Development Credit: Anomaly
To traverse the realm of dreams---a far-off fantasy to most, but the everyday (and night) reality of the Dreamwalkers. These strange individuals come from all walks of life, vary widely in their motivations and personalities and have very little in common beyond an increased awareness and familiarity with the realms beyond their own. Dreamwalking is an ability closely associated with the Mortalborn Jesine and her followers, though it's not limited to those who would pledge their support to her. All of Jesine's favoured are Dreamwalkers, but not all Dreamwalkers answer to Jesine. In fact, several Dreamwalkers have been known to turn against the Mortalborn of Dreams, instead promoting the interests of her brother or using their abilities for selfish and, sometimes, nefarious purposes.
A Dreamwalker is someone who has been disillusioned with the nature of their dreams, awakened to the mysteries inherent in the reality so commonly referred to as "Emea". This awakening and increased awareness enables them to consciously explore and stretch the limits of their conscious mind and reach beyond their own imagination, an endeavour that's made possible simply by being able to acknowledge that these limits exist. They train their minds to discern reality from imagination when they should be indistinguishable, becoming masters of their thoughts and developing an inherent and growing understanding for the chaos of Emea. When there's a will, there's a way. The Dreamwalkers epitomize this creed more than any other group on Idalos, honing their wills into a tool to pierce through the barriers that separate their physical reality from the realities beyond.
Emea is a dangerous and vast realm, posing a number of risks to the Dreamwalkers who explore it carelessly. It holds untold wonders waiting to be discovered, however, and that alone is enough to draw mortals ever deeper in their search for hidden knowledge, old and forgotten truths and insights to further their understanding of themselves and, indeed, reality itself. Dreamwalking is as potent as it is dangerous a tool, the many residents of Emea eager to seize the mortals and lead them astray, each with a purpose and agenda of their own
Layout of Emea
Though it has a single name, "Emea" technically encompasses a lot of different things. Divided into "layers", it has many facets to it and all of them behave differently depending on how deep into Emea one travels. The dangers increase the further one goes from their own Reality. The graph below illustrates the layout of Emea, giving a very simple view of the layers. Further elaboration on each of them follows below the graph.
Reality: This is Idalos, and "physical reality". It's not technically a part of Emea as a whole, but exists in its cradle and is surrounded on all sides by it. For the purposes of this guide, it exists at the "bottom" of the graph, the heaviest and thickest of the layers, in which all mortals currently reside and where their physical bodies exist and are anchored.
Mindscape: A vague representation of the "collective subconscious", the layer of conscious and subconscious thought in Idalos which binds all living things together. It's a representation of the neural "network" that spans the whole world, the manifestation of all thoughts, ideas and intentions. While not technically a facet of Emea, it interacts with it on a subliminal level and has some relevance to Dreamwalkers and agents of Jesine and Kielik.
The Veil: A thin layer and sub-reality that separates the reality of Idalos from the chaotic reality of Emea, like a frosted glass that keeps the two from blending together and restricts some movement between them without the know-how. It's the protective membrane that shields Idalos and its laws from the chaos beyond, guarding its integrity as a separate reality. For the purposes of understanding its function, one could compare it to an airlock.
Dreamscapes: Most mortals won't interact with Emea in any other way than through their dreams. All dreams take place within the Dreamscape, quasi-realities formed around the mortal and their subconscious thoughts as they slip into sleep. The Dreamscapes exist within the Veil, but are closely related to the Mindscape as it feeds on the thoughts and ideas of the mortal and the Mindscape that surrounds them. All Dreamscapes have a clearly defined border that can be observed from the Veil, the insides controlled by the subconscious thoughts and emotional currents of the host (the dreamer that "owns" the Dreamscape).
The Untold: The technical main phase of Emea, the Untold, is a vast and chaotic realm of uncontrolled thoughts, ideas and emotions that take form at the whim of those who travel it. It's a breeding grounds for entities that reside beyond Idalos, and the host of untold realities, semi-realities and quasi-realities, bigger and smaller than Idalos itself and out of reach of the vast majority of mortals. It belongs to no one, and is a battleground where Dreamwalkers and various entities are in a constant tug-o-war for turf, Idalosian Dreamwalkers securing locales as staging grounds for further explorations and expeditions into its impossibly vast and incomprehensible depths.
