Domain of the Month
The Nightmare Lands
Having bad dreams? Oh, sorry dear, that’s bad for the skin complexion. Having them often? Oh, have you thought of asking Dr Ilhousen?
Third edition info: mentioned in Gaz 5, and the fore coming FoS Nocturnal Sea Report
Second edition: Black Box (Realm of Terror), Red Box (RL Campaign Setting), Domains of Dread, The Nightmare Lands
Adventure: The Nightmare Lands
Other selected interesting source: Book of Shadows (Interpretation of Dreams), USS 2003 (Demented Dreamscape, Of vision induced by coma)
Date of creation unknown.
It was located along the Nova Vaasa border, but it became an Island in the mist during the Grand Conjunction (year 740).
Darklord: the Nightmare Man
I have always thought of using my dreams with the nightmare lands. This was my dream, which I converted into an adventure:
(Oh, and I was Master Chief in this one... )
I woke up under a house on stilts, like a sea-side pier. I had all of my stuff with me (ie: Assault Rifle, Magnum, etc.) and I went into the house, because the fog all arounf was creeping me out. Inside the house were 5-7 frightened kids. The house looked like a cathedral on the inside, with glass windows. In the middl of the room was a long table filled with food. A roaring fireplace was on the far end of it. The children told me to close the door and be quiet, but would not tell me why. Suddenly, a monster (probably a Dread Troll) opened the door and grab me. It tried to thro me into the fireplace, but I got away in time. It then started attacking the children, so I gunned it down. It's body dissolved into mist an dissapated. A half-hour later, another monster (I'd say a Hulking Marikith) smashed through the floor and attacked. It to dissolved into mist when I killed it. After that, a Mind Flayer phased out of the wall and tried to suck my brain. It also dissolved, and my dream ended.
Of course, I needed a finale, so I added this:
Lightning flashed, and the windows exploded. The roof was torn off, and a giant, glowing green skull hovered down. Suddenly the fragemtns of glass got up off of the floor and became Glass Golems. For every kid the PC (only use 1 PC for this) doesn't save, have the giant skull be joined by a smaller skull. When the giant skull dies, the PC wakes up. If the PC dies, he becomes a Mist Horror.
I've wondered about the plausibility of having the Nightmare Lands as a gateway to the Astral Plane. In 2nd ed, the Astral Plane was a plane where reality could be shaped by beliefs and mental control. So it stands to reason that the Nightmare Lands could be based on the mental fortitude of the darklord or the Nightmare Court.
It also explains that the Abber Nomads' quaint belief that somebody will stop existing once you can't see him may actually have some truth to it.
Stygian Inquirer adds:You could also use the dreamscape and nightmarescape rules from Heroes of Horror as a base instead of the astral plane.
I meant to post this back when I saw the show, but I watched a Cirque du Soleil show that began,
"I dreamt that I was at my own funeral..." The man is laid out on a bed as everyone comes to pay their last respects. Until some devil children start running around the bed, spinning it and then jumping on the bed and bouncing over the man (doing back flips and such since it was Cirque du soleil).
thought that would make a good idea for a nightmare.
I had a theory that the Nightmare Court was like the Elder Gods, seeing how they were strange, and had power over dreams, but weren't as odd as the Old Ones. Maybe the Nightmare Man was based off of Nyarlathotep?
Dragon 287 has a dream elemental template that might be a good reference.
Mangrumon his version of dreamspawn:
Pale Morph (Lesser Dream Spawn)
Pale morphs are the lowliest of the dream spawn. In dreamscapes, they play the roles of distant figures and minor objects. They are poor at mimicking fine details, however. If a pale morph assumes the shape of an ancient tome, it might look fine at first glance, but a reader who flipped through its pages would discover them filled with unintelligible gibberish, not words.
A pale morph is usually about the size of a cat. In its true form, its colorless body flows like liquid, seemingly struggling to maintain even a vague humanoid shape.
A pale morph is about 2 feet tall and weighs 10–15 pounds.
CombatPale morphs follow the orders of more powerful dream spawn, attacking in whatever forms they have been assigned. In their true forms, they lash out with their claws, but usually just try to melt into the woodwork (sometimes literally).
Will saves against a pale morph’s absorb memories, detect thoughts, and lullaby abilities have a DC of 10.
Shapechange (Sp): A pale morph can assume the form of any creature with up to 1 Hit Die.
