Up again in the middle of the night being excited about playing in Shannon’s and his co-creator Kristopher’s fledgeling system, Enter the Dreamscape. This playtesting session was marvellous, with the creativity, the wonder and the ability to be anything you want to be. All that stops you is your imagination. As this is my first dive into the game, I could see lots of positives but like most systems there are some flaws and without spoiling the system I will try and go through them.
Joined by five of my friends in Shannon’s game. Each one had the different level of role-playing experience and skill. Some were more on the technical side of role-playing while others have a love of just diving in head first into their creativity. I feel that I would be of the latter as I like to have fun in role-playing games and tell fantastic stories. I have still blown away with the quickness of creating characters in this system, and the freedom that you have envisaged a new character. The game is about being a ‘Dreamer’ in the Dreamscape to interact with a vast number of genres. As the Dreamer, you have tremendous control over the environment of the Dreamscape, but like all role-playing games there are levels, and you are not as powerful in the beginning but as a team of Dreamers you can achieve remarkable things in this system. We all ended up with the weirdest avatars in our Dream-state, I was a bodiless entity that had the ability to project imageries into others minds, another player had a hybrid abomination which looked like a gelatinous blob with one arm a crocodile head and the other a dragon head that breathed fire. While another was a half human snow fairy (only a few inches tall) with dragonfly wings that looked like snowflakes that drove around in a robotic suit that was an enormous size. The other three were a Primal wolf spirit encased in bone and fur with a primal howl, an infected human who is in an alien robotic suit/insect carapace armour that had an anti-gravity sphere bestowing him flight and a ghostly gentleman with magical powers. As you can see these are not standard archetypes like in other gaming systems.
Then Shannon opened up to the realm in the Dreamscape. We found ourselves on a garlic bread ship set adrift in a spaghetti and meatball sea, with Calzone whales ‘Whalzones’ and other Italian food base aquatic animals. In the distance, we see a plume of smoke. We have to think of ways outside the box to direct the ship towards the plume, e.g. lassoing a whalzone to pull the ship. As it very apparent that ‘we aren’t in Kansas anymore’, before we could become accustomed to this idea, all the inanimate objects all around the ship morphed into giant lava cake golems. Here was our first fight, with all the positives of creation and creativity. The system itself does have a some minor pitfalls when it comes the statistical part of combat, as there was a high probability chance of complete failure. Being ‘ghosted’ or knocked unconscious quickly by the elemental minions. Causing some issues in playing the game. Straight away Shannon could see the unbalance, but then he changed it so the chance of failure had a lesser impact. Even with that I can see a little more fine-tuning is needed. While the combat is not perfect the concept of how the ‘enemies’ interact with you is good. Instead of a couple of tough enemies, they were a large mob where every hit can drop one. Allowing your attacks to be more descriptive and to break outside the fundamental thinking ‘roll dice to hit, then roll for damage’ mentality from other gaming systems. This variety within combat grants Dreamscape to become more immersive.
I immensely enjoyed playing in ‘Enter the Dreamscape’, from the quick creation of characters to the easy to follow character sheets and easily grasped system to the pure imagination of the world of the Dream. Because of the personal mark, you have on your character you have more of a deeper connection to it. Even with the small imperfections in the combat system, it does not detract from the pleasure I had playing in the game. This is the reason why these systems are playtested, to help see the glitches and to move towards perfecting it. I am looking forward to the next chapter in my series ‘Unexpected Discoveries’ for Shannon’s and Kristopher’s ‘Enter the Dreamscape’.
Update: I talk to Shannon this morning and he has addressed the issues about the high chance of failure in combat. This is showing that the playtest is working, and he is considering every angle.