Hyperspatial Plane of the Collective Unconscious
Just as humanity has begun to explore outer space, it has also started charting the realms of inner space, through explorations of a level of Hyperspace connected to the unconscious mind. One of the strangest results of humanity beginning to explore psychic powers has been the realization that some dreams have a reality that extends beyond the mind of an individual dreamer. Although most dreams take place solely in the mind of the dreamer, some occur in a psychic realm most commonly referred to as the Dreamlands or the Dream Realm. This inner world has been known to mystics for millennia. Psychologist Carl Jung referred to it as the collective unconscious, and some psychic researchers believe that it is the source of all imagination, and perhaps even all thought.
Extensive studies have shown that almost everyone regularly visits the Dreamlands, and most people visit it every night. The vast majority of people who visit this realm have at best only vague and fleeting memories of their time here, but psychics and the few truly lucid dreamers who visit it are as conscious and aware in this realm as they are when awake, and for them, the Dreamlands can be a fascinating new world to explore.
SECTORS OF THE DREAMLANDS
- Deep Country
- The Living Stars
- The Underworld
The Dreamlands is divided into four separate sectors. Each Sector is effectively a different setting or genre of dreaming. Most ordinary dreamers only visit one of these sectors, but psychic and lucid dreamers can visit any of them. Once someone is in the Dreamlands, it is also possible to physically travel from one sector to another.
The borders of these sectors are relatively secure, but within each sector, location is considerably more flexible. In each sector, there are a number of important and well-known locations – the grand city of Celephais in Deep Country, the lightless Vale of Pnath in the Underworld, the Moon in the Living Stars, and a multitude of others. In general, any location with a widely known name is a stable location in the Dreamlands and remains consistent in appearance and in the general appearance of its surroundings.
However, the relative positions of these various named locations can shift, in large part because the details of the unnamed and largely uninhabited portions of the Dreamlands vary at the whims and unconscious desires of millions of dreamers. Celephais is always in the valley of Ooth-Nargai, beside the Cerenerian Sea, and it is always located in the Eastern portion of Deep Country. However, how far Celephais is from Ulthar, the Enchanted Wood, or various other locations in Deep Country varies.
The sectors within the Dreamlands cannot be mapped. Distances and exact locations shift constantly, and to get from one location to another, intention matters at least as much as the actual path or direction. To get from the city of Inganok in the North to Celephais in the East, travelers are advised to cross the Cerenerian Sea to the Eastern continent. Similarly, if individuals traveling overland obtain their directions from an experienced guide, they will be told how the types of trees found in the forest change as they approach the borders of Ooth-Nargai. These directions provide information that dreamers use to locate their destination and also to subtly and unconsciously warp the landscape so that they can effectively will themselves to their destination. Any journey requires a few days or weeks in Deep Country, the Underworld, or the Living Stars and a few hours or days in Bastion and all journeys are appropriate for their setting – riding or walking through fields and forests, flying a jet car from one mega-structure to another, or climbing through dank and lightless passageways.
On any of these journeys, the traveler’s knowledge of their destination matters at least as much as any precise directions they may have. In general, travelers eventually reach their destination, if this destination exists. However, how quickly they find this destination depends a great deal upon both how well they know it and how determined they are to get there.
TIME IN THE DREAMLANDS
Time in the Dreamlands passes much faster than in the waking world. In most regions, approximately one day in the Dreamlands passes for every hour that a dreamer remains asleep, allowing a dreamer to experience more than a week’s worth of events and adventures during an ordinary night’s sleep. Also, characters in dreams almost never need to sleep, requiring nothing more than a short nap of an hour or two every night.
Time flows in strange ways in the Dreamlands. To characters from the Waking World, it may seem as if a great deal of time, months or even years, has passed since their last visit. Similarly, a great deal of time within the Dreamlands may pass within the span of one night. However, time will not always flow at a set rate; a character may enter the Dreamlands one night and spend a week within. He may return the next night to find that almost no time at all has passed since he last left. If he were to return again the next night he might find that many months had passed since his last visit, and he might stay many years. Although the character may age while in the Dreamlands, the effects of such aging will not extend into the Waking World and will vanish upon awakening
For characters who enter the Dreamlands physically, time will seem to pass at the same rate as in the Waking World, and will have the usual aging effects. For instance, someone who enters the Dreamlands physically for a few weeks will be gone from the Waking World for a few weeks; someone who enters the Dreamlands physically as a young man and stays for many years will be gone from the Waking World for many years and will return to it an old man.