Sunlight Vulnerability (Ex): A pale morph exposed to natural sunlight (not just a daylight spell) is instantly slain. Its body vanishes in a puff of vapor, leaving no trace.
Pale Morph FamiliarsSpellcasters with the Improved Familiar feat can take a pale morph as a familiar. A pale morph has no innate ability to cross the Veil of Sleep, so it usually remains in the Region of Dreams, joining its master whenever she sleeps. The master can retrieve its familiar using dream travel spells or by journeying to the Nightmare Lands to physically recover it. Abber nomad shamans are the most common masters of pale morph familiars.
A pale familiar grants its master a +3 bonus on Lucid Dreaming checks.
General combat info for dreamspawns:
CombatDream spawn can assume nearly any form and usually adopt the attacks of those borrowed shapes. If a dream spawn cannot use a desired ability of its assumed form, it typically uses dream powers to mimic the ability’s effects.
When encountered in its true form, a dream spawn usually attacks with its spidery claws. A dream spawn’s natural weapons, as well as any weapons it wields, are considered magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.
Dream spawn work in teams to turn a dream seed’s pleasant slumber into mind-shattering nightmares. The most powerful individual dream spawn in a given dreamscape (typically an ennui or shadow morph) acts as the overseer of all other dream spawn present. The effectiveness of some dream spawn attacks are determined by the power of the dreamscape’s overseer rather than the actual dream spawn making the attack. For example, a dreamer who “dies” in a dreamscape must make a Madness save upon waking (DC 10 + 1/2 overseer’s HD + overseer’s Cha modifier).
If dream spawn defeat a dreamer once and inflict a madness effect, they usually return to plague that dreamer every night until they are driven off, destroyed, or drag their victim into a nightmare-filled coma.
Dream spawn are native to the Region of Dreams, and are considered on their home plane whenever encountered in dreamscapes. A dream spawn gains the extraplanar subtype when it enters the waking world.
If a dream spawn is truly killed in a dreamscape (these creatures often feign death in the course of acting out nightmares), a swarm of dreamweavers emerges from seemingly nowhere 1d4 rounds later and unravels its remains, leaving nothing behind.
Absorb Memories (Su): Dream spawn can access the memories of other creatures, assuming forms pulled from the deepest recesses of their minds.
In the Waking World: To use this ability, a dream spawn must make a successful touch attack (using same attack bonus as a claw attack), dealing 1d4 points of Intelligence damage. Until the victim recovers all lost Intelligence, the dream spawn can freely access the victim’s memories; it can communicate in any language the victim knows and can use its shapechange ability to mimic creatures from the victim’s subconscious.
In Dreamscapes: A dream spawn can access the memories of all dreamers within the dreamscape simultaneously as free action on its turn, regardless of distance. When a dream spawn uses this ability, each dreamer in the dreamscape is entitled to a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 spawn’s HD + spawn’s Cha modifier) to resist the intrusion. However, a dream spawn can repeat the attempt once each round and is likely to eventually prevail. This form of memory absorption does not inflict Intelligence damage.
A dream spawn can deal Intelligence damage in a dreamscape, but this requires a touch attack, just as if it were making the attack in the waking world. This Intelligence damage carries over into the waking world when the dreamer wakes.
Detect Thoughts (Su): A dream spawn can continuously use detect thoughts as the spell (caster level 18th). A spawn can suppress or resume this ability as a free action.
In the Waking World: This ability has a range of 30 feet. Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 spawn’s HD + spawn’s Cha modifier) negates.
In Dreamscapes: This ability has no maximum range and dreamers receive no saving throw.
Lullaby (Ex): Oneiros is the language of dreams. Although few non-dream creatures can understand it, the tone and cadence of its words inherently instill sensations of peace and security in listeners’ minds, often reminding them of the lullabies that lulled them to sleep as children. A dream spawn can murmur softly in Oneiros as a free action.
Creatures with the dream subtype are immune to Oneiros’s effects. Bards can attempt to counter the lullaby with their countersong class feature. This is a sonic, mind-affecting sleep effect.
In the Waking World: All creatures that can hear the murmurs (Listen check DC 10 + modifiers for distance and barriers) must succeed on a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 spawn’s HD + spawn’s Cha modifier) or be fatigued. A listener that is already fatigued becomes exhausted; an exhausted listener falls asleep. These effects last for as long as the listener can hear the murmuring and for 1d4 rounds thereafter. Whether or not the save is successful, that creature cannot be affected again by that spawn’s lullaby for 24 hours.
