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Dreamrs, we are such stuff as dreams are *Powered* on, and our little life is rounded *by the Apocalypse*. Complete PbtA RPG in a zine.
Dreamrs, we are such stuff as dreams are *Powered* on, and our little life is rounded *by the Apocalypse*. Complete PbtA RPG in a zine.
213 backers pledged $1,901 to help bring this project to life.
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POWERED by the DREAMR, a PbtA RPG #ZineQuest

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Did you find out about POWERED by the DREAMR too late to back the Kickstarter? Couldn’t swing the budget for it that week? No worries because we’ve added the POWERED by the DREAMR zine as a backer reward at the Love’s Labour’s Liberated (for 5e) Kickstarter. Best of all, it’s the exact same price and will be identical to the copies I distribute from this campaign! 

Where can I get it? Click here to get to the Love’s Labour’s Liberated Kickstarter

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/737521052/loves-labours-liberated-a-5e-rpg-zine 

When? The Love’s Labour’s Liberated Kickstarter runs from now through March 2 2019. 

For more details, check the updates here, or the Love’s Labour’s Liberated FAQ.  


POWERED by the DREAMR Campaign Details

Cover by Egg Embry
Cover by Egg Embry

In POWERED by the DREAMR, you are the Dreamr with power over dreams and nightmares. When awake, you are an everyperson, an individual with no supernatural distinction. But when you close your eyes, the mundanity of the world is replaced with one where you are its master. You fly through the dream realms, opening other people’s subconsciousness like it is a bazaar on market day. While your target sleeps, you enter their mind and rule their fantasies. You may protect the sleeping, or fill them with nightmares. You can implant new truths, steal existing ones, or you can live as you want within the mind of another, experiencing their life, or rewriting it. You may be great and good, or simple and terrible, for you are a god in slumber. 

As a Dreamr, what drives you into other’s dreams? POWERED by the DREAMR gives you the power to live dreams. Are you the promise of justice probing the criminal mind for a confession? Are you a Dream Thief stealing top secrets? Are you a hero protecting a loved one from their nightmares? Are you Romeo awaiting your stars to cross? Are you a Dream Whisperer wandering from mind-to-mind, setting right thoughts that once went wrong? For the Dreamr, all dreams are possible.  

More important than these powers and opportunities, your struggles and victories in the waking world define your Dreamr ambitions. A teenage Dream Warrior has a different sleep self than a middle-aged Dream Assassin, one heroically defending the sleeper, the other bitterly trying to dredge up the illusion of youth. Their conflict could manifest each Dreamr's worst nightmares. 

This project takes inspiration from Apocalypse World, Monsterhearts 2, Sandman, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Inception, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Dreamscape, What Dreams May Come, Dream Within a Dream, Black Mirror: San Junipero, The Sopranos: Funhouse, and every life I lived while my eyes were clamped shut.  

Just as dreams represent the full menu of you, this game is just as open. POWERED by the DREAMR is a dream for players of all identities where you are free to be your truest self. If you dream, this game is your playground.

To tell collaborative stream of conscious dream tales, this narrative tabletop roleplaying game uses a variant of Vincent and Meguey Baker’s Powered by the Apocalypse phenomenon made famous in their game, Apocalypse World. You will make everyday characters that become beautiful or horrible or fantastic Dreamrs, individuals with the power to move between, and control, other’s dreams. Collectively, the table will design the dream, its environment, population, themes, what can alter the narrative into a nightmare, and what your goals within the dream are. Once started, dreams are fluid and POWERED by the DREAMR simulates that by giving the Dreamrs power over the dream. Like all PbtA games, Moves can have a cost that impacts the Dreamr as well as the dream, changing its narrative, setting up Railroads (arbitrary restrictions), or even descending into nightmares.  

What makes POWERED by the DREAMR different from other PbtA games? You’re in a dream so you can’t die. Instead, you wake up. When you fail a Move, it can alter the nature of the entire fantasy into a horror, unleash a personal Embarrassment, a Night Terror, or even a Repressed Memory. Throughout the game, Moves will trigger Dream Prompts, random questions whose answers will impact the dream. There are two play modes, one is active play in the Dream State where every moment is defined. The other is the summarization of your character’s waking world. Each state of play impacts the other. 

For the GM, there is less prep because the world is generated through random collaboration, Prompts, Embarrassments, character secrets, and discussion about how those revelations alter the dream. Because this is a world of pure fantasy, challenges can be solved with purely symbolic solutions. 

Playbook Overviews:

  • Dream Warrior. Defends the sleeper’s dream. A concept akin to the kids fighting back against Freddie (Nightmare on Elm's Street).
  • Dream Assassin. Able to boot other Dreamrs from the dream. Also can harm the sleeper.
  • Dream Thief. Steal memories and concepts from the sleeper. Think Inception.
  • Dream Whisper. Implant ideas in the sleeper and displays finer control over the dream. Again, Inception.
  • Lucid Dreamr. Superior dream navigation, but the least ability to alter them. 
  • Eternal Dreamr. A Dreamr that has nowhere else they can go because the dream is their home. Think Black Mirror: San Junipero.

For a deeper look at the system and adventures, check out my interview with Dan Davenport on #randomworld: https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/2019/02/15/qa-egg-embry-powered-by-the-dreamr/ 

Art by Rick Hershey. Colors by Egg Embry.
Art by Rick Hershey. Colors by Egg Embry.

