Though I haven’t posted a lot here, I’ve slowly been working behind the scenes on Dreamland. The game has been through a lot over the last two years, but things are moving along.
I’ve always loved using comics as a “tutorial” for RPGs or other things, and one thing I have been doing is drawing tutorial comics for Dreamland. Some of this material has appeared here before, but as the game system slowly evolves, some of it is new. Here’s a quick introduction to the basics of Dreamland: gathering and spending Words, and how Pillar Words work.
As mentioned in other posts, the core mechanic of Dreamland is Word Cards — 300 cards of fantasy words and phrases inspired by the writing of Lord Dunsany.
Words — and telling stories with them — are the core mechanic of Dreamland. Though player characters have separate skills, nearly every challenge will involve Words. Challenges can be divided into two types: simple or risky.
The difference between simple and risky challenges is that in risky challenges, the target is a range (always 1D6+something) instead of a fixed number. Players must gamble Words before they know the exact target.
In the previous three examples, the dreamers used Neutral (gray) Words in every challenge. But more often than not, the risk and complication comes with using Pillar Words. Based on your Role, some types of Pillar Words can be advantageous.
However, Pillar Words are also innately dangerous (and since 3/4 of the Word Deck is Pillar Words, it’s inevitable that dreamers will have to use Pillar Words at some point). Whenever a dreamer uses Pillar Words, they risk breaking one (or more) of the Pillars of Dreamland, bringing either minor inconvenience or terrible DOOM upon themselves and their dreaming companions. This process is described here, but here is a new comic explanation. Using Pillar Words is gambling with fate, and dreamers who go too far risk disrupting reality itself.
That’s all for now, but I’ll be drawing more comics about more aspects of Dreamland RPG. What do you think of these comics? Are they clear or confusing? What questions do you have?
2 thoughts on “Tutorial Comics: Core Mechanics of Dreamland”
When I DM Dreamland, I refill the Word Pool between scenes, not as players take words. One of my players (my wife) read this and complained and now I will have to keep replacing Words for them. 😀
But she described it as “the Words are like gas for a car we can barely steer.”
I love your wife’s description….! XD In early versions of the game, the Word Pool didn’t refresh as often; actually for awhile I had it tied to real-world time (I set a timer to go off every 30 minutes), though of course that was too awkward. But I’ve come around to the idea that Words should be (almost) always available; it’s not a question of lack of Words, more a question of whether the players have to take only undesirable Pillar Words and risk Pillar Breaks….