Fiasco in the Classroom

If you’ve never played Fiasco, you owe it to yourself to try it. You might not like it; it’s not an RPG for everyone (but what is?). I won’t bother reviewing the game. It’s been reviewed bunches by better reviewers than me. Also, check out this, this, and this (in that order) to watch Wil Wheaton and friends play a complete demo of the game.

Last week, I decided to try using certain parts of the Fiasco Quest for the Golden Panda Playset for a lesson on story-writing. I pulled up the linked PDF on my laptop. I then asked a series of students to each provide me with a number between one and six, inclusive, dividing these numbers between the standard elements of a story: characters, setting, and problem. We ended up with these results:

Characters: Clandestine collaborators, and an old wise man and a curious child.

Setting: The vintage armor room.

Problem: To get the truth about the golden poppy flower that was left on the doorstep.

Students worked in pairs with the instructions that they had to:

1. Name the characters.
2. Take turns establishing a scene and working with their partners to determine what happens.
3. Compromise when they cannot agree.
4. Keep notes about each scene.
5. Work through two scenes per character, with each scene requiring a different character be present.

Students were also told to invent other characters and settings as needed.

The students worked for about an hour. Most of them seem genuinely engaged in the activity, but there were a couple of problems that popped up. First, one group had trouble compromising, and they required some redirection to get back on track. Also, the groups worked at wildly different speeds, a few completing a story in an hour while most hadn’t made it through half of their scenes. I should’ve been more explicit about the pacing for the scenes.

This week, we’re going to return to the assignment. Students will get to finish their collaboration, and then everyone can take the results and produce a rough draft short story. I can hardly wait to see what the results are.

March 30th, 2014  in RPG No Comments »

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