ShushCon 2017 Post-Mortem, Part 1: Welcome to the Nightside

“A macabre and thoroughly entertaining world.” – Jim Butcher

So there’s this British guy who penned one of my favorite guilty pleasure reads. His name’s Simon R. Green. His story’s called The Nightside and it revolves around a magical private eye who wouldn’t know a clue if it bit him, a blizzard’s worth of memorably special snowflakes, and the gaudy, grand, grimy secret heart of London – a square mile of Hell that’s so much bigger than it should be.

I could write a whole series of posts on the Nightside alone.

I got into it before the Dresden Files and, honestly, I kinda miss it more than I anticipate the next Dresden book.

SAMSUNG
I’m sorry, Jim. Please don’t hate me.

It’s a devilishly clever, fast-paced series riddled with interesting characters, quintessentially British humor, and more cultural references than you can shake a stick at. I actually gave it most of its TVTropes page back in the day. Two of my all-time favorite books – Agents of Light and Darkness and Just Another Judgment Day – come from the Nightside, as do three of my favorite scenes in all of literature. The earliest of those scenes, which takes place in Agents, I read while blasting Nightwish’s End of All Hope.

It’s a series practically Taylor-made (hyuck hyuck) for the Fate roleplaying system.

I’m a pretty obsessive game master. I’ve got core books and supplements for Eclipse Phase, Nights Black Agents and Delta Green, and a bevy of .pdfs collected over the years. I’m tentatively poking Shadowrun with a stick. I don’t branch out much.

What I’m saying is I took the Nightside and crammed it into the Dresden Files RPG. It’s based on Fate. Close enough, right?

pbc
Like chocolate and peanut butter.

In the process, I mostly shucked off the actual background fluff of the system, ditched a couple mechanics, and basically just kept its stats and character sheets. Because I’m a bad person.

The end result played pretty well though. I’ll probably re-tool it for actual Fate play, give or take whatever I can scrape from the supplements (I like having more stats than standard Fate seems to allow).

I basically took Agents of Light and Darkness and broke up John Taylor and Shotgun Suzie’s roles to include Tommy Oblivion, Dead Boy, and Julien Advent; all major characters introduced later on in the series. I would’ve included Razor Eddie and Ms. Fate, but that seemed like it was a bridge too far. Eddie is a walking Plot Device and I don’t know how well Ms. Fate would’ve gone over Down South (although I’m thinking of statting her up anyway just to use her if I ever run the game elsewhere). I also thought about including Chandra Singh, the Indian paladin from Just Another Judgment Day, but I couldn’t think of a good way to include him that didn’t horn in on Julien Advent’s territory.

The translations from named characters to anonymous high concepts and aspects were pretty easy.

  • John Taylor = The Occult Detective
  • Shotgun Suzie = Shotgun-Toting Bounty Hunter (could stand to re-title this one)
  • Tommy Oblivion = The Existential Detective
  • Dead Boy = Revenant with a Really Cool Car
  • Julien Advent = Superpowered Victorian Adventurer
  • Fate = Non-Binary Superhero (that or Transgender Batman; I’m still mulling it over)

I’m curious as to how the Superhero would’ve worked, but maybe if and when I run it again I’ll have more to say there.

The Occult Detective was a social dynamo and manipulator in the test run but ended up being an intimidating Sight-wielder with a family obsession in the actual con. The Bounty Hunter helped make the test run but nobody wanted it at the con. The Existential Detective was a wild card in both sessions, the Victorian Adventurer was always the first one to stand up to the angels, and the Revenant was defined by their car. More on all that later.

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