Dresden Files Philadelphia: It Begins

Posted on : 05-30-2011 | By : Brian | In : Indie Games, Session Reports

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Cast of Characters

PJ O’Toole is a journalist from Chicago. In Chicago, he dug a little too deeply in pursuit of the truth, and ran afoul of the White Council. They were going to execute him, but he managed to talk his way out of it, with Harry Dresden’s help. Dresden told PJ to go to Philadelphia, where there was plenty of weirdness afoot, but a very small White Council presence. PJ agreed, and moved to Philadelphia where he went freelance, and tried at every turn to avoid attention from those in power. While in Chicago, PJ met Debra (below), interviewed her for an article, and promptly fell in love with her. In a happy coincidence, she moved to Philadelphia, too.

Debra “Heather” Spivey is a grad student from Chicago, where she was raised by two lesbians.She is currently studying mythology at Drexel. She has some minor magical talent, mostly in the area of divination, and she has trouble figuring out where to draw the line when she’s using her power. She knows PJ, but thinks he’s a little creepy, especially since he pays so much attention to her.

Boop-Boop is a pixie of the Summer Court. She heard about the Za Lord’s Guard in Chicago, and decided to create a similar organization in Philadelphia, which she calls the Rose Guard. Lily, the Summer Lady, wanted to encourage her, so she granted Boop-Boop the ability to use seelie magic, which complimented the pixie’s already potent ability to cast glamours.

Percy was raised by a single mom, along with his sister (who is away at college in Alabama). He got a job in City Hall, working as an aide to the mayor, in order to help his mom pay the bills. However, his supernatural connections also landed him a job working for a shape-shifting black cat named Maximillion, who uses him as a spy within the mayor’s office. Percy is able to transform into a bat, though he only does so when it’s necessary and he’s unlikely to get caught doing so. He is very protective of Debra, seeing her as a surrogate little sister.

The Story So Far

Tires on asphalt squeal through the night, shattering the silence. It is Halloween night, and PJ, Debra, Boop-Boop, an Percy are in a car, running from agents of the government, speeding down I-95. They are likely being chased because PJ has photographic evidence of the mayor turning into a werewolf (which Percy would like to obtain for himself).

As the two car’s speed down I-95, Boop-Boop takes out her scrying bowl (a plastic water bottle cap invested with seelie power) and scries into the pursuing car. She sees three large men in nondescript clothing, one of them loading a handgun in the passenger’s seat. Boop-Boop warns the rest of the car that the others have a gun, and likely mean them harm.

Deciding to try to give the other car the slip, PJ (who is driving; it’s his car) turns on his left turn signal, then veers to the right, trying to shake them. At the same time, Boop-Boop throws a veil over the whole car, and PJ kills the engine. The other car goes speeding by, losing them. Boop-Boop continues to scry their car, and sees that they soon pull over, realizing they’ve lost their quarry.

The group knows that they have precious little time before the hunt begins again, and they try to decide what to do, but . . .

. . . they open their eyes. They are each somewhere safe, and familiar. It is three days before Halloween, and none of this has happened yet. They are each, however, armed with foreknowledge, a glimpse of a future that may come to pass.

To be continued . . .

Running the Game

The above represents about the first twenty or thirty minutes of play of our first session of The Dresden Files RPG. We started with four fairly different characters. PJ O’Toole is a vanilla mortal, Debra is a minor practitioner (she had the Ritual power initially, but at the end of the session traded it in for Thaumaturgy), Boop-Boop is a full-on fairie with a whole host of supernatural powers, and Percy is a shapeshifter who can transform into a bat.

I decided I wanted to catch everyone’s attention right from the beginning, so I started in media res, with the car chase. I told them they were running from someone, and asked them who they were running from. PJ’s player, Sean, immediately said “the government”, and everyone else agreed. I then held up a FATE point and asked whose fault it was, and why. Again, Sean volunteered, saying that they were being chased because he had photographic evidence of the mayor turning into a werewolf. He got the FATE point, and that became true.

This led to a nice little exchange between Sean (PJ) and Mike (Percy), where Percy was trying to convince PJ to give him his camera’s memory card (he wanted the photos for his own reasons), and Sean refusing. Sean wound up taking the memory card out of the camera and hiding it in his watch’s band (which Percy, being very observant, saw). He then gave Percy his camera, and Percy promptly threw it out the window.

I had initially planned on an extended chase scene, but the players threw me a curveball. PJ’s fake to the right would have been easy enough to handle, but Denise (Boop-Boop) decided to veil the entire car, which ended the chase pretty quickly. It was clever, though, so I let it happen. It allowed me to put the next part of my opening into play a little more quickly: the flashback.

The idea was that the whole chase scene was a vision of a possible future. The PCs all now had that knowledge, but they didn’t know how they’d get to that point. It’s now up to them to get to that point, and up to me to nudge them in the right direction. To help facilitate that, I placed an aspect (Threads of Fate) on the whole city that I can compel to get them to go in the right direction.

What’s nice, though, is that, in the entire first session, I didn’t have to compel it once. The players are doing a pretty good job of getting there on their own. More on that in a future post.

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