morsla: (mantis04)
Most of these thoughts end up locked away in Evernote these days, but I thought I'd put this one out in semi-public. It helps to keep me accountable, and if it turns out to be a terrible idea I can point to major sleep deprivation clouding my judgement. Today isn't a great day for being able to string coherent words or thoughts together.

I want to run a short RPG set in the time before your typical Changeling story would take place. It's a story following some of the Lost through the hedge and into Arcadia, where they find themselves part of a world of unbridled madness; continually shaped and reshaped by the capricious entities that have carved out realms to suit their every desire. Maybe some of them will find their way back, though that's a story for another day. Most will fight against the changing world for a while, then gradually embrace the new powers it gives them. Some will embrace it too closely, losing the path that might one day lead them back home again. It's a story about imagination and transcending the mundane, and about the darker things that lie within all good fairy tales.

I think that the perfect rules-light system to handle this type of story is Don't Rest Your Head, with one small tweak. Discipline is still what lets the characters hold themselves together; Madness remains a source of dangerous, easy power if they want to risk delving into it. I'm renaming the iconic Exhaustion concept (a cumulative boost in power the longer you force yourself to remain awake, destined to ultimately crash you when you use it too much) for Belief. It works exactly the same way, but represents how much the characters begin to accept the weird world they find themselves in. To survive in this new realm you'll need to believe at least a few impossible things before breakfast. Believe too many though, and you might never make it back home - or if you do, you'll be so changed by your time away that you never fit back into the world you left.

DRYH is a simple but elegant narrative system that focuses on the stories of the characters, rather than crunchy rules about how to resolve all the minutiae. It takes all of five minutes to learn, helping to avoid the yet-another-game overload for a group that already plays a lot of different games. Most importantly, it does exactly what I want it to: taking characters away from humdrum reality and dropping them down a rabbit hole into a place where dreams can literally shape the world.

On a related note, Don't Rest Your Head is especially relevant after a small person has screamed in your face until 4AM. I am waiting for my insomniac superpowers to kick in at any moment.

September 2014

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