Welcome to our fifth foray into the Dreamscape. The last part covered the ten most common regions within the plane. This part covers the key locations in those regions. This ‘part’ is actually several smaller ones covering 15 locations A-D. A map of the dreamscape is also provided that shows connections and regions. Feel free to alter it or come up with your own map or connection the locations differently. Nothing is fixed in the dreamscape.
As per the previous entries in this series, there are sometimes distinctions drawn between entering the plane through dreams and physically entering the plane. Some elements apply more to one rather than the other but you can also make your own judgements. A variety of texts on dreams and other inspiration have been added to Personal Appendix N.
The other parts of the articles relating to the dreamscape are listed below and will be linked when they are complete:
- Part 1 – Background and Entrances
- Part 2 – Adventuring
- Part 3 – Journeys, Environs and Hazards
- Part 4 – Map and Regions
- Part 5 – Key Locations: A-D, E-J, K-S, T-Z
- Part 6 – Inhabitants
- Part 7 – Items and Objects
- Part 8 – Appendix of useful tables
- Map of the Dreamscape
- Vistas of the Dreamscape
- Locations [A-D]
Map of the Dreamscape
Vistas of the Dreamscape
Outlined below are notable permanent locations from within the Dreamscape. They are kept real by consist energies, belief and dream. Such locales can range from a few miles across to hundreds, vast lands stretching up to the horizon and curving up it into the sky. Their exact features may change or appear different to different travellers. Those who travel the plane as dreamselves are particularly wont to experience altered versions of things. The exact relation to other locations and routes between may be difficult to discern, unreliable or alter over time. Inhabitants are generally aware that they are in the dreamscape. Many are native to the plane, are the result of ancestral migration or have decided to make it their permanent home. Between these locations is the sea of change that is the Lands Between. Any location, real or imaginary, could there as a temporary manifestation or psychic outcrop. Inhabitants of such locations in the Between may be unaware they live in a dream and may behave accordingly. Such places can be opportunities to insert other adventures between journeys through the dreamscape. A whole different world setting or reality might be contained just off the trail between two of the locations outlined below.
Each location is colour coded to the region it resides within. At the end of each entry, the routes that connect to other locations are provided. The numbers that follow these onward destinations represent the Duration and Danger rating of the route, e.g. (1)|  means a short route that is high danger. My travel rules that use these values will be outlined in another post. For now, simply consider them values that run from 1-6 and consider simply making random encounters appropriately difficult.
The Absent Fort
Region: Nightmare Nests (east)
The Absent Fort looms over the landscape like a jagged and foreboding silhouette. Cut out from the terrain, its impenetrable absence swallows light. Twin, curving spires twist reality so that the Bright Moon or Black Sun always lie framed between them. On nights of the Full Black Sun the fort swells. Bursting, obscene, twisted shapes of things wriggle out of its void-like belly. They search hungrily for life, pillaging and dragging their captives home. Terrified howls disappear to an eerie silence as victims vanish across the blank threshold. Fields of crystal mirrors surround the fort, recharging it by concentrating the sun’s black beams onto the spire tops. Nearer the base, cursed greenhouses grow warped dark fruit, fetid and pungent on vine and branch. When the Black Sun wanes, the Fort wanes in power too, shrinking and subsisting for a time on its stolen life and energy. So the fort ebbs and swells in power, paths that once avoided its reach now appear to lead closer and short routes grow long.
It is commonly believed that the fort was born from Utama’s blood, a shadowy blot on the dreamscape dripped down from the moon. Others believe the fort grows atop a buried, ancient intelligence of the void that bides its time in the earth. Whatever the origin, the fort functions as the crown seat of the Unknown Liege. The Nightmare Prince’s true nature is disputed, a lost arch fey claim the Dream Court, an ancient Kabuselb claim Meathabher and an unholy archepton claim the Bandren. The monarch is rarely seen so the lord’s position may simply be a title changing hands constantly in the dark. Control of the Fort means control of the portals that lie within, one of the few ways nightmare and shadow creatures can easily access the material plane when alignments are right.
The surrounding lands are dotted with sentry posts and towers that mark the extent of the fort’s claims. Each emits a humming magical suppression field. The only significant nearby settlement is Darkwell. This tributary town conducts trade for the fort and is the only stable and untainted water for miles around. If selling to the fort, one might receive a writ of passage that protects against the forts forces for a time, corrupt gemstones, dark fruit and vegetables or the possessions of its victims.
Flavour: Deep shadows and dark calm, punctuated by terrifying, inhuman howls whose origin is hard to place. Silhouettes of ravens and vultures blot out the faint light of the Bright Moon.
Dangers: Creatures of nightmare and shadow prowl the areas surrounding the Absent Fort. Not all are under its sway but most are cruel and indifferent. The forces of the Fort and the surroundings are filled with Husks creatures born of and without fear. Some of them bear striking resemblances to the victims of the fort’s raids, it is unknown whether they can be cured.
Inhabitants: The surrounding land is populated by all manner of subdued peoples and roving nomads. Scouting forces from Meathabher make their way here on raids and reconnaissance. There are rumours that a group of unruly exiles from the fort form slowly like an abscess under the earth. Their ruler may seek out the adventurers to help him overthrow his old masters.
NPC: Blacksight, Maestra of Darkwell, Shadow Demon Lieutenant of the Absent Fort. Always interested in expanding their own power and wealth. Ultimately seeking a means to free themselves and return to the Astral Sea.
Onward Transit: The Horror,  | (6), The Material Plane [Portals powered by fear and pain].
