Monday, June 9, 2014

Concept art for Adze. Mostly found in African countries, this Husk resembles a large mosquito/horse fly but does not feed on blood. Mostly drawn to those prone to loneliness and despair with a greater-than-usual capacity for envy, this Husk does not feed on anything other than human flesh in it's larval stage. As a larva, its jaws are weak and so it uses a black, caustic ooze to help weaken tissue. The larva will then pupate inside the body and eventually emerge as a fully-formed adult. However, because this Husk's main goal is to propogate, the larva, once inside a human host, will release hormones along with its black substance to direct the host towards others, instilling him/her with a deep need for affection and dependency. This cycle can take only a few weeks or even a year depending on how many eggs have been deposited inside the host. Adze-fly typically strikes at night while it's potential host is sleeping. The penetration of the proboscis also deposits a numbing and anti-inflammatory agent along with its eggs although these properties will dissapate in a matter of hours, leaving Adze-host, as he/she is now called, with what they presume to be a very large and quite painful bug bite resembling that of a giant water bug.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Life and Progress

So, I bought a house.  A foreclosed house at that, which took from december to may to finally close and now we are busting our butts to get it liveable.

Once all that is over and I am able to establish a routine work shall return on Dreamcatcher's second draft and revised rules.  It is good to have gotten everything else out of the way, and there is a new deadline of having to have this all done before I have to start studying for my licensing exam next year so progress should he rapid like the first draft.

Progress has not been entirely dead, brainstorming on how to revise not only rules, but theme is underway. Some areas of existing text need to be reconsidered and redesigned, a few terms or ways of thinking of the world need some massaging and I already have stories and ideas planned for areas of the world that are interesting but got little attention in the existing text.

I am confident that the revised rules are easier to play and understand and should reduce math on the go. I however need to write up some robust guidelines and help for the Dreamweaver (traditional storyteller/GM role) which will help make the role less intimidating for newer players. After all the biggest goal of Dreamcatcher is to make game mastering more accessible for a larger variety of personality types than traditional RPGs. 

I did want to thank those of you who tried a really rough pre-alpha one of my good friends decided to run this weekend at Momocon. It may have given a sample of some of the themes and ideas, though the revised rules have not been updated for all contracts and there were heavy revisions and simplifications that still need rebalancing. 

Long term goal is to make it a robust system for players that allows for any character idea to be fun to play and useful in a group setting without making decisions based on mechanics. If people feel the need to optimize or the system encourages it then I have not done my job as a designer correctly.  At the same time the options on the player side should be plenty, giving plenty of thematic options and tools to make very unique characters.

Thank you again for any interest those of you have who may have tried it out at Momocon and come here. I will be sharing changes and details as they come. Now back to removing paint from my hair.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bunyip, Lack of Activity

Life has been extremely busy, but Dreamcatcher production will start back up in May.

There is some concept art from Tally Geldard that should be shared.

It was asked for her to try to design a land/sea creature that had both reptilian and mammalian features due to how loose the myths surrounding the creature are, and leopard seals came up as a reference.  She did her best with some different concepts of how it might look.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Concept Art for The Rose. A Husk that infects you with a prick. More prone to taking root in those who worry over small things, it starts out as a minor skin irritation, but soon flakes turn to bumps turn to flaps of delicate skin that fold together in a bud-like formation. Eventually the bud blossoms, each petal composed of a layer of skin. Picking at the bud is painful as a thorny root has already taken hold deep in the bloodstream, tangling the nervous system, and soon infiltrating the heart and lungs, so that the infected slowly suffocates and grows weaker. The flowers themselves do not hurt unless tugged upon. The true agony comes from knowing that something is severely and unabashedly wrong with you and there's no hope of recovery.

I can't recall where I got the reference for the girl, sorry. >.< But I did use a loosely use a photo for her. I'd like to do a more complete picture for the sourcebook later as I really like this concept.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

And Entropy is Done!

She did an amazing job with this art.  Go look at her stuff:

I'm incredibly impressed with how this turned out.  Also thank you to Cassandra Aponte the lead artist for help with this piece's incredible composition.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Long Time, No Post

Yes, the game is still in progress.  Yes it's still being worked on.

The creator just had a difficult and distracting holiday season and has been working on other projects for a bit.

That being said there is art coming down the pipeline.  It will be posted here as soon as she finishes, but being done by by the wonderful Kaly Davis whose website you can see over at where she has works in progress.

She was given free reign to read through the source material, and chose to illustrate the nameless kami, Entropy.  Specifically in the form of a penumbra called Bloom, with cordyceps infected husks.  She's done a great job with the theme so far, but lets share the text of the book and break down the source a bit.

