The home of the Radiant Queens, a land of infinite adventure and wonder that, for every Princess, lies just beyond the wall of sleep ... and that had, once, entrapped the Hopeful in webs of illusion, drawing them away from the real world's pain.
The monstrous armies that conquered the Light’s Kingdom in the age before history were led (or so modern Princesses assume) by subtle and devious generals who wished to secure the Darkness’ victory for all time. They found a way to prevent the return of Princesses, the Light’s most capable servants, by constructing a trap for their souls, deep within the mind and soul of the world. The trap was a mirror, reflecting the Light shining on the world; it drew to itself the souls of the Princesses who died in the Kingdom’s fall, and enfolded them within an imaginary world where they could dream of fighting Darkness and defeating it, without disputing its sway over its new conquest.
And the trap worked, possibly beyond its makers’ expectations: not only were the Princesses of the Kingdom’s day drawn into the dream and held, but so was everyone whom the Light touched and empowered in all the long ages since. And as the millennia passed, the illusion grew and ramified, reflecting the thoughts and dreams of every human alive, but shaped by memories of the captives into a new Kingdom, governed as the fallen Kingdom was by a council of Queens, and surrounded by a wilderness where monsters bred and made war.
The Release Edit
And then, everyone within that imaginary land was struck by revelation: they knew, quite abruptly, that they were dreaming, and life in a truer reality lay open to them. Many of them took the opportunity immediately, returning to the bodies of infants just conceived; and these were born, and grew, and flourished, and before long they Blossomed, becoming the first Princesses of the modern age. And as they Blossomed, the new Princesses discovered that the lands of dream they had left to become human again still existed; for gates to those lands stood open to them whenever they slept, and the souls they left behind welcomed their visits, begging for news of the waking world. Many more souls have followed those first pioneers; new Princesses are born and Blossom every year.
Naturally, the Hopeful wondered what it was that revealed the Dreamlands’ true nature to its inhabitants. Over the decades since the Release, speculations have been floated, arguments proposed and refuted. It’s now generally believed that the key event was the first landing on the Moon in July of 1969. The Queen of Diamonds argues that the Dreamlands are in some metaphysical way linked to the Moon, that their property of reflecting a more fundamental reality is tied to the Moon’s appearance of shedding light that in fact is reflected from the Sun. And so, in her opinion, when a human foot trod the lunar surface, by proving the Moon to be not luminous in itself, it also proved the Dreamlands to be not real in themselves ...
Entering the Dreamlands Edit
Although the Dreamlands no longer trap Light-touched souls after they die, they call out to such souls in sleep, and - almost, but not quite, inaudibly - to everyone not in the Darkness’ grasp. Hearing that call is easiest when one of the horrors or cruelties which dot the World of Darkness has touched you; a mundane person whose life is presently happy pays no attention to dream-promises of a world where virtue can triumph and often does. Those with any Sensitivity hear the promises intermittently; once they’ve Blossomed the Nobility hear them every night, and nearly all of them follow the paths leading to the Dreamlands.
The journey begins in a reverie; at rest in a safe and familiar place, you find yourself drifting half-awake, giving half an ear to familiar noises, and then - you notice something. It isn’t dangerous, but it doesn’t belong. You’re in your back garden, say, and a passing rabbit pulls a smartphone out of his coat pocket to check the time; you’ve gotten up in the middle of the night for a glass of water, and there’s a light on inside your closet. So you investigate (who wouldn’t?) and find a passageway. It’s a bit difficult to get through in some way - the rabbit went down a burrow that’s very big for it, but pretty cramped for you; the closet has an extra door in the back that opens just wide enough for you to squirm through it - but you instinctively feel that the passage will lead somewhere wonderful, if you can but follow it long enough.
Then, if this is the first time you’ve seen a passage like this, you probably wake up. But you’ll have the dream again, and the next time you’ll make an effort, get through the opening and find a labyrinth, filled with curious mementos that remind you of things you’d mostly forgotten. But you mustn’t stay to remember, you have somewhere to be; so you go on until something stops you - a steep cliff you have to climb, an iron gate with an intricate puzzle lock, a guard in knightly armor barring the only door? Probably you wake again before you solve that obstacle, but you’ll meet it again another night. And after that obstacle, or maybe two or three, the cramped corridors or narrow paths open up and past one last door you see a wide sky ... and then you have arrived, and discover the Dreamlands.
Collectively the passages from the waking world to the Dreamlands are called Crawlspace, largely because almost all of them force dreaming travelers to crawl for a large part of the way. Entering and navigating Crawlspace is much like social maneuvering, in which the dreaming character is considered to be persuading herself. The impression level - thus, the time the dreamer needs to reach a Door - varies with the dreamer’s awareness of the Light and her state of mind. A wholly mundane character initially has a hostile impression, and needs unusual circumstances even to begin the journey. A character with Sensitivity or the Dream Travel Merit has an average impression; a Princess has a good impression. (With an average or good impression, a journey to the Dreamlands begins as a series of linked dreams, occurring weekly or daily; with an excellent or perfect impression the Crawlspace can be traversed in a single night.) A character who currently has the Shaken or Spooked Conditions improves her impression by one step, as does one who has recently gained a dot of Shadows (that is, if she hasn’t tried to reach the Dreamlands since gaining the Shadows, raise her impression one step). However, a character not deliberately seeking out the Dreamlands (as, for instance, before she knows they exist) worsens the impression by one step.
The entrance to Crawlspace a dreamer finds, and the successive obstacles she meets along the way, are Doors, erected by her subconscious awareness that she’s leaving her responsibilities behind her and might not be able to return (for while the Dreamlands cannot imprison anyone now, that remains the purpose of their construction.) The number of Doors standing in her path begin equal to the lower of her own Resolve and Composure. Any relation between the dreamer’s Virtue, Vice or Aspirations and the goal of getting to the Dreamlands has the same effect on the Doors and impression level as for a social maneuver. Safe and careful travel opens Doors in sequence with ordinary actions, as for opening Doors in social maneuvers. An impatient dreamer can try to force all remaining Doors in the passage with a single action, and even gains a bonus if that action is a breaking point for her, as for forcing Doors in social maneuvers.
From the outside, by the way, a journey into the Dreamlands looks just like falling asleep, or just being asleep. Those who are awake when they look for an entrance will nod off where they are, or wander sleepily to their bed, at the moment that (from their viewpoint) they find what they’re looking for, and open the first Door on the path. The inadvertent travelers - those taking their first trip not knowing what they’ll find, and those summoned by a White Rabbit to hear a message - they are already sleeping, and just begin to dream of their passage.
Once found, a Crawlspace passage continues to exist as long as the dreamer remembers it, and vanishes if she forgets it. (One Princess had a doorway in the depths of her bedroom closet, which faded while she went to university. A few days after coming home, when she needed to visit the Dreamlands, she remembered the old door and there it was.) Thus once the dreamer has stood at the Dreamlands’ border, walking the path there again is a simpler matter whether she turned back or went on. Each successful trip down a Crawlspace passage either removes one Door the next time the dreamer takes that passage, or improves her impression level for that passage by one step; these modifiers are cumulative, though the number of closed Doors in the passage are never less than one, and the impression level cannot rise above perfect. Failed trips and hard leverage add Doors as their analogs in social maneuvering do, and those modifiers are cumulative too.
A Crawlspace passage normally leads to a district in the Dreamlands that reflects the dreamer’s physical location or social context in some way, and be fairly close to (but not actually in) a house or village where the people are hospitable. A dreamer who has become familiar with other parts of the Dreamlands, however, can move their Crawlspace’s exit to another district. To do this she must pass more obstacles, adding Doors to her journey; the number depends on her sympathetic connection to her intended destination. Add 1 Door when the dreamer has Intimate Sympathy, 2 Doors for Known Sympathy, and 3 Doors for Acquainted Sympathy. After being moved in this way, the passage stays where the dreamer put it. (A Princess always has Intimate Sympathy to the seats of her Queen, her Nation, and her Embassy within the Dreamlands.)
