If you have not read the Dresden Files series, and you car about having things spoiled, STOP READING NOW.
I’ve been reading through Dresden Files RPG: Your Story, looking for some ideas for a similar, but different sort of campaign I’ve been thinking about running.
Having read all of the Dresden Files books to-date, I can definitely tell that the DFRPG was written a couple books ago. In the introduction to the setting, the authors discuss how the White Council is locked in a war with the Red Court of vampires, so much so that they are pretty preoccupied.
As anyone who has read “Changes” knows, that war ended very decisively — about as decisively as any war can end.
And that brings me to two problems I’ve always had with RPG stories that involve existing canon.
1. It’s someone else’s story, and the canon marches on.
Now, I realize the first thing someone’s going to say is, “you don’t have to follow the author’s canon. Your story is independent of what anyone else writes, and this is true. To me, however, one of the reasons I would want to play in a game like Dresden Files is because I really enjoyed the books. I like the whole package (could have done without Ghost Story, but that’s another post). I like the characters, the way the world works, the bad guys, the developments in the story, etc.
If our story deviates from the advancing canon, I will feel like we’re not really telling a story in that universe anymore. Certainly not the end of the world, but still something that would nag the back of my mind. Or, even worse, perhaps some guys we’ve barely heard of from Chicago single-handedly end the war with the Red Court …
2. The PCs are just supporting actors in a larger story.
While we’re wandering around eking out a living with our tiny merchant ship, trying to get by, evading Imperial patrols, making the Kessel Run in 11 parsecs, true heroes are battling against the pillars of the Empire and will eventually bring about its fall. The only role we’ll play is to watch the CGI’d fireworks shows as every planet in the Empire miraculously finds out about it at virtually the same time.
Throw a Big F@*#ing Wrench in the Canon
It may seem a little counter-intuitive, considering the above-mentioned sacro-sanctity of canon, but consider a big, catastrophic change to canon before your campaign begins.
Imagine if Harry and his intrepid Chicagoans make it to the ancient temple deep in the jungles of Mexico, and they all get their asses handed to them. Total TPK. The Red Court remains intact, the White Council is now shocked and stunned with the death of several senior council members, and your players now have a big void they can fill with their own characters.
In other words, remove the protagonists from the picture entirely. Now the party isn’t relegated to supporting cast status.
How do you handle problems with canon?