Immortal Domains: The most iconic quasi-realities of the Untold are the Domains of the Immortals. They are separate from Idalos and can't be reached without the direct involvement of the Immortal that owns it, though many Dreamwalkers have tried and suffered the consequences of trespassing. They have rules and laws that depend on the individual Immortal and their associated Domains, and act as a sanctuary for them and their trusted followers and are, in a way, a fount of that Immortal's power. The Domains of deceased Immortals allegedly still exist even past their deaths, though their accessibility is unknown.
The Beyond: Even with how impossibly vast the Untold is, there is still something even beyond that. Very little is known about its nature, even to those who know of its existence. Though awareness of it is possible, it's presently unknown how to get to it or what---or who---resides there.
Initiation & Progression
Dreamwalking can only be learned by being "initiated" into it. The process is not painful or dramatic, carrying no real risks and leaving no permanent marks on the prospective Dreamwalker. The dangers come later, once they start exploring the reality beyond Idalos, but initiation itself is in practice rather simple. For a prospective Dreamwalker to unlock the ability, they first need to be Escorted into the Veil or the Untold, or possess the first mark of Nyvora. As soon as an individual has been marked or Escorted, they unlock Dreamwalking, awarded to them in the form of a Knowledge and the permission to record it to their Character Sheet, in the case of PCs (and certain NPCs).
Progressing Dreamwalking, however, does not work the same way as other abilities or skills. One cannot elect to spend skill points into it, like other skills or even magics. Instead, Dreamwalking is progressed by threading in Emea, be it simple Dream threads or something more intricate and complex. All threads that are completed within Emea (when they are submitted for review) automatically progresses Dreamwalking by 1 point along a 100 point track. In practice, this means that full mastery of Dreamwalking requires 100 completed dream threads. Because of this, new abilities and facets of previous abilities are unlocked every 10 points, rather than applying normal skill level tiers to it.
Once a character has been initiated into Dreamwalking, they do not start from 0. They gain points retroactively for all previously completed dream threads, to reflect their inherent familiarity with the dream realm, meaning the "awakening" and subsequent revelation can be more or less profound and jarring depending on how late or early a character finally completes their initiation into Dreamwalking.
In order to initiate someone else into Dreamwalking, the PC or NPC needs to possess Escorting as an ability, or otherwise be able to accomplish similar feats (such as being "Escorted" by Jesine herself or other powerful entities of a similar caliber).
To begin with Dreamwalking when starting up as a new PC, you either need to start with Nyvora or you require explicit permission through the Support Forum, with reasoning and specific circumstances provided to justify it. The ability is rare and not very widespread, which motivates certain requirements and restrictions.
Lucid Dreaming: Upon being initiated into Dreamwalking, a Dreamwalker first gains the very basic understanding of the reality of dreams and becomes more likely to gain self-awareness in their dreams, increasing probability that they can retain information in the waking world. Not all dreams will be lucid even for a Dreamwalker, but their initiation into the ability gives them the liberty of choosing to explore their dreams in more depth, which is a prerequisite of all other implied ventures by the Dreamwalker.
Walking: The trademark ability of a Dreamwalker is to walk. It's to exit their own Dreamscape and step into the Veil. Their body in Idalos is unaffected, but their mind ventures further into Emea in order to access the parts of the Veil within range of their body. 'Walking' will only allow the Dreamwalker to access the Veil itself, gaining awareness of Dreamscapes in their vicinity and gaining familiarity with the mechanics of the Veil. While rare, there's a possibility of encountering strange creatures and entities in the Veil.
Trespassing: Yet another trademark ability of a Dreamwalker, Trespassing is what enables them to enter another individual or creature's Dreamscape. They do not need the permission of the dreamer to enter their Dreamscape, but certain conditions may apply if the dreamer has specific protections in place (such as high levels of Discipline, Meditation and/or Resistance) or is marked with Nyvora. Mechanically, this represents the ability to choose and seek out particular dreamers within range in order to Trespass into their dreams and interact with their sleeping consciousness, though this doesn't grant the Trespasser any influence over the Dreamscape itself, nor the ability to affect the dreamer.
