Following my bewildering montage of D&D and Fiasco is this:

Dungeons and Laundry Fiasco

What on earth have I been smoking?

Let’s go back a little.

Previously I mentioned that I compared D&D to Fiasco to figure out what, exactly, made them different — by comparing their game and story mechanics. Well, there’s been another thing niggling in the back of my mind.

The Laundry Files mission generator.

This thing is absurdly useful, and for months I couldn’t say why. I tore it down and rebuilt it, and I still couldn’t figure out what made the mission generator different from others, or why I thought it was so bloody useful.

Well, let me tell you a few things about the Laundry Files RPG.

Your characters are secret agent cultist pencil-pushers working for the British government. It’s Call of Cthulhu meets Office Space meets James Bond. Or perhaps these days you could say, “Chuck meets Call of Cthulhu.

Your character’s “Assignment” determines a bunch of their skills and also their position in the labyrinthine Laundry organization. You have, at minimum, one supervisor and one line manager — but you can be “on loan” to another department, and your fellow PCs have their own managers to worry about.

So, by this count we have Characters and Relationships defined by the players. Scenarios are left in the hands of the GM (and can be rolled up randomly), and Conflict resolution is achieved through negotiation and dice rolls, per usual.

Now, here’s the best part: due to the bureaucracy of the Laundry, the variety of mission types, and the menagerie of Mythos beasties, the game’s Needs, Places, and Things may be radically different from one mission to another.

Sometimes you’ll be asked to field-test a Shoggoth Net. Or you’ll be issued some state-of-the-art cuff links that make you undetectable by scrying. Or the armory will refuse to issue weapons before a firefight with a cult of Shub-Nigguroth.

And nearly always, the mission briefing will fail to mention stuff you learn when you go afield. It’s a game of improbable fantasy improvisation.

Ultimately, the mission generator works so well because you have Relationships that demand you take the mission. You’re secret agent office drones armed with iPhone versions of the Necronomicon. You might be passed over for promotion if you fail a mission, or you might be turned into a zombie.

Or the space-time continuum might collapse.

The Laundry Files is a very complete game. It has everything it needs to be a full game, delivering on characters, relationships, scenarios, and whatnot. I just kind of wish, you know, that it were better edited. And perhaps that it didn’t use a point-based skill system. The combat system is clunky, too.

But, man! Have I learned a lot from this game! (And Fiasco!)