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The Dresden Diaries: First Session

September 24, 2012
Campaign Diaries

Campaign Diaries

So I’ve started running a The Dresden Files RPG campaign for the first time ever. It’s a very different system than what I or my players are used to, but I think it’s going to be very cool. I thought I would use my blog to record my experiences with the game and running it.

We’d already gone through several sessions in which we created Aspects for our fictionalized Portland, Oregon setting. Then we created characters–two PCs and a recurring NPC. These sessions went very well and gave the players a sense of setting and feel for the system and gave me, as the game master, a sense of the player’s expectations for the game.

Last night was our first session in our first scenario.

The Set-Up

Yuriko, our PC were-fox (or kitsune), works at her family’s flower shop in downtown Portland. In her background, she had been chased by a pack of wolves in Forest Park–wolves that she thought might be weres. They were chased off by our other PC, Dillon, a Red Court infected. Yuriko receives a strange message on the back of a flyer from “Sundogz”, a doggy-day care facility across town. The message? “Foxfur–we need to talk”. After contacting her friend Dillon to watch her back and a bit of back-and-forth with the contact, they arrange a meet a local Vietnamese restaurant.

The Hook

The contact is Cali, who is a concerned friend of the wolf pack that chased Yuriko down in the park. Turns out that pack of wolves is a band of teenaged weres that are lead by a self-styled “alpha” who believes that Yuriko, being another were, has trespassed on the pack’s turf. Cali herself disagrees but would like Yuirko to meet with the pack and then maybe they can work something out–Troy, their leader, gets to posture and save face and Yuriko gets to run in the park without any further hassles. Reluctantly, though curious, Yuriko agrees to meet at their hangout, a pub called “Flanagan’s Dog” on Sandy. Dillon will be accompanying her.

At the pub, the two PCs meet the pack–and not one is over the age of 17. The place is a dive bar that, for some unknown reason, lets them hangout there and control the musical tastes at the jukebox (loud punk). They are a surly, rebellious lot, these wolves, and Dillon–who has a Rapport skill–is unable to crack their jaded exterior. Finally Troy arrives–a pudgy, round-face boy in a bowl-haircut with too much acne wearing a new leather jacket and biker boots–and sporting a slit, swollen lip.

After being fussed over by his girlfriend, he reveals that, of all things, a bear attacked him in the park–a bear sniffing around a manhole cover. Then he asks Yuriko, bold as brass, if “she’s the fox”. Yuriko, with an Aspect that makes her a bit more secretive, is appalled and talks around the question. After some back and forth involving Troy being an obnoxious, posturing, child, Troy (in his “I’m being magnanimous” voice), states that they can call this stalemate quits if Yuriko deals with their “bear problem”. Dillon makes a point of subtly pointing out they have a pack that can’t take care it, though Troy misses the jab. Yuirko agrees to the arrangement.

Both Yurkio and Dillon believe that if there is another were (bears aren’t known for sniffing around manhole covers in parks), they should probably check it out. Plus, this group of kids need to be careful if they’re running around the park–the bear may not be so generous next time and only bloody a lip. Cali thanks them for stepping in, and indicates that the pack needs a real Alpha, and that Troy will learn a lot when that happens. In the meantime, she keeps an eye on them as best she can.

The Story

While in the park, the two find the manhole cover–and discover that it is askew. About that time, shots ring out in the park. As they run up a short hill to see what’s going on, they see the weirdest site they’ve ever encountered: A goat-man in an overcoat is firing a gun at someone pinned down under a fallen tree. Once the goat-man notices the two emerge up the rise, he fires upon them, but misses. Yuriko, in fox-form, runs for the figure by the log–hoping to determine if they are a human being or not. After another couple of exchanges of gunfire, the goat-man runs and Dillon gives chase. Yuriko, hidden, spots that the other shooter is a man–one with a graze wound on his cheekbone and badge on his belt.

Dillon returns (after the goat gets away from him) and the man introduces himself as Detective Thomas Casing. He thanks Dillon for the help and speculates that he couldn’t have been shooting at what he thought he saw–the shooter must have had a Halloween mask or something. The two have an awkward conversation (due to a failed Rapport roll). Casing has no idea why he was being shot at–he was in the area investigating a case and was crossing the park on his way back to his car when he was shot at. After each gave their statements–with no mention of goat-men–Casing takes his leave. As Yuriko and Dillon leave to investigate the man-hole, she sees a small figure on wings zip by and disappear into the darkness. Dillon doesn’t really believe that she saw “a tinkerbell”, but Yuriko insists.

Dillon and Yuriko then go to investigate the man-hole cover, with Dillon being convinced that’s where the goat-man came from. Yuriko waits above-ground in fox-form while Dillon descends into the dark, dank, smelly hole. Dillon, having Cloak of Shadows, can see just fine in the darkness. There he encounters the unconscious–and naked–body of a stocky, native man lying in the tunnel. Once the man is roused, he reveals that he has hit an barrier in the tunnel that threw him back, knocking him unconscious. Dillon feels the barrier as well. After a brief–and extremely awkward–conversation, the two agree to come up together, have a beer, and figure out if their investigations are crossing each other.

Turns our the naked man, Jim Liwanu, is a were-bear (“of the People”) and is looking for his nephew, Philip, who ran away from the Grand Ronde reservation about a month ago looking for a man he met on the internet called “Dethdanser13”. Jim travels a lot, heard he had run away from his sister’s home, and took it upon himself to find him. He’s only been in Portland a few days but had discovered Philip’s scent–maybe only a day old–near the manhole and was running in to find him when he ran into the barrier.

The three agree to keep in contact and Dillon thinks he knows a man who can help with the barrier (a kinetomancer named Nick Salieri).

The next day, Dillon secures Nick’s help, who explains that the barriers are probably wards and that Nick can probably overpower them. After hearing the story, Nick agrees that something bad is going on and wants to help.

In the meantime, Yuriko does some research in a secret “occult” section of Powell’s bookstore, a section frequented by Aleister, a nice older man who is now wearing a black armband. Turns out that an acquaintance of his, Lyst Cathers, has recently been murdered. He lived in the Park district… Also, Yuriko discovers that what they saw was probably a Gruff, a denizen of the Summer or Seelie Court of the Fae. And that she probably saw a pixie, a working-stiff of the fae.

The four agree to meet the next evening to see what the barrier is protecting.

Final Thoughts:

I know that I didn’t handle the combat situations correctly, but it did seem to flow okay and move the story the way I needed it to, so overall a B rating on my performance on that.

I also didn’t really tap the player’s Aspects as much as I probably should have. I managed to get Yuriko 2 Fate Points, and Dillon 1, but I had to stretch credulity a bit to do it. The players also didn’t spend any FP throughout the session, so I’m not sure how to make that happen. From what I understand, with the Refresh function, spending FP should happen more often as they are not gone forever. So I give myself a C+ for that part.

I thought the story worked well, as well as the hooks, though in play it came out a bit more campy than it did on paper. So I give myself a B on that.

So on average, my performance was probably a B-…not up to my usual standard. Looks like I’ve got work to do to be better prepared.

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