Planar Primer #2: The Dreamrealms
Today’s Planar Primer features a oft-underused plane in the core of Dungeons & Dragons. Planes of dream or nightmare are not rare, but they tend to show up mostly in passing in comprehensive planar handbooks. To me, though, there is a lot of potential with these and they have, as such, become important to my setting.
Sentient beings have a handful of things in common regardless of where they come from. One of those are the dreams and nightmares they have while they sleep. This is a time between moments and experiences. A time where the subconscious holds the reins and thoughts are exaggerated to their best and their worst. Even those beings who do not sleep hold hopes and fears that worm their way through the cosmos. It are these concerns and thoughts that have given rise to a plane known as the Dreamrealms.
Dreams & Nightmares
Sages visualize the Dreamrealms with an hourglass shape though there are aspects of the plane that go against it completely. The center is a gateway from the Material Plane into the Dreamrealms, the place where dream and reality are not so different. As one travels downward things become increasingly terrible, dark, and dangerous. This is nightmare and despair, where the worst fears of the waking world are made manifest. The farther you travel, the stranger things become and the more deadly any given aspect of the realm can be. The opposite is true as you head up the hourglass, things become idyllic and wonderful. Here hopes become truths and that which you didn’t think possible is within easy reach. Where most are unaffected by their dreams and nightmares, the further from the center you go the more real these things become affecting not just the dreamer but those with them.
Two Rivers & A Lake of Stars
Sitting in the center of the Dreamrealms is the Lake of Stars, a deep blue sheet of motionless water that sparks with distant lights. For the unknowing and unprepared the lake could be the night sky. Within the lake, despite its stillness, flow two rivers. One, the River Noctis, travels the ruin of nightmares while the other, the River Aurin, travels through the fields of hope. It is said that the rivers flow towards or away from the center, up or down as you might say, based on the age. The more who slumber in joy the greater the flow towards positive dreams but in dark ages of nightmare and fear, the greater they flow in the opposite direction. In the darkest ages and in those most golden the flow becomes rapid and dangerous, no matter what side you’re on. The Lake itself is always calm, though; a serene plane of night sky below which it is said to be a being of terrible alieness slumbers and dreams of the real world.
The Spiraling Paths of Somnus
Spiraling around the hourglass shape is a simple staircase that sits at the far edges of all dreams and nightmares. From it you can reach the Ethereal Plane where the hopes and despairs of ages past, as well as the potential calamities and miracles to come, can be found. It is a safe haven between the dangerous cliff faces of the Dreamrealms and the Deep Etherium. Traveling the stairs you may enter doorways into different locations and different people’s dreams. A difficult place to get to, the Somnus Stair can give someone easy and quick access to somewhere otherwise impossible to reach. Off in the horizon, no matter where you look while upon the steps, you can see the Dread Plateau of Leng. This nightmarish and alien place does not move, infinitely existing within view of the Spiraling Paths with the only sight the occasional ship sailing the sky for worlds and dreams where the People of Leng might ply trade and piracy.