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Feb

Obsidian Portal Campaign of the Month February 2022- “Emerald City: Requiem”

There is something green in the heart of Seattle….again! Using the FATE ACCELEARATED Game System, GM HumAnnoyd and his team of players/GMs return to their original 2012 location with an updated system, new members and a brand new OP website in Emerald City: Requiem. What legacy remains in the city after a war between Vampires and Wizards? Are the trolls staying under the bridges? Are vampires still respecting their limits? Will you be the one to give Harry Dresden a call? Read on to get a detailed analysis from the team behind this phoenix of a site.

First off, feel free to tell us about the person behind the GM screen. Where are you from? What do you do aside from gaming? Alter Egos? Life partners? Family? Where can we interact with you on the internet

I have been playing RPGs since the 70s when I first ran into a D&D group in a friend’s basement. It was love at first sight. Drawing character portraits for all our characters is one of the main reasons I got into art as a kid. I auditioned and was accepted into an amazing fine arts public high school as a result.

From there, I graduated with a BFA in Drawing & Painting from the University of Georgia, and I did the starving artist thing for quite some time, selling 18 more paintings than Van Gogh.

Of course, he only sold one painting. To his brother.

I tired of the art world (and the south to be honest) and took a huge gamble and moved to Seattle.

Here I managed to find a career doing art & animation for video games and educational programs for over a decade. I have since moved into graphic design doing a great deal of freelance work. Outside of gaming, I am an avid Karaoke singer (I have won a few contests & even got a gig with a local band) and I love art, football, reading, comics, and movies.

Tell us about “Emerald City: Requiem” in a nutshell. How did it come to be and how does it differ from your previous award-winning campaign of 2012, “The Emerald City”?

When the original Dresden Files Roleplaying Game came out in 2010, I knew I had to play it. I love the novels and I went online and discovered a local group who wanted to try it. Within 2 weeks of the book’s release just under a dozen strangers met at a friendly local gaming store and began work on creating a campaign. After some debate we decided to set the game in Seattle. We went through the game’s amazing city creation process with each of us picking a neighborhood and populating it with supernatural characters and politics creating a living, breathing city, The Emerald City.

Over the next 7 years we played that game with new players coming and going over time. Our group had as many as 8 and as few as 3 players actively involved at any one time. The game nearly died off as life intruded and many moved out of town. We were down to only two of us left in the group in 2017. That was the same year that the new, streamlined Dresden Files Accelerated came out. We managed to find a pair of new players and decided we should reboot the game for a fresh start.

At first, we were simply going to use a different city but, as a group, decided against that. Instead, we advanced the timeline for the Emerald City campaign several years into the future to just after the major events of Changes, the novel that concludes the War between the Red Court Vampires and White Council of Wizards. That novel fundamentally changed the supernatural world of Dresden and that informed our Requiem for the Emerald City.

We used DFA’s new Faction rules to recreate the Emerald City’s landscape allowing the new players to put their stamp on the game, made completely new PCs with my Warden character being the only hold-over from the previous game. He was a fundamentally different character though. His magic had been stolen by the Un-man, a mystical mana-thief, and he had become a family man.

So, Emerald City: Requiem is a campaign that has different players, player characters, game system and city politics but it is informed by the events from the original Emerald City.

Unfortunately, both those new players moved out town after just a year, leaving the fate of the Emerald City in doubt yet again.

Fortunately, I was able to recruit MalloryLover23 from another game I had been playing and because of Covid we started playing online. This allowed us to recently bring Lanodantheon, one of the founding members, back into the fold even though he no longer lives here in Seattle.


How regularly do you play, and where do you play? Tell us about your current group of players.

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We try to play every 2nd and 4th Sunday for the last 12 years. Originally, we used to meet in person (either at my old workplace or in my condo) but Covid changed all of that. We now play online through Roll20 and Discord although we are considering other online options.

Justins and I have been in the group from the beginning with MalloryLover23 joining us several years ago, breathing new life into the campaign. We are all excited that we were recently able to reconnect with Lanodantheon, a founding member, who now joins us online from California.


Both your original game of 2012 and the current game use the Dresden Files RPG system, the more recent campaign opting for “Dresden Files Accelerated”. What is it about DFRPG that keeps your group engaged? Tell us more about the “Accelerated” version.