In Dreamscapes: Although they are already asleep, creatures in dreamscapes can also be affected by the lullaby. If a dreamer fails its Will save against the lullaby, its dream-self becomes fatigued (or exhausted if already fatigued) within the dreamscape. Exhausted dreamers who fail their Will save do not fall asleep within the dreamscape, but in the waking world, they cannot be woken until the lullaby’s effect ends.
Shapechange (Sp): At will, a dream spawn can use shapechange (caster level equals Hit Dice) to assume virtually any form. A dream spawn can assume the form of a creature of any type, including mimicking specific individuals, but all forms must be drawn from the thoughts of mortal victims (by absorbing their memories; see above).
Dream spawn can also take the form of objects; treat this as taking the form of an animated object of the appropriate size.
A dream spawn can remain in its new form until it chooses to assume a new one. A spawn can return to its true form as a free action. If killed, a dream spawn reverts to its true form before fading away.
Fear Eater (Ex): Dream spawn are immune to all fear, horror, and madness effects. If targeted by a spell or ability that would normally cause a specific fear, horror, or madness effect, a dream spawn heals points of damage equal to the effect’s spell level. If a dream spawn is targeted by an ability that imposes nonspecific fear, horror, or madness effects, or if another creature fails a Fear, Horror, or Madness save within 30 feet of the dream spawn (or at any distance within a dreamscape), then the spawn heals 2 points of damage for a minor effect, 5 points for a moderate effect, and 10 points for a major effect. If this amount of healing would cause a dream spawn to exceed its full normal hit point total, it gains any excess as temporary hit points. These temporary hit points last for up to 1 hour.
Skills: Dream spawn gain a +10 racial bonus on Disguise checks and a +4 racial bonus on Bluff checks and Move Silently checks.
*Dream spawn gain an additional +10 circumstance bonus on Disguise checks when using their shapechange ability.
*Within dreamscapes or when interacting with creatures whose memories they have absorbed, dream spawn gain a +8 insight bonus on Sense Motive checks.
Here's the entry for the Dream subtype in my personal notes:
Dream Subtype: This subtype is usually used for elementals and similar creatures with a connection to the Region of Dreams, otherwise known as the Veil of Sleep. Dream creatures are always fully lucid in dreams and can dreamwalk effortlessly without needing either the Lucid Dreamer or Dreamwalker feats.
Creatures of elemental dream in the waking world can be destroyed by the light of day. Dream creatures are vulnerable to direct exposure to sunlight (not just a daylight spell), though the exact effects vary from one dream creature to the next. Dream creatures may take damage each round of exposure to sunlight, or they may be destroyed instantly. In dreams, however, this vulnerability seldom applies — any “daylight” encountered in a dreamscape is composed of the same dreamstuff as the dream creatures themselves, and thus does them no harm.
Dream creatures are considered to be on their native plane when encountered in a dreamscape, and always gain the extraplanar subtype while in the waking world.
There's one remark in the Nightmare Lands rulebook that I found especially interesting: extremely terrifying nightmares occur more often, if the circumstances in the waking world are "right", such as wars or terrible misfortunes. Furthermore, these nightmares need triggers from the waking world to occur.
For me, this means the Nightmare Court should have quite a large interest in the waking world, maybe large enough to try to influence it. Maybe this means that they could (or already have) help Vlad Drakov crush any hope or resistance in Falkovnia, or help him in some way to conquer the surrounding domains - even though they know he will ultimately and inevitably fail, but only after spreading terror and destruction across large stretches of land. But anybody with enough power to spread misery could attract their attention - namely almost any darklord.
I've already thought about adding a touch of Lovecraft to my campaign by forging an alliance between the Nightmare Court and Gwydion, resulting in people being driven mad in their dreams of a bizzare and alien world (the plane of shadow, Gwydions home) and strange and evil cults turning up all over the core after they dreamt of an all-powerful being, trapped between worlds, and are now trying to open the gate...
Nightmare Lands and Bluetspur strike me as logical choices for sister worlds.
Bluetspur is a totally otherworldly and alien world of static, continuous, neverchanging night tinged with fiery horizons and lightning storms. The inhabitants are entrenched in their subterranean crypts. (I would even introduce the various aberrations from Lords of Madness.)
