So last fall I picked up The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game Vol 1: Your Story. I recently completed my Dresden RPG collection with Dresden Files RPG Vol 2: Our World, as well as a set of Fudge Dice both ordered from Evil Hat the game publisher. First off the books are both beautiful and massive! The art work is great, taking images from the Dresden Files graphic novels as well as what appears to be original art work inspired by the novels.
The books as has been pointed out in countless other venues is written as an in universe document, a game to help train all of us mundane nerds, geeks etc how to do battle with things that go bump in the night. Billy, Harry’s Werewolf friend is the primary author with Harry and Bob the Skull leaving snarky side bar comment, that are a blast to read. The rules make reference to various cases (the novels, short stories and graphic novels set in the Dresdenverse) written up as examples on how the rules work in play, this occasionally presents a few problems for me. As someone who is only on the 4th book (Summer Knight) of the series that has its 13th full length installment coming out this summer, it can feel like a bit of a mine field trying to avoid any serious spoilers. Happily there are very few big revelations in Your Story, and careful tip towing around Our World, you can safely proceded to get some good stuff with out too many spoilers, the index is a very good thing.
The system its self is a lot less crunchy than most games I have ran, and there is a lot more player control of the narrative. The central mechanic of the game is the idea that everything has aspects, defining characteristics that govern their behaviors, and how others interact and perceive them. Fate points and compels are how the aspects come into play. The game master and players bid Fate points (players initial fate point totals are determined in character creation) to either compel the use of an aspect or avoid it, If something is REALLY important to the story the GM can let the points flow, but the players can buy off the GM with their own fate points to steer things in a direction they prefer or at times even create new aspects for NPCs, places etc.
Character and campaign creation are also a very collaborative process, with everyone at the table coming up with aspects for the city their characters live in and creating some common back ground points where all characters have had a role in a previous adventures of all the others. It appears that power gaming the system could be a challenge, but so far I have not heard of anything too ugly happening on various readings of the Dresden Files RPG message boards. Also I think it could lead to a more cohesive group with everyone having their own niche developed via the conversation that is character creation.
City creation can also serve as an open letter to the GM as to what kinds of dangers the players want to face down, and what sort of tone they want for the game. It asks everyone involved to put serious thought into what will be going on in the game. Negotiation and discussion helps create the themes, threats and primary locales for the campaign city, that I think would create a real feeling of player ownership of the game world.
All this creates a lot more democratic game than I cut my teeth on as a GM. It will be a challenge to surrender the story and world control that I am very used to having, as a GM. That said i have always been a big fan of mechanics that will let the player cheat death or do something really awesome and cinematic, this is just the next evolution of that idea.
The dice I picked up are the Wizard Fudge Dice set. And as of March 23 supplies are running low at Evil Hat. The dice are very nice and well made, 3 sets of 4 dice Hellfire(red) Winter (blue) and ectoplasm (glow in the dark green). I am far more amused than I really should be by the ectoplasm dice, I squealed when I realized they were glow in the dark. They have a nice feel when rolled and they don’t appear off balance in any way, and they just look sharp, for good or ill the Fudge dice at my friendly local gaming store just could not compete.