The Road to Relaunch!

The Road to Relaunch!

A lot has happened since our last update! For all of the specifics, you should check out The Shared Dream’s Kickstarter campaign (and its updates) here:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/odampublishing/the-shared-dream

To give the quick and dirty, we were very happy with the attention TSD garnered, and were even happier with the feedback we received. A couple of days after we launched, we received new manufacturing quotes that would allow us to set a lower initial goal and offer more add-ons. Of course, this isn’t something you can do in the middle of a campaign, so we decided to re-launch on February 1, 2017.

The gap between the initial campaign and the relaunch offered us some opportunities that we’ve been busy taking. We’ve been updating our preview copy so we can have some video reviews done, we’ve continued to spread the word, and are putting together exciting add-ons to make The Shared Dream bigger than ever.

 

TSD Previews

TSD Previews

It’s a busy Halloween weekend as the finishing touches are added to our KickStarter campaign!

If you want to get a head start on familiarizing yourself with The Shared Dream, you can read a preview copy of the rules right here!

And if that’s not enough, check out this Quick Look of board setup on YouTube here!

Character Previews

Character Previews

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

tillman1

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:

superhero4

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?

superhero-cards

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!

superheromini1

 

 

Look at all this stuff!

Look at all this stuff!

They say an image is worth a thousand words. While the ODAM team has been hard at work putting together The Shared Dream, a lot of the components are designed individually and have evolved a lot over the course of development. So it’s pretty exciting to see a great image like this:

cropped1

It’s even more amazing when you realize that this isn’t even the full game! This picture is of the printed preview version of The Shared Dream which contains only 1 of the 4 included Shared Dream scenarios. More pictures and video coming soon!

Adapting ODAM

Adapting ODAM

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.

 

cleo

 

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.

player-mats_page_02

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.

ability-strip

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.

Playtesting Continues

Playtesting Continues

While the mechanics of a game of The Shared Dream haven’t changed much, the past two weeks of intense playtesting has really helped us fine-tune the pacing of the game. It’s very interesting to see how slight mechanical changes (does an enemy attack as soon as they appear, or do they have to wait?) can really change the dynamics of a game. I’m glad to say that so far all of our testers have found The Shared Dream to be both playable and fun, so we’ve really been able to set a laser focus on the pacing and dynamics of an individual play session. Sessions  with newbies who need to have the game explained to them are running about 2 hours, which we think means a seasoned group should be able to run through a scenario in 90-100 minutes, which was our ultimate goal.

We are currently in the process of applying number changes and making some final cosmetic adjustments to the game elements, after which we will put up the Print and Play Edition. We’d love to get your feedback on what you see, and hope you choose to go forward with a printable play test. Either way, your feedback is a big part of this blog and the development process, so I’d love to hear what you think at matt@odampublishing.com

Also, if you’re in the Metro New York area and would like to playtest The Shared Dream with the developers, drop me a line and hopefully we’ll be able to arrange a session!

On a final note, if you’d like to be notified when the Print and Play files are uploaded, simply sign up to our newsletter to get all the latest about The Shared Dream.

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!

Sign Up Here!

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.

 

 

Side Stories

Side Stories

One of the more interesting aspects of converting an RPG to a board game is the natural condensing of the material that has to happen. Some of this condensing is straightforward and easy to decide on – RPG-style combat mechanics that could take a while to resolve obviously won’t fit in a 90-minute board game format. But what about something less concrete, like storytelling?

The heart of ODAM’s RPGs is the ability to use the material given to tell a great story. So how much story does The Shared Dream require to be a faithful adaptation?

This question has lead to quite the curveball in development. Fortunately, none of the play-tested elements are affected by this change, but it could potentially alter the flow of the game [I’m just glad it came up before widespread testing (starting soon!)]

At the moment, players travel to different locations within the city mainly in search of Dream Fragments, which have many purposes within the game. Dream Fragments serve as specific objective points within certain Shared Dreams or can be used to help empower individual players. At the moment, in the course of collecting these fragments,  players encounter events at the locations they end a phase on. While many of the events have either dialogue or flavor text, they are by necessity small, individual snippets of scenes that could potentially be taking place within the city.

We are currently toying with the idea of either replacing or supplementing this mechanic with something I’m currently referring to as Side Stories. Every game of The Shared Dream starts with an individual Shared Dream card. This card sets the stage for the entirety of the game: what is the objective for this play through?  What special rules apply? How does the game progress?

Artwork not final

Now, if the only aspect of the game that the players are interacting with is the Shared Dream, each play through could become too simple. In the case above, all players would have nothing to do but continually rush Dream Fragments to find the 4 clues required to summon The Beast. While the Shadows, Reavers, and Beast Strikes cards would all serve as obstacles, the path would always be clear. Even individual location events become more of a momentary diversion rather than an addition to the game.

Enter the Side Stories. Under this concept, each playthrough would start with not only the Shared Dream, but with at least one Side Story. These Side Stories would guide players through the city, allowing them to make choices on how to proceed at each stage. Should they travel to the local bar to try to find more clues, or head directly to the Docks where they know they’ll find rampant criminality and have a fight on their hands?  Each choice will lead to the players needing to take different kinds of tests and offer different rewards. Each step also allows the story to be told slightly different, allowing for replayability.

While the concept behind the Side Stories is sound and the implementation is simple (each side story would have its own deck of cards, each with its own unique letter/number combination telling the players which card to play next depending on the choices they made), there remains a design question. Why do the players interact with the Side Stories?

There are two obvious paths to go down, here. The first is to simply make them a requirement – alter the objectives or win conditions of the Shared Dreams to require completing a certain amount of Side Stories. By altering the number of Side Stories required, the difficulty and length of each individual Shared Dream becomes even more controllable and scalable.

The second is to offer rewards (or penalties) tied directly to completing each Side Story. This allows the Side Stories to remain optional, but has the pitfalls of requiring the rewards to be compelling enough to have players be willing to not just blitz through the Shared Dream and ignore the Side Stories completely.

What do you think? How compelling or rewarding do you think a sidequest should be in order to be worth your attention? How do you usually engage in “optional” content in games?

 

Origins Game Fair 2016

Origins Game Fair 2016

We’ve been a little quiet at The Shared Dream, but for good reason. Our second RPG, Dreamscape: Laruna, has officially been released in digital format (and can be found at www.odampublishing.com), and we’ve been preparing for our trip to Origins Game Fair.

I will always remember checking into my hotel room last year (when I was Origins as a guest,) and hearing a strange buzzing in the hotel lobby. I looked around and realized that buzzing was all of the people playing games on the second floor of the hotel lobby – and this was at 2am! It was an inspiring sight/sound, and I’m very proud that one year later, I’m an exhibitor rather than a guest, offering up two RPGs and a preview of our first board game.

If you’ll be at Origins this week, I hope you’ll stop by ODAM Publishing at Booth # 946. If you do you’ll be among the first to see a lot of the components of The Shared Dream. And of course, if you weren’t able to make it to Origins, I’ll be documenting what we brought and our experiences right here at The Shared Dream Blog.

And with that, I’m off to join the strange buzzing!