Is Dream Askew // Dream Apart at Origins 2018? Unfortunately, no. Is it available on Kickstarter? Yes! How do you know if it’s going to be good? Well, Avery Alder’s prior game, MonsterHearts 2, is up for an Origins Award and that speaks volumes about the game (and, in my mind, indicates future games’ quality). Not enough? Well, both Dream Askew and Dream Apart have gorgeous art and the ideas they describe below offer a refreshing take on some well-loved gaming tropes! It’s worth checking out!
“Dream Askew and Dream Apart are beginner-friendly roleplaying games of belonging outside belonging. They give you tools to tell a story about marginalized people living together in precarious community. In Dream Askew, that community is a queer enclave enduring the collapse of civilization. In Dream Apart, it’s a Jewish shtetl in a fantastical-historical Eastern Europe. They both feature a no dice, no masters system that emphasizes collaboration, shared ownership, and character-driven play. You can check out the most recent playtest versions here.”
“Queer strife amid the collapse. Jewish fantasy of the shtetl. Two beginner-friendly roleplaying games of belonging outside belonging.
Dream Askew gives us ruined buildings, haunted faces, strange new psychic powers, fierce queer love, and turbulent skies…
Dream Apart gives us demons and wedding jesters; betrothals and pogroms; mystical ascensions and accusations of murder; rabbi’s daughters running away to be actresses or bandits or boy soldiers; the sounds of the shofar ringing through cramped and muddy streets, of cannon fire, of the wolf’s footfalls in the snowy pine forest…
Dream Askew and Dream Apart are beginner-friendly roleplaying games of belonging outside belonging. They give you tools to tell a story about marginalized people living together in precarious community. In Dream Askew, that community is a queer enclave enduring the collapse of civilization. In Dream Apart, it’s a Jewish shtetl in a fantastical-historical Eastern Europe. They both feature a no dice, no masters system that emphasizes collaboration, shared ownership, and character-driven play. You can check out the most recent playtest versions here.
The book goes beyond simply teaching you how to play. It’s also a guide for how to pitch these games to your friends, create a welcoming environment to play them in, and support healthy boundaries at the gaming table. Finally, it ends with a guide to designing your own games of belonging outside belonging.
Both dreams put community at the center of the story. Players collaboratively fill out a community worksheet as part of setup. Dream Askew has players choosing apocalyptic visuals and ideological conflicts, while Dream Apart has them choosing blessings and curses. A map gets drawn, relationships get established, and play emerges.
Rather than telling stories of rugged individuals on epic adventures, both dreams keep the focus closer to home. They tell stories of interpersonal relationships, community drama, and tension with the outside world.
Each player takes on a character role, one of six archetypal figures in their community. These are pages divided into three columns: on the left, everything that gets read aloud when introducing the role; down the middle, all the choices you make during character creation; and finally, on the right, everything you need to play the character.
These games are diceless, leaving nothing to chance. Play is driven by the choices that get made at the table, with scenes unfolding as players make moves: picking simple narrative prompts off their sheet and working them into their description of what happens next. Weak Moves grant a token while Strong Moves require one, creating a balanced tempo for each character – moments of petty drama and tragic failure set the stage for ones of resourcefulness and skill later on.
There’s no Game Master to defer to; authority is divided equally around the table. The dreams achieve this by giving each player a setting element to customize and play.
While there’s no Game Master or MC, the game thrives when someone steps up to act as teacher and facilitator, helping others to find their initial footing. The book outlines how to take on this role without taking over the story in the process.
Dream Askew began as a paired-down remix of Apocalypse World, but it quickly developed into its own as a diceless, MCless game of queer community strife. Avery Alder first released a prototype in late 2013. Benjamin Rosenbaum approached her in 2014 with an idea about using the same game engine for a game about Jewish shtetl life. In early 2017, they made the decision to continue developing their games in close dialogue, and eventually release them together in a single volume.”
You can see examples of their work at DriveThruRPG here.
You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.
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Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™
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Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by a variety of companies:
- Sasquatch Game Studio’s Primeval Thule for 5e available at DriveThruRPG.com – Writer
- Ember Design Studios’ Yrisa’s Nightmare for 5e and Pathfinderavailable at DriveThurRPG.com – Writer
- Ember Design Studios’ Rats in the Street for 5e and Pathfinder available at DriveThurRPG.com – Writer & Artist
- Kobold Press’ Tome of Beasts for 5eavailable at KoboldPress.com – Playtester
- Kobold Press’ Deep Magic 9: Ring Magic (5e) available at KoboldPress.com – Playtester
- EN World’ Gaming at the Kids’ Table Column – Journalist
- Total Party Kill Games’ Slaughter at Splinterfang Gorge – Writer
- Total Party Kill Games’ Fifth Edition Fighter Folio – Writer
- Codex The Gauntlet’s Monthly RPG Zine – Writer
- MidCity Comics’ Soon-to-be-Announced Comic Book Mini-Series – Writer