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Subject: Share a Game: The Dresden Files RPG rss

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Share a Game is an RPG Geek initiative in which knowledgeable users volunteer to spend a week hosting a thread about a particular game and answer any questions about that game. This thread will have a week in the spotlight, but will always remain active if you stumble across it later.

For more information, including volunteering to host a game yourself, or to request a particular game that you would like to know more about, see the wiki page: Share a Game. And in order to receive notifications when new threads are posted, subscribe to the GeekList: Share a Game.


The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game

The Dresden Files RPG (hereinafter "DFRPG”) is a role-playing game set in the world of Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files novels. It's also, as of this writing, the #1-rated RPG on RPGgeek, not to mention the winner of two Origins awards (Best RPG and Best RPG Supplement), so setting myself up as any kind of authority on the game is likely to get me into trouble! I beg your indulgence, gentle readers; let any errors reflect only on my failings, and not the game.

The Setting

Before I go further, I should admit that I'm only about halfway through the novel series, so it's possible that some statements I make about the setting may be incorrect due to things I don't know about yet. Once again, I ask your indulgence. On a related topic, please keep comments and questions on the setting spoiler-free for the benefit of other readers who haven't finished the book series. I should also point out that the DFRPG books themselves inevitably contain spoilers for the novels, though there’s nothing too blatant until you start going through the “Who’s Who” chapter of Volume 2: Our World.

The world of The Dresden Files, dubbed the “Dresdenverse,” is an urban pulp fantasy setting in which wizards, faeries, vampires, shape-shifters, and a wide variety of other supernatural entities walk among us, conducting their intrigues and battles while staying (mostly) unobserved by mortal eyes. It’s a world in which the Summer and Winter Courts of Faerie have exchanged dominion over the world at every solstice since time immemorial, but always seek a way to make their control permanent. It’s a world where three courts of vampires do battle with each other, to the detriment of their human prey. And it’s a world where Harry Dresden, the only full-time professional wizard in the Chicago phone book, is barely eking out a living as a hardboiled private eye, while constantly getting himself – and the people he loves – into trouble with pretty much every other supernatural faction and entity out there.

The novels are mostly set in and around Harry Dresden’s hometown of Chicago, and that city and its mystical inhabitants are given extensive treatment for use as a game setting. However, recognizing that not all RPG groups want to play in a city where they might be overshadowed by Mr. Dresden, the game also fleshes out an alternative setting (Baltimore, Maryland) and provides a full chapter on creating your own “Dresden-ized” version of whatever city you might want to play in.

The Physical Product

It’s not often that the physical format of an RPG deserves its own section, but the DFRPG books are rather distinctively presented, in a way that tends to provoke love-it-or-hate-it reactions from readers.

First off, the books are physically gorgeous – sturdy hardbacks in full color throughout, with clear headings that convey mood and theme without making the text difficult to read. The illustrations are predominantly done in a comic-book style, and that’s not meant as a put-down; they’re generally well-executed and fit the tone of the written material well.

Now, as for the written material – well, here comes the love-it-or-hate-it part. The conceit of the game is that the DFRPG was actually written within the Dresdenverse by one of Harry’s recurring allies (with help from Harry and various other friends). Why would characters in the Dresdenverse want to write an RPG about themselves and their exploits? Well, in the Dresdenverse, Bram Stoker’s Dracula told the world at large about the abilities and weaknesses of certain hostile types of vampires, which led directly to most of them being slain or going into hiding. The DFRPG is intended to be a “Dracula for the 21st century,” bringing some of Harry’s collected knowledge about monsters and supernatural threats into the public eye under the guise of fiction – this time with stats. Also, the in-character “authors” of the DFRPG are massive geeks, so an RPG seemed like the way to go. cool

In and of itself, this idea shouldn’t cause any problems; it’s a clever idea, and fits with the casual, snarky attitude of the books and the characters therein. However, the books themselves are presented as manuscript copies of the work in progress, and the margins are thus filled with notes, corrections, questions, arguments, and personal asides, written in various colors of ink and distinctive handwritings for each character. Illustrations look like they’ve been taped onto the pages of the manuscript, key phrases are emphasized with what looks like a standard office-supply-store highlighter, and several pages have a number of “sticky notes” forming a conversation between the characters. You can even see the copy-shop ring binding running down the center of the mud-stained pages.

