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The Dimension of Nightmares

by James Mishler

The Entities from the Void Between the Stars

In long ages past, in the earliest days of life on Mystara, aeons before the rise of the Carnifex, a race of beings from the Void Between the Stars descended upon the newly risen continents of Mystara (ca. 500,000,000 BC). It is believed by the ranks of the modern Immortals that this race was descended from the same entities that gave rise to the Draeden, that race which was ages old when the first stars of the Prime Plane were as yet unborn. Whatever the matter of their origins, it is known that the Entities had no relation to the energies of the Spheres of Life or Death, that instead they were made up of something else altogether. It has been conjectured that they were not even of this Dimension, but were from some unknown and perhaps unknowable Dimension on the furthest edge of Reality.

When that race arrived on Mystara they found the planet populated only by the various species of early plant life, and the simplest forms of animal life, having neither intelligence nor cunning. Therefore they took up the remaining plasm of the primordial soup that still choked the seas of that day, and from that ooze they created their own races of Servitors, entities that were infused not only with the native energies the Multiverse, Life and Death, but also with the alien energies of their creators. These Servitor Races were made in forms that were neither Saurial, nor Mammal, nor Insect, nor even Plant, but again, like their creators, something else altogether. These Servitor Races built great cities and citadels for their masters, and from these cities and citadels the Entities from the Void Between the Stars began to explore the Multiverse, for Mystara was then even richer than it is today in Nodes, Wormholes and Gates connecting it with all corners of the Multiverse.

The Entities began to colonise other star systems throughout the Prime Plane, as well as Outer Planes that were as yet unclaimed by the ranks of the Immortals of that long ago age. For untold eons they explored the Multiverse, from the uncounted galaxies of the Prime Plane to the edges of the most remote Outer Planes. Only when it was nearly too late did the Immortals, still young and new to their power, realise the dangers inherent in these alien Entities. For finally, when they were well established across the Prime Plane and throughout the Outer Planes, the Entities from the Void Between the Stars challenged the Immortals for dominion of the Multiverse. They turned many of the Immortals of the Sphere of Entropy to their side, promising them that their Sphere would reign supreme in the new order under the Entities. For the first ages of the struggle, the Entities and their allies from the Sphere of Entropy were able to dominate the field.

The battle between the Entities and the Immortals lasted for untold ages. Entire galaxies were snuffed out of existence by the energies of that terrible conflict; stars were born, lived, and died in their time ere the conflict was brought to an end. During the course of the war, no small number of Immortals were destroyed utterly, along with their Home Planes, their names long forgotten before the dawn of Humans. The Draeden, perhaps cousins to the Entities, took no heed of the battle between the Immortals and the Entities, and kept their silent vigil in the vacuum of the Multiverse. The Immortals, after near annihilation, rallied, and put the Entities and their allies on the defensive. For the Entities had miscalculated. Being of alien matter and energy, they did not fully comprehend the relationship between the Immortals of the Spheres of Life and the energies of the Elemental Planes; their allies from the Sphere of Entropy, not fully familiar themselves with this relationship, gave them no warning. The Immortals, unlike the Entities and their allies, were able to call on the energies of not only the Prime Plane and the Outer Planes, but also the potent and unlimited energies of the Elemental Planes, and thus were they able to bring the forces of the Entities low.

In time the Entities were defeated. Their cities razed, their citadels crumbled, their Servitors slaughtered, the remaining Entities from the Void Between the Stars and their allied Entropic Immortals were brought before the High Council of the Immortals. For ages, the Immortals had known that the energies required to destroy the Entities themselves could well drain the Multiverse of all Life and Entropy. Thus, they had had to come up with another solution, for the Entities would remain far too dangerous were they left within the confines of the Multiverse. Thus, it was decided that the Entities and their Entropic allies would be cast into another Dimension, for no Outer Plane, regardless of its nature, would hold them. The Immortals chose a Dimension that was in an indeterminate stage of existence; either it had as yet not fully taken form, or it was at the final end of its long existence. Either way, the Immortals used powerful magics to cast the Entities and their allied Immortals into the Prison Dimension, there to be sealed for all eternity (ca. 100,000,000 BC).

The Immortals then went about cleansing the Multiverse of the vestiges of the occupation of the Entities. What they could not destroy, the buried deep beneath the earth, in the depths of the seas, or far away in the hearts of dead stars, sealed with the most potent magics known in that day. The Immortals, though potent and wise, did not successfully eliminate all of the remains of the occupation of the Entities, and some shattered ruins of cities or citadels remained on the Prime Plane; or some blackened battlefield remained undiscovered in some distant uncharted Outer Plane; and in the nooks and crannies within the Void Between the Stars, in the space where the dust of long-dead stars drifts, and in the most distant of Outer Planes, remnants of the Servitor Races continued to survive, biding their time until the return of their masters to the Multiverse...

(The Rise and Fall of the Carnifex)(The Rise of Intelligence on Mystara)

Long ages passed. Many of the Immortals of the days of the great war with the Entities passed on, and new Immortals took their place. The Great War of the Entities from the Void Between the Stars became a faded memory, the warnings of past generations of Immortals going unheeded. The Saurial species evolved on Mystara, and in time, intelligence arose from the primordial jungles. Ka, the first intelligent being naturally evolved on Mystara, attained Immortality in the Sphere of Matter under the tutelage of the Immortal Terra.

