I may be the last person in the world to find out about this. If so, my only excuse is a quote from a Tripod song:
If there’s four levels of cool
Then I’m at Level 3.
It goes freakishly cool people first
Cool people next, then there’s me….
And then my mum.
– I Always Get Into Stuff, Tripod
But anyway, Wil Wheaton apparently does a webshow on Tabletop games over at Geek & Sundry, and besides a rollicking round of Munchkin with Felicia Day, Sandeep Parikh and Steve Jackson (which was pretty fun to watch too,) there is a truly spectacular example of the Fiasco RPG, which is a must-see.
Fiasco is basically a tabletop roleplaying game that is centered around generating a good narrative/story based on well-laid plans going horribly awry for a number of characters. It’s recreating the plot of any Coen Brothers movie or heist film in a very entertaining, consensus storytelling fashion. (They do a better overview and explanation of the game than I can in the video, so feel free to just skip this and watch.)
I’ve owned the Fiasco pdf for a good number of years now, mostly because I developed a habit of collecting RPG systems in my youth and it got cheaper and easier on the storage space to hoard them digitally instead. It’s a thick 135 page tome that I’ve never managed to read from cover to cover, but was impressed by how its design and mechanics help to build up and prompt ideas for the players.
Characters must end up linked to each other via Relationships of some kind, there are a number of Needs involved (the prime rule of storytelling, what a character wants and what he is willing to do to get it) and some Locations and Objects to create a setting and have some key Macguffins to focus on.
Sadly, I lack friends with the patience to sit at a table for two to three hours and tell a collaborative story, and try as I might, haven’t gotten around to figuring out how a game of solo Fiasco or writing with Fiasco might work. I keep stalling at the setup as my brain fries trying to develop three or four interrelated characters at once.
Still, the show’s pretty good inspiration for yet another attempt at it some time.
And even if you have no interest in tabletop roleplaying games (or ad lib acting or writing stories) whatsoever, you should just watch the Fiasco videos above because it’s one of the best movies that was never made.