Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Game Challenge 4

I Have a Dream
The Unconscious RPG

This is a game for those heavy sleepers and vivid dreamers.

A. Character Creation

The last page of this manual contains a sample character sheet that will be used to record information about your character.

Name: The two names asked for on the character sheet are self explanatory. Put your name and the name you wish your character to go by here.

Stats: This is where you will keep track of your characters stats. You are given 5 stat points to spend as you wish.

Physical Ability: This is the dream world manifestation of your physical body.
Example: You’re confronted with a locked door. This ability would dictate both, how carful you could be when picking the lock, or how forceful you would be in the attempt to smash the door down.

Mental Ability: This is how intelligent your character is. Imagine it as his reasoning, how quickly he could solve problems or puzzles.
Example: You’re playing chess against a skilled opponent. The higher this ability, the more likely your character is to see what plan your opponent has laid out in order to trap you.

Spiritual Ability: The inexplicable. Perhaps it’s your psychic ability, or your ability to commune with a god. Only thing that matters is that this ability controls the manifestation of this supernatural talent in the dream world.

Example: Perhaps you can read minds. In the dream world this ability would be greatly amplified, and the higher your spiritual ability, the easier it is for you to probe the mind of another.

Special Stats: These stats are not like the above ones. You may not increase these with the initial stat points. These stats control the factors in the game.

Deep Sleep Dice: These are additional dice you can take at any time. If you ever find a challenge to hard or just want to make it easier, you can take up to two Deep Sleep Dice per challenge, and these dice remain with you until you have max Deep Sleep Dice. When you roll a challenge with these dice, if the highest number thrown is on one of these dice, you automatically gain another Deep Sleep Die to be used next challenge. You must roll the max Deep Sleep Dice you’ve earned every challenge. Once you are at 5 Deep Sleep Dice, you cannot take anymore additional dice. Should you find that your max rolled value is a Deep Sleep Dice, and you have 5 Deep Sleep Dice already, add one to your Nightmare Dice, and reset the Deep Sleep Dice to 0.
Example: You come to a difficult door to break down. You can choose to fall into a deeper sleep, and roll an additional one or two dice to make it easier. If you already have some Deep Sleep Dice then you may add one or two additional dice.

Nightmare Dice: Treat each of these as a single Deep Sleep Die. You can only gain a Nightmare Die by rolling a max value in Deep Sleep Dice and having max Deep Sleep Dice at that time. Should you have 3 Nightmare Dice and 5 Deep Sleep Dice, and roll a max value in your Deep Sleep Dice, your game is over. You become a nightmare which the GM may use. You must roll all the Nightmare Dice you’ve accumulated for ever challenge.

Power: Your character has one power of your choice. The GM will choose if it’s a valid choice of powers, but otherwise there is no limit on what a player may choose. For example, Telekinesis is a valid power, but the ability to obliterate anything with a thought is not. Powers may be used when the Player chooses, and the GM decides the difficulty.

What you dream about: Exactly what it says. What your character would dream about.

B. Game Play

Game play is actually quite simple. Everyone starts off as a sleeper. You’re all asleep for one reason or another, whether it is late at night and your bed time, or you’ve gone into a comma. And this is the time in which you’ve become aware of the collective subconscious of the world. You’ve entered the dreamscape in a whole new way, and your adventure is about to begin in it. Only this dream is much more frightening. Think of Nightmare on Elm Street as you play the game. Whatever is happening in your dreams really affects you, and as such you better not die. Should your character become a nightmare, that’s game over in a whole new way. Your character can no longer wake up, and even upon the physical death, their mind will inhabit the collective subconscious terrorizing others for their own amusement.

While each dream can be different they all share certain aspects in common. Challenges are one thing they share. Every dream involves something happening and a conflict being resolved. In this case the conflict is resolved by a roll of the dice. The GM decides both, what dice must be rolled to solve a conflict, such as the physical die pool to break a door, or the mental die pool to win a game of chess, and what the challenge level is. In this game challenge level is represented by the GM rolling a dream die pool. If your character wants to break a door down the GM may decide it’s a push over door representing a dream die pool of 2, or a steal door representing a dream die pool of 10.

