Monday, September 13, 2010

Switching Gears: Dresden Files RPG

After a long absence at the Back to Basics gaming table, our crew gathered to discuss what to do next. I laid out some possibilities: finish Keep on the Borderlands, play Mouse Guard or Dresden Files, or have someone else step up and run something. My oldest son said he would run Eberron (3.5) and I offered to pick up Dark Sun if my youngest wanted to explore running 4th edition D&D.

After kicking this around for a bit, most of the table was ambivalent while my two sons were strongly promoting Dresden Files. Both had played in an awesome pick-up game at Origins (referred to in our house as 'Night of the Chupacabra') run by That Internet Guy, Ryan Macklin. My youngest was giving a pitch worthy of any used car salesman. The rest of the group agreed and the Dresden Files RPG we would play.

Before sitting in on the game at Origins this year I had not read any DF material. I was familiar with the FATE system from Spirit of the Century. After Origins I picked up the DFRPG PDF and started reading through it, hopping around to skim the topics that interested me. The game seemed very closely tied to the fiction, so I decided to give the books a try.

I burned through Storm Front and passed it off to one of the members of the B2B crew. He burned through it too and loved it as much as I did. I passed it onto my oldest son and he fell in love with it too. We got our hands on the second book and were not disappointed. I now turned back to the DFRPG to read it from the beginning.

After our group settled on DFRPG, I went to my friend's computer (we game at his house) and printed off the city creation worksheets. I had read the city creation chapter before we gathered so I felt pretty comfortable walking through this as our first session.

I've played games where setting creation is part of the process of play (Mortal Coil primarily) so I went into it with an open mind. I threw out several suggestions for a city to base the game in, including New York, Las Vegas and our hometown of Perrysburg. I thought that placing the game between the urban center of Toledo and the rural city of Bowling Green could be interesting. I was worried that we were straying too far from the urban setting of the novels. Thankfully the others thought it would be interesting as well. I like that our home was an island of safety between the encroaching urban center of Toledo and the dark and mysterious Black Swamp of Bowling Green (this gets fleshed out below).

We began to bang out ideas. We first came up with a Theme of urbanization and over-development. We didn't have to look very far and were able to name many real-world examples. We placed the (fictional) mayor of Toledo as the Face of this Theme.

Next we hammered out two Threats: the area known as the Black Swamp is the source of powerful black magic and that an outlaw biker gang is upsetting the delicate balance of organized crime. The Faces of the Black Swamp Threat are the opposing leaders of the White and Black Lodges, Native American circles of shaman. For the biker gang we chose the leader (a sorcerer to bring in another supernatural element) and his lieutenant. This will definitely be the primary Threat of the initial story arc.

Next we tackled The Balance of Power. This was probably the most confusing aspect of the the setting creation for the players to grasp. After a couple of attempts at explaining the idea behind it they finally latched on and we were off and running. We created, IMHO, a nice scattering of groups (I hope to soon post a JPEG of our graph or some other such document).

Finally we started filling in the Locations that we wanted to use. The gang really go into this. Some of the more interesting ones include Ft. Meigs, a historic fort from the War of 1812 that will be Accorded Neutral Grounds, and the Fifth Third Field, home of the Toledo Mud Hens minor league baseball team under which is lair to the city's vampires. The most interesting face we put to these locations is the ghost of General 'Mad' Anthony Wayne who haunts Ft. Meigs and keeps the peace there.

The fun didn't end there. One of the players discovered a local ghost story about Anthony Wayne. Seems his remains were were exhumed and moved to a new burial place. Along the way, some of the bones went missing. Now the Mad General rises to look for his bones. You can bet that will come into play.

Everyone is excited to get to playing. Next time we meet we'll work on character creation. I'll post the results soon

Follow your bliss,

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