Feints & Gambits: The Boys of the Old Brigade

This last session was interesting. We added a new player to the group ((Welcome, Jen!)), and we spent the first part of the evening creating her character.

I wasn’t sure, going in, what the best way to do this was. I had considered holding a separate session just to create her character, inviting some volunteers to fill in the guest-star roles in her novel phase. But when Jen got me her character concepts, I didn’t get to reviewing them for a few days. By the time I did, the next scheduled game session was coming up in less than a week, and I didn’t want her to have to miss a session just because I was slow getting back to her.

So, I told her to come along to the session, we’d get the character done first, and she could join lay that night. It worked very well, though I made a couple of little adjustments to things.

Four of the other players were able to make it. That gave us a nice group for brainstorming Aspects and the other co-operative bits of character creation. I wanted to link her character in with the broadest group possible, so I was less random with the guest-star phases of the novels than I usually am, making sure that each of the other players had a connection with the new one.

The rest of character creation went pretty quickly, because Jen had already roughed out her powers and skills. We needed to have a discussion about the potential hazards of Cassandra’s Tears ((Generally, I hate powers like this. Predictive powers tend to offload a bunch of character responsibility on to the GM, and that’s not fair. Cassandra’s Tears has the additional problem of no one believing prediction, including the other characters. This makes for a great plot device in a book, but is a pain in the ass for an RPG. The rules for Cassandra’s Tears help bypass that, using declarations, but it’s still a more… challenging power than a lot of the others.)), but Jen had established in the various phases of character creation that Safire, her visionary artist, had learned not to try and tell people about her visions, but instead just try to be on hand in the right place at the right time to prevent the disasters she foresaw ((Think Spider Robinson’s short story Fivesight, from Time Travellers Strictly Cash.))

I ran into another little problem, here. The hook in for this adventure relied on one of the characters who was not able to attend ((One player canceled at the last minute. Sick wife. It happens.)), so I needed to rework how the characters found their way in to the plot. Fortunately, Cassandra’s Tears provided me with an easy way to feed a few clues to Jen’s character – she saw a vision of rebel ghosts marching through the streets of Dublin. This sent her off to find Kate at the Long Room library, and give her a book about Irish soldiers. Kate was already somewhat concerned about the ghosts in Dublin, so this little bit of oddness got her worried. She called Aleister to meet her at the Silver Arm.

Meanwhile, Firinne was buttonholed by Elga, the Winter Warlord. She told Firinne that she was looking for an old fairy stone, wrapped in gold wire, hung on a silver chain. Elga told Firinne that she expected Firinne to tell her if she found it, and that time was running short, though she didn’t explain why. There was the suggestion of reward, and the the implication of a threat, but nothing overtly stated. That sent Firinne off to the Silver Arm to get some help.

Kate had heard legends of the fairy stone ((With an Epic Lore roll, she had heard pretty much everything about the stone.)). According to what she remembered, it was a stone that allowed one to see and interact with ghosts, and vice versa. There was even some rumour about it giving the power to control ghosts, but given the state of ghosts in Dublin after the necromancer’s death curse, she didn’t know if that would have any effect.

Further investigation uncovered rumours that Sean Miller had made some inquiries about such a stone. Miller had split from the IRA after the Good Friday Agreement, and was currently trying to gather the muscle to fulfill his own personal vision of Irish rebellion. They managed to track him to Kilmainham Gaol, which has a reputation for being haunted, but were chased off by ghost snipers on the roof.

Retreating and regrouping, the gang decided to see if they could enlist the help of a different ghost that they had encountered previously: Padraig Pearse. Safire managed to use her ghostly contacts to trace Pearse – right to the gates of Kilmainham Gaol.

And that’s where we left things.

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4 Responses to Feints & Gambits: The Boys of the Old Brigade

  1. Arashi says:

    Curious – that’s always been my one sticking point with contemplating Dresden Files – considering how integrated everything is at character creation – adding new players/different characters seems to be an interesting challenge – especially with the different phases of character creation.

  2. Zach says:

    It doesn’t need to be a challenge, really. The easiest way I’ve found to deal with the issue is to find a niche in the background of events that the new character has occupied the entire time. Connect them to the party through that niche, fill out their past interactions, and then make them relevant to the story of Now. There you go. New player character, hot off the presses!
    A big part of the Dresden Files RPG design is the City, with its magical (and not so magical) community. Leverage that here, make it work for you, and things fall into place much more naturally.

    I’m not sure how well I’m explaining myself, but I think Waldo Butters from the Dresden novels is a good example of what I’m talking about. Butters is introduced to us in Dead Beat as the brilliant, polka loving, somewhat-semi-clued in medical examiner of Chicago. He’s a minor character, important to the story at hand, but still new and undeveloped. He doesn’t have a strong connection to the Dresden mythos, but he knows Harry, Murphy, and the SI unit.
    Butters’ baptism by zombie in Dead Beat was his Rising Conflict Phase (2) in DFRPG terms.

    I don’t believe we’ve seen his Story Phase (3) in anything so far, but I live in hope 🙂
    His appearances in Turn Coat and Changes could count as both of his Guest Star Phases, even if they’re both with Harry.
    Once we hit Ghost Story, Butters has clearly developed into a major character, and in my opinion has joined the “PCs” of the novels. I’d support that statement, but I’m still hesitant to drop Ghost Story references directly, even if the book has been out for a month.
    Anyway, I see his development mirroring exactly how I’d like to bring in a new player character in my games.

  3. Rick Neal says:

    @Zach: Awesome response!

    @Arashi: The thing to keep in mind, which Zach has assumed but not stated outright, is that the integration you mention at character creation is not closed integration, but open integration. There are easy ways to hook other characters in later, and running through their character creation phases makes it easier and more believable to drop them in to the ongoing game than in a lot of other games, because you’ve included them in the backstories of the other characters.

    As an illustration, Vampire: The Masquerade doesn’t have any real integration of characters before play, relying on actual play to create the links and relationships between characters. However, trying to add a new character to a group is a nightmare, as I can personally attest, because of the lack of shared history and the trust that has built between characters. With good players, it can work, but it will still strain credulity.

    By moving the initial relationship building to a meta-game level during character creation, these problems are bypassed, and adding a new character to a DFRPG campaign become remarkably easy.

  4. Arashi says:

    Just one of those things I’m thinking about as I might get added to fill a seat in someone’s game.

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