Personally, I like this approach; it enables a lot of side questions to be handled in more simply than they could otherwise, and the self-deprecating approach provides more than a few laughs. Most importantly, all of the “handwritten” comments are clear and easily readable, rather than the cryptic scribbles that have marred similar attempts in RPG books past. That said, it does make the book look sloppy and disorganized to the eye, and I know some readers have commented that they find it distracting. To get an idea if it’ll bother you, a representative page looks like this:



The RPG consists of two core books: Volume 1: Your Story and Volume 2: Our World. Your Story is the meat of the game; it covers all the rules, character creation and advancement, combat, skills, powers, magic, setting design, GMing advice, and the Baltimore setting. Our World is basically a reference book on the Dresdenverse as presented in the novels, converted to RPG terms – it includes a lengthy and very thorough list of characters from the novels with full game statistics, a diverse (and, again, very thorough) list of monsters (both archetypes and individuals), a solid overview of the various supernatural factions and how they relate to one another, and a solid presentation of Chicago as a setting for your own DFRPG games.

If you’re on a budget and not interested in interacting with the characters from the novels, both players and GMs can probably get by fine with just Your Story. You’ll probably want to read the novels to get a more in-depth feel for how the world works, though. When income permits, GMs will probably want to pick up Our World as well, even if only for the bestiary and overview of supernatural politics.

The System

The DFRPG uses the Fate 3.0 system, which is itself an outgrowth of the Fudge system. In addition to being a standalone, generic “RPG toolkit,” FATE has been used to power Spirit of the Century, Diaspora, Legends of Anglerre, and several other RPGs. It’s a flexible and comparatively rules-light system which is designed to reflect characters’ specific strengths and weaknesses without getting bogged down in the minutiae of rules sub-systems for each type of thing a character might want to do.

FATE uses Fudge Dice, which are six-sided dice with the numbers replaced by two plus signs, two blank sides, and two minus signs. (You can use regular d6s in a pinch, though; 1 or 2 becomes a minus, 3 or 4 is blank, and 5 or 6 becomes a plus. Or you can make your own - see http://www.fudgefactor.org/2001/12/01/babys_first_fudge_dice....)

When attempting to do something in the system, you roll a set of four Fudge dice, count the pluses and minuses as +1 or -1 respectively, add the net total to the skill or attribute you’re using, and see if you beat the target number. The rules as written use an adjectival scale known as “The Ladder,” where a skill or roll of +2 is Fair, +3 is Good, +4 is Great, etc. In actual play, my group tends to skip the adjectives and just use the numbers, since converting an adjective to a number, modifying the number with the dice, and then converting the modified number back to an adjective can slow things down. It does take a bit of the flavor out, though.

Things get interesting with the use of Aspects and Fate Points. Aspects are words or phrases that define the essence of a character (or, for that matter, a place or object). Harry Dresden, for example, has the Aspects “Epic Wiseass” and “Perpetually Broke” among others. Aspects can be literally anything you can think of - there's no set list, so as long as the GM approves it, you.re good to go. In addition to defining the character’s personality and/or history, Aspects are also the primary means by which characters can gain and spend Fate Points.

Fate Points are a way to compensate for crappy dice rolls or augment good ones, and can also be used to power certain of a character’s special abilities. A Fate Point can be spent to add 1 to any die roll, but that’s the weakest way to use such a point. They can also be spent to add 2 to a die roll, or reroll all the dice in any one roll – but only if your character has an appropriate Aspect. For instance, if Harry was trying to draw an angry troll towards him and away from a comparatively helpless civilian, he might draw on his “Epic Wiseass” Aspect when using a Fate Point to improve his Intimidation roll – because an Epic Wiseass like Harry can always think of something infuriating to say.

