I’m back. It was a nice break.

We’re getting near the end of useful things I can say about the books without cutting and pasting huge swaths of them into my post, so this week, I’m only going to update the Q&A on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and then probably say we’re done. Really, a lot of the questions are starting to deal with minutiae, whether of system or of content, and that says to me that most of the big questions have been answered.

Yes, I know that it will still leave some of you unsatisfied. But you knew this ride was going to end some time, right?

That said, it’s not like I’m going to stop talking about the game. I’m getting pretty excited about starting up a campaign, myself, and have started doing some thinking along those lines. I’m going to be doing some posts about the thinking and planning process of getting the game up and running, though this is very early days, yet. The game probably won’t start until after I manage to buy myself a hard copy of the book, which means June at the earliest. Yeah, I could start running right away with the playtest version, but having a physical copy of the game just makes things so much easier. Besides, this way, I’ve got a nice lead time to plan.

Anyway, that’s the plan for the future of DFRPG on this blog. And so, without further ado, let’s get to the questions!

Zooroos says:

Hi! I’ve got an easy one, maybe it was already answered. Do Mortal stunts cost Refresh?

Bosh and Lanodantheon got this one on the comment thread. Thanks, Bosh and Lanodantheon! Yeah, they do, and it’s one point each. Some also require Fate Points to use.

A most excellent Q&A thread Rick, thank you and all the people who heeded the call for nice, sweet spoilers!

You are most welcome. And I’m glad your enjoying it.

Lanodantheon says:

Here’s a question Rechan might be able to answer over Rick’s much needed weekend, how does the RPG define the law, “Thou shalt not reach beyond the borders of life.”? Does it cover just Necromancy (magic involving the dead) or does it also include magic to lengthen your own life span such as giving yourself inhuman recovery(a healing factor)?

Rechan fielded this one. Thanks, Rechan! I do want to add one point: giving yourself a permanent healing factor through Thaumaturgy would be prohibitively complex, simply because of the need to expand the duration. Now, the easy way to do it is to take Inhuman Recovery, pay the Refresh cost, and say, “I did this with my magic!”

Exploding_brain says:

Regarding fate points, free tags, and backlash. In SotC, it’s always been my understanding that you make your roll, check out the result (even the NPC’s result, if it’s contested) and then decide if you want to use fate points or any available free tags to add bonuses or re-roll. Based on the description of Harry trying to manage a +8 discipline roll, it sounds like that may not be the case in DFRPG. Can we get a quick synopsis of how that may have changed?

I hasn’t. The reason I did it that way was that, even with his blasting rod to help him control the power, Harry would have needed to roll +4 on four dice, which is an 80:1 long shot, so I did it a little bit out of order.


You’re welcome!

Rechan says:

On the topic of spray attacks (Thanks Fred for fixing the Earth Stomp issue), I thought it was a decreasing effect. You know, if you attack two guys, your first attack is at a -1, but your second is at a -2. Reading Fred’s analysis, you can split them up in any fashion you want (So if you have a +6 on your roll, it could be a +4 to attack 1, +2 to attack 2, or +3 to both attacks, or any combination thereof). Which is nicer.

The decreasing effect kicks in if you’re making separate attacks – then you take a -1 for each additional supplementary action. But this is one special action: spray attack.

Also, yes – catching a wizard off guard is going to be bad news for the wizard. But then, catching ANYONE off guard is generally bad news in a system where you can easily get greased.

Which is why I’m starting to think the Concession rules are such a good idea.

Iorwerth says:

I was wondering if it is possible to have a list of the mortal stunts – it would be very interesting to see if any of them are the same as in SOTC!

I’m gonna say no on this one, for two reasons. First off, there are over a hundred in the Stunts chapter, and that’s too much to just list here. Second, they are only examples: the emphasis of the chapter is on how to build your own, tailor-made stunts for your characters. There are some stunts that you will recognize from SotC, but some of them have been tweaked to work better with the source material.

Iorwerth says:

I meant mundane stunts, I think!?!

You were right the first time. Mortal Stunts.

Knave says:

Thanks for the reply, but just to clarify.

Does a wizard take ( 1+ Spell Power – Conviction ) stress _as well as_ whatever he or she missed the discipline+focus item roll by (with the option of throwing this out into the environment) for rotes? And does the spell also fail if it isn’t a rote?

Rechan jumped on this one. Thanks, Rechan!

Thanks for your great work!

Thanks for the kind words!

Rechan says:

Rick: Where are the gun stats listed at?

Page 202 of Your Story.

Minor Inconvenience says:

Rick: Thanks for taking the time to answer my (and everyone elses’) questions. I’ve waited for 4 years for this game and this last bit of waiting is almost the worst of it.

