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The Nature of Dreams

by Giulio Caroletti

Sages all over Mystara have always speculated what the exact Nature of Dreams is. The commonly accepted theory claims that when somebody dreams, he enters the Plane of Dreams. There, he/she acts like in the normal life, but fantasies born in one's mind become true, and a person can easily find himself facing creatures or situations from somebody else's dream. The regions of the Plane of Dreams that are inhabited by nightmares form the Nightmare Dimension, that is really not a Dimension in itself. When somebody leaves the Plane of Dreams, he bears absolutely no sign of his experience in it, apart, occasionally, a vague memory of his dreams.

Unfortunately, as those of you who have visited our Nightmare Dimension site well know, this is NOT true. The Nightmare Dimension is not part of another Plane, but rather a counterpart of the Prime. And there is no Plane of Dreams. So what should dreams be, then? Simply the projection of one's memories and awake experiences, that manifest themselves in a roughly coherent way through somebody's mind when he sleeps?

Absolutely not. Here will the truth about dreams in Mystara be fully explained.

the Nature of Magic and the Fourth Dimension

A Mortal creature, whether of the Prime or of the Nightmare (= Fifth) Dimension, exists in four dimensions, but can perceive only three (1-2-3 for Primes, 3-4-5 for Fifths). It is the Fourth dimension which enables Primes to have magical abilities- the more a person is able to potentially perceive its Fourth dimension, the more he has the skill to learn magic, although this is not well understood even by magic-users and wizards. Such is the nature of magic on Mystara. Likewise, the Second dimension is the one that enables Nightmare creatures to cast magic.

But what has this to do with dreams? Well, the fact is that dreams are not more than unconscious perceptions of the Fourth Dimension through the other Three. This allows to perform impossible tasks in dreams, when in fact the process of dreaming is an activity that is very similar to magic. In fact, magic is the capacity to remain linked through the Fourth dimension, concentrating, in a particular way, to the Dreams. This explains also why magic-users have to memorise their spells after their awakening.

Unfortunately for those who are not magic-users, the Dream is not a real activity. However, the fact that creatures from the Prime can perceive the Fourth dimension in dreams allows them to see occasionally in part creatures that are native to the Fifth Dimension (and vice versa), and this has led to the wrong belief that Nightmare Creatures are all spawn of mortal dreams. It must be noted, also, that due to the Immortal's conscious existence in the Fourth Dimension, Immortals can influence at great lengths the dreaming of mortals, allowing them to manifest to them in the Dreams. Extraordinary dreamers may also have been able to reach the Immortals in their Dreams, without the Immortals wanting to, and this could have led to the legends about "dreamers who in Dream travelled through the dimensions".

the Art of Dreaming

A dangerous way for mortals to control their dreams, in fact, and the explanation to this last statement, is the Art of Dreaming.

This is the Art to project an Astral Body (not to be confused with anything regarding the Astral Plane) in the Fourth Dimension, and to translate the Fourth-dimensional experiences in the "Real" (read: Three-dimensional) world.

Every player character may learn the Art of Dreaming. In fact, even 0-level characters may learn it. In order to perform the Art of Dreaming, the only thing that is required is to be taught by somebody who already knows it. It consists simply in a ritual that allows the person to enter the Dreamworld.

The Dreamworld is not a world in its real sense, but rather a state of mind where the person is able to retain every perception and information that flows through its mind from the Fourth Dimension, and, by sympathy, to transfer these to his "real" persona. When a person is in the Dreamworld, it may encounter other creatures, that may be other dreamers (both simple dreamers and "artist" dreamers, both from the Normal and from the Nightmare Dimension), but also Immortals in their Fourth Dimensional state, and Discontiguates in their Fourth Dimensional state. The presence of all these creatures in the Dreamworld make it very dangerous. So why should anyone care to enter it?

For the first thing, attempting to enter the Dreamworld is not automatically a success. A character must roll an Intelligence Check, modified as follows (rolls of 20 are automatic failure, while rolls of 1 are NOT automatically successful).


