Posts tagged #fiasco playsets

Fiasco Playsets: Battle Pets


One of the great things about Fiasco is how flexible the system is. With no need for complex resolution systems or arcane tomes of back story and special exceptions, games run smoothly as long as all the players are engaged in the story more than they are just being a hero.

 Battle Pets, the playset we are sharing this week, is one we first crafted shortly after Pokemon Go was announced and has been used successfully at several of our Pokemon related events. Players may be Battle Pet trainers, veterans of the monster wars, hosts of Battle Pets tournaments, or even be crafty battle pets trying to avoid being captured. Win the big tournament, progress to their next evolution, or even learn where monsters come from. 

Even though we were first inspired to create this set because of Pokemon Go, we play with the "boy and his battle pet" theme so you may find hints of other monster capture games like Monster Rancher, Jade Cocoon, or Digimon. We even previously discussed the long history of this theme on the Inverse Genius podcast IG 008: Pokemon Battle Friends. If you listen you'll hear just how much we love the whole genre, not just Pokemon. 


The important takeaway is, if you can't find an existing playset you like, or modify one to meet your needs, how easily you can craft a playset based on your favorite settings. Successful playsets don't need to be completely faithful to the source material, which is great because who wants to deal with lawyers anyway? 

If there is a trick to making a great playset, and I'm not saying there is one, it is just making all of the choices  interesting and open-ended. Taking the primary themes and then riffing off those to create an engaging experience is much more fulfilling and interesting than transcribing a setting point by point. Every entry in the set should be approachable and open up more opportunities for exciting interactions at the table. 

In other words: file off all of the serial numbers, by avoiding setting specific names and places whenever possible, so players don't need to be adepts in the lore. You can count on the players to fill in the name of the headmaster for your school of wizardry, or expand on the big conflict, as they need them. You don't need to spell out everything for the players; it isn't that kind of game. 


Do you want to be the very best? Like no one ever was?

Well get in line kid. Everyone wants to be the best here. They’re all running around trying to shove wildlife into this newfangled pocket dimension device. The cool kids call it the Podide. Or at least I do.

Point is, go out there, catch you some creatures, and then pit them against one another in battle. What’s the worst that could happen?


Follow the link to our completely unauthorized and totally non-IP-infringing Battle Pets play-set created at the Waccamaw Neck Branch Library in Pawleys Island SC.


Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
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Posted on December 4, 2017 and filed under Tabletop.

Fiasco Playsets: Dewey Decimation


One of the great pleasures of RPGs in general, and Fiasco in particular, is telling stories. Sometimes players tell tales of terror, heroics, power fantasies, or even great tragedy.  

Fiasco in particular likes to poke fun at elements from some of our favorite genres, themes, or even the pettiness of everyday day life. We thought it'd be great if we shared some of our everyday life with our patrons, and the world at large, by creating a Fiasco Playset that highlights the comically absurd of our experience working in the library.   

That doesn't mean you'll find our personal stories within this slim volume, or that the deepest darkest secrets of our patrons will be revealed, but if are in the know you may very well see the fingerprints of a librarian who is also a Welcome to Night Vale fan. In other words, imagine the strangest aspects of librarianship writ-large, with the delightful melange of smells, startlingly unorthodox patron interactions, and that one book with the red cover, all with the ability to react how you want because this is a game about bad decisions. 

We didn't get too much into the the more explicit adventures we've been subjected to as librarians, mostly because this is a YA Fiasco Playset. Though if I had to guess there is certainly room for an Adults Services version; that's a different blog entirely. 

Please enjoy Dewey Decimation, and let us know what adventures you have using the play set. 

Dewey Decimation cover large.jpg

Libraries are weird, and this one is no exception. The staff is quirky, the books are many, and something is always just the slightest bit off.

The staff manages to keep the place afloat, but with a ghost roaming the stacks, aliens abducting patrons, and the local PTA’s monthly meetings always going awry things can get... messy.

But the books are free, right?

Get it here.

Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
Email us:

Posted on November 15, 2017 and filed under Tabletop.

Fiasco Playsets: Natural Disaster


As I mentioned previously, we love Fiasco, but many of the the playsets aren't suitable for our Teen Room audience.  Creating your own is easy once you are familiar with the system.  We have created several playsets at our branch, and our Natural Disaster playset was created as part of an LSTA Eco-literacy grant. 

This playset has allowed us to engage in ecological topics with our patrons where otherwise they might have been more inclined to other activities. Putting the environment or endangered animals at risk in a very immediate and engaging fashion grabbed their imagination and led to discussions after play sessions about other potential threats or issues. This theme is so rich it would be possible to completely re-write it without covering the same ground.

Let us know what you think, or if you make your own variation! 


When people and nature interact there’s a lot that can go wrong: pollution, invasive species, poaching, people littering and vandalizing everything…

And that’s just the little stuff.

Here with greedy business tycoons, insane locals, and corrupt government interests, it’s not a question of if something will go wrong but when and how bad. 

When all these different interests collide there’s bound to be conflict, whether it’s park rangers chasing down vandals, or protesters trying to keep their favorite nature preserve from being plowed flat by the local tycoon. And all that’s not even taking into account the local wolf population.

Whether this fiasco is all green, or all on fire, is up to you!