You’re welcome. I’m waiting anxiously for the final, hard-copy version, myself.

Knave says:


Rechan got these. Thanks, Rechan! I’m adding a few clarifying notes where necessary below.

I’m basically trying to clarify the casting process and what the total stress spend on an evocation is. My understanding is

1) decide how much power you want to spend. That establishes a basic stress cost for the spell of ‘Chosen Power’ – Conviction +1. Assume 8 power – 5 conviction +1 = 4 stress.

That’s correct.

2) roll Discipline to control that power – so roll disc v 8. If you miss that number you can take the difference as more stress, or blow it outward. However this is also a targeting roll. Does blowing the missed control stress outward rather than taking it on yourself have any effect on the power of the spell? i.e. If you miss the power by 3 and blow the power outward rather than take it as stress – does that spell decrease in power as a result?

It does indeed. Plus, you now have some interesting environmental effects to deal with.

3)From what you’ve said if it’s a Rote then you don’t have to roll even to target the spell, so if you know a power 8 rote, you can always make that attack without rolling at all? Is that right?

No. You do need to make a targeting roll with a Rote spell. While the spell always works, you might miss with it.

4) Assuming you make it, and your opponent doesn’t dodge they take Power:8 + Disc roll – Defense Roll. So, at least 8 stress, and you take at least 4 stress.

That’s correct. Given that most starting characters will have four or five stress boxes maximum, that’s a devastating hit for both of you. But more for him.

5) Is there any possibility of failing to cast a non-rote spell?

Failing? Kind of. If you fail to control the power you’ve channeled, and can’t afford to take the stress hit as backlash, then you’ve got a whole bunch of fallout around you. That’s a nice, spectacular failure. For Thaumaturgy, if you just can’t get your Lore to match the spell Complexity, you fail to cast the spell.

Yikes – maybe I had more questions than I realized. I really just need to get my grubby mitts on the book I guess : )

June is coming, my friend!

Thanks for the info!

On behalf of Rechan and myself, you’re welcome.

vultur says:

That pain-blocking thing Lash teaches Harry. Is that in the game, and if so is it a Mortal Stunt or a Supernatural Power? It’s not all that clear, but it *seems* to be non-magical, more like one of those body-control things martial arts masters can supposedly do…

I couldn’t see that written up anywhere. It would be easy enough to model in the system in a number of different ways, either as a Mortal Stunt or a Supernatural power.

Also, if a Pure Mortal takes up a Denarian coin (presumably by accident), then gets rid of it, do they get their +2 refresh bonus back when they go back to being nonmagical? And does a Changeling that makes the Choice to be mortal get the bonus?

These aren’t explicitly covered in the rules, but I’m with Fred and Knave on this one. Yes, they would get the bonus. But really, it depends on the kind of game you’re running and the kinds of stories you’re trying to tell.

Iorwerth says:

Any chance of a rundown of the stunt building rules?

As Fred said on the comment thread, these aren’t easily extractable. You’re looking at 10 pages in the book, crammed full of illuminating examples. The high level view is that you pick a skill, decide what extra bit the stunt adds to it, and negotiate with your GM about whether what you’ve done is acceptable. Some of them will cost you a Fate Point to use if they’re very good.

But I can’t wait – I might explode through excitment!

😉 Dump some of the levels of excitement as fallout, rather than taking it all as backlash. That should keep you alive until June.

Lanodantheon says:

I seem to be good at answering my own questions, so I may just end up answering this myself in this comment and Rick or the designers or Rechan can just nod and go, “Yeah that’s about right…”.

What element(s) do explosive reactions fall under? Say the evocation spell in question turns otherwise benign materials into a short-lived magical explosive. (This is primarily for a Warlock bad guy BTW)

I could see it falling under Fire or Earth. Air can make naked kinetic energy but that’s just the shockwave. The purpose of the spell is to destroy an object entirely and turn the whole thing into shrapnel.

Fire: This would already be used to make something combustible, but an explosive could be be made by increasing the material’s potential energy and releasing it.

Earth: An explosion is when the matter of a solid object converts itself into a gas rapidly. You rearrange the particles in the matter or break them apart. This would probably only work on materials that come from Earth such as soil, rock, concrete and metals and the more unrefined metal the better. If you try this on plastic or fabrics you’d be SOL.

I think I did just answer my own question and if so, enjoy the info Q&A goers.

Yeah, you pretty much answered it. Rechan also provided some extra examples on the comment thread. Thanks, Rechan!

One seemingly prevalent misconception is that there are hard and fast lists of what you can do with each of the five different elements. That’s not the case. There are examples, and some discussion of the areas where each one is strong, and what the feel of the different elements is like.

