In my mind, character is key. Any good story, any good RPG, an good game starts with good characters. While a story can tell you about a character and an RPG can have you experience that character, by its very nature a board game has a smaller window to let characters shine. While we hope lots of people who play The Shared Dream will infuse their play-throughs with dramatic card readings and in-character reactions, the only aspect of a character we can truly enforce is its mechanical representation.
As a quick reminder, characters in TSD are usually played as their “Waking World” selves. Referred to as Anima, these Waking World selves are humans who are able to make magic real and channel a dream identity (the Animus) in the real world. Each Animus has 3 Ranks, with its Rank being decided by how much Conviction was spent to channel it. In other words, the more Conviction a player spends to channel their Animus, the stronger that Animus becomes. Each Rank has a Passive Aspect, which is always available to that Animus while they’re channeled, and 3 Animus Ability cards (one for each Rank) that must be played to go into effect.
Here is a preview of one of the six available characters in The Shared Dream.
Tillman Scott/ Superhero
Character design for TSD is done in two steps. First, we translate the character themselves into an appropriate form for a board game. For example, Tillman Scott is an older man who is a highly intelligent college professor. (Tillman makes an appearance in the Skills chapter of Of Dreams and Magic, and will feature heavily in an upcoming ODAM story module.) So, I immediately knew that Tillman should have a lower Combat score, a high Magic score (while magic and intelligence aren’t necessarily related, it’s a viable shorthand), and an average-to-high Social score. Tillman has average health and deals average damage, while having a very low Movement statistic. The movement statistic is where step two of character development comes in – mechanical balance. Every character in TSD is half a whole, so both the Anima (the “real world” character) and the Animus (the “dream identity”) have to be considered when developing a character. So, to explain his low movement, we’ll move on to Dr. Scott’s Animus card:
Well, that’s quite a change! Even before considering the Passive Aspects, the Superhero very obviously has different capabilities than its real world counterpart. It now has a very high Combat Score, lower Magic and Social scores, and most dramatically, an extremely high Movement score (the highest in the game, in fact.) The purpose behind this high Movement is revealed once we examine the Superhero’s Passive Aspects.
Rank One, Strong Arms, allows the Superhero to take an Anima with them when they move from one location to another. This can be helpful in a multitude of ways, such as delivering a slow character to a Location necessary for their Reflection deck or removing a particularly weak character from a dangerous situation.
Rank Two, Tireless Defender, does not directly use the movement statistic, but the Superhero’s high movement allows the Superhero to “swoop in and save the day” by moving across the board and “tanking” the hits from multiple opponents.
Rank Three called, appropriately enough, Save The Day, grants the Superhero even more movement flexibility by allowing them to directly jump to another Anima. This can be used in conjunction with either of his other Passive Aspects. So even if the Superhero’s 5 movement isn’t enough to get to where he wants, when conjured at Rank Three, the Superhero can always be the consummate team player by always being where they need to be.
The final component of a character is, of course, their Animus Abilities. After all, what good is becoming a Superhero if it doesn’t give you something cool to do?
Continuing the theme of being a protector/savior, Rank One allows the Superhero to deal guaranteed damage to an opponent, as well as forcing them to move. By using Mighty Throw, the Superhero can serve as a “shield” by standing between the enemy they’ve thrown and the rest of the players, knowing that the enemy is likely to move and target him (enemies always move towards and the closest Anima.)
Eye Beams is a fun ability, since it can be used on its own to finish off an opponent at range, or can be used in conjunction with Mighty Throw to deal 6 damage to an opponent as a 1 point action. More than one play-tester couldn’t help but puff out their chest and read off the card “Get back, citizens! I’ll handle this!” as they use a 1-2 combo of Mighty Throw and Eye Beams to finish off a Reaver!
And finally, at Rank 3 is Heroic Resolve. While it may be less impressive at first glance, having the security of Heroic Resolve allows the Superhero to jump into the most dangerous of fights and come out on top. Of course, channeling at Rank 3 is a risk in and of itself since it requires 3 Conviction. And even the mightiest of hero can end up biting off more than they can chew when relying on Heroic Resolve!
So, there you have it. Tillman Scott, otherwise known as the Superhero! Now, I know what you’re thinking. These images are great, but isn’t it time you got to see the Superhero “in the flesh?” Well, time to meet the beautifully 3d-printed Superhero miniature. Like any good Superhero, he’s ready to jump into that injection mold and make his transformation from 3d model to The Shared Dream component. But of course, he can’t do that alone! He needs YOUR support on November 1st, when The Shared Dream hits Kickstarter!