Design Diary for 18XX Dreams

18XX Dreams is about dreamers pursuing in the Dreams what is unreachable in the Awaken

In here I've disclaimed my current game design process. I'll use that as a frame work to keep things organized here


At this point I started to run out of tropes, I was't sure if the series came to a halt. But then I remembered that lots of classic books were written in the 1800s ro from authors born then (Hunchback of Notre Dame, Alice in Wonderland, Frankenstein...). Some plays, paintings and symphonies as well. I couldn't find an specific trend I would like to pursue but realized all of them were somewhat magical at the time, a feeling of wonder. 

What if all came form the same place? If all stories, music, art.. are existing things in a world with no sense? What if some things are no longer real here but have a similar counterpart in the dreams? If we only remember a portion, maybe everything is mixed and authors remember a "cohesive" part? 


Research here  was finding a big list of books and art from the 19th century and see what I've already read (In my teens and early 20s I used to read a lot). I've a thing for knowing details of stuff so many things here I already knew something of use. Maybe this was the shortest research time for a 18XX game.

The other brief thing i Knew I had to know was the items, details and characters. I went looking for symbology in dreams and other dream related games (Don't Rest your Head and Oneironaut are good ones on these). 

Items felt unfitting for someone that could, in theory, shape the very reality Matrix style. But is really not your logic that applies here, it's emotions. So looking for emotions, and I knew just where to look for them. Cerebria is a boardgame where emotions fight for control over the soul. Lots of cards, each a different emotion :)


The good thing about dream theme is that you can kinda throw cohesion out the window. This was the only game where I started with the GM table. It was a mix of brainstorm and refinement. Just kept pouring past 20 options and trimmed down at the end.

At character creation, it felt wrong to provide a skill list. Actually it felt wrong you could really decide anything. Since the character already exists in the real world regardless of setting, game or system, I thought I might as well let the real history of the characters determine most things. So that's why I've added versions of yourself as the character (younger, older, different...). 

I still wanted for the characters being mechanically unique so I gave them powers according to what they did while awake. Hold no brakes here. What can be overpower in a limitless world?

Emotions came out to be a resources you spend to shape the world but could also be tools for the GM to trigger problems, Nightmares are related to matters you don't want to deal with. Since could be triggers here, added a section to remind to use safety tools. It's always recommended, but this one deserved a highlight.

The irony here is the most weird 18XX game is the one with the largest procedural section in all games: Making a pointcrawl map using dice. This mechanic is funny one, maybe I'll use it for other games.

Level up here felt meaningless but according to the adventure, the awaken character could evolve.


This has been SO much fun to play.  Weirdest thing came up. I wouldn't runa campaign in it though. It might tire after many sessions in the weird. A couple or little more felt fine. 

Players loved to portray  their characters changed when woke up, most not recording their dream but feeling different.

Combining with other 18XX games

This can be added for one shots at any settings, although some may feel forced to do sowould mostly mean it needed water close by. Not necessarily a sea, even a river connected to it would suffice (*magic*, c'mon, it's lo-fi after all

  • Muramasa a spirit of a cursed blade escaped here
  • Outlaw bad deed are pursuing the outlaws
  • Locker personification of Fiddler's Green was captured, rescue or no heaven for you
  • Night Night Lord is the dream try to bring nightmares back with it
  • Victorian suddenly, all scientists have no new ideas, something is killing them? stealing?
  • Ragnarok acolytes came here in search of a memory of a lost ritual that could some many elders at once
  • Solomon knights are inside the dream of future saint, a demon is trying to corrupt him
  • Richelieu rebel leader is not waking up, one of the Royal Garden is there too
  • Rail Way a being there is responsible for making everything about the conspiracy totally unrealistic

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