As a part of Kickstarter’s February initiative, Zine Quest, POWERED by the DREAMR is a by-the-rules RPG zine. Black and white, 5.5” x 8.5”, saddle-stitched. This is going to be a tightly-packed, full Powered by the Apocalypse RPG, which will range from 36 to 52 pages in length.  

Based on the recommendation of Luke Crane, Head of Games @Kickstarter and owner of the Burning Wheel, I plan to print this through Smartpress. I will autograph each copy before mailing them.  

Crowded Balcony. Photo by Egg Embry
Crowded Balcony. Photo by Egg Embry

For the Open Gaming Network, I write a column called “RPG Kickstarters You Should Back.” As such, let's discuss why you should back this one.  

I’ve played several simulationist RPGs that take place in dreams, however, they are so crunchy and simulation-centric that the dreams have linear, predictable tropes. Using a highly collaborative version of the PbtA system for POWERED by the DREAMR offers an ever-evolving dream world, one where no idea is without merit. IRL, I’ve had dreams so mundane you’d think I really was at work. I’ve had nightmares so surreal that in the aftermath you’re ticking off the moments on your fingers trying to determine what the scary one was. I’ve had dream conversations with a classmate I never spoke to in the waking world, from a class I dropped on day one. A buddy had a dream where he was in the mall from T2 and Arnold was chasing him. It never occurred to him to leave the mall, he never thought, “I’ll walk out that door and be done with it.” I've had dreams where I took a plane to Japan and landed in Japan, which was the Chicago Midway International Airport. In those dreams, every action and reaction made perfect sense. POWERED by the DREAMR lets you play out the fullness and the weirdness of dreams, without bogging down in the linear distractions of crunchy rulesets.  

This game is open to gamers of every identity. You are the Dreamr, let's live your dreams. POWERED by the DREAMR is an open invitation to share your dream adventures as you dream dreams around the gaming table. 

Beyond the concept, because the production is a one-person-show and printed as a PDF and a zine, I can keep the cost of this game low. Full-game PDF for $5. PDF plus zine for $12 (free shipping in the USA).   

Tattooed Rhino by Egg Embry
Tattooed Rhino by Egg Embry

$5 – Digital Dream. The full zine as a PDF and PDFs of the character playbooks.  

$12 – A Digital Dream and a Printed Zine. The PDF plus the printed zine and loose character playbooks shipped in the US for free. International orders will have shipping collected after the campaign.  

$20 – Dream Prompt. Same as the "A Digital Dream and a Printed Zine" backer level with the addition that you’ll provide, and be credited for, a Dream Prompt. What’s a Dream Prompt? It’s a question that the GM will ask the players and their answer will alter the dream. 

"A famous individual is in your vicinity. Who is that individual?" "What do you smell?" "What kind of music do you hear?" "The weather changes, what does it become?" "If your character could be anywhere, where are they?" "There's an animal that opens its mouth, what comes out?" "What is before you?" After the campaign, I'll reach out and ask you for a question meant to spark an original or surreal new direction in the game. (I reserve the right to reject inappropriate, vulgar, or unsuitable suggestions.)

Additional copies of the POWERED by the DREAMR zine are $7. To add copies to your order, make your base pledge then increase the total by $7 per additional copy of the zine.  

For international shipments, I’m charging the shipping and handling after the campaign. 

Rewards will ship in September 2019. 

Art by Rick Hershey. Colors by Egg Embry.
Art by Rick Hershey. Colors by Egg Embry.

POWERED by the DREAMR is created, designed, and written by Egg Embry, with cover and interior art by the same. Additional stock art by Fat Goblin Games’ Rick Hershey. NOTE: The higher this project funds, the more original art will appear in the zine.  

Who is Egg Embry? He’s a freelance RPG journalist that writes regular columns for: 

  •  EN World 
  •  Knights of the Dinner Table 
  •  Open Gaming Network 
  •  Tessera Guild 

His work revolves around RPG Kickstarters, and you may have gotten to this Kickstarter page from one of his articles. He’s contributed short selections to a wide variety of projects ranging from 5e and Pathfinder to original RPG systems.  

Why did he title this POWERED by the DREAMR? Other than the obvious remix of the Powered by the Apocalypse slogan, it’s his mission statement: As the Dreamr, he has the power to fulfill his dream by creating this RPG.  

Logo by Egg Embry
Logo by Egg Embry

Music for the video: Slow Motion from Bensound.com

Risks and challenges

Egg has written about RPG crowdfunding, but this is the first time he's decided to produce his own. Will he be able to turn around the game? The risk is mitigated by his network of professional gamer contacts who can offer advice and, in a pitch, help with crafting this product. While he's made games for his gaming table, this is his first attempt to publish one. With a rough draft of the game ready, the timeframe he's chosen is achievable.

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  1. Select this reward

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    Dream Diary

    Thank you! Stay up-to-date on my dream project! (See what I did there...)

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    Digital Dreams

    The full zine in PDF form so you can read it on the go or burn out an ink cartridge printing it at home. 

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    A Digital Dream and a Printed Zine

    The PDF plus the printed zine (free shipping in the USA).
    NOTE: International orders will be charged shipping & handling after the campaign. 

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    Dream Prompt

    Same as the 'A Digital Dream and a Print Zine' backer level with the addition that you may contribute a Dream Prompt. What’s a Dream Prompt? It’s a question that the GM will ask the players and their answer will alter the dream. (I reserve the right to reject inappropriate, vulgar, or unsuitable suggestions.)

    Includes:
    • PDF of the zine
    • Print copy of the zine
    • Contribute a Dream Prompt
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Funding period

- (21 days)