Academy at Mouteka
Region: Realms of Reverie
The great Academy at Mouteka was founded during the reign of the Star Queen who ruled the Wide. She gathered great scholars from across the lands and transported them via great rituals to the dreamscape. There to hone their knowledge and craft. The questions they were to unlock are lost to time but they were meant to return when they found them. When the truths they sought arrived, a vortex of monstrous understanding severed the academy from all of the planes. Isolated and unsure, its inhabitants faltered and within the walls a civil war ensued over how best to return. Nigh a thousand years had passed when an Uktoma caravan sighted the Academy suddenly looming out of the mists, as if it had never left. What the inhabitants now intend is unknown. Ages passed in their absence and the civilisation that sent them has long collapsed to dust. There are also rumours that the inhabitants have been changed in their absence. They communicate only through their emissaries the Oumasu – creatures part mechanical, part smoke and flesh. Those who manage to gain entry to the Academy itself appear to be placed under some strong spell that prevents them from discussing the librarians, students and other inhabitants. Most of whom appear under powerful glamours regardless. Still many come, seeking magic items, scrolls and other unusual items and contraptions that utilise their weird knowledge. Once per cycle of the Bright Moon the Academy opens its gates to potential new recruits. A series of trials are held which many potential applicants fail to survive.
Flavour: Scrolls and bookshelves miles high. Trials of knowledge and magical prowess. Mobile caravans pulled by Omasu. Mysterious servants of the Academy, false and beautiful, appearing as their onlookers wish them to be.
Dangers: The Academy is defended by giant constructs whilst the lands around are dangerous indeed. Failed experiments and test subjects roam wildly attacking the unwary.
Inhabitants: Some of the failed experiments of the Academy have banded together forming pockets of civilisation in the surrounding areas. In the Academy itself, are the Maestra although few have or remember meeting them. Most common are the Oumasu emissaries who trade whilst receiving strange silent commands from their masters.
NPC: Awel Cheskut, messenger of the Academy
Onward Transit: The Weavewood  | (4), Zhozhin Looms  | (3).
Region: Draconic Bleed
The great heart city of the Kanvupalka clans of the Draconic Bleed. The dreamscape kobolds have created a bustling, friendly and chaotic hub of draconic civilisation. Each district of the city straddles a different biome which meet and combine in the central district of Merge Nest. This chaotic central hub is believed to be the sight where the first dragon eggs were lain. The city is filled with wild and colourful architectural marvels, much of it shaped by elemental magics. Carving and ornamentation are favoured and structures are replete with feather, tooth and scale motifs. Spiralling multi-tiered platform structures reach up and across the skies bridging river and mountain peaks. Shrines to Chithallakatevar and Komada are erected, torn down and rebuilt over and over, each attempting to correct or outdo the previous. Master crafted shrines are given the honour of being rebuilt in the Merge Nest, forming part of the Worshipper’s Mile. This extravagant roadway leads to the Great Edifice in which the shaman elders hold court. Great wealth is brought to the city by explorers who seek out and capture treasures dreamed by slumbering dragons and stow them away in the city. They use this great wealth to trade with Meathabher and Flanriene.
The powerful shaman cast keeps the chaotic clans in line. Elsewhere in the draconic bleed tensions often boil over but here they are kept at a dangerous simmer. A complex system of spiritual inheritance supports their claim of lineage from the now gone Figmentary Dragons. Most inhabitants believe the shaman, although inscrutable, are carrying out the lost desires of those lost dragons. Great astrological machinery from a bygone age is maintained, the knowledge of its construction lost. True power in the city is held by the tribal council, which is made up of representatives of various different groups in the city. Many of these clans are associated with worship or allegiance to a particular dragon but others are simply merchant guilds or brotherhoods. It is from these groups that the ill organised and ill disciplined patrols that secure the surrounding areas are drawn.
Flavour: Chaotic noise of building, trade, skirmishes and worship. Victory parades for treasure hunters, sooth saying and superstition.
Dangers: The inhabitants are proud of their districts and may not look favourably on strangers bringing them into ill repute or favouring their rivals. The Feather Clutch, a secret brotherhood, seeks to tear down the city and ascend to power. They engage in acts of destruction and disruption and believe that the worship and reverence is folly.
Inhabitants: The majority of the populace are Kobolds of various different stripes. Several hundred years ago Zweinarod, dragonkin dreamers, arrived seeking refuge from a catastrophe on the mortal plane. Next most numerous are other reptilian folk such as the Kadalaki. However, many other people make their way here and find the mixture of habitats attractive.
NPC: Dorox Kalok, cantankerous Kobold Merchant. Dorox’s merchant company trades standard goods, for the dreamscape, as well as many dragon related items such as: dragon’s wish, scale petals, ancient breath and crystallised wurm greed. They are willing to pay good prices or equivalent exchange for items brought to them. They sponsor many sorties into the Vision of Tooth and Wing.
Onward Transit: Bibliok na Pantapiaku  | (4), Kunashra  | (2), Vision of Tooth and Wing  | (3)
Region: Realms of Reverie
An endless, honeycombed cave network beneath the Realms of Reverie. Eternal, endless and diverse. Inhabited by terrible and serene creatures, and burrowed out by great beasts and their lesser progeny. Many believe the caverns were the original nest of Shafukowa, and perhaps their kin, before they set about their roaming of the Dreamscape. Certainly that burrowing colossus would be at home here and many of the larger caves could comfortably accommodate it. Pockets of caves, and larger tunnels, collect dreamweave as it leaks down from the surface like warping rainfall. Over time, this has created great underground forests, cities, skies and other unusual whims of dreamers given form. Dreamers have many tales of traversing the caverns and stumbling upon ancient and terrible civilisations once thought lost.