Dreamers can try to wake themselves as long as they still remember they are dreaming. If a dreamer stands at the exit from Crawlspace she took to reach the Dreamlands, this is easy. She need only walk back down the passage; no roll is required. If she’s been traveling for many experienced days, though, that means just as long a journey back. A dreamer also has the option to move her Crawlspace’s exit to her location. This is similar to opening Crawlspace and uses the same system, with two changes. First, the impression level for summoning an exit is excellent, giving one roll each experienced hour, but a failure means the dreamer cannot wake again for a full experienced day. Second, the obstacle isn’t the dreamer’s reluctance but the Dreamlands’ seductive illusion. This is easily overcome when the dreamer’s memory of waking life is clear - the default number of Doors is only 2 - but each Galemark the dreamer has gained adds another Door to the total.
Crawlspace entrances are not truly physical passages, though they appear as such; they are in fact mnemonic devices. Thus one dreamer cannot use another’s entrance - in fact, she can’t even see another’s entrance without help. The Nobility and Shikigami, though, have a special status in the Dreamlands that allows them to help other dreamers find an entrance where they’ve already opened one. Senior Princesses very often guide the newly Blossomed into the Dreamlands to acquaint them with their inheritance and their peers. From the outside this looks much like hypnosis; the guide talks to her companion in low pleasant tones, establishing a rhythm and describing the entrance and the passage beyond it, until the companion falls into reverie. After a few minutes of this the guide rolls Presence + Empathy.
- Dramatic Failure: The companion snaps out of the reverie. Her impression level for entering the Dreamlands from this location worsens by one step.
- Failure: The companion drops off to sleep, or wakes up. She does not enter Crawlspace.
- Success: The companion finds the guide’s Crawlspace entrance and opens it. The number of Doors to pass is set from the companion’s traits, but the guide’s help opens one Door without a roll. Also, during this passage only, the companion uses the guide’s impression level.
- Exceptional Success: The guide’s help is especially effective. The companion opens two Doors without rolling.
Modifiers: the companion is sleepy (+1), the companion drinks hot chocolate or warm milk (+1), the companion’s impression level here is average (-1), the companion’s impression level here is hostile (-3)
Exits from the Dreamlands are as personal as entrances, but a Noble or Shikigami can help dreamers leave the Dreamlands just as they help dreamers enter; the system is the same.
Sidebar: Who can enter the Dreamlands?Edit
Theoretically, any mundane person can find Crawlspace passages and travel to the Dreamlands as they sleep. In practice it takes both an appropriate Vice and a Condition of mental disturbance for a mundane character to find his first Door, and appropriate Vices are rare. (A Vice like "nostalgic", yearning for an unattainable ideal and scorn for the present, would be appropriate.) Nearly every visitor to the Dreamlands who isn't Light-touched has been guided there by someone else.
The Dream Travel psychic power and the Dream Travel thaumaturgical ritual (both from Second Sight) grant the ability to find Crawlspace passages, if it occurs to the psychic or thaumaturge to look for such a thing. Characters with either ability use the rules above, and start with an average impression level. It is worth noticing that most psychics and thaumaturges have no greater connection to the Light than mundane people. The Dreamlands trap is not targeted at them, and they have no subconscious warnings when entering the Dreamlands. To them the Crawlspace looks very different: it resembles the door to wherever they strongest associate with feelings of home, safety and security. Stepping through the door they find themselves in an idealized memory of that place.
Mages have their own ways to investigate the collective thoughts, dreams and aspirations of humanity, which they call the Astral Realms, and a fair number of them know how to share or alter the dreams of individuals. A mage can combine these powers to follow a Princess into the Dreamlands: once he has succeeded in entering her mind, meditating as if in a demense or Hallow guides the mage through her Crawlspace to the Dreamlands where she entered it. However, if the Princess returns before the mage does, the closing of her Crawlspace forces the mage violently back to his body and inflicts the Soul Shocked Condition on him.
Unfortunately the careful mental discipline mages use to explore the Astral Realms is directly contrary to the drifting reverie that makes Crawlspace passages visible; mages cannot enter Crawlspace on their own. That doesn't mean mages can't enter the Dreamlands; only that if they can, they do it by another route. If any mages have found such routes, they aren't telling.
Changelings can walk through and reshape dreams, when they are personal to the dreamers. The Dreamlands, though, aren't private, but shared among all those touched by the Light. A changeling can observe them through a sleeping traveler, and even join the dreamer there, but attempts to shape the Dreamlands fail abjectly. A changeling treats a Dreamlands traveler as a dreamer in a Bastion with the normal traits; entering the Bastion takes the changeling to the Dreamlands near the traveler, and he may leave the Dreamlands as if they were a Bastion as long as the traveler has not left. However, if the traveler wakes before the changeling leaves, the changeling becomes trapped - he can leave only by finding another traveler and persuading her to guide him to the entrance she used. Dreamweaving doesn't work at all.
The Beasts (from Beast: the Primordial) walk between supernatural realms with remarkable ease, and their nature as embodied nightmares makes the Dreamlands especially amenable to them. If a Beast successfully uses Under the Bed on a character in the Dreamlands, he appears next to the character's Dream Form and may choose to stay there rather than continue to his Lair. Any Beast who knows of the Dreamlands may open a Primordial Pathway to a location within them, at the same modifier he uses for places in the Temenos. And Beasts can make Chambers in their Lairs from places in the Dreamlands just as they do in the waking world.
A character entering the Dreamlands leaves his physical body behind in a trance; his mind and soul acquire a new “Dream Form” while projected beyond her body. Characters in Dream Form follow different rules for Attributes and Health. They have the three Attributes of ephemeral beings instead of the nine Attributes of physical beings. For mundane characters, the Power of the Dream Form equals Intelligence, its Finesse equals Wits, and its Resistance equals Resolve. The Dream Form's Health depends on the dreamer’s will and potential; it equals Resistance + the character’s Attribute cap. Losing Dream Health imposes wound penalties just as losing standard Health does. A character who’s “killed” in Dream Form wakes in his physical body, and takes the Soul Shocked Condition.
The relationship between time in the Dreamlands and time in waking life is strangely variable; it seems to depend much more on the density of one’s experience than on any objective clock. So, for instance, an exciting fight can consume half an hour in the real world’s time, but appear to last only five minutes or so; but a long journey through safe districts might compress a full day’s experience into only an hour of dreaming time. (As a rule of thumb, an event in the Dreamlands takes as much time in the waking world as it would take the players to roll the dice and figure out what happened, while the time it takes in the Dreamlands is what it would require in real life.) There are even cases of Princesses parting in the Dreamlands, and finding on their next meeting that one has experienced a few hours packed with incident, while the other has been traveling for days ...
A Princess can enter the Dreamlands in either a mundane or transformed Dream Form, and change between them with transformation actions as if awake. In mundane form her Attributes and Health use the same rules that mundane characters do. While transformed, a Princess adds the highest of her transformed Intelligence, Strength or Presence dots to her Power; the highest of her transformed Wits, Dexterity or Manipulation dots to her Finesse; and the highest of her Resolve, Stamina or Composure dots to her Resistance. In addition, her Dream Health equals her Resistance + her transformed Attribute cap. Maintaining one’s Regalia in the Dreamlands is a good deal easier than it is in waking life. A Princess rolls to remain transformed only once every day, by the Dreamlands’ clock. A dramatic failure on that roll, however, has a more serious consequence; even after the Princess recovers her phylactery, she cannot transform within the Dreamlands for a full experienced day after her failure.
The Dreamlands often change quickly as one travels. There’s a feeling that the Foundation is below, and - below is consistent. Apart from that all bets are off. Despite appearances ranging from bizarre to normal places within the Dreamlands often seem to reflect places on Earth, or the popular idea of places of earth, or (more strangely) places found only in novels, or ideas, or concepts. Even odder is that regardless of how normal or how bizarre the places look, a visitor can (eventually) learn to understand how they work. A city might look like it was designed by a collaboration between M.C. Escher and Dr Seuss but it still has a government, an economy, trade with nearby settlements, residents with homes, jobs and families. With lots of time and effort a Princess can learn how it all works. Just as she can learn what it reflects from Earth, and even discover new things about what it reflects.
