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Nightmare Dreamscapes

Source Horror Adventures pg. 162
The following section provides guidelines for creating nightmare dreamscapes: realms of fear and horror within the Dimension of Dreams. A nightmare typically has a goal, which the dreamer can complete within the nightmare dreamscape to win freedom from it, and features, which represent the ways in which the dreamer’s fears manifest. A nightmare’s goal and features might come entirely from the dreamer’s own mind or be chosen by the creator of a supernatural effect.

Naturally Occurring Nightmares

Source Horror Adventures pg. 162
Most commonly, nightmares come not from an outside source, but solely from the dreamer’s mind. Whenever a creature sleeps, if it experienced any of the following events since the last time it slept, there is a 20% chance it has a naturally occurring nightmare: being reduced to 0 or fewer hit points, being frightened or panicked, being shaken for more than 1 minute, or taking 1 or more points of Wisdom damage or drain. If a campaign uses the sanity rules, taking sanity damage also counts.

A naturally occurring nightmare takes the form of a frightening dream. As with other dreams, the nightmare dreamscape has the flowing time, highly morphic, and wild magic planar traits. The exact nature of a naturally occurring nightmare dreamscape is created from the dreamer’s unconscious thoughts, and is not under its control. The GM can select the dreamscape’s traits, or determine them randomly using the following tables. It is more difficult for the dreamer to attempt fantastic feats in nightmares, and the DC of Charisma checks to do so increases by 10.

81-90Objective directional
91-100Subjective directional

d%Size and Shape
31-60Finite shape
61-100Self-contained shape

Supernatural Nightmares

Source Horror Adventures pg. 163
A supernatural nightmare is similar to a naturally occurring nightmare, but is created deliberately by a malevolent entity. This entity chooses the gravity, size, and shape of the dreamscape, and can also determine the dreamscape’s goal and features; the goal must be reasonably accomplished, subject to the GM’s discretion. Some supernatural nightmares impose penalties if the goal of the nightmare is not completed, with the most dire cases allowing for death in the dreamscape to cause death in the waking world.

Spells: Certain spells, such as nightmare or night terrors, can cause their targets to experience nightmares. A caster of the nightmare spell can choose to ensnare her target in a nightmare dreamscape instead of allowing her target a Will save to resist the spell. If so, the caster doesn’t have much control over the nightmare dreamscape but can ensure the presence of one nightmare feature per 5 caster levels. The caster doesn’t select which nightmare features the target experiences. If the target fails to accomplish the goal of the nightmare, it suffers the spell’s effects.

Goal of a Nightmare

Source Horror Adventures pg. 163
Each nightmare dreamscape has a particular action that can be completed to allow the dreamer to escape the nightmare. This goal may or may not be immediately obvious. If the dreamer is unable to complete the goal in a reasonable period of time (as determined by the GM), the nightmare is considered to have bested the dreamer. The dreamer suffers no ill effects when defeated by a naturally occurring nightmare; however, there might be penalties if the dreamer fails to achieve a supernatural nightmare’s goal. The GM can choose a goal or determine one randomly using the table below.

d%Nightmare Goal
1-35Reach a creature
36-80Reach a location
81-100Take a test

Reach a Creature: The nightmare ends once the dreamer reaches or catches a creature. The creature might actively flee, or could lead the dreamer on a specific path.

Reach a Location: The nightmare ends once the dreamer reaches a particular place.

Take a Test: The nightmare ends once the dreamer completes a test. The nature of the test varies: a cleric might have to endure a test of faith, while a fighter might have to perform difficult combat drills. The GM chooses three to five skill checks or ability checks to represent different aspects of the test, of which the character must succeed at a minimum of half, or devises a series of more complicated encounters, if she desires.

Nightmare Features

Source Horror Adventures pg. 163
Each nightmare has one or more nightmare features, which complicate the nightmare in some fashion. For naturally occurring nightmares, roll twice on the table below or simply select which nightmare features to use.

d%Nightmare Feature
1-20Being chased
21-30False awakening
51-65No gear
66-80Unable to move
81-95Unable to speak
96-100Other disadvantage, or roll again twice

Being Chased: The dreamer is being stalked or chased by something. The thing should be difficult (or impossible) to defeat in combat, but possible to escape. Either employ the chase rules or adjudicate the stalking creature’s threat in some other way.

False Awakening: When the nightmare ends, the dreamer believes it is awake, but actually enters another nightmare dreamscape. Roll one nightmare feature fewer when determining the nature of this dreamscape.

Incompetent: The dreamer is suddenly unable to do something that it is normally good at. It might lose ranks in an important skill, have its base attack bonus reduced by half, or lose a key class feature or ability for the duration of the dream.

No Gear: The dreamer arrives in the dream naked, without any gear or equipment.

Unable to Move: The dreamer has difficulty traveling. The dreamer could literally be paralyzed, or it might find that no matter where it goes, it always winds up in the same spot. Either way, the inability to move shouldn’t render the nightmare’s goal impossible.

Unable to Speak: The dreamer either can’t speak or can’t understand anything said in the dream.