[Fiasco] Dice Hack For Additional Narrative Guidance

edited August 2011 in Story Games
Quick idea, inspired by the "Trouble With Fiasco" thread:
Roll the outcome die:
When someone selects an outcome die, immediately roll that die. The higher the value, the more positive (white die) or negative (black die) is the outcome of the current scene. Give away (Act I) or keep (Act II) the die as normal, being sure to retain the rolled value; that value will be used instead of rolling outcome dice and doing dice math to decide choosers OR rolling the unused dice for Tilt element options, and instead of each player rolling all of his or her accumulated dice for Aftermath result.
Thoughts on play impact:
* There is more guidance for the resolving player(s) from an actual value. 1s are mild and needn't rock the boat much; 6s should shape much of a given plot line going forward.
* There is more control over the metagame process of "electing the Tilt choosers" that informs much of Act I dice allocation. RAW play gives only a probability that two given players will be tasked with allocating dice to the Tilt (i.e., the two given a lot of one color). With the actual result being given away along with the color, a play group can all-but dictate which two players will get the highest white and highest black, yet still be surprised by a late 6 given to a player that heretofore had a middling Tilt total.
* Once can also, to a lesser extent, constrain the elements available to the Tilt choosers (e.g., I give all black dice to Bob, but make sure they are 1s or 3s because I like those Tilt elements; or I hate all the 4 elements and so I make sure to "offset" them as much as I can as I allocate).
* Likewise, there is more control over the metagame process of "exalting or damning characters in the Aftermath" that informs all of Act II dice allocation. RAW play can give all black dice to someone--in theory, favoring a very positive Aftermath--but then watch all 1s come up, for a terrible "Savage" Aftermath. By controlling both color and result, a given character's Aftermath severity is assured.
* Because a result is known before a die is given away, this rolling process is more "controllable" in Act I than in Act II (e.g., I know I'm going to give away a white because it was handed to me to tell me "positive outcome, this scene"; but I might give it to Bob if it's a low result yet give it to Debbie if it's a high result, if I want Debbie to be a chooser). Conversely, because I have to keep the outcome die in Act II, no matter what is rolled, there is less inherent control (e.g., I'm gunning for a positive Aftermath, so I'm amassing all whites or all blacks... but I keep rolling damned 1s and 2s... maybe I should give it up and shift gears to helping Bob's guy have a good coda?).
* Yet, all in all, each player is only in control of the allocation of four dice, so group consensus can still shift the Ouija planchette in surprising ways. The only "killer app" of this rule addition is that players gets some guidance as to sense of scale, severity, or fortuitousness for each individual scene's outcome; figuratively put, it adds an adjectival qualifier to "positive" or "negative", on the range from "slightly" (1) to "extremely" (6).

[edit for format tweak]


  • Really? Not a thought, after how many gyrating threads with Fiasco advice for scene play and outcomes?
    I must have missed the window of interest....
  • Many Fiasco-heads were at PAX, so, you know. :)

    This idea isn't my bag, but I'm sure it's someone else's.

    - Ryan
  • Hmm, I must've missed this the first time around.

    I think there's merit to the original idea; I can see it as a hack (like "stunt dice" from the Companion) for people who feel the binary positive/negative resolution mechanic gives them too much freedom to narrate; having the scale of good to bad might be the guidance they need. I think its generally unnecessary, but I can see how it might be useful.

    Two problems I can see with this:

    1) Keeping track of your rolled numbers throughout the game is an information-handling issue. You can try to keep your dice as rolled, but dice tend to get moved around. You could write your rolls down, maybe on the character name tag, but it just adds a layer of fussiness that doesn't seem necessary.

    2) keeping a running total of your dice rolls would take the surprise out of the Aftermath. One of the design choices that I enjoy the most is that, by rolling your dice at the end, you might get a result completely at odds with the direction your character's story has been going. Your guy who has had a few modest successes but has otherwise been taking a beating (leaving you with both black and white dice) might roll really high and come out as the hero of the story. That guy with all the white dice, who lorded it over everyone the whole game? Whoops, he's in jail. I think this sudden reversal of fortune is really thematically important to the game, and wouldn't want to lose it.
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