Sleepaway gives us long hazy days, chilled summer nights, kids screaming and chasing fireflies, crackling campfires, and a gaunt, cruel monstrosity forever hiding just out of sight, always asking, “What do you do next?”
In Sleepaway, you play as a camp counselor at a not-so-ordinary summer camp besieged by a Strange and ominous cryptid. In the outside world, people grow increasingly alienated from their own identities, trapped in a miasma of advertising and corporate branding. Isolated from civilization, this summer camp is a beacon of safety, a refuge for misfit kids defined by their marginalization. As time pushes past and the world grows older, this camp also shelters the survivors of the Lindworm.
The Lindworm is a shapeshifter, or so the stories go; a creature that flays the skin of humans and hides within. As counselors of this summer camp, you’ve each been traumatized by the Lindworm, in your own ways.
You remember little of that time.
Just that you don’t want anyone else to experience it either, and you’ll keep this camp safe no matter what.
Sleepaway is a breathtaking piece of design. At its core it is the straightforward give-and-take economy of Avery Alder's Belonging Outside Belonging system. Around that core, Jay has built an elegant and unsettling scaffold of poetic prompts, relatable archetypes, and bogey-monster horror that facilitate a truly terrifying experience.
— Eric Mersmann
Sleepaway uses the Belonging Outside Belonging system, popularized by games like Dream Askew by Avery Alder and Dream Apart by Benjamin Rosenbaum. It is a diceless game where tokens are received for making Weak Moves (actions that make your life harder), and these tokens are spent on Strong Moves (actions that passionately succeed). In Belonging Outside Belonging games, everyone shares the role of facilitator, and each person can pick up Setting Elements to bounce off of and provide narrative impetus for the other players. In Sleepaway, Setting Elements also contain Rituals, in which gameplay becomes more abstracted, to highlight unique moments of play by combining them with real-world actions and activities. Rituals might invite you to draw, to gesticulate, to play music, or even to destroy elements of the game itself in very unique ways.
The story continues on this way, with characters interacting and setting elements providing a world to interact within, until it is time for the Lindworm to act. While everyone has their eyes closed, one player responsible for channeling the Lindworm during play draws from a deck of cards and causes an unsettling event to occur. These can range from a new scar in a place you didn't remember having one, to a brutally dismembered animal appearing at your cabin door, or potentially even the death or dismemberment of player characters as the game continue.
Characters, scenes, locations, items, and the Lindworm's cards are all kept track of on a conspiracy-style corkboard, which slowly becomes more entangled and more mechanically relevant over time.
The game is divided into three acts, each one with unique rules that subtly change the game by adding new setting elements, permanently changing setting elements and character sheets, and introducing new ways to play.
Sleepaway was a simultaneous nostalgia trip and horrifying art project. From designing our land (inevitably just like land we’d all been to) to interacting with fellow staff and campers, the whole experience deeply evoked my days at camp and the feeling of magic that came with them. These memories were like a canvas; on top of them we painted an atmospheric set of horrors, weaving scenes together out of remembrances and collective narrative understanding. At each point there was a sense that we all knew where the story should go - it was just a matter of following it there, of letting the Lindworm manifest it. It was satisfying and unique to layer dread on nostalgia, and I highly recommend it for anyone who remembers the magic of summer camp!
— Maya Ziv
The Sleepaway book is 130 pages long, and features gorgeous black and white illustrations by our talented team of artists and graphic designers, based on the natural flora and fauna of the Hudson Valley, where the author grew up and where the summer camp Sleepaway is based on is located.
The book has ten unique character sheets, a dozen setting elements for multiple stages of play, rules for both oneshots and campaign play, an enormous pile of rituals, and so much more! Follow the link down below to purchase a physical copy of the Sleepaway book.
We each have fallen in love with the characters we build so fast, they feel like lovely little facets of ourselves; and the emphasis on struggle, of working through things, of making yourself vulnerable in order to be strong, has been so much fun and surprisingly healing.
With Sleepaway, Dragon takes the social mechanics of setting elements from Belonging outside Belonging games, and eases them deftly into the setting - and into the ald itself. It's a syncretic wedding between the natural world, the people who tend it, and the supernatural forces that inhabit it.
A beautiful PDF that's possibly the best game in the Belonging Outside Belonging system. It does exactly what it says it does, excellently. Protect the campers. Cause drama. Get flayed by the Lindworm.
Uncanny is a supplemental expansion for the Tabletop RPG Sleepaway by Jay Dragon, published by Possum Creek Games in 2019. It is focused on the Strangeness, the mysterious forces of uncertain intention that exist at the edge of the camp. Uncanny requires the Sleepaway rulebook in order to be played, and is intended as supplemental content to enhance and inform the core game experience.
- New character sheets (the Destined, the Old Pine, the Heron, the Moth Maiden, and the Cataract Squire)
- New setting elements (the Hellbender Queen, the Hitchhiker, Lord Storming, the Paper-Skin Hares, the Roaming Fen).
- Rules and advice for creating your own strangeness and incorporating the strangeness into oneshots or shorter games of Sleepaway.
- Brand new art, rituals, interludes, and more!