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D&D 4E 4E Dream/Nightmare Adventures

SparqMan

First Post
Any examples of successful 4E dream/nightmare adventures?

I've seen "Nightmares Unleashed" from WotC...looking for a more obviously-in-dreamscape direction.
 

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Derulbaskul

Explorer
This post is really a bump.

I'm very interested in running something like Lorac's nightmare from the original Dragonlance series but in 4E (and not in Dragonlance). If anyone can point to any products that might help with this, I would be most grateful.
 

Rune

Once A Fool
I haven't got the specific answers that you are looking for (as I don't typically use published adventures), but I may be able to help, anyway.

I have run dreamscapes and nightmares quite a bit (with varying rulesets). Most recently, my experience has been nightmare in 4e.

I offer some advice that you can use in creating your own adventures or easily converting adventures.

First: It's all about atmosphere! Before you begin, make a short list of the elements that you think make a dream a dream, or a nightmare a nightmare. Then, during play, emphasize those elements in your description.

Second: Borrow from other planes. There are elements of the Feywild that feel very dreamlike (to me, anyway), and elements of the Shadowfell and the Far Realm that feel quite like a nightmare. Use them, or port them over directly. If you are converting a published adventure, you may be able to use one set in one or more of these places as a place to start.

Third: Dreams and nightmares are changeable. Before you begin the game, make a short list of possible changes you can make to the scenery during play...but! Do not overburden yourself! Your list can be very brief, because you should encourage the players to adjust the terrain in minor ways on their own (this gives them a sense of ownership and takes a lot of the burden of creativity off of your shoulders during play).

To do this, simply let the players describe the change they want to make (for instance, a small bridge formed out of dream-stuff) and let them use an action to try to pull it together. Give it a 50% chance of success (this prevents some people from being skilled at forming the dream).

Finally: Go with it. If your players want to see something really cool in the dream, find a way to make it work. Seriously. Once creativity starts getting used, it has a snowball effect around the table. Use that to make it all come together.
 

Unwise

Adventurer
Generally I am not a fan of dream sequences unless they have quite nailed down mechanics. Although a changeable world is thematic, it leads to players not being sure which mechanics are at play.

They might be trying to 'disbelieve' in a dragon that you intend them to fight. They might wonder why they can't just summon a +5 sword, when they could earlier summon a lantern with a thought.

Do they have their equipment with them? Why would they bring a grappnel hook into a dream? Do you need to go over every peice of equipment to see if they have it? If you let them wish things into being, it can end up with them feeling it is just shoddily constructed.

Adding in wierdness, letting people summon things, change the environment etc is cool in a thematic way, but it disengages the player from the consequences of their choice. When you open up endless possibilities, it really feels like the game is entirely in the GMs hands, if your PC dies it is just because you are being screwed over. After all, why did X bad bizaare unexplained thing happen instead of Y good thing.

To get around these issues, when I use a dream sequence, I tend to have it take place in the actual Realm of Dreams. A place as real as the Feywild or Shadowfell. It has real and solid terrain with real and solid consequences. It might be wierd, but gravity is not suddenly going to turn off and your sword is not going to turn into a rabbit mid fight.

In my campaign, there are two characters, each is fighting against a different BBEG. They each found the attention of the bad guys, who decided to mess with them. They hired a dream assassin of sorts (some sort of demon probably). When the PCs go to sleep, they each teleport to a place in the dream realm and are forced to fight a minor avatar/projection of the BBEG they want to kill. These are very hard fights. They are fair distance from each other, but can try and run to team up if they want. If they fail, they wake up 2 healing surges down. This happens every night until they run out of surges and their souls are consumed by the dream-assassin (or they win the fight).

This is designged as a a 'Luke in the dark-side cave on Dagobar' style moment. Once they defeat the bad guys in the dream, the baddies plot backfires as the PCs are now full of confidence and know a weakness or two of the real BBEG. This allows them to progress to Paragon Tier.
(In my campaigns, you have to acheive something very significant and character building to be allowed to progress between tiers)
 

MrMyth

First Post
I vaguely recall seeing some 4E Dungeon Eberron articles along these lines...

...here we go: Taer La Shala, the Fortress of Fading Dreams. The place itself is real, but seems to have many dream elements that tie into it, and features an item (Philter of the Fading Dream) which results in the PCs exlporing the place in their dreams.
(Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

Other potentially useful content:
-The Dreamheart
-Sleeper in the Tomb of Dreams
 

Riastlin

First Post
I vaguely recall seeing some 4E Dungeon Eberron articles along these lines...

...here we go: Taer La Shala, the Fortress of Fading Dreams. The place itself is real, but seems to have many dream elements that tie into it, and features an item (Philter of the Fading Dream) which results in the PCs exlporing the place in their dreams.
(Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

Other potentially useful content:
-The Dreamheart
-Sleeper in the Tomb of Dreams

Thanks for the links! I'm planning on running something along these lines in my current campaign at some point, so will have to check those out. Unfortunately cannot XP you yet.

