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Old 09-04-2014, 05:32 AM   #1
vicky_molokh
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Default Cosmology and game mechanics for Dream Worlds

Greetings, all!

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.

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?

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.

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?

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.

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.

Thoughts? Advice? Ideas? Questions?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 09-04-2014, 06:12 AM   #2
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Default Re: Cosmology and game mechanics for Dream Worlds

Does the Dreamworld exist as the place where everyone 'goes' to Dream?
For the majority this is a relatively passive interaction between their subconscious and the abstract medium of the Dreamworld.
For those with the ability (or technology), they can become conscious active participants within the Dreamworld, potentially interacting with others 'passive Dreams'?

Does the Dreamworld itself have any particular existence or properties without these 'visitors' (active or passive)?
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Old 09-04-2014, 07:39 AM   #3
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Default Re: Cosmology and game mechanics for Dream Worlds

I would suggest that the dreamworld is comparable to the astral realm, Yetzirah, in GURPS Cabal.

One of my conceits about the three realms was that each was governed primarily by a different magical law and a different type of signs. The law for the material plane is Contagion, which operates by things coming in contact with each other; this goes with indices, or signs of things that cause them, as smoke is a sign of fire. The law for the astral plane is Similarity, which operates by things resembling each other; this goes with icons, or signs of things that resemble them, as a photograph is a sign of its subject. The law for the mythic plane is Names, which operates by things being identical to their names; this goes with symbols, or conventional signs.

It occurred to me that each of these could be associated with a metric. The metric for causality is the familiar one of geometric interval and lightlike lines. The metric for symbols is the number of changes needed to turn one symbol string into anotherŚalmost a binary metric, or at any rate a digital one (there was an article or forum post a long time ago that defined characterizations for the decans in terms of a 3x3x2x2 structure, which I took as a metric for the mythic plane). But the metric for resemblance is one of things that look alike being close together. So if you can morph an image of A into an image of B you can navigate from A to B. This would be rather like the way Amberites walk through Shadow, actually. I think that makes sense for dreams, where one thing can change into another.

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Old 09-04-2014, 09:07 AM   #4
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Default Re: Cosmology and game mechanics for Dream Worlds

I like Bills idea and always thought Amber made a good Dreamworld. To address some of your over concerns say everyone is out of phase with each other. Mental shield is the skill to use to keep people out. Use a techniques to bring people in and make them part of your dreamscape. That lets people travel togetherwhile Lucid dreaming lets you phase into and travel to other regions. Perhaps use Jumper and Warp modifiers
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Old 09-04-2014, 09:08 AM   #5
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Default Re: Cosmology and game mechanics for Dream Worlds

I use The Marches and Ethereal Player's Guide (from In Nomine) when I need to deal with the Dream Worlds. You can take a look inside Gurps In Nomine (3ed) for adapting the rule if you're not familiar with In Nomine.

For a more occult game (no Gurps Cabal), the Dream Worlds open the gate to Low Astral. In Hermetic magic, this is dealing with Yesod.

Taking Gurps Cabal (p.50) they explain that it's somewhere inside Yetzirah.

Hope i could help
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Old 09-04-2014, 09:16 AM   #6
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Default Re: Cosmology and game mechanics for Dream Worlds

On merging as travel it works best as roll per time period and use MOS to reach target rather then pass or fail. That means getting closer or farther away and skilled dreamers travel faster then novices who may get lost.
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Old 09-04-2014, 09:37 AM   #7
vicky_molokh
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Default Re: Cosmology and game mechanics for Dream Worlds

Quote:
Originally Posted by SCAR View Post
Does the Dreamworld exist as the place where everyone 'goes' to Dream?
It's a place connected to all individual dreams, however passing through the barrier between the individual and the global can only be done with the proper equipment or abilities.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SCAR View Post
For the majority this is a relatively passive interaction between their subconscious and the abstract medium of the Dreamworld.
For those with the ability (or technology), they can become conscious active participants within the Dreamworld, potentially interacting with others 'passive Dreams'?
I'd say that going into another's individual dream should be very difficult, or perhaps even impossible without being invited from the other side.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SCAR View Post
Does the Dreamworld itself have any particular existence or properties without these 'visitors' (active or passive)?
Yes, an existence on its own.
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Old 09-04-2014, 10:44 AM   #8
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Default Re: Cosmology and game mechanics for Dream Worlds

Do people enter the Dream World physically? Or is it a projection, leaving the body behind?

Entering the global Dream World requires abilities/technology. Would passing from region to region also require the ability/technology?

If projection, my first thought is that every individual has their own doorway through their personal dreams. Groups could be brought into the global Dream World in the same spot through the use of an "artificial" group "personal" dream. This staging area could be set up either through technology or other means. The TV show Supernatural allowed group dreaming (or at least entering someone else's dream to share it) through the use of "African dream root" and close proximity and/or contact. Something similar could allow you to keep the party together.
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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

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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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Old 09-04-2014, 04:58 PM   #10
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Default Re: Cosmology and game mechanics for Dream Worlds

The topology here interests me. The truly important part is how outsiders get in, because all of your PC's are outsiders. You have three requirements:

1) where the dream is entered should not correspond to physical geography.
2) PC's should have fairly simple means to stay in the same area of the dream over the course of the campaign.
3) The dream should have meaningful barriers to travel. In other words, you can't assemble your team from the four corners of the dream world every night through teleportation.

Options:

Random fixed entry points + Starting Luck: every one enters the dream at one point and one point only. This is a basically random topography (though something like time of birth, parentage, or fate may guide it). The PC's start out close to each other, ensuring they are together for adventures in the dream world.

Random Fixed Entry Points + Entry Tricks: everyone can enter the dream at one point that belongs to them. However, a mechanism exists that allows you to enter at someone else's point, or just at a different point. For example, perhaps a spell exists that when both people cast allow them to enter at one of the two people's points, or a sleeper hooked into the access machine can bring a whole crew to his dream entry point.

Save Points: Leaving the dream world does not force you to enter at a different point. You return to the dream world in the place that you left it. Players have to stay together for this to work, but they have to do that in the physical world anyway. other variations on this allow a character to control where he comes into the dream world, but only through actions in the dream world (that require him to get there in the first place).
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