April 24, 2013
A Look At The Fluff Of The Dresden Files RPG
As I discussed in my look at the crunch of The Dresden Files RPG, this is a game all about the fluff, so much so that even its crunch is based around its fluff. This was a concept that took a number of players a while to fully wrap their heads around, but it is one I can appreciate. All of the game’s fluff is based around the award winning series The Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher, a wonderful collection of tales about sorcery and fantasy in the modern world through the eyes of a wizard private eye by the name of Harry Dresden. If you haven’t read them, I would highly recommend doing so. It isn’t necessary to have done so in order to enjoy the game, in fact I have found it fun to play with a mixed group of players, some who have and some who haven’t.
In the world of The Dresden Files, magic and supernatural beings exist in our modern world, though they remain hidden from the eyes of ordinary folk. These are stories of modern fantasy, where your characters may take the roles of wizards, werewolves, vampires, fey-born changelings, shape-shifters, normal humans, or almost anything else you can possibly imagine. Your only real restraints on character creation are what your gamemaster will allow, your own imagination, and a limit of refresh points (what you use to gain supernatural abilities and mortal stunts for your character) you are allowed to start with.
The setting of the game is in whatever city your troupe desires, and building that city is the first part of the game. Much like character creation in the game, city creation is a collaborative effort between all of the players and the gamemaster. Each player is usually assigned to create a number of “faces” (NPCs) and locations for the city, and everyone has a hand in determining the status quo for both the mundane and the supernatural elements within. They must decide who will be “In the Dark,” or unaware of the supernatural and the real goings on of the world, and who is “In the Know,” meaning they are not only aware, but often are power-players in the city. This is also where the major threats and themes of the city, and thus the game, are determined. This level of customization and involvement in building the setting helps to draw the players into the game in a way usually reserved for the gamemaster alone. I find this to be incredibly helpful for building immersion. Not only that, players tend to enjoy when you use elements in a game that they helped create, as it makes them feel as though they played an important part in the structure of the game, which they have.
As in every role-playing game, there is conflict. In The Dresden Files RPG, characters must be able to withstand conflict in a variety of ways; this is shown by how much “stress” a character is able to endure. Characters have three sorts of stress that they can take; physical stress, mental stress, and social stress. A character will have to take physical stress when they are punched in the ribs, mental when they are victim to a psychic attack, and social when they are chastised in front of a gathering of their peers (all are likely to happen in a Dresden game). When a character has taken more stress than they can endure, they take consequences. Consequences are negative aspects given to a character temporarily. They range in severity from Minor to Moderate to Severe to Extreme. A minor physical consequence might be something like “battered and bruised,” or “headaches,” while an extreme mental consequence might be “overcome by blood-lust” or “cannot use Fire evocations.” They are made up depending on what caused the consequence, and they are then role-played by the character and tagged to cause them trouble (but giving the player their much desired Fate Points) for as long as it takes for the character to recover. In this way, even injury is fluff in The Dresden Files RPG.
The Dresden Files RPG is a wonderful game, and while I normally prefer games with a little more crunch to them, I adore how much influence the fluff has on play. If given the opportunity, I suggest giving the game a try.
Image Credit: Evil Hat Productions