Dream Askew gives us ruined buildings, haunted faces, strange new psychic powers, fierce queer love, and turbulent skies...
Dream Apart gives us demons and wedding jesters; betrothals and pogroms; mystical ascensions and accusations of murder; rabbi’s daughters running away to be actresses or bandits or boy soldiers; the sounds of the shofar ringing through cramped and muddy streets, of cannon fire, of the wolf’s footfalls in the snowy pine forest...
Dream Askew and Dream Apart are beginner-friendly roleplaying games of belonging outside belonging. They give you tools to tell a story about marginalized people living together in precarious community. In Dream Askew, that community is a queer enclave enduring the collapse of civilization. In Dream Apart, it's a Jewish shtetl in a fantastical-historical Eastern Europe. They both feature a no dice, no masters system that emphasizes collaboration, shared ownership, and character-driven play. You can check out the most recent playtest versions here.
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.
While there's no Game Master or MC, the game thrives when someone steps up to act as teacher and facilitator, helping others to find their initial footing. The book outlines how to take on this role without taking over the story in the process.
Dream Askew began as a paired-down remix of Apocalypse World, but it quickly developed into its own as a diceless, MCless game of queer community strife. Avery Alder first released a prototype in late 2013. Benjamin Rosenbaum approached her in 2014 with an idea about using the same game engine for a game about Jewish shtetl life. In early 2017, they made the decision to continue developing their games in close dialogue, and eventually release them together in a single volume.
Avery Alder is a queer designer hailing from the unceded territories of the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh. She's the designer of Monsterhearts, The Quiet Year, Dream Askew, Ribbon Drive, and a host of smaller, scrappier projects. She speaks excitedly about the potential for roleplaying games to challenge our politics, transform our lives, and bring about social change. Her work can be found at Buried Without Ceremony.
Benjamin Rosenbaum's short stories have been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, Sturgeon, Locus, BSFA, and World Fantasy Awards, transated into over 20 languages, and adapted into SXSW 2010's Best Animated Short. He has been playing tabletop roleplaying games since blue-book D&D at summer camp in 1979, and is an avid fan of new-school narrativist games. He is a long-term board member and former President at Basel's liberal Jewish congregation, Migwan. He lives in Switzerland with his wife and two children.
Avery & Benjamin have assembled a really wonderful team to help realize their vision!
Daniel wrote My Daughter, the Queen of France and was also the editor for both editions of Monsterhearts. He's the editor for this project as well. The book has already gone through a round of structural editing, and is currently in rewrites.
Zev Chevat created the gorgeous cover art for Dream Askew & Dream Apart. They'll be contributing another four pieces of full-colour interior art. Check out their portfolio!
Ezra Rose is a queer Jewish artist, educator, and aspiring witchy farmer who lives with their chosen family in Massachusetts. They designed the Dream Askew & Dream Apart sigils and dividers you see sprinkled around this page, and will be doing spot illustrations throughout the book. Their work can be found here.
The books will be printed through Thomson-Shore, a worker-owned cooperative that did an amazing job with Avery's last project.
✓ - Hardcover Option Unlocked!
We'll also be printing copies of the book in hardcover, with dust jackets and everything. You'll have the option to upgrade your copy once the Kickstarter is over via CrowdOx (our pledge management service).
✓ - The Outliers Zine Is Underway!
We're getting to work on The Outliers, an eclectic zine containing setting notes, character ideas, micro-fiction, and other ruminations on belonging outside belonging from a wonderful crew of collaborators. Each backer will get a digital copy by default. If you want to add a print copy to your order, you can buy one via CrowdOx (our pledge management service) when filling out your shipping survey.
At current, we've added six collaborators to its pages:
For Dream Apart, Caren Gussoff Sumption will write some thoughts on Romani elements of character and setting.
For Dream Askew, Brandon O'Brien will write about the emergence of queer enclaves from a Black and Caribbean context. He’ll also be submitting a few poems intersecting with queerness, Afro-Caribbeanness, and collapse.
For Dream Apart, Joshua A.C. Newman is going to write us up one hell of a iconoclastic, pistol-toting, balalaika-jamming, ecstatic klezmer.
For Dream Askew, Jeeyon Shim is going to write about strategies for survival in various biomes once you and your queer community have fled the city for the haven and difficult bounty of the outdoors.
For Dream Apart, Ellen Kushner will invent a character for Dream Apart; it’s what she does best.
For Dream Askew, David Collins is going to write about how mutation & marginalization intersect at the edge of social collapse. What parallels exist between the world of fantasy mutation and the marginalized struggles within society?
To learn more about their contributions, click here.
✓ - Rabbi Sonja K Pilz & Degenderettes Norcal
Rabbi Sonja K. Pilz earned a doctorate from the department of Rabbinic Literature at Potsdam University, Germany; she holds Rabbinic Ordination from Abraham Geiger College, Germany. Prior to coming to HUC-JIR, NY as a teacher of liturgy and ritual, Sonja taught as a Junior Professor of Jewish Ritual and Practice at the School of Jewish Theology at Potsdam University, and in many congregational settings, and served as a rabbinic intern and cantorial soloist in congregations in Germany, Switzerland, Israel, and the US.
Rabbi Pilz will write the inner monologue of a young Yeshivah student, Avrum, who wonders where God is to be found in his days.
The Degenderettes-NorCal are an art & advocacy club of trans & queer members who aim to support and uplift communities. They attempt to fill unfilled needs as best they can until more permanent & funded organizations can be built for them. Currently these projects include radical visibility, interpersonal support, self-defense, community protection, and connecting people to resources.
The Degenderettes will be collaborating on a piece that reflects on what ground-level queer resistance work actually entails.
✓ - Nick Mamatas & Sasha Mannequin
Nick's piece will be about the arrival of the industrial socialist movement to the shtetl.
Sasha Mannequin is a "post-rave" electronic musician, and part of the shadowy cabal of trans women working for revolutionary socialism. She wrote the theme music used in our Kickstarter video!
Her piece will be on using the 20th century radical Jewish organizing concept of Doikayt to focus the play of Dream Askew, injecting de-assimilated Jewishness into the game, and organizing outside the limits the of "queer enclave."
Risks and challenges
AVERY: I've been publishing roleplaying games for a dozen years, and have several successful crowdfunding campaigns under my belt already. I have worked with editor Daniel Wood before, on both Monsterhearts and Monsterhearts 2. My collaboration with Benjamin Rosenbaum has been smooth and harmonious, and he's a seasoned writer with multiple published works to his name. There's a lot going for this project.
That said, complications can always arise. In this case, they could include delays while waiting on editing and art assets, delays in getting the final text into layout, or issues arising from miscalculated shipping costs (shipping is always the biggest expense on a project like this). I am confident that our team has the capacity to work through whatever issues arise.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (33 days)