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Dresden Files RPG Story Advice

TaranTheWanderer

Adventurer
Hey! Has anyone played any of the Dresden FATE stuff? I tend to use ENworld for D&D stuff and, when I need some advice on Dresden, I usually post this stuff on the Paranet Online Website but it's been pretty quiet there for the last year or so and I'm not sure I'm going to get lots of response. So here I am.

I'm introducing some friends to Dresden and FATE in general. I've made them some pre-gens and I'm setting it in 1994. I need a 6-8 session story arc. I have lots of ideas but can't put them together to give the players a hook.

Here's what I have:
-Northern City; gateway from South (civilization) to North (Wilderness) -Theme
-A run-down psychiatric hospital on the outskirts of town, surrounded by lots of bush. It actually got shut down in 2012, so I thought I could use that. Maybe there's a reason why they want it shut down?
-A University, also just on the outskirts surrounded by bush and lots of trails
-A missing person who went missing 30 years ago from the Psych hospital. My plan is to make him a BCV. (Black Court Vampire)
- Some murders revolving around the BCV
-Organized crime and a Crooked Construction Company
-A Social Worker/Psychiatrist working with the BCV. But having a hard time with the connection. Maybe also using or being used by the mafia.
- A Military NORAD Base With a 1950s underground complex
-First Nations Spirituality/Mythology

PCs:
Cop (Pure Mortal)
Reporter (Pure Mortal)
Priest (True Believer)
Soldier Red Court Infected
Student with Cassandra's Tears and The Sight (minor talent)

Background: In the 50s-60s Organized Crime used charitable organizations to run Bingo scams. It was big business with connections to Sicilian mafia. Mussolini cracked down on Mafia in Italy at that time. A Don who was also a BCV flees Italy and ends up in the norther city. For several months, there are disappearances as the Don tries to set up his Scourge in this wilderness town. But the local priest finds out about the Bingo scam associated with his Lion's Club and, quite accidentally, stumbles upon the BCV. He gathers his posy and they go to destroy the vamp. In the ensuing fight, The Missing Person from the psych hospital, who was turned into a Vamp is somehow 'put on ice' for 30 years. He wakes up and is now working to further his goals.

How can a BCV go MIA for 30 years? What prompted him to awaken now? How is he connected to the psychiatrist? How does it relate to the hospital?

Any advice would be awesome. I feel like I'm missing one detail to tie everything together...
 

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Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
If the hospital, or some location in town, was cover for some dastardly experiments by a unhinged sorcerer who terrorized the town at the turn of the century? Left over from those experiments is an artifact of some kind, a magic mirror perhaps, the focus of his failed experiment to communicate with or travel to other worlds. The BCV tried to use the mirror to do, something, and ended up getting caught inside it in some kind of pocket dimension. He was released when a construction crew somehow broke the mirror when they were renovating, or whatever. The psychiatrist could be a descendant of the sorcerer who found a journal and is trying to recreate his work. You could seed the whole setting with rumors and leftovers from the sorcerer's experiments.
 

MarkB

Legend
There could be a portal to the Nevernever in the psychiatric hospital, leading into a wild and contested area of the Fae lands. Certain nastier Fae tend to get attracted through the portal by the mental turmoil of the patients. They then mess with the patients and staff, which creates more turmoil - a vicious circle.

Since time can flow differently in the Nevernever, that can explain your Black Court Vampire's time skip. Maybe he was stalking someone who was admitted to the hospital after being traumatised by one of his attacks, and when he went in to hunt them down he strayed through the portal, returning after only minutes or days of subjective time to find that thirty years had passed in the mortal realm.
 

The Monster

Explorer
The NORAD base was the site of a secret project involving mystic forces, including a deal with certain fey entities and/or local spirits to provide camouflage/cover by fast-growing plants over military sites (missile silos, radars, etc.) - enhancing the tension between wilderness and civilization. The Mafia BCV was tapped to advise them about how to access magic; the defense agency interrupted the priest before he could completely destroy the BCV, but just barely. They discredited the priest with false accusations, and kept the BCV under (un)life support for many years; that project brought in 'experts' from the university and hospital, so that even when they figured out how to fully revive the BCV, they kept it 'on ice' (barely 'alive') for experimentation and study. BCV has finally figured out how to twist one or more 'advisors' to his will (a la Joker & Quinn?) and is using them to get re-established and start some revenge.