I think the main reason the campaign has been so long lived is that we spent time creating the city’s background and politics as a group. This gave all the player’s agency in the game and a stake in the stories being told. We also revolve GMs with each of us taking a turn at the reigns creating their own “book”

The main difference between the two games is that DFA has infinitely more room for new and interesting stories because of its loose nature. The narrative is not as constrained by rules which has allowed us to create completely original new characters like Justins’ Golem Lawyer, MalloryLover23’s Guardian of the Seventh Gate and Lanodantheon’s magic stealing Kleptomancer. None of which have ever been seen in any of Jim Butcher’s books. Fate Accelerated can accommodate these unique character concepts even better than the incredibly flexible original DFRPG game.


Tell us a bit about Jim Butcher, the author and his body of work. How much do his novels inspire your games? Do you follow the narrative of the books or do you radically diverge from the original stories?

I will let Brad, who is running the current scenario answer that question

When I run, I always go back to the books to see if there is any existing world information so, I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The current scenario that I am running (Book 8) only has one bit part character only there for a chapter or two in one book that is vaguely related to it.

Butcher’s writing style has definitely influenced the Adventure Logs when I personally write them. But we are not beholden to the books. We have long accepted that we are never going to line up with the books 100%.


Do you or any of your team actually live in Seattle? Is this important?

Up until the last year we all lived in Seattle. I think this really helps us in the campaign as we can describe a particular street or neighborhood and we all have a familiarity with it.

Looking at your adventure logs, it would seem that you have different GMs reporting on events. Do you actually take turns as GM in your game? If so, what do feel are the benefits/drawbacks of this?

We rotate GMs giving everyone who is interested a chance to craft a story in the campaign. We divide these scenarios into “Books” with each one being a self-contained story that is informed by what has gone before. This is a great setup for us as it allows everyone to have a chance to be a player instead of being forced to be an eternal GM like it is in most games. It also allows us to experience a diversity of scenarios that keeps the game fresh and staves off the dreaded GM burnout.

How much time is usually spent preparing your game sessions? Describe a typical session.

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I will let Brad, who is running the current scenario answer that question:

About an hour per session when I am running, but I can always use more. A typical session of prep for me is going over the previous logs, making lists of potential NPCs and encounters the players are likely to run into and locations they are likely to go. I write down my session goals and think about what happens if my players “jump ahead” somehow. I prep locations by looking at Google Maps of places they are likely to go and figure out where set piece moments could be.

But Players never do what you expect. If the players go somewhere I am not expecting, I just roll with it and follow my Improv Training of “Yes, and…”.

The current scenario (book 8) is a magical mystery, and I honestly don’t know how many sessions it is going to take for my players to figure out the main mystery. I would love for it to go for 3+ sessions before they figure it out, but the players could very well figure it out five minutes into Session 2 by making a Sherlock Holmes-worthy deduction or making a wild guess. I am prepared for both.


There are some amazing design aspects in your campaign (e.g. altered images, rain falling on the main page, great hover links, etc.) Who is responsible for this, and what words of advice can you give to aspiring creators on Obsidian Portal, who may not have a design background, but are wanting to improve the look of their sites?

I have been creating and refining the look of the campaign for years now. As a graphic designer, animator and artist, I truly enjoy creating the art and animations for the site. I have done over 150 character portraits and 300+ illustrations for the Adventure Logs over the years. I am constantly changing and growing the site as we progress and have completely redesigned all the art for the site three times now.

When I first started customizing my sites, I had no working knowledge of CSS or HTML and, with the help of the OP community I have since added both to my skill set. This actually helped me to land jobs in the real world.

My advice to anyone getting started with OP is to use the community to help them create the best campaigns possible.


How long have you been using Obsidian Portal? What brought you to the site and what keeps bringing you back?

When our group first got together, I had been trying to keep a word document with all the Locations and NPCs we had created. However, it was unwieldy and disorganized not to mention hard for everyone to access and edit. Luckily one of the original members, Manu, suggested Obsidian Portal to compile all the information we had come up with during City Creation.

I fell in love with it immediately and started using it heavily. Obsidian Portal was so easy to use, and I began tinkering with the CSS to make the game look the way I wanted with help from the OP community. That ease of use, helpful community and versatility of OP is what keeps me coming back.


