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Sass & Sorcery

Wherein I Read the Dresden Files RPG

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It's just about time for the start of the fall semester, and I decided to give myself a back-to-school treat, in the form of the Dresden Files RPG pdfs. (I wish I could have afforded the physical hardcovers, but alas. There's always the various gift-giving holidays~)

The usual background info: The Dresden Files is easily my favorite series centered on a wizard named "Harry," and fighting hard with the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 'trilogy' as my favorite book series overall. Also, FATE is my preferred game system, and I really like Evil Hat's products and support. To say I really like the way this game reads is a gross understatement, to say the least. (If it seems like I'm gushing as I write this pseudoreview, it's only because my glasses are, indeed, the color of roses.) So let's get to it, shall we.

The game's writing is high on the 'meta' level, in that its "authors" are Dresdenverse characters writing a roleplaying game based on the life of one Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Included with the actual text are "notes" by Will Borden, part-time werewolf, Harry himself, and - my favorite character, evar - Bob the Skull; these notes are editorial in most cases, explanations of things referenced in game-terms, using in-setting events and characters. Handy for those new to the system, but not the source material. There are many pop culture references, from Ghostbusters to that *other* wizard-named-Harry, which endeared me to the product after reading the "Nevermore" preview chapter; it felt like Jim Butcher himself wrote them. (He didn't, as far as I can tell, but he did write a bit of short fiction for the second volume, "Our World." Which I have yet to sit down and read. The notes and other text is far too funny-slash-awesome.)

The art shows iconic characters and scenes from the novels, and some even have commentary in the form of the in-character notes; Harry's comments on why he always looks beat-up in the artwork, and Billy's explanations, made me giggle. For the most part, the art looks a lot like how I pictured those things when reading the novels. ('Cept for Thomas. He totally looks different in my head. :P) I like the artwork, even of Thomas; it's nice and colorful and evocative of the source material.

Rules-wise, I like that city creation and character generation are group activities, like in other FATE games. And I especially like that those things are considered part of "actual play," since they frame everything that's to come. The different power levels of a campaign start is nice, too, giving an overview of what Templates (character archetypes concerning supernatural ability) are appropriate for what magical weight classes; some are clearly more powerful, even in the highly non-simulational world of FATE games. The back of the first book contains rules "cheat sheets," which will be incredibly helpful in play (and the website has those same pages, minus the muddy, spiral-bound background, so score~).

I'd usually go into greater depth with this, but I can't quite explain my glee without block-quoting highly-spoileriffic parts (especially from "Our World"). I'm interested in the supplemental material Evil Hat'll release via their site (given that the license was specific in the "no supplementitis" clause); the RPG covers happenings up to Small Favor, and I can't wait to see how they write up some of the stuff from the successive books. (I'm still on an excitement high following the completion of Changes. Gah, I wish my friends would get around to reading them, dangit, so I'd have someone to talk to about it~ :P)

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