The beautiful red stone found deep beneath the earth is prized throughout the dreamscape. Many inhabitants of the caverns also survive on the nutritious Areech plant that grows in the glow of that red rock. The stone is particularly sought after by elementals, and other creatures who consume stone, and fetches a grand price in Tornor-Vulitar. Mining it is not a simple affair, the caverns display a worrying, warping effect on time. Staying too long within them ages people and distorts the perception of time, although the effect appears reversed upon leaving.
The main native inhabitants are the Chiropak, who believe themselves born from stone and who regard the caves as sacred. They can see in the deepest dark using unknown means and draw strength from the red rock. They believe they forgot their wings when they moved into the caves trading them for the parts of their bodies made of shining purple jade like stone. Fanged and long tongued, headdress and stone carving. rumoured to sacrifice the unwary to unknown gods. Pearl, Jade, obsidian and other dreamscape only stones.
Flavour: Twisting tunnels where gravity shifts around, redstone seams that move through the earth as though alive, bizarre crumbling architecture, ‘bottle’ biomes.
Dangers: Warping of space, time and gravity, unnatural ageing. Bulettes, Giant Worms and Delvers drunk on luxurious figmentary minerals. In the deepest caverns, Dreamstone Elementals may bury travellers alive for their amusement.
Inhabitants: As well as monsters, the caves are inhabited by various populations of Chiropak, Dwarves, Derro and other subterranean creatures. Over the millennia, many people have created great settlements under the earth but most have fallen to ruin eventually. The deepest layers are rumoured to contain elemental creatures made from stone and dream.
Onward Transit: Court of Menlin  | (3), The Normal  | (3), Grey Fields  | (5), Great Vaults  | (3).
Region: Bandren Range
The great city of the range whose population waxes and wanes with the cycles of the dreamscape. It is here where the Bandren meet at key points of the lunar arcs. The various tribes and headsmen negotiate claims and grievances. Celebrations and rituals take place, some forbidden for outsiders to see. Arriving at Bandren Moot without a Bandren guide or blessing is extremely difficult and potentially dangerous. The Bandren do not take invasion of their sacred lands lightly. Whilst the moot is controlled by the tribal chiefs and elders of the Bandren, each pays fealty to the High Priest of all the Widelands.
Layers of multilevel interlocked cycles of megaliths, inconceivably large as if placed by the gods themselves. Within these circles are enclosed simple structures and each clan has an associated area. Outside them, giant pens hold hundreds of Chetrach. Over uncounted millennia, the great stones have been carved and embellished by their clans. Intricate detailing features historical details and creatures of the dreamscape sacred to that clan. Each clan is entrusted with parts of a mega-structure that they bring to the Moot when they are called. Work in collaboration, they contsruct a gigantic, decorative tent within the henges that the main ceremonies then take place within.
Flavour: Animal odors mixed with incense, ritual hunts and festivities, barely contained tribal tensions.
Dangers: The Moot is protected by all manner of strange wards, traps and carefully controlled dangerous animals. The Bandren themselves often cannot keep track of them all and many are lost to a forgotten ancient trap, set and forgotten. The ancestors of the Bandren appear to have been able to control the strange behaviour of the dreamscape. As a result, many otherwise ‘naturally’ occurring hazards occur here to deter intruders.
Inhabitants: A small number of permanent inhabitants who guard the site between festivities. Depending on the heavenly cycle, there may be a great number of Bandren along with visiting dignitaries from across the planes.
Onward Transit: The Wolde  | (2).
Bibliok na Pantapiaku
Region: Draconic Bleed
Like giant vibrant eggs in a nest of hills, the scattered storehouses of the Biliok na Pantapiaku house the building blocks of revelation. The buildings’ pristine splendour is protected behind six concentric sets of walls. The outermost is over 50 miles long whilst the innermost encircles only a few miles. Layered, interlinked palisades dotted with watchtowers all protect and lead to the Grand Record Hall at the centre. Whilst the outer buildings house mundane dreams, the Grand Record Hall contains archives of the greatest and most consequential manifestations on the dreamscape. Imposing on the outside and impossibly large on the inside, millennia of secrets lie within. Few are allowed to peruse the mundane stacks of the Bibliok but those of the Grand Record Hall are off limits to almost all. The exception are royals and leaders of the various factions and polities of the dreamscape. In times past, each was bequeathed an ancient and unique seal that they must present to enter. Many of these seals fell into shadow with the decay of their regimes whilst others have simply been lost to time. When access is granted, it is only given under the supervision of the terrifying, blood-eyed grand librarians.
Access to more mundane areas can be gained by trading tales of strange dreams. Also, servants of the Librarians have be known to prowl the dreamscape and even on occasion the mortal realms, searching for piquant dreams to steal or record. Some of the most powerful dream records must be kept within their own pocket dimensions. So powerful is their imagery that they would leak out into the library itself. Unbeknownst to the librarians a recent dreamquake has destroyed some of the containment around dangerous dreamscrolls in the deep archives. In a long forgotten alcove of the library a storm is brewing. Several librarians have already been corrupted by its influence and soon it will be ready to expand its influence.
Flavour: Monastic serenity mixed with opulent splendour. Strange dream resonances bring nostalgic and terrifying sights and smells to visitors.
Dangers: Theft from the library or unauthorised access, if discovered, will result in imprisonment and forced servitude. The Librarians are ruthless in their pursuits and have the Paper Hounds at their disposal. In the deepest vaults lie great secrets but also the records of nightmares.
Inhabitants: Peoples and scholars from all over the dreamscape come to the Bibliok seeking information. Bandren hunters search for records of previous sightings of dream beasts they hunt.
