Adventuring in Sunnydale, Derry, and Hawkins



I've been digesting the Dresden Files Accelerated RPG off and on over the past several weeks - an activity balanced by family, work, finishing my graduate class, and running my Fate Accelerated Star Wars game.

Reading through Dresden Files I've been giving a fair amount of thought to the type of campaign I'd run. I lean pretty heavily towards the urban jungle environment like the Chicago of the Butcher's Dresden Files series of novels - Chicago plus trips to Aztec pyramids, the Nevernever, and other places in our world and others. I've been eyeing re-purposing my homebrew superhero city Port Henry for that purpose.

With the 20th anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer upon us and trailers for It, based upon Stephen King's novel, I've also been thinking of adventures in a smaller town. Buffy was set in the fictional California town of Sunnydale while It is set in the likewise fictional town of Derry, Maine. You've also got Stranger Things taking place in Hawkins, Indiana. These towns all share a lot in common. None of them are tiny but none are so big so as to require more than a single high school. The protagonists in all these tales, at least at the start, are children. In Stranger Things and It they are in junior high/middle school whereas in Buffy they are in high school. It splits the novels into halves, with the characters in their late thirties returning to Derry and Buffy's characters staying in Sunnydale for college.

The towns all hold secrets. Derry has its periodically returning child-killing monster and townspeople who are good at ignoring it. It's a violent place even without the monster, with a murder rate six times what is normal for towns of its size. Sunnydale is on a Hellmouth attracting all sorts of supernatural attention, coupled with adults who also willingly ignore it. Hawkins is just getting used to its weirdness, with an energy research facility having opened a portal to another dimension, the Upside Down. The willing ignorance is played rather sinisterly in It whereas Buffy features a dark humor - in keeping with the moods of the two works.

I suspect Dresden Files Accelerated would work rather well for a Buffy-style setting- the characters are on the badass side, with even the non-supernatural ones able to survive encounters with vampires. On the other hand, It and Stranger Things deal more with people who are a bit over their heads - a bit more of a Call of Cthulhu vibe. Fate would work fine as an RPG, though there'd have to be a group consensus that the characters are more on the "normal" side of the fence. It and Stranger Things also deal with a much tighter plotline - Buffy features a "Big Bad" every season as well as monster-of-the-week episodes. Obviously, Eden Studio's Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG would work well for a higher powered game as would Urban Shadows, a Powered by the Apocalypse game. I've also been giving a bit of thought to games like Little Fears.

My own inclination is towards something more akin to Dresden Files but I can see the appeal of some small town gaming as well.

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