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Thursday, 7 April 2022

Death's twin brother

If you're a Dragon Warriors player you might already be aware of my project to return to Legend with the Jewelspider RPG. I'm running a Patreon page to fund the artwork for that, but there are also scenarios and articles of general gaming interest. The latest, for example, deals with the matter of first and second sleep in medieval life, leading into a dream-magic adventure seed that's reminiscent of a monster from the original DW rulebooks:

"Wild heaths and glades, moonlit meadows and secluded abbeys – these are the places where the demons called Nightmares are imagined to skulk. Malignant and hungry for souls, they wait and watch for wayfarers to stray upon their haunts. When the characters go to sleep for the night, the Nightmare invades their dreams. The Nightmare cannot be detected because it has no physical presence in the real world. An Eye of Foreboding may (60% chance) flicker as it approaches, but by this time the Eye’s wearer will be asleep and unable to heed the warning. If one of the characters has stayed awake on watch, the Nightmare will try to put them to sleep, matching its magical attack of 2d6 +14 against their magical defence. This is because the character could otherwise awaken their sleeping comrades as soon as they saw they were having an abnormally horrific dream. If the Nightmare’s sleep spell fails to work, the character can (if they have any sense) instantly arouse their comrades and thus drive off the demon.

"Having entered the sleeping minds of its victims, the Nightmare takes control of their dreams. It may or may not allow them to know they are dreaming, as it can make its dream-images completely realistic. One way for the referee to handle this is to start a gaming session in the normal way, gradually introducing a succession of increasingly bizarre elements until the players guess that their characters are actually caught in a Nightmare’s dreamworld. Only then do they remember how they happened to be camping out for the night, and the referee narrates in flashback what they did between the end of the previous adventure to the beginning of the dream sequence.

"The Nightmare will toy with its victims, subjecting them to a horde of weird and disturbing experiences. As it reigns supreme in the dreamworld, it may cancel out some of their powers—or alter various abilities so that weaker characters become strong while their former leaders become weak. Beings who appear to be characters in their dream-adventure may be friend or foe, the advice they offer may be for good or ill. Normal perceptions are perverted; an apparent pushover like a goblin may turn out to have the powers of a master sorcerer. The Nightmare always appears in the dream itself, usually as an archetypal figure such as an evil wizard-king in a high fortress, whom the characters must slay to obtain their safety. It may feature in other ways—as a legendary treasure the characters must find, a haunted place, a secret truth they must comprehend. In a spirit of malicious caprice, it may even enter the dream in a relatively weak persona, perhaps as a friend of the characters—if they can guess its real identity, they would easily be able to destroy it and awaken from the dream."

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