XP: The Dreaming Crucible

14 Mar

This post has been kind of a long time coming because I’m just not quite sure what to say about the Dreaming Crucible.

And it’s not that I don’t like it. It is an amazing game and it produces very tender (and equally amazing) fiction. But, it is difficult to tell where the game ends and the mixed psyches of the players begin. It quickly becomes so personal that the boundaries blur. There are not many games that do that at all, much less this well.

BLOOD AND TRAUMA

So what can I say about the game itself? It is totally non-intrusive. Drawing stones from a bag is the only mechanic, and it gently guides the trajectory of your tale. There are a few conventions regarding how things are introduced into the fiction, but those too are pretty intuitive. My one mechanical complaint is that the game is ever so slightly biased towards a happy ending, and I have found the unhappy endings to be more emotional. Maybe that’s just me, or maybe I’m somehow unable to make equally good happy endings. Or maybe I delight in unhappiness! You be the judge.

My favorite feature of this game is the way it carries a theme. It will be a theme you never talked about, one you didn’t plan on, but when you look back you will find that the fiction has been stitched with the dark thread of this unknown theme from the get go. And that’s when it strikes you – these theme is some kind of shared truth between all three players, and if any of you were conscious of it’s significance to you individually, none of you realized the collective significance.

CHILDHOOD’S END

Maybe this realization comes half way through the game, or a bit later. Then the draws become more intense. Then the companion’s relationship to the heroine changes, just before the transformation takes place and the companion is definitively altered. Then the final draw with the unhappy ending just about breaks your heart.

Well, that’s how our game went, anyway, and it all seemed to ephemeral and so precious all at once.

You know what? I was wrong. My favorite thing about this game is how it gets out of your way and lets you invest personally in the fiction and deliberately avoids any minutiae that might tamper with your connection to the fiction.

Totally check this one out. http://storybythethroat.wordpress.com/games/

 

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