+1 if the character is a wizard

-4 if the character is not a wizard


+1 if the player is an elf, or other magical creature

-1 if the player is an human or other normal creature

-4 if the player is a dwarf or halfling


If the teacher has been an Artist Dreamer for more than twenty years: +3

If the teacher has been an Artist Dreamer for more than ten years: +1

If the teacher has been an Artist Dreamer for less than five years: -1

If the teacher has been an Artist Dreamer for less than a year: -5

If the teacher is a Dream Master: +4


First time: -3

Second time: -1

After ten times: +1

After twenty times: +3

If the check is not successful, a person must immediately make a Constitution check or fall in a comatose state that lasts for 2-12 hours, and loses 1 point of Intelligence (permanently if he fails a saving throw against spells). Toying with the Fourth Dimension is not for fools.

If the check is successful, the person enters the Dreamworld.

the Dreamworld

How can we describe the Dreamworld?

The Dreamworld is a place where all things that can be conceived by the dreamer's mind takes form. Unfortunately, in the Dreamworld, all that is dreamed contemporarily manifests itself, only to disappear if the person who is dreaming suddenly wakes up. So there is no real way to describe the Dreamworld, as any sort of event may happen to the Artist Dreamer, if he enters it without any caution.

The thing a Dreamer must always do before entering is to decide what the Subject of his dream is. If a Dreamer is stranded thirsty and starving on a seashore without food and water, it may decide to Dream about food and water, to eat them in the Dreamworld and wake up in the real world without any hunger or thirst. So the Art of Dreaming may indeed be useful...but it must be remembered that everything must be accomplished while in the Dreamworld to make it happen in the real world too. Taking objects from the Dreamworld is impossible, but drinking a Potion of Healing in the Dream may allow to gain actual hit points when one awakes.

There is only a little problem. Apart the possibility to fail entering the Dreamworld (see above), there is also a chance of failure for the concentration on a Subject. Obviously, if a fool tries to enter the Dreamworld without a Subject, see directly the part regarding Failure.


Roll a d10.

Confront the number with the Intelligence of the Dreamer. If it is higher, there is Failure.

Otherwise, roll a d8 and add it to the first score.

Confront the number. If it is higher, there is Failure.

Then do the same with d6 and d4, but this time, if it is higher, there is only Partial Failure.


If there is a Failure, anything can happen, and the Subject of the dream will NEVER appear/happen.

If there is a Partial Failure, the Subject appears or happens (see also Success for learning what this means), but there will be also another event. The events that may happen are described below, and must be rolled on d%. Anyway, as anything may happen in the Dreamworld, these are just suggestions and ideas, feel free to add more or modify the table as you wish.

01-50 Encounter

An Encounter is one of the most dangerous situations in the Dreamworld. An Encounter means that the Dreamer gets caught in somebody other's dream or, worse, that his Fourth Dimensional consciousness has caught the attention of a Discontiguate or, if she is really unlucky, of an Outer Being whose Fourth Dimension hasn't been erased by the Old Ones.

It must be noted that whatever happens to the Dreamer is reflected on the real world dreaming body. As an example, if Rob the Wild Mage fails and faces an encounter with Stalker the Mage, and the first casts Fireball inflicting 45 hit points to Stalker, then the latter suffers immediately 45 hit points. If an astonished fellow, let say Meltheim the Elf, passes by the dreaming body of the Stalker, he will suddenly see its body bearing wounds as if he had been burned by something fiery. However, if Rob meets the Stalker, but the latter is not performing a Dream, but simply normally dreaming, the only one who risks something is Rob.

If somebody wakes the Dreamer while he is facing the encounter, he will lose immediately the connection to the Fourth Dimension, and the encountered creature will see him simply disappear. Anyway, the awaken Dreamer will feel a little confused, and will have a -2 penalty to all Intelligence checks until he will rest (normally) again.

If a Dreamer is killed in the Encounter, he dies of heart attack. He may be Raised from the Dead only if a Dispel Evil is cast on the passed Dreamer.

If the Dreamer is not awaken, he will wake up on his own about an hour after the Encounter.

