Belonging Outside Belonging

What does belonging outside belonging mean?

Belonging Outside Belonging is a roleplaying game engine designed to tell stories about what happens when marginalized groups establish their own communities, just outside or hidden within the boundaries of a dominant culture. These communities have a hopeful, precarious, vulnerable quality to them.

Belonging Outside Belonging games are played with no dice and no masters. Everyone collaborates on worldbuilding through a community worksheet, and control of broader setting elements is distributed around the table.

This engine was first developed in Dream Askew and Dream Apart, and has since been used in a huge array of new games. These new games all push the system and storytelling in interesting new directions!

The +1 Forward podcast has put together an interview series with designers working with the Belonging Outside Belonging engine!

Published By Buried Without Ceremony

Queer people stand in a green and yellow light in a ruined city.

Dream Askew gives us ruined buildings and wet tarps, nervous faces in the campire glow, strange new psychic powers, fierce queer love, and turbulent skies above a fledgling community, asking “What do you do next?”

Queer strife amid the collapse.
Collaboratively generate an apocalyptic setting.
For 3-6 players across 3-4 hours.

A strange angel watches over a bustling shtetl market.

Dream Apart gives us demons and wedding jesters; betrothals and pogroms; mystical ascensions and accusations of murder; rabbi’s daughters running away to be actresses or bandits or boy soldiers; the sounds of the shofar ringing through cramped and muddy streets, of cannon fire, of the wolf’s footfalls in the snowy pine forest; asking “What do you do next?”

Jewish fantasy of the shtetl.
Immerse yourself in a fantastical version of history.
For 3-6 players across 3-4 hours.

Designers Far and Wide

Summer campers gather around a campfire. The smoke rising from the fire forms an eerie shape.

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.

A hazy figure stands in front of a blur of neon signs.

BALIKBAYAN: Returning Home is a game about reclaiming your home and revolution. The city gives us neon colored acid rain and glowing megatubes, machines that run on magic, Filipino myths and legends emerging from the shadows, a Heart of the City that yearns to be touched, and a malevolent CORP that watches all, asking, “What do you do next?”

We are Elementals on the run. Generations ago, we were pure magic. We were born from the liminal space between nightmare and humanity, and we carried within us the ancient magic. But our people were shackled by machines, forced to serve the CORP and bring glory to colonies across the galaxy. We sacrificed everything to escape and made it back to the ravaged remains of Earth and its cities.

Here in the Heart of the City, magic is waiting to be reborn.

An ecclectic crew gather by a porthole on a spaceship.

Flotsam: Adrift Amongst the Stars is a roleplaying game about outcasts, renegades and misfits living in the belly of a space station, in the shadow of a more prosperous society. You play through their everyday lives, interpersonal relationships and small-scale drama in the Below, a dangerous world where poverty, social strife and gang conflict sit side-by-side with alien technology and supernatural weirdness.

Outcasts, renegades and misfits living in the belly of a space station.
For 3-6 players
1 or more sessions of 3-4 hours