NPC: Amal Druzkahz, dwarven sorcerer, seeks knowledge held in the deepest vaults. Based on the material plane, she has managed to obtain a seal that will grant access to the Grand Record Hall. She is unsure of its authenticity and as such wants to hire adventurers to test it out.
Onward Transit: Almauvre Wastes  | (4), Alvathakparui  | (4)
Black Sun Seams
Region: Deep Mountain Sculpts
Here are mined the crystallised rays of the Black Sun, the prized material of Golvor dreamers. The tunnels run long and the shafts fall deep, deep, down into the yawning earth. The landscape is pockmarked with entrances and forts to defend them, the air is thick with acrid smoke and dust. Shrines to Boreabh, goddess of minerals, rise high into the sky and dominate the hollowed caverns. Vast outpourings from the earth have left the land riddled and treacherous. Although precious metal is found in abundance here, it is not what is sought. Thousands of hands move mountains of earth and stone searching, hoping for a few crystals of glistening dark, the bleak seams of shadow diamonds.
The various mine lords and their foremen jealously guard the mine’s output from those who would seek to share the bounty. Fortresses and armies guard the newest pits and conflicts between prospectors are common. Occasionally, outputs of Mindstone, Glittral and other minerals make their way to the material through arcane smuggling and mundane corruption. Whole Golvor clans have been known to wake simply to retrieve such stolen prizes. The mines themselves are dangerous and endless time breeds horrors in the dark who do not wish to be disturbed. Mercenary dreamers willing to help clear the mine’s lowest levels of threats can find bountiful material rewards. Entrance to the Seams can also be gained through the exchange of valuable materials from the realm of the waking.
Flavour: Acrid smoke and tainted run off from mines saturate the surroundings. The sound of thrumming echoes from under the earth as the mines are pushed deeper still.
Dangers: The harassed and tortured earth is prone to collapse and landslides, sometimes of gargantuan scale. Raids on the mines and vigilante destruction from members of the displaced peoples of the region are common. The faint powdered dust of Shadow Diamonds can also corrupt the lungs and souls, tainting the unwary with shadow. Dwarves call this affliction ‘Black Envy’ and ‘Shadow Sickness’. Sufferers initially drain of colour and later gradually shift to incorporeal shadow. Rarely working together, severe sufferers stalk the shattered land. Their avarice and envy leading them to rob their victims of their belongings, shadows or flesh in order to replace what they have lost.
Inhabitants: Thousands of creatures from all over the dreamscape are employed in the mines. Most powerful are the alliances of the Great Vaults that ship the earth’s bounty there. Grorn, shadowkin and underground dwelling peoples are also common. A sudden increase in predatory shadow creatures and afflicted Grorn often marks the opening of a new seam.
NPC: Fen-Durok, Golvor Pitmaster, and Mollim, Grorn enforcer. Fen-Durok and Mollim are harsh and corrupt masters. They are always looking to offload illicitly obtained minerals. They can also be employed to provide covert entrance to the secret seams to which they have access. If they get caught, they won’t think twice about literally throwing the PCs down the well.
Onward Transit: The Great Vaults  | (2), Grorn Wound  | (4), The Gyre  | (3)
Region: Nightmare Nests (east)
A ruined waste, cursed and smouldering, a wrecked city, its buildings scattered and broken. Bare stone remains protrude from the firmament. Beautiful eroded carvings and worn, flaked paintings adorn their surfaces. Intricate and intriguing combinations of colour, shape and line. Frozen elementals of fire, wind, earth and blood stand like statues. Each frozen figure caught in a final, violent rictus. Suspended in the air are huge turning geometric shapes: square, circle, triangle. Some are hollow frames whilst others contain coloured panels dulled by the ages. Many are cracked or damaged and in their vicinity horrors spawn and make plans. What was abandoned is now is home to horrors. Hollow husks of goblinoids and ghosts. The Stuff of Fear emanates from this place and is born here.
Tendrils of the ethereal plane reach and grasp through harsh air. They fall like wind blown, rose spider webs. At the centre of that partially buried city lies a fractured tower, still reaching up and up, high into the bleak sky. The highest levels are obscured by cloud and encircled by distant hovering shapes of winged, monstrous things. Other submerged buildings have been reclaimed or reconstructed with new and terrible architectural additions. Flesh, bone and stone fused as one. The bottom levels of the city have been somewhat reclaimed over the years by adventurous dreamers and goblinoids, although the sub and upper levels are still perilous.
Flavour: Abandoned desolation, post-apocalypse skies, ruined splendour of a bygone age. Corrupt rune songs, sung by distended mouths.
Dangers: The ever present reach of the ethereal plane creates the danger of being pulled there temporarily or on occasion permanently. Dream Spectres and other ethereal tinged horrors can also hurt the unprepared or unwary. The Halls of Ancestors in the deep are filled with cursed ghosts whilst the upper levels are filled with nightmares more akin to gods.
Inhabitants: In the lower levels a mixture of good types and evil doers form uneasy alliances.
NPC: Dunmok Bladeway, Hobgoblin Sage, has led several expeditions to Choltan Karashast in search of archaeological finds. After one journey he came back acting unusually after touching an object deep in the city. He now appears to have a dual personality. One of these personalities and his team of apprentices and guards seek a cure. What the other personality wants is unknown.
