Dreamstuff is the basic element of all chimera. It is tangible and impinges upon the senses, yet it difficult to describe. This substance is the building materiel for everything found in the Dreaming.
No one really knows how Dreamstuff originated. Some seers in the Crystal Circle speculate that it came about when the first mages became Aware, while many mages suggest that the Dreaming is a mere offshoot of an area they call the Umbra. Suffice it to say that the ‘stuff is out there, and in the right hands can be used to Craft or Forge sentient and non-sentient chimera and chimerical objects.
Incidental & Dreamed
Incidental Dreamstuff comprises the bulk of objects, resources, and creatures in the Dreaming. Refined out of the realm’s indigenous chimerical materials, this ‘stuff appears as a fine, sparkling, multicolored mist, similar to the iridescence on a butterfly’s wing. Free-floating incidental ‘stuff, sometimes called sleepy-dust by nockers, is so fine that mass quantities of it are airborne in some places.
Exactly how the ‘dust composes chimera is a mystery. Something in the nature of dreams attracts the dust like iron filings to a magnet. These particles form and coalesce into the voile of a changeling undergoing Chrysalis, or into incidental chimera from a mortal Dreamer’s unconscious desires. In mundane areas where changelings undergo Chrysalis or Bedlam, the dust moves about in an agitated state. There is a brief flash just before the dust merges into a chimera. In areas empty of Dreamers or filled with Autumn People, the dust is sluggish and sparkles less.
Items Crafted or Forged of Incidental Dreamstuff quickly wear out and easily break, as the material is unable to maintain cohesion in its new form. These items also cannot possess redes. Attempts to Forge Incidental ‘stuff often end in frustration. Boggans and nockers like to use Incidental ‘stuff for building project models because it is easier to find, but rarely do they make an object with a practical use from this material.
Crafted & Forged
Dreamstuff is present is usable materials in a precious few sentient and non-sentient chimera and chimerical resources. These resources and creatures always have a special or unique quality that sets them apart from other chimera. An ash tree with such Dreamstuff, good for making stout longbows, say, might be in the exact center of a forest and have a small, silvery cloud over it, raining a gentle shower onto this tree alone. A chimerical rabbit might have unusual eyes or fur, and metal with Dreamstuff has an iridescent sheen. Changelings can detect Dreamstuff in chimera by careful observation (Perception + Kenning, difficulty 4).
Recognizing the ‘stuff in materials is only the first step. Receptacles of this powerful material are seldom unattended. Although other chimera cannot actually see it, they do sense the potential power of the material and are compelled to guard it against any interlopers. Over time, the guardians themselves become receptacles, as residue of the ‘stuff sifts into their systems. This ‘stuff increases the potency of Glamour within the guardian, making them stronger or imbuing them with unusual redes. This phenomenon is the reason guardians of Dreamstuff are often more powerful than typical members of their race. The body-parts of guardians are also good sources for Dreamstuff.
Once any guardians are defeated, the Dreamstuff is ready to harvest. Before harvesting, a changeling must understand certain rules of thumb about the properties of Dreamstuff materials: Sympathy materials are ones that possess abilities similar to the desired function of the finished, Forged chimera. The hide of a giant chameleon, for example, is similar in function to a cloak Crafted with the Hide rede, and would serve well as one of the materials of such a cloak. Sympathetic materials have an intuitive connection to their desired Crafting. The Japanese fae hero Susa-no-o, for example, obtained some materials for a sword from the tail of a dragon he slew. He Forged the sword to be quick and dexterous and in combat, indeed, the sword moved like a dragon’s thrashing tail. Dragons are also well armored, and he could have used the scales as material in Crafting armor.
The rule of Sympathy is intuitive, not rational. For instance, a nocker wishing to create a mechanical gate-watcher might use the eyes from a chimerical owl as part of the guardian’s eyes, rather than chimerical diamonds, as diamonds are less “watchful” (but they might also use the diamonds as the base element. See the Rule of Three).