I think [MENTION=98008]Unwise[/MENTION] has a good point about the mechanics and/or making it an actual plane upon which the adventure takes place. If you allow too much "randomness" or allow the PCs too much freedom to manipulate the world you run the risk of significant problems. When I run my players through my "dream adventure" I plan to use the Plane of Dreams as well with defined mechanics. For purposes of the adventure, I will assume that the PCs have all of their carried gear (they'll actually be transported to the Dream Plane).

I like the idea of allowing manipulation of the environment but I think that it should maybe be limited to terrain. i.e. with a check of some sort (perhaps even just the aforementioned save) the PCs can manipulate a part of the terrain to a degree. If you do allow this though, you need to make sure that the mechanics are not only preset, but that they are spelled out for the players ahead of time so that there are no surprises ("Whaddya mean I can't turn the lava into a nice safe field of grass?") Summoning/creating items is also risky. I agree that there's not a lot of inherent difference between a lantern and a +6 Holy Avenger. Of course, one way around this may be to adjust the DC based on the relative power of the item. Sure you can summon a +6 Holy Avenger, but to do so, the DC is Very Hard, etc.

The other thing I think you should do in this situation is figure out who's dream it is, and make the events, objects, terrain, etc., a reflection of that person. If you want the PCs to experience a nightmare, you need to determine whose nightmare it is. If it is a particular PC's nightmare, then you focus on things that would be particularly scary to that PC. Perhaps the eladrin PC has a nightmare showing his home city in the Feywild being overrun by drow. If the nightmare is that of a Demon Prince, then you need to find something much more terrifying. What would scare Orcus? etc.
 

Unwise

Adventurer
It seems we are on the same page here. Thanks a lot for the links MrMyth, I will find them helpful too.

@Riastlin , consider giving your players each a couple of encounter and one daily power. Ideally print them out as cards. Say 1) Allows a PC to create a nothingness, so make a doorway or a pit or 2) Allows a PC to summon terrain, either a wall, difficult or damaging terrian. By having these as set abilities with mechanics, such as Blast 5, range 20 etc they know where they stand.

The daily power could be a summons, allowing you to either summon an item or a companion for one encounter. So you could summon up a kickass sword, or one of the party's NPC companions, but only for one fight. I would make the companions be insubstantial, but they disappear at their bloodied value. They are not really here. They could also summon mounts. I would let them summon a random nightmare too. A powerful creature they have no control over. Heck, that is always fun in an encounter.

Have you read any H.P.Lovecraft? When Cthulu dreams, he summons horrors beyond imagining. Maybe they are caught in the dream of a slumbering immortal being. It could be as alien or as understandable as you wish.

For extra GM-credit, have scenes and scenery that allow the players to work out who's dream they are caught in. Their ownly ways out are to A) Beat up the manifestation of the dreamer until they are near death, that will wake them up with a start or B) Solve whatever is making them have a nightmare.

E.g. A semi-divine epic paladin is dreaming of the damsel in distress that he could never save. Although he is amazingly powerful, he will always fail at everything he does in this dream, just like he did in real life. Therefore, the only way to end the nightmare is to save the Damsel in distress for him and bring her there so he can see.

If your group are RP-heavy. You might be able to pick a PC with massive unresolved issues, the players can only leave the nightmare when they have resolved their issues. See paladin example, save their lost love, get a message warning of the Eladrin city being attacked by drow to the mayor in time (when in reality they failed to do so and everyone died)...

Oooh that just gave me an idea. What if there is a warning that a friendly dream-spirit/psion wants to give to someone? The Epic Psion is in the Prime Material plane and finds that the Drow are about to launch a sneak attack on the Eladrin. There is absolutely no way to get there in time to warn them. He astral projects, finds the first group of heroes he can, he drags them into the dream world and tells them to travel via the Dream world to find the Lord of Myth-Renden (or whatever city you want). They need to fight their way there and deliver the message of warning to the sleeping/trancing lord. Very little time passes in the dreamworld in comparison to the real world. They have X amount of time to get there.

On the way they fight past all sorts of random dream nasties, are ambushed by projections and summoning from Drow oracles have have picked up that something is wrong (and therefore move the invasion plan forward), and finally, with the time ticking down, they find that the Lord of Mythrenden is no slouch, he has severe protection against astral/dream assault. They must fight/talk their way past his dream-guards to make it to his office/bedchamber and tell him. I would make it damn hard to talk their way through, or make it too time consuming, when things are at a rush.

Anyway, sorry for rambling, that is just a random adventure that suddenly sprung to mind.
 
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Riastlin

First Post
[MENTION=98008]Unwise[/MENTION]: Good idea about the power cards, its an excellent way to sort of take the middle position of allowing the PCs to affect the environment/play in the dream without worrying about things getting out of hand or leading to conflicts between the players and the DM.

Sadly, I have not read much Lovecraft (something I keep meaning to correct just don't have the time) :( I will definitely be looking into doing that before I run this particular adventure. Any particular titles in mind?

Fortunately I should have plenty of time before needing to prepare this particular adventure since I anticipate it being an early - mid epic tier adventure and the party is only level 11 at the moment. Of course, with them being epic at the time, I'll have room for all kinds of fun things to throw at them.

Oh and your adventure idea sounds fun, no need to apologize for rambling, its important to get these things down while they are fresh in our minds. :)
 


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