Onward Transit: Desert of Ulain  | (5), Fortress of Flesh  | (5), Plains of Kermesan  | (4)
Court of Menlin
Region: The Brink
Here it is that Menlin the Usurper, dream thief and eternally dishonoured, holds court over a stolen realm. A court wizard in a bygone era, Melin’s liege sought an escape for his people from a catastrophe that wracked his land. Convinced by Menlin, the sovereign lay down into a magical coma. The strength of his arcane dream pulled the castle, surrounds and subjects deep in to the dreamscape. However, when they arrived the king never awoke and gradually Menlin seized control. The sleeping sovereign still lies in his bedchambers, encased in magical wards and guarded by horrors of Menlin’s imagination. Outside, peasants toil to harvest vast food stuffs that are then traded far and wide whilst knights who swore to protect them now swear fealty to the usurper. Menlin seeks to extend his grip to the Lands Between and beyond.
Menlin’s enforcers, the Fingers, ensure that his laws are upheld although much of the grunt work is done by press-ganged peasants called Cloaks. Menlin’s owls prowl the realm seeking out any signs of dissent or unauthorised intrusions. Entrance and exit from the realm is tightly guarded. Menlin’s magic craft ensures that all passage is funnelled through the Crystalwork Gates. Huge mechanical gates made of crimson crystal set into walls constructed of a similar material. Smugglers have been known to find secret entrances and exits but they are under constant threat of discovery by the Fingers and Cloaks. Wonderous foodstuffs are the key to the Court’s wealth and exports. Within the realm, Gourmezzines, floating food markets, with many medicinal, wondrous and wild dishes funnel their profits to Menlin.
Menlin is likely to charge a tax on those who wish to transit through his realm. Often this tax is minor but the laws of the realm are subject to Menlin’s whims and thus change regularly. Those who enter the realm may or may not be informed of these new laws before they fall afoul of them. The table below provides some suggestions changes to the law.
|1||d10 percent tax on coinage of any sort when leaving the realm. If this is not paid, people will be allowed to leave but twice that percentage will turn to useless slag metal upon passage through the Crystalwork Gates.|
|2||All food stuffs must be surrendered upon entry. This ensures purchase at the highly regulated Gourmezzines.|
|3||Healing potions and magic are forbidden. Healthiness is considered suspicious. The people have taken to displaying cuts, scabs and faking injuries to avoid potential punishment. Peddlers charge a small fee for causing injury.|
|4||An item of clothing, such as a hat or head covering, is subject to an extortionate or illogical fine e.g. a pint of the wearer’s blood, 100 gp, a shoe, one hair plucked from the wearer.|
|5||A new anthem has been composed by Menlin’s mad courtier Glamma Tinear. All must stand when it is played. The composition lasts d4 hours and is unbearable. Constitution and/or Performance checks DC 12 must be made to endure this horrendous cacophony. Failure results in 1d10+5 Psychic Damage and risks offending Menlin’s servants.|
|6||Each sentence must be finished with the word Menlin. Failure to do so results in a 1 sp fine or flogging if a creature cannot pay. In private, many avoid saying it but who can you trust?|
|7||To gain passage, all creatures must submit to servitude, according to their talents, for one day. Menlin’s bureaucratic servants subject entrees to a series of tests followed by a task. This is an opportunity for a short quest.|
|8||The colour green is forbidden. Menlin’s servants are spending a great deal of time recolouring the grass and trees.|
Flavour: Beautiful and lush countryside, endless fields of wonderous crops. Smells of plenty and summer.
Dangers: Those who do not obey Menlin’s dictates place themselves in great danger. All are watched and watching. However, the realm is relatively free of nightmares.
Inhabitants: Mortals of all stripes, descendants of the King’s subjects, many merchants and trade caravans, some fey and few divine creatures.
NPC: Hilmana, the queen, is currently living in hiding in the sewers and sepulchres under the city. Resolute and cunning, she is building power in secret. There are still some who support her claim while feigning loyalty to Menlin.
Onward Transit: Amaranthine Caverns  | (3), Isles of Nine Immortals  | (3), The Prophel  | (4), Portals (any location in the Brink except Tornor-Vulitar). Access to these portals are tightly controlled. Recently, it seems that Menlin also has control of a portal to the material as he and his servants have been seen there.
Crystal Fortress of Light
Region: The Brink
The Crystal Fortress looms like a shining beacon at the edge of the Glooming. A lighthouse of hope guiding the wayward to safety. Shining arches crystal towers and columns reach up from the earth. Multiple domed structures, rumoured to be mausoleums built by long lost inhabitants, lie around a central edifice. Inside the fortress walls are marbled floors laced with gold seams, bizarre abstract sculptures and vaulted halls iridescent with reflected moonlight. Vivid paintings housed in crystal frames deck the halls and there are those that claim these can be used to transit to other realms and planes. Outside, complex helix structures trap and concentrate the faint light of the Bright Moon down towards the Great Crystal Keep at the fortress’ centre. Similarly, resonators deep under the earth absorb its forces and focus them up into the structure. Deep in the centre of the keep, where these forces meet, lies the Hope Shard. It re-emits a blazing, radiant light and pulse that pushes back the wild creatures of the Nightmare Nests.
Legend states that the Hope Shard is the crystallised essence of a dead god, their name now lost to history. As a result, foolhardy pilgrims seek the Hope Shard’s blessing or try to unlock its mysteries. However, they must traverse the lands of nightmares to reach it. The shard is certainly known to have healing properties, some beyond those available in the material realm. Dreams tell of those whom it returned from the dead, restored to full health after horrendous injuries or had their nightmare addled minds healed. The most wondrous tales are invariably tied to rare conjunctions of the Bright Moon and Dark Sun. Recently, rumours are afoot that Menlin has found a shorter route to the fortress and that he has unlocked some of its secrets to build his Crystalwork Gates and portals.
