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D&D 3E
I posted a while back on a game that would be played with a character… 
6th-Oct-2005 03:26 pm
I posted a while back on a game that would be played with a character bereft of a memory of recent, climactic events. While planning, I came up with the idea to dole out information to the player by means of a dreams and half-recollections triggered by looking at seemingly mundane objects.

Concerning the dreams, I was thinking of implenting something of a dream world where the player can interact and advance dreams by wisdom checks; only under certain circumstances would I let them directly interact rather than passively observe. For example, let's say the character has been having the same dream now and anon for the past fortnight, with it ending each time after a walk down the same hallway, at a closed door. I might let the player open that door with a Wisdom check, and even if they fail, maybe if they roll high enough, I might uncover some detail that was previously unnoticed. The player would only be passively observing in this instance. I would essentially be revealing more and more layers of the dream to the player.

But, I was also thinking that dream combat would be, to be frank, kickass. I might let the player summon up dream weapons or equipment with a Wisdom check; normal movement could be flouted, with a Wisdom check; death, as far as death could go in a dream, could be shunted with a Wisdom check. There would of course have to be restrictions on these things, such as number of Wisdom checks used towards special actions per round, and exactly what the limits of power would be, but I think it would be the funnest thing in the world (I was totally into Nightmare on Elm Street). I might even have an extended foray into the dream world where direct interraction would be possible at all times; this might be brought on by a comatose state rendered by a head injury or something.

For rules, I was thinking a number of Wisdom checks per round equal to the (Wis modifier)/2, with one being the minimum. This also might improve over time, with maybe one bonus usage added every 2 or 3 levels of consistent usage. For limits of power, those would just have to be eyeballed with discretion by me. Also, I use the Wisdom check because it's simple and ready at hand. Moreover, I'm not going so much for rigid rules as I am a loose model that would let me flow with it, in a manner of speaking.

So, what say you folks? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
6th-Oct-2005 11:12 pm (UTC)
Whoa, rope it in there! That's getting pretty rules heavy, aren't there any existing mechanics for doing what you're proposing.

You're using dreams in a slightly different manner than I did, but I just told the player he was in a certain place and let ihm interact with it normally. When in combat, I let it run normally until he died at which point I told him he woke up and none of it really happened, Dallas-style.
6th-Oct-2005 11:31 pm (UTC)
I don't know if there are existing rules, and I think I would spend more time finding rules than writing my own that would function sufficiently for what I want to do. The fact that I'm limiting the advancement of dreams is because, one, I want them to be surreal and repetitive, two, I want to use them to convey premade story elements, and three, I wanted to model the somewhat uncontrollable nature of real dreams.
7th-Oct-2005 12:55 am (UTC)
If it's about story and uncontrollable stuff then just let them know what happens. Lay it out for the guy and wake him up. Use it as a piece of narrative and move on with the game.
7th-Oct-2005 12:07 am (UTC)
Um, something like this might be kinda boring for the player. I mean, they go through some sequence in which they have no control and you're just telling them what they do and what happens to them. What's the point then?

Give them full control over their characters in the dream. But of course you can still direct the way the story goes (for example, the door they can't go through just doesn't open for no reason other than it's inthe dream world).

What might be really fun is to give them almost an alternate character in the dreamworld, where they have a set of kick-ass abilities that aren't available in the normal game (I'm thinking alternate rules like psionics or incarnum might work). Or maybe make up a set of "Dream Feats" which are totally cool. But in any case, let them continue playing as normal in the dream world. Don't restrict them to making Wisdom checks.

Plus, think about the balance issues. The party cleric is going to be so much incredibly more powerful in this world, because he can take tons of actions and they always work. While anyone else is going to suck because they have no wisdom.

If you want free-form story telling, do that. You have them decide what they do, and then they do it. Just tell them if it's too out there, it won't work. Like D&D, but no limits other than what you decide to limit.
7th-Oct-2005 02:14 am (UTC)
Notes taken.

