50 Games in 50 Weeks: The Dresden Files RPG

The Dresden Files RPG is the game built around the Dresden Files urban fantasy world, using the FATE system.

I had an unusual experience running Dresden Files. During PAX East 2012, some friends wanted to try the system. I borrowed a copy of the rules from a booth selling Evil Hat merchandise (thanks, guys!), and we grabbed a table in the cafeteria section of the conference center. As the players built their characters, we started brainstorming about the city we’d play in. The choice was obvious: Boston, the city in which we sat. We came up with lots of great ideas about Boston as a center of magical stories, and then….

I improvised.

I’ve dreamed up plots “on the fly” before, but I’d always built at least a few antagonists and ideas beforehand. This time, I had to invent a plot hook and involve the characters from the first minute.

And it was magical. Pun intended.

I created an incident in the basement of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, something really nasty involving a lot of blood. The characters were pulled in and quickly began investigating.

The system should support stories that fit its world, and Dresden does so wonderfully. Your character’s Aspects define that character’s personality and powers, while skills define standard real-world abilities. You roll against those to determine how well you do something, and can invoke an Aspect for a boost.

There’s a lot more to the system, but that summary illustrates one nice element of Dresden Files: if you know nothing else about the system, you can just roll against your skills. That’s how we familiarized ourselves with the system.

I’m glad I grabbed the physical book. The book’s large amount of material makes it difficult to jump around, at least in PDF form. It’s easier to bookmark and flip through the physical book to look up a spell’s effects, sample NPC stats, etc.

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