Sleeping Gods is now live on Kickstarter. This is the latest offering from designer Ryan Laukat and is published by Red Raven Games. Ryan Laukat is known for making engaging storybook adventure games such as Above & Below and Near & Far. Ryan Laukat has taken what he's learned and applied it to his new design. Big-name board game reviewer Rahdo described Sleeping Gods as Laukat's “masterpiece” and he could well be correct.
Sleeping Gods is a co-operative, open-world exploration game for 1-4 players. In the game, you are Captain Sofi Odessa and the crew of the steamship, Manticore in 1929. You are sailing home when you sail through some strange fog and find yourself lost in a mysterious land. To escape this new world, you must explore it in search of eight magical totems of the Gods. But many trials and dangers stand in your way. Only once you find these totems can you return home.
Over the course of a total of 10-20 hours, players are free to explore the world in search of the totems. Sleeping Gods is a campaign game that's as close as you can get to the open-world style games commonplace in computer gaming.
Sleeping Gods comes with an 18-page book of maps to explore like other Laukat titles. What makes this unique it that the book works like an Atlas. You can sail in any direction you choose and when you reach the edge of the map you just flip the page and keep on sailing.
Sleeping Gods is a narrative adventure game coming with a whopping 136-page long storybook. As you reach certain points on the map, you find the appropriate section in the book and read it out. It will tell you who, or what you meet, what challenges await and what treasures you may discover.
Have you ever played a computer game like Skyrim where you attempt a mission that is too difficult? You retreat, go and level-up on an easy mission and come back later? Sleeping Gods also has this aspect in its gameplay. The open-world aspect means you can go to any location in any order you want. You will find yourself having to leave notes for yourselves to avoid certain places or come back again later. More so than Laukat's other titles, you can level up the characters, giving them special skills and attributes as the game goes. Once you are ready, you can head back and have another go at a particularly hard challenge.
Just like computer games, you can stop and “save” the game whenever you want. This really breaks down the episodic type of play we are used to with campaign and legacy games. Sleeping Gods has the potential to take board gaming in a radical new direction. So, no more staying up late on a school night or having to leave the game set-up on the table for the next session. You just write down the game state in your ship's logbook and pick up where you left off next time.
You aren't just sailing around aimlessly looking for totems though. Structure is given to the game with 180 quest cards sending you on more adventures or pitting you against foes. Completing them can give you new quests, items, or even new crew members. Quests you complete have Keywords on them, these keywords can be used to open up new directions, storylines and outcomes in the adventure. Story decisions have deep and lasting consequences. The actions and decisions you make at the start of the game can go on to affect what happens later on.
On your turn, you first draw an ability card to improve the characters' skills and abilities. Then get two command tokens which you will need to spend to activate ability cards. Next, draw an event card which is often a challenge you need to complete. Finally take two actions such as exploring regions or using one of your abilities to help someone during their turn, making this a truly cooperative game.
As a crew, you will need to weigh-up a number of different options throughout the game, making for interesting decisions. Which new action cards to get from the market; How to bet to spend your limited money and action tokens; Whether it is worth causing a crew member to become exhausted; Risking damage to the ship or crew; When you should engage in combat, and when you should retreat to fight another day.
You will need to play the campaign multiple times to explore the whole world. Also, the story and decisions seem much deeper and more meaningful than we have seen before from Laukat.
Thoughts on Sleeping Gods
Sleeping Gods aims, and seemingly succeeds to combine aspects of a choose your own adventure novel, a fantasy RPG, and a co-operative board game such as time stories. You can play again and again and learn from your mistakes in the aim of completing the perfect route through, and out of this mysterious world.
If any of this appeals, take a look now on Kickstarter.