Nightmare Lands is the opposite - nothing is real and flux is the order of the day. Still terrifying and still deadly, but horribly creative and bewildering.
Given that the darklord of Bluetspur is only able to act in a cerebral dimension, maybe the Nightmare Court is a projection of its mental powers, or vice versa?
Rotipher of the FoS :I'm not sure if the match is as natural as all that. The Nightmare Lands are bizarre, it's true, but the fears and dream-experiences which they embody are fundamentally human fears and dreams: embodiments of our subconscious uncertainties, suspicions, and self-recriminations. The Court's lesser members are specifically representative of the darker side to our dreaming consciousness, and the storylines from the Nightmare Lands boxed set are all about human dreamers coming to terms with their own failings and doubts, and ultimately overcoming them.
The menace of Bluetspur, in contrast, is fundamentally inhuman, and coldly indifferent to everything human beings deem of importance or value. While it's no less weird than the Nightmare Lands, it's vastly more alien; its Lovecraftian elements hint that the true horror isn't the illithids, but the idea that the essential nature of the universe aligns more closely with their callous and twisted mentality than ours.
If anything, the Nightmare Lands are really a thematic opposite to Bluetspur. The former elevate the human mind to a complete immersive environment, in which one can play out intricate psychodramas exploring our character as human beings; the latter demotes all merely-human fears and concerns to insignificance, our prevailing conception of reality to blind ignorance, and our brains to nothing more than fodder for the true "masters of creation".
That doesn't mean that Bluetspur's inhabitants might not try to exploit the Nightmare Court, subverting it to serve as a weapon against humanity's collective unconscious. But trying to ally two domains which illustrate such incompatible views of human worth would seem awkward and forced, IMO, unless you're changing the premise of one or the other to eliminate that discrepancy.
Joël of the FoS
In my campaign, I had the idea of having two people having nightmares brewed by the NCourt (one PC and one NPC, Tara Kolyana). The nighmares are different for each, as these are tailored for their own negative emotions or karma – the PC has nightmares about the guilt of not being there to save his friends when the monk monastery was destroyed in his teens; and Tara, well, bloody ones for being Strahd’s recurrent bride reincarnation (see her description in Gaz I).
They each freak out on their own, and the players are trying to find out why they are affected by this simultaneously.
But they would later find there was a link between both : the PC is a Von Zarovich (Legacy of Blood), but he doesn’t know it when the nightmare starts. So Tara is having those bloody nightmares of her, and when she wakes up, she finds herself very uneasy with the PC’s presence, without being able to explain it…
It gets even stranger when the final nightmare is a confrontation with the NCourt where both PC and Tara are brought into the same nightmare! They have to cooperate if they want to get out alive and sane.
See my journals, session 11-12 (when the bad dreams start), and 17 (conclusion) for more info.
I found it was quite cool and fun to have these two people’s dreams mixed into one coherent thing they have to sort out. It added a deep layer of mystery and creepiness to the nightmares.
A G Thing
How about having the same nightmare of a serial killer running rampent in town and a killer that is killing people not having the nightmares. Make only one of the PC's have the nightmares and you will create tension and the PC's will most likely aid in the chase. The killer turns out to be a person who has just moved into town not but a couple of months ago and he is a traveler of some sort. Adventurer, explorer, Bard, or even merchant.
He should be quite hard to capture but should have nothing that makes him in human about him except the killing of those who do not have the nightmares.
Then when the serial killer is thought to have died but his corpse or such should be unobtainable in circumstance, and the dreams stop for all in town. After they leave on another errand, eventually the PC that led the chase, delivered the most damage, was most affected by the case or is psychicly claravoient, suddenly begins to have only slightly similar nightmares.
At first these should be nothing a sleep spell or even just some simple sleep aiding drugs can beat. Of course then eventually the dreams should start to get beyond even those such protections.
The dreams are slowly fear inducing, then horror inducing, then finally madness inducing, and should the PC suffer enough mental trauma it could be earily reminicent in effect in some regard to the wounds she suffered in the dreams. Not to mention the sleep loss or inability to heal naturally.
By the madness save stage it could be revealed to be so close to the original that the PC's become convinced that they must return to the town to find the villian again.