A further oddity of these reflections is that, while they frequently contain things with writing on them, the writing never looks like the text that would appear in the reflected place. In minor cases, Princesses might find a discarded fast-food box, but the script on it is flowing and cursive, elaborately decorated in gold leaf. In more extreme cases, everything is written backwards, or there are never any vowels, or the scripts are from another part of the world entirely. Less obvious is that these reflections are chock full of houses. Wherever the Princess travels she will occasionally catch a glimpse of a door, window or a snatch of a wall in the corner of her eye only to realize it was just a tree and a trick of the light. If the Princess really looks, the dream domains can seem to be built of nothing but houses folded in on each other in defiance of any sane geometry. Scholars are divided as to whether these houses are merely a representation of some human’s connection to the place or concept this Dreamlands domain is reflecting. Or if these houses are physically a person’s soul, visible everywhere in the Dreamlands they have an emotional connection too. Regardless, the question is academic. There is no way to open them and people almost never come out, they simply exist. These strange houses are unrelated to the dwellings used by Dreamlanders, which are much less mysterious and easy to enter.
Sometimes you can stumble across one man’s neuroses writ large across the landscape (while most other humans never even feature), while in other places you can walk along a stairway made of light, up into the heavens to walk along the surface of a Mars covered in unknown ruins inscribed in runes which do not resemble the Royal Tongue. You may stumble across a town which appears almost like the real world, save that none of the brands match, and the streets are filled with a parade of strange, eternally dancing figures of bronze. A Princess could be walking down a quiet forest path only to turn a corner and find herself facing an elegant renaissance city where the buildings all merge together into a solid block that gently curves away from the ground. Or she might find arriving at a quiet country village where the people are friendly, the sun is shining but the buildings look like cubist art and the inhabitants seem to have stepped from the scrapbook of a slightly drunk dada artist. One Nakama found a cursed area, almost overshadowed by the Darkness, where the sharp-fanged folk ritually consumed their victims. Only one made it out alive, the monsters dragging the others to their altars and eating them in a way that killed them in the real world, hunks of flesh torn out of their sleeping bodies, in the name of the “Red Word”.
The wild districts where these things can be found are all, however, many days’ travel from the lands the Radiant Queens govern - the Dreamlands’ cartographers say that one moves outward to find them, and inward to return to the Queens’ seats. The most confusing thing about navigating the Dreamlands is that “inward” and “outward” have no simple relationship with the ordinary three dimensions of space ... and there are any number of districts that lie at the same north/south and east/west position, but further inwards of other districts. Very often the traveler finds that one pass through a ridge of low hills leads to a pleasant valley, while another pass a mile to the east opens on a wide plain cut by a great river, which runs just where the valley ought to be, and isn’t. Dreamlanders say their home is folded on itself; north/south, east/west and up/down they call the traveling directions, and in/out is a folding direction. There is a second folding direction, called deosil/widdershins, along which one travels by moving around the Queens’ seats - deosil keeps them on one’s right, widdershins keeps it on the left.
The distance outward from the Queens’ seats has an importance in the Dreamlands beyond the way it allows districts to overlie each other. In the lands under their authority, the mysterious, reality-bending Gales blow with little force, and the geography is not just Earthlike but almost stable. The border marches, where the Queens’ subjects travel and trade but do not stay, have Gales of moderate force; new buildings sometimes spring up overnight, towns and districts might appear or rearrange themselves. In the most distant lands, the Gales blow wildly, falling still for a moment only to burst anew with immense force. It is here that the traveler may find herself walking through a man’s nightmare, magnified to a country of dread. It is here, also, that she may find a space grown strangely thin and tenuous, where objects can sometimes vanish while her back is turned; or a place jumbled with curios and wonders brought together, though by no obvious means, from every corner of the world. There are tales of monstrous or alien things to be found in the far outward districts: a redoubt of Alhambra in a district haunted by Darkness; a waste of ash and cinders where Goalenu mold porcelain figurines that hunt with burning green eyes; a snow-capped peak, topped by a fortress made of clockwork ticking away in a slow rotation, from which gray-robed figures gaze through telescopes at the Dreamlands’ stars.
The Dreamlands reflect the combined hopes, thoughts, feelings and aspirations of mankind. The risks of travelling such a place should be obvious: Humanity’s thoughts change on a daily, nay, a second by second basis. Against such a tide as all of humanity, what can one mind do to remain static? Any Princess who travels too far from the stable regions of the Dreamlands risks being blown away, transformed as just another fleeting thought in the vast collective identity.
While a character remains in the Dreamlands, the Gales will try to alter her. This uses the rules for an extended action: the threshold equals the character’s Willpower dots, and the interval is once each day experienced in the Dreamlands. The dice pool, rolled by the Storyteller, is the character’s base Sensitivity + Shadows dots (roll a chance die if this pool is 0.) Add +2 if the character is in the border marches, and +5 if he’s in the wild districts. Unlike a standard extended action, the number of rolls is uncapped.
- Dramatic Failure: The character withstands the Gales. All successes are lost, and the Gales cease to affect her for her Resolve in experienced days.
- Failure: The Gales push the Princess off-balance, scattering odd thoughts and scraps of imagined memories in her mind. If the character doesn’t have the Gale-touched Condition yet, she acquires it now; if she does have that Condition, resolve as a dramatic failure.
- Success: If the accumulated successes reach the threshold, the Gales’ force envelops the character, body, mind and soul, catches her up in a chaotic whirl, and commingles some of the Dreamlands’ essence with her spirit and self. The character gains a level of the Galemark Condition, partly adapting from a mere visitor into a permanent settler in the Dreamlands.
- Exceptional Success: The Gales overwhelm the character. Reduce the interval for all following rolls (if any are needed) by 6 hours.
Galemarks track a character's progress along a path that ends with her as indistinguishable, even to herself, from a Dreamlands native who has nightmares of an unhappy world, overshadowed by fear and despair. The effects of a Galemark are threefold. First, the character's Dream Form changes - in both mundane and transformed identities, she gains a new, exotic physical feature. The change reflects what the character has seen and done in the Dreamlands: if she travels much among trickster foxes, she becomes foxlike, with pointed ears or a pelt. Galemarks don't always turn characters into fantastical beings - many places in the Dreamlands have inhabitants who could pass for normal in waking life - but a character with several Galemarks always looks very unlike her waking self.
Second, the Dreamlands weaves the character into its history and society. As a character gains Galemarks, the chorus members she meets are likely to “remember” past encounters with her, or “recognize” her as a native of a particular district in the Dreamlands, or refer in some other way to a history that (before the Gales marked her) never really took place. Dreamlands locations sometimes change physically to support the false history, too. The life invented for the character is internally consistent - once a part of it is established further Galemarks don't alter it. The invented events bind the character into the Dreamlands and impede her efforts to awaken.
Third, and strangest, the character's own memories twist, and she finds that she also knows the details of her imaginary past which the chorus members know. Moreover, as her knowledge of that life grows, her memory of waking life becomes disjointed, surreal and incoherent, as if it were the dream. Each Galemark is attached to one of the character's Willpower dots, starting with the leftmost and moving right. When the character spends a point of Willpower from a dot with a Galemark, she temporarily assumes the role the Dreamlands have given her, abandoning thoughts of the waking world as fictions of no importance. This delusion lasts for the rest of the current scene.
When a character gains Galemarks equal to her Willpower, marking all her Willpower dots, the last of these effects becomes permanent - she ceases to believe in the waking world's reality, just as the actors disbelieve. The Gales' work is complete, and the character no longer checks for Galemarks; on the other hand, she also loses the power to open ways into Crawlspace, and therefore cannot wake up on her own. Only another character can rescue her, by tracking her down in the Dreamlands and opening Crawlspace for her.