However, Fate Points are in limited supply, and Aspects are also the primary way of gaining more of those. The GM, and other players, can use your Aspects against you. For example, if Harry was in a tense and critically important meeting of the White Council, the GM might compel that same “Epic Wiseass” Aspect to encourage him to say something sarcastic and get himself into trouble. Harry could either accept the compel, earning a Fate Point in exchange for mouthing off, or pay a Fate Point to keep his cool and keep his mouth shut. In other words, Aspects provide a way to provide immediate, tangible rewards for staying true to your character, and a convenient way for the GM to draw the characters towards plot hooks that common sense might tell them to stay away from.

Aspects get a lot of use in the DFRPG system – in addition to characters, they can be applied to objects and locations, and can be temporarily added and removed by the use of various skills. A warehouse might start with the Aspects “Dark” and “Cluttered,” and these could be used to augment various rolls during a fight scene in the building; later, if a spell goes awry, the “Dark” Aspect might be replaced with an “On Fire” Aspect. The Intimidate roll we mentioned earlier might temporarily give the troll the "Distracted" or "Enraged" Aspect, which another character could use to his advantage while attacking. Even damage is handled in terms of Aspects; if the aforementioned troll hits Harry hard enough, he might gain the “Broken Jaw” aspect for a while. There are far too many uses for Aspects for me to go into here – suffice it to say that they are fundamental to the system, and probably cause more confusion in new players than any other aspect (no pun intended) of the game.

This reliance on Aspects means that Fate Points fly around the table a lot when the game is running smoothly, and leads to a topic that has caused problems in several previous RPGs – when one player is a mundane human with no special abilities and another is a rampaging werewolf, how do you keep things balanced? The DFRPG answers this with something called Refresh.

Your character’s Refresh is how many Fate Points she starts a session with. All characters start with the same Refresh level – set by the GM somewhere between 6 (where the PCs will be mostly very skilled humans or very weak creatures) and 10 (which allows for PCs to be very experienced wizards, potent vampires, or other major-league players). During character creation, you buy various powers and stunts, each of which lowers your refresh rate (but no lower than 1; at that point, you are no longer even vaguely human and have become an NPC). So in a game with a starting Refresh level of 8, a human character might have a non-magical Stunt or two, and start each session with 6 Fate Points; a White Court Vampire, on the other hand, would be required to take a whole slew of supernatural powers, and would have a Refresh of only 1. There are a wide variety of templates in the game for PCs to use (various vampires, shape-shifters, faeries, Champions of God, etc.), and the diverse power list makes it simple to create your own.

The DFRPG uses an interwoven group character creation system similar to Spirit of the Century, which is one of my favorite parts of the game. Each player in a group starts by sketching out the early stages of their character’s life, which generates two of their starting Aspects: their High Concept (e.g., “Wizard Private Eye” or “One Good Cop”) and their Trouble (e.g., “Hiding from the White Council” or “In Over My Head”). Then, each character describes their first “adventure,” which generates another Aspect. In the fourth and fifth stages of the character’s life, he plays a small but important role in another PC’s first adventure(from their own third stage), and a different PC plays a small but important role in his, and each character gains a relevant Aspect. That way, before play begins, each character will have an established relationship with at least two other PCs, which creates some interesting storylines (and avoids a lot of “you meet in a tavern” clichés).

This section has already gone on longer than I’d planned, and I haven’t even touched on magic. Briefly, there are three kinds of magic in DFRPG: Evocation (quick-and-dirty blasts of energy for close-range offense and defense), Thaumaturgy (long-term ritual magic with a much wider and subtler range of effects), and Sponsored Magic (which draws on power from something other than the caster, and tends to be powerful and flexible as long as the sponsoring entity approves). To cast a spell, decide how much power you want to use (defined as a number of “shifts” which can represent damage, range, control, etc.) and take that much mental stress (did I mention that damage in DFRPG can be physical, mental, or social? Well, I just did), modified by your Conviction skill. Then make a Discipline roll to cast the spell; if you achieve a result equal to or better than the amount of power you used, the spell succeeds. Otherwise, you must make up the difference with some combination of backlash (physical and/or mental damage to the caster) and fallout (unintended consequences in the environment, almost always bad for the caster). There are a lot of potential modifiers to this system, but that’s the gist of it.

