Game Soapbox Productions
Theater of the mind makes your imagination the stage.
Review By: Ernie Laurence
Text: Andre Kruppa
Proofreading by: Adam Johnson, Abby Vaughan, Jennifer Allen, and Michael Walls
Character Sheet: by Colleen Nachtrieb
Cover Art by: Dean Spencer
Additional Art: Kevin Davies, Earl Geier, Scott Harshbarger, Elizabeth Porter, Eric Lofgren, Brett Neufeld, W. Fraser Sandercombe, and Dean Spencer.
Public Domain Photos by: Francisco Anzola and Jerome Bon
Bestiary and Arms Table Art: Patrick Guenett, Aleksey Kaznadey, Sviatoslav Khomiakov, Anna Pugach, Nikola Roglic, and Suriya Siritam
Lucid Dreams is core RPG system. It uses a d10 pool system geared toward the darker, grittier, aspects of role-playing; handling anything from Stone Age to near-future settings. Popular settings such as the world of H.P. Lovecraft will port easily into this game system. There are no character levels or monetary rewards to accumulate. Accomplishments, finding clues, moving the story forward, and surviving are the rewards.
Andre Kruppa has been steadily running role-playing games since 1979, which means he brings more than thirty-five years of experience to the table and to Game Soapbox Productions. His theatrical training includes many years of lighting design and hands-on production electrics work for professional and community theaters, where he also has spent a lot of time in the booth running lights and sound. Andre enhances his games with elaborate theatrical lighting, sound effects, music, and props. Andre’s love of gaming and his commitment to fostering high-production-value, immersive role-playing drives him to refine his approach incrementally year after year.
Characters begin with 8 points to distribute in a 1 for 1 basis between 6 statistics: Strength, Agility, Stamina, Intelligence, Willpower, and Courage. The range is -4 to +6 and players may reduce statistics below 0 to gain additional points in other stats. Faults can also add points (more on those in a minute). There are also four derived stats: Size, Shock Number, Move, and Luck. These all interact to give the character more versatility.
Similar to statistics, skills are purchased on a 1 for 1 basis. Starting with 60 points, characters can purchase as many skills as the want, all up to Skill Level 3. Two skills may be purchased up to level 6 and these are considered expert level skills for that character. There are higher levels, but they are very rare and there must be story reasons for PCs to have them. Otherwise, they are most likely encountered on a boss-type character.
Gifts and Enhancements
After skills, a player selects Gifts and Faults to further differentiate their character. Gifts are benefits to stats, skills, resources, or story whereas faults are detriments. These are followed by Resources and Equipment. Resources are done in a rare fashion where keeping track of specifics like money are not needed. Instead, a Resource level is bought out of 9 points at creation. These include, but are not limited to, wealth, social standing, contacts, and so forth. If you have a high enough level, then you are able to accomplish certain things in relation to that resource without a roll.
For example: The Wealth Resource can allow you to obtain mundane equipment without having to keep track of specific coins or gems expended. Magical or high-tech equipment may require a roll in which case you may not be able to afford the item. Additionally, equipment is somewhat miserly at the beginning as players only start with the very minimum necessary for their character and story.
The pre-made character – Aebelwulf the Bloody – used in the Game School episode for the example play-through was supplied by Andre for the interview. That sheet is included with this article. Andre also supplies a thorough backstories for all of his pre-made characters.
One of the glaring differences between Lucid Dreams and many other RPG systems is the lack of races. The only playable race in the Lucid Dream system is human. This stems from the relationship the system has with Earth and near-Earth settings. Fear and horror play a large part in the game so humans set the standard for what is normal.
The mechanics of the Lucid Dreams RP Engine are straightforward. You roll a die pool, select a single dice from it according to your skill rating, then add modifiers. If you have a rating of 2 or less in a skill, you roll 2d10 and take the lowest die. If you have a rating of 3-5 you roll 2d10 and take the highest. 6-8 you get to roll 3d10 and take the highest, and so on for every three skill levels. Modifiers may be circumstances, equipment, role-playing, stats, or any number of other modifiers depending on the context. Lucid Dreams also has an exploding dice mechanic. If two or more dice are 9 or 10, add the highest die to the total and re-roll the die pool.
What is really intriguing about this system is that there is something of a level playing field for all characters involved. The player may only use 1 die from the pool (no matter the size of the pool). This keeps the numbers relatively low. Being able to choose from a lesser or greater number alters the probability of rolling high on that one die. Modifiers do not change the outcome with enough difference between characters to put the primary antagonist out of reach of the PC even at the beginning of the story. There is a possibility to win at all points in the game.
When I first read through the system, I didn’t understand how spells worked. There is no explicit mention of them as part of the mechanics or character creation. What Lucid Dreams does is treat spell casting as a Skill like any other with general descriptions. So if you have a “Fire Spell” skill, you would put 3 points into it and roll the die pool. The GM will determine a DC (or the opposed roll) to defend against the spell. There are story limitations on what the Fire Spell can do, but there is also a fluidity to this type of spell casting that I find highly compelling. For one, the use is unlimited by mana or memorization or other contrivances. Additionally, there is no need to have a huge list of spells.
For those who don’t like the rigid nature of many other RPG systems, this might be something that truly piques your interest.
Another unique aspect of this system is that Lucid Dreams does not provide a comprehensive Bestiary or Monster Manual. Instead, they provide stats for well known animals found on Earth, plus a werewolf and a zombie. These are to give a touchstone for GMs to build their own monsters with an idea of how various sizes, strengths, and skills would fit. It’s again a look toward a streamlined rule-book that is highly versatile.
This does create a little extra work for the GM, but with as much home-brewing that happens, very few except the beginning GMs are going to flinch at this.
A Couple of Last Bits of Coolness
I like how attentive the game is to organizations; generated much the same way as a character and played as an NPC. That is awesome. Second, while other games in the Horror genre have their darkness and grit, this is one of the few that allows you to come back from it via rolls for medical help. That alone would draw me to play this darker style of game where I have no interest in others of the same genre.
Honestly speaking, I am more of an epic fantasy or space drama (think Star Wars) kind of player and GM. The dark stuff is okay for me so long as I get to bring the light through my character. Having said that, this system has a lot of things going for it. I really love the versatility and the simplicity. Story is the most important part of the roleplaying experience for me and Lucid Dreams allows for the game to focus on that without bogging down in a bunch of nuance and tedium. Players and GMs will not have to spend precious time at the table looking up esoteric rules. Yet the game is robust enough to handle many situations that gamers want to play through.
If you’d like to catch the interview by Game School, you can check it out here: http://gameschool.tsrpn.com/2018/08/19/202-lucid-dreams
To find out more about the Lucid Dreams RP Engine, get supplements and adventures, or to order your own copy of Lucid Dreams go to:
Rating – PG-13