The psychiatric hospital was shut down because your psychiatrist/social worker (maybe one of each, as a team?) demanded that the aging building was unsafe, since budget shortfalls didn't allow for updates, maintenance or modernization. While all true, the demand to shut down rather than raise funds comes from it being chosen as a holding pen for the BCV's feeding stock, and isolated base of operations.
 
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TaranTheWanderer

Adventurer
There could be a portal to the Nevernever in the psychiatric hospital, leading into a wild and contested area of the Fae lands. Certain nastier Fae tend to get attracted through the portal by the mental turmoil of the patients. They then mess with the patients and staff, which creates more turmoil - a vicious circle.

Since time can flow differently in the Nevernever, that can explain your Black Court Vampire's time skip. Maybe he was stalking someone who was admitted to the hospital after being traumatised by one of his attacks, and when he went in to hunt them down he strayed through the portal, returning after only minutes or days of subjective time to find that thirty years had passed in the mortal realm.
A phobophage-type creature would work perfectly for the Psych Hospital. I like the idea of the vamp getting lost in the Nevernever, especially if they Psychologist set him up to get turned in the first place, he could have went back to the hospital to seek revenge and then gotten lost...

The NORAD base was the site of a secret project involving mystic forces, including a deal with certain fey entities and/or local spirits to provide camouflage/cover by fast-growing plants over military sites (missile silos, radars, etc.) - enhancing the tension between wilderness and civilization. The Mafia BCV was tapped to advise them about how to access magic; the defense agency interrupted the priest before he could completely destroy the BCV, but just barely. They discredited the priest with false accusations, and kept the BCV under (un)life support for many years; that project brought in 'experts' from the university and hospital, so that even when they figured out how to fully revive the BCV, they kept it 'on ice' (barely 'alive') for experimentation and study. BCV has finally figured out how to twist one or more 'advisors' to his will (a la Joker & Quinn?) and is using them to get re-established and start some revenge.
I thought about the base being a reason for the BCV being unavailable but that would mean a huge governmental organization would be 'in the know' about it. I'm hesitant to use it. OTOH, if the program was Top Secret and then funding was cut, the Vamp could have been forgotten. Connecting it to the University and the Hospital is nice, though. Ties everything together. As for allies to the BCV, he's a relatively new Vamp so having allies would be useful. Turning them into Thralls or promising them 'immortality' could work to convince them to cooperate with his plans. Moreso, I feel like the psychologist should be the Master Manipulator in the situation. Using the BCV for his own ends. But it's like playing with fire...

Coincidentally enough, reading the history of the City in question, the person goes missing in the '60s but the missile silos are shut down in '71. They are later converted into a storage depot....If the vamp was held there...maybe even in an air-tight, concrete coffin, it could survive?

The psychiatric hospital was shut down because your psychiatrist/social worker (maybe one of each, as a team?) demanded that the aging building was unsafe, since budget shortfalls didn't allow for updates, maintenance or modernization. While all true, the demand to shut down rather than raise funds comes from it being chosen as a holding pen for the BCV's feeding stock, and isolated base of operations.
Yeah, this was my original thought. The Psychiatrist is on City Council and is trying to get funding for a new building. I was thinking that a partnership with the crooked Construction Company and Mafia could get the funds to buy up the property and leave it defunct for the Vamp. A good place to leave illicit goods (as it's protected - in a dangerous way) and get rid of unwanted people sniffing around in the wrong places.


Great ideas so far. Keep 'em coming!
 