Crossing: A significant milestone for a Dreamwalker, the ability to Cross into Emea is very sought after. While Walking enables the Dreamwalker to exit their Dreamscape into the Veil and, from there, interact with the Dreamscapes of others, it isn't until they unlock Crossing that they gain access to the Untold. When one Crosses into Emea, they bring their physical body with them, which is a requirement before the Dreamwalker can step past the Veil and into the Untold. As such, the Dreamwalker doesn't have to already be asleep in order to Cross, as they are fully conscious and aware when stepping past the threshold of reality and physically enter the Veil and, further, the Untold. A Dreamwalker that Crosses into another dreamer's Dreamscape within range of their original location may choose to exit back into Idalos at the dreamer's physical location, effectively teleporting them. Once they are able to Cross, taking their physical body with them into Emea, the Dreamwalkers who are also Mages become able to use Domain Magic so long as they have Crossed over (consequently taking their Spark along with them).
Branding: A natural consequence of the growing familiarity with Emea is the ability to place Brands. They are a manifestation of intention and memorization for the Dreamwalker, an ethereal mark of their own design that is placed on an individual or location in Emea or Idalos, effectively lighting them up like beacons that shine through the Veil and the Untold, allowing the Dreamwalker to safely navigate and find their way back to these locations or individuals no matter the physical distance, so long as they are within range of the Dreamwalker. Once a Brand has been created, it cannot be removed or reassigned, and the Dreamwalker has limited capacity for how many Brands they can be attuned to at any one time depending on their level. Branding an individual mechanically allows the Dreamwalker to seek out their Dreamscape amongst all others, and Branding a location in Emea allows them to find their way back to it without getting lost. Branding a physical location in Idalos allows the Dreamwalker to physically travel to it by Crossing through the Untold from anywhere in the world, provided it's within range of their current location. They may not travel back once they Cross, unless their original location is also Branded. All Brands have to be awarded and acknowledged by in-game Knowledges in order to be valid and used.
Escorting: While risky, it is possible for the Dreamwalker to take other mortals with them into Emea. Either through physical contact in Idalos or by entering an individual's Dreamscape and carrying their body into the dream by Crossing through to reach the body itself, a Dreamwalker can Escort the mortal into the Veil and beyond, into the Untold. The Escorted mortal may resist this effort physically or with high enough levels of Discipline and/or Meditation if they are unwilling, though once they have been Escorted past the Veil they have to remain in physical contact with the Dreamwalker at all times. If at any point they cease physical contact with their Escort, they will be thrust back into Idalos (if still in the Veil) or risk being lost in the Untold. As they have to remain in physical contact with their Escort, there is a limit to how many people a Dreamwalker can Escort at any one time, which increases slightly with their level. Mechanically, this also permits the Dreamwalker to Escort other mortals to other physical locations in Idalos, as if they were Crossing, to any of their Branded locations within range.
Viewing: Bridging the gap between sleeping and waking reality, the Dreamwalker gains the ability to View the conscious thoughts of other individuals through the Mindscape, provided these individuals have previously been Branded by the Dreamwalker. The Dreamwalker does not need to be asleep to View, but can only View those who possess Brands. They cannot View the Brands that don't actually belong to a person, entity or creature with a consciousness that connects them to the Mindscape, so Brands placed on physical locations in Idalos cannot be Viewed this way. Mechanically, it permits the Dreamwalker to View the thoughts of others through the Mindscape, gaining visual input and impressions, which additionally permits them to quickly gauge if they are awake or asleep. This preternatural awareness of the Mindscape also enables the Dreamwalker to perceive the Brands of other Dreamwalkers if they interact with them physically, be they physical locations or other people, but not to attune to them.
Projecting: A step up from Viewing, a Dreamwalker that learns to Project themselves through the Mindscape becomes able to directly impact the perception of an individual they have Branded. Connecting to one of their Brands and Projecting through the Mindscape creates an image of the Dreamwalker within the Branded individual's field of view, interfering with their current waking reality. A Projected Dreamwalker is able to communicate across physical distances with their Brands, mechanically creating a holographic projection of themselves that can only be perceived by the individual they are Projecting to. The Projection cannot be physically interacted with. When Projecting, the Dreamwalker additionally creates an image of their target in their physical vicinity that they interact with as if they speak face-to-face, which is the same experience granted to the Branded individual on the other end.