PSYCHIC POWERS & SORCERY IN THE DREAMLANDS
Psychic powers can be used normally in all portions of the Dreamlands. In addition, sorcery is far easier than normal. All sorcery that is used successfully automatically has a raise, in addition to any rolled on the skill test.
In the Dreamlands, sorcery always has obvious visible effects, like blasts or shimmering vortices of energy, and similar effects related to the purpose of the spell. Although all forms of sorcery can be used in both the Underworld and the Living Stars, in Deep Country, Weird Science devices do not work. The opposite is true in Bastion, where sorcery automatically fails, and Weird Science devices work normally. Sorcerers and hyperspatial scientists are known and respected in the Dreamlands. Some of the inhabitants of the Dreamlands who are not aware that they have another life in the waking world are sorcerers or psychics, despite their waking versions not having either ability.
DEATH AND INJURY IN THE DREAMLANDS
Individuals who are injured in the Dreamlands heal rapidly and find themselves unharmed when they awaken. Also, once they fall asleep again, even the gravest injuries have vanished. Death in the Dreamlands is only slightly more serious. Dying in the Dreamlands causes someone to instantly awaken, with mental Stress but otherwise fine. The only negative consequence is that the individual cannot visit the Dreamlands again for one full month. At the end of this time, they can return to the Dreamlands normally. As a word of caution, some hyperspatial entities have the ability to annihilate an individual's dream-body, causing them to lose the power to ever dream again.
A Dreamer physically present in the Dreamlands who dies there never reappears on Earth. Conversely, characters who die in the real world might be able to pass over into the Dreamlands with a successful Dreaming roll at death.
INHABITANTS OF THE DREAMLANDS
The Dreamlands has several billion inhabitants. More than half of the inhabitants of the Dreamlands are effectively scenery. They are creations of what amounts to the collective unconscious of the Dreamlands. These inhabitants have little in the way of free will or knowledge and they simply respond as people would expect someone of their occupation and station would normally respond. Most of the rest of the inhabitants are actual people who are dreaming, but who are not psychics or lucid dreamers and are thus completely unaware that they are dreaming or that they live as someone else in their waking life. These dreamers have both knowledge of the world they live in and free will but know nothing about the waking world. Instead, when someone falls asleep, they have another entirely separate life as an inhabitant of the Dreamlands with a different name. While this person is asleep, they remember nothing of their waking life and when awake, they remember, at most, tiny fragments of their dream life.
Actual dreamers are the rarest category of the inhabitants of the Dreamlands. Less than one in 200 residents of the Dreamlands are psychics or lucid dreamers who are aware that they are dreaming. Many of these individuals often find some way to reveal their identity to other psychic and lucid dreamers using either their name or some obvious detail of their garb. However, others find it useful to keep their identity a secret. Several large cities in the Dreamlands have private clubs that are maintained by psychic and lucid dreamers who share information and are available to help one another with various projects.
The Dreamlands are populated by a wide variety of peoples just as in the Waking World. For the most part, these people appear as human beings. They do differ from the people of the Waking World in that they are slightly smaller in stature. Waking Worlders visiting or living in the Dreamlands permanently will therefore be recognizable as not originating in the Dreamlands. Even short characters will seem to have about them that certain intangible air that will mark them as having come from the Waking World. There is no stigma or benefit to this status within the Dreamlands.
Although there are different ethnic types and societies within the Dreamlands, all of its peoples speak a common tongue. It will sound strange to the ears of dreamers, soft and lyrical. At the same time, it will be easily understood and spoken by all dreaming visitors to the Dreamlands. It is only very isolated or degenerate human societies within the Dreamlands which do not share this language. The main benefit to this common language is that two dreamers who do not speak common languages in the Waking World may communicate freely in the Dreamlands. Residents of the Dreamlands, natural or ex-Waking World, will be able to understand any Waking World tongue which is spoken to them. Various non-human residents of the Dreamlands (such as ghouls, cats, and zoogs) have their own tongues, and may not be able to speak or understand the language of mankind. Certain human languages of the past are also unintelligible, notable among them Aklo.
The peoples of the Dreamlands usually engage in a form of the barter system for the exchange of goods. However, they are also known to use gems, such as opals, rubies, and diamonds, as a system of exchange. There are even systems of coinage in some regions of the Dreamlands. It is left up to the keeper to determine the exact costs of things and what form of payment will be accepted.
