Save the world, transform yourself, tell the story.
DreamWalk is a metaphorical tabletop roleplaying game full of encounters with archetypal characters and challenging trials. Its theme is personal transformation. To win, players have to individually overcome personal flaws by completing trials and in the process transforming a resource called “essence” from its initial state to a defined, new state. Players are further collaborating to defeat the Maelstrom, a collective madness comprised of the flaws of all individual players.
The core mechanic is storytelling, facilitated by the game’s modular, structural framework. This framework includes a set of characters and locations that are randomly assembled at the beginning of each playthrough. Trials emerge from the different constellations of characters, locations and verbs drawn from two decks of “help” and “hinder” cards.
Players advance through Dream by telling stories of how they overcome the trials, slowly transforming their flaws into a superpower and eventually restoring balance to the Dream.
DreamWalk was designed to promote imagination and storytelling on the one hand, and to explore psychological themes and the concept of personal transformation on the other hand. It emerged from the designers’ long-term explorations of using metaphors to model abstract ideas (e.g. the process of inner growth), creating games for emotional health, and aiming to promote storytelling and cultural diversity.
It arose from a particular desire to create a ludic framework that allowed players to bring in their own themes and content to facilitate personally meaningful experiences, yet provided enough guidance and creative constraints to prevent overwhelming players with too much freedom.
Consequently, DreamWalk has been designed as a modular structure with archetypal content, inviting customization and appropriation by its players. E.g. the in-game characters can be interpreted as purely fictional or as “real” people or entities in players’ lives (who is “the Mentor” in your life?). It can thus be played for entertainment, or be used as a tool for self-exploration and personal inquiry, being interacted with alone or together with a facilitator who sets up scenarios using the game’s available elements as starting points.
We strove to create a role playing game that embraced a culture of richness, support and growth rather than a culture of scarcity (“I have a bigger sword than you.”). Players are supposed to challenge each other in the game, but in the interest of promoting each other’s development, not downfall. This is expressed in the mechanics surrounding “Essence”, the game’s core resource. It is also captured by the game’s second goal, to collaboratively defeat the common foe – the Maelstrom – one each player has transformed their flaw into a superpower.