But there’s also a sidebar on using different elemental models, like the Chinese one, or possibly the Medicine Wheel idea of North American native peoples. And another sidebar on whether lightning is the province of Air or Earth. Here’s the telling line from that sidebar:

Figuring out how to creatively apply your command of the elements is one of the most fun parts of being a spellcaster…

So, how do you figure out if a character can make an explosion with his or her command of an element? Ask the player how they plan to do it. If they can give you something even borderline plausible, say yes. Using Water to force entropy on the bonds holding the molecules together? Cool! Bang! Using Spirit to supercharge the tiny spiritforms of the various components of an object so that they react violently to the presence of each other? Cool! Bang! If it sounds good and adds to the fun, then it works.

At least, that’s the kind of thinking I find the game encourages.

vultur says:

So, the whole Senior Council is statted? How do his stats deal with Eb’s ludicrously powerful stuff mentioned in Blood Rites: Tunguska Event, Krakatoa, etc.?

Rechan and Knave got this one. Thanks, Rechan and Knave! I just want to add one note specifically about the staff – in the Notes section of Ebenezer’s stat block, they make it pretty clear, without coming out and just saying so, that the staff is pretty much a plot device machine. It does what the story needs it to do.

Rechan says:

Hey Rick – what Supernatural powers need/use Fate points to work? I haven’t spotted any.

None that I’m aware of. You pay your Fate Points up front by spending Refresh for Supernatural Powers. Otherwise, Wizards wouldn’t be able to actually do anything with all their funky powers.

Sandy says:

So… what’s this game all about, Rick? ;>

Cute. Just remember, funny lady, I know where you live.

That’s it for today. Next installment of the Q&A is on Wednesday, but only if I get questions.

You know what to do, folks.

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15 Responses to DFRPG Q&A 12

  1. Bosh says:

    The more I hear about the magic system the more I want this game, it’s the first time that I’ve EVER heard of a magic system in a game that functions like how magic generally does in fantasy novels. If the system actually works as it’s described that’ll be a massive step forward for the Fate system. I’m already having ideas floating around my head about how to hack it for other settings. For example in a more historical game it seems you could get an awesome magic system by just ripping most of evocation out.

  2. Atlatl Jones says:

    You wrote about the spray attack as a “special action”. Are there other kinds of special actions detailed in the book?

    I’m also curious how the extended conflicts rules work, the ones that were based on Spirit of the Century’s

    Bosh, I agree. If I felt like running a Buffy game, I would use this in a second (maybe with one or two extra boxes of stress). Buffy clearly has a low refresh, and Willow spent so much refresh on magic powers that she briefly became an NPC.

    Right now, though, I want to run a Victorian London version of the Dresdenverse. Maybe centered upon the upheval that Bram Stoker unwittingly unleashed upon the vampire courts’ balance of power.

  3. Atlatl Jones says:

    Oops, I left part of my above post incomplete. I mean to write “based on Sprit of the Century’s chase rules.”

    After taking another look at the power list, I’m convinced that the Dresden Files RPG would be a great fit for the Fading Suns setting. I’d just borrow the starship combat rules from Diaspora, and make all the motley aliens, theurgists, psychics, Changed, and symbiotes using the powers. There’s not much like evocation, but theurgy is basically thaumaturgy, and I could see some theurgists or psychics having channelling for a single element or type of force.

  4. Bosh says:

    Atatl: exactly, just like SotC unleashed a whole flood of people hacking SotC to different genres, I think we’ll see the same kind of flood with Dresden magic and creature creation rules (which are pretty generic/toolkit-ish) being adapted to all kinds of fantasy. For example the rules we’ve seen so far for statting out supernatural creatures seem like they’d be absolutely perfect for, say, Simarillion elves (too low refresh and you get on a boat 😉 ) that can actually work in a party without either watering them down to humans with pointy ears or having them steal all the spotlight. Low refresh works beautifully for the sort of powerful but passive shtick we often see with Tolkein’s elves. And this is just one example, I could think of a dozen more just off the top of my head.

  5. Ryan says:

    I have been stalking your Q&A and I must say, WOW! Great info. I have been loving Dresden Files for a couple years now and this game is driving me nuts with anticipation. I actually do have a question. I don’t think it has been asked yet….

    I think it was Gard that was described as using runic magic, like the electrical serpent in the security locker. Would that function as a magic item (soda grenade?) or more like a spell with a conditional trigger? Sorry if this has already been touched on. There has been an incredible amount of awesome here.

    As for other cool worlds you could use this system on, I’m thinking Elric would be a great fit for the thaumaturgy rules, maybe even Evocation.

