10 February 2013

Dresden Files RPG: Part 2 - Characters and Setting

This is the second part in a series about the Dresden Files Role Playing Game. Part 1 and Part 3.

Here are the last of the characters, along with some information on the city and the setting. After the game, I will provide a recap along with some thoughts (maybe even some from the players).


High Concept: Unseelie Changeling Lorekeeper
Trouble: Time is a Thief to All Things
Background: The Family Business
Rising Conflict: Insatiable Thirst for Knowledge
Your Story: A Fine Line Between Old Friends and Enemies

Guest Star: "I Call them Silver and Cold."

Guest Star: "Where I Haven't Been is a Shorter List, Sir."
Average: Alertness, Discipline, Endurance, Investigation
Fair: Craftsmanship, Guns, Scholarship

Good: Contacts, Resources
Great: Lore
Powers/Stunts: The Sight (-1), Soulgaze (0), Inhuman Speed (-2), Filthy Lucre (-1)

The request for this character was frighteningly similar to a mortal that appeared in a previous Dresden Files game I ran. Learning what I did from that experience, I tried to apply that and make something that should work in a wide variety of circumstances. The high Lore without any magic is always problematic, but with the changes I am making to the Nevernever (anyone with Lore can get there), it will be more useful. 

On the whole, this is broadly a dark Indiana Jones character well past his prime, but still in it. As usual, I tried to give an implied background that has a lot of empty spaces to fill. He's wealthy, urbane, and there is a hint of violence and skullduggery about him.

High Concept: Winter Court Squire
Trouble: If Violence isn't the Answer, We Need a New Question
Background: Semper Fi
Rising Conflict: Nine Frozen Laments to Give
Your Story: Never Trust a Spy, and This City is Full of 'Em

Guest Star: Cloak and Dagger, but Mostly Dagger

Guest Star: Fast and Terrifying as a Hurricane
Average: Driving, Fists, Might, Stealth
Fair: Alertness, Guns, Intimidation

Good: Athletics, Endurance
Great: Weapons
Powers/Stunts: Marked by Power (-1), Item of Power (+1, Frozen Lament), Claws (-1), Inhuman Speed (-2), Supernatural Recovery (-4), The Catch (Fire), No Pain, No Gain (-1)

The request for this character was a dishonorably discharged soldier that has no clue what is going on. Also, a badass. As a part of the setting, the city is neutral ground which means that no official representatives of any faction can act there - thus, no Knights. So a special position, the Squires, were created. They have the backing of their Court, but have no officially been imbued with the trappings. Just an Item of Power to help them along. Frozen Lament is a brace of shards of ice/throwing knives.

This character's implied background is significantly more sparse. She's a badass and in a completely new situation that she mostly copes with through violence. It's simple and brutal - if this were a long-term campaign, I would not expect her to live long (except for that amazing recovery).

High Concept: Changeling Journalist
Trouble: Revenge is a Dish Best Served... Period
Background: St. Louise de Marillac School for Troubled Children
Rising Conflict: Nothing Can Keep Me From the Answers
Your Story: Knows People that Know People, and They Are Bad People

Guest Star: In Way Over His Head, but He Can Swim

Guest Star: Ear to the Ground, Nose for the Truth, Eyes on the Prize... You Get the Idea
Average: Burglary, Performance, Scholarship, Stealth
Fair: Alertness, Deceit, Empathy

Good: Contacts, Rapport
Great: Investigation
Powers/Stunts: Capable Researcher, Hairpin Maestro, Quick Eye

This character was a late addition and the concept played with many of the areas that other characters had already explored. Which was something of an issue for niche protection. They also wanted to be unaware of their powers. Despite being labeled as a changeling, I used the Pure Mortal template. That would make their powers active through Aspects for the time being and give a greater mystery to their parentage. The implication here is that they are supernatural, just no indications in what way. I think that should be an interesting way to handle things and will encourage some supernatural implications to the Aspects.

