Ever wanted to have a mission or quest in a Dream, and need to flesh it out? Today we look at a few ways to do just that.

The dream may be shared by proximity to an astral creature, a pheromone emitting alien technology, or mutual indulgence in strange herbs.

Ways that things can be slightly different from Reality

  • Gravity works but is lessened – heroes can leap 30 ft (10 m) high without effort.
  • Animals can talk or blink between shadows.
  • Singing or dancing makes others compulsively join in.
  • Regular food makes you sick, euphoric or sleepy.
  • Day or night is longer or shorter.
  • Plants can move or have hive-mind, acting with a single purpose.

Talking to creatures has far greater effect than physical actions, dreams are about exploration (ideas and concepts) and interaction. Creatures may want you to understand something or aid it, before helping you with your quest. Good intent is rewarded but often in unexpected ways.

Recurring Themes –

  • An image may appear several times, either more being revealed or larger and closer each time.
  • Different creatures reword the same phrase when interacting with the heroes.
  • A forest trail or taxi appears between event areas.
  • One scent occurs when heroes are being selfish, another scent occurs when heroes are helping others.
  • Discussion or attempts to leave the larger area results in accidents.

Events in dreams should show a creatures desires and regrets, though that may not be obvious at first. The heroes and the creatures they interact with may be confused or misled, what they seek may be hidden or disguised. Creatures desires are never mundane things like money or food, those are symbols for something else.

Things that can be very different to reality –

  • People turn into animals or plants, for a short scene or the majority of the dream.
  • Weather can change instantly, including wind, temperature and precipitation.
  • Magic or Cyberware can malfunction, have side effects, backfire or just not work.
  • Eating things normally not edible makes you more in control of the situation.
  • Heroes once wounded will mutate instead of heal, or die and come back to life different.
  • Creatures can change size or speed based upon the need of the situation.

Dreams can take the heroes to another place and return them, or itself be the vehicle to transport them elsewhere. Not everything has to make sense or be explained-it’s a Dream. Care should be made however to balance the range of challenging, beneficial and misleading events, the players are all here for fun after all.

Involve the players –

  • Things from the heroes past should appear. Their school, their first love, first pet, their parents, first home.
  • Ask the players to throw ideas in on how this creature/item is different. This is not about gaining a bonus, but about adding depth and variety to the story.
  • Dreams will have elements of the heroes – favourite colours, foods they hate, songs they love, creatures they fear.
  • If the characters have faction or deity, then those of the faction-and those of their rivals will appear to challenge the heroes intent, suggest options, and question their methods.
  • Characters are not helpless, they will have heard things about creatures, places and objects in the dreams. Some of this information is partially true, some incorrect, some exaggerated.
  • Events from earlier in the campaign where the heroes failed or succeeded will show up again, inverted or with someone else taking their place. Let them re-experience the situation and react to it-and the events that followed.

Creatures may be attracted to the characters interaction with the dream space :

  • This does not mean they are hostile, they may be curious and wish to trade information or assistance.

Dresden Files : Ghosts, Summer Lady and Winter Lady. Dungeon World : Aboleth and Derro.

Harry Potter : Boggarts and Dementors. Mage the Ascension : Marauders and Dream Speakers.

Shadowrun : Oracle Owl and Wendigo. Star Trek : Ocampa and Species 8472.

Urban Shadows : Fey and Spectres. Warhammer Fantasy : Priests of Morr and Slaanesh Cultists.