The Verdict

I like FATE in general a great deal, and the DFRPG is an excellent implementation of it. Mechanically, it requires a bit of a mental shift from more familiar RPGs, but once you grok the essence of the system, its tremendous flexibility makes it a joy to run games with. The Aspect system makes the game very character-driven, and thus it’s better suited for smaller groups. I think 3 players (not counting the GM) would be optimal, with 5 being a practical maximum; any more than that will probably lead to extra downtime. Those who have read and enjoyed the Dresden books are obviously the target audience, but there’s enough background to make the game perfectly suitable for those who haven’t. You could even use the material here to build your own magic/pulp universe, though at that point you’re really looking at this as a book of ideas rather than an RPG system.

The Questions

And this is where you come in. Fire away – I will try not to be so verbose in my answers, but I make no promises!
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I'm unfamiliar with Fate in general, but what is the character progression like in Dresden Files (if there is any)? Do players get new aspects or new skill points? Are there experience points? Do characters "level up"?
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Stix_Remix wrote:
I'm unfamiliar with Fate in general, but what is the character progression like in Dresden Files (if there is any)? Do players get new aspects or new skill points? Are there experience points? Do characters "level up"?

There are no XP or levels as such; character advancement is in terms of Milestones, which affect all the PCs equally.

Minor Milestones happen pretty frequently - maybe as often as once a session - and don't really represent advancement as much as change. They let you swap skills around, rename an Aspect, spend some of your Refresh purchase a stunt or power you can afford, etc., but don't actually increase your power level at all.

Significant Milestones happen at the end of a scenario or minor plot arc. They let you increase one skill by one point, plus do one of the things you could do after a Minor Milestone.

Major Milestones happen only once in a great while, when a major plotline is resolved or some drastic change has taken place. This gives all the benefits of a Significant Milestone, and also increases your Refresh by one, which is a significant power boost.

A character will never gain more Aspects (at least not permanently), but the existing ones can change, which often reflects major life events. If your character had an aspect of "Will Do Anything For the Woman He Loves" and some vampire came along and killed her, well, that would probably justify replacing that aspect with "Thirst for Vengeance" (or "Drunk and Despairing," depending on how you see the character).
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Ooohhh, excited to see this one come up, I am a huge fan as well! Great summary!

Stix_Remix wrote:
I'm unfamiliar with Fate in general, but what is the character progression like in Dresden Files (if there is any)? Do players get new aspects or new skill points? Are there experience points? Do characters "level up"?


I know you didn't get a chance to get into it, but one of my favorite aspects of DFRPG is the collaborative city creation, in which the entire group defines the settings and the threats it faces. It's an elegant, beautiful system. (Here I'll shamelessly plug my review, which discusses the basics.)

I mention this here because, in addition to the relatively light character advancement system, there's also a "city advancement" system for updating the city's aspects to match what has happened in play. While that's something that should happen in any game, it's a good way to ensure that it's happening as you go.
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How familiar do players need to be with the source material to enjoy this RPG? Could people pick up the book from a FLGS and start their own game with minimal research?

I've heard good things about Dresden Files, but I have no experience whatsoever with the series and wonder if there is are any "entry requirements."
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How well would the Dresden Files RPG do a different time period "out of the box." Say... the Old West or the 1930's?

Outside of supers, our group has never been keen on modern day roleplaying...

Mechanically, does Dresden still require the Fate "stat pyramid" after character creation? I can't remember what it's called... but it's where you can't have more skills rated as "good" than you have rated as "fair"?
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I like the Fate system, especially Diaspora and Spirit of the Century. Unfortunately, with no play group, I haven't actually played them, but I have enjoyed reading them.