Vaslov

Explorer
I prefer my Dresden with a little pathos and human drama. The missing person? He is the BCV Don's godson. The psychiatrist? She is the BCV Don's Renfield. What the BCV Don really wants is for his godson to accept being a part of the black court, the mafia and their way of life. Problem is the godson met this priest who gave him these crazy ideas about morality and the church. Even pointed a priest the BCV's way once. Doesn't matter. The BCV Don loves his godson and will do anything for him. He doesn't want to force BC mindset on the misdirected "child". Meanwhile the godson is seeking salvation, if that is even possible. The two have been at odds over the decades in the town undoing each others plans.

FATE is a tough one to script too much for. For example, the cop could be Dirty Harry or James Hopper. Very different styles to build a plot for. Perhaps let the players pick some aspects and build from there so you all get the game you want. You have some nice setting ideas and locations to pull the plot around to various criminal activities. Maybe suggest them to the players and see what ideas they have to alter or further develop them. That notion of group made world to play in is pretty critical to making FATE work imo.

Hope that helps stir your imagination.
 

TaranTheWanderer

Adventurer
FATE is a tough one to script too much for. For example, the cop could be Dirty Harry or James Hopper. Very different styles to build a plot for. Perhaps let the players pick some aspects and build from there so you all get the game you want. You have some nice setting ideas and locations to pull the plot around to various criminal activities. Maybe suggest them to the players and see what ideas they have to alter or further develop them. That notion of group made world to play in is pretty critical to making FATE work imo.

Hope that helps stir your imagination.
Yeah, I get it, but this isn't going to be a long term game and the players are totally new. I don't want to spend a whole session doing City Building. I'm doing half the work and they are doing half. I've got one Theme and they are choosing a Theme or a Threat. I have their High Concepts set and their Troubles but I've left the trouble totally open to interpretation. The Cop has a trouble that makes it hard for the other cops to respect/trust him(I forget the exact aspect off hand). I'm leaving it up to the players to decide whether that's because he snitched on crooked cops, is a crooked cop himself or something else I haven't thought of. I haven't filled out any of the other 5 aspects at all. I've got a few locations and faces done and they will bring a few to the table. After the first session, we will revisit everything. I just want them to be able dive in.

The other thing, is I don't want to dictate a plot. I have ideas but I don't have a time-line or an idea how events are unfolding. Regardless of how the Characters turn out, it helps me to know what events are unfolding in the background. Given that they will add a theme or a threat or both, it will change things a bit but I'm the kind of person who likes to talk out his ideas. Since my wife hates listening to my RP stories, I'm using this forum. :)

I prefer my Dresden with a little pathos and human drama. The missing person? He is the BCV Don's godson. The psychiatrist? She is the BCV Don's Renfield. What the BCV Don really wants is for his godson to accept being a part of the black court, the mafia and their way of life. Problem is the godson met this priest who gave him these crazy ideas about morality and the church. Even pointed a priest the BCV's way once. Doesn't matter. The BCV Don loves his godson and will do anything for him. He doesn't want to force BC mindset on the misdirected "child". Meanwhile the godson is seeking salvation, if that is even possible. The two have been at odds over the decades in the town undoing each others plans.
I like it. Although, I feel that 'Love' is not really in the nature of a BCV (if I go pure Dresden canon - although there are lots of exceptions in the fiction). There are so many cool creatures that I could easily abandon the Black Court idea and find a creature that is more fitting. White Court Vampires would work well.

It does give me food for thought.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I don't think you want a script. If all the clues, NPCs, factions and narrative all connect, the players will get where they need to go without having to take a particular path. Think of it like a web rather than a trail of breadcrumbs.
 

TaranTheWanderer

Adventurer
I don't think you want a script. If all the clues, NPCs, factions and narrative all connect, the players will get where they need to go without having to take a particular path. Think of it like a web rather than a trail of breadcrumbs.
I agree and I have no 'outcome' planned at all nor will I plan to point them towards one. I have ideas but I just feel like my web has broken threads. I guess the point of this thread is to connect the various ideas.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I agree and I have no 'outcome' planned at all nor will I plan to point them towards one. I have ideas but I just feel like my web has broken threads. I guess the point of this thread is to connect the various ideas.
For sure. It doesn't have to be one thing of course. There just needs to be connections of some kind between the strands, and more than one way for the players to connect the dots. Based on your characters, you could seed information in police reports, old news articles, you could have additional information available form witnesses who were interviewed at the time (the clues make more sense to the players when they know about the BCV). You could have elderly NPCs from the time, police, news and church. Some of the key players at the time might be dead, but their belongings could be with relatives still in town. Letters, journals, whatever. I prefer to leave the exposition in the hands on NPCs as much as possible, but documents are useful too.

