Surrealistic Causality

In all games, there are specific systems that kick in when specific things happen. «When one character tries to hurt another, use the Combat System», for example. Or «if a character falls into the water, they have to roll vs their Swim skill».

I want to see what happens when these systems are completely disconnected with our perception of the real world. Here’s a game to test that.


Matthijs Holter



5 thoughts on “Surrealistic Causality

  1. I think this is a very cool idea, and the game a great proof-of-concept.

    But I think surreality and inexplicability belong together, so it might be a good idea to shield the players from the rules, leaving each player with a feeling that there is some logic to the madness, just an inexplicable logic.

    • Hard to say without playing, but I think that might lead to either meandering play where nobody ever encounters the rules, or a sort of meta-game where players attempt all sorts of things just to get to the situations that trigger the rules.

      What if players know what the triggers are – but not the consequences? So they know that _something_ will happen if two characters pass in the street, but not _what_.

      • If the players know the triggers but not the consequences, you could have it be randomized (which both fits the surrealistic literary tradition and allows for replayability). You have two decks of cards: a deck of triggers and a decks of effects. You deal out a hand of triggers at the beginning of play, but effects aren’t dealt until the trigger occurs (or are dealt but not shown to anhy except the GM?).

  2. It occurs to me that encounter tables in good old D&D are a form of surrealistic causality. If adventurers enter a city, a large dragon will attack on average twice per day, for no apparent reason. If there are no adventurers, then no dragon. The longer the adventurers stay, the more dragons there are in the world.

    • I’m sure several wizards have figured out this causality, which is the reason they keep seeking adventurers. The PC party are just unwitting tools in the wizard’s blackmail scheme. “Give me all your gold, or I’ll send my dragon to burn your city!”

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