So. I’ve started a blog. I guess.
See, I managed to get my gaming group in on the early alpha playtest of the Dresden Files RPG, by the folks at Evil Hat Productions. They do good games over there; check ’em out if you haven’t. It uses their FATE system, which they also used in Spirit of the Century, which is probably the smoothest, coolest, most true-to-the-source pulp game I have ever seen.
Lemme back up a bit.
The Dresden Files are a series of modern fantasy novels by Jim Butcher. They deal with Harry Dresden, a Chicago wizard who advertises in the yellow pages. Hilarity ensues. They’re fun books; Jim has really struck a balance between an updated noire detective story and an urban fantasy world worthy of Charles de Lint or Emma Bull. There are currently nine books in the series, with a tenth due out in April of this year. If the idea of a modern Phillip Marlowe battling the forces of darkness appeals to you at all, I say pick ’em up.
The novels also spawned a TV series that lasted a season. It wasn’t without its charm, but it wasn’t as well done as the books.
Anyway, I found out that the rpg license for the series had been bought by a little company called Evil Hat Productions. This worried me. Licensed properties are always kind of shaky in the rpg world, and I had never heard of Evil Hat prior to this. But they also advertised this cool pulp game called Spirit of the Century, so I decided to buy it and see what kind of chops they had.
Blew me away. Completely.
After a single reading of the Spirit of the Century rules, I went from worried to ecstatic. These guys knew their stuff. Their thinking about game design, about what made for fun mechanics, about how mechanics fueled story, all of it: rock solid. Much of it even brilliant. Some of it revolutionary.
So, when I ran into Fred Hicks and Leonard Balsera at GenCon this year (Aaah, who am I kidding? I deliberately went looking for them!) and begged them to tell me when Dresden Files would be released, they took pity on me and told me to contact them later about playtesting.
Now, I’ve done playtesting before. I’ve even written and sold a fair amount of game material for D&D and Unknown Armies. So I leaped at the chance, and they decided that they would like input from me and my game group.
There’s a bit of a catch, though: instead of a Non-Disclosure Agreement, I had to sign a Disclosure Pledge, saying that I would talk about the game, and some of the stuff I see, in public, on the web, etc. They want me (and all the other early alpha playtesters) to talk about our experiences with the playtest, so that people start to see the way the game is shaping up and get excited.
And there’s some neat stuff to get excited about, lemme tell you.
So, over the next few weeks and months, I’m going to talk about the playtest here. Keep an eye out for some tidbits that have come out of our experiences, and for some general comments about the game and the process.
I’m not going to post the playtest documents, of course; they don’t belong to me and they’re not finished.
But there’s still some neat stuff I can show you.