We played with the initial digital download that was made available to the Kickstarters backers. The hardcover and professionally-produced cards are in development and I can hardly wait to get the final product.
OverviewDIALECT feels a lot of a fusion of FATE and FIASCO in the best possible ways. The game's structure is there to give everyone at the table input. Collaboration is absolutely required and highly rewarding. Best played with a group of creative, collaborative-happy people who like world-building.
The game is played in phases that setup your story, create characters in that setting for the players to experience the world through, and over three Acts to describe the lingual drift your group of isolates experience as their world and circumstances change. This culminates in the ending of their isolation (for good or for worse) and defining the legacy they left behind: What impact did this group of isolates have upon the greater culture they were absorbed into?
What we madeHere's some of the words and the meanings we developed during our play, which used "The Outpost" setting about Mars colonists who expected reinforcements only to be cut off from Earth for many years.
- "NASA" meant something well done, excellence. Based on a conversation when the air-circulation regeneration systems first came online and a high official said: "NASA couldn't have done it better." Often used the way Firefly fans say "Shiny."
- "Schroom-room" the botanical hydroponics for growing certain types of food.
- "UN-MET" based on the acronym logo on the sides of the original habitats and structures, this became slang for the concern that people had that they were productive enough and especially for youth worried if they'll have a role in society when they grow up.
- "The Drift" and "Drifting" those who slept on the long transit from Earth to Mars experienced odd dreams, and referred used this term for their experiences during the drifting between the planets. The youth co-oped the phrase to mean daydreaming, loosing track of time, or sleeping, which annoys the adults who lived thru the original experience.
- "A Breath" A unit of time, between refreshes of air supplies between the central hub and all the spokes of the colony., typically between 12 days and a fortnight. This spawned related phrases for "Inhale" -the first day of refreshed air supply, and "Exhale" - the latter half of a Breath where air quality slowly and noticeably decays. It also set the tempo for social activities in the colony spokes.
- "Sparking" - the act of cleaning solar arrays, usually by static discharge.
- "Tinkerbelles/Tinks/Teebs" - those who specialize in maintaining solar arrays, often performing 'Sparking.'
- "MET" people who have proven their worth. "Never-MET" outsiders; anyone who hasn't faced the challenges the MET have, and never will. "Well-MET" might be someone who's well known to be competent, skilled, etc.
- "RED" the red sands outside the crater the colony was established in, the same way one might use the term "outback" to refer to wilderness. This also spawned phrases such as "Going-RED" for getting lost outside, and for committing suicide.
- "Inflate" the act of establishing a safe, neutral space for meeting. Born from the act of inflating a temporary structure for both sides to meet in. "Lets inflate and talk this out," or "I'm willing to Inflate with them." It also became a euphemism for sex by teenagers.
- "Same bubble, same air, same spoke, same water. ALL HUB, ALL MET." A 'war song' that made its way into the collective memory, even if the origin of it was lost. The conquering armed forces adopted using "ALL HUB" as a patriotic challenge, to be answered by the chant of "ALL MET", the same way modern day paramilitaries might say "Hoo RAW".
- "NASA" and "Pops." After discovering that the same NASA that was idealized was also the identity of those who were coming to take the colonist's lives, the use of "NASA" meaning excellence fell out of usage. The bravery and sacrifice of "Grandfather" Kennedy to forestall the war led to the adoption of "Pops" to mean what NASA used to.
- "UN-MET" With the impending culturecide coming, the use of 'UN-MET' as a pejorative was heavily discouraged. "We are all MET" became the cultural unifying meme.
- "Glassmine" an jerry-rigged powercell, used as a kind of defensive weapon. The massive discharge would fry electronics, electrocute humans and result in a circular red glass plate of fused Martian sand.
Suggestions for improvementAfter our game ended we discussed what we liked, didn't like, and what we'd like to try next time.
A good supply note cards. Maybe even a set of dry-erase note cards. Games like FATE and FIASCO and now DIALECT burn thru a lot of 3x5's through play.
An open google doc or other digital resource to track the game as we played. I took furious notes in a journal while we played, which is why this post is as detailed as it is (I'm still leaving details out). An online shared format could be seen by all at a later date.
We often found that a word or phrase coined would quickly spawn lots of derivatives and use-examples ("RED" and "Breath" for example, immediately spawned many related words). We found the need to write these down as they added to the setting, but needed to be outside the normal turn structure or else everyone's turns would get eaten up adding Variants to the same word.
Because of the geography of the setting we ended up making maps and diagrams as we played: these helped immensely in both communicating ideas and inspiring new ones.
Each player created a character to follow/embody during the story, and for the most part they all survived to the end, but afterwards we discussed the possibility of much longer periods of isolation and the possibility of playing generations of characters for each Act in those circumstances. Some Settings could do with more options/discussions on generational affects upon play.
Finally: even with five players we found going around the table once per Act felt limiting in terms of what we added to the tableau. We discussed the idea of smaller groups having two or more turns around the table per Act. Especially when a baseline new word/phrase would spawn lots of Variants (as above).