Friday, December 9, 2011

Mile High Ways: Campaign Kick Off

Last Saturday, I gather some people around the table for the kick off of a Dresden Files game. Now Dresden Files is a game that I've wanted to run (or play) since it was announced years ago, so I'm having trouble keeping the manic parts of my brain restrained and not trying to talk about everything.


But City Creation and Character Creation happened. And it was interesting just watching everyone try to negotiate the interconnected nature of the city and their characters. As the GM and note taker, I quick found things spiraling to be larger and larger than what I was expecting, as each new tidbit, like a tribble, spawned another three or four items. Especially when you got into people's "musts" - I wanted the Red Court to be prominent, another player pushed hard for the Fae, another said that there should be strong White Court presence, etc. And by the end, I think we've got most of the major templates represented. Hell, we even have a massive mortal run conspiracy theorist wet-dream organization in the background.

Hello kitchen sink. I am looking forward to writing up a Secret's Deck to throw the occasional twist at the players. Also I want to try and do the same with various plot elements to help me when I get stymied. Put all the themes on one color of cards, threats on another, faces on a third, and locations on a fourth and start drawing and seeing if I can get them to get the brain juices flowing. Staples is going to love me.

What Our Denver Looks Like

Our Denver is a city that is eliminating the middle; you are either getting rich(er) or you are getting poor(er); the middle is getting squeezed out of the city and heading deeper into the suburbs. The crime is low, and getting lower, and becoming far more concentrated into just a few areas, almost like it is being herded like cattle and then the edges of those bastions of criminality are being nibbled away at the edges. Someone, or something, is cleaning up Denver.

Denver's airport invites a lot of visitors. It has been seen as a Gateway to the West, to prosperity for many decades. This Gateway has lent itself to the NeverNever, making Denver one of those places that things just show up through a portal, a doorway; and other .... beings ... some might call them demons, just hang around the edges of the city trying to entice foolish mortals to bring them across to the mortal plane.

Despite all this hope, Denver is a city that is scraping by. Nothing is ever really broken, but nothing is ever really fixed either; it is just sort of patched "good enough" and we move on. While there's a movement to change this, there's the weight of decades of city council.

Supernaturally speaking, the city is about 30 seconds from boiling. Sure, right now it looks calm, with all the major players balkanized into separate fiefdoms with some skirmishes at the borders, but just under that surface, the younger, more ambitious players are rattling the cages to overthrow the dominant power structure and give them their chance. The problem with that is the fact that there's a reason why the power structure exists as it does.

