The Dracula Dossier Director’s Handbook starts off quickly and gathers speed. The first section, Eyes Only Briefing, is 1.5 pages long, and lays out the big picture prelude to the campaign; its very dense, I will have to review this again later. The next section, Opening the Dossier, covers all the ground work the game master will need to consider before running the game, as well as explaining the structure of the book and how to use it.
I appreciated the discussion of how this campaign may fit into an existing NBA game, or start fresh. The treatment of Unredacted Dracula as the central MacGuffin to get things rolling is smart: not only do the players get to use this as a resource to jump start their investigations, the GM has motivations for Edom and Dracula to throw action at the players till they find their feet. Great for getting a new game going, or for pivoting an existing game. This is an improvement over The Armitage Files (Pelgrane’s prior improvised campaign) which, if my memory serves, only provides the equivalent files as a clue source.
On a purely physical level, the Dossier resembles the sort of government-issue binder that proliferates in every cubicle farm from Kharkiv to Kansas City.
I really want to do what Rickard on the Pelgrane forums has done, and make this into a prop. Hopefully the color printing costs are not prohibitive.
My favourite detail so far: the various pyramids thats make up algorithmic structure of the campaign. The Dracula Dossier adds to the typical NBA conspyramid and vampyramid an additional response pyramid (similar to Dracula’s vampyramid) for the Edom conspiracy. Each response pyramid is given a different purpose and set of conditions for when the GM should use it.
In addition to the pyramids, guidelines for using legacies – characters with connections to the original characters in the book – cover the final mechanism for the GM to track and direct pacing throughout the campaign.
For such an ambitious campaign, its reassuring to have tools for the GM to fall back on as well as manage the pacing.
Don’t overplan — the goal of the campaign is collaborative, improvised play. But it never hurts to have some idea of what might happen next, even if you’re letting the players decide where it happens, and to whom.
There’s a lot to take in in these first two chapters. The next section, The 1894 Network, looks like it will be a lighter read.