Flavour: Serenity and the smell of vanilla and chamomile. Glistening falcons and flamingos of light swoop through the air. Bright light saturates and cleanses.
Dangers: There are few dangers within the walls of the fortress or its immediate surroundings. It is a place of rest and respite. The fortress can provide blessings that help with traversing the Nightmare Nests.
Inhabitants: A small number of zealous clerics dedicate themselves to an unknowable god. They are duty bound to help any travellers in need. Many factions each claim to hold the truth. Mysterious warriors known as the Guardians of the Light, resplendent in marbled, ivory armour. They keep order, what other goals they pursue are unknown. They stand and watch or patrol the halls silently. Rumours claim they are automatons but their true nature is understood by few.
NPC: Nas Ji, Bandren hunter, has come here seeking a cure for his affliction. Many others of his tribe are similarly afflicted. He can provide guidance across the plane to those willing to help.
Onward Transit: The Glooming  | (4)
The Dead Cities of Valnoth
Region: Nightmare Nests (west)
Mad men, and those who fear sleep, whisper tales of dark, diamond cities that pierce the veil of the world. The Dead Cities were built in unknown time from calcified and corrupt dreams. Sprawling districts, maddening streets and vast ossuaries knot the land like brambles. Monstrous, varied architecture in a million cursed styles not fit for mortal eyes. Vast and barren halls echo with hollow, haunting voices from terrible mouths. Nightmares beyond time, and passed down through bloodlines, conglomerate to rude forms, roaming the dead streets, furious, lost and hungry. Some of the cities are formed from the fetid dreams of powerful undead, others from things out of space and time, many from the corrupted thoughts of mortal monsters. The strangest are the arcane-mechanical cities of a lost people who harvested and fed upon the energies of the Nightmare Nests and put them to their own inscrutable uses.
Around the cities run the Howling Walls and within them, ever shifting in location, are the cursed Ebon Gates. Only when the Black Sun is full do the gates swing outwards and allow dark things to leave. The gates are kept by ominous and terrifying Nothic guardsmen, twenty feet tall and shrouded in billowing gossamer cloaks. It is rumoured they will grant entrance for an intriguing tale of the material world, of which they are forbidden to know.
Some of the Dead Cities are well known such as the basalt city of Halak but the Dead Cities are numerous and varied. The most complete list was compiled in the cursed writings of the dangerous dreamer Izelrun Kjern. If you wish to generate your own, some suggestions are outlined below. Roll two to four times on the syllable column to generate the name of the settlement. The other columns suggest notable features and inhabitants.
|1||Fal||Walls, towers, bridges and spires are all made of congealed fat. The smell is overpowering.||Rotten secret dealers physically corrupted by the knowledge they possess. The markets are full of traders exchanging whispers as goods. Those who overhear are punished.|
|2||Dur||Deep wells filled with grey water that burns with blue light in the presence of the slightest spark. The rain forms not pools but rather rising columns that ignite with little warning.||A lone blind seer who speaks with the dead bodies strewn everywhere as if they were alive. Some of the corpses look fresh, punctured by dainty wounds in the shape of small hands.|
|3||Oth||Faces fall like fruit from gnarled trees. Eventually they rise and float through the air weeping and wailing. They are harvested in nets made of black hair. Enormous and wild sculptures of terrifying animals are built from them.||Malignant versions of people you know walk every road and byway. They mock and jeer when your back is turned. The settlement is ruled by a cloaked figure known as Harshtruth who seeks peace that will not come to him.|
|4||Mar||A ruin resettled. Enormous structures unsuited to the size of the current inhabitants. A giant cage in the town square, shrouded in black shadows and avoided by all. The cacophonous sounds of something within are ignored.||Everyone is a child with wholly green, piercing eyes, pupils like spinning spirals, a hungry gaze. They play in groups, they rule and serve, they are all the same child, identical in appearance, they don’t want you to leave.|
|5||Nell||Every surface is carved with blasphemous script in the inscrutable language of dreams. The buildings and roads themselves form cyphers, the whole settlement planned as a document carved into the dreamscape. Attempts to decipher it has driven many mad but still they come and try.||Aberrations from beyond the worldshell have taken up residence here. They siphon off the energies of the dreamscape with contraptions of blood and sorcery. One group seeks to open a rift for their master to come through, another wishes to prevent it.|
|6||Joz||The settlement floats in the air on the backs of giant, terrible beasts chained together and controlled by dark magics. Arcane skybridges stretch between them while Parasitic creatures are hunted and harvested for food.||Hardy, embattled survivors. They use ancient knowledge and the weapons of nightmares against the horrors outside. Over time, this has corrupted their attitudes and countenance. All is bent towards survival and gathering more of the means to do so.|
Flavour: Dark skies, fog, the smell of decay and death. Worms and beetles writhe over bleak shadowy lands.
Hazards: Fear bogs and horrorscapes are common around and within the cities’ boundaries. Many areas are affected by Effects of the Plane such as All Consuming Darkness or Ill-being. Strangely, the effects of Wanderlost are muted here, travellers are much more likely to wish to leave the plane than be captured by it.
Inhabitants: Dangerous nightmares, Kabuselbs, maddened travellers, seekers of dark secrets and fear itself.
NPC: Sal’Orlak N’Klazarax, no-nonsense Kobold surveyor, has made it her life’s work to catalogue the hellish depths of the Nightmare Nests. She has much knowledge of the Dead Cities and their inhabitants and has the begrudging respect of many of them.