The harder an object is to find, the more usable Dreamstuff there is in it. The body parts of the Questing Beast would be an incredible resource for Forging chimera, as there is only one Questing Beast, and no one has ever seen it or caught it. Conjunction, or Harvest-Time, Dreamstuff is more potent when harvested as certain times of the year. The best harvests depend upon the material and its intended use, as well as the fae doing the harvesting. A sluagh harvesting chimerical nightshade during Samhain would get far more potent Dreamstuff than if they were to harvest it on March 27th. Also, the nightshade would be less potent if it were harvested by a nunnehi, as Samhain is not an important holiday for these fae.
Rule of Conjunction
On certain days, the Dreamstuff in some materials becomes more potent. It is a good idea to harvest materials according to these dates. A list of such things may be found under the individual festivals. See the article Changeling Festivals.
The Rule of Three
Every rede stored into a Crafted or Forged chimera requires three materials: a base element and two supporting elements. The base element is the primary material from which the chimera is composed. The base element of a bow is wood (what kind of wood depends upon its Sympathy to its redes), and the base element of a golem is usually metal, clay, or wood. Only three elements ae necessary per rede, even if there are multiple types or levels of rede. A chimera with Physical and Social Attributes, for example, still needs only three sympathetic elements, no matter how many levels of Strength or Charisma it has. If the creator also wanted their chimera to be able to fly, they would need three more materials for flight. Some of the elements in a chimera can satisfy more than one rede, especially if an element could be Sympathetic to more than one rede. For example, a boggan could use a hummingbird wing as one materiel in both the flight rede and to purchase Dexterity, since a hummingbird is fast. However, there needs to be a separate base element for each rede; base elements cannot also be supporting elements, and vice versa.
Methods of Collecting Materials
The ways of collecting Dreamstuff in materials resemble the ways mortals collect any resource, except that a bit more ceremony is involved. Nunnehi, for example, always ask forgiveness of the spirits of animals and plants that they harvest, and they almost never Forge sentient chimera. Nockers and boggans often say a little ritual over plants or materials they collect for Forging. They believe the act increases the potency of the Dreamstuff. This could be mere tradition, or it could be part of the reason they are so good at Crafting. Nockers and boggans are tight-lipped about this ritual, as they consider it a trade secret and get edgy if others even know about it.
This little ritual aside, anyone with an understanding of ‘stuff and access to it can collect the raw materials, which comes from various animals and plants, or even the ground and air. Boggans in the Dreaming are often hard at work panning the rivers for chimerical gold, as this material has many Sympathetic uses and they like to use it for jewelry-making. Silver and other precious metals can be mined in much the same way as in the mundane world. In fact, a few realms have so much available raw material that it is easy to harvest, and mining is not necessary.
These “motherlode” realms of Dreamstuff are much sought after, and nockers and boggans pay well for news of such places. Descriptions of realms with flowing rivers of gold or plains covered by giant, slow-moving, silver-plated armadillos are usually enough to get the eager attention of any nockers or boggans within earshot. These realms are not as plentiful as they used to be, and journeying to them becomes something of a full-scale quest.
Any materials that can be found in the mundane world, and lots that can’t, are available in the Dreaming. Again, how available depends upon each individual realm. Some realms teem with unicorns and precious gems, while others are barely distinguishable from the surface of the moon.
Sentient Chimera as Raw Materials
Kithain who wish to use sentient chimera in creating forged items still need to follow the rules of thumb above, but each part of a creature counts as a separate element. The scales, bones, teeth, eyes, and claws of a dragon all count as separate, potent elements. If a nocker could either deceive or force a dragon to be Forged as a chimerical (and probably cursed) sword, they would have a powerful item on their hands.
In Crafting and Forging sentient chimera, pay particular attention to the rule of Sympathy. The abilities and body-parts of the sentient chimera should correspond to the desired abilities of the final product. Any sentient chimera forced into a Crafted or Forged form not Sympathetic to its original function is considered an Incidental chimera. Plato the Banana Slug of Terebinthea, for example, would not be very good as Forged chimerical Boots of Lightning Speed, as banana slugs are not known for their amazing fleetness. A short-sighted nocker who tried to force Plato into becoming these boots would wind up with non-functional footwear guaranteed to crack and peel apart as they tried to use them. If, though, the nocker forged Plato into the Slimy Tennis Shoes of Moonwalking, that would be another matter entirely.
