Posted on September 25, 2005 by Flames
It’s a rare experience to be able to highlight Canadian talent when it comes to Role Play Gaming (RPG).
For those unfamiliar with the RPG world, players assume a character and play a game while “in character” reacting to other players, as well as to situations laid out before them by the GM of Game Master.
While the realm of RPG is best known because of Dungeons and Dragons — a game that is in its third incarnation, and spawned the very entertaining movie of the same name — it is far from the only offering in the field.
Although the world of dragons, elves and magic set against a generic medieval style world may be the most familiar of RPGs, some people are taking the game in a decidedly different direction.
Witness Canadian Francis Larose recently released RPG Mechanical Dream (MD). This is about as far away from medieval dragons as you can get. In fact, MD is a unique setting indeed, one unlike anything else I have come across. The world, its inhabitants, and even the ecology of the world and influences of light and darkness are freshly chiseled in this intriguing new entry into RP Gaming.
Larose said the influences were varied for the work, but the goal was to be different when finished. “The main influence was London 1800, (Edgar Allan) Poe and Steam
Punk, industrial fairies,” said Larose in an email interview.
“Mechanical Dream is too different comparatively to another game, and the inspiration/influences goes in the same way.”
“Some friend said we have brain-busted our neurons with this project, because we have pushed some limits in the creation.”
“MD is not science fiction, it is something else. MD is a virtual world with no links, no references, with earth and humans.”
It’s that boldness to take MD into a totally unfamiliar world, leaving players to fully interpret everything they are, see, or do in the game, which makes the game itself most appealing. Larose, a natural Francophone said the linguistic reality of Quebec,
his home province was an influence as well in the duality which permeates the MD world. He said the idea of dual concept such as French and English as found in Montreal ended up mirrored in the games storyline of Mechanical/Dream and Industrial/Fantasy.
“Sure we have read a lot of Sci-fiction, fantasy, and RPG, but the main influence was to create a world with its own style, own mood,” he wrote. “Personality and Individuality was the main point for us to make something never made.”
Larose said the idea came to him through one of the game’s major influences.
“The idea, like a lot of idea comes, to us by dream,” he wrote in his
not perfect English. “A long time ago, six years, I dreamed of something that start all MD.
“Since this time I work on it because the same morning of my dream, I said: ‘This world, I will finish it.’ After, I have worked four years before friends said MD could be a
product. At this time we start to work on a business and a Mechanical Dream for customers.”
The work has paid off with a startlingly beautiful hardcover book. The art in the book, which has a flip design, breaking the text into two distinct areas of the game has an almost surreal feel which is ideal for a game that seems to waver at times on the edge of our conscious and our unconscious. The colour renditions of races such as the Nayans, Gnaiths, Inais and Soleks are outstanding. The black and white art line art through the rest of the book carries that surreal mood well, and helps one recognize that most of what they know about the world around them must be forgotten as one jumps into character to play MD.
Overall, this game has a feeling something like reading Frank Hebert’s masterpiece Dune trilogy, in that the world is so detailed and different, you are left hungry to turn the page to learn yet again something new.
If there is a drawback to the game, it is the same as its strength, the unfamiliarity of the entire world. One doesn’t grasp the intricacies of a more than 300 pages of game
rules, guidelines and mechanics for MD in a simple browsing, or even a single detailed reading of the text.
Yet, for those who do take the time to try something out of the ordinary, the possibility of being awestruck in an amazing world of shadow and light certainly exists.
Larose said the game is developing much as they hoped, not that he is ever completely satisfied.
“I think we are not proud on the game, only happy to see it grow with the community,” he wrote with obvious modesty. “We are honestly glad to see the final results, but know it needs more and more work on it. We will never reach the perfection, and never will try, but always work hard to make the best we can.”
Larose said he anticipated MD to be a game around for the long term — in itself a major undertaking given the way RPGs come and go.
Reviewer: Calvin Daniels