First of all, the husk in question:

Cordyceps - 
Entropy’s children hardly are misrecognized, though often times victims don’t even realize what they are.  They prefer keeping their victims fully aware and concious, sometimes even giving them the appearance of freedom and control and only nudging them in the direction they’d like.  Other times they take full control, or even colonize the victim’s flesh converting it into a living fungal colony.  The fungus interfaces with the nervous system, and the Kami rides that fungus.Animals and humans unfortunate enough to be infected by Cordyceps find themselves increasingly sick, dizzy and out of sorts.   
Eventually they may be pushed into a location to bloom, becoming a static colony rooted in place but kept conscious and aware as the fungus spreads outward over their body. They spread through spores, choosing ripe and prime locations to have the new husk bloom and spread.They may appear in a range of shapes, usually preferring intelligent creatures, though they are hardly picky.  Their stalks grow out from flesh, looking like palid grey tentacles or strange fleshy puffballs, or large masses and stalks in colonies.

I had this idea at one point while watching a nature programme, long before the now infamous (and beautifully done game), The Last of Us. They are just one of many creations within this book, and remain very creepy when used properly. They fit the thematic elements of Kami possession well, especially because of the vector of controlling the body without having to defeat the creature's will.

Bloom - 
The air smells faintly sweet with a tinge of unpleasantness.  A greenish tint in the sky on the horizon signalling thunder and the breeze whipping in the wind.  The sound of the breeze covers up the groans.  An alleyway nearby a person doubles over in pain, grasping at their stomach as if trying to hold it in.  Their eyes open and are milky white, glossed over and unfocused, and a shiver runs up their spine.  A thin whitish tendril burst from their chest as they try to scream, but are silenced when another bursts from their throat, and three more from various places.  Little fibrous tendrils break free from their skin covering it as the stalks grow and bloom.  The eerie fleshy gray stalks turn light blue, and then the breeze strikes, and tiny flecks take to the air spreading out in the wind.  The poor creature’s eyes still showing horror as their limbs twitch, rooted inside the fungal bloom that consumed them. 
The bloom grows as more victims share and spread Entropy’s gift, the fungus creating a colony out of its new hosts, keeping them alive to watch as they are slowly covered by more and more of the stuff.

Umbral Effects - 
Spore Clouds: 
The clouds in the area spread the deadly infection, though natural resistance of those touched by the Day of Slumber have made them resistant to the stuff, it still has a tendency to bury in the lungs and fleshy tissue ready to strike an unwary immune system.  In the meantime it makes things very difficult to breath and gain oxygen, adding 2 to Fraying of any difficult physical activity, therefore any skill that costs or consumes Physical Fortitude on use or failure. 
The whole area has a sort of weirdness to it, especially coming into contact with partially infected or bloomed victims.  This drives a mixture of nausea and malaise that hurts morale more than causes physical harm.  While within the Bloom, Spiritual Fortitude recharge is reduced by 1. 
Infection (Triggered): 
The spores turn into fungus that attacks the nervous system.  While most living beings have enough defense to resist, time spent within the Bloom exposed provides risk.  Once per long rest while exposed, or when bitten in combat by a Cordceps infected husk once per short rest, the character must make a Resistance check.  For each failed check, they add an infection counter.  Each infection counter reduces their Max Physical Fortitude by 1.  Once the counter hits 0, the character becomes fully infected and the fungus gains control over their flesh.  Removing the character from Bloom does not remove these counters, and they must be treated as Frayed Conditions for purpose of removal when outside the Bloom.

Coping - 
This penumbra is probably the single fastest growing of them all.  All it takes is one infection vector to tear a hole in the Veil and turn a new place into the living nightmare of a fungal bloom.  These cordyceps husks are all connected to the entity known as Entropy, and his edict is to spread the decay and change far and wide.  Currently many areas in northern mexico, and even southern texas have blooms, targeting areas of high population. 
Infection isn’t immediate for most now, but once the spores take old and the fungus interfaces with the hosts nervous system its too late to stop the inevitable, though Entropy does make bargains with those who wish to help their cause, though eventually the time comes for all who follow this path.Defeating even a single bloom may pose difficulty for most, though they do have weaknesses to discover, it could be a long process to try to undo the damage done by Entropy and require significant long term effort to see the blooms cleansed from the new world.

The penumbra works to undermine characters defenses, and this penumbra is particularly nasty due to the inhabitants and so many sources providing a vector of infection. While characters certainly have a chance to resist, the body horror aspect can be very unsettling and useful from a storytelling perspective. Like many elements of horror though they depend on being used minimally and precisely for full effect.