The change to the Dream Form from a Galemark, naturally, does not appear on the character's physical body. However, the mental changes persist in waking life, and the Dream Form keeps its change during later journeys in the Dreamlands.
The Gales and OthersEdit
Those supernatural beings who can find the Dreamlands deal with the Gales somewhat differently than mundane characters and Nobles do. Mages grow fascinated by the Dreamlands in proportion to their progress towards understanding reality; the Gales' dice pool against them equals their Gnosis. However, a mage can raise a personal shield against attacks on identity, such as the Gales, called the Amnion; if a mage does so in the Dreamlands for one day, reduce the Gales' pool that day by the Amnion rating.
Changelings already suffer from unstable psyches and problems distinguishing reality from illusion, which the Gales exacerbate. They don't track Galemarks as other characters do; instead each bout from the Gales can inflict an injury to their Clarity. A changeling suffers a Clarity attack once each experienced day in the Dreamlands, rolling a base pool of 1 die in the Queens' lands, 3 dice in the border marches, and 5 dice in the wild districts. Reaching the Comatose Condition in the Dreamlands keeps a changeling from leaving them until it's resolved - and the Dreamlands will shift to prevent an escape.
Like mages, Beasts become more vulnerable to the Gales as they rise in potency; the Gales' dice pool against a Beast equals his Lair trait. Unlike all other beings, though, Beasts can't be completely fooled by the Gales' effects. While a Beast gains Galemarks just as mundane people do, no delusion they create can keep him from his Lair. A Beast in the Dreamlands who looks for "home" will, on a successful Wits + Lair roll, find an exit to the Primordial Dream, no matter where he consciously thinks his home is ... unless he's claimed a Chamber in the Dreamlands. In that case his sense for home will always lead him to that Chamber through the Dreamlands.
The Dreamlands reflects all of humanity, once you leave the Queen’s domains this includes the bad as much as the good. Whenever the Dreamlands reflects a bad part of Earth, be it a reflection of a city that includes a reflection of the crime ridden ghetto, or a reflection of a historical period including long past atrocities, visitors can find Tainted Places, Darkened and even Darkspawn.
This is not the Darkness Princesses remember from Earth. It is a lesser Darkness (or perhaps a greater Darkness: Is the darkness in the back of every man’s mind worse than the monster of rotting shadows attempting to eat you?) Regardless of such debates, Dreamland equivalents of Tainted places, Darkened, Darkspawn and all the rest can be be found in the Dreamlands. Build them as normal Dreamland natives, including whether they are a Chorus, Actor or Star then add the Darkened, Darkspawn or other template.
Regardless of which Darkness is “worse” the Darkness in the Dreamlands is closer to the Princess’ psyche. Any Sensitivity roll caused by the Darkness, be it Darkened, Tainted Place, Darkspawn or other has the 9-again quality.
The only other noteworthy difference is that there is no Dark World within the Dreamlands. So few humans have ever experienced it (and fewer survive) that it is not a part of the Dreamlands. The Tainted places within the Dreamlands do not permit entry to a Dark World. It is still possible for a Darkened to use the Enter Darkness ability, but it functions more like a slow teleport between two Tainted spots.
In Dreamlands domains that reflect something strong and positive it is possible for the Princess to come across a manifestation of the Light itself. This either requires a lot of luck, or an extended action to track it down. Once the Princess finds a manifestation of the light she may choose to bathe her soul in it, which has one of two effects: The Princess may regain all her Willpower; or, the Princess gains 1 Luminous Experience.
But there is a danger, the longer the Princess spends in the Light the harder it is to return to the grubby shadowy mortal world where her duties lie. The Princess’ Sensitivity dice pool increases by 1 die if she regained Willpower, and by 3 dice if she gained a Luminous Experience. After a number of days equal to her increase in Sensitivity the Princess’ Sensitivity returns to normal. If the Princess touches the Light again before this time not only does the timer reset, it stacks with any further benefit she may gain.
A White Rabbit, in the jargon of the Nobility, refers to any time when the Princess is called to the Dreamlands. Her subconscious mind detects a change within the Dreamlands and sends a signal - a White Rabbit - to alert the conscious mind. The creaking lures of the Dreamlands trap, and the resulting spontaneous appearances of Crawlspace passages, are not considered White Rabbits but this is just an arbitrary quirk of the definition chosen by Enlightened scholars.
Quite a few Princesses really do see white rabbits (sometimes straight out of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland). This appears to be a result of the Princess’ unconscious associations, caused by Enlightened scholars using the term White Rabbit for the phenomenon.
A Prophecy Rabbit calls the Princess into the Dreamlands to witness an event that foretells the future on Earth. The Princess is fully present in the Dreamlands and may interact with the portentous events she witnesses in all the normal ways: She might investigate to uncover more clues, or perhaps try to derail the event in the Dreamlands. This doesn’t actually help, but it can feel very good.
If two or more Princesses are experiencing a prophecy about the same event, they are both are in the same place within the Dreamlands and can simply start talking to each other, debating the vision or making plans. In essence, this can be considered another clue both Princesses learn from the dreams; something along the lines of “This other Princess cares about the same issue, perhaps you could work together?”
How Prophecies work is unknown. It is generally accepted that the Princess is reacting to a pre-existing event in the Dreamlands but what causes those events is a mystery. The two most popular theories are the clairvoyant model and the analytical model. The clairvoyant suggests that every human has microscopic traces of psychic abilities which when combined in some sort of shared unconscious -- like the Dreamlands -- becomes effective on a practical level. The analytical model also sees the pooling of human talent and knowledge at the cause, but argues rather than psychically foretelling the future humanity simply predicts it using knowledge and reasoning.
Unlike most White Rabbits a Memory Rabbit leads a Princess not into the Dreamlands, but deep into her own Crawlspace. The Princess’ subconscious mind is signalling her conscious that she has forgotten some vital information and calls her deep into her own mind and soul to fish it out. Most Memory Rabbits lead to memories from a past life, the ordinary human processes of memory are usually sufficient for most memories gathered in this incarnation (and even stronger memories from before). In game terms a Memory Rabbit functions as an alternative result when a player uses the White Rabbits Merit. If the Storyteller believes she can provide clues in a more interesting way by going to a memory from the Princess’ past life than a prophecy in the collective dreamscape of mankind then she is free to do so. Memory Rabbits can also be used to justify buying Skills or Charms when the Princess knew them in a past life.
Trapped within the Dreamlands the Queens cannot affect Earth, but they can affect the Dreamlands and a Princess’ subconscious can notice such changes. The Queens have gotten quite good at making the precise changes needed to create a Royal Rabbit that summons a Princess to wait upon her liege.
Royal Rabbits typically manifest in some way appropriate to the Queen, such as a white rabbit wearing the royal colors and carrying a letter of summons stamped with the Queen’s seal.
Black Rabbits are spoken of in hushed terms, their mere existence makes the Princess question her own mind and doubt her visions. It goes like this: If the Princess followed a Prophecy Rabbit to the dreamlands and saw a woman in green and white tearing through her home town she might conclude that she better deal with any Princesses of Storms before it’s too late.
Now what if this happened in reverse. Someone with access to the Dreamlands (such as a Princess of Tears) wants the Princess to go after local Furies. She could travel to the Dreamlands, dress in green and white and attack. The destruction in the Dreamlands would alert the Princess: A fake Prophecy Rabbit, a Black Rabbit.
Now it’s not easy, the Dreamlanders will defend their home and the deception is only as good as the skill of the one who crafts it. This doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened, it has. Many times.
Empty Rabbits are almost as mythical as Black Rabbits. Sometimes a Princess’ intuition is simply wrong. She follows a White Rabbit to the Dreamlands and finds nothing more than a mad tea party or a highly symbolic heap of nonsense. Some Princesses believe Empty Rabbits do not exist, that when a Rabbit looks Empty it actually means the Princess has overlooked some vital clue pointing to one of the other Rabbits. But how would you tell?
