Dreamlands

When a creature dreams, its mind passes into one of two stages of dreaming. The first stage is normal dreaming, which may be lucid and crystal-clear, or may be a confused distortion of the previous day’s worries. It is through these dreams that gods and cosmic entities sometimes send visions to mortals.

The second stage of dreaming is entry into the Dreamlands, a fully-real plane of existence apart from fleeting normal dreams. It exists alongside the material universe much like the Astral Plane or the Plane of Shadow. The Dreamlands seems unreal to people of the material world who have only glimpsed it because material dreamers are there in a temporary dreambody similar to that created by an astral projection spell.

The Dreamlands obeys natural laws and has oceans, cities, and inhabitants. Most of its features are larger-than-life exaggerations of real geography that resemble their material counterparts in only the most general fashion (if they are recognizable at all). The Dreamlands is generally far more magical than its material counterpart and can be gradually warped by powerful imaginations into shapes that reflect the desires or fears of sleepers. By contrast, the first stage of dreaming is specific to a particular dreamer: it is intermediate between the Dreamlands and the waking world, often containing elements of both.

It is almost impossible to travel between the Dreamlands and other planes of existence except by dreaming. Most spells such as plane shift and gate automatically fail. Wishes to transport there can result in confusing distortions of time for the traveler if they work at all.


Normal Dreaming

Every material creature visits the Dreamlands, but most do not remember it. While asleep, one's dream form inhabits the Dreamlands and has an independent life. A beggar in the real world may be a princess of the Dreamlands or vice versa. Inklings of Dreamlands’ events sometimes seep through: for example, upon awakening from dreams in which one was in love with someone who is a complete stranger in the material world, there may be a trace of a Dreamlands romance. In the way of dreams, when most people awaken from slumber, they forget everything about their lives in the Dreamlands.

In parallel, when a non-Dreamer awakens in the Dreamlands, her dream form knows nothing about her life in the waking world: she only remembers the Dreamlands and events there. Unlike a physical body, a dream form doesn't exist while the creature is awake in the material world: the dream form (including its worn and carried gear) vanishes entirely upon awakening physically. The dream form reappears in the same state and with the same gear when the physical character dreams again. However, a dream form can sleep without awakening in the physical world and indeed might sleep many times before physically awakening, due to the way time distorts between the Dreamlands and the physical universe (see below). Although a dream form must rest separately to heal and to restore limited-use abilities (such as spells), this stretching of time means that such rest rarely monopolizes time spent in the Dreamlands.

A sleeper always emerges in the same spot in the Dreamlands. This spot varies from person to person but is almost always in a part of the Dreamlands where the dreamer is relatively safe and can survive, such as a human-controlled town rather than a zoog forest. A dream form can establish a new home over the course of a long period by forming stronger relationships with a new safe place. People who dramatically shift their physical location (such as by traveling to another planet) sometimes dream themselves into the Dreamlands in the counterpart of their new location, but still in a place as safe and as similar to their true Dreamlands home as possible.


Dreamlands Travel

To enter the Dreamlands and remember it upon awakening, a sleeper must own a silver key or else have the Dreamer feat or a similar ability. All cats (and a few other entities) have this ability innately. Entering the Dreamlands is a simple matter of falling asleep and finding the Gates of Deeper Slumber which appear within all normal dreams. A person who passes through these Gates must descend a long stairway, guarded by priests who block the unworthy. Once past the priests, the dreamer emerges into the Dreamlands. Sleepers always return from the Dreamlands back into their material bodies. Dreamlands travel cannot move a sleeping creature's physical body.


Dreamlands Time

Time flows differently in the Dreamlands. A normal dreamer who falls asleep in the Dreamlands always returns to the waking world, but a skilled Dreamer can sleep in the Dreamlands without returning. The major motivation most dream travelers have for remaining in the Dreamlands is to avoid losing progress on an adventure or task. For example, if a dream traveler sails from his home city across the ocean to another continent in the Dreamlands, only to leave some business undone on the other continent before waking, the next time he enters the Dreamlands, he will be in his home city again, requiring an entire new trip to get to the other continent again. Fortunately, the length of time spent in the Dreamlands bears no relation to how long his physical body is asleep. Even when he remains in the Dreamlands for weeks or months, it is just dawn in the waking world on the day after he fell asleep.


Adventuring with Normal Dreamers

Typically, only one or two members of an adventuring group may have the Dreamer feat, but this does not prevent a whole group from cooperating in the Dreamlands. All that is required is for the dream travelers to find their non-dreamer companions in the Dreamlands. Most likely, they appear somewhere near their homes as they sleep, living their dream lives. Typically, people from the same geographic area live close by in the Dreamlands, so it is not difficult to find close associates.

Of course, the normal sleepers will not remember the dream travelers from the waking world, but if they have spent significant time together in that waking world, it should not be hard to find a sympathetic connection or a stray memory and befriend them anew. The mad artist bard also has the ability to guide Dreamlands travelers between their physical forms and dream forms even if they lack the feat.


Gamemaster’s Note

Those who have a non-Dreamer character will have to roleplay their inability to remember actions in the Dreamlands once back in the waking world, but experience points and advancement gained from dream travel carry over to the waking world. Treasure does not, however, except in rare cases.

An intriguing alternative adventure concept is to set most or all of the action in the Dreamlands, which is home to many zoogs, gnorri, and Dreamlands cats. Then the obliviousness of any character’s physical body becomes less important and might even be completely irrelevant.


Death and Injury in the Dreamlands

Dream forms can be harmed normally, in addition to possessing the special vulnerabilities of an astral projection. However, harm to a dream form has no effect on the physical creature, nor does the state of a physical body affect the state of the dream form. When a dream form reappears as a sleeper enters the Dreamlands, the dream form possesses all the same injuries and conditions the dream form had when it last vanished (when the dreamer last awakened physically). Note that a dream traveler (possessing the Dreamer feat or a silver key), whose mind is not compartmentalized, carries over mind-affecting effects between the two forms.

If a dream form dies in the Dreamlands, that creature can never return. It must stay in the waking world and (possibly) enter the first stage of dreaming. A creature whose dream form is killed can access his dream form again by finding a silver key. If the physical body of a dream traveler dies while the traveler is asleep in the waking world, his dream form lives on but he can never wake up in the material world. He is trapped in the Dreamlands until he is also killed in the Dreamlands. The character is dead for the purposes of raise dead and similar magic, which allow normal resurrection of his physical body. The dream traveler is aware of this resurrection and can accept or refuse resurrection as a dead soul could. If the dream traveler’s physical body is successfully restored to life, his body remains asleep until he wakes up from the Dreamlands, at which point his mind returns as normal.


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