Entropy - 
The world decays naturally, and the Nameless of that gradual force has grown since the Day of Slumber, particularly due to the loss of life all over.  That fed into many creatures, but none more than the Fungus, one of the few multicellular animals not able to dream.  Penumbra infected lands have let fungus swarms grow into sizeable amounts, and even started to warp it into monstrous and even intelligent forms.These fungal growths are most frightening in the shape of Cordyceps, taking living creatures and warping them while still aware into husks physically, blends of fungus and animal.  They all in essence are servants of Entropy, the constant decay and don’t take no for an answer to those infected.  Some living creatures may give themselves over entirely, willingly joining the contract and with it immunity to the death or immobility that eventually comes, but it also tries the mind, which may fracture when they eventually uncontrollably bloom.

Signing the Contract Grants: 
The host gains the trait regeneration, as the fungal growth will repair injuries with new flesh rather quickly.  However this process slowly digests the host body and replaces it with a different type of matter, making the host slowly into a mobile colony of fungus. 
The infected are very sensitive to sound, allowing Hearing to be used without costing mental fortitude, and can hear through the ground and vibration allowing for a significant boost in distance. 
The infected gains no penalties while in the Penumbra, and in fact may remove one fray from any roll while within the Penumbra.There’s a loss in the creature’s coordination and muscle movements due to the interface with the Fungus, and they tend to move less smoothly, gaining the flaw Rigid Movement.

The greater bond grants: 
Waken may be used to call fungus from the ground and protect allies in Reality.  It may be used reactively to remove a threat completely  as well as actively as a minor action to block passages or provide cover.  The amount of fungal growth is determined by the Dreamweaver and relative presence of Penumbra.  Ritual may be used to weaken the veil and increase the effect. 
The infection continues to take hold, numbing limbs and granting Skilled (Pain Tolerance) and +3 Weaving bonus to Pain Tolerance.

The greatest bond grants:
As the presence of the fungus inside grows, it slowly converts the infected’s mind, reducing Mental Force by 1, but increasing Spiritual Force by 2.  They also lose significant coordination, disabling the Acrobatics skill.Tendrils of the Fungus bloom out your flesh and can be controlled by the infected like extra limbs.   
Gain the trait Unusual Dexterity, and you gain two additional Minor Actions on top of what your default shapes limbs grant.You may infect non-entropy aligned husks by expending a Destiny and succeeding with a martial attack. It will use the fungus to cause long term change of allegiance, as the infection overtakes the spirit controlling them, the rate of change determined by the Dreamweaver.   
Those aligned with Entropy will no longer attack you or your allies, though may still attempt to bloom and spread their spores.Occasionally Entropy may take control of them, functioning as per the Crushed Personality in The Possessed section.  The duration and actions determined by the Dreamweaver though the occurrence should be rare and generally short lived until the time comes to bloom.

Joining a contract - 
Entropy’s Husk’s in Penumbra can be quite infectious, their spores take root in flesh whether the host chooses to or not.  While other Kami may provide protection, and medical treatment can prevent infection from taking root, if it does the body won’t last long.  At that point Entropy will offer a contract in exchange for the host’s life, and if they are willing they will enter agreement.  What they don’t realize is they are tools to spread Entropy regardless of their choices.

Breaking a contract - 
Curing the character may break the contract, but it will be exceedingly difficult to do in many cases as the network of fungus living in the bloodstream reacts intelligently and will control the host if it senses it.  Should a successful cure happen it would free the host, though the process will cost them 2 LF, but it will leave them with some strange powers and side effects. The contract may break when Entropy decides it’s time to bloom, or the character reaches 0 LF. Blooming will kill the character, as the fungus grows and expands out of the body and spores bloom.  Sometimes the character’s intelligence may have become so integrated with the fungal colony that they will survive this metamorphosis and their consciousness divided among the spore’s eventual home, though at this point they will be considered a Kami as their soul will pass on.
This is entropy. It should be noted all contracts have upsides and downsides to them. There is no real sense of good and evil in the world of Dreamcatcher, but one can certainly see Entropy as a negative element, and frequently associated with the death of the characters who follow. Though often times they may not have a choice, or the contract might be the better option of the choice of fates.
Entropy is not only associated with Cordyceps, merely it is a potent expression of Entropy's desires. Always a powerful nameless, Entropy has existed longer than any of the other nameless, and often referred to and revered as Death, associated with the end of all things and passing. A view rarely seen in positive light by humanity. However without Fungus, life as it is on the planet could not exist, and would be buried in decaying flesh and matter. Without entropy, there would be no expansion of the universe, no heating and cooling of stars, no heat transfer to warm planets for life to grow. Entropy is a neccessity, and is feared, worshipped and revered and very very powerful.
They may make for a powerful adversary for some groups, or an interesting ally, but the point remains they will always be creepy and unnerving to those who interact with the Kami, and helps set the overall thematics of Dreamcatcher itself.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


It's been a while, unfortunately posting here has slowed down significantly along with progress at the end of the summer, but things picked up the last month and most notably many mechanics have been completely overhauled and smoother.  Lets focus on some of the initial changes:

Dice Rules:

The same three concepts explained before remain - Stitching, Weaving and Fraying all are main mechanics and are relatively unchanged.  However, how the dice pools are dealt with and interpreted have been rewritten and redesigned.  Additionally how successes (called stitches) interact with skills and scale in effect have been completely overhauled and simplified.

