Like a picture postcard of a vacation, when humanity began to put more faith in cold hard facts (and cold hard iron) over whim and fancy, the mythic parts of the world branched off to an overlapping level of reality called The Dreaming.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Dreamers & the Dreaming
- 3 Stable Points in the Dreaming
- 4 Travel in the Dreaming
- 5 Banality & the Dreaming
- 6 The Mists of Forgetfulness
- 7 Otherwhere
- 8 Near Dreaming
- 9 Far Dreaming
- 10 Deep Dreaming
- 11 A Smattering of Realms
- 12 References
The Dreaming is a universe unto its own. It is said that any and all things may be found there, if one knows how to look. Given this infinite tableau, many of the commoner kith fear to return to this place that was once most natural to them. Others, however, are now rediscovering their lost legacy. Most of these fae do not travel beyond the Near Dreaming. The only way for most changelings to enter the Dreaming is by entering a trod. Although the Dreaming is a place of infinite expanse and diversity, it is generally agreed that it can be divided into three major realms.
Dreamers & the Dreaming
The Dreaming is alive, make no mistake about that. But the life it has is not quite like anything else in existence. The Dreaming is not sentient, nor can it ever become sentient. Instead it is a primal pool of emotions. All colors, tastes, sounds, and scents are more intense in the Mythic Realm, and so are feelings. Anger is intensified, and here it is a raging inferno, rather than a candle's flame.
There are no restraints on people when they dream, and waking fantasies are also without limit. Anything is possible, and nothing is sacred. Dreamers can't control what occurs in their slumber, though many have tried. Their preconceived notions of self-control are useless when they sleep, and even the most restrained of them has no choice but to surrender to the chaos of dreams.
The very liberation of Dreamers' minds is the truest force of the Dreaming. It is the source of all power for the Dreaming and one reason for the Dreaming's constant state of metamorphosis. THere are few stable locations within the Dream Realms; most of what a changeling sees there on one visit is either gone or has moved to another location by the time they pass through again. The main reason for this flux is that dreams change over time: not only the ambitions and fears of Dreamers, but the very things of which they dream.
During certain times of the year, especially in the Near Dreaming, the thoughts of sleeping humans turn toward special holidays, such as Christmas and Halloween in the West. In any part of the world, as human minds drift closer to special occasions, certain aspects of the Near Dreaming become flavored by the approaching holiday. Many Kithain enjoy chimerical fireworks in the Dreaming as Independence Day nears. By the same token, many childlings take special pleasure from entering the Near Dreaming as Christmas approaches because they know that Santa Claus often leaves packages filled with wonderful chimerical creations. (Grumps often give warnings about such toys, many of which have lives of their own, and not all of them are user friendly. Parental anxieties about whether or not a toy is safe for a child to play with have lately led to rather serious problems in the Dreaming.) Valentine's Day, in the Dreaming, is a favored time for satyrs everywhere, for obvious reasons. Halloween is always interesting in the Near Dreaming, and many sidhe knights go hunting for chimerical monsters spawned as Samhain draws close. In every season, there are special occasions, and for every occasion, there is at least one unusual and repetitive occurrence in the Near Dreaming. In this way, Dreamers actually have an influence over the Dreaming, though they are, for the m most part, entirely unaware that the realm even exists.
The Dreams of Children
Children occasionally catch glimpses of chimerical reality at the age before "rational thinking" interferes. They can seldom communicate their Dreaming experiences clearly enough to make their parents aware of these "visions," but they do sometimes see the Dreaming. Their dreams also have a more profound impact on the Near Dreaming than other humans' dreams. Anxieties and hopes are usually far more primal for children than they are for adults. Younger minds are unencumbered by the realities of the mundane, and Banality hasn't yet managed to take hold of their minds and hearts. Some believe that children are the primary reason for the chaotic changes that take place in the Dreaming, whenever the shimmering Firchlis rushes through the Mythic Realms and shifts everything around, warping the Dreamscape. The Firchlis alters most things there, but some remain the same, regardless of the sudden changes. There are almost always things of beauty in even the darkest parts of the Dreaming because children still believe in miracles. There are always unpleasant surprises in even the most fabulous places within the Mythic World because every child has a special fear of the unknown.
