Saturday, November 14, 2015

Let's Read: The Dracula Dossier (TOC and Skim)

The Dracula Dossier is a massive reading endeavour. In addition to the Director's Handbook, there's the Dracula Unredacted document, and Hawkin's Papers. So where to start?

Director's Handbook

Started with this, because it promises to provide the overall framework of the campaign and should explain how Dracula Unredacted (the original after-action report that was redacted and rewritten into the novel we know as Dracula) and Hawkin's Papers (various in-game artifacts and in-game documents that help reveal the mystery) fit into the running of the game.

I suppose that when trying to understand how to run what is essentially a sandbox investigative game (!), it's best to understand what the default / likely scenario(s) will be, before attempting your own spin.

As usual, I did a quick review of the Table of Contents (TOC) and skim through the pages, to get my bearings -- an overview, identify areas of interest to skip ahead to, become familiar with terms.

Table of Contents

Foreword, Operation Edom, How To Use This Book

Comfortingly, the first few chapters and sections do take the time to quickly explain what all the books are used for, what the default campaign might be like (with suggestions for variety and customisation), and some key questions that a sharp-minded Director might want answered right away, before going any further (such as: "In Life, Which Historical Figure, If Any, Was Dracula?").

The 1894 Network, Opposition Forces, People

Then, it moves on to detail the various characters from the 1894 Network and to the modern era. The book gives options for each character being exactly what they seem to be, or as an agent of Edom, a minion of Dracula, or some other twist that will not only keep your Players on their toes, but will offer satisfying twists and turns to your campaign.

Nodes, Locations, Objects

There is a LOT of material here for allies, enemies, third parties that may or may not oppose you. There are also fleshed out Nodes (organisations, corporations, conspiracies) to complicate matters for your players, various key Locations across Europe and in the United States and Israel that your players may want to visit (or be spirited away to), and some Objects of interest that may provide clues (like Renfield's Journal) or valuable anti-vampire utility (like Vanderpool Garlic) or unwanted violent attention due to its value (like the Cameos of Dracula).

Scenario Spines & Capstones

There are three scenario spines provided (London Heat, Covering Our Tracks, For the Dead Talk Fast), all of which give Directors a good idea of the types of scenarios that can be used to introduce players to the overall campaign, and give a feel of how some improvisation might go while running it.

There are four capstones provided (Zalmoxis Rising, Dracula's Mill, Russian Roulette, The Tomb of Dracula) which give you options, or perhaps seed ideas, on how you can end your overall campaign on a climactic note.

All these are structured in such a way that it makes comparing and comprehending the materials relatively straightforward, even as a Director might already be planning modifications to the materials provided.

Campaign Frames, Looking Glass: Bucharest, and Indices

The Campaign Frames are interesting -- apparently some non-traditional / high-challenge level campaigns for the advanced Director -- but will require more detailed analysis when I get to it.

Looking Glass: Bucharest gives some much-needed detail to this exotic campaign location.

Indices helps you find things in the book, that you might need at a critical campaign prep (or game running) juncture.


Seems like a very meaty book to dive into. So, we'll get to that in the next instalment!

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