January Status Update

Howdy again, Dresdenketeers!

(Why, yes, I have been drinking a lot of coffee today, why do you ask?)

Those of you following us on Twitter or read some blog & forum posts on the internet might have heard that I’ve been running Dresden at little cons. Fred thought it would be neat to start this status update by talking about that…since we’ve gotten to a point where we’re actually doing some convention previews of the book! That’s a pretty good status, right?

The game I ran (once at a house con outside of Minneapolis/St. Paul, and once at an Endgame Oakland mini-con) featured a group inspired by the Alphas and all going to college together. There were three werewolves, one were-wolverine, one were-raven, and a changeling. The characters that I provided were half-finished, intended to make the party (and, really, the adventure) at the table. I pitched the six core ideas around, and when they were picked I handed them a piece of paper with half of the character figured out.

Setting is a little tricky at a con game. I didn’t want to set a game in Chicago, because that’s Harry’s stomping grounds and there’s so much from the books there. I wanted a place were people could explore a little more without feeling weird about this being Harry’s Chicago. (And yes, we talk about this in our own Chicago chapter, which is your Chicago, not Harry’s.) Of course, you never know what city people are familiar with, so I asked if everyone was at least passingly familiar with Sunnydale from Buffy The Vampire Slayer. So far, I’ve yet to meet someone I’ve asked that of who has said no. Bam, everyone has a basic idea of where this werepack goes to school.

Luckily, Dresden Files characters are pretty easy to pitch. Each one has a pair of aspects, a High Concept and a Trouble. (If you’re not familiar with Fate, aspects are descriptors that you can use to boost yourself and the GM can use to make your character’s life more interesting.) So, I just went around telling them these two descriptors and said “from there, it’s pretty much however you see a character with those two things.”

I pitched:

  • The Leader of the Pack, who has to deal with a Hero Complex
  • A Romantic Werewolf, struggling to keep up with Living a Double Nightlife
  • Our Werewolf Nerd, dealing with A 22-Unit Load? Really?
  • The Goth Were-Raven, who is Deliciously Deviant
  • Our fifth member has a Spirit Like a Wolverine, but he’s also on Academic Probation
  • Finally, we have a Hippy Changeling, who often says “My family is…complicated.”

Each one had their stunts & powers figured out in advance, as well as the top few skills. But nearly every convention game of Fate I’ve run where some of the character creation happened at the table has been fantastic, so they came up with various antics and issues they’ve dealt with while at UC Sunnydale. That took around an hour of the four alloted, but there was a lot of fun at during that time, and not-so-secretly it’s how I figure out what’s actually interesting for the adventure.

See, as they’re coming up with different aspects and creating the backstory between them, I’m listening for interesting NPCs that could be either peril-bait or potential nemeses. I have a bit of an adventure skeleton, but it’s pretty malleable because I want the players to go after stuff they said their characters are interested in. I don’t want to go into great detail here, because I want to use this adventure structure in future con games, but the beginning of it:

  • Someone at least two people are interested in (friend/lover/etc) disappears. Another person that other people are particularly interested in was assaulted in the attack, but escapes to tell the gang.
  • There is evidence of at least one nemesis’ involvement that leads to a dangerous night club. Typically this leads to either the first fight or first stare-down of the game.
  • The next lead happens, implicating at least another nemesis is in league. Conspiracy!

With that sort of structure, I’m able to pull the players into peril! You’ll read more about how to build great set-ups in our Building Scenarios chapter, where we talk about tying aspects together to make games pop for characters.

But, enough about this con game. There’s something bigger to talk about!

By bigger, we mean the Dresden Files RPG books. Yes, books. We have so much content that we’re splitting the game into two books. We’ve talked about this a bit online, mainly through Fred’s Twitter, but for those who haven’t heard, here’s the deal: We wrote a lot. A LOT. We really wanted to support the Dresden Files as strongly as we could. It should be no surprise that a game we’ve spend this long making is going to be big. The thing is jam-packed with great rules for making your campaign & playing all sorts of different beasts and badasses from the Dresdenverse, supported by loads of advice for players & GMs as well as a lot of characters and creatures from the books statted out. (To give you an idea of what we mean by A LOT, Fred got to about the 75% mark on the first pass through layout and saw he already had 460 pages of material.  The final combined page count of the two books together could break 600. Over 140 pages of that is our comprehensive tour of the characters of the first ten novels, complete with stats where they’re stattable.)

We’ll talk more about how we’re splitting the book and get into some detail next month. But no status update from me is complete without getting a little peek at what’s to come. Without further delay, I present to you one Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden — as of around the end of Storm Front.

Download Harry Dresden’s Character Sheet (PDF)

Seriously, seeing Fred’s work on this has made me want to play as Harry. So, who’s going to run this for me? 🙂

– Ryan