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My Ten Most Recent Roleplaying Games 9: The Harry Dresden Roleplaying Game

7 Jun, 2021


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Inspired by Aaron de Orive’s 2020 First Ten RPGs, a brief account of the roleplaying games I have played most recently, beginning with the most recent and working backwards. Number Nine: Leonard Balsera’s The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game.

Rather unsurprisingly, this game allows people to roleplay in the urban fantasy world of one Harry Dresden, magical PI. The FATE-based core mechanics are narrative-based and are intended to cover a range of power levels. Dresden himself need not figure into the campaign — in fact, the assumption is that he won’t — but the game does its best to provide a context compatible with the events of the first few novels. 

Because it was a playtest and I wasn’t the one with the playtest material, I cannot speak to presentation, although other works by publisher Evil Hat were quite functional. I can say that if one is going to give one’s ex-Sûreté du Québec a common French-Canadian given name and a common French-Canadian surname, one would be well advised to drop that name into a search engine to make sure it’s not the name of the then-current head of the Sûreté du Québec. The mechanics seemed to work well enough to accomplish their goal, although a post I made at the time complained that

A sufficiently motivated 100-pound nurse can do a pretty good job of vigorously resisting arrest at the hands of two burly cops (and some security guard who didn’t do anything, and a third cop who arrived late in the scene and who was on the verge of shooting the nurse when she finally stopped fighting). Also, if you’re going to put together a unit of cops who deal with the woo-woo cases, at least one of them should be well-informed about occult matters.

Of course, it could be that what won an officer secondment to the crackpot squad was not any interest in the supernatural events but simply arresting the wrong John on a street adjacent to Queen’s Park, which is apparently a big no-no for career-minded police.