Get the Natural Disaster playset.


Posted on November 1, 2017 and filed under Tabletop.

Fiasco RPG Spotlight


Fiasco is one of our more popular RPGs at the Waccamaw Neck Branch Library, in Pawleys Island, because of the wide variety of settings, sessions that run in a shorter period of time than many other RPGs, and zero prep is required by Game Masters because there is no Game Master. The entire premise of the game is “people with poor impulse control making bad decisions”, and the game is best when people play it in that vein instead of attempting to beat the scenario or come out on top. Lead your characters down the path of comic misfortune and dire tragedy and you will have fun. 

Gaming tends to be an exercise in power fantasy, wish fulfillment, and overcoming incredible odds to save the world or achieve victory; it isn't always easy for players to come to grasp with the idea that failing can be fun, at least in a narrative sense. A chain of consequences from one bad decision at the beginning can create a much more memorable experience than being the smartest, doing the best, or easily overcoming all obstacles. Few games offer an opportunity to intentionally explore folly and dire repercussions in a way that is also empowering and fulfilling. 

Getting into Fiasco is inexpensive, one book is all you need. If you order directly from Bully Pulpit Games  the rules and PDF run $25, and all you need to get started is the core rules book. The Bully Pulpit website also has a great collection of resources to download including a Fiasco Play Mat and a facilitation sheet, both of which really help when you moderate the game.  


Playing the Game


To play Fiasco the players will need to pick out a playset, gather up pencils, note cards, and a collection of standard six sided dice, two each in two colors per player.  You can use the insta-setup at the back of the playset, or roll the dice and create an inter-connected web of character relationships and motivations.

Once the setting and characters are established players take turns creating or resolving scenes where their character is a primary actor, but also involving one or more of the other characters. At the end of each scene one of the dice are distributed; in the first half of the game the active player gives the dice they receive from the other players to someone else but in the last half of the game the active player will keep the dice they receive. In the middle a tilt happens that changes up the actions and levels of frantic bad decision making. 

Once it's all over players roll the dice they have received and refer to the aftermath table. The table describes the ultimate outcome of the scenario for the character, but we enjoy using each of our dice as a seed for a vignette that provide a bit more context. Frequently the best or worst things to happen to a character are described by the players at this time.   


Other Resources


In addition to the Fiasco Rule Book we also recommend the Fiasco Companion which provides less graphic versions of the results that wrap-up a scenario and work better for our teen room. If you choose not to get the Fiasco Companion, then you may need to moderate the final results of the game when revealing the final fate of the characters. 

The base book and companion comes with a variety of playsets, which act as setting, scenario hook, and character generator, but there are also several volumes of playsets in print providing even more scenarios in which to make poor choices and expand the playability of the game. Some sets are problematic for use at libraries teen programs, but that’s to be expected because poor choices frequently include drugs, alcohol, violence, and dubious sexual encounters. And the books themselves are written to match. Most of the book is fine, but the language of the Aftermath Table may be something to watch out for.


The playsets included in the core rules are only a glimpse of the diverse stories players can explore using the Fiasco system. Many more settings are available in the three existing Fiasco Playset Anthologies.

There are also hundreds of playsets, created by the community that loves the game, available at In these sets players can be anything from cultists in lovecraftian tales of horror to house cats. These are great, and I recommend you flip through the pages and pages of options to find your favorite IP mockingly presented as a playset.

Why bother with the anthologies when so many playsets are available for free? If you are trying to encourage circulation of gaming materials then the Fiasco Playset Anthologies are excellent source-books to have on-hand for people interested in this particular style of role-playing game. They have also been edited by Bully Pulpit, so someone besides the playset designer has reviewed the content. 

We have played several of the playsets from both the anthologies and from downloads in our personal home groups, with strangers at conventions, and of course here at our library. All of them were interesting, but, while often exciting, the playsets from the website tended to have a higher likelihood of content that wasn't appropriate for our core library teen audience.


Creating Your Own Playset 

Even this vast wealth of source material wasn’t enough; we went one step further and created our own. We needed playsets that are exciting and interesting but unlikely to have teens playing characters engaging in rampant substance abuse or other non-parental approved activities.  Sometimes we edited existing playsets, but occasionally we didn't find any that suited our needs. 

If there is a secret to creating your own playset, and I'm not saying there is, it is deciding what kinds of bad decisions you'd like to facilitate and then stacking suitable tropes into the template. None of this is terribly difficult, but it is significantly easier if you have played through a few sessions with existing sets to get an idea of what helps setup an entertaining story.  But in short, an entertaining story is created by unlikely allies, dynamic or unexpected conflicts, and also making things easily accessible to the audience.  The world you establish in 144 lines of textin a Fiasco Playset don't have to define the whole world, they just need to inspire shenanigans. Fiasco is all about shenanigans.

We have created several playsets at our branch, one set in a library, one as part of an LSTA Eco-literacy grant, and one based on Pokémon, inspired by the wild success of Pokémon Go and the release of Pokémon Sun & Moon. We will release those in upcoming weeks. 

Check out this Fiasco Playset Template, it's an excellent fill-in-the-blank guide to creating your own. We have used it to create all of our playsets.

We will post our play-sets in the future, all of which are teen safe.  

Posted on October 18, 2017 .