I shied away from Dresden because I don't know the source material. I like the idea of fantasy in a modern setting though.

I guess my question is, to what extent can you appreciate the game without reading the novels?

I was also going to ask how many novels are there, and what order are you supposed to read them in (or does it even matter). But, I looked up the answer myself. According to the wiki article, there are currently 12 novels (doh!) with two more announced. Can anyone vouch for these? Are they worth reading?
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Rubric wrote:


I was also going to ask how many novels are there, and what order are you supposed to read them in (or does it even matter). But, I looked up the answer myself. According to the wiki article, there are currently 12 novels (doh!) with two more announced. Can anyone vouch for these? Are they worth reading?


I can only speak about two of the books. I wasn't able to finish the first novel, so that should tell you my opinion of it, right there. Fred Hicks recommended starting with the 4th book, Summer Knight. I followed his advice and really enjoyed that story. I haven't read any of the others but Summer Knight was enjoyable, light reading and I picked up on the background easily without having read any earlier volumes.
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Rubric wrote:
Can anyone vouch for these? Are they worth reading?


I've read the first two books, and I'm struggling with this question myself. While I'm sure opinions will be all over the map, I didn't think the first two books were good, but they were easy reads and kept my interest. Like Brian, I've heard that the fourth book is where things change.
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Rubric wrote:
Can anyone vouch for these? Are they worth reading?

For what it's worth, I just tried to give one away ... and failed.
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Rubric wrote:
Can anyone vouch for these? Are they worth reading?


This sounds like a broken record, but I've only read a single book in the series as well. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't good either.

A friend of mine described the Dresden books like reading an old gamer's stories (with the implication that the stories were roughly equivalent to a fisherman's story about the big one...)

With that said, its a pretty cool setting. There seems to be lots going on.

I think with the recommendations here to start at book 4, I might just do that!
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Not sure if you can answer this as you may not know the other rpg or the Author but maybe someone could answer it:

How does this compare to Changeling: The Dreaming (1st Edition) for handling modern fantasy?

What I really want is an RPG that will let me re-create the worlds of Charles DeLint. Changling is the best I have found so far but it wasn't great. Would Dreseden work?

EDIT: clarified my question a bit.
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I liked the idea of SotC, but the game failed for me, either due to myself missing the point of the FATE Economy, or having the wrong players at the table, or poorly written rules.

Can you compare how the explanations of Aspects differ in SotC and Dresden?

Is the game tied to the setting, or could one do a generic urban fantasy with little change to character creation/etc?
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Err... okay, so not a lot of high praise for the books. I'm not sure my OCD brain would let me start with book 4 of a series. I can't even stand to watch a movie if I've missed the first 5 minutes. Have to think about that.

I'd also like to hear more about this:

bschoner wrote:
a full chapter on creating your own “Dresden-ized” version of whatever city you might want to play in.


I read a session report, (the MScrivener one), that shows setting creation as a group effort. Is it anything like cluster generation in Diaspora? In other words, are there rules/mechanics for it, or does the book just give you a bunch of suggestions, etc.
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Rubric wrote:


I guess my question is, to what extent can you appreciate the game without reading the novels?


It actually works fairly well without a knowledge of the novels; most of the fantasy elements are adapted from common folk tales and legends anyway, and the rulebooks give a pretty good overview of them. If you wanted to change things around a bit to fit your own modern day/urban fantasy setting, it would probably not take much work.

I ran a one-shot of this game for three players who knew nothing about the novels, just what they read from the introductory material in the book, and they still enjoyed it.

Rubric wrote:

According to the wiki article, there are currently 12 novels (doh!) with two more announced. Can anyone vouch for these? Are they worth reading?


While I wouldn't say that they're masterpieces of fantasy literature, they're at least fairly enjoyable light reads. There was also a TV adaptation done by the Sci-Fi channel, which is up on Hulu for free. While most fans of the books generally consider it quite inferior to the books, the TV series is a fairly good and quick introduction to the setting, and can give you a decent feel for what's going on.
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Please don't let this degenerate into another flamewar (or the closest thing this site gets to it) about the novels and their quality! Nobody will claim they are high literature, but lots of intelligent people enjoy them. To find out whether you will, you'll likely have to give them a try. Preferably on a beach or airplane, they are that kind of books.

