This post may be of more specific interest to those who are familiar with Of Dreams and Magic, the tabletop game that The Shared Dream is based on, but hopefully if you’re not familiar with ODAM, this post will inspire you to learn more!
When creating the player characters for The Shared Dream, we always knew we wanted to pull directly from the “iconic” sample Animus from the book. They serve as an obvious bridge between both products, no matter what direction you’re coming from. Just as in development of ODAM, the first character we started with was Nikki Meeks and her CLEO Animus.
There are plenty of parallels between the workings of ODAM and The Shared Dream, making the conversion process relatively easy.
First, we take the Passive Aspect and see what elements of it would both make sense and make for a compelling board game character. One of the central features of the CLEO unit is her weapon, the Vector Z9, so that was an easy Rank 1 Passive Aspect. To simplify its use, rather than being an external weapon, it automatically extends CLEO’s range and gives her a Combat bonus when firing it.
The next Passive Aspect that had an obvious parallel was Rank 3, which normally triples CLEO’s movement distance. For balance purposes, that number was reduced to double and had a situational modifier placed on it. We felt it would be strange if Nikki was channeling her Animus strictly to quickly move across the map or to run from enemies, so we added the stipulation that the additional movement could only be used if the next action taken was an Attack. For the 3rd Passive Aspect, we took the overall trend of Cybernetic Enhancement increasing Firearms skill to grant the CLEO unit more Combat and Damage.
Once the Passives were chosen, we repeated much of the same process for the Animus Abilities. The Abilities in the ODAM RPG are purposefully vague, allowing them to be slotted into multiple Animus with little adjustment. We also felt that the Waking World adaptation of magic should be one that can be more subtle – after all, even for an Anima, the Doubt is ever present and affecting magic within the world.
Control Pain became Hardened Plating, allowing the spirit of CLEO’s rank 1 Ability (a defensive measure) to remain while stripping out the RPG-only mechanics behind it (Wound Penalties.) Hot Pursuit has already been emulated through CLEO’s passive aspect, and Regeneration now has some functional overlap with Hardened Plating, causing us to skip those two abilities. We also felt that while in an RPG self-buffing is a fun and impactful decision, in a board game something more active was preferable.
Since Concussive Blast has a more straightforward interpretation (does lots of damage at one location), it was selected as CLEO’s Rank 2 ability. We also felt that a Rank 3 Ability should be less situational than Concussive Blast would be, since Concussive Blast obviously becomes much more effective depending on the number of enemies on the board.
Finally, Detention Field felt like it would make a better Rank 3 Ability for two reasons. One, it has a very powerful utility that can alter the whole board, and it has a very obvious way to be scaled up (Giving CLEO’s Rank 3 about a 16% chance to completely lock down enemies for a Night Phase.)
I hope you enjoyed this look into the adaptation process from RPG to board game, and that it helps you understand the design mindset we approached this adaptation with.