Dresden Files RPG and Dark Edinburgh
The Dresden Files RPG
Our Wednesday night gaming group began playing the Dresden Files RPG recently. This gives me a new chance to come up with some ideas for the game that may or may not be incorporated into the game – and also helps add to the whole Dark Edinburgh idea. If you’ve read the books by Jim Butcher, you’re probably aware that Edinburgh is the seat of the White Council (in the Castle Rock), the de facto leaders of Human wizardry. Here’s a few thoughts I’ve had.
- The mesh that covers the old Scottish Office building near St James Centre is actually made of iron. It’s not to keep people out, it’s to keep something in.
- Mary King’s Close is only the upper level of Edinburgh Below, haunted by the victims of the World’s End pub killer.
- Edinburgh Below is home to a secretive Black Court vampire.
- The World’s End Pub killer is a murderous spirit that emerges every 34 years to embark on a killing spree.
- A small number of White Court Vampires often use George Street night clubs to hunt.
- Many of the Old Town closes and pends (alleys and squares) can only be accessed by certain routes. Some ways only exist in the NeverNever.
- A troll lives underneath the Bridges – attacking lone victims when it can.
- Ghouls haunt Arthur’s Seat.
- East Lothian has secretive groups of witchfinders that hunt wizards and beings of the NeverNever.
- A mansion house near the city outskirts has a large number of occult creatures living there (like the TV show Sanctuary), allies of the White Council.
- The Royal Botanic Garden hothouses often have large number of voodoo and jungle spirits/entities.
- The tramlines are actually being built on ley lines.
- A kelpie lures lone travellers to their doom from a deep pool on the Water of Leith, near Dean Village.
- Many of the upper floors of the buildings in Shandwick Place are used by beings of the NeverNever.
- The White Council forbids any Wizard to go near St Anthony’s Chapel on Arthur’s Seat.
Not One Edinburgh
The Dresden Files RPG essentially has the players create the city and the NPCs. In our Dresden Files RPG game, the biggest theme is Not One Edinburgh. With Edinburgh being built on what is essentially old Edinburgh, there’s a lot of fun we had with this duality. It is nothing new – the TV show Neverwhere described the World of London Below, where individuals and groups such as the Angel Islington and Black Friars dwelt. Many of the London homeless were actually denizens of London Below, largely ignored by the world above. It’s taken to an extreme in China Mieville’s “The City and the city” where two cities exist within one another (Besźel and Ul Qoma), with a shadowy organisation preventing “Breach” (acknowledging the existence of the other city). In another of his novels Kraken, London has its own weird denizens (also dwelling in plain sight), again similar to Neverwhere.
If you’re setting a game in your own home city, it is very easy to engage your players or come up with slight twists – you can see what we came up with below. Reader discretion is advised from this point onwards! So here’s the current list of location for the Dresden Files RPG:
Fleshmarket Close: a place in the NeverNever where any kind of meat, living or dead, can be purchased, and used for any purpose – carnal, consumption, or both. Protected by a gatekeeper of unknown species, he charges a strip of flesh for admission to the market.
St James Centre: This mall isn’t much to the mortal eye but beneath it, beside it,and on top of it lies Edinburgh’s famous Market. The market lurks in the Nevernever with alleys connecting to every close and street with market in the name. Each of these alleys has an owner and each exacts a toll. The St James entrance is owned by Mr and Mrs Alex MacKai(deceased) who charge a story and a shilling to gain entrance. (they’ll accept 5p instead of a shilling but don’t expect them to like it).
West Port/Lothian Road: If you want a masterclass in flirtation and desperation this is where you *ahem* come, with a number of somewhat dubious bars and clubs thinly veiled with respectability. The White Court holds sway here with the Sinclair family holding dominance. It is said that anything is available in between the shadows of the Grassmarket and Scottish Widows and those in the know will point you towards ‘Bloody’ Vladimir Ostrovsky, Procurer at large. Often found enjoying something tall, skinny, and wet; he’s one of the last true independent mortal operatives. It is claimed he can locate anything, whatever “tastes” you might have.
Scottish Widows: Largest of Edinburgh’s corporations with its tentacles in everything, Scottish Widows appears to be run by some very clued-in mortals and staffed by some very ruthless corporates. Its owner, Ms Veronica Amore, is known in supernatural circles as The Widow. Even mortals have rumours about her expediters visiting people at night and leaving with ironclad signed contracts. Supernatural rumour is that they’re signed in blood. NOTE: Scottish Widows does exist, and this isn’t how they operate!
The Royal Mile: The first question tourists avoid asking about the main street of Edinburgh’s Old Town is “Why is everything grey?” and sure enough, this street bleeds the very colour of fabrics. During the day street sellers and buskers sell tat to tourists, but at night dark-cowled figures take tourists into the undercity and not all of them are tour guides. No one knows what purpose these kidnappings serve although the Wizards are wary that there could be a Red Court sleeper cell in the city.
Arthur’s Seat: One of the most obvious landmarks Arthur’s seat stands desolate, with only a few climbers daring enough to visit it’s peaks because people go missing up there. It’s said you can turn around, and a person will be gone. Sometimes they are never seen again. Wizards are forbidden from visiting the hill as it is the home of a very powerful neutral force. If you stand still you will hear the quiet voice of the Cold North Wind. Possibly one of the most powerful Fae, those who have inquired why it is present so close to the city are told “it is waiting”.
Jeckyll & Hydes: Located in Niddry Street, Jeckyll and Hyde’s is a noteworthy bar for a couple of reasons: 1] It is Accorded neutral ground; 2] The owner, Luthor, is one of the best connected Changelings in the city. No one knows what his sources are, but he’s a controversial figure enough that Mab has stationed a Harrow outside the door for the day he’s finally forced to leave; and 3] You never know who’ll be in there. Last month a Red Court ambassador stopped in. NOTE: based on the Banshee Labyrinth in the street of the same name.
Edinburgh Below: the Undercity of Edinburgh extends far farther than Mary King’s Close. There are also darker things here than can be found on the surface, as the Nevernever encroaches here.
We came up with most of the above in an evening. Once you get started, you’ll find it very easy!