Thursday, August 28, 2008

Magical Utica

This is a pretty damn geeky post, so if you're here for the usual political stuff you should probably just scroll down now. If you happen to be a fan of "The Dresden Files" or pen-and-paper RPGs you're going to love it.

I spent a large part of my youth, as well as a few bits of my adulthood, heavily involved in tabletop role-playing games. Unlike most of my contemporaries my first RPG wasn't "Dungeons & Dragons", but the old "Space Opera" game from FGU. After reading a glowing review of the game by the late John M. Ford I saved up my allowance for a month and sent off for a copy from a mail-order game store.

Ten minutes after I opened the box I was hooked. A week later all my friends were equally addicted.

After "Space Opera" we moved on to "Traveller" before finally hopping on-board the "Dungeons & Dragons" juggernaut, flirting with the totally whacked-out play style of "Arduin", and eventually returning to "Space Opera" to create an insanely complicated homebrew fantasy system. Those were good times, and we kept playing pretty regularly until a few years after high-school. Since then I've only played occasionally, but I did do some writing for a few published supplements in the mid to late 90's.

That gives you a little perspective on why I thought this vision of Utica for the "Dresden Files" RPG was so cool. It's worth taking the time to read the whole writeup, but I thought their take on Varick Street was particularly clever:

The idea behind Varick Street was vaguely similar to that behind Genesee, in that we could encompass a region instead of a single location. Varick is a street of bars, lots and lots of bars, ending at the large Utica Brewery. So…it’s got a bit of a beer theme. The aspect, Love the Night Life, is meant to indicate how much of Utica’s night life is here, at Varick Street, just as much of its day life is at Genesee Street. Perhaps most importantly, though, the aspect also points to the danger of Varick Street: with so many people out there having a good time, getting drunk, Varick is a magnet for any Red Court vampires in the city. There aren’t too many in the city at the moment, but those who are here frequent the area, if only to feed.

Even if you're not a Dresden or RPG fan the description of Mayor Roefaro scores pretty high on the lulz meter.

Update: I just remembered that Utica was the setting for at least one published adventure for White Wolf's "Werewolf" setting.

Update: Aha! I was thinking of "Forgotten Lessons", the first of a three-part series detailing a monstrous evil unearthed at a Utica construction site. You can find a PDF scan of the adventure over here.