This page details the system and rules of the Dreaming Awake tabletop game. As it is heavily based on White Wolf's New World of Darkness ('nWoD') game, only the ways in which Dreaming Awake's system differs from nWoD are present here. A version that assumes no prior knowledge may follow, but as that's rather a lot of information I recommend just buying an nWoD core book anyway.
Imagery is a new effect in Dreaming Awake. It represents the fact that characters have particular concepts, images or physical things with which they particularly identify. Characters that are actively using their Imagery when performing an action receive a bonus. “Actively using” is not a particularly clear-cut thing considering how wide a range of Images a character might have, so the following examples are provided to help.
- Fire: Being a physical, tangible thing, the effects of having this Image are simple. A character with 'Fire' as one of her images will receive the bonus when dealing with fire, either physical or magical. Cooking over a fire, combating a forest fire and throwing fireballs are all things she will find slightly easier.
- Winter: Whilst a physical thing, 'Winter' is not quite tangible. The character does not receive a bonus for everything she does when it is Winter. Rather, she must use the idea of Winter in her action, for example by dressing up warm, magically causing snow, etc.
- Envy:Most tricky are images that aren't physical at all, such as emotions. A character with the 'Envy' Image receives a bonus not through being a generally envious person (if she has it as an image, that would probably be all the time!) but rather when envy is the cause of her action, such as stealing.
When performing an action that actively uses one of a character's Images, add the number of dots in the relevant Image(s) to the dice pool for that action. For example, a character attempting to remain hidden in shadows would normally be rolling a number of dice equal to her Dexterity + Stealth. If she had the image 'Shadow', she would roll Dexterity + Stealth + Shadow instead.
The character sheet contains boxes in which to record Health levels exceeding 10 dots. Due to the epic nature of the game characters will eventually become somewhat superhuman, in much the same manner as ancient heroes such as Hercules or Odysseus – more creations of mythology than of flesh and blood. Whilst 10 dots of Health may be the limit of human capability, a character's increasing renown may cause these values to rise above this value.
A character will receive extra health points as their Shiny value increases, or more quickly if one of their Fames implies that they are particularly healthy.
The character's normal 10 Health points are expended first when any injury is received. If the character has 10 or less total Health points, she will be knocked unconscious (bashing) or killed (lethal / aggravated) when they are all depleted. If she has more than 10 total Health points, she will not suffer this fate until all her additional points over and above 10 are also depleted.
Assuming the character survives the battle her normal Health points heal at the normal rates for bashing, lethal or aggravated damage. To heal the damage to her supernatural Health points, news of how much punishment she took without dying will have to be spread. If an NPC witnessed the battle, this should not be a problem!
Because the world of Dreaming Awake physically reacts to the will of its people, there is a special way in which death can be avoided. If a character would lose the last of her health points to bashing damage (and thus normally would be knocked unconscious), she can choose to spend a point of Willpower to give herself a temporary health point – and thus remain conscious. If a character would lose her last point to lethal or aggravated damage, which would normally cause death, the trauma involved causes the effect to happen automatically, assuming the character has at least one dot of temporary Willpower left.
In both of these cases – both deliberate and automatic – a Sanity check must be rolled. As in the section on 'Actions using Fame', the ability to impose your will on the world in such a direct manner does not come without its consequences.
As with Health, a character's Willpower can also rise above the normal human limit of 10 dots. A character will receive extra willpower points as their Shiny value increases, or more quickly if one of their Fames implies that they are particularly strong-willed.
There is nothing particularly special about these supernatural Willpower points – they are used and regenerated just as ordinary willpower.
In Dreaming Awake, Willpower is regenerated by resting, at a rate of approximately 1 willpower dot per two hours of rest or sleep. Certain activities that characters find particularly enjoyable can also restore Willpower.
For more information on how Willpower is used in Dreaming Awake, see the section on Actions Using Fame.
Sanity is the Dreaming Awake version of Morality in vanilla nWoD. Every time your character experiences something that properly disturbs them, you must roll for a decrease in Sanity. Rolls, and the effects of decreasing Sanity/Morality, can be found in the nWoD core book.
There are two kinds of effects possible in Dreaming Awake that could be termed 'magic'. This section explains the simpler of the two.
Magic is widely believed in in Avalon. No-one denies that witches, wizards, spells, demons and all those manner of things exist. A character can cast a spell she knows – whether she's learnt it or by reading it from a book, etc. – using a standard roll such as Intelligence + Occult.
Despite the widely believed existence of magic, it is not easy to learn. Without training, even a single dot of Occult is hard to come by. This means that any user of this kind of magic likely has (or had) one or more teachers, or if not has put a great deal of effort over many years into solitary study.
