I’m going to keep talking about this because I keep getting comments to the posts and comments really are crack to any blogger. So in part one of this series, I talked about the general notions of Fiasco and why I thought it might be an interesting outlining tool. In part two, I discussed how building a playset turned into a fantastic exercise in world building. Now we’re to part three, which takes place after I sat down with the playset and rolled the dice.

Give me a few minutes of blabbing, then I’ll post the other half of the playset below, because it was kinda cruel to only post half a playset last time.

I’m both satisfied and dissatisfied with the results of rolling the dice. And that’s fine, it’s rather where I expected to be at the moment. First, I’m satisfied because the entire process went fantastically well. My first experiment was to roll the dice on four characters, who ended up including a pair of outerlands explorers, one of whom was madly in love with the woman down the street, one of whom was illegally providing the results of their explorations to a shady businessman, and rival of the same woman down the street. The dice rolling mechanism did force a few decisions, but that’s part of the fun of Fiasco, and part of why I ultimately wanted to try outlining this way. When I was left with only two dice, both showing sixes, and was forced the need “To get out of the solar system” between the shady businessman and the woman down the street, it provided a twist I wouldn’t have otherwise felt was part of the story.

That said, I’m dissatisfied with the story. My goal was always to roll the dice four or five times and take the result I felt most compelled to write. This…likely wasn’t it. Though I will try a little outlining just to see where it goes. I’m also not certain if the final roll will be for four characters, three, five, or if I might even try something suggested in The Fiasco Companion and do seven characters rolled as two sets of four with one overlapping character. It’s about finding a good process, and I’ll probably conclude this series with an epilogue post in two weeks when everything is squared away and I (hopefully) have my story.

I also threw in a randomizer element other than the dice. My wife. Fiasco was designed for collaborative setup and play, part of the fun of the game is multiple inputs. For this first experiment we worked together setting up all four characters, but I may try again with her specifically taking two, and I the other two. Across means all relationships happen between one of my characters and one of hers. Adjacent means we could each set up one completely internal pairing without the input of the other. I see advantages to both. I may also try pulling in enough people for one per character, though I’m not sure when I’ll have time for that.

I did overcome a lot of the doubts I had about the playset, and how pedestrian some of its elements are. Having a mix of themed relationships and normal relationships worked for putting together the characters much better than if I tried to make ever relationship science-fiction. Even in fake worlds, people still need to have real connections. Which isn’t to say I wouldn’t welcome input. The playset will probably be a work in progress until I start writing the story, tweaking it as I go.

So here you go, the relationships and needs tables for my playset, still called “Untitled of the Fourth Planet.”


1. Friends and Families

  1. Uncle/Aunt and Nephew/Niece
  2. Parent and Child
  3. Siblings
  4. Brothers-In-Law
  5. Orphan “Siblings”
  6. Childhood Friends

2. Enemies

  1. Husband/Wife and the Other Man/Woman
  2. Social rivals
  3. Businessmen On Same Score
  4. Earth-born and Mars-born
  5. Opposing Politicians
  6. Reliving Old Earth Divisions

3. Work

  1. Farmer and Hand
  2. Manager and Employee
  3. Ranch Hands
  4. Rookies and Veteran Cop
  5. Politician and Staff Member
  6. Customs Officials

4. Martian Activities

  1. Terraforming Engineer Techs
  2. Xenogeologists
  3. Outerlands Explorers
  4. Spacedock Workers
  5. Earth Importers
  6. Inventor and Invention

5. Romantic

  1. Former fling
  2. Rivals for a heart
  3. Estranged Spouses
  4. Forbidden Fiances
  5. Unspoken Mutual Attraction
  6. Partners in an Affair

6. Illegal

  1. Dealer and Supplier
  2. Amateur Criminals
  3. Conman and Mark
  4. Blackmailer and compromised politician
  5. Underground Gamblers
  6. Smugglers

…On The Fourth Planet


1. To Get Out…

  1. …of the family business.
  2. …of a bad deal.
  3. …of debt to the Bank of Mars.
  4. …from under their control.
  5. …way out.
  6. …of the solar system.

2. To Get Back…

  1. …into his/her good graces.
  2. …at him/her.
  3. …at the world in general.
  4. …home.
  5. …what was lost.
  6. …to Earth.

3. To Get the Truth…

  1. …about the past.
  2. …about Phoenix.
  3. …about how he died.
  4. …about where the water is.
  5. …about the taproot crop.
  6. …about what happened to Earth.

4. To Get Control…

  1. …of the terraforming station.
  2. …of Phoenix.
  3. …of your life, for once.
  4. …of the supply lines.
  5. …of the truck heading west.
  6. …of Mars, is that too much to ask?

5. To Get Respect…

  1. …for your work, no matter how unusual it is.
  2. …from everyone, in spite of your past.
  3. …from him/her, it’s been long enough.
  4. …from the syndicate, after they cut ties.
  5. …from yourself, so you can look in the mirror again.
  6. …from the Spirit of Mars, whatever that may be.

6. To Get High…

  1. …on that new stuff being sold on the street.
  2. …over the surface, to see if you’re right.
  3. …up in the company, by any means.
  4. …on life with one big thrill.
  5. …in society, like you deserve.
  6. …with the Gods of Mars.

…On The Fourth Planet

About the author

DLThurston DL Thurston is a writer of novels, screenplays, and the occasional short story. He has short stories due out soon in the Steam Works anthology from Hydra Publications and in The Memory Eater. When he's not writing, he also brews beer and even drinks it sometimes. Check out his exploits either on his blog or on Twitter.