Sunday, January 18, 2015

Shared Nightmares

I wrote this really creepy short story the other day. Writing it was a harrowing experience for reasons of which I am still not certain.

Anyway, childhood fears have been on my mind lately. This got me to thinking about roleplaying games because well, fuck, everything does. So here is a rough outline for an alternate Into the Odd setting.
This is a Blake piece I mutilated.

Shared Nightmares

Everybody plays a child.

For reasons no one understands, children in town have been occupying the same darkly surreal dreamscapes as they sleep. While sharing a nightmare, the children are in complete control of their actions and aware of how fucked up this is, they can do anything they can normally do (sometimes even functioning more powerfully than in real life), they remember everything though they will wish they didn’t, and the children sometimes bring items out of the dream worlds and into the grey light of day (these are all Arcanum).

Your STR is your age, with a minimum and maximum at 7 and 13 years old. (If you roll 16 STR, you’re 13 years old. If you roll a 3, you’re 7. Your STR is still whatever you roll.) Your starting package items are instead things a child might own. So a sword is your flimsy plastic ninja sword, a rifle is your Red Ryder BB gun, modern armor is your Boba Fett Halloween costume, etc. However, in the dreamscape the things function as they would if real. If an animal or lighter boy is called for, it’ll be a stuffed animal or an imaginary friend in the dream. Be creative here, but nothing really changes mechanically.

If a child dies in a dream, they stop talking in real life. The dead children go through their day to day routines like mindless drones. Within a week, the child and his/her whole family will move away. Adults don’t seem to notice any of this. Teachers and parents refuse to acknowledge anything is happening.

Jimmy down the street has actual, functioning Sunblessed Bands. His dad acts like they’re just another toy… when he acknowledges Jimmy at all. Jimmy and his dad used to be really close before this all started.

It rains six days a week. It has been cool outside for six months. All the children are really scared. It seems to be completely random who dreams together each night.

Some kids say that instead of dreaming they wake up still paralyzed with sleep. Sally said a whole bunch of birds were staring at her through the window.  Kenny says there are grey men that look at him when he sleeps. Jon just cries all the time. No one knows what’s happening. Dogs bark all night long, and cats won’t go outside anymore.

Six Things to Remember about the Dreamscapes

1| The dreamscapes are twisted nightmare distortions of the town.

2| The children always begin the dream next to a structure they are familiar with.

3| The structure is always larger on the inside.

4| Being outside is just as dangerous as inside.

5| The Monsters know your secrets.

6| Ghosts of those who’ve “moved away” sometimes haunt the dreamscapes.