Sunday, March 6, 2011

Fiasco: Adrilankha

So this fascinating game Fiasco has been popping up all over the place on my radar recently.

Made by Bully Pulpit Games, it's a GM-less story-telling game that attempts to produce the sort of knotty caper flicks well-typified by the work of the Coen brothers: Blood Simpler, Miller's Crossing, The Big Leibowski -- stories of characters with, as the game tagline says, "powerful ambition and poor impulse control."

So the game is built up using what are called "playsets", which are basically sets of story elements -- relationships, needs, objects, locations -- that the players assemble at the start of the game in order to kick off the story. A given playset reflects a particular genre or setting. So there's playsets that enable stories in modern suburbia, or a luxury liner in the 1920's, or the Old West, or Ming Dynasty China. Very cool stuff.

What I find really cool about this is how easy it makes it for folks to create new material for the game. There's no need to reproduce any copyrighted material in order to create a playset -- no rules, no stat blocks, nothing. Just lists of story elements, organized into groups of six. So they publish a new playset every month, written by all sorts of different people.

Being me, I immediately wondered about a playset I could create, cause I don't really get excited about playing a game until I've sat down with a page layout program and built myself some forms or something. I thought about various caper stories I loved, and realised that a lot of them had been written by the wonderful Steven Brust, and were set in the imaginary capital of his imaginary Dragaeran Empire: Adrilankha.

So that's what I used. It's a very narrow-appeal sort of playset, since only die-hard Brust fans will have sufficient background on life in Adrilankha to be able to build a game there, but it pleases me. I was able to get Devera into it, of course, and it includes a number of deep in-jokes if you're a fan of the Vlad and Paarfi tales.

Download the playset and check it out!