Empty Rabbits rarely have an impact on the story, but sometimes Princesses can confuse a Prophecy Rabbit for an Empty Rabbit, or an Empty Rabbit for a Prophecy Rabbit.
While not as mythical as Black or Empty Rabbits the March Hares are considered to be the most unsettling of all the Rabbits. A Princess who follows a March Hare travels deep into her own Crawlspace and comes face to face with a deep division in her own psyche. She may do battle with her own madness or sit down for tea, scones and highbrow debate with both sides of the ethical dilemma that has puzzled her all week.
In game terms March Hares are simply an excuse for more roleplaying. A Princess who wins a battle with her own derangements is not cured, but she understands what the madness means to her and might be energized to raise her Belief or seek therapy (or less inclined if she lost the fight). Facing her own dilemmas gives screen time to the Princess’ thoughts and feelings, and maybe even some character development. March Hares can even be used when under the effects of hostile magic: If the Princess has had her memories suppressed, then when the magic wanes going into her own Crawlspace to fight the spell and unlock the memory vaults is a more dramatic way to reveal the stolen memories than just saying the spell has worn off.
Since March Hares are, at heart, a way to give screen time to important moments of a character’s internal conflicts, the player is always entitled to forgo the dice and choose the result they prefer.
Places of Note Edit
The Forests of Wen-MungEdit
- Domain of the Queen of Clubs
Wen-Mung is the largest of the Queen's Kingdoms, and the most sparsely inhabited. Yet no matter how far you are from the nearest inhabitant sings of people are everywhere, colourful paper talismans and wind chimes adorn every tree. Even the animals show subtle signs of domestication: That rabbit wears a little bow, there's a deer with decorated antlers, this wild horse has a braid in her mane.
When the Princess finds the people they are a hardy folk who live in harmony with the forest. They build their homes between or around the trees – natural clearings are rare and reserved for important buildings like village halls or temples – and farm strange plants; as productive as wheat yet growing up the side of trees like ivy. The villages are simple, designed to be easily built for the people are occasionally nomadic. If the rains fail to come or disease beings to spread they'll build again elsewhere. Only important buildings such as temples are stone, and even these can be abandoned, left to wait patiently until they are needed once again.
Most of the population is employed in agriculture or forestry. Individual communities are usually entirely self sufficient. Though most residents posses only a basic education many have impressive practical intelligence and a versatile array of skills useful to their daily lives. While they don't show any animalistic behaviours, they do occasionally show animalistic skills: After being asked for directions, a young farmer sniffs the air before pointing with confidence. An old woman clicks her tongue as she walks, only by looking closely does one realise it's because she's blind. It would appear that as much as the forest itself has become slightly tame, the people have taken just a slight touch of the wild into themselves.
Wen-Mung exports food and timber and rarely imports anything. Centuries of a trade surplus have given the Queen of Clubs an enormous financial reserve, she considers it prudent to let it grow no matter how many times her accountants try to explain to her what she'd do to the economy if she ever spent more than a fraction of it. The other Kingdoms consider Wen-Mung a perfect neighbour, it's quiet, respectful and exports at great prices.
The Danann ArchipelagoEdit
- Domain of the Queen of Diamonds
The Danann Archipelago stretches for over a hundred islands. Most are either densely populated or uninhabited with the populated islands growing in the only direction they can: Up, in magnificent towers of ivory and glass. Sleek hydrofoils and flying wing aircraft surround the islands in a never ending dance of motion. Danann has a subarctic climate, the inhabitants consider central heating among the greatest miracles of technology. Cocooned in their artificial climate they prefer sleek future-chic fashions.
The people are a contented lot and welcoming to outsiders, although they tend to posture about their intelligence and education in front of foreigners. The observant visitor will quickly notice that everyone is either engaged in their pet scientific or creative projects, or they are obviously at leisure. The Queen of Diamonds had pretty much every necessary job replaced by machines long ago freeing the population to focus on the sciences and the arts. Though not quite the post scarcity society promised by futurists it's as close as most Princesses are likely to experience.
With an abundance of free time and ubiquitous communication technology the locals often form social groups based on common interest. Be it pre industrial music, advanced mathematics or abstract philosophy. Even though most people belong to several such groups the largest or most dedicated groups often develop residential clusters to be closer to their friends and any museums, concert halls, bulky equipment or social spaces they've appropriated or built. Though the Queen does not officially take part in this system, the topics she is most interested in – technology and the physical sciences – gravitate towards her. A vast academy of science, technology and academics has formed around the royal palace (Technically beneath, she lives in the penthouse).
Danann is an extroverted nation, the fisheries and hydroponics cannot keep up with the population and so the economy depends on foreign trade. They export technology, technicians, engineers and offer advanced education to citizens of other Kingdoms in return for food and raw materials. Dannan has formed an odd friendship with the Confederacy of the Four Winds, another leisure filled Kingdom heavily built around foreign trade; they do dislike admitting that their most advanced aircraft cannot match the Confederacy’s mastery of the winds.
The City States of AndartaEdit
- Domain of the Queen of Hearts
Andarta is a land of flowing fields, peaceful rivers and gentle hills. The people are equally divided between urban and rural. No matter where you travel the architecture is ornate and beautiful. Even the smallest farming community is built of solid stone with masterly carved decorated touches. Following the paved roads or aqueducts to the cities reveals unsurpassed architecture splendour, from marble clad defensive walls to streets so clean they sparkle in the sunlight. The people too are fit looking and healthy who always manage to look sharply dressed and spotlessly clean, even when coming home covered in mud from a hard days work in the field.
The Queen of Hearts loves everything in it's proper place, and she has made her mark on her Kingdom. Andartan life is an organised one. The government is feudal with cleanly defined hierarchies. The trades and professions are organised into guilds. Stability is both prized and abundant, it leads to a sense of confidence. People know what's expected of them, how to deliver it, and who will help them if they get a little over their heads.
Social roles in Andarta are well defined, but social mobility is high. A simple farmer would be expected to obey his superiors but she would also have many opportunities to advance her position, she could become a skilled artificer, a scholar or a self employed merchant; advancing her position and earning new rights and responsibilities. Foreigners would quickly notice that while social climbing clearly does grant new rights Andaratns never use the word, a noble doesn’t have the right to give orders, they have the responsibility to govern. This is the direct influence of the Queen, she only ever uses the word responsibilities, her subjects usually take the hint.
Andarta is the most introverted of the Kingdoms. While they are not quite xenophobic they are highly resistant to new ideas and find it uncomfortable when foreigners don't fit their expectations. They possess the common courtesy to hide it of course, as a people Andartans are socially gifted, to anyone not as talented as the locals at reading people Andartans come across as trying too hard to be welcoming.
The Confederacy of the Four WindsEdit
- Domain of the Queen of Spades
The Queen of Spades calls the Four Winds her home, a vast snow-capped mountain range. Actually four mountain ranges all smooshed together to the amusement of geologists. The population is predominantly urban and take great care on the placement of their cities, seeking out sun-facing river valleys with warm prevailing winds. Transportation is handled almost entirely by a wide variety of airships, balloons and gliders, from a very young age the inhabitants learn to pilot enormous kites. For a few specialized tasks the giant mountain spiders are domesticated, favoured for their prodigal strength and peerless climbing abilities.
The nation is a mercantile, trade is the backbone of the economy. The Confederacy also has a large amount of artisans and craftsmen who specialize in delicate hand crafted arts and crafts, for the Confederation lacks the resources to compete in manufacturing. The Confederates take delight in foreign trade and the exotic wonders it brings to their homes. Enormous bazaars wind through the city streets. Stalls carry all manner of exotic goods and services from the five Kingdoms and the wider Dreamlands. The people are colourful and passionate. Any customer is a beloved friend. Haggling is a social requirement filled with blistering insults against the quality of the goods and blatantly nonsense stories about starving kids to feed. As soon has money is exchanged they are once again true friends.
