Dream fantasy campaigns

Roger’s comment that

I’d ask how important those echoes in the waking world are going to be, but if there’s either significant crossover or significant stakes in the dream world then this could work well for me

got me thinking about what kind of things could happen in my proposed campaign Gate of Horn. Here are some ideas:

Most basically, people who meet in dreams can find each other in the waking world.

Dreams that come through the Gate of Horn can reveal the future, or distant events, or hidden truths.

Dreamers can choose to remember things that happen in dreams and act on them in the waking world.

Dreamers can change the landscape or the inhabitants of the dream world, and by doing so change what other people dream.

Dreamers can be taken over by dreams and remain controlled by dreams after they wake up, perhaps as schizophrenics or somnambulists.

Perhaps instead of a sinister Necromancer there is a sinister Oneiromancer who has to be defeated.

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A question: how widespread are Dreamers in this setting? Is it a discrete group of especially powered people, or is everyone aware of the second world, though control of it is possible for a select group?

I’m really intrigued by this setting, and would be very interested to hear how your campaign goes when you run it!

The thing I was most specifically trying to avoid - and it sounds as though you are avoiding it - is the cop-out of bad children’s fantasy: they woke up and it was all a dream, therefore nothing they did mattered in any lasting way.


I would not dream of doing that. That assumption is one of the things I dislike about The Wizard of Oz.

The setting is the mundane world. The protagonists would be aware of the dream realm as a source of power, but virtually no one else would be.


A conceit I’m rather fond of, though it may not have a place here, is that the dream-realm has its own dreamers – who can act in our world much as our-world dreamers can act in theirs.

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Ah, the butterfly who was dreaming that he was a Chinese sage. It’s an interesting symmetry, but I’m not sure it’s compatible with having a setting that’s closely similar to the primary world as far as outward appearances are concerned. Wouldn’t reverse dreamers have obvious and incredible powers?

Do dreamers in the dream world appear to its inhabitants to have obvious and incredible powers? I don’t see anything on your checklist that would imply that, unless the revelation of hidden knowledge is much more generally effective than these things usually are.

(Depending on what you mean by “Dreamers can change the landscape or the inhabitants” – I am assuming this is by dream-internal processes, like building a castle or persuading someone into a new philosophy.)

That’s a good question, and I’m not yet sure of the answer. Part of it, though, is probably that the dream realm is more magical, or more surreal, than the waking world, and all of its inhabitants may have incredible powers in some measure.

I’ve thought about a dream-fantasy game once or twice, but it’s never gelled. One idea I did have, for running this in GURPS or similar - was that both worlds should have “real” significance, and each player would have a pool of starting points which they could divide between their two characters as they chose. So if you want to play a 250 point dungeon fantasy hero in your dreams, you’d have to be a 50 point schlub in waking reality - and conversely, a 200-point millionaire or low-end Action hero would dream of being a 100 point minor hero. Actually, keeping the total budget lower than that could be more interesting – say, 150 points total…

These days, of course, I’d get thoroughly lost reading Robin Laws’s Dreamhounds of Paris and Kieron Gillen’s Die before I got anywhere with the campaign design.

It’s an interesting idea. I’d been thinking of using something more like the rules in Portal Realms, where traits in the waking world would be essentially free if they didn’t carry over into the dream realm. I’m not sure if that would be better than your approach, or not as good.