Challenges are resolved by both parties throwing the appropriate dice and then comparing the die totals. The dice used for this game is the D6. And you throw the amount of D6s total to your rank in each ability plus any Deep Sleep Dice. So if it’s a physical challenge and you have 3 physical ability, and 2 deep sleep dice, you roll 5 D6s. You must state which dice belong to the Deep Sleep Die pool before you roll them. You look first at what the highest total rolled was, and then the next highest until we have a winner. If there is a tie, the player wins the tie and achieves the goal.

Before the player’s die are cast, the player may choose to take on a few Deep Sleep Dice to make their task easier. While this makes the task easier, it also increases the chance of the player becoming a nightmare. If Deep Sleep Dice are involved in a roll, the player must state which dice belong to that pool before casting them. Should the player have a majority of high dice, by comparison to the other dice they cast, in that die pool, then they take an additional Deep Sleep die to be used on the next challenges.

Like Deep Sleep Dice, Nightmare Dice must be rolled for every challenge. They count as if they were Deep Sleep Dice to determine the ramifications of the roll. A player gains Nightmare Dice by having 5 Deep Sleep Dice and then having a majority of high rolls in the Deep Sleep Die pool. If this happens, you increase the number of Nightmare Dice by one and reset the Deep Sleep Die pool to zero. If you should max out your Deep Sleep Die pool and your Nightmare Die pool, and have a max value in your Deep Sleep Dice, your character becomes a Nightmare, game over.

As far as death goes in this game, it is simply the failure of a task that would normally result in death. If your character tries to jump across a chasm where failure would result in a 1000 foot drop, and you fail the roll, you die. Death is still GM decision, but it must be reasonable.

C. Nightmares

Let me talk briefly about nightmares. These can be any manor of creature from a monster bent on eating the players, to a very intelligent and manipulative man who wants something at the cost of others. The only thing they have in common is that they take pleasure in tormenting the sleepers. One example of a nightmare that a GM might choose to use to his own devices is the Boogeyman.

D. GMing

Finally, let me explain gming. It’s no different than any other game. The GM is the storytelling, the judge, the challenge setter, etc. It’s your job to make a fun game for your players. Let them lead the game, but paint the appropriate picture. And most importantly, remember, this is the collective subconscious, but more importantly, this is a dream. And anything could happen in dreams. Use your creativity and just have fun. Also, take into consideration each characters, “What you dream about” section.

Player Name:
Character Name:

Physical Ability: □ □ □
Mental Ability: □ □ □
Spiritual Ability: □ □ □

Special Stats:
Deep Sleep Dice: □ □ □ □ □
Nightmare Dice: □ □ □

What you dream about


This RPG was created in a day, and I think was fairly successful. My biggest problems in making it were deciding what important stats were, and what dice to roll to solve challenges. Being a more serious RPer and GM I actually planned the game around a more serious idea. However, the play tests proved a little unexpected. My players took the game quite light heartedly which still proved fun. We had a group consisting of Hitler, with the power to Heal, Zesus with the power of lightning, a norse barbarian with the power to smash gooder, and a Russian spoon bender. Everyone seemed to enjoy the game, and I one person describe it as D&D on crack. The group went from bashing a few people and dream police, to finding a brothel, falling off the top of a car, getting attacked by a computer screen, setting a building on fire, being burned by it, and then sacrificing each other to the gods. All in all, a success in my opinion. Just could use a bit more revising so that things run more smoothly.


  1. Karl,

    Looks like you created a neat RPG, and in such a short time frame! Can you add more documentation about your design process? Check out this article for a similar task:


    I think the biggest problem with the game was that it lacked focus of direction, mainly goals (probably because you didn't have a campaign designed, but also because freeform RPG-ing can easily get off focus). It might be possible to build a 'quest' using a set of cards with particular keywords or phrases to help generate goals and obstacles. Cards could be drawn each turn by the GM. Take another look at Fluxx (or Zombie Fluxx or Monty Python Fluxx).

    Devin Monnens

  2. (psst. You said Karl made this)

    The main problem with the game is exactly what Devin said. It's hard to have a plot on the fly so it's not entirely your fault on that. Quest cards sound like a good idea.

  3. This was nuts. I jumped about half way through the game and had my character's ass handed to him. It was hilariously confusing. It was difficult to determine what kind of rolls were going on during gameplay. Good job, though!

    ~Kyle Roucis

  4. Kind of confusing to start, and we did have some weird story events!

    The plot did seem to be an issue, none of us really knew what we were doing so we just started to kill the civilians.