The Confederacy is an anarchy, organized on an ad-hoc basis by it's residents. Admittedly the organization is somewhat haphazard and ramshackle. Along with the weekly general assemblies, anyone simply tells friends and strangers they are hosting a meeting and if people are interested word will spread. Everyone gets together then they go home and decide if they agreed with the consensus or if they plan to ignore it. Those who have the talent to get things done will lead the way and those who disagree, lacking that talent themselves, are unable to hold the kingdom in an argumentative paralysis. Reputation is supremely important. The unofficially officially unofficially non-binding congresses which discuss issues of national importance tend to meet wherever the Queen's palace has drifted to this month to take advantage of her wisdom. Somehow, everything that needs to be done gets done in a timely manner.
Of all the Kingdoms, the Confederacy is the most extroverted of them all. As masters of the winds no kingdom can match their mobility, their love of the foreign and exotic sends a steady stream of merchant airships beyond the five Kingdoms to trade with the wider Dreamlands.
The Aztallan AllianceEdit
- Domain of the Queen of Swords
Aztallan is a land of lush rainforest, ever-blue sky’s and above all an enormous golden sun. The rainforest is hot, humid and teeming with life. They are also very dangerous to the unprepared traveller and unsuited for any population beyond small tribal societies. The Aztallani have overcome these limitations in their usual direct manner, by constructing enormous stepped pyramids and dwelling high above the rainforest. Houses, commerce and even farming all take place atop massive artificial plateaus. Aqueducts and bridges stretch for miles above the rainforest.
The people are a rugged independent sort, but loyal unto death to those who've won their trust. Self sufficiency is still a respected way of life and the more formal economy is dominated by small businesses and independent artisans who provide services to the local community. The cities often look less like a zoned metropolis than a large collection of individual towns and villages that grew into each other, usually because that's exactly what they are. Government is distributed and decentralised with local government at the level of town or city district being the most relevant to the average citizen's life.
The larger organisations and the government are best described as a meritocracy with posts decided purely by a person's skills. It is considered a sign of untrustworthiness if people know the identity of a candidate they might hire, it is suspected that they will choose their friends or family and to be fair with the Aztallani ideals of personal loyalty they probably would. “Not even for the Queen's consort” is a common way of declaring integrity, you can guess how the term originated. Since they often work alone or in small groups many Aztallanis have a wide verity of skills, this attitude is carried on to the larger organisations. It is not uncommon to see one person with two or more vastly different jobs.
As a society Aztallan shows the same self sufficiency and independence that it's people do. While welcoming to outsiders the kingdom usually waits for foreigners to come to it. One noticeable exception is adventurers: bright young Aztallani often undertake a mission to develop or prove their merits. All forms of merit are valued but adventurers dominate the international perception of Aztallan as they are the largest group to wander beyond their homeland.
Saint Francis' CityEdit
In the middle of a wide field beneath an eternally sunny blue sky, cooled by gentle breezes travellers may catch sight of Saint Francis. The saint is dressed in the humble brown robes of a monk and sits unmoving on a simple wooden chair, at a simple wooden desk, endlessly copying “Bibles” that actually contain a rough mixture of political speeches, travel guides and local news. All from San Francisco of course. Saint Francis is also three hundred foot tall.
As he writes Saint Francis supports an enormous bright red kite tied to his right shoulder by a tail that looks like someone took several golden gate bridges and wrapped them around each other like the threads in a length of twine. To this enormous kite several more kites are anchored, and to those even more. On and on in an enormous widening cone of many coloured kites. All interconnected by a labyrinthine network of bridges, cable cars and even subway tunnels hanging from the undersides.
This is Saint Francis' city, an enormous metropolis built onto the backs of thousands of kites. In many ways it is an exaggeration of the perception of San Francisco. In other ways it's as nuanced as the original but places the popular perception front and centre so it cannot help but colour a visitor's impressions. In the more tourist and commercial areas it seems every other building is a coffee shop where locals debate politics and recite amateur poetry or music. There is normally at least one parade every day.
The Foundation is a mystery. As far as can be discerned the entire Dreamlands is built upon its surface. As one approaches the borders of the Dreamlands the Foundation becomes exposed to the eye. It appears differently to every traveller but always gives the impression of being some form of stability in contrast to the wild unknowable places outside the Dreamlands. While a city-dweller might see a mighty concrete tower run through with pipes, wires and air-conditioning outlets a Princess from a remote desert dwelling tribe might see The Foundation as the edge of a lush oasis abruptly shifting into endless desert sands. Past The Foundation is a place usually called Beyond, or Outside. Beyond is a mystery to the Nobility. Like The Foundation Beyond appears differently to every viewer but it always has a feeling of vastness; of infinite wonder and potential. Yet Beyond also feels of danger, not hostility or anger but the impersonal danger of a storm wrecked sea or the harsh desert sand. Looking Outside is a very personal experience as awe, fear, wonder and desire flow through the Princess. Each will discover for herself which emotion dominates.
Sidebar: Some examplesEdit
To give you some examples of what The Foundation and Beyond might look like here is how each Queen perceives it.
The Queen of Clubs sees The Foundation as the edge of a simple grassy clearing surrounded by enormous forests that comprise Outside. The forests are so dense and thick she cannot see more than a finger's length Beyond the Dreamlands. The Queen of Clubs is neither awed nor scared of Beyond. She simply accepts that it is something greater than herself, and so makes peace with it.
The Queen of Diamonds sees The Foundation as the beaches of her youth. Beyond lies a calm sea at night time. A perfect velvet black that mirrors the enormous stars and planets in the sky Outside the Dreamlands until you cannot tell where the sea ends and the sky beings.
The Queen of Hearts sees The Foundation as a marble tower. It is carved with a relief of people climbing to the top over one another in a mass of humanity. They show nobility with the strong helping the weak, the old and the infirm. As they crest the top of The Foundation the carved faces show expressions of dignified triumph over adversity. Beyond The Foundation lies nothing more than simple barren rocky hills. The Queen claims she can sometimes see movement down there, and that it makes her feel uncertain like nothing else.
The Queen of Spades sees The Foundation as the undercarriage of an enormous airship holding the entire dreamlands aloft. With a practised eye she judges and concludes that all is ship-shape and airworthy. To this Queen Beyond looks like a vast plain of clouds drifting far bellow, if there is a ground further below she has not seen it.
To the Queen of Swords The Foundation looks much like her homeland. The crest of an enormous pyramid; Beyond which lies vast rainforests. The Queen claims to have spotted signs of ruins and signs of inhabitation.
No matter the appearance of the Foundation, it is always adorned with strange writing in every imaginable language, linguistic subdivision and even every imaginable appearance: From typed to archaic and cursive. Princesses can read the Foundation, or at least the parts in the languages they know, but they can learn nothing from it. Like a million voices talking at once the Foundation is just too much to understand. It's unknown if there even is something to be understood. Sometimes strange mists are released from the Foundation, a Princess who inhales them can comprehend any language created by humans (including the Royal Tongue and Alhambran) until she next leaves the Dreamlands. If she dedicates the night's sleep to memorisation and spends the exp she may retain a language permanently.
The Lighthouse Edit
The five Queens have been curious about the Foundation and Outside ever since they were first noticed shortly after the Release. The Lighthouse is a small Danann outpost built in the retro rough stone styles that pre-dates the Queen of Diamonds Coronation. Within is accommodation for a few scholars and some scientific equipment. It also has some mild fortifications; looking Outside makes a lot of Stars nervous (Actors can't see Outside at all). The torch itself is usually only lit if the Queen of Diamonds is present, not everyone sees Beyond as permanently night time.
There are at least three different types of beings native to the Dreamlands. They were named by a theatrically minded Princess as the chorus, the actors, and the stars. The chorus, from all appearances, are less independent people, than representatives of a concept or archetype; they move about or speak, which distinguishes them from parts of the landscape, but the things they say and do fall into easily predicted patterns. However, all chorus members have power over something integral to the archetype they reflect, and there are a few who can reshape any part of the Dreamlands’ substance into the thing they favor.