The Dreaming & the Insane
There are those mortal minds that simply can't take the pressures of the mundane world and sometimes, during the course of life, these minds twist and fragment. The lives of the insane are a perpetual torment of fantasy pleasures and imaginary pains, of biting rage and deep depression. Just as with children, the insane have a powerful effect on the Near Dreaming. When clustered together in asylums, they can have an especially terrifying impact o the Mythic World: the most dangerous chimera often frequent areas where the mad are gathered. Creatures of unspeakable rage are formed from their dreams, and these beasts are often more feral than redcaps on a rampage. Most disturbing of all, these chimera typically seek wandering Kithain, are drawn to them, in fact, like moths to a flame. Many have wondered why chimerical monsters created by the insane are so fascinated by changelings, but no solid answers have ever come forth, as these chimera seldom bother to explain themselves before attacking. The most commonly held belief is that the beasts seek to destroy the inherent childlike qualities of changelings, something the chimera themselves can't achieve. Another common theory is that knowledge of the Dreaming and of changelings is what drove some of these mortals over the edge, and this sort of lashing out is an attempt at retribution. Whatever the case, most kithain tend to avoid areas of the Near Dreaming where the mad have influence.
Changelings & Dreams
Many believe that the fae have their origins in the dreams of mortals, that they were birthed from early desires and fears, when the world was still young. Perhaps for that reason, they are connected to the Dreaming, but not necessarily to dreams themselves. It's not uncommon for a changeling in the Dreaming to come in contact with an actual manifestation of a sleeping mortal's dream. People who are heavily stressed or feeling particularly powerful emotions can have their dreams manifest completely. Although a few very gifted fae can influence the dreams of sleeping humans... can actually control dreams and change their course... they are exceedingly rare.
However, while in the Dreaming, changelings can take what they desire from a mortal dream in the form of chimerical items. If, while passing through a dream, a changeling should happen upon an elegant cloak or sword, it takes nothing more than the slightest effort for them to reach out and retrieve the item they see. This action has absolutely no effect on the dream itself, and even extends to sentient parts of dreams, but the risks are extreme when pulling a person from a dream into the Dreaming proper. Because dreams tend to change, and the "roles" of people in dreams change too, what appears at first to be an innocent young lovely for a satyr to woo can easily become a multi-tentacled chimera with a serious attitude problem, should a pleasant dream become a nightmare.
Any objects a changeling takes from a dream remain solid and real, so long as they remain in the Dreaming. Leaving the Dreaming means losing items they've chosen as their own, unless they invest them with their own Glamour to maintain their solidity in the Flesh Realm.
Stable Points in the Dreaming
There are places in the Dreaming that simply don't change in any noticeable ways. Most often, these stable points are found in the Near Dreaming and are situated in areas where cities, towns, and freeholds exist. Changes do take place in these areas but are seldom major. The transformations are so small and so slow that few ever notice them. Most of these areas are connected, even today, by trods.
Travel in the Dreaming
According to the eshu, there are a thousand ways to travel through the Dreaming. Horses are fairly common, as chimerical steeds can be easily summoned, provided one knows the proper rituals for calling them. Of all the non-mythic chimera, horses are, perhaps paradoxically, the most plentiful. Every freehold has horses, and many are found in the wilds not far from the trods. Of course, these wild chimera must be watched carefully, for they can often be more dangerous chimera that take seductive shapes to lure the unwary.
Walking is the most common form of travel in the Dreaming, aside from riding on the backs of equines. Because trods often fall into disrepair or haphazardly grow thin in the Dreaming's deeps. Changelings sometimes prefer to trust their own feet, rather than any beast's hooves. Eshu, redcaps, satyrs, pooka, and trolls are all just as comfortable walking as they are riding. Only the sidhe, the boggans, and the nockers nearly always seem to need some sort of conveyance. With the nockers, a horse and wagon are often required, if only to carry their supplies. With boggans, the problem seems to be keeping up with the other Kithain, which is a challenge under even the best circumstances. Some claim the boggans need to be on horses anyway, else they'd be stopping every dozen feet to clean the trods of any debris and forever delaying their motleys. The sidhe seem to feel most comfortable on the backs of their steeds.
Chimerical vehicles of every imaginable sort often follow the trods. Everything, from horse-drawn buggies to massive was engines, is available to the fae adept at shaping Dreamstuff. Unseelie nockers seem to like the idea of war engines, as they prefer to beat their way past any obstacle in their path.
Ships designed to sail the roughest seas are often seen in the Dreaming, seeking faster passage to distant lands and the areas beyond Concordia's roads. It's surely wisest to build a stout ship for traversing of the Sea of Dream, as there are most definitely sea monsters in those waters.
