Dresden Files rpg is based on the popular urban fantasy books by Jim Butcher. The series is about Harry Dresden, Chicago’s first (and only) wizard P.I. The rpg permits you to play as the characters of the series but its strength is making your own city and characters. The rpg uses the Fate system which permits character centric stories powered through its aspects mechanics. I enjoy the Fate system ever since I read and ran Spirit of the Century.
For the demo, Christopher set the game in Ottawa, our home city, and gave us pre-generated characters. To simplify matters even further, we had all the same character. Our high concept was New White Council Warden and our trouble was In over my head! Our skills, stunts, powers, rote spells and focus items were the same. The level of customization that we had were in the 5 other aspects. We were 8 players and determining those 5 aspects permitted to customize 8 different characters. There was Jonathan, the wizard with ADD. On another spectrum we had Andrew, the nervous wizard who preferred to observe and wait before acting. Arianna, the former military officer was our only female character and she enjoyed killing stuff with fire. D-Mac was our Jamaican Canadian wizard. I made Marcel Trépanier, a French-Canadian hockey nut (Go Habs! Go!). Jenkins was a wizard from a long line of butlers. He mentioned about the Butler Council of wizards but we figure it was destroyed in the Butlerian Jihad. I forget the name of the 2 other characters but one was focused wizard who enjoyed puns and the other worked well with others. I think it is a strength of the character creation system where five key phrases determined by the player can provide so much distinction between characters.
Our story started in Major’s Hill Park where a bunch of ghouls were arranging Ottawa University students in a pentagram. As it was raining, D-Mac summoned a localized typhoon over the ghouls and students. It was a wonderful start to the adventure and showed the creative nature of casting spells. The spell became more powerful than he expected which winded him. The group mixed between handling the ghouls, saving the students and figuring out what was going on. Due to the amount of sheer amount of water, I decided to freeze it in order to make an ice rink under the ghouls’ feet and under the students. I channeled my aspect of “Always time for hockey!” to give me sufficient boosts to get all the ice. Andrew gave me a free tag of the ghouls’ aspect “sickly” that he learned through assessment. In hindsight, I could have made the ice rink an obstacle with a threshold to beat to leave the area instead of a scene aspect to tag. After the ghouls left the ice rink, I summoned a powerful wind to slide the students away from the ghouls. My aspect of “He shoots! He scores!” helped in this situation. We managed to defeat the ghouls, save the students and learned that this was part of the pre-zombie walk zombie walk (P-Zwzw?). We called the authorities to take care of the students even though some folks were concerned of alerting the cops.
We did a montage of investigating our clues where symbols were left around the city to store necromantic energy in order to be tapped for later. We modified the symbols by making them store healing energy instead. At the last location near the hostel, there was a van from the pre-zombie walk zombie walk. We stopped the van but the driver ran out and escaped from us. We cast a tracking spell on the van which lead us to an old home past Stitsville. One of the wizards used the sight and saw there were no wards nor thresholds which made us grow suspicious of what happened. D-Mac and Andrew got into an argument about going in now or waiting for later. Jenkins used that opportunity to take out some pizza to speak to local fairies about who was in the house. We learned that only a necromancer lived in the house and no one else was seen by the faeries. That was enough for Arianna and she arranged it to burn the whole house down as she had the aspect “Kill it with fire!” The necromancer did manage to get out of his house but he was so burned up that our Warden’s Sword quickly cut him up in a blow.
This was a fun and short game of Dresden Files. Christopher is a great GM who does a good job mixing descriptive horror with humour. For the demo, he started us with 4 Fate points rather than the 1 Fate point our sheet had. It gave some extra fuel to pull some awesome stunts and reduced the need for compels. I ran Spirit of the Century several times and Dresden Files twice. I find compels are hard to accomplish until you’ve become used to the characters. Christopher asked the players to point out if one of their aspects should be compelled. As this was a demo and we had several players who didn’t know the game, there were some confusion about compels. The player of Andrew tried to apply his aspect of “Wait, watch & learn” as a compel but all his descriptions had no negative aspect or ways to increase the conflict & tension. I think it was a good call for Christopher to start us off with those 4 Fate points.
I would enjoy playing in a campaign of Dresden Files rpg. I’d love to see character and story development.