The Shared Dream Playtesting

The Shared Dream Playtesting

After coming at The Shared Dream from multiple angles through multiple playtests, we’re happy to announce that a modified Print and Play version of The Shared Dream is coming soon! There are a couple of small number tweaks we’re still working on in our local play tests, but once those are ironed out, you’ll be able to take your first look at The Shared Dream!

I say modified because by its very nature, The Shared Dream is an art and content heavy game. All 5 Shared Dreams have a multitude of scenario specific cards which we think would make printing the entire project a daunting task. So, the Print and Play version of The Shared Dream will include only one of the Shared Dream scenarios, Beast at the Door. The print and play version will also include tokens in lieu of certain miniatures to further help condense the time and effort setting up a Print and Play game of The Shared Dream will require. We will also be including two sets of files for this Print and Play edition – one with full artwork and one where the artwork is stripped down to alleviate printing costs. The theme, mood, and artwork is a huge part  of The Shared Dream experience, but for those of you who are more interesting in mechanics, intend on re-printing any updates we may release, or just don’t want/have access to a large amount of color printing, the stripped down version will still be entirely playable.

While these numbers may change between now and the actual Print and Play release, here’s a list of the components we intend to include:

  1. 8 Player Character Cards (1 Anima and 1 Animus card for 4 different characters) [approx. 6″ by 4.5″]
  2. 8 Player Tokens
  3. 25 Location Cards [approx. 4″ x 4″]
  4. Beast at the Door Shared Dream Card [8″x4″]
  5. The Beast Combat Card [approx 6″ x 4.5″]
  6. 38 Personal Reflection Cards [tarot sized]
  7. 10 “The Beast Strikes” Cards [mini sized]
  8. 7 “Clues & Artifacts” Cards [mini sized]
  9. 9 Reaver Cards [tarot sized]
  10. 9 Reaver Tokens
  11. 10 Shadow Tokens
  12. 24 Technique Cards [mini sized]
  13. 14 Echo Cards [mini sized]
  14. 10 Artifact Cards [mini sized]
  15.  Multiple Conviction, Nightmare, Doubt, Health, and Corruption Tokens [.75″]

While some of the art is subject to change, this collection will be a great representation of the final edition of The Shared Dream. The rules will also be included in a simple text document that will not contain much of the flair, design, and backstory of the final product.

If you are interesting in participating in this Print and Play experience and learning more about The Shared Dream, I  recommend signing up for our newsletter! We won’t spam you, and you’ll get Print and Play update notes sent straight to your inbox, along with goodies such as new player characters to test and previews of additional Shared Dream cards!

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Location, Location, Location!

Location, Location, Location!

One of the earliest design challenges we’ve faced, and one I come back to time and time again, is that of player agency within The Shared Dream. In fact, it was probably the first big hurdle I presented to the rest of the team when putting together the core mechanics of the game. How could we ensure that the players aren’t victim to randomness, or even worse, only have one viable pathway through the game? I didn’t want the gameplay to consist of “chase the tokens until you have enough of them to advance to midgame,” simply because that’s been done before and it always felt like setting such an obvious goal for the players that the only real option would be to chase them until you have enough.

In the previous blog post, I detailed the idea of Side Stories as a supplement to the traditional Dream Fragment/Location Event paradigm. Well, after our first playtest using the Side Story mechanic, it was obvious what we should do. Side Stories wouldn’t supplement that paradigm, it would supplant it. While I’ll be going into more depth about Side Stories (including their new name and showing off the full mechanic for them), today I’m going to address one of the other changes this has necessitated.

With the actual progression of the game now being handled in its own specific mechanic, the Locations were in a strange place (see what I did there?) If they weren’t helping to further the progression, what was the point of the location events? A lot of the theme that was cooked into them was now being offloaded into the “side stories,” and it seemed odd now to have character progression be tied into random events.

When I first presented the game design to the team, one of the things I STRONGLY stated was “I don’t want Locations to have their own static events that the player can choose to have happen when they go there, since that is almost always how that location is going to be used.”

Locations now have their own static events that players can choose to have happen when they go there. While I understand my first instinct and rationale, I think that with all of the other developments, this was the right move to make. Since the locations are now a means to an end rather than a progression mechanic, something needed to be in place to differentiate the Boxing Gym from the High School, or else the locations may as well have just been a series of numbers and letters.

Location Concept Art
Location Concept Art

At past conventions, most people who were heavily into board games would end up asking me “So is this going to be a board or a tile laying game?” I think that even though we had a demo board, so much of the stated design goals matched up with tile laying that it was a natural question. So, in a case of the outside feedback influencing design (even if it’s slightly indirectly,) The Shared Dream has gone boardless. But we’re also tileless.

One of the first steps of playing The Shared Dream will be building the city the characters are experiencing for that session. In the board implementation, this was simply done by filling each location spot with a different card. We’ve taken out the board and included “connector” cards into the Location deck, and city building is now done by shuffling together the locations and connectors and dealing them out into a grid. This allows the relationship between locations to be different between each game and immediately sets the stage for another layer of challenge and replayability. We’ve already had multiple sessions where the entire game would have been different had the Warehouse been closer to the Library as it had in other configurations.

Our play sessions have also told us other things about the Location cards specifically, which I will detail in the next post.