Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Dresden Files RPG - Vol. 1; Your Story

The Dresden Files RPG - Vol. 1: Your Story (Print+PDF or PDF)
Leonard Balsera, Ryan Macklin, and Chad Underkoffler
Published by Evil Hat Productions

Disclaimer: Although product was offered for this review, I declined as I was a pre-order customer for both volumes one and two of The Dresden Files RPG. I'm a fan of Jim Butcher's, and his involvement was enough to entice my pre-order...what follows is a testament to that fanatical trust.

First things first, The Dresden Files RPG is based on the novel series of the same name, by Jim Butcher. If that was all I knew about the game, I'm fairly certain that it would be enough. Also, it uses the FATE RPG system, which is based on FUDGE. That's about all the detail that I'm going to go into the resolution mechanics of the game, as I'm sure there are other reviews out there that do a fine job of it and there are also the links that talk about the gaming systems. Instead, I'm going to talk about my favorite aspect of the game, outside of its setting and source material, which is the nature of its cooperative play and city designing.

Traditionally most of the campaign designing lays behind the screen, with the bulk of the non-player characters, locations, and other aspects of a campaign being decided upon by the person running the game. However, The Dresden Files RPG takes an interesting, as well as enjoyable, twist to this by turning many of the aspects of campaign design into a cooperative play dynamic.

Whether you're converting a city from the real world, or crafting one wholecraft from the minds on both sides of the screen, The Dresden Files RPG encourages a cooperative style of city creation with the use of a variety of city creation sheets that help the group work through the NPCs that make up the city, its locations, trials and tribulations, and all other aspects of the city that the campaign will take place in and around. Small township or large city, it's easy to turn it into a part of the Dresdenverse.

As most role-playing gamers know there is no real winning or losing to RPGs, but there are varying dynamics to the groups and how they approach gaming. Sometimes there is the versus dynamic, where it's one side of the screen versus the other. Other times there's Monte Haulism, with little challenge and lots of reward. Then there is the cooperative dynamic, with both sides of the screen working through the story and its challenges. There are many more dynamics, but its the cooperative dynamic that is encouraged by the designers of The Dresden Files RPG, sharing in the themes and threats, the faces of the city, its locations, and other details, high and low.

It's this cooperative dynamic that is a strong point of The Dresden Files RPG, an aspect that compliments the series whose name it bears. By having the folks on both sides of the screen work together toward a better story. It can allow for a richer environment as everyone talks about local folklore, haunts, and other details that add depth to any setting. Why do folks avoid the pond near the train tracks? What's wrong with that shake under the overpass? What is it about that Old Miller?

In the end The Dresden Files RPG's city creation not only encourages cooperation, but depth of knowledge about the locations and the people within them. It's through here that folks know who they can go to for information or help. What place has the best coffee, but that odd barista who knows too much. Are there lots of vampires? If so, what courts and where? What's the White Council's influence in the area? All of these questions, and more, are fleshed out during the start of a campaign and added to as time goes by. It helps tie the players closer to the campaign, yet adds more items to the toolset behind the screen. All in all, The Dresden Files RPG excellent addition to any bookshelf and gaming table.

Buy yours today, whether for $49.99 (Print+PDF) or $25.00 (PDF).

Want to learn more about The Dresden Files? Read on...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Advanced Feats: Secrets of the Alchemist

Advanced Feats: Secrets of the Alchemist (PDF)
Sigfried Trent
Published by Open Design

Disclaimer: The copy used for this review was provided by the folks at Open Design.

One of my favorite things about niche products is that they delve into the minutia of a subject, and do so in an enjoyable fashion while also being economical. And it is in this spirit of what I enjoy that Secrets of the Alchemist — the first in a new PDF series from Open Design that looks into the new classes for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game — does not let down.

Within Sigfried Trent's first solo-offering, not only are we presented a slew of new feats, 30-in-all, but we are also offered a look at the small details of what an alchemist is, with respect to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. What can they do, what makes them special, and various builds focusing on the different kinds of alchemists that a player character can be. Is an alchemist simply just a brewery of potions? A drinker of draughts? An exploder of things that need to go 'splodie?

Yeah, I typed 'splodie. I'm from the Pacific Northwest, and I have caused things to 'splode once or twice, and enjoyed it every time. Sue me.

For a 12-page PDF, Secrets of the Alchemist covers a lot of ground, including the 30 feats mentioned above, 3 alchemist build suggestions with a brief leveling outline, and an examination of what it is to be an alchemist. Clear, concise, and economical; Not only does this describe Sigfried Trent's work within, but it also accurately describes these offering from Open Design.

Buy yours today, for $3.95 (PDF).