The Crossroads Challenge 2: Day 2

Challenge: Make a dream based rpg.

Since Wahrk and I only have 1 week to work on this, we put in place a few restrictions. Most of these were to keep the project small. We want the game to be design to play as a one-shot. This eliminates long term reward loops like equipment and cumbersome leveling mechanics. This game is supposed to be primarily about story, so Wahrk wants all of the mechanics to drive the story and make absolute flavor sense. If the game ends up using dice (which it looks like it will), I wanted it to use exclusively d6s (six-sided dice). I hate it when a game requires you to have some exotic array of dice and you only have 1 d4 instead of the required 12. That just sucks.

I also wanted the game to have rotating narration. The most painful part of setting up any one-shot is determining the narrator. Either you have someone who always narrates, no one every wants to do it, or no one can think of a good story. If you have a rotating narrator, it forces the game to be much more improvisational and it gets everyone more engaged in the story. It also means that you have a lot less potential set up. 

We have gotten a bit of the lore down, and I'll lay it out here very briefly. In our game world, all realities that can exist do. Everything that could ever happen does happen and all of these realities are interconnected. You can imagine all realities as branches on a colossal tree that grows and continues to branch through time with its roots planted in the time before time. Let's call this tree Yggdrasil.

Yggdrasil potentially contains all realities (I'll get to the potentially in a minute), and you can imagine the space between these realities. Some realities practically overlap; like reality a, where I am holding a cup, and reality b, where the cup is on the table next to; while others are hugely distant; like reality a, where I am holding a cup, and reality @, where I am a pink nerve gas farting dragon. You can think of a person's soul as a spot light that track a path along the tips of the branches of Yggdrasil. In this world, every version of every person does not have their own soul. The me in reality a and the me in reality b both exist, but only one of us has a soul. 

The branches are fuzzy though. If we cannot see each other, you could just as well be in reality a and I could be in reality b, but when we see each other in 15 minutes at the coffee shop, we are now in the same reality. This works out just fine for the most part. Most people's spot lights track realities that are very close to each other, so close that no one notices that there is any difference. 

Since everything does happen though, you can get huge forks in the tree where big events took place. Say the Nazis won WWII. That creates a massive split and the lights can diverge. If enough lights split off on a fork, a new alternate reality is formed and more lights are produced farther up the tree maintaining it. This also makes the tree bigger and more diverse. It makes more room for more souls and more branches. A big fork has to attract enough souls to be viable though. Yggdrasil draws its nourishment from souls, so if a reality branch doesn't have anyone's souls in it, it dies.

Most people are unaware of this. In your prime reality (i.e. the bundle of branches you are born into naturally and that you move around in without knowing it) you have very little effect on the direction of things overall. Yggdrasil grows mainly by chance, forking this way and that with every discussion that is made. You only travel so much "laterally" through the branches as you age through naturally occurring connections. But there is another way to travel. You can travel through your dreams.

When a person dreams, they can make huge jumps to whole other sections of Yggdrasil. You can make the jump from reality a to reality @. You can jump to realities that forked before the establishment of the physical rules of reality. You can do it, but you won't be yourself. You might be someone much like yourself or you might be an elephant, but you are just getting a glimpse of that world. You won't remember much when you wake up. But while you were there, you had amazing powers. Powers to alter the growth and direction of that reality.

Some people have a special ability. They have the ability to maintain their personality when they dream. They know they are dreaming, and more importantly, they know what that means. They can shape the growth of Yggdrasil as they see fit, changing reality in the dream. When they do this in a meaningful way, they pull other people's souls in that reality with them, focusing that reality in a certain direction. With enough patience (or force of will) they can become kings or even gods in these realities.

This comes at a price. It diverts the the growth of Yggdrasil into one direction. Without the possibility of souls following different paths, there is less and less forking. Without the souls to support it, the branches wither and die. As the branches continues to unify, there is less room for other souls beyond the one who shapes it. Eventually, only one soul remains. Yggdrasil needs a critical mass of souls to maintain itself. If left unchecked, what could have been uncounted souls will be extinguished and Yggdrasil will die.

As the player you are part of a group of conscious dreamers. You see reality for what it really is and you want to stop those who would corrupt Yggdrasil for their own pleasure. In each game, you are sent on a mission to stop one of these godkings from destroying so many potential lives and to help maintain Yggdrasil. I'm playing with the idea that we should call these people Norns, but that might be pushing it too far. I'm not even sure that we are going to call the reality tree Yggdrasil.

We have a bit beyond this, but that is the basic concept. Wahrk and I are both independently working on a dice system to support this and we are going to get together and see what makes the cut and what doesn't tomorrow. Should be interesting...