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General Forge Forums => Game Development => Topic started by: szp on October 05, 2011, 02:56:27 PM

Title: [Waking to Dreams] Too good for your own good?
Post by: szp on October 05, 2011, 02:56:27 PM
Here is the link to Waking to Dreams (, which is a work in progress with only a fraction written out yet. (For those keeping track, this is the second time I post this idea to this forum -- the current version is a heavy, heavy revision though. :p) (Also, pardon if I speak funny sometimes. English isn't exactly my native tongue.)

The main idea behind the game is that the players take control of dream-people in someone else's dream. The PCs (called Dreamweavers) use lucid dreaming techniques to do miraculous and illogical things to explore, struggle and interact. The mood is generally that of surreal fantasy and horror, as the game emphasizes the uncertainty and instability of dream-images. Wacky misadventures are still possible and appropriate, though. We all have had crazy dreams.

Anyways, to the point:

In this game, one of the design points I wanted to make was a minimalist system. Keeping that in mind, the system allows the characters to do what they want most of the time without particular difficulty or resistance -- as long as the actions they are taking are not of narrative significance. A PC punching a tank to pieces isn't contested as long as the action is not important to the "plot". Backdrops are just backdrops and not that many things are implausible when the reality check centers have gone offline.

Though, when a character makes that changes the story -- introducing, negating or reinterpreting a plot element, or such other game-changers -- they are assumed to make an action that is at and beyond their abilities as a Dreamweaver. Since it is uncertain whether their all-out effort will succeed or not, dreamweaving is always contested with a dice roll (unless automatic successes due to acting in-character are considered, but that's for a later time.) The idea is thus:

A Dreamweaver has five traits: Self-Concept, Other-Concept, World-Concept, Lucidity and Dissonance. The Concept traits represent the character's Ego -- their deep-held ideas and established mental model about themselves, other dream-people and (sur)reality. Lucidity is a measure of how "aware" they are of themselves or how "strong" their independent existence is. (Dissonance is the discrepancy between the personalities of the Dreamer and the Dreamweaver, but that's unimportant for this discussion.) When the character dreamweaves, they draw upon their Lucidity as a source of raw power and channels it through their Ego, thus transmitting their willpower and vision on the Dreamer's unconscious and changing the dream.

This is mechanically represented as: when the character takes a dreamweaving action, the player rolls a number of dice equal to the character's Lucidity, where dice that roll at or under the rating of the relevant Ego category counting as successes. Additionally, acting in-character also contributes successes and dice that turn up 1 count as double successes. If the roll gets more successes than the difficulty of the task, the character succeeds and describes what happens.

However, here is the main problem: I want to incorporate the idea that engaging too deeply with the Dreamer's unconscious results in melding with it. How this is mechanically presented right now is that, if the dreamweaving roll results in a supercritical success (getting successes equal to or more than Lucidity), then their Lucidity will decrease by 1 for every supercritical die. The idea is to put some sort of a limit to an otherwise powerful free action and related another enforcing the notion that the PCs need to be not too flashy.

Is this a good direction to take? I predict that this will only be a significant problem for early level characters (Lucidity range between 1 and 4), who will depend on in-character action automatic successes for insurance. Flavor-wise, it makes sense. But mechanically, I'm wondering if this is punishing players for being too good at what they are doing. I'm afraid that this will cause players to be too cautious in what they do -- which will take all the fun out of the reality-shaping powers. And if you take that this will be the case -- do you have any similar idea that will not risk this outcome?

tl;dr - Is having an oversuccess mechanic a good design decision in general?

Title: Re: [Waking to Dreams] Too good for your own good?
Post by: Rubbermancer on October 06, 2011, 01:16:55 AM
Have the Self-Concept part of the Ego work as a mitigating factor, subtracting from excess successes.  The more grounded in yourself you are, the less you risk over-immersion.

Title: Re: [Waking to Dreams] Too good for your own good?
Post by: szp on October 06, 2011, 12:04:11 PM
That is why Lucidity is the threshold, though. The result of supercritical success becomes more and more slim as you become more "solid" (high Lucidity in other words). When your dice pool is around 3 or 4, tapping for even one or two automatic successes makes it risky. But around 6 or 7, it's far less likely. So, in a way, I believe how it is now already includes a mitigator for the reason you suggested.