Governing: Most Dreamwalkers desire the ability to control their environment. It isn't until they learn to Govern that they truly become able to, but the scope of their control is still limited. A Dreamwalker at this stage is able to Govern the Dreamscapes they enter (through Trespassing), to a degree, provided it doesn't have inherent protections (such as Nyvora), enabling the Dreamwalker to influence the environment and content of the currently ongoing dream by forcing their will on it, shifting the reality of the dream at their whim. They become able to create new items, objects, areas, buildings and even creatures to insert into the Dreamscape, limited only by their imagination and prior experience. This additionally enables the Dreamwalker to, in a limited capacity, create smaller items or tools within the Untold, such as fashioning simple weapons, protections or objects---forcing their will on the shapeless chaos around them to draw limited amounts of it into smaller, defined shapes.
Anchoring: A controversial and rare ability of very skilled Dreamwalkers is the ability to further bridge the gap between dream and reality... literally. By coming in physical contact with objects, materials or even creatures in the Untold, a Dreamwalker is able to Anchor it in the physical reality of Idalos by reverse-Escorting them back into reality. This carries with it a number of risks both for Idalos and whatever materials, objects or creatures that the Dreamwalker carries with them, as compatibility is not guaranteed. Mechanically, this enables the Dreamwalker to bring with them items and objects from Emea into Idalos, provided they are physically holding them as they Cross back into reality. This includes any items or tools they may've created through Governing or Dreamweaving.
Cloaking: The last ability unlocked by the Dreamwalker as they reach legendary levels is the ability to Cloak themselves both in Emea and Idalos. They become able to force themselves into a level of existence somewhere outside of reality, Cloaking themselves from the perceptions of those around them. They become effectively undetectable by all means beyond physical, as their physical body is still present and will still interact with the physical reality as normal (such as bumping into or touching other people or objects, including leaving tracks in sand or snow or stirring vegetation when it's passed through). Furthermore, they may elect to Cloak themselves in Emea, making them undetectable to other entities or Dreamwalkers (unless they are marked by either Jesine or Kielik). This enables them to enter Dreamscapes without chance of detection, unless they elect to make their presence known. Once a Dreamwalker learns to Cloak, they may evade or otherwise escape from Gatekeepers even after they have interfered with them. Doing so, however, does not garner any favour with the Gatekeeper in question.
Risks & Dangers
Dreamwalking comes with risks. Emea is as wondrous as it is dangerous, and none know this better than the experienced Dreamwalker. Consequences and risks vary greatly depending on a number of factors, making every case of backlash a unique occurrence. While most dangers can be avoided by being careful, no successful pioneer ever accomplished anything without knowingly taking great risks. Some of the most common and iconic dangers are touched upon below.
Corruption: The most subtle and common risk involved with Dreamwalking is one that can impact even uninitiated dreamers---Corruption. It manifests in an individual through subtle changes to them mentally, emotionally or physically, usually at the behest of a powerful entity in Emea or through exposure to certain kinds of environments. While in Emea, be it in the Dreamscapes or the Untold, the mortal mind and body is vulnerable to outside influences (unless protected by Nyvora). Because of this, it's not uncommon for Dreamwalkers, especially, to develop odd mannerisms, tics, habits or to show sudden and drastic changes in their personalities, suffer temporary hallucinations, develop sudden and unreasonable fears or aversions that they previously didn't have. It can also show in subtle physical mutations such as boils, bruises that won't fade, changing eye colours, hair loss, a change in taste of food, the sudden development of allergies or cravings, to name some examples. The manifestation of this corruption varies on the circumstances, and who or what was responsible for it.
Displacement: While navigating Emea doesn't require any particular skill once you've unlocked the ability to do so, that doesn't mean there aren't risks. Most of these risks exist because of the Dreamwalker's lack of familiarity with the realm itself, as exploring blindly in an uncharted realm always carries certain risks. There is a very real risk of losing direction and not finding the way back to whence you came, venturing too deep and too far into Emea to be able to return without assistance. The potential risk here is nearly limitless, as the individual Dreamwalker is at risk of losing control and finding themselves in precarious situations or getting lost forever. That's not even accounting for all of naturally existing hazards they may stumble across, or the entities or monsters that may or may not exhibit benevolent intentions. In a best case scenario, getting lost will eventually wind up spitting the Dreamwalker back into Idalos in a random location determined by a Prophet. Few Dreamwalkers who get lost are that lucky, however.
Assault: Taking the physical body into Emea carries the obvious risk of it getting hurt. Being under attack by another entity in Emea or even another Dreamwalker has very straightforward and predictable consequences. The injuries sustained will persist even in Idalos, provided the Dreamwalker is able to make it back after an attack. This, by extension, means that death is a very possible outcome and very real risk.