Even once learnt, magic is not easy to use. Although one success on a magic roll is enough to make magic happen, it takes multiple successes (as decided by the GM) in order for the spell to occur exactly as intended with no side-effects. For this reason, having Fame as a magic-user is important to make things go more smoothly.
Actions Using Fame
If your character wishes to perform a trivial action, she just does it.
If she wishes to perform a more complicated, or a contested, action – you describe it and the GM tells you what to roll and how many successes you need.
However, there will be times when your character needs or wants to do something which is far beyond her normal capability. It's here that Fame comes into play.
Avalon is a dream world, a world where one's thoughts and desires can take physical form. Much like when we dream lucidly, a character in Dreaming Awake can command the world around her to conform to her wishes. This is the real magic of Dreaming Awake, and tutors and spell books are not involved.
When you wish your character to do something above and beyond her normal capabilities, describe the action to the GM. As usual, the GM will tell you which attribute and skill to roll, and how many successes you will need. This number will be high, almost impossible to obtain rolling just your mundane attribute and skill – even with Imagery added in. This is where you rely on your fame.
Of course, your character knows what she's capable of – but she's just one person. What everyone else thinks she's capable of has a real, tangible effect on reality. That's what Fame embodies – the actual effect on the character of what people believe she can do.
If you have 1 dot in 'Good Public Speaker' as a Fame, you can be better at speaking to people for the sole reason that your audience is expecting it – a relatively minor effect. On the other hand, take the example of Hercules. Virtually everyone knows what he was famous for his strength. His character sheet might declare him to have 50 dots in 'Exceptional Strength' – there's practically nothing he couldn't lift.
Back to your exceptionally difficult action. Assuming your attribute + skill + imagery roll isn't likely to produce anywhere near enough successes, and the character is famous for something relevant to the action, you can spend a point of Willpower to will the belief in your abilities into actual physical effect. This adds to your result a number of automatic successes equal to the number of dots you have in the Fame.
Still not enough? You can use your own Willpower to try and force it. Since those around you seem to think the action is beyond you, you'll have to prove them wrong – and it won't be easy. You can use more Willpower points in addition to the one already spent to add more automatic successes in order to achieve your target. However, if you do this you must then make a Sanity check. The ability to impose your will on the world in such a direct manner does not come without its consequences.
Examples of Super-Human Abilities
When playing Dreaming Awake, your characters will come across challenges they cannot face with just their mundane capabilities – their Fame must be used to aid them. There is no set list of things that are possible at certain levels of Fame. Rather, there are things that are possible and they have a number of successes required to achieve them. A lot of these will require the use of Fame in normal circumstances.
The following table contains brief descriptions of some actions that characters may wish to do. The rows of the table give a guide to the number of successes that should be achieved to make this action happen. The columns of the table are headed with some potential Fames that could be used to assist with the actions listed below them.
|5||Attack twice per round||Cast a fireball spell||Convince a crowd||Heal 2 Bashing immediately|
|7||Dodge arrows||Cast an earthquake spell||Convince a crowd of something they oppose||Heal 1 Lethal immediately|
|10||Single instant-kill strike||Alter the weather||Convince a crowd to work for you||Heal serious wounds|
|13||Inflict damage 20 feet beyond the physical length of your sword||Summon a spirit||Rally civilians into an army||Heal aggravated damage|
|15||Strike with a sword made of fire||Summon an angel or demon||Create new memories||Reattach lost limbs|
|20||Reform your weapon into any shape in combat||Kill with a touch||Erase memories||Cure hereditary diseases|
|30||Slice a mountain in half||Kill with a thought||Create Fame||Resurrect the Dead|
|40||Create a legendary weapon (that has its own Fame)||Create and destroy entire cities||Mind-control a nation||Mass Resurrection|
|50||Faster-than-light combat actions||Create and destroy parallel realities||Unite the world in your worship||Grant Immortality|
There are also some abilities particular to the meta-plot of Dreaming Awake that will become apparent as the game progresses. Characters will not have any idea that they are possible until late in the game. These are, in general, the most difficult things to achieve and consequently have very high numbers of successes required. One character is as likely as any other to acheive them, as they are based not on a specific Fame but on Shiny – that is, the sum of all the character's Fames.
As mentioned at the end of the previous section, Shiny represents the sum of a character's Fames. It is separate on the character sheet merely for convenience rather than having to manually sum all your Fame values every time you wish to know your Shiny value.
Shiny is a measure of how much of a legend your character has become. The higher your Shiny rank, the more people around the world know who you are and what you are capable of.
The player characters' Shiny is used by the GM to keep the meta-plot of Dreaming Awake progressing at a pace set by the characters' progression.