No. Actually. It's You.
I LOVE modern supernatural and horror games. Just love them. Even ones I don't get to play often I still enjoy reading. Heck I have not played Mage in close to 10 years and I still want that giant Mage 20th anniversary book.
So why can't I get myself to love, or even like, The Dresden Files?
I am talking about the Fate-powered RPG, but I'll talk a bit about the books too.
I got these books for Christmas after they first came out in 2010. Dresden Files (the books) were all the rage and that Summer my group had been playing a Chicago-based Ghosts of Albion/Angel/WitchCraft game. It had some Dresden-esque elements, but mostly it was White Wolf's World of Darkness' Mage, Vampire and Werewolf as the backdrop.
I had started reading the books that September. I was commuting to work everyday for about an hour in and hour back not to mention doing a lot of flying, so I had plenty of time for audiobooks. I devoured them. It was especially fun when I was driving around Chicago hearing about Harry driving around Chicago. Though I have to admit it is always amusing hearing/reading a non-Chicago native talk about the city in ways no native ever would. It's the Kennedy, not the JFK, and no one can get from the Loop to O'Hare in a few minutes. Ever. Jim Butcher has gotten better with this.
Around about the middle of the series I felt it was getting stale, but then it picked up with the new "Outsider" threat. I will admit I have not read the last one yet and I have not been itching to do so.
The game on the other hand surprised me with it's production values and how nice it looked. I loved the "hunter's notebook" feel to it. Though to be 100% fair other games had done that long before.
But I never really ever got Fate.
Sure I had played around with Fudge in the past and I enjoyed the free-form it gave me. I have even played around with Fate and many good starts. But in the end the system falls flat for me. Maybe. Maybe there is something good there I could use, but it's been 5 years, or 6+ if you count my experimentations with Fudge.
The Dresden Files RPG is the most complicated "simple" game I have ever read or played. Seriously, 407 pages for a "simple" ruleset? I know the Fate Core books are much smaller so a lot of this is setting and world-specific rules, but I can't help but feel it is overwrought.
It's not the mechanics. Mechanics are easy and in Fate ridiculously so.
It's not the aspects. Though how the aspects could be used is certainly an issue for me. Let's take Wolverine for example. He could easily have an aspect "Best at What I Do". Will he get a re-roll or a +1 for "everything"? No. I know this, but in the hands of a less deft game master this becomes little more than a ruleless game of pretend.
I know to people in the in-crowds of Fate I will be completely dismissed as an "old-school gamer" but the truth is I play a lot of games. Hell, Castle Falkenstein is one of my favorite games and it is hard to go more free-form than that. I could also just as easily dismiss them for their smugness, but that does not make either of us correct.
Sitting net to my desk at home is a folder. It is full of character sheets for various systems. I try them out, pick at them and sometimes those efforts show up here. So far I have never been happy with my creations for Fate. I picked up the new 3rd Edition of Chill and had characters in minutes. Fate is more of a collective role-playing experience. That is great, if you want that or have a stable group. I have a stable group, but I want "organic" characters. Characters that feel and act like individuals, not part of a collective.
Fate tries to model a story. Either a book, movie or what have you. Where the larger outcome is usually known. I am not done reading this book but I am sure the protagonist survives. Role-playing games are not books Their story telling techniques are different.
I think Fate works with the right groups, but it does require a degree of "playing well with others" that I don't often see in games. I like the idea, I dislike the execution. Which is interesting, because some of the die hard Fate players I have met at Cons are such ass-hats. Sorry if that is over generalization, but it has been remarkably and painfully consistent for me over the last 5 years. Yet in the same period of time I have played dozens of other games with various groups that have been great.
There are also pragmatic concerns for me. Not to invoke the "douche" rule, but really what can I do with Fate that I can't do with Unisystem? What can I do with the Dresden Files that I haven't already done with Ghosts of Albion? Hell. I remember Fred Hicks back in the day on the old Eden boards talking about the Dresden Files and how WitchCraft 95% of what he wanted to do with it. I'll contend that the other 5% can be found in Cinematic Unisystem.
I want to give Dresden Files one more chance, but in truth I know it is over. We are done.
Don't know if I am going to sell off my Dresden Files game yet. I have one other "last fling" to do with it, but my Fate books are now gone.
Not looking for a reason to keep it, I am pretty sure it will end up on the auction block in the spring.
Better luck in your next home Harry.