The Core Worlds
Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Gaming

DramaSystem: Heroes of the City

July 18, 2014

I ran a campaign of the Heroes of the City series pitch for DramaSystem this summer. Everyone involved enjoyed it (or lied to me) and it seemed like good fodder for a set of session reports, which I’m going to be posting over the next couple of weeks.

First though, I’m going to talk about how we ended up playing the campaign.


A couple of years ago, Hillfolk popped up on Kickstarter and promised to have many of the things I like about Fiasco such as limited randomness, being highly driven by what the players wanted to do and having lots of interaction between players (with NPCs taking a backseat). It then threw in campaign play and I was hooked. If that hadn’t been enough for me, then having the name Robin D. Laws attached to it would have been the kicker.

Hillfolk is the default setting for the game (in which the characters are bronze age villagers) but the system (DramaSystem) is, like Fiasco, generic.

Since its release, I’ve had the pleasure of taking part in two games of it run by David Scott of the Tuesday Knights. The first used the core setting of Hillfolk, the second was his home-brew series pitch of Space: 2019 (aka “Not Space: 1999, honest gov”). Both were very successful and I’d been looking forward to playing some more.

The Kickstarter was popular enough to generate a very large collection of series pitches, which are settings for the game that run to about half a dozen pages each (this is plenty). There were so many that they had to split the game across two books to fit them all in.

The second book is Blood on the Snow and, since reading it, I’ve been wanting to play Heroes of the City. It is a series pitch which takes a typical fantasy adventuring party and asks the question “What do they do with the city once the evil overlord is dead?”. (Usually the answer is “Squabble amongst themselves while the GM cackles in glee”).

Aside from the setup looking like a lot of fun, I’ve learned from playing Fiasco that games of this nature work better when the players know the tropes of the genre (and Fantasy is a genre that most roleplayers know very well indeed).

Just to cement the issue, it is written by Gareth Hanrahan and I’ve never read or played anything of his I didn’t like. (Hey, publishers, keep paying this man to write things!)

If you want to get hold of the system, you can pick up the SRD for free from Robin D. Law’s website or pick up the full game from Pelgrane Press.

Getting the gang together

Once or twice a year, I get together with a big group of friends and we rent a holiday home for a week, catch up on news, eat, drink, play games and sometimes even go out and do touristy things. Some of us like Fiasco rather a lot and we have been known to get through half a dozen games of it at these events.

One of those friends — Tom — had also picked up a copy of Hillfolk at the last Dragonmeet and kept talking about wanting to play it. There was only one thing to do! I lost d6 SAN and asked if anyone fancied trying to squeeze a five session campaign into a single week. Then I had to start a waiting list after the game filled up and people still wanted to join in.

In the end, my players were Tom, Sarah, Darren, Sean and Nick. I’ve heard that it works well even with more players, but I wasn’t ready to try to herd that many cats on my first outing GMing it.

The trouble with going on holiday for a week with 27 other gamers (we have reached the point where we tend to rent a venue that usually caters to weddings) is that there are many games that people want to play going on at many different times so scheduling things with specific people becomes difficult. I solved this problem by forcing my players to get up and ready to game by the ungodly hour of 10am every morning so we could play before people got hooked into other long games.

The sessions we played were:

(The links here may not function until the entry is published, expect a new one every couple of days).

We also did a little planning for a sequel.

There was no Tuesday game as all 28 of us got out of the house for lunch at a nice little pub.

The next post in this series will cover character and setting creation.

Special thanks to the other players for reading over this and filling out the details that I didn’t remember after ~20 hours of gaming, and also to Tina for reading through all the session reports to make sure they made sense from the perspective of someone who wasn’t playing in them.