Chasing Jason: Fiasco, Danger Mtn, & Geiger

September 12, 2010

Since the internet was dead this morning, I finally got around to reading most of Fiasco. I’ve had a mostly finished pre-publication PDF sitting on my hard drive for a while, but had been waiting to find it for sale in print, which I finally did at the Dreaming on Friday. I’m not sure how they still had copies left from PAX. Maybe a new shipment.

Having worked on Geiger Counter for 3+ years now, I found it super fascinating to watch Jason try to do many things in the text of Fiasco that Geiger attempts to do, but in very different ways. The games obviously have a lot in common: movie-inspired, single-session, short run time, gm-less (or -ful), non-traditional player investment in characters (you love them but you make bad things happen to them), two act rise-and-fall structure (in Geiger, the “Tilt” happens when the Menace hits 8 dice), dice-based pacing, characters with ambition and poor impulse control (that’s what Goals are about), etc.

Honestly, if I had to describe Geiger Counter to folks who’d played Fiasco, I’d say: “double the number of characters, add a Menace that’s trying to kill them, make the action more tightly location-based, and end the game when most characters are dead.” Boom: Alien, Jurassic Park, Vertical Limit, etc. Especially now that Jason’s working on a disaster movie game for Game Chef, I’m thinking I can probably just wait around twiddling my thumbs for him to write my game for me.

Things Jason Gets Oh-So Right
– playsets
– the replay, though it’s sometimes hard to follow
– the filmography
– the visual style of the book
– the tone of the writing

Things That I Think Could Be Better
– really weak guidelines for playing dead characters, something early drafts of GC are guilty of too
– it’s not clear what giving the outcome die away signifies, if anything; feels a bit arbitrary
– the fact that Steve (the player) isn’t playing Stephen Carney (the PC); really a bad choice, easily fixed
– Page 9; I’m not sure this adds more than you lose by opening up the identity politics thing
– for my tastes, the rules text (not including playsets) is still about 50% too long, since it’s definitely not made for being played right out of the booklet, without having read it before (though some folks tried at PAX)
– until you get to the replay, there’s very few words on how to actually “play a scene” (what you actually do, how to deal with NPCs, what a scene looks like, how do you know it’s over, etc.)
– the cover curls something fierce

All in all, though, a fantastic product and very inspirational, especially for Geiger Counter, since it operates in a very similar footprint, as far as play experience goes. And I’m watching Danger Mountain too, to see if Jason comes up with any super clever ways to handle disasters (a Menace if there ever was one). Apocalypse World has already given me great insights about how to make it clear what the Menace is supposed to do, so I feel like I’m making gradual progress here by stealing from everybody else.

5 Responses to “Chasing Jason: Fiasco, Danger Mtn, & Geiger”


  1. Hey Jonathan,

    Thanks for your thoughts. This is the first complaint I’ve seen about the cover! If you are unhappy with it let me know and we’ll make it right.


    • Hey Jason,

      That wasn’t really a complaint about the product so much as wondering what caused it. If it has something to do with the super-shiney, beautiful coating you have on the cover, I’d say it’s probably worth it in the long run, since it makes the game feel studier and like it will hold up to use better.

      I was just comparing the coatings on Fiasco, AW, and the Adventure Burner and they’re all really different. I don’t ever remember a publishing thread about coatings and cover stock, though. Might be worth talking about at some point.


  2. The cover is Carolina C1S 12pt, 155# stock, basically coated bristol. I’m happy with it, but I want to go matte for our next project.

    • Jonathan Says:

      Cool. Thanks for the info. I like the weight and shine of it. Definitely makes the colors pop. And I remember some of my old In Nomine supplement, which had a similar coating, curling in the same fashion, to be fair.


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