Matthijs Holter

About the game

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The Society of Dreamers is a role-playing game about a little-known group that formed in Europe in the early 19th century. This group seems to have studied dream phenomena – specifically, they seem to have held the belief that there were autonomous life forms living in people’s dreams. The Society called these creatures mnemosites – dream eaters.

However, it seems that the Society may not have seen the mnemosites as a danger. Sources indicate that the members sought to find and understand mnemosites, using the scientific tools available in their times.

According to anthropologist Doris Hutchens, there may have been several Societies operating at the same time. In her book on the subject Hutchens cites correspondence found in the archives of a descendant of one of the Society’s founding members. The letters seem to be notes from a different Society, with a different agenda with regards to the mnemosites.

Gabriel Oday, in his treatise on occultism in the late 18th and early 19th century, claims that the Society used occult rituals at their secret meetings. It is not clear, however, what his sources are, and Oday is often criticized for being unreliable.

Only one photograph of the Society has survived. It shows the members gathered outdoors, at a picnic by the river. Their faces are obscured. Between them is an oujia-board-like object. On the back is written a date – the 15th of May – but no year or location.

The game has now been made available for sale to the general public. It is suitable for those who wish to explore uncharted historical and mental territory.

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

  1. Hi

    i recently picked up society of dreamers and i love the premise, the bit of fuff and how the players build the world. I’m not very good at running RPG’s and at the momement our games are falling apart when it comes to Act 3 : the weaving. I was hoping perhaps you would have any hints, tips or even know of a youtube video i could watch to help me.

    • I can try! How exactly do the games “fall apart”? What are the players doing, and what is happening/not happening that makes it not work?

      • Hi,

        thanks for your reply. I wasnt really expecting one. In the game we played last night we had some confusion regarding active player vs instructor. Apologies first if we were reading the rules wrong.

        We played it as in the childhood/ youth scenes the instructor set the framework for the scene for the player. Then the player created the scene based on that framework.

        In act 2 for the first meeting of the society the active player (the leader of the society) also seemed to be the instructor.

        For when we started to use the game board. The roles of active player/ instructor to ourselves seemed a bit muddled during scenes. We took turns being instructor and player. The player scene was chosen by the board, then the instructor gave the player the framework. Then the player began their scene.

        For act 3, we probably did it all wrong. We set a scene were we were sitting around and the ‘leader’ of the society discussed what we had learned from the clues. They were randomly shuffled, and we began a scene (again with an active player + an instructor) and had to tie the clue to the scene.

        With everyone taking a turn being instructor we all ended up with even cards. So the ‘leader’ of the society performed the climax for act 4

        Any hints, tips, suggestions. If we were being stupid and were playing it wrong, apologises.

  2. Okay, great! I don’t mind whether people play my games differently than I’d imagined (as long as they have fun) – in fact, nothing makes me happier, game-wise, than people taking my ideas and doing new stuff with them. Ideas should, like humans, go out into the real world, develop and change, have sex and make new ideas. If they don’t change, they’ll just get irrelevant at best and harmful at worst (like old religions).

    It sounds like your group was playing with the assumption that there should be one instructor and only one active player each turn. It’s supposed to be that each turn, there’s one instructor, and EVERYONE is an active player. So if I’m the instructor, you and all the other players can play your characters, or play other characters, and maybe I even decide to play my character in the scene.

    And if I’m the instructor, you and the other players have used the board to determine what sort of scene I have to start.

    In act 3, the instructor chooses a card on their turn (no random picking). Other than that, the game goes on as in act 2 – the other players use the board to find out what sort of scene the instructor starts, and then everyone plays it out.

    Now, as I said, don’t sweat it if you don’t play it as written (and, to be honest, the rules text really needs to be revised, because it’s not clear enough at all). When I play, I forget some rules, and my friends just do whatever they want because they have no respect for my design at all, and so it goes. Really, it’s much more about the attitude than the formal rules; remember that you’re all magical motherf***ers, that this game is about real things at the same time as it’s totally fake, that dreams are real, and that it’s okay to be silly and stupid and emotional and high-artsy and then silly and stupid again.

    Please ask questions if you have more!

  3. Any chance that your game is available as a PDF? I seldom buy books in print these days and even if I do I like to have the PDF for portability.

  4. […] The Society of Dreamers by Matthijs Holter (2010), a game in which a troupe of nineteenth century parapsychologists hunt for the truth about autonomous life forms living in people’s dreams, contains a guide to the Nordic Dreaming style of play. These are the best strategies for open-ended roleplay I’ve encountered. Directive number two reads:- […]

  5. […] Indiemeet in London is a suitable venue to try out several great story games I’ve encountered over the last year – Dream Askew, Itras By and The Society of Dreamers. […]

  6. […] “Crooked Bob” Nottingham, now bound to a wheelchair and long evenings spent alone in dusty libraries, will accompany Cody to Paris. He intends to decipher a document written in an invented language he discovered at Miskatonic University called The Society of Dreamers. […]

  7. […] The game is wonderful. Play it. […]

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