by Leath Sheales
This adventure for In Nomine is designed to allow the characters, especially followers of Blandine and Beleth, a chance to explore the ethereal realm a little more. The adventure takes place primarily on the ethereal plane, allowing the Dream walkers to be in their element.
Art by andi jones
IntroductionIn the center of the Marches, standing on the invisible border that separates Blandine's realm of dream from Beleth's realm of nightmare, an ominous black hole has opened. This hole appeared two days ago and has not closed. It moves and shifts with the constant flux of the border, and has engulfed a few unwary Celestials as they ventured too close. The sudden and random changes in its movement have caused Celestials on both sides to keep their distance. Several unaware mortal dreamscapes have also been engulfed as they drifted into the hole. Celestials charged with protecting or menacing these dreamers have reported that the dreamers have entered comas from which they can not be wakened. Both Archangel and Demon Princess are calling for volunteers to enter the portal and discover what lies on the other side.
The Black HoleThe Black Hole dreamscape belongs to a young man named William "Billy" Jackson. Billy is a diagnosed sufferer of severe schizophrenia, and was recently involved in a car accident, sending him into a coma. While in his unconscious state, his dreamscape has remained open, bordering both nightmare and dream. Celestials of both sides may freely enter the dreamscape. Once inside, they ignore the normal limits for how long a celestial can remain in a dreamscape, as Billy's mental disorder and trauma prevent anyone from leaving, including Billy. The only way out is to convince Billy that this is all a dream, making him want to leave, therefore leaving the coma and closing the dreamscape. Rumors fueled by the unlucky people who have been trapped in this dreamscape say that another path exists.
In Billy's realm a Labyrinth exists which supposedly leads out, for those who can conquer it. Celestial powers that normally work within the Marches are still active, with a few exceptions: Kyriotates will find that once they enter Billy's dreamscape, any pieces of their being which are not in this particular dreamscape are instantly drawn back into the whole. They may use their resonance as usual inside the dreamscape, but may not communicate with those outside it with their multiplicity. Also, any Song or ability that allows communication or travel outside the dreamscape will not work. The person attempting to use the ability will simply feel the attempt fail, taking the Essence spent with it. For example, the Corporeal Song of Dreams will not allow the singer to depart the dreamscape, nor will the Song of Projection allow communication outside. The only exception to this automatic failing of communication is the Celestial Song of Tongues. Anyone attempting to bind a message into Essence may do so normally, however the message will not leave Billy's dreamscape until he has wakened. The singer will not know this, of course. Also, no one from outside the dreamscape may communicate with those inside without actually entering Billy's dream.
Inside Billy's HeadThe dreamscape is a perfect world, according to Billy's standards. Inside his head, Billy is the master of everything he can imagine, safe from all the worries of the real world. Billy has almost forgotten that another world exists outside his head, and is close to sealing the exit forever. The only things stopping him are these beings which have appeared recently in his world, apparently beyond his control. Time has become distorted inside this dreamscape, so every day that passes in the dreamscape is actually only an hour in the Marches. Those Celestials who possess time-based Dissonance conditions will find (if they ignore the conditions for long enough) that they need only fulfill the condition once every 24 dream-days. Also, Celestials will only regenerate Essence once every 24 dream-days, giving a clue to the distortion of time within Billy's dream.
The DreamscapeThe world as Billy has imagined it appears as a small city, full of people, all ready to do Billy's exact bidding. Within this world, Billy rules from the top of the highest building, which stands in the center of the city. He is a generous ruler, and will listen to everyone who appears before him. Billy feels much safer in this world than he did in the previous one (which is rapidly fading from his memory), and does not want to see this safety threatened. He is concerned about people appearing in his city whom he can not control (the Celestials).
The primary danger within Billy's dreamscape is becoming trapped. With each passing day, Billy becomes more and more content with his self-created world, and withdraws further into himself. This effect is contagious, and intruders from outside Billy's head find that with each passing day (as they occur in the Marches, 24 dream-days inside the dreamscape), they forget who they are and grow to accept Billy's world. For each day the characters spend in the dreamscape, they must make a Will roll minus the number of days they have been trapped. Success indicates that they know who they are. Failure indicates that they have forgotten, and take up a new life with all the comforts that Billy can provide. This effect vanishes in the Labyrinth, but once inside that, the person must escape or be trapped forever with their failures. The forgetfulness may be countered temporarily by use of the Ethereal Song of Healing (curing the "insanity") or the Celestial Song of Dreams, which allows the user to slightly alter the dream to eliminate the forgetfulness for a short time (this helps everyone trapped within the dreamscape for that day). Both of these Songs last one dream-day, ending as the sun rises on Billy's realm the next day.
