly in the city and are not trusted.
Melissa, Tanja, and I have a great deal of knowledge about the Firan setting, having been involved with the MUSH for years. Jason has had only passing engagement with it (in its early years as a tabletop game, and for a few weeks on the MUSH when it started). He seemed to have no problem picking up the setting as we played, though we three veterans would occasionally explain this or that. It mostly just added color. Stuff was explained about as quickly as I did, above.
I skimmed through the rulebook to read the play advice and explained the criteria for a good Need, Location, and Object. We ended up changing "Fine carriage and horse team" into a "bag of gems." The carriage and horse just didn't work for us. It wasn't grabby enough. The bag of gems seemed like it'd cause more trouble. Act One
Play started up slowly, with a scene between Jason and Tanja at the White Dove. Jason set the scene: he was sneaking into the Madam's room to search the chest he knew she kept there. He had a tip that it contained Shami war plans (reincorporated from someone else's relationship, awesome!). We resolved it as turning out badly, gave him a red die, and his half-shami got caught by Tanja and her other guards and beat up. This became a theme. Jason enjoyed sending his guy into terrible situations and more than once during the game, commented that he expected him to die tragically.
I won't go scene by scene, because I can't remember all eight of them, but Melissa's girl was flirty and mischievous and manipulative. My priest was cowardly and tried to protect his reputation, but managed to go to his General (he was also a medic in the Army) and convinced him to let him out of service. There were arrests and imprisonments. There were "romantic" moments in back rooms of the temple (scandal!). The half-shami got beat up a lot.The Tilt
I can't remember both parts of the tilt. One was "a stupid plan, executed perfectly," which we thought was terribly appropriate for our band of fools. Jason and Melissa ended up having the highest red and gold die totals.
We took a short break, talked about the story's direction, and all that.Act Two
The situation rapidly went to hell for our heroes. Jason's character died in his first (of two) scenes. He was fine with this. Melissa turned on Tanja. Everyone got arrested and accused of various things. The act ended with everyone imprisoned.Aftermath
When I played with Jason Morningstar at Dreamation this winter, we didn't play out a proper aftermath, according to the rules. Maybe we ran out of time? In any case, I wanted to try the rules-as-written.
We rolled our red and gold dice and looked up the finales in the book. Jason's ended up good. Mine ended up very, very good. Tanja and Melissa ended up poorly.
We took turns, going around the table, saying, "Here is , doing ." Jason substituted allies and whatnot. We had a surprise ending where his character (and mine) turned out to be FFI (secret intelligence) agents, though I was still a coward. The city ended up being invaded, if I remember correctly, but I escaped.
Everyone had a good time. Play lasted about two hours.Concerns
Some of the scenes were really short, especially at the beginning. We started to add more detail. Players were narrating what could happen rather than role-playing what was happening. A couple times, I just encouraged them with an eager and friendly "Role-play it!" and they downshifted into "proper" role-play. I have no problem with narration, but these were potential scenes between two players. With my encouragement, I changed a one-person narration into a two- or three-person dialogue. More fun for everyone.
My playset was about 80% fun. That's on me, as this was a playtest of the playset. Some of the stuff on it doesn't scream out "Fun!"
We didn't really incorporate the Tilt as much as we were supposed to, I think. I believe there were hints of a "stupid plan," but it wasn't a strong element.
As many others have said, the game benefited from my strong hand as facilitator. At one point, I had to remind people that I wasn't the GM, that they didn't need my permission to do stuff, and that they should be looking to everyone at the table for approval and smiles. Melissa and Jason have lots of D&D experience and Tanja has very little tabletop experience at all. None of them have really played a "dirty hippie" game like Fiasco.
Jason's a very experienced gamer and GM (D&D, Storyteller, TW2000, Cyberpunk, Runequest, Mechwarrior, etc.). He said he'd love to use Fiasco as a world-building tool, to develop a fantasy world's mythology, then play that world using some other ruleset (presumably Pathfinder). That's a pretty interesting idea.