If you had to pick just one thing, what would you say Obsidian Portal helps you with the most?

Obsidian Portal has been invaluable in organizing our city locations, adventure logs and numerous NPCs. Having access to the locations and NPCs is vital for the GM as they consider their own storylines When we have had to fill in vacancies as people moved on the Adventure Logs have been great for introducing new members to the game. It allows the players to participate more fully in the campaign than I have ever seen in over 30 years of constant gaming. The access that Obsidian Portal gives us is wonderful for empowering everyone who wants to get involved.


What would you say is the biggest highlight of your game so far (please also provide images and links if possible)?


Justins:

Because we are a rotating GM game, you really need to have a favorite moment as a player, and a favorite moment as a GM. As a GM, I had a building set up for a heist of some important magical documents. One of the players had his character bluff his way into the security room with some prep, disguises, and good RP. As I said goodbye to half my planned challenges, I was mentally applauding the RP and the character elements to get there.

As a player, my character found his hated foe and long-term nemesis, The Patient One, being held and actively drained for power by a monstrous foe. I made the call to free him instead of letting him be a casualty of the greater threat. FATE is such a great engine for tying the personal into the action, and the action into the personal.


Lanodantheon:

Fergus Mac Cormaic’s wedding was a longtime coming. I was able to come back to the campaign just in time to be a part of it and I am glad that I did. We were wondering for a long time, “What could possibly go wrong at that wedding? It is not a question of if but a question of what and how bad.”. We knew we had to play it out.

Going into the Nevernever on a rescue mission was fun as hell and that Hag was deliciously scary.

Reading through the logs from before I returned, my favorite part of the game was when David Clay faced off against The Patient One and almost got dusted. It was a hell of a setup going into the wedding.

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HumAnnoyd:

As a player on of my favorite moments was when Fergus Mac Cormaic finally decided to come clean about being a changeling to his fiancé’, Anna Maria Avila. Justins was GMing the game at the time, but I had previously roleplayed Anna quite a bit during my last turn at the helm and had really discovered her “voice”. Justins asked me to roleplay Anna as Fergus desperately tried to prove to her that he wasn’t losing his mind. That the supernatural did exist. It was an awkward, funny character moment in the game that I really enjoyed.

As GM my favorite moment was probably when I had a terrorist’s bomb take out a whole building with the PCs in it. Fergus had been separated from David in the blast. He managed to survive along with his rival, Doctor Wotensen, who he bravely rescued despite wanting to leave him behind so badly that he could taste it.

David was able to overcome the collapse of the building as well and managed to shelter Emmie Mercer and get her out alive. It was a fun session that required both players to think quickly to survive under deadly circumstances and it stands out to me because of the unique challenges it presented to them.


MalloryLover23:

Without a doubt, my favourite moment from Emerald City was the infamous hex curse chase. My character had been ambushed and seriously wounded by a ghoul assassin and while being rushed to the local supernatural clinic by my large golem teammate, my character was targeted with a hex curse. Imagine Final Destination meets an on-foot Fast and Furious. Bits of masonry, out-of-control vehicles, suicidal citizens. All these were hurled at us as my partner carried me through the chaos. It ended with me being doused in running water from a demolished fire hydrant (it had been ploughed over by a rogue ambulance that narrowly missed us) to temporarily dissipate the curse until I could be brought to safe and shielded territory. It was just such a wonderful list of compounding disasters that took all our combined ingenuity and luck to avoid. It still makes me chuckle, years later.


Okay, as a returning winner, and also, a previous winner of Campaign of The Year 2020, you must have some shiny “pearls of wisdom” to offer…. Give us your best shot….

I think almost all success I may have managed as a GM has come from keeping an open mind and to listening to what players want. I may not always be successful at doing so. But when I am I find that my players often become more interested in the game because they have agency in what will happen next instead of just being spectators to what the GM dictates. This consensual approach is more satisfying both as a GM and a player and can often surprise the GM of the story as much as he does his players. The Emerald City: Requiem is not just my campaign. It is the campaign of all who took part in its creation and transition from old to the new game and who continue to add to its rich tapestry today. I expect it will continue to grow and change for many years to come.

Award Winning!

Gold ENnie for Best Website 09'-11'


Silver ENnie for Best Website, Best Podcast 2012-2013
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