Dream Askew and Dream Apart are "no-dice, no masters" RPGs where players collaborate to tell stories together without dice or dungeon masters: Dream Askew uses the system to create campaigns in "a queer enclave enduring the collapse of civilization" and Dream Apart is set in "a Jewish shtetl in a fantastical-historical Eastern Europe."
The games come from Avery Alder, a radical RPG designer; and Hugo-nominated science fiction writer Benjamin Rosenbaum (previously), with art from Zev Chevat and Ezra Rose; the stretch goals rope in other writers and artists to produce supplemental materials.
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The book goes beyond simply teaching you how to play. It's also a guide for how to pitch these games to your friends, create a welcoming environment to play them in, and support healthy boundaries at the gaming table. Finally, it ends with a guide to designing your own games of belonging outside belonging.
Both dreams put community at the center of the story. Players collaboratively fill out a community worksheet as part of setup. Dream Askew has players choosing apocalyptic visuals and ideological conflicts, while Dream Apart has them choosing blessings and curses. A map gets drawn, relationships get established, and play emerges.
Rather than telling stories of rugged individuals on epic adventures, both dreams keep the focus closer to home. They tell stories of interpersonal relationships, community drama, and tension with the outside world.
Each player takes on a character role, one of six archetypal figures in their community. These are pages divided into three columns: on the left, everything that gets read aloud when introducing the role; down the middle, all the choices you make during character creation; and finally, on the right, everything you need to play the character.
These games are diceless, leaving nothing to chance. Play is driven by the choices that get made at the table, with scenes unfolding as players make moves: picking simple narrative prompts off their sheet and working them into their description of what happens next. Weak Moves grant a token while Strong Moves require one, creating a balanced tempo for each character - moments of petty drama and tragic failure set the stage for ones of resourcefulness and skill later on.
There's no Game Master to defer to; authority is divided equally around the table. The dreams achieve this by giving each player a setting element to customize and play.
Dream Askew // Dream Apart [Avery Alder/Kickstarter]