These are my impressions based on the backer preview from the Fate Core kickstarter that I backed in 2013. It has been my favorite long running kickstarter just because they have set the expectations for the various stretch goals in terms to when they would be delivered as well as keeping us informed as to the progress. In addition I have been a fan of the Dresden Files books. I have also read the first two Dresden Files RPG books (Our Story and Your Story). One thing to keep in mind with this book is that it covers the events up to Skin Game so if you are not caught up on the series, you might get spoilers in this post1 and will definitely get some in the book. Anyway here are my impressions.
The Powers That Be
This chapter covers the various supernatural powers that have been encountered or mentioned in the stories. This chapter spends most of its space covering the fae, the next biggest section covers the Vampire Courts. In the sections, we get the important characters for that faction complete with stat blocks. In this case, we get Dresden and Fix in the fae section as knights of their courts. We also finally get Ramirez my favorite secondary character from the books.
In the section on Vampires, we only get brief mentions of the Red Court and Jade Court2, but no details on them in part because of the events of Changes. The limited information on the Red Court is odd because of the extra information on them in the chapter With Great Power.
Other groups that get mentions are the Knights of the Cross, Monoc Securities, Denarians, Paranet, Fomor, and Svartalves. We even get a stat block for Nicodemus. We do not get any information on the group that Dresden refers to as the Black Council in this book.
Oh, The Places You’ll Go
This chapter covers some of the places that you might visit. We start with a section on Ley Lines and some description of couple of places where they converge. Then we move on to the Nevernever with information on Faerie and the Ways with important locations from the stories in these regions. Then we get some information on regions outside of Faerie, but still inside the Nevernever. We then finish up with some information on what is beyond the outer gates.
Velvet Glove, Iron Fist
This chapter covers the rules that the supernatural follow in the setting and the Laws of Magic that the White Council enforce. This chapter has lots on how the various supernatural factions are expected to behave, and how they will try to manipulate the rules to their advantage.
In the Beginning
This chapter covers setting up a campaign. As with all of the other Fate games that I have read, this is a collaborative process for the group as a whole and not just something that the Game Master does. We start by identifying a city for the game to be based out of, then we identify the factions in the city. After that we identify the player characters, detail the factions, and decide the event that kicks off the story.
The Heaven Of Invention
This chapter covers character creation. Structurally this chapter resembles the other Fate Accelerated games3. The major departure is the inclusion of Mantles which will be described in a later chapter. The only other difference was new names for the approaches. Flair, Focus, Force, Guile, Haste, Intellect.
The Play’s The Thing
This chapter is the fairly traditional how Fate works chapter at least since the Fate Core release. We get some discussion on the four actions and the four outcomes. How to choose the appropriate approach and how to read the dice.
Aspects, The Fulcrum Of Fate
This is the second fairly standard chapter on how Fate works. In it we get information on the different types of aspects be they character, faction, situation, or condition. How to use them and some tips on how to create good ones.
With Great Power
This chapter covers three things. The first is how to create stunts. These are the minor rules exceptions that help to distinguish characters with same approaches. The rules on creating them are similar to those ones from other sources using the Fate Core/Fate Accelerated edition of Fate.
Conditions are the second section. We start with a discussion of the three types of Conditions Fleeting, Sticky, and Lasting which cover how long until they are recovered. We also get the three new conditions for this setting. They are In Peril, Doomed, and Indebted. The In Peril and Doomed ones in part help to determine what happens to a character who is taken out in combat, and the Indebted is used for the trading of favors that seems to happen (especially during interactions with the Fae)4.
The last section deals with Mantles5. These are a collection of stunts and conditions that are relevant to a being with that Mantle. This is the first choice that you make when building a character and while they are not balanced for power (i.e. some mantles are more powerful than others True Fae vs. Clued-In Mortal) they are all in some way relevant to the setting and stories. You normally only get to choose one mantle, but there are a couple of explicitly stated exceptions such as Changeling, Red Court Infected6, Werecreature, and White Court Virgin. There are rules for gaining powers from other mantles and changing mantles in the chapter on advancement. The last thing that I will mention about mantles is they remind me of the Iconic Frameworks from Savage Rifts, or what I expect Olympus, Inc7 is using for its Arcane Backgrounds.