Onward Transit: Desert of the Dreamless  | (5), Drowning Sea  | (4)
Desert of the Dreamless
Region: Nightmare Nests (west)
Endless undulating sand dunes, the ground and the gales that carve it are lifeless and foreboding. The Bright Moon casts deep shadows from gargantuan cliffs. Steel grey cliffs undulate like waves along the dunes, their sides pock marked with faintly glowing windows. Below in the dunes, imposing, silent citadels push up from the desert floor. Architecturally impossible bridges curve, twist and stretch for miles between the cliffs and highest spires. Wise travellers will pass over the dunes via these platforms but the wiser still will avoid entering the structures themselves. Path Sounders and Uktoma caravans do sometimes make their way through, travelling between The Great Vaults and Vastroykan. The sands are roamed by creatures that hunger, hollow spiritless things without mind or master. Temptation has taken many who explore the dunes brought by visions of great wealth beneath the sands. Ancient lands and structures covered over by endless sand fall. Some say that the Greybleak Towers watch the dunes for warning signs, motion that might suggest the ancient is about to rise from its dusty blanket and tomb.
The lands here are formed from the barren thoughts of unimaginative mortals. Fragments of unfinished dreams that have lost their energy lodge here to create frozen locales, horrifyingly still. Not all is sand and stone, there are dead forests with trees who leaves don’t twitch in howling winds, lifeless volcanos, oases and streams with fish immobile as though suspended in formaldehyde.
Flavour: Barren windswept expanses of desert periodically broken by towering cliff-fused citadels. Eerie stillness and an intense sense of apathy.
Hazards: As well as the usual hazards of desert travel, the area is suffused in a great sense of stillness and apathy. Each night spent in the sands brings a cloying sense of pointlessness.
Inhabitants: Few peoples live here, although some that do may be the descendants those who built the Greybleak Towers. There are also tales of a race of beetle like horrors that dwell beneath the sands.
NPC: No-name, delirious survivalist, has eked out a living in the desert for uncounted years. They can be called via a signal known only to Uktoma caravans and can provide guidance.
Onward Transit: Dead Cities of Valnoth  | (5), Grey Fields  | (4), Vastroykan  | (5)
Desert of Ulain
Region: Nightmare Nests (east)
The barren, beautiful and captivating Desert of Ulain is formed from unbridled dreams of isolationist contemplation. A soft land of emptiness, mile upon mile of flatlands shrouded in blur and haze. Tangibility is in short supply, mirage and spectral images are common and even the nature of the ground underfoot is hard to ascertain. Scattered throughout are outcrops of Ulain’s Crystals, the hard tears of the eponymous, wandering lord of this place. Most of these outcrops appear just under the surface of the land making their detection difficult for prospectors. The process of extraction is also laden with difficulty and danger. If improperly handled the crystals can infect humanoids with Crystal Longing or explode catastrophically. At the Desert’s centre lies the Bone Field of Char created by wistful meditations on death. Some seek it out for the alchemical properties of the unusual bones of unique creatures to be found here.
The occasional appearance of wandering Guardians of the Light attest to some connection to the Crystal Fortress of Light. Perhaps an ancient mining concern or outpost was set up here in time immemorial. Few have see from whence they come or where they go when they stride through the mist. The guardians appear to preserve crystal technology unknown elsewhere on the plains. They frequently carry strange devices and appear to be surveying the land and sky for something unknown.
Flavour: Haze, mist and the vague. Winds that whisper with temptations to retreat from the world. Humidity without water.
Hazards: The air is mildly toxic here requiring protection of the lungs or 1d4 HP damage for each day of travel. This damage will not heal until the area is exited. Dragons and other draconic creatures here who wish to remain alone and undisturbed are prone to murderous intent.
Inhabitants: Few and far between. Exiles from other areas of dreamscape sometimes make their way here to hide, along with criminals, prospectors and other ne’er-do-wells who wish to remain hidden. Many are fiercely independent or mad with their own company.
NPCS: Blackcap Redshovel, wanderlost faye prospector, controls a hardy caravan that traverses the land. Undeniably mad, they are also the most consistently successful prospector of their age. Currently, they are under contract with Menlin. Personally, they seek the priceless Throne of Ulain rumoured to be buried in a great mausoleum inside a hidden hillside.
Onward Transit: Cholthan Karashast  | (5), Vision of Tooth and Wing  | (3)
Region: Pilgrim Paths
Temple riddled metropolis, great pilgrim city and holy site of the Dream King’s worshippers. A variety of wild churches with differing creeds and liturgies are based here and the city is replete with bazaars and lodgings for their pilgrims. The streets are decked with bizarre shrines and offerings. Donilathat forms the first stop for travellers seeking enlightenment or oblivion in the Inscape. As well as pilgrims and travellers, many Wanderlost are drawn to the city and find comfort in its promenades. Certainly their affliction seems stayed within the city’s walls. Safety is also assured by the Cult of the King, who rule the city and permit no violence there. The exception is furious brutality which takes place in the sanctioned Temples of Hurt. Violence outside these hallowed pits results in exile or serving a sentence within them for the amusement of onlookers. Few sent there see their release alive. The areas around Donilathat are filled with fertile farmland tilled by pilgrims and exiles as penance. The wealth generated by this enterprise and pilgrim’s purses helps to feed the ever expanding city.