1)Keeping wisdom checks, dropping the linear sequences. It wouldn't be wisdom checks that made it boring. If anything they might be a needed break from the same old rules of normal D&D. If I freeform it too much as far as telling a player what they can and can't do, it might take on an arbitrary feeling; the checks would be there kind of to offer security to the player.

2)It'll be a single player game, so I'm not worried about party balance.

3)I'm thinking that maybe everything could be based on wisdom checks, with combat even being a freeform exchange of blows governed by wisdom checks back and forth between opponents. I'm thinking that strength, dexterity, constitution, and charisma carry little bearing other than what image the player has of their self in the dream, so everything should be based off of wisdom, or both wisdom and intelligence. I'm beginning to opt for the latter, since it might make a better overall model of a character's mental resolve and ability. Anything on this?
7th-Oct-2005 02:24 am (UTC)
In brief, it won't be freeforming any more than it will be me setting ad hoc DC's for the player to pass, and in essence, there won't be many balancing issues because the player is alone and essentially checking against their own self.

And I just got an idea: If they don't succeed at their checks, the dream progresses in a manner uncontrolled by them, then they can attempt to gain control after a period, this way they have enough control to feel that they have an impact, but not so much that I'm doling out what seem like capricious arbitrations.
7th-Oct-2005 03:28 am (UTC)
That might work. Especially if you play up the dream in such a way that they often feel that they're out of controlled, and that it's a PROBLEM that they're out of control. It's no fun if there's no risk.
7th-Oct-2005 03:27 am (UTC)
1) Well I'd say that if you needed a break from D&D rules, arbitrary is the way to go, but that's just me. But checks are definately good, if just to give the player something to latch on to. I'm a big fan of just having people roll a d20, and if it's high, something good happens, if it's low, something bad happens. Of course this is exactly what happens if you're just having wisdom checks, only instead of just rolling a d20, they're rolling a d20+2 or whatever.

2) Ah, alright then.

3) The d20 system has checks to beat a certain DC. These checks are a combination of luck (the die roll), natural ability (the ability modifier), and skill (either as a function of level or training). Maybe modify the system to include the skill component. So it becomes a will save instead of a wisdom check. Or maybe it's +wis and +level. Or maybe you create a special skill that the player can put ranks into (dreamwalking or something). Just a thought

If you want it to be just mental, maybe try to include charisma too. I mean charisma is involved in perform checks, and perfomance involves creativity, so charisma may have to do with how imaginative a character is. Maybe have it set up so that int/wis/cha map to str/dex/con in some way. Or maybe wisdom is used to bend the rules of the world (breaking through doors, jumping off buildings; actions), charisma is used contruct the world (creating spiffy weapons and so on; creation), and intelligence is used to navigate the world (making the endless street end, making the unseen follower visible; solving). Part of what's fun about D&D (at least to those of us with a bit of a powergaming aspect) is to be able to maximize their abilities. So in this situation I'll do one thing because I'm more able to do that, rather than something else. Of course, you want not want this, and may want every action to take an equal amount of effort (the same check).

In short, I say variety is the spice of life ;p
7th-Oct-2005 05:00 am (UTC)
I like your idea of using subbing skills for skills. Thanks a bunch.
7th-Oct-2005 04:42 am (UTC)
Ya know, in the old 2nd edition rules for movement on the Astral Plane, Int became Strength, and Wisdom was dexterity. If they want to do things there like interacting with the environment, relate it to strength or dexterity, then use int. and wis instead.
7th-Oct-2005 05:01 am (UTC)
And I like your suggestion, too. Thanks.
7th-Oct-2005 06:49 am (UTC)
Jordan's Wheel of Time series has a dream world, called Tel'Aran'Riad (or similar). You could try checking out the WoT D20 system and see how they implemented it in that. If your local gaming store has a copy, I'm sure you could flick through it.
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