1-45 Prime Creature (dreaming)

46-60 Prime Creature (Dreamer)

61-85 Nightmare Creature (dreaming)

86-95 Nightmare Creature (Dreamer)

96-99 Discontiguate

00 Outer Being

51-90 Situation

Situations are not different from normal dreams, uncontrolled by the Dreamer. They may be of every sort, but generally they last only an hour or so. Situations are always present during an Encounter, BUT in those cases they will appear simply as a scenario, and not be especially dangerous. As an example, if Evil Porphy encounters the List Ogre in an Encounter, the scenario could be a house in the middle of a desert. This situation won't necessarily be dangerous, but if the two begin to fight each other in a room at the second floor, one of them could be damaged if he falls out an open window.

Talking about these specific Situations, they are a lot more dangerous, and may be of every kind. The situation should be somehow related to the Subject of the dream. As an example, if a person wants to dream about a Potion of Healing, it could dream of two cups of wine, one curative and the other poisonous, but he will not be able to determine which one is what...and so on.

Some examples of Situations will be presented in an upcoming article.

91-94 Two Encounters

One Encounter is dangerous; two a lot more. Roll two times in the Encounter subtable (see above).

95-99 Encounter + Situation

In this case, there will be an Encounter, PLUS the scenario will be one of the dangerous Situations.

00 Two Encounters + Situation

Well, what more can I say? Hopefully no-one will roll it...


The Success is obviously the most desired result. Heh. But success doesn't mean automatically success...let's see what I mean.

1) A Dreamer can desire, as a Subject, to enter in possession of an item. He will get the item in the Dream, but he will lose it whenever he wakes up. So an intelligence Subject would be to dream of a Potion. As an example, a Potion of Healing. If the character drinks it, he will be healed by the Potion.

2) A Dreamer may dream of casting a spell. Even a non-wizard may do it. A spell cast in a dream will work in the Real World only if it is a spell like Invisibility, Armour etc, and they will begin to have effect from the moment it happens in the Dream.

Example: Cronocloud Dreams of becoming Invisible. In the same moment, his companion Valeryia sees him disappearing suddenly! In fact, he is invisible!!

Spells like Fireball, Ice Storm etc. will not work.

3) A Dreamer may desire to encounter voluntarily a person. Several situations will arise:

a) If the person is Dreaming, an Encounter with the person will immediately occur. The two persons may exchange information, mutually use their spells to the other's benefit, or also try to kill each other.

b) If the person is dreaming (not performing an Act of Dreaming), the two persons will encounter each other, but only one of them may receive damages and benefits from the encounter, while the dreamer will, at best, remember partially its dream.

c) If the person is awake, then the Dreamer will encounter a projection created by his mind. Anything may happen, but the other person, not being a real creature, but a part of the Dreamer's mind, will not even know about this.

Unfortunately, the Dreamer will not be able to understand whether the encountered person was Dreaming, dreaming or was a projection ... with all sorts of possible weird situations like in the example given below.

Thibault has been captured by orcs led by the evil Kayvid, and is now starving in a dark cellar. His friend Gordon decides to Dream, hoping to meet Thibault and discover where he has been brought. he waits until late at night, in order to have more chances of meeting him, and not a mental projection. He rolls the success of the Subject and is lucky enough to enter the desired Dream. He meets Thibault, and asks him where he is. Thibault answers that he is currently in Glantri, held prisoner in the cellar of the Paparazzi Glantri.

Gordon wakes up and decides to travel there.

Unfortunately, when Gordon was Dreaming, Thibault was well awake, as he was been tortured by the evil Kayvid. So Gordon saw just a Projection of his own subconscious thoughts, as Gordon hates Glantri and therefore was inner inside hoping that Thibault was prisoner there, in order to create havoc in that land.

4) There may be other circumstances...but I suppose the Dungeon Master should decide situation by situation, basing himself on the ideas given here.

The End

Well, I hope you have enjoyed these rules...and that the dreams of your players will be a little spiced up. I hope that a player in one of your campaigns, will shout: "Oh, no! We must rest...".