Ka created his own race of intelligent beings, the Carnifex, and populated Mystara with them. For long ages they rose through the stages of civilisation, growing great in knowledge and power, until they eventually grew powerful enough in magical knowledge to traverse the Planes, using the numerous Nodes, Wormholes and Gates native to Mystara. How, why or even when it is unknown, but at some point they came across the remains of the ancient cities, citadels and battlefields of the Entities from the Void Between the Stars. They also eventually encountered the remnants of the Servitor Races, and from them learned the means to gain greater knowledge and power. In secret, hidden from Immortal eyes, they began to chip away at the seals of the long-forgotten ruins that held the keys to the Gates to the Prison Dimension of the Entities from the Void Between the Stars. While they were not able to completely break the seals, they were able to weaken them, to such an extent that the Entities could communicate with their Servitor Races, as well as with the Carnifex (ca. 10,000,000 BC, the height of the Carnifex Tyranny).

Over the long ages the Entities and Entropic Immortals had recreated their lost realms in their Prison Dimension, warped versions of the reality of the Multiverse, for the energies of the newly forming Dimension had been usurped by the Entities. There they had created new Greater Servitors, in their own image, using their alien energies and the stuff of that Dimension, and they were able to send these Servitors through the holes between the Dimensions created by the Carnifex. With the assistance of these Servitors, who led the Servitor Races, the Carnifex rose to even greater heights of power. The Carnifex began creating their own servitor races, the Serpentines and the Troglodytes, among other less savoury creatures. The Carnifex Tyranny grew across the length and breadth of the Prime Plane, and into the Outer Planes, in horrible mockery of the rise of the ancient Empire of the Entities. A few Immortals noticed the similarities, but protected by the magics granted them by the Entities, the Immortals were unable to detect the interference of the Entities, or the presence of the Servitors, and the Immortal investigations came to naught.

In time, the Carnifex grew to such levels of power that they decided to challenge the Immortals, as had the Entities from the Void Between the Stars in long ages past (this challenge came at the behest of the Entities, for it was only through the power granted by Immortality that the bonds holding the Entities in their Prison Dimension could be broken). The Carnifex, however, were not nearly as powerful as they had believed, and the war with the Immortals was quickly over, in comparison to the war between the Entities and the Immortals. The Carnifex were conquered and cast into their Prison Plane. The Greater Servitors and their Servitor Races were imprisoned, beneath the earth, under the seas, or in distant Outer Planes, though again, some slipped through the fingers of the Immortals to hide away in the darkest voids of the Multiverse. The Immortals, now free of the foul magics cast by the Carnifex, realised that the bonds holding the Entities in their Prison Dimension had been weakened. This was, however, mostly a new generation of Immortals, and none in that day had the power or ability to strengthen or reforge the bonds. Thus, they were forced to think of another way to interpose between the Entities and the Multiverse.

What they were able to do was place a Proto-Dimension between the Prison Dimension of the Entities and the Multiverse Dimension (Proto-Dimensions are effectively singular Planes that are outside the confines of any one Dimension; i.e., a "Single Plane Dimension"; the shell of a Dimension that had not lived up to its potential). The Entities in the Prison Dimension were no longer able to communicate directly with beings in the Multiverse. Unfortunately, however, the characteristics of the Proto-Dimension combined with the magics of the seals of the Prison Dimension to create an unusual side effect.

This side effect was that the Proto-Dimension acted as a receiver and transceiver for the dreams of intelligent beings in the Multiverse... and the Entities of the Prison Dimension were able to receive these dreams, and send new ones out to be dreamt by unsuspecting beings of the Multiverse. Thus, the Entities in the Prison Dimension were able to communicate with beings in the Multiverse, but only in their dreams. Because of the nature of the dreams sent by the Entities, the Proto-Dimension became known as the Dimension of Nightmares (sometimes known as the Demiplane of Nightmares). This unforeseen side effect kept the Immortals of the Sphere of Thought busy for many long centuries, as they buttressed the dreams of mortal beings with their positive Life energies, in order that the Nightmares created by the Entities would not drive the mortals of the Multiverse insane.

Entities of the Dimension of Nightmares

While the Entities from the Void Between the Stars and their Entropic Allies were still incarcerated in the Prison Dimension, the seals on that Dimension were still weak, and they could cast their thoughts and some fragments of their energies into the Dimension of Nightmares. Thus, the Dimension of Nightmares began to take on a form not unlike that of the Prison Dimension. New Servitor Races of the Entities were created in the Dimension of Nightmares from the alien energies the Entities cast through the holes between the Dimensions. Beings like the Neh-Thalggu (Brain Collectors), the Vuhl'Phnath (the Great Burrowers of the Hollow World), the Ostegos (Death Fiends), the Diaboli (Man Fiends) and the Ul'ghakh (Nightmare Ghouls) originated in this manner, while many more originated as the nightmares of mortal beings from the Multiverse Dimensions, brought to horrid life by the whims of the Entities from the Void Between the Stars.

Most of the beings of the Dimension of Nightmares are unable to leave without being summoned. Unfortunately, some mortals, potent in magical power, are able to bring these beings across Dimensional space to the Multiverse; some can even travel to the Dimension of Nightmares. And of course, the original Servitor Races, led by the Greater Servitor beings released during the Carnifex Tyranny, continue to try to bring the return of their masters into reality. To this end, they ally themselves with the powerful Wizards and Priests contacted by the Entities. Many of these beings lead horrible, unspeakable cults on the Prime Plane, cults that revere the Entities and their Greater Servitors, assisted by the Servitor Races, beings from the Dimension of Nightmares and the Old Races, the Serpentines, Troglodytes and other horrid beings. No one, of course, has the power to release any of the Entities from their Prison Dimension... yet. But many keep trying, as they believe, through their mad dreams, that the Entities will give them powers beyond the dreams of the Immortals...