However on thier return if they did not wait to discover it they find no evidence of the killer to confirm his death as the rubble or such was cleared away from the scene.
They may find some strange lore but it should be nothing too solid at this exact point. Then while they are still hear on the first night something should happen.
As the lone character continues to struggle another figure who could be one of the nightmare court or such could start to appear with difficulty of seeing in the dreamscape. Nothing but glances or minor flashes and the DC of the save should be a little higher. Now the others may think them mad even if the lore can connect slightly, and them possibly actually being mad not helping in that department. One constant should be that the Nightmare Court member looks at the killer and not the PC while the dreams go on.
From there the PC's need to try and help thier affected friend or when he or she has parished or become utterly a lost one they too may begin to have the nightmares.
If they manage to find thier way to the nightmare lands then they should be pulled into the next dream and have to fight the manifestion of the killer once more. If they kill it in the dream then the nightmares should stop but should they fail to do such each of them must make madness saves and the one who fails the worst should then become possessed by the killer.
If they fight this way only when killed in the dream can the killers spirit be put to rest and he is more formidable in that relm. The nightmares will not stop until the killers spirit is in the last body or the killer is killed in the dreams.
I just thought of it and while I may have been a little inspired by other things I don't remember seeing it else where...
Finally the Nightmare Lands are getting some attention. This is very refreshing after essentially being ignored for so long.
In his journal, Dr. Ilhousen questions whether members of the Nightmare Courts are real individuals or merely facets of the Nighmare Man. In my campaign they are kind of minor "subordinate darklords", given even less power than a real darklord. You see, the Nightmare Man's curse is that he can not truly create anything original. As such, he has to lend some of his power to other individuals to be able to do anything. Shortly after becoming a darklord (I essentially use the backstory presented in the Book of Shadows) he scoured the multiverse for individuals to aid him. (He has the ability to reach into other planes but not to travel to them.) He found the souls of five individuals who had met some tragic or untimely end. He made Faustian bargains with them, allowing them to "right the wrongs" that had been done to them. Hence the Nightmare Court was born. However, the members of the court are condemned to be some sort of lesser darklord, with even less power than the Nightmare Man. The only way that they can ease their pain is by feeding off specific emotions of dreaming individuals (and hence aiding the Nightmare Man). The specific emotion they must feed upon is related in someway to how they met their end. For example:
The Ghost Dance was originally a poor woman who married a minor noble. She was originally innocent , pure, and somewhat naive. Her true passion was art, theater, and especially dancing. As hard times befell the young family, her husband started to drink and get more and more violent and abusive. He belittled her passions and accomplishments in ballet as "wasting time and financial resources". However, she naively told herself that the man "really loved her" and that the abuse she suffered probably was because she somehow "deserved it". One night, in a bout of drunken fury, her husband murdered her and her infant son. Now she blames herself for being so naive, not leaving the relationship, and failing to protect her son. The only way she can ease this soul numbing pain is to feed off the guilt of others.
Mullonga was originally the shaman of an aboriginal tribe on the edges of civilization. As an elder and shaman she was respected and venerated by everyone in the tribe. However, she craved more and wanted power so she started secretly researching black magic. Upon discovering this, the rest of the tribe was horrified. To them she had betrayed the spirits by practicing the forbidden arts and had betrayed the tribe by doing such a dark thing behind their backs. They performed a rite of exile, and officially banishing her from the tribe. Alone, she had no choice but to go to world of "civilization". There she ended up living in the ghettos of the city, alone and afraid. The invoking of black magic took it's toll on her body. causing her to become shriveled. The Nightmare Man gave her the chance to "get revenge" on those that had wronged her. However, now she must feed on the fear and apprehension of others to sustain herself.
I've yet to come up with backstories for other members of the Court.
A G Thing :Mine kinda ties in with yours a bit Shadow... My murderer could be a sort of person who has made a deal with the Nightmare Man and is trying to fulfill his end of the bargin... Perhaps he has to embed himself in others dreams or he is perhaps trying to curry favor and rise in rank as it were.
I had an idea for a sort of "lesser court"...mostly because I thought it would be cool to create baddies based off of the Endless from Sandman. I suppose that if the Court were nobles then these would be squires or gentry...and would possibly have actual physical avatars that could be gotten to and directly defeated.
To contribute to the Domain of the Month, post on the forum.
Send your adventure hooks to Joel@fraternityofshadows.com