So Mote It Be
This chapter covers Ritual Magic. It boils down to four steps. Name the effect, Describe the effect, Prepare the spell, and Pay the cost. The difficulty of the spell is based on what all of the effects the spell has. The more effects and the longer the effects last the more difficult the Overcome roll is that you make during the Prepare the spell phase. The cost of the spell is based as well on the number of effects and the duration. You can pay costs with by spending character resources or accepting complications. The decisions about what these costs are is alternated between the Game Master and the player casting the spell and the person that starts is determined by the result of the Overcome roll. All in all, I like this a heck of a lot more than the original Dresden Files RPG’s magic system, and we end the chapter with several examples of rituals to give you ideas on how to build them.
Wrath, Ruin, And The Red Dawn
This chapter covers challenges, conflicts, and contests. We start with a discussion of power scales which the setting makes extensive use of. Depending on the scale differential and when you choose to exploit that difference, determines the effect of the difference. I like the simplicity of this system. After that we dive into the rest of the chapter Challenges and Contests are pretty much the same as you would expect after reading any other Fate game, and the only new bit that I saw dealt with how badly getting Taken Out impacts a character. I like how this system uses narrative limits based on the conditions that a character currently is suffering, though it also provides for a limited form of after the roll Concession instead of having to Concede before the dice hit the table8.
We also get some ideas on how to run investigations. This section breaks investigations into three categories based on how long it will take to resolve them. We also get some suggestions on how to set them up. They appear to be serviceable and seem like they are an extension of the challenges rules with some extra discussions. I especially like the idea of asking the players for two hypotheses for what they expect to learn and what obstacles they think they will face.
The Journey Of A Thousand Miles
This chapter deals with character and setting advancement. We start with the three normal milestones Minor, Significant, and Major. The only interesting new changes that I noticed is that with a Significant milestone you can choose a stunt from a new mantle, and with a Major milestone you can change your mantle if circumstances make it applicable or add a new condition to your mantle. This is how you end up with a Warden of the White Council Knight of Winter like Dresden.
We also get some information on advancing any non playing characters that put in regular appearances and actually advancing the factions that were created at the beginning of the game if they have made progress towards their goals.
We end this chapter with some thoughts on how to create new mantles and the recommendation of re-skinning parts of the existing ones to make the work of developing these easier instead of having to go through the process of creating everything from scratch.
A Kind And Patient Master
This chapter is all about running the game. It gives some ideas on creating scenarios, setting opposition, choosing appropriate costs and simplified ways of creating non player characters of various levels of importance. We also get a handful of monstrous adversaries that can be used as well as some things to think about as you create your own.
One of the things that I liked about the minor and supporting non player characters is that they are limited to being good at a couple of things, bad at a couple of things, and in the case of the supporting characters good at opposing two approaches. I think that is an interesting twist that I haven’t seen before in Fate.
We’ll Always Have Parish
This is the final chapter. It covers the example campaign setup from chapter 4 and details the environs of New Orleans and what is going on there. We get several factions, three points of conflicts, and a handful of characters that are ready to play. All in all, it is a good example of how to set up a game with the various moving parts.
Overall I liked this incarnation a lot better than the original. The rules have been streamlined especially for magic which used to require a lot of work before play to prepare any spells that you intended to cast often. The only thing that I missed in the book was information on Bob the Skull.
- I will try not to spoil too much and will definitely avoid major plot points. ↩
- The Jade Court has only been mentioned once in the novels in Death Masks. ↩
- Fate Accelerated Edition, Do Fate of the Flying Temple, etc. ↩
- In fact the Indebted condition actually reminds me of rules that are found in Urban Shadows with its Debt Moves. ↩
- Mantles came up in the Dresden Files books during Cold Days, and I think that is a nice addition for the story. I especially think it is a better solution for how to build characters than the original Dresden Files’ variable cost stunt approach. ↩
- This is one of the two references to the Red Court in this chapter. We also get a full Red Court Vampire mantle. Presumably so you can play games set before the events of Changes ↩
- Olympus, Inc. just came out a couple of weeks ago, and it is on my list of books to buy in the new year. ↩
- When a character Concedes, they get to negotiate how they leave the conflict and get a Fate Point, plus additional Fate Points based on any conditions they have. In this case, you can choose to not absorb the damage with your stress or condition slots and thus get taken out. The other party gets to dictate how you are taken out within limits based on what conditions you have checked. At this time I am not sure how this will impact conflicts, but I am sure it is going to. ↩