Whereas other worlds are made of earth, water, air and fire, Dreamland has its own elements. In addition to Words (represented at the table by Word Cards) Dreamland is made of emotions. Sages have identified five primal forces: Wonder, Loathing, Mystery, Exoticism and Passion. These themes suffuse Dreamland, as well as drawing certain types of people across the border of the waking world. Depending on their affinity to the Pillars, each dreamer comes to Dreamland with distinct powers.
WONDER (beauty, awe & contentment)
The world of dreams is a splendid place. Everything you have ever wanted can come true. Landscapes are green and beautiful, buildings and clothes are covered with colorful ornamentation, and everything drips with gold and jewels.
Wonder is the sheer joy of existence. Within Dreamland, Wonder allows dreamers to create beautiful natural things: plants and animals, gold and jewels, even storms and sunlight and rain. But when the Pillar of Wonder is broken, dreamers are seduced by the beauty of Dreamland and lose their precious Memories of waking life.
LOATHING (hate, fear & pain)
When dreams become nightmares, Loathing oozes out of the depths. Feelings of anger, self-hatred and disgust summon forth evil creatures, Nightmares and hellish landscapes which threaten a dreamer’s soul. Wise dreamers know to avoid places where Loathing is strong: the deep pits of the underworld, the dark side of the moon, the legendary court of the Daemon-Sultan Azathoth.
Loathing grants dreamers the power to create (perhaps even to control) monsters and deadly beasts. When the Pillar of Loathing is broken, violence and hatred erupts, cities and countries go to war, and Dreamlanders transform into hostile Abhumans.
MYSTERY (time, magic & science)
In the shadows of tombs, over the edge of the world, Mystery waits silently. It is all that is forgotten, dubious and dark: whispers of ancient magics, secrets of the expanding universe, the truth of what happens after you die. Both science and technology, and magic and prayer, try to uncover these truths: only the rituals are different.
Mystery allows dreamers to pass between the waking world and Dreamland; to have visions; and to create finely crafted tools, objects and magic items. When the pillar of Mystery is broken, entropy takes its toll: things age and crumble, dreamers become exhausted, the boundary between worlds grows dangerously thin.
EXOTICISM (wanderlust, distance & culture)
Distant places, foreign languages, exotic smells and tastes. In the infinite universe of Dreamland, infinite cultures exist, each one stranger than the last, a neverending map which defies human understanding. Or is it just your own limited imagination that prevents you from seeing the sense in incomprehensible customs, the patterns of alien minds? Strange plants and animals, strange peoples that stretch the meaning of humanity: all that is weird & distant is supported by the pillar of Exoticism.
To play a fantasy roleplaying game set in imaginary lands is to seek the exotic; and this, in a sense, is what dreamers themselves are doing. Exoticism allows dreamers to learn the languages of strange people and beasts; to change the landscape; and to create new places and sites, perhaps even mysterious sunset cities. But when the Pillar of Exoticism is broken, distances increase, communication breaks down, and the world becomes ever stranger.
PASSION (love, music & desire)
Has any human being every gone through life without dreams of love? For every distant Dreamland city rising from the sunset clouds, there is another city which is more intimate, where beautiful odalisques and graceful ephebes catch the eye of the stranger. Musicians play the tambang and the zootibar, wine flows and hearts grow weak with desire; but the same passion that drives some to ruin gives solace to others and is the blood in the veins of the human Dreamland.
Passion is also the pillar of laughter and humor, of all that is warm and emotional in contrast to Wonder’s cold grandeur. Passion allows dreamers to fall in love, and to create human (or humanoid) allies. When the Pillar of Passion is broken, dreamers succumb to strange desires, attract the attention of goblins and fairies, or are transformed into inhuman beasts.
In the next post, I’ll talk about who dreamers are, those fortunate (or unfortunate) few who can enter Dreamland from the waking world.