A sample below will discuss how a dice pool would work:

Weaving: 7
Fraying: 2
Stitching: 9

This is a moderate challenge with average risk and the user is fairly skilled.

They get the following dice:

1, 2, 4, 6, 6, 9, 10

The player then looks and sees that they have two dice meeting or below their Fraying, and two meeting or beating the Stitching, leaving them with:

Frays: 2
Stitches: 2
Others: 4

They may expend two of the others to cancel the frays, and then they have two stitches they may spend toward success.

Simple, and easy. However, a new mechanic was created to help control optimizations effect, and to add an interesting element.  Thematically, when a character succeeds really well all the time, they tend to get overconfident and are more likely to not foresee the consequences of their action.  How that is resolved mechanically is that the first stitch spent on a roll is always free, but each stitch after the first adds a fray to the next roll they make.  This means if someone spends 5 stitches, they automatically add 4 frays to their next dice pool.  This can add to high risk rather quickly, especially if the player doesn't plan right, or has a tendency to max one skill, and not any other.


Character Creation:

Character creation has been dramatically simplified.  The point buy had all scaling removed, and now features a simple token purchasing system.  Its easier for new players and far less intimidating while still allowing for flexible character creation.  Additionally the entire skill list was overhauled, and 10 skills where cut from the game, bringing things down to currently 50 skills. Skill 'groups' or categories of skills where completely excised as they where confusing and limiting from a design perspective.  Instead a new flexible Background system was created to encourage skill spreading during character creation.

Backgrounds allow a character to create blurbs of their history, assisting them in building who they once where, and also making the skill selection portion of character creation more interactive and story based without being overly dense or confusing or intimidating for newer players.



The resources have been overhauled, condensed and a few cut.

There are now the following resources:

Physical Fortitude
Mental Fortitude
Spiritual Fortitude



Resources provide a management system to the gameplay, and allow for selective risk versus reward in design.  The basic mechanics of resource management are easy for players to grasp, and the strategies interesting as long as they aren't heavily complex.

The Fortitudes are Dreamcatcher's form of a health system, and the three separate pools are simultaneously a way to reduce optimization effects, as well as allow for significant flavor differences in the way characters play.

Lifeforce measures the character's life.  This resource is never returned, is very powerful and critical, and if lost in entirety means the character dies.  They are sort of a cat's nine lives in this game world which features permanent death.  They prevent Dreamcatcher from feeling as harsh as some worlds with permanent death, without removing death as a threat and real possibility from the game world entirely like many systems tend to do.

Destiny is this system's most flexible resource, similar to other 'Action Points' in D&D or 'Edge' in Shadowrun.  They allow for storytelling and luck override.  They allow for a player to have the right tool at the right time to make what they want to have happen in story, regardless of Dreamweaver input.

The other three resources are gameplay based, interact with skills and abilities in different ways, and are very limited so something the player needs to make significant choice over using.  The average player will only have 1-3 points per long rest (or day in game terms) to work with and can be very powerful when used right.

Flourish allows for one to make use of a really good roll, and not suffer a lot of fray penalties.  Very simply, the resource being spent allows any number of stitches to be spent on the roll without incurring fray penalties.

Alignment allows for a 'redo'.  Very simply, they allow a player to pick up all dice, and rethrow though they lose weaving when doing so.  This can help make up for really bad luck or a bad roll at a critical time.

Waken allows for the character to make use of the strange magics of Dreamtime, including Evoking the power inside Dreamcatchers, or changing the shape of their body through the Shift ability.



Skills got significant overhaul in this draft.  Beyond cutting 10 skills in order to condense everything so every skill feels useful, they have been expanded, rethought, streamlined due to the changing underlying mechanics.  'Passive' effects on skills where moved, and instead a new system currently being called Expertise was added.  In order to allow for some differentiation and flavor for two players who specialize in the same skill, and allow more flavor and personality, the expertise system was added.  Upon hitting maximum rank in a skill, the player gets to choose an Expertise from a list of choices and this is a permanent choice and may not be changed.

An expertise can change how the skill works, add new effects or expand a skill, or change how another skill interacts with the one specialized in.  An expertise may also add static bonuses, like increasing the Weaving of another skill, or increasing a maximum resource.