During the last hundred years, changelings have begun traveling by air far more often, despite the increased risks. The skies of the Dreaming offer faster travel, free from land-bound chimera who would slow a motley's progress. But their are no trods in the sky, and many winged chimera find the idea of devouring a flying carpet, along with its passengers, a pleasant concept. From above, the trods are easily followed. Still, the dangers are far greater. Some ships designed for flight drift too high and are burned by the sun, or find themselves stuck on passing stars. Only a truly skilled captain can avoid disaster in the Dreaming, where the Firchlis can change the weather in a matter of seconds and some chimerical creatures take offense at trespassers in their airy domains.
Banality & the Dreaming
The Dreaming is the antithesis of Banality. Changelings who've spent too much time among humans and are suffering from Banality often enter the Dreaming in order to cleanse themselves of their accumulated Banality. The good news is, it works. After a short time in the Dreaming, Banality fans from the Kithain. The bad news is it sometimes works too well. Extended stays in the Dreaming can lead to Bedlam.
The very essence of the Dreaming extinguishes the darkness of Banality. It simply can't exist for very long within the overwhelming influence of the Mythic Realms. However, while it exists, changelings under its influence can have unusual effects on the Dreaming. Trods weaken in their presence, as do chimera.
The Dreaming typically responds to Banality as the human body does to a cancer or infection. While the Dreaming's most common response to Banality is simply to make it more difficult for the changeling to enter the Mythic Realm, in some extreme cases the Dreaming sends powerful chimera to attack the banal target, like the human body sends white blood cells to fight off infection. Sometimes, the Dreaming itself responds, turning pleasant landscapes into frightening nightmare realities filled with gale-force winds and torrential rains, hail the size of troll head, and lightning that incinerates anything it touches. Unfortunately, the Dreaming is not very discriminating in its attacks, and anyone around the banal target is likely to suffer as well.
Dreaming's Effect on Banality
Banality is the contraposition of the Dreaming. When the two meet, something has to give. While in the Dreaming, the something that normally fades, at least in the case of changelings, is Banality.
Over the course of time, the Dreaming cleanses a Kithain's body of Banality. This process is a slow one, though changelings notice the difference almost immediately. For every day a changeling spends in the Dreaming, they lose one temporary point of Banality up to 9 points. After that, the loss of Banality becomes a much slower process.
Banality seems to build a resistance to the Dreaming's purifying effect. A permanent post of Banality takes no less than a year before it begins to fade. once broken down, though, the remaining temporary points drop away at a rate of one per month.
The next permanent point won't be affected by the Dreaming until a full five years are spent in the Dreaming, after which the remaining temporary points fade at a rate of one per year. The next permanent point takes 10 years in the Dreaming, and so on.
Banality is inevitable, but its influence is weakened while in the Dreaming. However, even being in the Dreaming isn't enough to remove all Banality from a changeling. No matter how low one's Banality drops, the effects of the Dreaming cannot reduce it to nothing. There always remains the seed of Banality, a dark shadow that flickers in the heart of the changeling.
Only extremely powerful items or the mot grueling quests can remove the final trace of Banality from a changeling (One such is the Shadowstone). The effects of so many lifetimes away from the Mythic Realms are hard to erase.
While the Mists of Forgetfulness do aid in cleansing mortals of their Banality, the effects on humans only last as long as they are within the Dreaming. Once separated from the Mythic World and the Mists' influence, all Banality accrued by a human returns to the them.
Cold Iron cannot, under normal circumstances, enter the Dreaming. Most Kithain would never consider even trying to bring this banal material with them into the Dreaming, as they understand that the effect on their one refuge from the mundane world could be extremely damaging.
There is one recorded exception. Toward the end of World War I, a French Dauntain, convinced that bringing iron into the Dreaming would end the scourge that had ruined his life, managed to smuggle an iron crowbar into the Dreaming through means unknown. The effect was immediate. The near Dreaming around Versailles, where the hapless fool executed his plan, was vaporized, and throughout the Mythic Realms, storms the like of which the Dreaming had never experienced exploded into existence. The backlash from the contact obliterated more than a dozen freeholds in France and other parts of Europe, as well as everyone inhabiting those holds. The Dauntain, too, was destroyed. If he has ever incarnated again, no one knows of it. Incidentally, the iron crowbar was forcibly expelled back into the world of Flesh and has since become a much coveted talisman among certain groups of Dauntain. Some blame several new sleeping disorders on the Dauntain and his crowbar. His name remains unknown, else it would surely be used in stories to frighten childlings.