Members of the chorus are built as ephemeral beings [GMC 215-232] that regain Essence as spirits do, by feeding from Resonant Conditions tied to their Influences. Since they are beings of reflected Light, their Essence is basically the same as a Princess’ Wisps, and powers which transfer Wisps work just the same way on their Essence. (Thus either word, Wisps or Essence, may name their fuel.) They lack Integrity, but have a Virtue and Vice and regain Willpower by acting in accord with them. Chorus members can, however, have decidedly strange Virtues or Vices, especially when the concept they’re linked to is not human. Finally, because everything in the Dreamlands is as ephemeral as they, chorus members seldom have Manifestations - for practical purposes, anywhere in the Dreamlands they are always Materialized at no cost. (In fact, chorus members have strict limits on the Manifestations they can learn, and a few Numina are barred to them as well. This only matters if a chorus member somehow reaches the waking world.)
Actors, in contrast, are fully realized people, with minds, memories, desires and aspirations. They differ from the stars (and the Princesses) in only one way: the Release passed them by. Many of them are unaware that a waking world exists, and nearly all who are told of it refuse to credit it. The stars, finally, are the souls drawn into the Dreamlands who have not chosen to follow the Princesses, or (as with the Five Queens) apparently cannot be reborn. Many actors and stars can wield strange powers, and those who were once living Princesses and inhabitants of the Kingdom still wield the Charms they knew in life.
Actors and stars are built as playable characters, most often mundane or with the Hopeful template (though the Storyteller is free to use any supernatural template from other World of Darkness games, if he wants an atypical NPC. If the players find themselves in a castle containing reflections of every fictional vampire – from Count Dracula to Count von Count – and you own Vampire: the Requiem there is nothing wrong, and a lot right, with using the rules from it.) However, their bodies are like the Princesses’ projections into the Dreamlands, formed of dream-stuff, and they have a Corpus track instead of Health. Their permanent Corpus equals Stamina + Size just like Health, but as it isn’t Health a Dreamlander never suffers wound penalties. Moreover, a Dreamlander with any supernatural template isn’t permanently dead until she’s lost all her Corpus to lethal or aggravated wounds and spent the last of her fuel points - Wisps, for former Princesses. (Given the purpose of the Dreamlands, even that probably doesn’t destroy an actor or star forever; the soul presumably remains, preserved by the Dreamlands’ power, and is eventually reborn in a new Corpus. But since a reborn soul doesn’t remember any prior Dreamlands lives, just a past life in the Kingdom, there’s no proof that such rebirths happen.)
Sidebar: Dreamlanders on EarthEdit
Dreamlanders who end up on Earth are limited in what they can achieve. Most Manifestations are barred to them - apart from Twilight Form (which all have by default) a Dreamlander can learn only Fetter, Unfetter, Possess and Claim, and a Manifestation unique to them named Crawlspace Breach. Actors and stars who have the Princess template may learn the Charm Ivory Gate to open a Crawlspace gate for themselves, and then walk the labyrinth behind that gate to a place in the waking world that reflects their starting point in the Dreamlands. For instance, a Dreamlander in Saint Francis’ City could use Ivory Gate to begin a visit to San Francisco.
Furthermore, no Numina of a Dreamlander will affect anything physical in the waking world; as long as a Dreamlander is on Earth, she can affect only the thoughts, emotions and perceptions of beings who have them, and other entities made of Dreamlands ephemera. This means that certain Numina - including Firestarter, Left-handed Spanner, Sign and Telekinesis from the God-Machine Chronicle - are of no use to Dreamlanders at all, and none of the chorus will learn them. Charms designed to affect material beings work only on beings from the Dreamlands when actors and stars use them. Charms that apply to ghosts or spirits work for Dreamlanders just as they do for the living. Charms that apply to Dreamlanders also work if used by them, including Privy Counsellor - and only that Charm, or similar effects that tie an ephemeral being to a material being, will allow a Dreamlander to do anything to material beings directly.
Dreamlanders on Earth who are forced into hibernation for lack of Essence return to the Dreamlands and awaken there. Actors and stars are subject to Essence bleed outside the Dreamlands, losing 1 Wisp (or other fuel point) each hour; there are no natural Conditions to sustain them on Earth, unlike the chorus, who can feed from Resonant Conditions.
Tengu Pirate (Chorus)Edit
To mankind the seas have always represented the great unknown. Infinite possibilities lie just beyond the next horizon, but the seas also carry the danger of the storm, and pirates. Who doesn’t love a good pirate story?
Tengu pirates have congealed out of stray ideas from Japanese mythology, sword and sorcery, and fantasy tinged pirate stories. They’re not particularly powerful or populous, but despite their small number they always travel in crews looking for ships full of booty to plunder, preferably shiny objects. When they do find a prize, they isolate the ship using their ability to influence wind, then fall from the sky, attacking sailors and stealing what they can in the confusion. While they can and will kill if necessary, most of the time they are happy with just stealing whatever they can before retreating.
- Rank: 2
- Attributes: Power 3, Finesse 7, Resistance 4
- Derived Traits: Corpus 9, Willpower 10, Size 5, Defense 4, Initiative 11, Speed 20 (species factor 10)
- Influence: Wind 2
- Numina: Blast (guns), Firestarter (incendiary bombs), Pathfinder, Speed, Stalwart
- Ban: Tengu pirates feel compelled to steal shiny objects.
- Bane: Mackerels.
Trickster Kitsune (Actor)Edit
In times long ago foxes and humans lived close together on the islands of Nippon and kitsune became a staple of Japanese mythology. They were messangers of the Kami, they would adopt human guises to become guardians, friends or lovers … and of course to play tricks on humans. Kitsune can be found in regions of the Dreamlands that reflect Japanese mythology, folklore, or pop-culture. Trickster kitsune can of course be found in all these places, but tend to form a larger proportion of the kitsune population in areas that are also influenced by Western folklore, where it’s nearly universal for folklore to portray foxes as tricksters.
Trickster kitsune are usually more mischievous than truly dangerous but they can prove a real threat if they feel threatened. Conversely, they can become precious allies to people they grow fond of. Most are Actors, but some Princesses among the court of Spades have been able to convince a Trickster that there is a real world and thus recruit it as a Shikigami.
- Rank: 2
- Attributes: Power 4, Finesse 6, Resistance 3
- Derived Traits: Corpus 5, Willpower 8, Size 2, Defense 6, Initiative 8, Speed 19 (species factor 7)
- Influences: Luck 2
- Numina: Blast (foxfire), Firestarter, Hallucination, Innocuous, Mortal Mask
- Ban: Trickster kitsune must stand still as long as someone grabs their tail.
- Bane: The teeth of a hunting hound.
The Jack of Diamonds (Star)Edit
- Fools can be important... and knaves and tarts too.
The Jack of Diamonds, Jack to his friends, is something of an enigma among the Courtiers of Diamonds. He works for his image, rarely mentioning his background except to give vague and slightly contradictory hints about his dark and troubled past. It is generally accepted that he was once a living Prince who after some trauma has chosen to remain in the Dreamlands rather than reincarnate.
It is no secret that Jack is loyal to the Queen of Spades, not the Queen of Diamonds. In fact it would be rather hard to miss it, his official role in the court is the ambassador from Spades. Jack's unofficial role, and most of his time, is playing devils advocate or perhaps court jester, the distinction is fluid. While Jack makes no research or discoveries of his own he can bring theories and philosophies crashing down with a well aimed sentence.
With his friendly nature, sharp mind and quick wit Jack is a popular member of the Court. He is respected for his mind, his sense of humour and his ability to speak almost entirely in bizarre metaphors or aphorisms (which is only partly intentional, his mind isn't all there). They do however wish he wouldn't use his wit against them so often. In this Jack is a microcosm of how the Court of Diamonds sees the Court of Spades.