Here's the breakdown from the sheets, we went a touch overboard, but I'd rather have a problem of abundance, and pare down after the fact when we see what clicks and what doesn't, then not have enough.
City: Denver
Campaign: Mile High Ways
Themes: Everything is Polarized ("Better to be Strongly Wrong, than Weakly Right"); Bare Minimum Effort ("Close Enough for Government Work"); Lost and Found of the Universe ("Who Put This Here?")
Threats: Crime is non-existent ("Quiet, all too quiet"); Gateway City ("Everything and Everyone Shows Up Here")
Players: The protagonists of our little tale:
  • Marcus Tulius Rufus: The ghost of a Roman Legionnaire, disturbed when the NWO worked some rites in Denver International Airport. He dreams of bringing Rome back to the glory days, and oddly, as a ghost, has the ability to possess someone and submerge their personality and insert his own.
  • Kimiko Yamaguchi: A Yakuza Princess who is caring a Sword of the Cross. She's escaped Japan and ended up in Denver. She has a sword and can fix the world.
  • Devorah Gesenius Herbert or "Nickel": A young, innocent wizard who was sheltered and raised in a proper magic using household. Of course since her apprenticeship, her shiny outlook on the world has started to get a bit tarnished.
  • Theodore Troper "Ted": A Werebear EMT, a local boy with a large family. Social to the extreme, devourer of the finer things of life, but he can save your life, if you can distract him from his pleasures.
Key Locations: The key places we expect to matter:
  • Denver International Airport ("The Conspiracies Are Right!"): The NWO/Illuminati have a base in Denver under the Airport run by Mr. Samuel Smith, a dedicated administrator type.
  • Folk Lore ("Music is Magical!"): Purely acoustic music shop, where even the cash register is mechanical. Front end manager is Lee, but it is owned by the (PC) Wizard Debra "Nickel" Herbert
  • Red Rock Amphitheater ("Echoes Will Reach the Gods"): A place of power where every day concerts are held in amazing, natural surroundings.
  • Lake Shore Amusement Park ("Skin Crawling Home"): A boarding house for monsters, this privately run amusement park only hosts private parties.
  • EMR E&T Inc. ("Power is Power"): A combine Energy and Telco company, Consuela Rodriguez is a home grown CEO who has battled her way to the top.
  • Welton Block ("Everything has its Price"): A White Court block of party central in Lodo, Suzy Qu is the human administrator, beautiful and cold; of the "in place" no matter what you are into.
  • Tracks Bar/5 Points ("Blood is Strength"): Carlos Salvatrucha is an ambitious gangbanger and devotee to the Red Court vampires to runs theses area. Recently he's facing a problem in that a young Japanese girl, Kimiko Yamaguchi, with a Sword of the Cross has come to reside in the neighborhood.
  • Hell's Pit ("It is all about the fine print"): Denver is a cross roads, and Drogo, a Demon Lord, keeps it civil. Well as civil as a hell pit can. It is a chunk of NeverNever that you do not want to go into without a deal.
  • Jimmie's Burger Joint ("Careful What You Ask For"): 24 hour diner, with Jimmie, "Yes I'm a girl", running the grill. The menu that you can see is for mortals, if they happen to swing by, but careful what you ask for on your burger, she has access to a wide variety of stock.
  • Carmelite Monastery ("Purity in the Face of Ambition"): Run by Abbot Geoffrey, he has already clashed with Kimiko Yamaguchi regarding the proper outlook on the issue of saving souls. He is a man with some amount of power in the material realm.
Faces: Who's Who (Which was probably the hardest section to fill in, just because 10 faces for locations, well 9 cause we couldn't think of a good one for Red Rock, and then the themes), so far this is somewhat not done.
  • Bryan Thum ("Passive Warden") is the face of bare minimum effort. The eldest of the three major wizards in town, as long as it stays quiet, he stays out of it.
  • Paul ("Slighted Wizard"): Trained with Nickel, but always came in second. Was narrowly stopped from breaking one of the laws of magic to prove his ability, he is the face of "Gateway City".
  • Mr. Samuel Smith ("Dedicated Administrator"): Plain, unobtrusive, running one of the largest collections of underground conspiracies in the world. He is the face of the New World Order/DIA.
  • Abbot Geoffrey ("Righteous Monk"): is the face of Carmelite Monastery and understands that God's Ends Justify His Means.
  • Drogo ("Urbane Demon Lord"): Keeps Hell's Pit under control. Is working through mortal catspaws of the Cult of Splintered Circle to summon one of his brethren and unleash hell.
  • Trish Garcia ("Latest Leader"): Is the most recent Face of the cult. They go through them quickly though.
  • Consuela Rodriguez ("Hometown CEO"): She's worked her way to the top by making deals and being ruthless and she is going to stop now.

Closing Thoughts

Having run through the character and city creation I, of course, have a few thoughts.

I'm looking forward to the game. Probably won't get to have our first real gaming session till January cause of the holidays, but at least we got a good start. As a whole I think the campaign starting method works with the interested players I have, but it definitely involves a lot of footwork to build all the pieces. Even looking over this, I can see I forgot to include the Black Court Hillfolk we thought about, as well as a couple other items. I could see things getting very quickly out of control as a single piece adds two or three connecting pieces. But this will at least be a core generated item, and I can add other NPCs around the needs of the various plots.

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