The LabyrinthIf the player characters feel that they can not bring Billy from his dreamscape, they can always try to make it through the Labyrinth. There are one way entrances to this structure all over the city, but the largest and most well known sits at the foot of Billy's skyscraper. Once inside, there is only one way out, and people can not return to the city. Although the residents of the city call this place the Labyrinth, it does not resemble a maze at all. Characters braving the Labyrinth must face and conquer Billy's fears and past events, as the character is forced into Billy's role. Examples of events in Billy's past include constant taunting by schoolyard bullies, and even a fear to cross the road unaided. These tests are much more difficult than they may first appear. Although each character retains their own skills and abilities, they see the world through the eyes of Billy, and should react accordingly. Bullies become huge, seemingly invincible foes. A busy street to cross becomes a highway of carnage, filled with endless vehicles traveling impossibly close together at insane speeds, carelessly colliding with unwary pedestrians as they attempt to cross.
If the characters are able to endure these tests, they will face the Guardian, the last thing standing between them and freedom. The Guardian is the thing Billy most fears in the world: his true self. His fearful dreamscape will create an exact replica of each character in every way, possessing all their skills and abilities, and knowing exactly how they will react to any given situation. In short, they must defeat themselves to escape. The only weakness of the Guardian is its inability to initiate violence. When encountered, it will taunt the character and try to block them from leaving, but if they remain calm and continue to walk past it without using force, the Guardian will eventually allow them to leave. Non-violent tactics will be reflected back upon the characters, as the guardian responds in kind. Lilim will see their own Needs, Elohim will be confronted with their own unswerving objectivity. However, the guardian can not be charmed or fooled. It has no Essence to be stolen, and persons attempting to fast-talk or seduce it may as well be attempting to fool themselves. Characters within the Labyrinth are immune to the forgetfulness that affects Billy's dreamscape, and regain their memories as soon as they enter.
The BarrierThis feature surrounds the city and prevents anyone from leaving. It is invisible and most people will not realize it is there, but anyone attempting to leave the city, either by foot, vehicle, or other power, will find themselves approaching the city as soon as they have passed its outskirts. The barrier exists in every direction from the city, so all means of escape are impossible, including such methods as flight or tunneling through the ground (do not discourage the characters from trying, though). The Barrier can not be destroyed or avoided by any known means.
The LibraryThe Library is the second largest building in the city, being slightly smaller than Billy's skyscraper. In this building is held the total of Billy's knowledge of the world, including his memories of his life and loved ones. An elderly man with a fierce temper, the Librarian, tends the books held here. Billy is afraid of the Librarian, and never sets foot inside the building. He is also aware on a subconscious level that the Library holds the key for his mind to end the dreamscape, therefore he has ordered a police guard to patrol the surrounding area, stopping, questioning and arresting anyone who tries to enter (except the Librarian). The Library closes each day at exactly 5:00 PM, and the Librarian will open its doors at precisely 8:00 AM the next day. The citizens of the city do not even think of going into the Library. If questioned about this, they will merely shrug and say, "There's nothing in there I need to know." It will take some ingenuity on the part of the player characters to safely enter the Library, but once inside the police will not attempt to harass them any further. The Library has a secret exit that leads to the basement of Billy's skyscraper, which the Librarian may or may not show the characters. This exit has enhanced the fear surrounding the building, because very few who enter have ever been seen to leave. Servitors of Destiny with the appropriate attunements may attempt to use the Library to travel to Yves' Library. If this occurs, there are two possible outcomes. Either the attempt fails completely (since this is simply another invalid attempt to exit the dreamscape), or the power of Billy's delusions draws images of Yves' Library from the mind of the servitor and temporarily places them in a false Library. Eventually they will learn the truth (Yves can not be found, the books don't feel quite right), and may easily return to Billy's Library.
Non-Player CharactersThe Black Hole entrance to Billy's dreamscape has caught Celestials, mortals and even a few Ethereal spirits with its random movements. Those trapped Celestials who serve Blandine or Beleth have an advantage over other Celestials. Billy's dreamscape may be odd compared to normal dreams, but it is still Ethereal, and those Celestials experienced in interacting with dreams will find that their powers are still available. Most of the NPC Celestials caught in the dreamscape have fallen victim to its forgetfulness, but several are still actively seeking answers.
William "Billy" JacksonCorporeal Forces 1 (Strength 2, Agility 2)
Ethereal Forces 3 (Intelligence 5, Precision 6)
Celestial Forces 3 (Will 6, Perception 6)
Discord: (These are not true Discords, merely human equivalents.) Paranoia/2, Schizophrenic/5
Background: Billy was raised by his abusive father after his mother had died during childbirth. Regular beatings and emotional abuse caused Billy to retract into fantasy worlds of his own design. His skill in Dreaming and exceptionally high Ethereal and Celestial Forces were developed instinctively, at the cost of his physical body. Even when conscious, Billy rarely moves or speaks. Thrown into a coma following a car accident in which his father was killed, Billy has all but forgotten the world of pain and misery outside his head, and is happily living in his safe fantasy world. He is unaware of the impact his dreamscape is having on the Marches and unwary human dreamers, but is aware that the population of people in his realm that he has lesser control over is growing. Billy sees himself as a kind and generous ruler. His throne room is filled with people seeking an audience with him. Sitting at one end of the room, Billy will graciously see all those who ask, and will grant their request if it is within his power and it will not harm or upset the greater populace. He knows at a glance whether someone was created from his dream (his people), or if they have entered from outside. He is also able to tell if these intruders from outside are likely to cause trouble (they still have their memories), or if they have accepted his right to rule (they have forgotten who they are). Billy is still willing to talk to outsiders, but is wary of them.
