First off let me state that I have been on a Dresden Files kick over the last few months after getting this game for review. It has caused to me to read several of the books (one of which “Fool Moon” I reviewed on one of my sites Club Fantasci) and really immerse myself in The Dresden Files Universe. I had previously seen the TV show a few times on Netflix but that was all I knew about it when Evil Hat Productions and Fred Hicks granted my request for a review copy of this game.
Having been out of RPG’s for awhile, I got back into them when a friend talked me into going to a weekly D&D 4E gaming group. It brought back all the nostalgia of my Advanced D&D days and a few others I had played growing up. Needless to say, I was very excited to see how far RPG games had come along since those days and I was not disappointed.
The Dresden Files Role Playing Game is a fine piece of work for any style game let alone an RPG. It stays very faithful to the source material and I had just as much fun reading both the core manuals as I did the books themselves. There was so much character and fun packed into these books it amazed me at how incredibly detailed they were and how much it completely felt like all the characters I had gotten to know through the novels. That being said, if you are not familiar with The Dresden Universe than some of this might be lost on you but I believe that you will still get an incredible sense of the fun, whimsy and amazingly creative universe created by Jim Butcher and faithfully captured by Evil Hat Productions.
The first core manual to the game titled “The Dresden Files Role-playing Game Volume One: Your Story,” covers everything a new player would need to start a game and run with it. The game itself is based of the Fate Core system which at the time of the writing has just been re-released under a new version from Evil Hat Productions. “Your Story” dives right in by exploring the Dresden verse and explaining the basics. By chapter three you are already creating a city in which to being your campaign. I found this part extremely intriguing and fun to read as usually most RPG’s take place in another world or universe where as The Dresden Files is an urban fantasy based in your back your so to speak. The idea of looking up urban legends, monuments, local issues whether they be political or crime related seemed fascinating and a unique, fun way to develop a campaign. I mean come on, who wouldn’t like to research the local ghost stories and add legend to them or a twist and be able to add that to a campaign or build one off of it. What a blast!
Then of course the book heads into character creation, which is always one of the most fun things about playing RPG’s. Being able to be who you have always wanted to be or a favorite character you grew up loving. The break the types down into templates to make it very easy and explain how advancement works so your characters can grow. From there it was developing aspects of your character, explaining how a character might do with heroic types actions called stunts and supernatural powers.
Soon enough you are into playing the game, dealing with magic and the different types of spell casting, how to properly run a game and design scenarios and how NPG characters fit in and an example city built in for you to learn from or use for your own campaign.
The second manual “The Dresden Files Role-Playing Game Volume Two: Our World” goes deep into the source material of the Dresden verse. The Dresden Files being an urban fantasy of supernatural order, there are many types of creatures, factions, political movements, gangland issues and so forth that have gone on for thousands of years to the more recent decadescreating a rich, vibrant world of opportunity to play an create amazing campaigns with a full detailed history to work with. The min character of the books Wizard Harry Dresden is from Chicago so a lot of this is based on this city already.
There is a “Who’s Who” compendium in this manual and a type of “Monster Manual” as well to help flesh out campaign creation and NPC characters that could be included. The book starts of with “Old World Order” which of course details the supernatural politics, supernatural factions, various Lords and wars that have raged on for either centuries or newly formed like “The Vampire War.”
This book even has a story written in it as kind a “flashback” narrative from the Harry Dresden point of view to help explain how things should be dealt with when getting into the supernatural world and using your powers. It is extremely well done.
I was sent the PDF file of the book so I can’t speak as to the quality of the hard back manuals but the artwork in the books are amazing. The attention to detail and care that went into creating these books and keeping the faith with the source materials is the best I have ever seen. I truly was excited from the moment I opened up the book to moment I finished reading it. I even use it as a reference material when reading The Dresden Files novels now. That is how good it is. Evil Hat Productions and their team deserve a huge pat on the back for how well they pulled this off.
The whole idea behind role-playing games is to tell a story. Living out a fantasy world campaign, being in the shoes of your characters and experiencing things we never get to in real life. This is an amazing tool for doing that and one I found that people who always wanted to be authors but couldn’t, could still have some sort of the same experience. The Dresden Files to me is the best I have found for creating that story and actually developing characters, campaigns and great gaming groups around. This Fate engine fits this scenario perfectly.
Now I know some of the veteran RPGer’s won’t agree with this which is ok. The purpose of this review is to expose new people to the genre of both RPG’s and The Dresden Files or maybe even for the current Dresden Files fans that want to be able to dive deeper into the universe.
What I love most about this system is that is keeps story telling and completely unique character creation at the forefront which to me was lost when D&D screwed up everything to reach the masses and every character basically became the same and very, very limited. The Fate system works for people who want to experience a very deep level of unique character development, game play and a deep experience in story telling, creation and authentic role-playing. Evil Hat Productions also include the PDF version of the manuals free if you buy the manuals in the hard cover edition.
Let me some this up by saying that if you are new to RPG’s and want to find a system to try that easy enough to pick up and start easily, wants an exciting setting to play in and one with rich content, manuals that are seriously well constructed and easy to utilize then I cannot recommend The Dresden Files RPG heavily enough.
I am giving The Dresden Files Role-Playing Game 8.5 out of 10 stars. The only reason it isn’t higher is I would like to see more material for the game. This would be a boon for newer RPGer’s looking to get into campaign development and experience great campaign building with a few setting to go along with the core manuals.
A must have for any RPG aficionado and one of the best-built systems I have ever come across. Well-done Evil Hat Productions!
This review was originally done for Geek Eccentric.