Both the news and the police would have records of all these things. You haven't found a tie-in to the university yet though. Perhaps the uni has an occult department that could be a source of links. Perhaps crazy old professor McGregor was shouting about vampires at the time but no one wanted to believe him. He could be useful source of exposition and is a natural way to connect the now to the then for the players without it seeming forced. If he was 30-odd in the early 60's he'd be in his 60's in 1994- that works.

You're really working two layers. There is the immediate in-the-now events of 1994. Your post seems a little light on that side. What's going on in town now? The now is going to be more important to start than the past as the players need a reason to start digging up info from the 60's. The events in the now need to index that there is a connection to the past, and the past needs to have a lot of handles and hooks in it so that you don't need to nudge the PCs in a particular direction. The PCs should be able to dive into history to connect the dots, but those dots are in the present. That's where you need to link some things up IMO.
 

The Monster

Explorer
As for allies to the BCV, he's a relatively new Vamp so having allies would be useful. Turning them into Thralls or promising them 'immortality' could work to convince them to cooperate with his plans. Moreso, I feel like the psychologist should be the Master Manipulator in the situation. Using the BCV for his own ends. But it's like playing with fire...
Manipulator psychologists make great villains! The idea that s/he's puppeting BCV works great, especially since BCV is both a 'recent' immigrant (not much time conscious in the new country) and to modern life in general (computers? cell phones!? - he's not even a 'Boomer,' ha!). Strong potential for the players to drive a wedge between them
 

TaranTheWanderer

Adventurer
For sure. It doesn't have to be one thing of course. There just needs to be connections of some kind between the strands, and more than one way for the players to connect the dots. Based on your characters, you could seed information in police reports, old news articles, you could have additional information available form witnesses who were interviewed at the time (the clues make more sense to the players when they know about the BCV). You could have elderly NPCs from the time, police, news and church. Some of the key players at the time might be dead, but their belongings could be with relatives still in town. Letters, journals, whatever. I prefer to leave the exposition in the hands on NPCs as much as possible, but documents are useful too.

Both the news and the police would have records of all these things. You haven't found a tie-in to the university yet though. Perhaps the uni has an occult department that could be a source of links. Perhaps crazy old professor McGregor was shouting about vampires at the time but no one wanted to believe him. He could be useful source of exposition and is a natural way to connect the now to the then for the players without it seeming forced. If he was 30-odd in the early 60's he'd be in his 60's in 1994- that works.

You're really working two layers. There is the immediate in-the-now events of 1994. Your post seems a little light on that side. What's going on in town now? The now is going to be more important to start than the past as the players need a reason to start digging up info from the 60's. The events in the now need to index that there is a connection to the past, and the past needs to have a lot of handles and hooks in it so that you don't need to nudge the PCs in a particular direction. The PCs should be able to dive into history to connect the dots, but those dots are in the present. That's where you need to link some things up IMO.
Yeah, I feel have this really cool backstory. I almost want to set the game in the 60 since I have a pretty good handle on how events unfolded. My problem is tying it to 1990s. My idea is the original priest, who discovered the first BCV i the 60s, in the story would still be alive. The missing person article I read said that the last person to see them was 'a clergyman' picked up the missing person who was hitchhiking from the psych hospital to his parents in the town. I thought, 'that would be neat if that interaction was the tip-off to the BCV'. Maybe the guy was talking about meeting someone at The Bingo or about how someone told him he'd 'found a cure' to his issues etc...

There's just this huge void between what happened then and what's going on now.

I like the idea of the Professor who was calling out the 'vampire' scare at the time. The Student Character has a trouble of 'Conspiracy Theorist'. Maybe a tie-in to that teacher. One of the players suggested the student is a grad student studying Aboriginal Studies. So maybe that teacher also has a connection to the local spirits and legends. I was going also tie the Psychologist to the University...make them a part-time professor. Psych students doing placements at the hospital etc...

