Nightmares are abilities of a Beast that allow them to inspire supernatural terror and fear into their target.
Unlike Atavisms, which are instinctual representations of the Horror, Nightmares have to be learned by the Begotten, either by traveling the Primordial Dream, or by being a witness to another Beast, or even another supernatural. Certain Families are drawn instinctively toward specific Nightmares, but the fears called up by these powers are deep and fundamental enough that any Beast can manifest any Nightmare with equal facility. Familial differences are more apparent in the hallucinations and sense-images the victims suffer.
Nightmares are expressions of deep-buried fears that go deeper even than the subconscious mind, straight to the collective soul of humanity. These fears are not always debiliating - someone in the grip of terror runs faster than an unfrightened person. While Nightmares are “all in your head” in the sense that only the victim experiences the effects and sees the hallucinations, that’s not the same thing as Nightmares being “illusionary” or somehow “not real.” The effects of Nightmares are very real and are quite capable of inflicting somatic injury or even death.
To activate a Nightmare, the Begotten has to either touch the victim or meet its gaze. Afterwards, the Begotten speaks a few words that invoke the terror. The victim needs not to understand the language in which the words are spoken. Nightmares are a product of the Beast’s Satiety and connection to the physical world; a well-fed Beast is closer to the human world, and thus better able to tap into the more cerebral side of the Primordial Dream.
Nightmares come in various forms, depending on what instance the Beast based them off. Below are a few examples how specific Nightmares could work. By expending Satiety, the Beast can furthermore enhance these effects.
- "All Your Teeth are Falling Out": Visions of old age and infirmity wrack the victim. High Satiety expand it to physical actions taken against the target.
- "Behold, my True Form!": The Begotten shows its true form, causing physical damage to those who see it. Those who die of this effort show signs of supernatural cause of death: : their hair might turn stark white, or their entire body might be turned to stone, salt, or some other material.
- "Bugs Everywhere!": Visions of millions of bugs crawling upon one's skin. High Satiety allows the bugs to bite and inject a non-traceable poison into the target.
- "Everything You Do is Worthless": The victim is driven to despair, their actions listless and uninspired.
- "Fear is Contagious/Plague of Fear": Those who come into contact with someone affected by another Nightmare are also driven to fear.
- "Flying and Falling": The victim lose willpower as they feel they are falling to the ground from an incredible height.
- "Run Away": The victim flees instinctively. High Satiety allows the Beast to direct where to exactly the victim has to flee.
- "They Are All Around You": The victim becomes paranoid and obsessed with some kind of conspiracy against them.
- "You Are Alone/Isolation": The victim feels they are alone in a crowd, gaining no benefit from teamwork.
- "You Are Not Alone": The victim feels compelled to ignore some specific thing or person obsessively, to the point of keeping focused on anything else possible.
- "You Can't Wake Up": The Beast can repeat a Nightmare with this victim once again 24 hours after it was last felt, even if they are not near one another or meeting eye contact.
- "You Cannot Run": The victim becomes seized with fear, and feels a need to hide immediately.
- "You Deserve This": The victim feels a kind of supernaturally invoked guilt that is difficult to be rid of.
- "You Must Obey": The victim has to acquiesce a specific demand of the Begotten. High Satiety raises the complexity of this demand.
- "You will Never Rest": The victim feels as if it hadn't sleep for several weeks. High Satiety allows to twist any sleep the victim might get into a tormented coma.
By claiming Kinship with the other monstrous denizens of the World of Darkness, the Children may spin new nightmares with which to terrorize their prey. In order to learn these Nightmares, a Beast must have given the Family Ties Condition to a monster of an appropriate type.
- "You Are Lost" (Changeling): The victim becomes lost, be it in the physical sense or lost for words, lost in their ability to write, et cetera.
- "You Are an Imposter" (Manikin Changeling): The victim becomes convinced that he is a simulacrum, a hollow, soulless replica of the Beast. Seeking his own identity, for the duration of the Nightmare he is compelled to adopt a contrarian stance: denying the Beast’s statements, deliberately acting against the Beast’s advice, etc.
- "You Are Better Than Them" (Mage): For the duration of the Nightmare, the victim does not (and cannot) suffer from breaking points due to his own actions. Things that would normally prompt breaking points (such as murder, theft, or assault, or even nonviolent acts that are nevertheless fundamentally opposed to the character’s self-image) seem as reasonable and as appropriate as having a polite discussion.
- "The Void is Waiting" (Low-Wisdom Mage): Any time a supernatural power is used in the victim’s vicinity (including by the victim himself if he has such abilities) provokes a Clash of Wills.
- "Tabula Rasa" (Mummy): The Beast chooses a contiguous piece of the victim’s life to erase for the duration of the Nightmare — this can be as broad as “your early childhood” or as narrow as “from 6:15 to 6:25 pm last Thursday.” The erased time must occupy a single block: the Beast cannot, for example, erase “every time we’ve ever met.”
- "Cursed Object" (Maa-Kep Mummy): The victim becomes convinced that an object in his possession (of the Beast’s choosing) is in fact cursed and will bring him nothing but misfortune.
- "Everyone Hates You" (Promethean): The victim is so thoroughly convinced that everyone around him despises him that he grows defensive and snappish.
- "You Cannot Kill It" (Tammuz Promethean): No matter how hard the victim strikes or struggles, he just cannot seem to wound the Beast. Even if he does land a solid blow, he cannot see the effects of his attacks. Not only does this rob him of any ability to gauge how injured the Beast might be, the sense of futility robs his blows of strength.
- "Death is a Prison" (Sin-Eater): The victim feels death stalking close behind, numbing his limbs and sapping his strength. Every hurt he suffers seems to drag him closer to the Great Below, and to the endless gray waiting in that realm.
- "You Can't Take it With You" (Bonepicker Sin-Eater): The victim can’t seem to muster the energy to use certain Social merits. It all just seems pointless.
- "You Are Infected" (Vampire): The Beast can target anyone who has come into contact with their blood over the past 24 hours.
- "We Know All Your Secrets" (Mekhet Vampire): The victim becomes obsessed with a secret having been revealed, with only the Beast able to keep it, or becomes completely unable to keep secrets at all.
- "Your Rage Will Consume You" (Werewolf): The target lashes out at whoever is nearby until either they knock the target out or are beaten down, at which point they "snap out of it" and realize what they have done.
- "Your Tools Betray You" (Iron Master Werewolf): The victim suffers from delusions that his equipment is both aware and malevolent.
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