Right, all six game designers have now come up with the goods — see the fruit of their tormented labours here. We have quite a mix — voodoo rallying, dream agency, tooth shamanism, academic factional intrigue, ninja conspiracy, and necromantic conflict. Terrific stuff!
There’s a wide range of “finishedness”, which is as I was expecting and is perfectly fine. Also a range of degree of going beyond what was on the sheet, which is great to see. What I really wanted to be happening was for the end products to shed light into different people’s approach to game design in this rather forced situation.
At the risk of boring everyone to death, this is how I approached it myself:
I constructed my character sheet with the kind of elements on it that I thought I would myself find intriguing on picking up a new character. I didn’t have any particular kind of game in mind, and tried to use terminology on the sheet that wouldn’t be too constricting to the game designer. The Zener card symbols are things with which we’re all familiar, that strike a sort of subconscious thematic resonance, but that aren’t tied to being used for one particular symbolic purpose — and I was impressed with the way smiorgan thought to use them for five worlds of power. I thought the concentric rings would be useful for maintaining score in whatever the five areas would be, or else for maintaining a profile if they ended up being abilities or something. Essentially my overall idea was to throw a load of plausible-looking character-sheet-element tokens up in the air and see where the game designer let them land. Only smiorgan will know if that was actually a right pain to work with.
When it came to designing my own game, I worked on the assumption that my sheet designer (who, by freakish enough coincidence, also happened to be smiorgan) had used the same sort of principle. So I didn’t waste effort trying to puzzle out what sort of thing they might have had in mind, instead I just allowed the elements present to ferment in my own mind until I came up with a structure in which they all had meaning. I staretd off with “who are the characters, and what are they trying to do?”, and had a few false attempts before the one I settled on — agents who enter dreams (like in Dreamscape) to conduct missions. I’d been puzzling as to what the 5 sub-elements might be, each with its own name and source — I figured they had to be sub-elements of the character rather than eg. NPC henchmen, because apart from them there was virtually no information about the character itself. So it was apparent that it lived through them in some important way. The shifting reality of dreams gave me my answer — different dream personas, each drawing on a different archetypal source. I started thinking about the challenges involved in entering the dream world, and in shifting between personas, and why you would want to use different personas for different occasions: and the rest of the mechanics and tension-drivers pretty much emerged naturally from that.
Hopefully the game would be fun to play with a good GM, but it’d be a lot of work to GM — making a dream world seem engaging and playable is tough (as anyone who’s ever used Call of Cthulhu Dreamlands will know). It needs quite a bit of fleshing-out — you’d need a lot more examples of archetypes, lots of suggested resources, examples of things that trigger the various point spends and tests, and some thoughts about how to structure a campaign and involve the characters’ outside-dream life despite there being no stats etc associated with it. But maybe I’ll give it a go at some future point!
Edit to add: Oh, and TonyP adds: “I was hoping for a vote and a *winner* at the end of this… I’m pretty impressed by what the nice lady did with my sheet too!”
I’m happy to run a vote if people are generally keen?