Nov 012010

Our little group got together to do a Dresden Files RPG one shot for Halloween and much fun was had by all. It was really great giving this system an actual run through to get a good idea on how it works when the dice meet the table.
Overall, the system worked well and any short comings and hiccups were caused by our own preconceptions and gaming habits. The broadly defined skills and Maneuvers allowed the PC’s to contribute to just about every scene in some way. Combat has consequences. Literally and figuratively. It was a little metagaming on my part but I realized early on that since this was a one shot, any Consequences beyond Mild were going to be around for the shelf life of the character. This made me really be cautious when it came to taking Consequences.
It became apparent that the DFRPG is really meant to be played as a campaign and not a one shot. We used pregenerated characters and it took us a while to get a good handle on our Aspects. Also, it showed how important the collaborative city and character generation is to setting up not only the characters’ Aspects but also having a really good understanding of how the characters related to each other and the city. Since we were playing a one shot adventure, we also had a real world time constraint that sometimes felt limiting when it came to doing Compels which would have derailed the main story line and eaten up more time.
My group is all veteran gamers and we had a little difficulty getting used to self Compels and taking the narrative control away from the GM. This isn’t anything against the GM. It was just us being used to the age old tradition of follow the adventure path. By the same token, the GM mentioned when we were finished that he felt a little guilty about the Compels he did place on characters. I was playing a sorcerer with a Refresh of 1. I guarded my single Fate Point religiously and did everything I could think of compels for my Aspects. We still had a few problems just pulling things from imaginations instead relying on rules and game mechanics to tell us what we can and can’t do.
Another little hiccup we had was with Thaumaturgy. This was just a reflex pounded into my head by pretty much every other RPG. You need to roll dice to do anything. An important thing to remember in the DFRPG, sometimes to do really neat stuff, you don’t need to roll. I had read the magic section several times and thought I had a pretty good handle on it. Then when it came to actually doing a little ritual the ingrained reflex to roll dice to do anything kicked in and caused a major brain freeze. We were sitting reading and re-reading thinking, “It can’t be that simple.” Yes, it is.
Everyone enjoyed the game and the system. The number one thing we all agreed on is that it will take some getting used to and that we would need to break some old gaming habits to use the system to its fullest. Stay tuned for more DFRPG thoughts and ramblings in the weeks to come.

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  5 Responses to “The Dresden Files RPG: Getting Our Feet Wet Part I”

  1. I haven’t played any RPG for a while, so I may just be ignorant. Do they introduce randomness into Thaumaturgy at all (drawing cards or something), or is it just straightforward cause and effect?

  2. Oh, another question: Had all of the players read the books? Would you have to do a lot of explaining if they hadn’t?

  3. For thaumaturgy, as long as you have the time to gather your resources then there’s no need to roll. The only instance you have to worry about it is when you fall under some sort time crunch. Basically, you need to reach a numeric threshold. Basically, you start with your skill and items you have and work from there. In this case, we were trying to track down the lair of some murdering ghouls and as the sorcerer I was going to do a little tracking ritual. I had a Lore of +4 and focus item for divination (+1), so that gave me a +5. We found a fragment of one of the ghoul’s claws for sympathetic connection to the target. The victim was into divination so I wrangled up the victim’s Tarot deck for a big bonus. One of the characters was psychic and had psychometry. He really couldn’t help with the ritual but the GM let pull a little trick out of my hat. Since I was hippy sorcerer, he said I had some peyote on hand. I used a hallucinating psychic to help power the ritual. That gave me enough to get the spell to work.
    As far as reading the books, about half of the group hadn’t. My problem was that I’m Dresden fanboy and had to stop and think about the difference between what I knew and what my character knew. Not reading the books didn’t have that much affect on the other players. Just a good understanding of the urban fantasy genre was enough.

  4. Wow, it sounds like a cool game. I like that the uncertainty is introduced by the circumstances of the game, rather than rolling.

  5. You still need to roll to blast stuff. 🙂

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