An Ethereal Realm

By James Walker


Some dreamers are a little too aggressive for their own good.

While the majority of dreamers are tossed to and fro by their dreams, and a handful learn to manipulate their nights with the Lucid Dreaming skill, others simply destroy anything that they find threatening in their dreams. These dreamers usually have high Ethereal Forces; Sorcerers specialising in the Focus skill usually belong to this group. Over time, the repeated punishment they inflict on their dreamscapes has permanent effects. The dreamscape is drained of colour; the lifeless terrain is either unbroken or littered with the remains of slain dream fragments. Immune to the call of either Dream or Nightmare, these barren dreamscapes drift to their own realm.

The realm has no name; those who dwell here see no need for one. The realm is in the Near Marches, sheltered within a kink in the river Styx (on that river's long journey from Olympus through the Marches, before it circles behind Beleth's Tower to enter Hell). Undead who use the Ethereal Song of Projection for the first time will arrive here; they seldom willingly return.

Being sent here is regarded as punishment duty by both sides in the War; Ethereals regard it as suicide. The realm is sluggish and unresponsive: any attempt to move into, out of or through this realm carries a -2 penalty. Worse, a failed roll causes CD Mind hits damage, as the lifeless realm sucks away the traveller's vitality. The effect is particularly debilitating for Ethereals; any ethereal reduced to zero Mind hits by the realm also loses a Force (as if slain in their home realm) as their very being is leeched away.

Despite this, the realm is frequently sought out. Sorcerers who die in their sleep without becoming dreamshades often leave Talisman's behind, which lie in the mud of the realm until found (or until whoever possesses the physical form of the Talisman bonds it). The high average intelligence of the dreamers here means that Servitors of Lightning and Technology must often travel here to spy on a human scientist. Sorcerers perform Summon rituals while asleep, drawing demon(ling)s into the realm - and Gamesters sometimes have to follow to find and kill the annoying mortal. Finally, Blandine & Beleth regard this realm as an abomination (for slightly different reasons) and as a punishment sometimes send a Servitor here to recover a dreamer. Ambitious Servitors head here without orders, believing that recovering a dreamer is the best way to attract the favourable attention of their Lady.


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