For his dress Jack prefers brightly coloured tasteless suits, enormous bowties and a straw boater hat. He is never seen without some sort of staff decorated with a symbol of randomness: An enormous die, an endlessly spinning coin, a playing card.
Alan Raymond and Mary Radclifee (Stars)Edit
Deer fools of the audience, I and my assistant, who is making that curious gesture with her face and palm...
Alan Raymond is alternatively the darling and the laughing stock in the court of Diamonds. An unquestionable genius and the inventor of the Charming Engine, an enormous programmable computer that is (somewhat) capable of casting Charms automatically. The whole Court of Diamonds is simultaneously awed by his creation and put off by his peerless ability to burn bridges, sabotage his own career and rarely complete a project because he got distracted by a possible change or improvement. Alan's drive, quirks of personality and inexplicable hatred of music come from autism.
Mary Radclifee is Alan's partner in science, and one of the few people who has figured out how to work with him; using sardonic quips and her corncob pipe to release her frustration before they can build up. Though Mary is obviously delighted to work on the Charming Engine, many in the Court wonder if being on the cutting edge is worth Alan's company, in truth Mary sometimes worries who else would put up with her. Though she controls if far better her mind has far more sever disorders than Alan's. Mary suffers from medication resistant bipolar disorder tied to powerful visual-auditory hallucinations. She can usually suppress her Derangements through pure mathematical logic (not that makes much sense, Dreamlands...) but heightened stress, attempting to think artistically or just going to long without engaging in complex mathematics may cause a relapse. This has left her with a lasting love-hate relationship to poetry and occasional regrets that she cannot study music – the most mathematical of the arts.
Together they attempt to improve the Charming Engine, dive into theoretical mathematics, cause no end of problems for themselves through their respective issues and occasionally have thrilling adventures researching the various cities and towns that reflect computer science or mathematics.
Sidebar: The Charming EngineEdit
If a player character manages to get hold of a Charming Engine (which isn't easy, there's only one and building a second is an Extended Intelligence + Crafts + Acqua - 5 roll with a target of 30 and any failure reduces the accumulated Successes by 5 - Acqua.) it can be forged into an eight dot Bequest (Acqua must be used when casting Bequeath). The Upgrade Charged is required for a Charming Engine to function and is included in the price. A Charming Engine also requires connection to the water mains for coolant, the waste water is drinkable and can be used with the built in tea maker.
Once a Princess is in possession of a Charming Engine she can create programs for it using a variation of the Charm Bequeath; replace Crafts with Computer in the Dicepool. Again, Acqua must be applied. These programs have no Size, can't be removed from the Charming Engine, and cannot be Charged or Empowered. Because the Charming Engine is a prototype, several design short-cuts mean that it can only cast Acqua Charms or general Charms Invoked with Acqua.
A Charming Engine can be instructed to cast a series of Charms in a given order, and use simple if-else logic based on the Success or Failure of the previous Charm (Future versions will be Turing complete). However they take roughly twenty times longer than a Princess would. Even an Instant action takes a whole minute before anything happens. Generally the Charming Engine is considered merely a proof of concept and not for practical use.
Duncan Kingdom (Star)Edit
- With all the steam at my command.
They say the candle that burns twice as bright burns twice as fast. Duncan Kingdom certainly did both. One of the earliest Princes to Blossom after the return Duncan was a founding member of the modern Embassy to Machines and a stylistic icon among the hammer men. He reached the rank of Ambassador before dying after single combat with a Dethroned. After underestimating his opponent Duncan was defeated and temporally lost the ability to transform. Undeterred he gathered some of his old gadgets and improvised a few new ones for round two, fighting his rival to mutual destruction, not bad for a Mender. As he was dying in hospital the Queen of Diamonds requested that he spend the beginning of his afterlife in her court so he could mentor Emissaries to Machines.
When he's not mentoring Machinists Duncan enjoys building aircraft and ships, trying to see just how big he can make them. He favours big grey iron hulls and large amounts of aesthetic coal smoke. The man himself wears Victorian suits, a top hat and is permanently chomping a large cigar. On occasion he will venture forth from the court to rescue a favoured student who has gotten in trouble somewhere in the Dreamlands, he prefers to travel on a vehicle of his own design that looks roughly like the engine of a steam train converted to travel off road. It makes an entrance.
The Emperor (Actor)Edit
The Emperor is the undisputed monarch of Saint Francis' City. He is the servant, and master, of Saint Francis himself. A blue eyed all American boy dressed up in full imperial regalia to match Napoleon at his most fabulous; ruling from a golden throne backed by an enormous marble eagle. His clothing is a reflection of The Emperor's nobility and virtue, not his fashion sense. He is in truth a kind, humble man devoted to the good of his city who divides his time between the affairs of government and wondering the streets, speaking to his citizens and helping them with daily issues. He travels alone and unarmed, but all of Saint Frances' city is his bodyguard.
It is hard to fight in the Emperor's presence, he softly asks you to put your weapons away. It costs 1 Willpower to enable yourself to fight for the scene. This cost is waved if you or someone you wish to protect is attacked.
Note for those who have read Astral RealmsEdit
The Dreamlands are similar to what the Atlantean Mages call the Astral Realms. How would a Princess perceive the Astral, and how would a Mage perceive the Dreamlands? In many ways the question is purely academic. Only in the most bizarre and unlikely circumstances could a Mage enter the Dreamlands or a Princess arrive within the Astral.
But for the sake of academic curiosity let us pluck a Princess of Diamonds and a Mage of the Mysterium from their lives and give each a copy of Princess: the Hopeful and Astral Realms to read. Over the course of much debating they would touch upon several ideas: They might say the two realms are one and the same, seen from different points of view. Perhaps they are different manifestations of the same phenomena. They may question the possibility that both the Dreamlands and the Astral Realms are like metaphysical “web-browsers”; they are mostly separate but one may see the effects of the other by observing the changes in the “website” they connect too. Perhaps one might propose that the two realms are simply unrelated. The possibility to test this theory is sure to delight both. What would happen if the Princess stood patiently in St Frances' City while the Mage used an ancient Atlantean artefact, The Scythe, to destroy the Temenos realm of San Francisco. When the Princess sees the destruction and instant restoration of St Frances' City they would be forced to conclude that there is some overlap. At this point they would begin debating which of the earlier theories were true, but after much thought they would be unable to determine if the theories are even meaningfully different.
And what would our scholars think of their opposites' realm? The Princess would look at the layers of the Astral with bafflement, and a little distaste. How can the Oneiros and the Temenos be separate? The concept of an individual human is meaningless outside the context of humanity, and how can you have humanity without the individual humans that comprise it? While any follower of the Court of Diamonds would have little trouble understanding the concept of travelling through word or symbolic associations she would be baffled as to why the Astral runs on such principles. From a Princess' point of view they're far too small a part of human existence to underpin humanity's collective unconscious. She might conclude that the Astral was built by something inhuman trying to understand humanity, and muse what this implies about the Mage. This can only end in a heated argument.
Wishing to map the unknowable, the Mystagogue would focus on the structure of the Dreamlands. That part looks like the equivalent of this Temenos realm. This section looks like an Oneiros. But how does it all fit together? While the two realms don't always map to each other this does not mean that progress cannot be made. Some deductions are clear; like the Foundation and the Omphalos being the same. It will not take long for the Mystagogue to broadly conclude that the Dreamlands are a very peculiar hybrid of the parts of the Astral that they call the Temenos and the Dreamtime, with representations of the Oneiros present but usually sealed. Trying to go past the low hanging fruit leads only to confusion. Inhabitants of The Kingdom are present in the Dreamlands but there is no trace of them in the Temenos. Not even of the vast territories governed by the Queens. Attempting to find a relationship between the association-connections of the Temenos and the physical distances in the Dreamlands gets nowhere. As the Mage works he might mutter words like “Less True” or “only Sleepers”. This can only end in a heated argument.