Rubric wrote:
bschoner wrote:
a full chapter on creating your own “Dresden-ized” version of whatever city you might want to play in.


I read a session report, (the MScrivener one), that shows setting creation as a group effort. Is it anything like cluster generation in Diaspora? In other words, are there rules/mechanics for it, or does the book just give you a bunch of suggestions, etc.


There aren't "statistics" for the "city" like there are in Diaspora, but there is a formalized structure for creating the setting collaboratively as the first step in character creation. I think it works brilliantly. Diaspora has more random elements and more focus on creating a workable setting even beyond the adventures. DFRPG is more focused on generating the threats, locations, and NPCs with which the characters will actually interact.
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Stix_Remix wrote:
How familiar do players need to be with the source material to enjoy this RPG? Could people pick up the book from a FLGS and start their own game with minimal research?

I think the DFRPG books provide as much background material as any other RPG set in a fictional world. The first section of Our World does a nice job of breaking down the major factions, the Unseelie Accords which regulate conflicts between them, etc., and Your Story gives a detailed overview of the Laws of Magic (which are laws in the legal/social sense rather than the scientific sense). There will certainly be some side references that you may not "get" without exposure to the novels, but nothing that's necessary to make the game tick.

The only place you might run into a problem, I think, would be if some players had read the books and some hadn't. If no one has read the books, any digressions from "canon" are irrelevant, and if everyone has, changes from established history are likely to be deliberate choices. But if some of the group "knows" the way things are, and the others have a different perspective, things might get a bit weird.

Of course, in that case, players that don't know the novels can play plain vanilla mortals who don't know anything about the supernatural, and the players will learn about the world as their characters do (always fun if you can pull it off).
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brumcg wrote:
How well would the Dresden Files RPG do a different time period "out of the box." Say... the Old West or the 1930's?

Pretty well, actually. Even the skill list is broad enough not to require much tweaking; there's no Computer skill, for instance (it's part of Scholarship). If you go back far enough, Driving and/or Guns might come off the list, but that's about it. And most of the legends that drive the mythology are hundreds if not thousands of years old, so that's not a problem. I could easily see a bunch of White Court vampires in the Roaring '20s...

The one problem you might run into is with wizards. Part of the Dresden mythology is that wizards don't get along well with modern technology (with "modern" being a highly vague and variable term). This is a significant drawback in a modern setting where everyone relies on cell phones and the Internet; in the Old West, it might be much less of a factor, and wizards might be correspondingly more powerful. But in that period, maybe wizards break steam engines and telegraphs, or maybe instead they make animals uncomfortable (a problem when most travel is done on horseback).

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Mechanically, does Dresden still require the Fate "stat pyramid" after character creation? I can't remember what it's called... but it's where you can't have more skills rated as "good" than you have rated as "fair"?

Yes. In order to have N skills at Great, you have to have that many or more at Good, which in turn require that many or more at Fair, etc. It's certainly a rule that could be ignored without too much effect, but I like it; it tends to produce slightly more well-rounded characters rather than combat monsters who can't think their way out of a paper bag (or vice versa).
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Regarding the novels:
vestige wrote:
Preferably on a beach or airplane, they are that kind of books.

I think this hits the nail on the head. They kind of remind me of John D. MacDonal's Travis McGee novels.
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Lots of questions on the quality of the books. Without turning this into a book review, here are my 2 cents:

The Dresden novels are not, by any means, great literature. They are quick, easy reads, perfect (as Steven noted) for a long plane trip or an afternoon on the beach. The first book is the worst of the lot, but the high concept may be enough to sustain interest in it; the succeeding books get better as they go, but they never ascend to greatness.

