If you’re familiar with Fate Core (or other Fate products by Evil Hat), you’ll know that they structure Game Creation in a specific way that focuses on collaboratively building the game world. It is, in my opinion, sublime and one of Fate’s many strengths.
Dresden Files Accelerated has focused this process on a series of steps that will lead the Game Master and the players to having a single page or two of material that will form the core of their campaign. Those steps are: Gather and Discuss, Identify Factions, Identify Player Characters, Detail Factions, Determine the Inciting Incident, and Create the Player Characters (if not already completed earlier). This has streamlined the process of City Creation from The Dresden Files RPG, speeding up this initial stage of play in my experience (which is apt, given this is Dresden Files Accelerated).
Today, I will demonstrate the first step of this process – Gather and Discuss – and apply it to my next campaign, Relics, in the first of a series of posts on Game Creation in Dresden Files Accelerated.
Gather & Discuss Your Do’s & Don’ts
We’ve all been there. You’re itching to run that cool idea you had after rereading The Dresden Files for the umpteenth time. You’ve gone through the often laborious task of rounding up some players and herding them like so many cats to your table (physical or digital). It is time to take your first steps into a much larger world.
With Dresden Files Accelerated, that means starting with a little brainstorming session. Talk about the premise, what ties the player characters together, what you all want from the campaign (or session, if it’s a oneshot). Pretty standard so far, but Dresden Files Accelerated has a slight twist on this by calling for the creation of two lists: your tables Do’s and their Don’t’s.
Think Big for Your Do’s and Don’t’s
Do and Don’t should be the big ideas. They should also be specific. Smaller ideas, like a specific plot twist or a big player in your campaign should be written down for later when you get to Identify Factions and Detail Factions. For example, if one of your players suggests a big faerie rumble as the crux of your campaign, then the Do for that might be ‘the Summer and Winter Courts of Faerie’. If a second player then chimes in and says ‘yea, and my faerie godmother is the one that got us into this mess’ then the faerie godmother is an NPC to be explored more in Detail Factions.
To illustrate this step further, lets review the pre-game conversation I had with my players, Dennis and Mathew, for Relics. As this is a continuation of a larger campaign (The Adventures of Alex Blackheart and Kaden Nuru), we had our premise and a dozen previous sessions to plumb for ideas. With that out of the way, we jumped immediately into what we wanted and didn’t want from the campaign.
Immediately, I suggested a new locale tied more closely to Mathew’s character Kaden: Africa. Specifically, Nairobi, Kenya. It’s large and well-developed, near plenty of interesting landmarks, and is a couple of countries (and a few hops through the NeverNever) to Kaden’s homeland of the Congo. Dennis and Mathew both agreed that this was a good idea, with Dennis going as far as to point out that Alex had perhaps a bit too much of the spotlight up until now.
Next up, we got into the nitty-gritty of the Do’s. Dennis was interested in exploring the criminal underworld and some more mundane threats, to which I tacked on the idea of the underground antiquities trade. Mathew pitched local genus loci and ley-lines as a hook, as well as shapeshifting baddies – I expanded this to a focus on Africa’s supernatural scene. For a little salt and pepper, I threw in a necromancer warlord (because nothing says The Dresden Files like an insane necromancer and shambling corpses).
The Don’t’s was a shorter, simpler list. We all agreed that the Denarians were sufficiently well-tread as antagonists (being the baddies for many of the earlier sessions). Mathew though brought up an interesting one though: light on the politics and keep out of current events. Bad Deal, the two-part wrap up from involving war-torn Damascus and rescuing a kidnapped faerie princess was a bit heavy on both, so I definitely agreed.
Put that all together in my mental blender, and here’s what it looks like:
The Investigations and Recoveries Unit at Monoc Securities – portrayed by Dennis and Mathew – are back at it again. After some retrospection and a little brainstorming, here are the building blocks of their next grand adventure:
- Criminal gangs and the underground antiquities trade
- Ghosts and necromancy
- The supernatural scene of Africa
The don’t’s include:
- The Knights of the Blackened Denarius
- Politics and current events
Finally, as they’ve been playing in Alex’s sandbox up until this point, everyone agrees to Nairobi, Kenya and Africa as the locale for this campaign. As Kaden’s neck of the woods, this will push him to the fore.
Using this format, you’ll have a block of key information and potential plot hooks. You’ll also have plenty of additional notes, details that will help you Identify Factions instrumental to your campaign. We’ll take that step together in part 2, where we get to see what deadly horrors Africa has in store for our dynamic wizarding duo.