Yesterday, those of us who were lucky enough to be part of the Dresden Files Role Playing Game playtest received a special treat from Fred Hicks of Evil Hat: .pdf copies of the (mostly) finished game.
Guess what I spent last night reading?
I’m not done yet, but I wanted to talk a little bit about my first impressions of the game. Keep in mind that not everything in these files is quite complete; of particular note, the introductions and indices are blank, the short fiction by Jim Butcher isn’t in there yet, none of the page references are completed (page XX), and a few – but not really all that many, from my initial look – pieces of art are missing. That said, here are my initial observations.
The books are gorgeous. The layout is attractive and readable. It’s busy without being distracting or illegible. The marginal notes are a nice touch, being comments from Harry Dresden, Billy the Werewolf, and Bob the Skull from the game world. They entertain, give insight into the game world, and help to clarify some rules points.
The books are big. Combined, we’re talking about nearly 700 pages. Now, from my initial glance, it seems like you might not actually need the Our World book, as all the rules for actually playing exist in the Your Story book. Having said that, the Our World book contains all the statted creatures and characters that you might want for running the game. For example, you can create a changeling character using only the Your Story book by making up the powers and abilities of a fey of a given type in conjunction with the GM, but the Our World book will give you a list of different types of fey and their powers and abilities, so you don’t have to do that work. And it’s always nice, speaking as a GM, to have a bunch of statted NPCs to throw into the game spur of the moment. You might not need Our World, but I really, really think you’re going to want it. Especially if your a Harry Dresden fan, just as a reference book for the world.
City building is substantially fleshed out, with more detail and structure, to help you create the kind of setting you want to play in. The running example is Baltimore, and it turns into a very interesting place as it gets Dresdenified.*
The section I went to pretty much right away was Spellcasting. See, during the early playtests, Wizard characters pretty much walked all over other character types, not so much because of their powerful, but because they were so flexible. A Wizard could, with a little time and effort, be great at anything, which caused them to overshadow other characters from time to time. The specific issue was with Thaumaturgy, which lets Wizards do pretty much anything they can imagine. I wanted to see if this was dealt with in the final version.
It is dealt with. Wizards still have their signature flexibility, but the price of using magic is higher. They get worn out and damaged (and possibly crazy) faster, which leads them to husband their resources more. The difficulty of accomplishing some of the bigger things with Thaumaturgy is increased, meaning that, if you want to do this, you’re going to be spending more time, more effort, and taking a bigger risk to get it done. I think it’s a very nice balance that lets a Wizard accomplish almost anything if they have the time, materials, and dedication, but limits what they can do within the game to things that are simpler and don’t step on the toes of the other characters.
That’s about all I’ve got for now. I haven’t finished reading both books (did I mention 700 pages?), but plan to do that this weekend. So far, I am very impressed with what I’ve got in hand. Kudos to the folks at Evil Hat for putting together such a fantastic game, and thanks again to Fred for making these files available to us playtesters.
It’s got me wanting to run a new Dresden Files game in Winnipeg.
*Yes. That’s a word, now. Why? Because I said so. Back