As for starting late in the series, it's not a bad idea; a common complaint about Butcher's writing is that he spends a lot of time going back and clarifying things that he's already made abundantly clear in previous books. That can get a bit annoying if you're reading the whole series, but it makes episodic reading a lot more viable. There is character development and change in the books, but I don't think the story is epic enough to let that hold you back from starting later in the series.

Basically, if the genre interests you, try one of the books and see if you like it. If the genre doesn't interest you, I wouldn't bother.
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GilvanBlight wrote:
Not sure if you can answer this as you may not know the other rpg or the Author but maybe someone could answer it:

How does this compare to Changeling: The Dreaming (1st Edition) for handling modern fantasy?

Unfortunately, I was dropping out of the World of Darkness right as Changeling came out, and have minimal exposure to it. Anyone else care to tackle this one?

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What I really want is an RPG that will let me re-create the worlds of Charles DeLint. Changling is the best I have found so far but it wasn't great. Would Dreseden work?

Well, for some more than others. I think the DFRPG rules would work nicely for something like Jack, the Giant-Killer or Moonheart, though you'd certainly need to to a bit of work to adapt the templates, etc. to that kind of setting.
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Bazin wrote:
Can you compare how the explanations of Aspects differ in SotC and Dresden?

How the explanations differ? I'm not sure I'm parsing that question correctly. Aspects are a very broad topic in DFRPG; can you clarify your question a bit?

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Is the game tied to the setting, or could one do a generic urban fantasy with little change to character creation/etc?

The mechanics aren't really setting-specific, with the possible exception of how magic works, but I think that's both broad enough to work in a non-Dresden urban fantasy game and easy enough to tweak for your own needs. The main place you might need to do some work would be in the character templates, since the existing ones are built around the archetypes in the Dresden novels. However, since there is a complete a la carte listing of powers, designing your own templates is a relatively quick and easy process.

One of the great strengths of the FATE system is its flexibility; one you wrap your brain around the basic mechanics, it's pretty easy to build or improvise subsystems for whatever your game needs.
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Rubric wrote:
Err... okay, so not a lot of high praise for the books. I'm not sure my OCD brain would let me start with book 4 of a series.


This is the important thing to realize: the first two novels of the series were written while Jim was a student studying novel writing. The first novel was his class project. So he's not at top of his game yet.

When the series was sold, the first three books in it were sold, and written, before the general public had a chance to read 'em and create the broad body of feedback.

So there's a certain amount of "he ain't gotten his feet under him yet" in the first two books. Book 3 or 4 is where things start to wake up, and the series goes on a crescendo of quality from there.
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vestige wrote:
Rubric wrote:
bschoner wrote:
a full chapter on creating your own “Dresden-ized” version of whatever city you might want to play in.

I read a session report, (the MScrivener one), that shows setting creation as a group effort. Is it anything like cluster generation in Diaspora? In other words, are there rules/mechanics for it, or does the book just give you a bunch of suggestions, etc.

There aren't "statistics" for the "city" like there are in Diaspora, but there is a formalized structure for creating the setting collaboratively as the first step in character creation. I think it works brilliantly. Diaspora has more random elements and more focus on creating a workable setting even beyond the adventures. DFRPG is more focused on generating the threats, locations, and NPCs with which the characters will actually interact.

What Steven said. Basically, the DFRPG approach is to help the group collectively formalize what they want out of the setting, and give "their" city various themes, conflicts, and storylines that they can then explore. GMs who prefer to create the setting themselves and have their players discover it might not like this approach, but I find it a good way to make sure that the players are getting what they want by making them help define it.
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bschoner wrote:
Bazin wrote:
Can you compare how the explanations of Aspects differ in SotC and Dresden?

How the explanations differ? I'm not sure I'm parsing that question correctly. Aspects are a very broad topic in DFRPG; can you clarify your question a bit?


How did Dresden improve on explaining how Aspects are supposed to work?

Based on my experience and subsequent forum visits trying to figure out a game I wanted to like, SotC just plain fell flat in really giving me a quality sense of what this key part of the system looked like.

Better?
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