  6. Rel Fexive says:

    The good work continues. Um… that’s legally different from The Good Work that we leave to holy types. Anyway…

    Hi! Can you give us a real brief (like, X is +1 and Y is +3) comparison between weapons (melee and guns) as presented in the rules? I just want to see how they stack up compared to those +8 Earth Stomp spells… I gather much of their advantage is situational, though, so I understand if their ‘stats’ aren’t defined enough for such a comparison. The situational stuff itself sounds pretty nifty, too, but I won’t ask you to go into detail on that 😉


  7. Exploding_brain says:

    Regarding advancement, it sounds like the “deepest” suggested starting level is Submerged (10 Refresh, 35 Skill points, and Skills capped at Superb). How much deeper does it look like the system lets you go, and how quickly do you acquire those Minor, Significant and Major Milestones? Do they have guidelines for, say, Harry at the beginning of Small Favor? Any indication for how deep you can go before the system begins to break down? (insert clever submarine, nitrogen poisoning, crush depth, silly extension of analogy here).

  8. Calvin says:

    Hi Rick. Thanks for all your Q&A. All your hard work is much appreciated.

    Can you tell me about Martial Arts? Are there Martial Arts stunts and Skills? Can you let me know what kinds of stunts are in the book? Do they split things into Hard/Soft styles or types (ie Karate, Kung Fu, etc). And can you combine martial arts with Evocation (ie to create Chi fireballs a la Dragonball).

    I am asking because I am going to run a Dresden game in Hong Kong and martial arts will be important. Thank you very much.

  9. Popo says:

    Thanks for these Rick. I’m definitely getting this book.

    “And can you combine martial arts with Evocation (ie to create Chi fireballs a la Dragonball). ”

    Could Channeling accomplish this? I imagine that if you could have a fire channeler, you should be able to have a spirit or force channeler too.

    I can’t wait to get this for a Buffy campaign I’m going to run. I might just merge the two worlds/stories… I can see many ways that a slayer might exist in the Dresdenverse and I prefer the Dresden File’s magic system. *fan squeal*

  10. Atlatl Jones says:

    While I don’t expect the game to have detailed martial arts rules, I’m curious about how it represents Murphy’s Aikido.

    Popo, I like the way you think. Buffy and the Dresdenverse fit together perfectly. The buffyverse was always rather vague about the nature of magic and the supernatural, so adding in the detail from the Dresden Files would help a GM out a lot. Buffyverse vampires and Black Court vampires have almost identical strengths and vulnerabilities, aside from Buffy vampires being much prettier, so you could just say that all Black Court vampires have the Human Guise power.

    Having both the White Council and the Watchers in the same setting opens up a lot of interesting dramatic possibilities too.

  11. Exploding_brain says:

    Can you give us a brief description of how defenses are addressed in the mechanics? For instance, Harry’s leather duster and shield bracelet?

    If you wanted a character with bulletproof skin, would it be similar to Harry’d duster, or a supernatural stunt? Could a wizard/sorcerer/channeler/magic mortal take those kinds of supernatural stunts, or are some things like inhuman toughness limited to vampires/faeries/lycanthropes etc?

  12. Lanodantheon says:

    Martial arts I believe are handled primarily by the Fists Skill. If you want superhuman martial arts, buy inhuman strength/speed/toughness. Murphy’s level of skill is denoted by a high fists skill as well as her high refresh rate as compared to Harry’s.

  13. Knave says:

    re: aikido


    just try running a mock combat with a 12 refresh pure mortal with fists 5 and athletics 4 say and a few ‘murphylike’ aspects e.g. ‘aikido champion’, ‘cute as a button, but hard as stone’, and maybe even ‘Having another bad day’ (just for good measure) and try putting her up against a wizard… see how long the wizard lasts : p.

    Very few things can stand up to a couple of rounds of +6 bonuses so a 12 refresh character is pretty much guaranteed a few rounds of shining brilliance. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one lay the smackdown on a black courter – for a few rounds anyway… :p

  14. Rechan says:

    Also there are some stunts that relate to martial arts. Murph has a stunt that, when she succeeds at a defense roll using fists for a close combat attack, she can sacrifice her next action to put a temporary aspect on the attacker like THROWN TO GROUND. Which I think is fairly powerful/useful.

  15. Knave says:

    I have a Q about using magic- specifically evocatiion to add aspects to targets. If you want to do something like set a target’s clothes on fire or glue them to the floor how do you go about setting the spell’s power?

    Also, how do magical defences/counters work? If, for e.g. Victor Sells hits Harry with his Killing Flame Rote for +7 damage with another +4 on the targeting, how does Harry go about defending himself from a potential 11 points of owie? Does he have to create a fire shield of power 11?

    Thanks again for all the info!

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