I was even thinking of having an emo-goth student character that pretends to be a vampire. Either as a red herring or as a connection.
Rethinking the phobophage. I'm still going to use the portal in the hospital idea but phobophages feed on fear. I feel despair is probably more fitting. I don't want to introduce WCVampires. I might just homebrew something or find a legend that works.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I was even thinking of having an emo-goth student character that pretends to be a vampire. Either as a red herring or as a connection.
Sort of like the Alphas in Fool Moon. That would work well I think. You could even have a whole little vampire/goth subculture going on at the university. Perhaps within that subculture is an agent provocateur who is guiding the kids in the direction of despair to feed the phage. Maybe one actual vampire, or someone connected to the vampire, hidden in a crowd of fake vampires.

Rethinking the phobophage. I'm still going to use the portal in the hospital idea but phobophages feed on fear. I feel despair is probably more fitting. I don't want to introduce WCVampires. I might just homebrew something or find a legend that works.
That doesn't sound like a hard change to manage. I'd probably call the creature a type of phage, just to keep the connection to Butcher's fiction strong.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Dresden Files RPG was before I got into Fate with Fate Core, though I do have some familiarity with Dresden Files Accelerated. However, I'm not sure if system is your particular concern with your question. Hopefully I can look through it later when I have a bit more time.
 

TaranTheWanderer

Adventurer
Dresden Files RPG was before I got into Fate with Fate Core, though I do have some familiarity with Dresden Files Accelerated. However, I'm not sure if system is your particular concern with your question. Hopefully I can look through it later when I have a bit more time.
This is a setting/story-line question. No need for mechanics advice. Any ideas you have are welcome! Thanks.
 

The Monster

Explorer
Rethinking the phobophage. I'm still going to use the portal in the hospital idea but phobophages feed on fear. I feel despair is probably more fitting. I don't want to introduce WCVampires. I might just homebrew something or find a legend that works.
What if, while the hospital is mostly closed, one wing of it, or an outlying building, is converted to a senior-care facility, for those sick enough that they aren't expected to live long... plenty of despair to feed on, and if the sick (and often, but not always, senile) old codgers see anything weird, nobody is going to pay much attention to their ravings, right? <villainous wink>

And for despair-o-phobe, don't forget the idea of vengeful ghosts or spirits of people who lived in the area previously. I can imagine one which doesn't even intend to harm its victims, but is just looking for sympathy ("misery loves company")...
 

MarkB

Legend
Rethinking the phobophage. I'm still going to use the portal in the hospital idea but phobophages feed on fear. I feel despair is probably more fitting. I don't want to introduce WCVampires. I might just homebrew something or find a legend that works.
Maybe something like a Night Hag, a Fey or spirit who can invade and influence peoples' dreams, causing them to experience terror or despair as they sleep and then feeding upon those emotions. It could stalk the wards at night, feeding upon sleeping patients.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Maybe something like a Night Hag, a Fey or spirit who can invade and influence peoples' dreams, causing them to experience terror or despair as they sleep and then feeding upon those emotions. It could stalk the wards at night, feeding upon sleeping patients.
Kind of like the Nightmare in Grave Peril? I like it. You could use a bunch of elements from that story to good effect.
 

MarkB

Legend
Kind of like the Nightmare in Grave Peril? I like it. You could use a bunch of elements from that story to good effect.
I had a feeling there might be an existing entity of that sort in the setting, but I couldn't think of it. I probably need to re-read that one - about all I remember from Grave Peril is the party and its aftermath.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I had a feeling there might be an existing entity of that sort in the setting, but I couldn't think of it. I probably need to re-read that one - about all I remember from Grave Peril is the party and its aftermath.
It's a good one. I'm just starting a reread of the series myself. The Nightmare is a solid model, but the spirits he binds with his sorcerous barbed wire and drives insane would also be a good template. Depends on how many layers you want in your onion I guess.
 

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