I often have dreams about games I’ve made, and of course they’re the awesomest ever in dreamland, because they follow dream logic. When I wake up and start reviewing my awesome new game idea, it is usually quickly apparent that, in real-world logic, they wouldn’t work at all.
All the same, I try and write them down, because even if they are meant for the land of dreams I occasionally pick out some idea or mechanic or insight that could be useful later. In some cases (like tonight) I wake up immediately after the dream and can not get back to sleep until I write it down.
Tonight’s dream game was a pen-and-paper RPG of sorts. I was gathered round with people who were presumably my friends (in my grandma’s old basement, but that’s an aside). One person was chosen to be the main participant in my game, and the rest gathered round to watch. I was DM, of course.
I gave a premise, that he was stuck in Hell, but had gotten there a non-traditional way. Then I gave him a set of objects I’d gathered to use as inspiration. Now, he was to tell the story of why he was in Hell and how he got there, improv-style, to the other people gathered round to listen.
The player launched into an epic story, and we took occasional breaks for snacks (and to allow the player to plan ahead some thoughts). The rules allowed that some of the audience could choose to do some storytelling themselves, and step in front to take the role of a character in the main story, then tell a bit from that character’s perspective (which would inevitably steer the course of the main player’s story when he took to the stage again). Two people did this in my dream.
All the while, I was watching and listening and taking notes.
When the storyteller was finished, we took one final break, as I set up the adventure. The short adventure was the character trying to get out of Hell by climbing some crazy tower (I had a cool little set piece to represent it). It was totally improvised, using information I’d learned from the main character’s story.
When we all gathered back, I took over the story to explain the premise, and then we played through encounters as the main character climbed up the tower. All the encounters had something to do with his “how-he-got-there” story that he’d just told, and the audience was all anxious to see if he would get out.
Sounds pretty fun, yeah?? In dream world, that is. I don’t know if anyone in real life is as good and brave at improvised storytelling as that. But, I do really like the idea of a pen-and-paper RPG adventure that other people watched as an audience, and for whatever reason were really invested in the outcome.
Food for thought!