Title: Re: [Waking to Dreams] Too good for your own good?
Post by: Rubbermancer on October 06, 2011, 01:36:21 PM
Well, in that case, I'd say it's a cool mechanic.  But do players have to roll the full dice pool?  Another idea, just throwing it out there:  What if, instead of oversuccess, there's overimmersion, which happens when die results are over the difficulty score?  You could rack up successes a lot better, and the low die rolls would represent self-control in a much more intuitive way.  Also, characters could have the option of upgrading dice in a pool, one by one, to a lower-variable dice class.  This would increase both the chances of success and the chances of keeping control.  Not sure if it'll work, but it's a thought.  Seems more fun to me, and it makes more sense to my player psychology.

Title: Re: [Waking to Dreams] Too good for your own good?
Post by: Thriff on October 06, 2011, 11:47:52 PM
Hey Szp,

I really like the idea of a game that focuses on dreams and Dreamweavers, it sounds like a great setting that I’d love to explore!

But I feel like I can’t get a handle on your system—there seems to be a great deal of in-world fictional accounts to set the tone, but the Introduction and character sections did very little to help me understand what you’re doing here.

I fully believe you have a great game somewhere (perhaps you have it ready to go, but haven’t typed it up yet; or maybe it's on the site and I'm just blind...) but, as of now, I simply don’t “get” your system.

(Is the first part of “Mechanics” written in latin? Whatever it is, I can’t read it and perhaps that’s my problem.)

What is with this trend of rolling low for successes? I know there’s nothing inherently “wrong” with it, but I just don’t understand why you (and others) suggest rolling under for successes as the way to go? Could you explain this to me?

Sorry, but I don’t understand enough about what you’re doing with WtD to even understand the problem you’ve posted in this thread.

Knowing more about Character Creation and Resolution Procedure would be a great help (seeing a character sheet would also be useful).

I am looking forward to learning more about WtD in the future.


Title: Re: [Waking to Dreams] Too good for your own good?
Post by: Cedric on October 14, 2011, 05:20:52 AM
@Thriff: the latin part is a Lorem Ipsum - e.g. filler text meant to be replaced by real content later on ;)

@Szp: nice stuff ! Reminds me of the movie Inception - I guess it's not a coincidence...
So if I understood correctly, your problem is that you're afraid the characters get 'too' powerful. I see several alternatives, feel free to consider them or to trash them altogether ;)

1- If the game is about pure Player versus Dream, then there could be a risk that the dreamer wakes up in the first place. So the Dreamweavers will have to be careful not to alter the dream too much if they want the 'reality' to keep its existence. This reminds me of Mage: the Awakening (the game from World of Darkness), where using 'magick' for changing reality can backfire (you create a 'paradox', e.g. Reality fights back). In your settings, this could be represented by internal rules of the Dream, which could be different for each dream. The Dreamweaver can break the rules, but by doing so he brings the dreamer closer to awakening.
-> Instead of reducing the Lucidity, you diminish a value representing the 'solidity' of the dream. At zero solidity, the dream is gone.

Example of rules:
- magic does not exist (cf. Mage. When you do magic, make sure noone sees you or make sure it can be explained with a scientific explanation)
- the characters are fixed (e.g. the dreamer dreams about spending vacation with his family. Replacing his son with a mutant cyborg is likely to be noticed)
- the environment is fixed (e.g. the dreamer dreams about his hometown. Replacing his kid school with a haunted house might be problematic)
- etc.

Instead of awakening, the dreamer could fight back. E.g. make changes in his turn that will confuse the Dreamweaver, maybe make him less Lucid (as you propose) or make him doubt about what he thinks about the Concept? ("Am I still in this dreamer's dream or am I just... dreaming this?")
-> Instead of diminishing Lucidity, the original dreamer earns the possibility to reinforce his dream (e.g. for each Solidity point lost, it is possible to trigger certain events which fight against the intrusion - the Dreamweaver)

Exemples of such events:
- everyone looking at you
- dreamweaver becoming a doom magnet
- brutal environment shift (e.g. you were in town and are now in the middle of a desert)
- etc.

2- If the game is about Player versus Player, e.g. if multiple Dreamweavers have conflicting goals from within the dream, then let them Resist changes made by others. When rolling for changing the dream, the other weavers can increase the difficulty by resisting the change. This will force the Dreamweaver to reach consensus before changing something big, or will have to limit his ideas to things he can change while the others resists. In both cases, its abilities are being limited.

3- Use both aspects :)

My two cents,