Mechanical Dream is a Tabletop RPG by the Canadian company SteamLogic. It's set in Kaïnas, a circular land lit by the Pendulum, a blue-white ball of light that swings back and forth in its sky. At the far end of each arc, the Pendulum vanishes behind the Sofe, a black wall that encircles the world. Reality is a fragile concept in Kaïnas, and the Pendulum's light is what gives it hard definition; when the Pendulum is behind the Sofe, reality wanes and becomes overlaid with the Dream, a confusing and frightening time.
Kaïnas is overlaid with Naakinis, the mythic world, where things exist on a much larger scale. Whereas Kaïnas plants and animals exist on the same overall scale as on Earth, those of Naakinis are much vaster, such as the Kioux trees that top fifteen miles in height and cover most of the sunlit world. Naakinis extends much further than Kaïnas does, and is assumed to include whatever world may exist beyond the Sofe. Besides the Dream and the material world there is also the Aran, a poorly understood existence that only manifests in areas where the Pendulum's light never reaches. It completely rejects inorganic matter, and is home to poorly understood beings.
All races depend on a constant intake of eflow, a form of spiritual force, to survive. With the singular exception of the plant-based Frilin people, who can generate it by meditating, they can also only obtain eflow by consuming orpee, a fruit-like plant found deep underground. Without daily intake of orpee, a rapid and excruciating death is guaranteed. The politics, economics and culture of Kaïnas are almost soley driven by the collection and distribution of orpee, as it is an absolute requirement for life. In recent years, however, methods have been devised to use orpee to power advanced technology, leading to a worldwide industrial revolution.
Players take the role of Echoes, individuals able to harness eflow to produce miraculous effect using their "Gifts" and to gain information and insight through a "Whisper", the voice of eflow that speaks to each Echo. There are different "vocations" for Echoes, castes that delineate their personalities and abilities:
- Awakener: Healers and animators of the inanimate.
- Guardians: Marksmen and defenders.
- Judge: Champions of social order and fair justice.
- Judicator: Brutal warriors who police other Echoes.
- Mind Chemist: Psychics able to enter the minds of others.
- Nightmare: Violent predators who become one with the Dream.
- Overlord: Overseers who seek and succeed at control over others.
- Truth Crafter: Scholars and storytellers with the power of illusion.
- Walker: Hardened drifters and explorers.
- War Engine: Masters of all things martial.
This game contains examples of:
- Amazing Technicolor Population: Most sapient species tend to come in unsual colors. Gnaths are green, for instance, Inaïs tend to blues, purples and reds, and Nayans are deep blue and become grey and then white as they age.
- Bio-Armor: The "skin-crafted suits" of the Yakis' Armor is made from a newborn Yaki's placenta being taken and worked on in an Awakener's rituals by the tribe's Birth Shamans. The new armor is then placed on the child where it grafts itself to them and evolves as the Yaki grows.
- Beneath the Earth: There are immense systems of caverns and tunnels running beneath the world, many holding full-sized rivers, lakes and oceans.
- Chainsaw Good: Quite a few chainsaw-like weapons exist. These include the mechanical saw, the Real Mechanical Saw, the grindsword and its uglier cousin the goresword, which are all powered by a special fruit. Additionally, for the Judicator class, there is the Judicator Blade, which can develop the powers Gnasher and Rend to make the Judicator Blade into chainsaw.
- Crapsack World: Kaïnas is not a very pleasant place to live. Society is rife with economic oppression and inequality, most people live in sprawling slums or isolated medieval villages, and everyone except the very richest leads a desperate hand-to-mouth existence in a constant struggle to secure the orpee they need to survive from day to day, performing constant backbreaking work to earn never quite enough to feel safe. This need is strong enough that anyone may be driven to murder their neighbor to take their orpee, and anyone who somehow manages to stockpile enough to know where their lifeline is coming from for the next few months will be in constant danger of theft and attack. Nobody trusts each other, even if they ever have the time to socialize. Orpee, to make things more difficult, is only found in certain remote caves thousands of miles underground. That's, of course, without considering the dinosaur-sized and larger monsters that roam the wilderness that covers most of the world and periodically attack the cities, or the nightly period of warped, altered reality where your fears could literally manifest as a living thing and try to kill you.
- Fantastic Diet Requirement: All races depend on a constant intake of eflow, a form of spiritual force, to survive. With the singular exception of the plant-based Frilin people, who can generate it by meditating, they can also only obtain it by consuming orpee, a fruit-like plant found deep underground. Failure to eat it daily leads to a rapid and excruciating death.
- Genius Loci: Some believe Naakinis, the world on which Kaïnas exists, to be a living and aware goddess in her own right.
- Horned Humanoid: Zïns have large, pointed horns curling down and forwards from their temples.
- Layered Metropolis: Cities are built in layers of platforms among the branches of the world's immense trees; the further up a platform, the safer it is from the dangers of the forest floor. The people on the lowest layers or on the ground lead precarious, medieval lifestyles; further up are Renaissance-like and then industrial areas, while those at the top enjoy advanced, modern culture and technology and effectively rule the world.
- Long-Lived: Frilins can live for more than two thousand years.
- Plant Person: The Frilins are made up of vegetable matter, are born from the random conglomeration of plant debris in the forest, and grow like trees over their entire lives.
- Servant Race: The Volkoïs and Zïns were created artificially to be soldiers for their makers. The Volkoïs were emancipated after the war they were made for ended, while the Zïns fought their way to freedom.
- Tree Top Town: Almost all of civilization lives amongst branches of the giant Kioux trees, in cities built on giant wooden platforms. The trees not only provide most of the resources needed, but also act as a buffer against the titan-sized predators that inhabit the game's world.
- Tree Top World: The world is for the most part covered by Kioux tree upwards of fifteen miles tall, and almost all of civilization lives in cities built amongst their branches. The trees, besides providing most of the resources needed by the setting's species — mostly wood-based by necessity; iron and steel are very rare, high end materials — also act as a buffer against the titan-sized predators that roam the world.
- Underwater City: The Emovans are a fully aquatic species, and for the most part live in cities at the bottom of the world's subterranean oceans.
- Unobtainium: Orpee, a fruit-like plant found very deep underground. It naturally concentrates eflow within itself, and is used to fuel almost every piece of technology in existence and to imbue mundane tools with special properties. It's also necessary for basic survival, as the world's natives will die without regularly eating it. Orpee is, in every sense but the literal, the center of the world.