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Old 09-04-2014, 10:54 AM   #9
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Default Re: Cosmology and game mechanics for Dream Worlds

Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
Suppose that a significant minority in a setting can access a Dream World of sorts. Whether by personal ability or by proper use of equipment is not relevant. The point is it's used, and they're in. However, questions arise when it comes to making a coherent cosmology for the world, topology, and mechanics for representing both.
I've created a campaign that relies heavily on a separate world from the "waking world." I decided to use H.P. Lovecraft's Dreamlands as a inspiration for the setting and it worked out quite well. People could travel to the Dreamlands mentally while they were a asleep or physically while awake. The first is the most common and anyone can do it because everyone has their own private dreamsphere where they go when they sleep. Normally, you can't exit your dreamsphere without some kind of supernatural ability - though sometimes you can and you get lost in the Dreamlands. I called this becoming "dreamstuck" and it was a huge chunk of a player's background. If you die in the Dreamlands while asleep you wake up - but instantly take half the damage you suffered in HP as FP. Going their physically required some form of paranormal power and if you died there you died for good.

Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
First, it seems traditional for Dreamworlds to include both a personal dreamsphere, and something more global where the various fantasies and fears of different people are given existence. Or maybe even exist independently, seeping into people's individual dreams occasionally, in a lesser form. What's the best way to handle the barriers (if any) between the global and the individual territories of the Dreamworld?
I came up with about 5,000 words on dream combat, penetrating a dream sphere, etc. It made it into a Pyramid article. I also treated each person's dream sphere as a type of Pocket Dimension with those who could control it gaining Jumper (Pocket Dimension). Those who could create huge spheres could merge their lands with others which created the Dreamlands proper. These dreamlords ruled small kingdoms in which they were supreme god-like beings. Going from one of these "open" spheres to the other was simply a matter of walking. Penetrating a dream sphere was a regular contest of Will where you could use Dreaming (a Wildcard skill in the setting) if it was better than your Will and Mind Shield added as well.

Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
Second, like the Inner Astral, the Dreamworld has a funny relationship with distances, at least on the global scale. Nonetheless, it would be nice to maintain a meaningful topology of some sort. The way I've seen it done at least somewhat playable was in a computer game called The Void / Turgor / Tension, where regions had an entry point (usually not far from the centre of the region), and exit areas pretty much everywhere as soon as one moves outside the borders of a region. And the regions had abstract connections (two regions either had a direct connection, or they didn't, in which case one had to go through multiple regions); sort of a gate-network. There was more or less no way to take a turn once a path has been chosen - stopping halfway from here to there was not an option outside the regions. Speed-of-travel is an interesting problem to ponder. Oh, and all this can be hard to handle with the issue below.
I required a roll against Navigation (Mental) which allowed you to shorten the distance traveled by 5% per point by which you succeed. Control (Dreams) also worked to bend space like Control (Space). Some spells worked to do this as well and Dream Celerity (a analogue to the psi power Astral Celerity) increased this too.

Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
Third, the issue of congestion. Let's say that the number of people capable of visiting the Dreamworld reaches a million very fast, and after that will be growing to a number comparable to the number of Internet users. That (a) requires either an already-large, or a gradually-expanding Dreamworld and (b) creates issues if entry points in regions are too small. I'm wondering if making entry points in regions sufficiently large, and placing individual entrants randomly, would solve congestion . . . but on the other hand, it will likely result in people getting lost much more regularly. What are the better solutions?
It's a Dreamworld...there is no congestion. It's as big or as small as it needs to be. You could have a 100 people in the same room because space doesn't conform to the laws of the real world. I wouldn't look at this too much - it's not in the typical literature anyways.

Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
Of particular interest is the issue of where the entry points into the Dreamworld should be located. Making it a single entry area would feel wrong. Making the entries correlate with geographical location in the real world would seem banal and undreamlike. Making them random each and every time would result in too much confusion. Making them depend on some totally different characteristic, such as the aspirations or the mood of the character, would have a high risk of breaking up parties of adventurers trying to enter the world together. I'm not sure how to balance the different worries against each other and whether there is a way to address all of them.
In the Awakening (my campaign) natural ways into the Dreamlands were possible, but rare and often in caves, closets, and other places where their were openings - but didn't go all the way through. Also, mirrors (which lead to the Mirrorwall, a place between places and the setting's analogue to the Astral Plane) could sometimes send you to the Dreamlands - or worse into the desolation of the Mirrorwall itself. One thing I did do in the campaign was make doors to the Dreamlands pop up in almost any place for those who had physically traveled there before - the Dreamlands are jealous and don't like letting beings leave that once walked its grounds.

Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
Finally, an issue related to the one above is the issue of number and location of phantasms or whatever one calls local denizens of the dream. At the start, there would seem that there are too many locals; but as time passes, there would be too many members of the 'Eternal September'. This almost demands new locales to open up gradually, but I'm not quite sure.
I treated human natives to the Dreamlands as normal people who lived, died, and were born like anyone else. Sometime in the past their was a mass migration of humans from the real world and the inhabitants of the Dreamlands were their descendents. As for creatures - most were sort of immortal and only died through death, but those who were believed to be normal critters (bears, wolves, etc.) were born, lived, and died like their waking world cousins. Belief was a huge part of the setting and if enough people believed it so then it was. This was more or less the main thrust of the campaign in that the PCs were trying to prevent others from remembering too much of the Dreamlands so that they could be steered by greater powers and conspiracies.
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