Dreams & Journeys Therein

Dreams can take you places you never thought possible. Vivid illusions of reality, to acid dripping colourfests, or sacred geometric flights across the goddesses body. Want to come-along?

What are dreams?

They are the imaginations of a sleeping person, an amalganation of their memories, fantasies, and forecasts. This is hard to simulate, even in the scientific field that looks at our sleep. For you, the GM, they are something much simplier because we will be using them for play.

They are:

  1. A Purpose, what do your players want to explore in the subjects inner mind? Examples: Are they trying to solve a murderer by tapping into the mind of a survivor? Or are they trying to extract a secret formular for a monopolised good from the scientist who developed it? The possibilities are endless.
  2. A Place. After you know the purpose for your dream invasion, you need to know where the exchange of information happened. Or explore a specific location to learn what happened. Example: The scientist developed their recipe for the prised red porcelain during a stay in the dungeon of a renown prison.
  3. A Layer. A dimension from which you can access the information for the purpose and be in the place. A subject can have mental barriers or being trained from these type of invasions. Requiring the players to get deeper into the subjects psyche. The deeper they go the more abstract the dreams will become. Example: The murderer survivor blanked out murderer from their memory replacing them with a person they are familiar with, like their grandmother. Note: If the subject wakes up from a dream within a dream, your players simply go one layer up toward awakeness. If that is not possible, they simply wake up. 
  4. Internal Rules, follow them and be safe. These are the dreams internal rules that keep the dreamer immersed, transfixed, and blinded to the players presence. Breaking them might risk the subject to wake up, or worse turn the dream into a nightmare (Use the Breaking the Rules Table). One or two rules are usually enoughExample: In the scientist's dream water drips upwards, pointing out the impossibility of that to the scientist might break the dream.
Breaking the Rules Table (roll 1d6)
RollWhat happens?
1-4They wake up
5-6Dream turns into a Nightmare

What are Nightmares?

They are the stuff of horror. It is in this broken dream where your player's characters lives are in lethal danger. For being killed in a dream will destroy the psyche of a character. Leaving them braindead.

In nightmares your players might attract the attention of Nightmares, Succubi, or other demons of the dreamscape. If such a demon is allowed to attach itself to a player's character they can only be removed by venturing into the deepest, most abstract, layers of that character's mind and drive the demon out. But beware, the demon will make traps in the mind of the character to ensure it's safety.

If not demons, the mind itself might try to kill the players. By sending every horrible thing against them, based on what the subject fears.

How to Dreamtrek?

Dreamtrekking is meant to be a form of adventurering that allows for a different playstyle. Emphasising using personal symbolism as the world around the players. With the interactivity being on learning about the person the players are venturing inside of.

Adventuring in form of Dreamtrekking is a trip of intimate proportions. It might reveal dark secrets of a character, or it might contain sentitive information only meant for that character. Therefore I recommend that you consider how acceptable it is in your setting to invade other peoples dreams for information, knowledge, or for saving them.

After you have considered that, and made a decision, you want to figure out how characters should enter the trek. Dreamtrekking require a few things before it works successfully. Such as an ingredient, a place to not get disturbed, and understanding the person you are venturing inside of.

Dreamstuff is a category of drugs and ingredients used in dreamtrekking. It is both a comnnector and a sedative. Their use differs depending on the Dreamstuff, but it often requires ingestation. Your players might find it in:

Dreamstuff Table (roll d6 once or four times)
RollWhat it is?How to use?Where to find it?How long does it work?
1FlowersIngestA star covered lakeMax 8 Hours
2PebblesThe heart of a mountainMax 10 Hours
3LiquidInjectAn eclipsed gardenMax 12 Hours
4GrassA sunlit basementMax 16 Hours
5FruitInhaleA bloodfilled treetrunkMax 20 Hours
6Tiny CrystalsThe graveyard moss during full moonMax 24 Hours

A safe space
reduces the chance for subject to be disturbed and waking up. For every hour spend in the subjects dream there is a chance for them to wake up, roll d6 twice and pick the better result:

In Safe Space (Roll 1d6 twice and pick better result)
RollThey ?
1Wake up
2-6Stay asleep
In Unsafe Space (Do the same as Safe Space)
RollThey ?
1-2Wake Up
3-6Stay asleep

Enough people
to travel the desired amount of layers down. Here it might be a good idea to have a few hirelings or friends to help the characters out. Because as they travel further into the dreams, someone has to stay back to make sure they and the subject are safe. As a minimum, use the +1 rule so if your players want to travel 4 layers deep, have 5 people for the job.

Even with all these precautions taken, there might be a slight chance of ending up in a nightmare.

Upon Enterance (roll 2d6)
RollIs it a ?


Dreamtrek Template

Now, after reading all of this, you wonder "how can I use this at the table?" Don't worry, I have made this template for writing down all the layers, the places, and nightmare versions.

Here you can find an example of a filled out template, just to help convey the idea a bit better.

What's up next?

The next post will be on how to create an adventure location out of a brewery. I wanted to do that first, but sadly I need to dig up some more information on brewing and other processes. Don't worry this won't be a detailed post on brewing, but it will be an abstracted model for using real life production facilities as adventuring locations. So stay tuned!

This article was updated on 18/10/2019

A 'Fungi & Weirdness' enthusiast. I enjoy writing about everybodies most disliked dice, my game ideas, and GM tools and tips.