Eldritch Excursion – Mean Dream Machine

You enter the cavernous room, its walls bearing the uneven texture and dark red coloration of irritated flesh. Your lost loved one is at the center, suspended above the air as if by force of will alone. From the waist up, their body remains the same, save for the unusual vertical stripes of silver and black that colors their hair. From the waist down, their body blooms like a flower, with a dozen violet petals stretching across the vast expanse of the chambers. These petals are thick and heavy, split open like a pod of peas. But instead of peas, a row of resting infants occupies each one, the children neatly ordered to alternate between male and female.

A shadowy, robed figure nods once in appreciation in the transformation they’ve inflicted upon your loved one. Then, their clawed hand reaches out to grasp at a long, sinuous tail that grows from the wall and trails all the way to your beloved, bonding with their body at the base of their spine. With a simple tug, they sever this lifeline, causing that floating form to wither and fall like a leaf on an absent wind. So shriveled and shrunken is your beloved that by the time you catch them in the palms of your hands, they are merely the size of a pixie. This person, this floral folk, looks up to you with a weak smile. You share a silent moment together. And then they’re gone.

Hello and welcome to Eldritch Excursion, the blog that probably has you wondering what in the world you were reading just now. Today we’re going to continue to explore the mechanics of dreamscapes and the flavor of having that previous scene actually happen to me in a dream the night before writing this article. This isn’t even part of the act, I just wanted to share it with you. Anyway, we’re picking up from our last excursion into dreamscapes to dip our toes into the art of dreamforging.

Dream Scholar                     Background

You had a fascination with the dreaming world and sought to gain a better understanding of it. Perhaps you kept a dream journal with notes, sketches, and some form of speculation. Or maybe some entity visited you within your dreams, offering guidance in reading the patterns of your own sleeping subconscious.
Choose two ability boosts. One must be Intelligence or Wisdom, and the other one is a free ability boost.
You’re trained in the Occultism skill and the Dream Lore skill. You gain the Lucid Dreamer skill feat.


Don’t be caught off guard like this guy. Unless you’re a dream combat specialist. In that case, keep up the good work!


Lucid Dreamer                     Feat 1

(General) (Skill)
Prerequisites trained in Occultism

After careful documentation of and meditation upon your dreams, you have unlocked the ability to gain a greater control of your dreaming state. You are fully aware and in control of yourself while dreaming. If any foreign entities enter your dream, they must make a skill check (using a skill related to their method of infiltration) against your Occultism DC to avoid your immediate notice. If you are under a possession effect, you may converse with your captor, but are otherwise helpless to resist as normal.
While in your own dreamscape, you are able to use basic dreamforging to alter your own dream.

Dreaming Bigger

Dreams are virtually limitless in the shapes and sizes they come in, coming from the deepest inner thoughts of the countless mortals in existence. As such, they’re difficult to meticulously categorize. Thankfully, most dreams tend to have common thematic threads and emotional throughlines, and while their details can vary, their underlying similarities mean a talented dreamforger can manipulate them with the same technique.
Each type of dream has the same general goal, as well as a pair of associated skills that are useful in determining a dreamforger’s options. Note that dreams are often obscured in layers of symbolism or metaphor that make perfect sense to the dreamer, but may require a careful eye and a creative mind for any visitors to understand. What follows are a few generalizations, but the GM shouldn’t be shy about creating their own types.

Desire dreams represent more indulgent experiences that range from the intimate touch of a loved one to the aspirational realization of long-term goals, the sincerest expressions and the most shameless of vices all stem from desire. The associated skills are Deception and Diplomacy.
Memory dreams are approximate recreations of moments from the dreamer’s life, ranging from near perfect accuracy to a recurring dream that gradually changes with each iteration. The associated skills are any skills suitable for using Recall Knowledge against the dreamer.
Nonsense dreams are usually made up of unhinged, disorganized nonsense with only a surface level of coherence, but weaker dreams without a strong emotional pull can also qualify. They have no associated skills, but all dreamforging DCs to change their type are lowered by 2.
Stressful dreams are sometimes mistaken for nightmares, but tend to feature less deadly situations, such as the dreamer showing up to an important event naked or endlessly falling in a void. The associated skills are Intimidation and Stealth.
Lucid dreams are less of a category in their own right and more of a condition that can be applied to any other dream. Because a lucid dreamer is partially separated from the flow of the dreamscape, they no longer act as the Key to their own dream. Instead, some other prominent feature of the dream serves that role.
Prophetic dreams show visions of the past, present, or future, if not all of the above. As they are often the work of higher powers, most mortals have no ability to alter or even prevent their occurrence. They are so rare, so overwhelming, and often so enigmatic that some dreamforgers speculate that they’re actually a misunderstood curse from a bygone era. Their associated skills vary wildly based on the nature and the source of the dream.


Prophetic dreams hit different.


Dreamforging 101

To act upon a dream is to look upon the psyche of a sentient being, find it wanting, and ultimately bend it to your will. Doing so, even in the slightest fashion, is to divert the dream from its natural flow. Once an action with the dreamforging tag has been used within a dream, its surreal flow of time crystalizes into three measurable phases. Each dreamforging activity beyond the first takes one phase to attempt. At the end of these phases, the dream ends and the dreamer awakens. Initiating a combat encounter within the dream counts as a dreamforging activity for this purpose.
Any creature capable of basic dreamforging learns the following activity. Note that the GM is encouraged to grant this ability to monsters that can naturally navigate dreamscapes.

Decipher Dream

(Concentrate) (Dreamforging) (Exploration) (Secret)
You attempt to read the dream by making miniscule alterations to it and observing how the changes ripple out. Roll a Dream Lore, Occultism, or Perception check against the dreamer’s Will DC. If this check is made before the dream has settled into phases, only one creature may attempt it, but multiple creatures may aid them.
A lucid dreamer attempting to decipher their own dreams treats their result as one degree greater.
Critical Success You understand the type of dream taking place. You also know if the current dream has been altered in any other way. You also know if the dream has another visitor besides yourself and your allies, but no further details.
Success You understand the type of dream taking place.
Failure The nature of this dream eludes you, but you may try again later.
Critical Failure You misinterpret the dream’s nature. You may also notice the presence of a dream visitor where there is none.

And that’s going to be it for now. I’ve got a lot that I wanted to include, including the actual mechanics for manipulating dreams, so expect a follow-up sooner than later. Tune in next time when I show you a guy who keeps his dreams safe with One Simple Trick. Hags hate him!

Nate Wright

Hey there. I'm Nate Wright, author of the Eldritch Excursion blog. I'm also a credited freelance author on several releases from Paizo. When I'm not scooping up my thoughts and slapping them onto your feed like so much delicious ice cream, I can be found on social media where I retweet pixel art and talk about how great summoners are.