VISITING THE DREAMLANDS
Ordinary people often visit the Dreamlands but have no memory of doing so. However, anyone with one or more levels of Hyperspatial Exposure can visit the Dreamlands whenever they are sleeping and remember their experiences there. Gaining any amount of Hyperspatial Exposure transforms a human into a lucid dreamer. In addition, psychics need only mentally contact other people while falling asleep to bring them along to the Dreamlands. Even individuals who would not normally remember visiting the Dreamlands will do so if taken into the Dreamlands by a psychic.
A psychic can bring a number of non-psychics into the Dreamlands equal to their Hyperspatial Exposure Level. All of these characters end up within a dozen yards of each other in the Dreamlands, and the psychic chooses where in the Dreamlands the characters will appear. Psychic characters can choose to appear anywhere in the Dreamlands that they have previously visited. However, they must physically travel to unfamiliar locations.
Physically Entering the Dreamlands
While it may seem strange for someone who is awake to enter a region known as the Dreamlands, there are a great number of examples of such physical doorways. The most numerous of these are the burrows dug by ghouls into almost every cemetery around the globe. Old graves, forgotten mausoleums, and ancient crypts are often the haunts of these creatures, whose disturbing dietary preferences bring them to the Waking World each night. Their tunnel-like burrows will eventually lead any character brave enough to crawl through them into that region of the Dreamlands’ Underworld which the ghouls inhabit.
Another known point of physical entry into the Dreamlands is found in the Enchanted Wood, which touches the world of men in two places, though a 19th-century scholar of the Dreamlands states “it would be disastrous to say where.” There are several suspected sites of these crossovers—the Black Forest in Germany, the California redwoods, Transylvania, or Roanoke Island in North Carolina are likely spots.
One area of the Dreamlands which is known to extend into the Waking World is the dreaded plateau of Leng. It infringes upon Central Asia, and it also lies deep in the interior of the Antarctic. Part of it may rest beneath upstate New York. The Mad Arab Abd al-Azrad mentions Leng as a place where myriad realities come together. Those who are fortunate enough to find Leng may stumble into the Dreamlands by accident, or they may find an actual doorway. The exact details of entering the Dreamlands via this route are left to the keeper.
It is equally dangerous to enter the Dreamlands via the Vaults of Zin, which are known to cover a large area deep under the surface of the Dreamlands. In the Waking World, the Vaults of Zin lie beneath the subterranean ruins of the largest city in the red-litten realm of Yoth, which in turn lies beneath the underground realm of K’n-Yan, which can be accessed through the curious earthen mounds in western Oklahoma.
Mt. Voormithadreth once stood on the ancient continent of Hyperborea, in what is now Greenland. It contains the underground lair of Atlach-Nacha. Here the spider-being spins a great web-bridge across a deep chasm. It is rumored that on the day that Atlach-Nacha completes its bridge the world will come to an end. This bridge in fact spans the nether region between the Waking World and the Dreamlands, and when completed it will serve as a gateway for the creatures of nightmare to enter our world. Even though incomplete, this bridge could also serve as a means of physically entering the Dreamlands. Once beyond this nether region and into the Dreamlands it is left up to the keeper to determine exactly where characters would emerge.
The most obscure of all these physical gateways, for it is written of in no tome or scroll, is perhaps the safest one to enter by—and it is not hidden or lost at all. High above the ancient town of Kingsport there stands the strange high house in the mist. From here, on fog-shrouded nights, when it seems as if the house rests upon the clouds themselves, the lone occupant of the House can enter the Dreamlands. Only the Terrible Old Man, who resides in Kingsport proper, and Thomas Olney, who once visited the house, know of this gateway.
It should be noted here that although these physical doorways do exist, they are neither easy to locate nor safe to attempt to use. Who can say how a ghoul would react to characters digging through his burrows? What threats lie in the heart of Leng? Who knows if Atlach-Nacha is once again hungry?