At the head of the Cult of the King is the Queen Priest, Morgra Bloodhand. Morgra was invested with holy office after she passed her trials in the Temples of Hurt with a skill and terror not seen in an age. The Queen Priest rules in place of the lord of the inscape, absent for an eternity. They also govern the unruly priest class of the city by balancing their competing doctrines and dealing with their endless schisms. The cults of the city produce ceremonies, temples and festivities that are endless and inventive. When the Black Sun waxes some of these rites take a darker tone and incautious pilgrims may find their lives become the price of devotion.
|1||The celebration of St. Vrok: Worshippers and fish swim through the air with the power of their belief.|
|2||The Lord’s Feast: Endless arrays of bizarre and sometimes dangerous food is bartered. Everyone hopes create the dish crowned by the priests as holy at the end of the festival.|
|3||Chance and Danger: Gambling is everywhere, bets are taken on all manner of pursuits. Debtors end up in the Temples of Hurt.|
|4||Orgy of Destruction: Smashing and tearing down of shrines. Sects protect their churches from rivals. Often followed by the Year of the Builder.|
|5||Bright Moon: Thousands of cats weave through the city. They are blessed and treated as visiting dignitaries.|
|6||Blood Nights: Bloodletting, animal and sometimes humanoid sacrifice. The city reeks with fear, joy and the stench of rotting flesh.|
|d6||Cult Quirk||Temple Quirk|
|1||Regular bloodletting, flagellation and scarring, not always of themselves.||Wild, curving and twisted arches loop and interlock in patterns disturbing to the eye.|
|2||Penury is celebrated or harshly persecuted. The members alternate between beliefs depending on strange signs.||The building is not a building at all. It is a large monster with ceremonies held in its belly and mouth propped open. It is kept asleep by the chanting of the cult.|
|3||Fruit and vegetables are sacred and the most perfect specimens are sought for high and low. Great prices are paid for them and their possession marks status. Blood is sometimes spilled to obtain them.||A single door way set into no wall. Passing through reveals a pocket dimension filled with noxious smoke from holy forges and towering metal golems.|
|4||Dangerous nightmares are gifts from the Dream King. They are stored in black cages and crystal bottles and tomes. Pilgrims are paid to recount them, collect them or for information on their whereabouts.||It is carved from a single piece of basalt in the shape of a torus.|
|5||No fixed personality is allowed, members change attitude and affectation at the drop of a hat. All leads closer to the thousand faces of the King.||The temple venerates warriors. Its halls are decked with corpses of soldiers from all over the planes, from all over time, each bedecked in their military dress.|
|6||The cult exists only as covert members of other cults. Their creed is only to subvert and destroy their plans.||It hovers in the air and is crowned by enormous bells. When they are struck, they emit a wave that vibrates vision.|
Flavour: Bustling streets, chanting pilgrims, festivals, rituals and rights. Heavy fogs of incense. Numerous cults in wild dress jostle for worshippers and donations.
Hazards: Pickpockets and other ne’er-do-wells prey on unwary travellers stealing thoughts, emotions and more mundane possessions. Becoming embroiled in the politics of the temples is a surefire way of being placed into danger.
Inhabitants: Endless variety of peoples frequent the city. Many of those on the bustling streets are just travellers and pilgrims. These bring in huge amounts of revenue.
NPCs: Moll Flatren, corrupt Hsiun priest, seeks to frame and destroy a rival sect. Will seek the PC’s help but if they refuse will frame them for his deeds.
Onward Transit: Expanse of Adshaminath  | (3), Guardian Fields  | (1), Ruins of Teth  | (3), Seven Palaces  | (2), The Soft Estate  | (4)
Region: Nightmare Nests (west)
To sailors of the material this is a sea of many names: the Sea of Quietude, The Calling Deep or Black Temptation to name a few. The Drowning Sea is formed from the dreams of drowning seafarers in the moments before they die or are saved. A vast expanse of wild waters, its surface is punctured by looming volcanic islands. These magmatic and tempestuous isles rise and sink beneath the waves, alternating through cycles of land and sea life. Yellow, black and white waters collide in violent torrents around them but it is not the water that governs their falls beneath the waves. Here in the Drowning Sea, everything has a dual existence. Men are fish, fish are men and those that are dead live for rude aeons.
Fleets of ships manned by cowled and noxious Fisherthings trawl the dangerous waters for captives and dreamed treasures. They also bring trade and adventurers from the Normal to Vastroykan and to the Dead Cities of Valnoth. In Vastroykan, their slimy and pungent catches are considered a delicacy by the textile barons. Under the waves, devout merfolk serve aboleth masters who built empires of secrets. The nightmares of such creatures provide the sea with many of its darkest tentacled, blind horrors.
Flavour: Chaotic seas, salt and sulphur. Paradise like islands that change to horroscapes at the drop of an anchor. Howling gales alternate with eerie calm. The sky a tumultuous wash of colours.
Hazards: The dangerous waters affect the mind, causing those who fall over board to swim down instead of back to the surface. Those travelling here as a Dreamself are particularly susceptible to the pulls of the deep.
Inhabitants: All manner of sea creatures and sea dwelling humanoids. Ghostly nightmares of loved ones and the past. Alien Fisherthings speak unintelligible languages and communicate through enslaved merfolk.
NPCs: Flamma Wildwater, Merfolk surface fisher, fishes the surface for creatures to be pulled into the deeps and traded there for shell and sorcerous favours. She hates her Aboleth master and seeks to steal its crown jewel, the Drowning Sapphire.
Onward Transit: Dead Cities of Valnoth  | (4), The Normal  | (2), Vastroykan  | (4)
Not much to say here this time. The next post will cover Locations E – H. By the time we are finished we should have a nice slew of unique locations for PCs to visit. I imagine I might need a break halfway through as these were already a lot of work and time. If you have any thoughts, ideas, comments or criticism I would love to hear them. Maybe if you have a favourite location or one you might like to know more about, let me know. Leave a comment or send me a message. Until next time, may your dreams be long.