Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Nuts & Bolts #76 - Strange Dreams

I was on the internet and saw a post on twitter from +Bruce R Cordell
Which gave me a flash of inspiration regarding the nature of Bruce's game The Strange. I wondered, would The Strange work as a game of exploration within the realms of dreams? The quick answer was, of course, very much a "yes." That just led me to figure out how to make that work.

Let's start with the strange itself, that alien dark energy computer network that is unknowably vast, and possibly unknowably old. Instead of a network of dark energy that spans the universe the strange instead becomes a manifestation of the chaos of humanity's collective unconscious. The strange is a manifestation of billions of minds past and present, and their thoughts and dreams.

Within the chaos of the strange certain ideas, fictions, stories, and the like can take seed and form stable dream realm recursions much in the way that they take seed within human culture. These ideas, myths, legends, stories, and the like form small stable regions within the strange that grow larger and more stable as more people experience these things and invest their minds to them. This is little different from the game as written but for the fundamental foundation of the strange itself.

In this version of setting, Ardeyn is a game that was published and beat World of Warcraft at its own game. Becoming the biggest selling MMORPG ever it has captured a huge piece of the world's attention an imagination. Having a collective and fundamental setting suddenly receive such massive attention resulted in an explosion of the Ardeyn dream world (recursion) in size and complexity to its current day state. What most people don't realize is that the game caught on because Ardeyn had already seeded into the collective unconscious.

Ruk itself is quite a mystery. It's denizens are entirely aware of the waking world and utterly deny any origin within mankind's collective psyche.  If the strange is humanity's unconscious dreaming, then where else could Ruk have come from? Who are the people of Ruk and what part of ourselves spawned them? What does the Karum's goal of breaking Ruk free of the waking world mean for humanity and why are there other Ruk citizens fighting against that goal?

Worse still are the nightmares that have become self perpetuating. Nightmares spawned from horrific events like war, disease, and worse have spawned living beings that delight in our torture. These nightmares given consciousness and form have become the Planetovores. The planetovores seek to cross from the dream to the waking world where they will finally be free to prey on humans who will not be able to simply wake and escape.

The Implausible Geographical Society is the most recent incarnation of an ancient order of dream walkers that extends back to the earliest civilizations. Men and women who have found they possess the ability to wake within the dream and translate their consciousness from the waking world to the dream recursions at will, and even swim in the chaos of the strange itself to find other dreams long forgotten.

Meanwhile the Estate is a more modern group exploring the nature of waking dreams from a more scientific bent. Formed by Carter Morrison after an experiment with waking dreams spawned a sudden inception within the strange. The sudden creation of Ardeyn in mankind's collective unconscious risked making too many people aware of the world of dreams, and thus potentially allowing a portal between the waking and dreaming worlds. The Estate is funded by Morrison Software (makers of the Ardeyn MMO) and maintains a goal of ensuring that lucid dreaming is used responsibly.

In this version of the game Cyphers become distillations of the collective unconscious, solidified psychic energy that represents an idea and has condensed enough psychic energy to manifest even in the waking world. In a way cyphers represent humanity's ability to change the world around them.

What do you think? Could The Strange work as a game of dream worlds and exploration of humanity's collection psychic unconscious?