Elohite of DreamsCorporeal Forces 1 (Strength 2, Agility 2)
Ethereal Forces 5 (Intelligence 10, Precision 10)
Celestial Forces 3 (Will 6, Perception 6)
Skills: Dodge/1, Emote/3, Fast-talk/4, Fighting/2, Lying/3, Move Silently/1
Songs: Charm (Ethereal/4), Dreams (Corporeal/4, Ethereal/5, Celestial/3), Healing (Ethereal/2).
Attunements: Elohite of Dreams, Healing Dream
Background: Annekial was one of the first creatures to be trapped within Billy's dreamscape. Within close proximity when the Hole opened, she investigated, only to be trapped within. She is very close to determining how to convince Billy to end the dream, but is rapidly falling victim to the forgetfulness inherent in this dreamscape. She has a -4 to her Will roll, for the purpose of remembering who she is. If found early in the adventure, she will be able to warn of the strange passing of time within this dreamscape, of Billy's delusions and of the various major features of the dreamscape, but is in very real danger of forgetting who she is.
Balseraph of NightmaresCorporeal Forces 2 (Strength 3, Agility 5)
Ethereal Forces 4 (Intelligence 9, Precision 7)
Celestial Forces 3 (Will 8, Perception 4)
Skills: Detect Lies/3, Dodge/3, Emote/2, Fast-talk/4, Savoir-Faire/3, Seduction/2
Songs: Charm (Ethereal/3, Celestial/2), Dreams(Celestial/4), Light (Ethereal/3)
Attunements: Balseraph of Nightmares, Dream Walking
Background: Thargol was caught by Billy's dreamscape when the nightmare he was manipulating drifted too close to the black hole. He quickly abandoned the torment of his previous dreamer and set to work discovering all he could about this strange dream. When he discovered Billy he sought to torment him, but soon discovered Billy's remarkable control over the events in his dream. Thargol has since developed a new plan and is now manipulating Billy, using his resonance and attunements, to inflict unreasoning fear on the others he has discovered trapped in this dream. He can often be found in Billy's throne room, acting the role of humble servant and adviser. He has yet to realize the danger of forgetting the outside world, and is at -2 to his daily Will rolls for remembering.
Ethereal SpiritCorporeal Forces 1 (Strength 1, Agility 3)
Ethereal Forces 4 (Intelligence 6, Precision 10)
Celestial Forces 1 (Will 2, Perception 2)
Skills: Fighting/3, Dodge/3, Singing/1
Songs: Dreams (Corporeal/1), Dreams (Ethereal/1, Celestial/1)
Background: Rivarra is a mischievous young ethereal spirit who escaped a mortal's dreamscape and has so far evaded the servants of both Blandine and Beleth. He ventured too close to Billy's dream and was drawn inside. He is actually one of the few creatures enjoying this experience. Due to some quirk of being an ethereal spirit with little comprehension of the outside world, Rivarra is immune to the forgetfulness that effects everyone else. He is having the time of his life. Rivarra befriended Billy when he first arrived, but was forced away when Thargol began manipulating Billy. Rivarra is looking for allies to help remove Thargol, but is instinctively wary of Celestials from both sides.
The AdventureThis adventure is largely unstructured, as there are virtually no limits to what the characters may attempt. They have to act fast, as each day they run the risk of forgetting who they were and settling down. The GM is encouraged to run this adventure loosely, reacting to any plan the characters come up with as they see fit, following the guidelines given above. The possibilities are endless.
The AftermathWhat happens if and when the characters escape depends largely on what side they are on. Divine characters reporting to Blandine will receive the greatest reward if they were able to convince Billy that his world was all a dream and safely bring him out of his coma. She will still be pleased if they are able to escape and bring her information. They may be asked to venture inside again, as they now know what to expect. Infernal characters reporting to Beleth will find that the Demon Princess is most pleased if they are able to give her extensive reports on what is occurring inside the dreamscape. She will be especially pleased if they are able to tell her about the forgetfulness, as she can use this as a means to rid herself of enemies and troublesome servants. She will not be happy if the characters have no useful information, or if they discover the effects of the realm yet manage to wake Billy, thereby eliminating a potentially useful dungeon. She will be pleased if the characters are able to convince or cajole Billy into becoming a Soldier of Nightmares. Again, GMs are encouraged to play this as it happens.
If the characters take longer than one day (Marches time), Blandine and Beleth will declare the area off limits to their servants, avoiding the danger while waiting for news. Waking Billy from his dreamscape will free any Celestials that have forgotten who they were. They will experience a period similar to Trauma, but will eventually recover. If Billy can be woken, he is an excellent candidate to become a trained Ethereal Soldier. He has already developed powerful skill in Dreaming and has a powerful collection of forces that could one day make him an influential Soldier in the shifting fields of the Marches.
Article publication date: January 7, 2000
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