Fiasco is the only game I played two sessions of. I'd previously watched the Tabletop
episode of Fiasco, which was a sort of master class in RPG creativity.
You set up the game by rolling four dice for each player, and taking turns using these dice to choose elements from various tables (typically, Relationships, Needs, Locations, and Objects) which tie the players together. For example, in the Vegas playset, relationships are Family, Work, Crime, Friendship, Romance, and Business. I might take a four from the dice pool and declare that I have a Friendship relationship with the player next to me. Then he could take a one, and decide that we're a "born loser and best friend". Every element takes two dice to fully define, so you end up with a Relationship and one other element connecting each pair of adjacent players. Once all the elements have been defined, you choose name for your characters and flesh them out a bit, then take turns narrating scenes involving your characters. On your turn, you can either establish your own scene and let the other players decide if it turns out well or badly for you, or you can let the other players set up the scene and decide how it turns out. The object of the game is for everyone, in the course of trying to satisfy their needs, to screw their lives up completely. By the end of the game the accumulated weight of bad decisions should all build up to one magnificent fiasco. The game's designed for 3-5 players, but seems to work best with four. (My sense is that a triangle isn't quite complicated enough, and a fifth player doesn't add enough to make up for making the game 25% longer.)
The first game had a fantasy playset, taking place after we'd successfully defeated a dragon and looted his lair. I wound up with a master/slave relationship on one side, a "both members of same non-human race" on the other side, and a need to "make my enemies pay—and everyone is my enemy". Before we started, we worked out that I was a giant, enslaved by a wizard who'd trapped my soul in his staff. I set up a scene where my brother and I were examining an ancient artifact, a giant's femur elaborately inlaid with gold, trying to figure out how to activate it, which would summon an uncontrollable army of undead giants who would ravage the countryside for miles around. I ended the scene with another player coming out of the tavern where he was saying, and spot us handling the artifact. I figured I'd set it up so he would be suspicious, and take away the artifact, without knowing exactly what we were planning, and then I could build up towards getting the artifact back and activating it for my big finish. Or I could fail to get the artifact back, and die barely failing to achieve my revenge. Either seemed good.
Instead, he declared that he'd overheard the whole thing and wanted to help us. Which … what part of "uncontrollable army of undead giants who are going to kill you" do you want to help us with? And it wasn't long before the wizard who'd enslaved me discovered our plans, and decided that not only did he want to help us too, but he'd planned this all along. So I ended scrambling frantically to find schemes to get my bloody revenge on everyone, which they would promptly decide to help me with! We did manage to come up with horrible fates for our characters: I chose to carry the ritual through to the end, even though it was draining the life out of my brother; the wizard cast a spell which backfired, making him my slave; I was paralyzed, made deaf and almost blind, reduced to begging my most hated enemy for mercy before I lost the ability to speak, tortured by his compassion (not realizing he was acting under constraint) and no longer able to beg for death. There was a lot that was fun in the session, but with all of the players pulling the story in the same direction the narrative felt really askew. I think part of the problem is that the ideas I was coming up with were too vivid, compared to what everyone else came up with, so they all wanted to grab my ideas and make them part of their story.
I tried again with a second group, this time an Old West scenario. This one went a lot better. Two of us were in a gang together, there was a greedy sheriff and his nephew, and one of the locations was the hanging tree. I set up my first scene by announcing that the leader of our gang was about to be hanged, and that he was the only one who knew where our loot was hidden. I dressed up as a priest and asked the sheriff for permission to take the prisoner's confession before he died. The sheriff recognized me—he'd arrested me years before—and wanted to know what I was playing at. I explained that I'd served my time and found religion, and wasn't going to cause no trouble sheriff, I'm a changed man. He didn't buy it, and set his nephew to following me to figure out what I was up to, and we ended up with a more satisfactory story than the first game. It still didn't fully gel, though, and I think the game mechanics are at fault. It seems easy to have an adequate session of Fiasco, but have a really exceptional one looks like it takes uniformly strong players with a compatible sense of story. Fiasco is also susceptible to what's probably my main failure mode in RPG's, getting too attached to my ideas and not reacting flexibly enough to what other people contribute. I would gladly play Fiasco again, but I think it's a hard game to reach an ideal level of play with.
Side note: the dice box I ordered came in the mail yesterday. It's made of bubinga, an African wood, and should hold about 60-80 dice.( Pictures below the cut )
Still haven't got any of my Kickstarter dice, but it sounds like I'll get at least a few of them soon.