The implied background here is a very troubled orphan who has made some ugly friends over the years. Currently he is a driven journalist, though has an unsavory past and connections. Hopefully there isn't too much mechanical and thematic overlap with some of the other characters.

The City

Given the nature of the game, a one shot, I'm not going to invest quite the level of time in creating this setting that I normally would. This includes removing the cooperative elements which can help to bring everything to life and give significant player investment in the setting from the word "Go".

I had previously mentioned that there are parts of the setting that I will be changing. From the standard Dresden Files, things are going to be significantly darker and more broken. The various supernatural factions will have more sway over humanity and the White Council is hopelessly out of touch and entrenched in bureaucracy and politics that move glacially. There very natures encourage a "wait and see" attitude. Which is what I am using to explain in part why they aren't involved in these happenings.

The supernatural factions have greater investment in this world because the Nevernever is less it's own thing and more echoes of our world. The layers closest to the "real" world are a little stranger, layers on top of what we would normally see, but containing memories of what used to be, crowded in the landscape. Particularly strong emotions or events may still live in these layers and can cause them to wear thin. This tends to have an affect on everyone in the area. The deeper you go, the stranger and more abstract it becomes. The dark Nevernever is a place of dreams and the subconscious. Many of the supernatural factions that don't fit in (particularly the fae) call these places home as they struggle to fit in the world unnoticed. The changing of society trickles to them and they find nothing more fascinating than our world. Our world where the eddies and ripples fundamentally change the landscape of their own over time. It is our dreams, hopes, fears, love and darkness that give them strength and power, and there is nothing more that they want than to continue being a part of that. Which, of course, means controlling it as best they can.

Portland is something of a mecca for this. An amazing triumph with such power and promise that the dangerous battles from long ago made it a terrifying place to be. Since the Accords were drawn up and it declared a place of neutrality, it has flourished and all parties have benefited (perhaps the fae more than others, but still). They distance between our world and the dream is very thin there, and the dream extends further than most imagine. There are depths that even the "native" denizens do not realize, in their own hubris.

Theme: A city of bridges, physical and meta-physical.
  • Aspect: Crossing Over
  • Face: Ed, The Troll Union - Post 205
  • Face: Mugsy, Street Roots - Homeless Newspaper
  • Location: The Troll Union and Street Roots, Burnside Bridge (Worlds Collide)
  • Location: Diablo's Pizza (Dangerous Questions)
  • Location: Charles Mortimer Thannet, The Pi Shoppe (To Die for Pies, All Slices $3.14)

Theme: While everything seems great on the surface, underneath it is rotten, also a play on the City of Roses
  • Aspect: American Beauty
  • Face: Tsing Tsong, Clenched Fist Tong
  • Face: Sergei Desnova, The Boyars
  • Face: Nicodemus Whatley, The Whatley Family
  • Location: Donny A, The Acropolis ("Harmless" Fun)
  • Location: Pioneer Courthouse Square (Filthy Heart)
  • Location: International Rose Test Garden (Unfettered Vision)
  • Location: Mistress Bodica, Spartacus (Unchained Appetites)

Threat: A neutral meeting ground, a city of spies
  • Aspect: Spark in a Tinder Box
  • Face: Kincaid Thomas, Supernatural Fixer
  • Face: Leslie Allen, Summer Court Squire
  • Location: Oolong, Chinese Garden (Eye of the Storm)
  • Location: Jet Black, La Luna (Darkness Growing)
  • Location: Larry, Pier 451 (Port of Ill Repute)
  • Location: Thomas Peasemill, Powell's Books (Knowledge is Cheap, Wisdom is Pricey)


  1. The Acropolis? As in the Steakhouse/Strip club? Honest to god, some of the best & cheapest burgers you'll find in Oregon. You going to have any more locations? Voodoo Donuts, Portland Zoo, Rose Garden?

    1. Yeah, that's the one. Also didn't get used. A lot of this went unused actually. Go figure.