So Carrie Harris from over at Evil Hat was kind enough to send me over a copy of the Paranet Papers, the next book in their Dresden Files RPG line. As I read through it I thought I’d post my thoughts.
First off this book, like the others in the series, is beautiful. I’ve been studying graphic design for the last few years and the original Dresden Files book is pretty but the Evil Hat team took it up a notch when they put this one together.
The background pages look like an unlined spiral notebook with some sections as pages pasted in from other sources. It uses a two column layout for the primary information but as in the previous books there’s commentary in the margins, white spaces – and in this book – on sticky notes. Speaking of the commentary, in Volume one & two the commentary didn’t really flow into the text of the book, which to me was fine, I just enjoyed reading it. In this volume it’s more a part of the text. Highlighter is used to point at and color coordinate when and where the reader should go to the commentary. The character stat blocks are on white file folders which is a nice little touch. To finish up the graphic design commentary the book is busy on the page but it’s still easy to follow the different kinds of information resulting in something pleasant to look at and easy to read.
Because of the book representing an unlined spiral bound notebook the art looks pasted, taped, drawn, or paper clipped in and is what you would expect from a Dresden/Evil Hat product. If you don’t know the Hat that means the art is of a high quality and matches each chapter along with the theme of the book over all.
The book is presented as a draft in an unlined spiral notebook written by William Borden of the Alpha’s. Sections written by people other than Will are pasted into the book and have a different look. It’s a clever way to differentiate the sections of the book.
The first two-thirds of the book cover several locations in the Dresdenverse: Las Vegas, Historic Russia, The Neverglades, Las Tierras Rojas, and The Ways Between. The last third has a sections on Spellcasting, Monsters, and NPCs in the Dresdenverse and updates a number of those people from the previous volumes.
I haven’t read the whole thing yet and as I do I’ll be posting more pieces of this review. So far I’ve gotten through Las Vegas which is written from the point of view of Herbert C Plainfield. It tells the story of the city of sin, why it’s like it is from a supernatural perspective, and gives the reader all the problems and NPCs you need to have the foundation of a campaign set in Las Vegas. In brief Vegas has always been a delicate social and criminal ecosystem based on sin and hope. A Red Court Vampire called Dragon helped keep this balance to the purpose of feeding a seal which is keeping some great apocalyptic evil underneath sin city. Harry kills the Red Court, Dragon dies, now the delicate ecosystem is starting to unravel which is not good to say the least.
I’m a good way through the Russia chapter too which is a historical perspective of Russian in 1918. For the Dresden fans out there this section is great because it tells a story of Simon Pietrovich, his involvement with the Russian Tsar’s, Rasputin, and the fallout/trouble it caused Russia in the long run. There are also a series of excerpts of letters between him and Ebenezer McCoy in the section. So good.
Last thing I want to talk about before I end this first part is the commentary in the margins and on the sticky notes throughout the book. The comments are between Karin Murphy, Will Borden, and Waldo Butters. They are great. The characters voices feel right and their commentary is worth the read for a Dresden fan. So after I read another hundred or so pages I’ll let you folks know some more about this book but my first impressions are to give this an A+.
You can pick up the book by clicking here.