One material that is hard to find anywhere in the Dreaming is Chimerical Iron. This substance, spun from the dreams of iron, is usually found in short supply and in areas with many guardians (The Glomes are said to guard the largest known source). It is highly sought after by boggans and nockers for its tensile strength. It is the hardest chimerical metal, harder than chimerical silver (the material most often used for chimerical weapons).
Unfortunately, chimerical iron is associated with dreams of violence and strife, and the guardians around it tend to be the deadliest of all. Also, the effects of chimerical iron on fae are vaguely similar to its mundane counterpart: While it does not confer Banality, it does cause some discomfort in contact with Kithain flesh, and cantrips are harder to use (+1 difficulty) with chimerical iron around. Thus, there are few Forged iron breastplates. Nockers have traditionally used chimerical iron to create iron golems. These non-sentient chimera have skin harder than diamond and are notably resistant to assault by Arts. Trouble arises from the few golems who become sentient, though.
The biggest source of frustration for nockers and other kith gathering Dreamstuff in the Dreaming is a substance called Foolstuff. To all appearances, this material looks and acts like any other resource. Some tests reveal Foolstuff for what it is (Dream-Craft Level 2, 3 successes needed, with Fae 4+ Realm necessary), as can Dreaming-savvy nockers (Dream Lore + Perception, difficulty 8, 6 successes needed; a botch indicates that the nocker believes the substance to be Dreamstuff). Kithain who are taken in can use Foolstuff to make chimera with no immediate ill effects. Like a creeping, growing crack in a fine glass window, though, the chimera gradually starts to change. The changes are subtle, perhaps even benign or whimsical, at first. Perhaps armor changes its color, or a gate grows a huge nose. Over time, the changes manifest like a runaway virus in the blood. The chimera may grow to gigantic proportions and run amok, it may turn into a nervosa from the maker’s psyche, or it may develop a fiendish intelligence and scheme with other chimerical allies against its creator.
A changeling who follows the general rules of thumb for harvesting and is wary of Foolstuff needs to worry only about getting the Dreamstuff out of the Dreaming, unless they plan to build their chimera at a safe place within the Dreaming, such as a freehold. Many entrepreneurial fae make use of cantrips or treasures that transport large volumes of material quickly or shorten distances (such as Wayfare). Cantrips that disguise the material in transport are highly useful against thieves. Failing any of these measures, the procurer of Dreamstuff either engages the services of chimerical pack-animals or the strong backs of their own motley. Some unscrupulous Unseelie boggans do not bother with the hazardous collection of Dreamstuff from realms, but rather lie in wait with their motley alongside a Silver Path that leads to such a realm. Some Unseelie boggans offer maps, chimerical pack-beasts, and guides near motherlode realms, all at inflated prices. A harvester who manages to overcome the guardians and win their booty then finds a very unpleasant reception outside the realm, as the “guide” signals the motley whenever the adventurer finds anything valuable. The motley ambushes the adventurer outside the Realm and demands the valuables in exchange for safe passage.
An adventurer who manages to get the Dreamstuff home safely stull must craft the material. A forge or workshop is the usual site for Crafting, but it depends upon the nature of the fae’s work and the type of chimera to be Forged. A chimerical castle, for instance, would probably start with a stoneworks and forge, while a creator of chimerical mirrors would utilize a glassworks and require lots of Dreamstuff from silver.
Volume of Dreamstuff
The Storyteller judges the amount of Dreamstuff necessary for creating chimera. Who wants to spend game-time figuring out how many ounces of chimerical silver ore they need to make a mirror? However, apply common sense: a character wanting to make an army of iron golems is not going to get enough chimerical iron from one quick jaunt to the Iron-mine Realm, no matter how potent the chimerical iron there. Also, some of the Dreamstuff may be damaged in its extraction. Suppose the characters decide the wish to kill a giant sea-turtle in the making of a boat. In the ensuing melee, they hack the turtle to bits. Is there enough shell left to create a boat? Only the Storyteller knows for sure.