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I played a game of Fiasco recently, and we had a pretty large bit of confusion. When it's your turn you have a scene, and that scene will either end well or poorly for your character based on the resolution. The thing is, many of the scenes we developed didn't really have opportunity for success or failure of the character of the current player, but of other players.

Is it ok to have strong positive or negative consequences for a character when it is not that player's turn?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

I don't see why not. Part of the point of the game is the relationships between characters; thus, it's natural that consequences for one character may also affect another. If Bob's trying to convince Sally to do something dumb, and he succeeds, Sally's life sucks more.

I would be a little bit more worried if you or the other players were establishing scenes that don't have any scope for a positive or negative playoff for the character, however, which I think is what you're asking? Scenes usually have conflict baked into them, although that's not 100% necessary. Reread page 30, which talks about scenes with straight-ahead conflict vs. scenes that are just color.

I think in the end it's going to depend on you and your game. If the session is ending in a satisfying way, with a lot of fiasco along the way, you're doing it right. If you don't feel like anything actually happened during the game, that's probably less good and you'll want to frame more scenes with conflict in mind. Ultimately, the framing of the scene will determine whether or not the scene has the opportunities you're talking about.

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Sometimes you need to take a step back and say, "Hey, guys, this was supposed to be Bob's scene, so let's angle things towards him." Make sure that the scene is spotlighting the right character.

It's fine for consequences to bleed out to other characters, though. If the action starts focusing on other characters, however, get the group to postpone it for that character's scene. Fade to black or cut away.

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The game (full disclosure: I wrote it) is predicated on determining positive or negative outcomes, which happen irrespective of the consequences for the various characters, or success or failure. In a recent game I had a very positive outcome (enemy in jail, framed for attempted murder) by having my character accidentally shoot herself in the knee, which was a very bad consequence of her action and a pretty dismal failure overall.

The consequences of my scene were bad for everybody (hospital for me, jail for the other PC), but the outcome was positive for me.

Thinking in terms of success or failure is very natural but Fiasco doesn't work that way. I know it is weird.

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It's intensely helpful when an author chimes in; thank you! –  Bryant Aug 27 '10 at 21:23
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