Abduction: Technically a risk even for the uninitiated, it's also a significant and acknowledged risk for Dreamwalkers. The Dreamwalkers are not the only denizens of Emea, and there are many rumoured cases of Dreamwalkers stumbling too far and into the wrong territories, subsequently finding themselves in the claws of entities and creatures that, for whatever reason, hold them hostage or bar them from returning. Attracting the wrong kind of attention in Emea is a risk that all Dreamwalkers contend with every time they venture beyond the Veil. Stepping into the Untold is to make yourself a target, increasing the likelihood of other entities and creatures seeking you out when you least expect it to spirit you away.
Domain Magic: If there was ever a way to ask for punishment, it is to be a Mage and a Dreamwalker. While not all Mages will be daring enough to attempt the use of magic while in Emea, the presence of the Spark is enough to make the Mage an attractive target. The Spark effectively acts as a beacon that shines through the Untold, visible to all and obvious to those who see it. A Mage that ventures into the Untold subjects themselves to Corruption, the effects of which will scale for the duration of their explorations. In addition to the normal effects of Corruption, there's a risk of developing additional mutations or witchmarks, or for the existing witchmarks and mutations to grow and shift. Perhaps more worryingly, there's the potential of premature and additional Awakenings. All uses of Domain Magic while in Emea, without exception (subject to change), always result in Overstepping.
Gatekeepers: Perhaps the most unique and dangerous risk to Dreamwalkers are enigmatic and mysterious creatures referred to as "Gatekeepers". These entities claim to be mandated enforcers of the dream realm, but have no affiliation to either Jesine or Kielik and answer to neither them nor any of the Immortals of Idalos. Only nine appear to exist, and have existed for longer than mortal memory stretches. The careful Dreamwalker will likely never encounter one, but their presence is felt nonetheless. They are blind to conceivable morality and follow a creed that is as alien and unfamiliar as they are, yet they watch the mortals of Idalos closely and monitor their movements when they pass beyond the Veil. Dreamwalkers that venture into the Untold always have the watchful gaze of the Gatekeepers following their every movement, and they have been known to intervene and interfere with the Dreamwalkers. Actions that seem to draw the Gatekeepers' attentions include traveling too far into the Untold, attempting to Trespass into the Domains of live or deceased Immortals, Escorting uninitiated mortals into the Untold and Anchoring native creatures or materials, taking them out of Emea and into Idalos, to name a few. They don't look favorably upon mixing realities, and their interventions are often sudden and very dramatic. The nature of the intervention depends heavily on which Gatekeeper it is.
For the purposes of Nyvora's Divine Portal: The chance of success (%) is equal to the Dreamwalker's level of Dreamwalking.
0 Points: The recently initiated Dreamwalker gains access to 'Lucid Dreaming' by default, and has earned the right to continue progressing along the track.
10 Points: The Dreamwalker unlocks 'Walking', and their range for the purposes of this and related abilities is limited to the City they are currently in.
20 Points: The Dreamwalker unlocks 'Trespassing'.
30 Points: The Dreamwalker unlocks 'Crossing', and their range for the purposes of this and related abilities expands from their current City, to their current Region.
40 Points: The Dreamwalker unlocks 'Branding', able to place up to a total of 5 Brands.
50 Points: The Dreamwalker unlocks 'Escorting', and their range for the purposes of this and related abilities expands from their current Region, to Adjacent Regions. They can 'Escort' up to 1 other individual, and can place up to a total of 10 Brands.
60 Points: The Dreamwalker unlocks 'Viewing'. They can place up to a total of 15 Brands.
70 Points: The Dreamwalker unlocks 'Projecting', and their range for the purposes of this and related abilities expands from Adjacent Regions, to the whole World of Idalos. They can 'Escort' up to 2 other individuals, and can place up to a total of 20 Brands.
80 Points: The Dreamwalker unlocks 'Governing'. They can place up to a total of 25 Brands. The Dreamwalker gains permission to learn the 'Dreamweaving' skill.
90 Points: The Dreamwalker unlocks 'Anchoring'. They can 'Escort' up to 3 other individuals, and can place up to a total of 30 Brands.
100 Points: The Dreamwalker unlocks 'Cloaking'. They can place an unlimited amount of Brands.