NAVIGATING IN THE DREAMLANDS
To find travel to an unfamiliar destination in the Dream Realm, a character must first know the name of this destination and a bit about it. The character must then succeed at a Know (Dreamlands) skill Test to find their way to this location. Depending upon how much or how little information about their destination and the way there that the character possesses, the GM can raise or lower the difficulty. How quickly you want to reach the destination modifies the skill roll as follows:
|Very Easy||2 Months||1 Week|
|Easy||1 Month||3 Days|
|Challenging||1 Week||1 Day|
|Hard||4 Days||8 Hours|
|Very Hard||1 Day||2 Hours|
By succeeding at an appropriate skill Test, psychics visiting the Dream Realm can provide themselves and their companions with appropriate clothing and equipment. Failure on this roll means that the characters enter the Dream Realm with average clothing and equipment for the location they are in, which typically means a full set of weather-appropriate clothing and a small amount of local cash. A high Effect die on a successful Test allows the psychic dreamer to equip the characters with clothing of a particular design, as well as wearable weapons and other easily portable gear appropriate for the location. Rolling 10 or more raises on this roll allows the psychic to provide everyone with mounts and reasonable equipment in saddlebags, a small sailing ship or large car capable of carrying everyone, or some other moderate-sized vehicle. Dreamers cannot create huge warships, dwellings, or other large structures or objects in the Dreamlands, except by physically building them. There are rumors of exotic magics that allow dreamers to create a small fleet of ships or even an entire city, but they are nothing more than rumors, and most of these rumors involve asking Nyarlathotep for aid, in return for some favor of its choosing.
EXITING THE DREAMLANDS
A character physically present in the Dreamlands can leave only by finding one of the physical paths, such as those in the Forbidden Lands past the Tanarian Hills, the ghoul tunnels from the Underworld which lead to the Waking World, or similar means. If they walk back up the Seven Hundred Steps to Deeper Slumber, to find the Cavern of Flame, they can exit the Dreamlands by proceeding up through the Seventy Steps of Light Sleep.
Whether or not they exit through a different place than that they entered by, their Waking World point of arrival is always the same as that through which they entered the Dreamlands. A character cannot travel in the Waking World by using the Dreamlands as a shortcut.
If a character’s dream self is present, they may also leave by means of a path to the Waking World. If they take such a path, as they near the Waking World, they first see the town in which they live at a distance, then they can make out their own house, then, as they draw closer and closer, suddenly a blaze of light overwhelms them. They wake up, their dream over.
It is also possible for a character to will themselves awake. In order to do so, the character must make a successful Dreaming skill roll to “convince” himself that he is in fact just dreaming. A character who makes this roll wakes up safe and sound. If the character fails their roll they are unable to wake up at this time but may try again later. If the character botches this roll, they are unable to distinguish between their current dream and reality and may not try voluntarily to wake up again at all during their current sojourn in the Dreamlands.
A character may also be awakened if their body is disturbed in the Waking World, perhaps by a loud noise, being shaken vigorously, or a similar startlement. To remain asleep when being so disturbed, the character must make a successful Test.
If a character awakens when on an adventure, their companions simply notice that they aren’t there anymore. This disappearance is always fairly natural; they might simply go into their cabin and not return, or their companions might look up from their places at the table and notice that the missing character's food has been untouched—and, in fact, that they aren’t in his seat anymore.
Any time a character awakens from a dream, they risk forgetting much of what they learned therein. To simulate this, after the character wakes, have them attempt a Test. If it succeeds, then they can remember what happened in his dream as if it had occurred in “real life.” If they fail, however, the dream experiences and discoveries are not clearly remembered. Confiscate any notes the player kept on their investigator’s findings and deny the character any experience gained during the episode, but retain any changes in mental Stress, Hyperspatial Exposure, or the Dreaming skill. Spells learned are forgotten.
THE DREAMLANDS AND THE WAKING WORLD
The Dreamlands has been a topic of legends, stories, and the tales of mystics for centuries, but once the existence of psychic powers was made public in the 1960s, the existence of the Dreamlands became publically known and psychics began making money teaching people how to visit it or taking them along for journeys. During the 1970s, visiting the Dreamlands became a fad, but interest eventually waned for all but a relatively small subculture of dreamers. The 1977 deaths of 14 dreamers who arranged to keep themselves dreaming while their bodies starved to death in the hopes of remaining forever in the Dreamlands caused many people to regard dreamers as potentially unstable and lead to laws against teaching minors to be lucid dreamers or psychics taking them along to the Dreamlands.
Today, the Dreamlands remains a place of wonder and entertainment for a subculture with an interest in having dream adventures, as well as a source of information for OPS operatives. OPS also offers rewards for reliable information about new alien presences or other unusual information and almost half of the information OPS obtains about activities in the Dreamlands comes from amateur dreamers.