Posts Tagged ‘Fiasco’

Well spring is firmly in the air and as the weather gets nicer, thoughts are turning to spending more time indoors playing games. I have a hard time just picking up and running a game as written – I much prefer to get under the bonnet and tinker with either the setting or the mechanics. So, these are the top 6 games I want to play, and the hacks I want to play with them.

1. Fiasco: Dick Head

Not so much a hack as a playset to vaguely recreate the stories of Philip K Dick, with all manner of weird and wonderful results on the situation tables and a tilt table to pull the curtain back for the second act. Why Fiasco? I dunno, there’s something about the way the situation generator that I think will produce great, weird, Dickesque stories.

2. Hot War: Ultraviolet/True Blood

I think Hot War might be the game I own with the most hackability. Its setup lends itself perfectly for tight-knit, character-driven conflicts and monsters. So what better way to represent one of my favourite settings, Ultraviolet, a show all about agents with mixed agendas hunting vampires, perhaps mashed liberally in with True Blood.

3. Empires of Alexander

Anyone who knows me will know I’m a big ancient history buff, especially when it comes to Alexander the Great. I reckon there’d be a lot of fun to be had playing Alexander’s various generals leading their own armies east alongside the Macedonian King, and for me there’s no better game when it comes to military campaigns – Duty & Honour/Beat to Quarters, collectively known as the Empire system. All it’d take would be a reskinning of skills and character creation bits and bobs and you’re ready to ride to the ends of the world!

4. Remember Tomorrow: Revelation Space

I’ve never got into cyberpunk beyond Ghost in the Shell, but love me some hard scifi, especially Alastair Reynolds and his oeuvre. I think the multi-protagonist, split narrative of his books would map brilliantly to Remember Tomorrow’s varied stories told from multiple perspectives. I’ve got a few tweaks to the situation tables to embed the setting in the game more, but RT does the job admirably out of the book.

5. Smallville: the Walking Dead

I’ve got a real yearning to run Smallville but no great desire to play in the published setting. Instead I want to use it to run a game reminiscent of the Walking Dead, as the relationship-focused nature of the game will capture the complicated character situations of the show. In actual fact I’m going to make the setting Unhallowed, but it’s similar enough, just swap zombies for demons.

6. Lost Days of Memories & Madness: Game of Thrones

This hack will almost certainly be the subject of a future post, but with the fantasy epic about go return for a second series I’ve got a hankering to run a high-stakes political game of intrigue, and would use my own Memories & Madness to pull it off. Instead of memories, you’d have subjects or power bases, and coins would become influence or power. Easy. I’ll dig into that one a bit more another time.

How about you? What are you jonesing to a) play and b) hack?

The new Prometheus trailer has got me pondering a question me and my friend Gaz often ask – where are all the sci-fi games? You can’t move for horror or fantasy, but where are all the good science fiction roleplaying games?

Now, before the comments thread gets inundated with angry remarks, let me just say that a) no I don’t mean your game b) yes I’ve considered x or y game and c) I’m actually talking about the wider premise of science fiction, so stand down.

The reason me and Gaz inevitably come to is that the problem lies with the question, namely that the genre of science fiction is too vast to be properly captured in a single game, or even a single genre, really. Let me explain.

Do you want a game to replicate Alien or Event Horizon. That’s surely a horror game. How about Star Trek, Firefly or Mass Effect? Well that’s more of an adventure or space opera game. Star Wars? Heroic fantasy. Aliens? Military science fiction. Battlestar Galactica? Political and social commentary. And when you get into the realms of Iain M Banks, Arthur C Clarke or any Philip K Dick-esque sci-fi you’re looking at corners of the genre more esoteric still.

And how can anyone possibly capture so many diverse genres in a single game?

And that’s before we come to the question of science vs. fiction. Are you looking to tell interesting stories and have the science merely as colour, or is the science the driving factor of the story? How do you keep the science from becoming meaningless fluff or dominating the game with lists of equipment or endless made-up on the fly techno-babble?

So with all those questions in mind, I’ll rephrase my search parameters. I want a game to tell exciting stories set in space, with science as more than just colour but less than endless pages of stats for rayguns. I want the feeling of being out amongst the stars without getting swamped by setting or suffering from a planet a week. I want dead civilisations and the hint of aliens. And I want it to all have a used, worn feel, ashtrays in space as Gaz would put it.

In short I want Prometheus: the game please. Don’t make me write it myself.

And I was joking in my preface. I’m looking forward to all the comments on why I’m wrong, right or where I can find the games me and Gaz have missed all along.

*One day I will write a sci-fi Fiasco playset called Dick Head. Wait till you see the tilt table.

Next Tuesday I’ve been given the honour of kicking off Sheffield-based investigative storytellers Overlap’s pilot season of events, where I’ll be giving a talk on what storytellers can learn from story games. I’m equal parts excited and terrified, as I’ve never done anything like this before yet it’s a great opportunity to talk to an audience about something (relatively) new yet fascinating.

I’ll be talking about what story games and roleplaying games are and how they’re a form of storytelling in their own right. I’ll be looking at a variety of different games, showcasing just how wide a range of topics they address, from the world of boxing in Contenders to child soldiers in Grey Ranks. And I’ll also be talking about some of the techniques used in story games, such as series creation in Primetime Adventures and situation creation in Fiasco, and what storytellers in other mediums can learn.

I do hope people will be intrigued enough to come along! Here are the details for anyone in the Sheffield area next week. And for those of you who can’t make it, I’m sure there’ll be a variety of multimedia online soon after.