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Please provide some detail on the merits of the game you suggest and explain some of the things we "know" about the movie world in terms of the specific mechanics.

I have seen the movie, but please try not to spoil it in case someone else hasn't.


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up vote 8 down vote accepted

You could play it pretty straight in Lacuna. It's got all the good stuff - agents, hostile personalities, levels, static, the lacuna/limbo, the girl, kicks/ejections, rogue agents and faceless corporations.

Here's a Dread hack that seems like it would work pretty well.

Here's one for Blowback.

Lacuna is so much like Inception, you might think that the Inception writers read Lacuna first. Just play it straight up. – Apreche Oct 4 '10 at 12:13

Don't Rest Your Head seems like a certain fit.

Insomnia and the imagery of dreams ends up role playing rather simularly. The Bizarreness of Dark City/Insomina certainly seems to fit the idea of dream imagery/paradoxical architechture.

The Opposition changes from the tiktok men to the subconcious, occassionally of the explorer's but mostly of the target. Not a big change.

Biggest Change is the powers afforded to people in the sleep state. In DRYH they are whatever you can think of and in insomnia its whatever the dream affords you. As all the dreams are designed to mimic reality (to enable the characters and kicks) any super powers would have to come from the designer, who would probably say no.

Its probably hack teritory, but i do not think it would be too difficult to do.

DRYH has been used for Inception. This might be h elpful as a starting point:… – Alan De Smet Nov 1 '10 at 20:59

Shadowrun. My initial reaction after having seen inception was "Awesome! It was like Shadowrun, but with brainhacking!"

You'd have to figure out how to represent some of the mechanics, but that would probably be true of most systems you could run this in; your best bet might just be to handwave it like the movie did.

But in terms of goals, motivations, and driving forces, Shadowrun happens to be the perfect setting.

One of the excellent elements that contribute to "Inception" is the fact that 1/3 of it plays as a "big heist movie". So I can definitely see where you are coming from with this. But I would go for something more rules-light, personally. Thanks for the contribution though. – p.marino Oct 6 '10 at 13:51

I've played with scenarios like this using Mage: The Ascension without much difficulty. The system's obviously dated, but oWoD's a pretty decent workhorse. The engine lets you rebuild mechanics on the fly to account for things getting all loosey-goosey as you start nesting your narratives. ("I know dex+athletics was how you negotiated a a rooftop before... wits+intuition is how you're doing it now.") Playing magi isn't even required (though Technocracy, Virtual Adepts, Sons of Ether and even very technomagical Cult of Ecstasy can all play harmoniously with this space).

The question turns on whether or not you're looking to duplicate Inception, or merely mimic it. If the former, oWoD comes with a lot of world-setting baggage that players (especially if they're veterans of the system) may have a hard time putting down.

Nice suggestion, thanks. – p.marino Oct 11 '10 at 15:00

I'd give a try to either 1990+'s Call of Cthulhu (kinda rules light, features an entire Dreamlands where you can set whatever dreams you wish) or Kult (which is again not too heavy on core rules imo, and also features world(s) of dreams and "subconscious"(?) hells.)

(Note please that I'm one of the few who haven't seen Inception yet (time issues), though I know a bit about it from reviews (spoiled it somewhat for myself, stupid me.) So if my answer missed the point... sorry. :))


I know that Lacuna has been suggested and accepted already, but Wushu Open would provide a really interesting take on it. The game's mechanics actually promote making things out of thin air. It's all about making up interesting details in the story, including fabricating details of the real world. It's the only RPG that I've seen which lets you say "I pull a handgun out of the mailbox." and work more effectively because of it.


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