I’ve talked a fair bit about the rules aspect of the Dresden Files RPG that we’ve seen. We’ve also had a look at some of the setting and world bits. I haven’t brought them up before now because I’ve been concentrating on the other pieces. Now I’ve got a little downtime until after the supernatural characters are created, so I want to use it to talk about the setting material.
One of the first chunks they sent us was what they’ve been planning to use as the first chapter. It’s called Harry’s World, and it’s a pretty nice overview of the main conceits of the setting, the big players, and the overarching background. It is, in fact, about all you would normally get in a chapter on setting in a lot of other games.
On its own, it’s good. It stands as a solid introduction that lets you understand the rest of the book. It lays out the mindset of the game very nicely, covering a variety of topics. Magic is real. Most people don’t believe in it. Monsters are out there. Some people know about them. Wizards. Shapechangers. Faeries. Vampires. All that sort of thing.
Nothing gets a very detailed rundown – they’re saving that for the later chapters – but really, you’ve got pretty much everything you need right here. If this were the only setting material in the book, you’d be wishing for a little bit more, but you’d be pretty satisfied overall, given how easy it is to build stuff in the system.
The next setting chapter is Who’s Who, and it comes along later in the book, after most of the crunch. It is an encyclopaedic (and I use that word in its fullest meaning) list of all the important characters from the Dresden books. And not just the ones that appear – both Harry’s parents are in there, along with Justin DuMorne and Heinrich Kemmler. There’s a description of each, varying in length based on how much information we get in the books, along with running commentary that adds color and sidebars that talk about using the various characters in the game.
If you haven’t read the books, this chapter is full of spoilers. Be warned.
It also looks like each of the entries is going to get a stat block, but I can’t swear to that. Even without the stat blocks, this chapter is packed with useful stuff for running the game, and is a great source for character concepts. They even suggest a Carpenter Kids campaign, playing the children of Michael and Charity Carpenter, that sounds like it would be a lot of fun, even if only as a one-shot.
Beyond the obvious utility of this chapter, there’s another benefit. It shows very nicely the different types of people at large in the Dresdenverse, what their motivations and goals are, and the sorts of stories they generate. Just flipping through it should give GMs ample inspiration for setting up encounters, adventures, and entire campaigns.
And then we’re on to the last fluff chapter we’ve received, called Goes Bump. This is the monster section, for lack of a better name. It lists the various classes of supernatural creature out there, from Angels to Zombies, with a description of each type, breakdown of subtypes, and comments and references for everything.
This section will have stat blocks, though the version we got didn’t have them yet. Gotta nail the system down before you start using it to stat things.
Again, the length of each entry varies, based on information in the books. Angels get less than a page in the playtest version, while Demons get a little over four, and Vampires get close to eight.
It’s not just monsters that get listed here, though. This is also the place to find stats for incidental mortals, like police officers or EMTs or minor practitioners, for you to throw in as NPCs on the fly. It’s a toolbox for putting together encounters and adventures, filled with the stats you need for the job and the commentary and description to help you figure out how best to use them.
Now, page counts don’t mean a whole lot at this stage of the project, but the overall count for the fluff sections so far is 256. What that means is that this is going to be a big, meaty book when it’s done, brimming over with neat stuff for the game.
I can hardly wait.