The Mists of Forgetfulness
The Dreaming protects itself. Whereas he waking world is altered by the will of humans, the Dreaming refuses to suffer the same fate. Once, long ago, the Shattering caused irreparable harm to the Mythic Realm. The damage occurred because the Dreaming simply couldn't conceive of the Shattering or its consequences. Since that time, though, the Dreaming has learned from its mistakes. Immediately after the separation of Myth and Flesh, the Dreaming created the Mists: a barrier that continues to grow stronger as the centuries pass. these walls of heavy fog serve as a buffer between the Dreaming and the waking world. They shelter the Dreaming from undue influence and protect it from all who would intrude. The Mists, simply put, numb the mind of anyone who could cause the Dreaming serious harm.
More than just a way to erase the memories of trespassers, the Mists of Forgetfulness are a powerful defense against Banality. All who breathe the Mists, or even feel it touch their flesh, absorb the Dreaming's energies. Those energies dampen a mind's disbelief in the fantastic and make it more prone to accept what it perceives. The process starts as soon as a mortal of Kithain enters the Dreaming: the deeper one travels into the Mythic Realm, the more profound the effects. For mortals, this effect is reversed upon leaving the Dreaming. For the fae, who are part of the Dreaming in ways beyond mortal comprehension, the benefits remain.
But the Mists work in both directions. Just as they shield a changeling from Banality, the remove the memories of the Deep and Far Dreaming, protecting from any possible human influence the most powerful aspects of the realm.
As the Dreaming protects itself, it also protects the Kithain. Changeling who enter the Mythic Realm beyond the Near Dreaming are granted back a part of themselves that is locked away while they dwell in the mundane world. Changelings become more fae and less mortal the deeper into the Dreaming they journey, and as they leave they once again lose those aspects that would surely be crushed by the mortal world's Banality. The process simply inverts the one whereby the longer they remain apart form the influence of Glamour, the more they become a mere mortal.
See the article Otherwhere.
- For more information, see the longer article Near Dreaming.
The Near Dreaming is that which most conforms to the mundane, "real," world. It often (though not always) mimics it in such major aspects as geography. Human-made constructs (such as buildings) may also have their Near Dreaming counterparts, but more likely not. As a rule, human artifacts that are imbued with a great deal of imagination are more real in the Near Dreaming (i.e., a cathedral would leave more of an impression than an O'Tolley's restaurant). In the Dreaming, a creative work, such as a book or painting, may even be alive. Most freeholds are situated in the Near Dreaming. It is also here that the nature of a kingdom's ruler has the most effect on the land. The Silver Path begins to fail at the far edges of this realm.
- For more information, see the longer article Far Dreaming.
The Far Dreaming is mostly beyond the authority of the sidhe nobility. Some fae occasionally come here to escape the nobility. This is dangerous, however, because the sidhe know the Far Dreaming better than any other kith. The Far Dreaming can be tumultuous, even cataclysmic; or it can be placid and benign. Fae Arts work well here, but the chaotic nature of the Far Dreaming makes permanent residence here almost impossible for all but the most powerful of Kithain or chimera. The Silver Path exists in the Far Dreaming, but is far less reliable — only the most powerful trods extend this far into the Dreaming.
- For more information, see the longer article Deep Dreaming.
The Deep Dreaming is poorly understood by earth-bound fae (including the sidhe) for good reason. The Deep Dreaming may contain such paradises as Arcadia, but these exist side by side with nightmare realms of unimaginable cruelty. To explore the Deep Dreaming as Duke Asterlan did is to be lost forever. Even members of the Crystal Circle travel here but rarely. The Deep Dreaming is said to connect to other realms (such as the Umbra). In the Deep Dreaming the Silver Path is something of a joke among local chimera. There are only a handful of trods that extend this far — and even then one must know the arcane secrets which allow their doors to be opened.
A Smattering of Realms
No list of dominions to be found within the Dreaming could ever be comprehensive. Nor should one be, for the law of the Dreaming is simple: every mystery revealed and every secret told only leads to fresh enigma, world without end.
And there are so many enigmas. There is a realm for every Dreamer, an entire interior universe locked deep within every human heart: realms of fear, joy, love, and innumerable realms of sorrow and regret. Some are transient, shimmering in and out of existence like visionary tricks of the light. Others gather gravity and being about themselves to become comparatively real for a little while. Twisting and turning in the dream-flux, they take on something like solidity.
Some have gathered the hearts of the Dreaming to themselves, and their names are ever on the minds and lips of the symbols of the Cat's Cradle and the Crystal Circle. Winter, Spring, and the rest of the fate of the Dreaming lie in these realms somehow; it remains to be determined how and why.