My Saturday group recently finished playing a game based on Jim Butcher’s Dresden series (to be recommended in a future post!).

The most memorable part of the game, for me, was the first night. To explain why, well, let’s imagine the first night of any given tabletop RPG…

If it’s D&D, you get together and roll up your characters and hand them in to the DM, that is, if you hadn’t rolled it up the night before. The DM may ask “how do you guys all know each other?” or it’s as likely that s/he¬†will tell you that all of you stand in front of the dungeon door and look down a long torchlit hallway and let everybody figure out their relationships as the game progresses.

White Wolf games (Vampire, Mage, Werewolf)¬†probably have the first night having you hand your characters in to the Storyteller and having a short (individual, private) interview discussing backstory, motivation, secrets, and whatnot and then he, with everyone else, hammers out everyone’s relationship to this point. The Gangrel and the Ventrue aren’t likely to run in the same circles, after all. What would inspire them to interact? Oh, the Ventrue knows the Toreador who knows the Brujah who knows the Gangrel? That sort of thing.

Well, when you sit down to play Dresden, the first thing you do is not create characters, the first thing you do is create your *CITY* collaboratively. I mentioned “The Dumpster!” previously, well, this circumvents that problem by allowing everybody to create their own “The Dumpster!”s together. We explored stuff around our city (Colorado Springs) and made a fairly interesting narrative from just little things that struck us as odd. Colorado Springs has a large number of military bases… there’s Fort Carson, Peterson Air Force Base, Schriever Air Force Base, Cheyenne Mountain, and the US Air Force Academy… why does it have so many? Colorado Springs has a large number of evangelical organizations… why does it have so many? In the 80’s and 90’s, Manitou Springs was a hotbed of “Satanism”. Why? Garden of the Gods is an explosion of red stone in the middle of a lush high plains region… why? There is a new marijuana store opening up every other day. Why? So on and so forth.

After doing that, we came up with a grid for “in the know” and “not in the know” and crossed those against “wants to maintain the status quo” and “wants to change things” (the military was in the know and wanted to maintain the status quo, for example). Only after had we fleshed out our city did we sit down and say “well… who are *YOU*?”

And “well… who are *YOU*?” is going to be Thursday. (I have to talk about Burn Notice first.)


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to


  1. That sounds like a really interesting system.

    I’m going to be running a Traveller (Mongoose Edition) campaign in a couple of months (my first GM gig) and the character creation in that looks like a lot of fun. Character creation is practically a game within a game, you start with an 18 year old with rolled stats, and a few background skills from growing up and you run them through a series of 4-year periods during which they enter (or continue) a career, each career offering different skills , rewards and hazards. Its actually possible (though unlikely) to die during character creation.

    We’ll end up doing the character creation over a session I think, easier to do it all together.

    • It’s not only a pretty cool system to play, when you read the books, you see how the author is using tricks mentioned in the gaming books (or, more accurately, you see how the system captured tricks used by the author in his books).

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