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D&D General Using dreams to plant adventure hooks or provide motivation

Do you use dreams to plant adventure hooks/give motivation?

  • All the time

    Votes: 1 3.1%
  • Occasionally

    Votes: 25 78.1%
  • Never

    Votes: 6 18.8%

  • Total voters
    32
Outside of a DM, I once had a warlock that used dreams very effectively on the other players. I had locks of all their hair, and would use their dreams to plant seeds as to what to do. I convinced the paladin to give me his three artifacts (they were the main questline - build a crown). I convinced the rogue to be my bodyguard. And I convinced our cleric to always heal me first, as that was the wish of his deity. Then when he did, I would use illusion to make it look like his healing worked better than it should have.

I showed up to probably eight different sessions with a typed out "dream." I would get there early, hand it to the DM, and then he had to pretend he was the one handing the players these dreams. So they had no idea these were coming from me, but instead thought they were coming from our mysterious benefactor who was leading the fey realm in their fight against the antagonist - a type of corruption. They just thought that since I was fey, I had some special role to play in how the quest gets solved. ;)

In the end, when they found out, it was priceless. I was the same character I had always been, a manipulating spoiled young man who believed he was more important and special than everyone.

Incidentally, I never once casted a damage spell for all 20 levels. A fact my teammates bemoaned, but that gave even more impetus that I was special - because I had never hurt anyone. Turns out the two were uncorrelated, even for me. I certainly didn't plan for them to think that, but they did. Another priceless moment.
 

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Marc_C

Solo Role Playing
Not a fan of this technic. I might have used it, once or twice, in the 80s and early 90s but I can't recall doing it afterwards.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I don't follow Critical Role, but from some of the posts on this thread if sounds like that has the character in the dreams and interacting in a way the DM dictates. I've never used dreams like that where I control the PC. That's not something that belongs in my toolbox.

However, I have used dreams and visions at least once in every campaign I've run in the past few decades. Usually as the result of in-game actions. An example in one of my current campaigns, after breaking a set of powerful wards set by an archfey a few centuries before, the next time the characters slept they heard the archfey in their head psychically broadcasting to those in the area trying to figure out who did it which manifested as dreams.

Though players who want mystery in their backstory so they can be surprised can also have it come up. The same group are currently they are following a hook from a vision of Eilistraee now that they are no longer tied up in some other plots and want to make time for it. (I normally throw a lot more plots at the characters than they can do, and they choose what to follow - or do something else.)
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Like many things, I think they can be extremely effective when used sparingly or with restraint. When used too often they will obviously lose their impact. The "every long rest" suggested in Curse of Strahd certainly seems excessive.

There are references to dreams being used narratively in the rules themselves; for example, aasimar characters receive "visions and guidance from celestial entities via dreams". Matt Mercer employs this with Yasha on Critical Role; her aasimar barbarian is generally the character most likely to have dreams that involve portents or symbolic choices. The other character who has them is Fjord, as his warlock patron uses dreams to communicate what it wants from him.
 
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Stormonu

Legend
Oh, so that must be where the DM in the game I loathe must be pulling this from.

Once or twice, I’ve used dreams to communicate info to the players, but I use it very rarely - maybe one every three campaigns or so. Current DM uses this every session, much to my chargrin. Especially when it goes on for an hour or so of play time.
 

HJFudge

Explorer
Oh, so that must be where the DM in the game I loathe must be pulling this from.

Once or twice, I’ve used dreams to communicate info to the players, but I use it very rarely - maybe one every three campaigns or so. Current DM uses this every session, much to my chargrin. Especially when it goes on for an hour or so of play time.

Wait, for real?

The dm has an hour long dream sequence every session?? I hope its at least interactive! Or is he just talking at you for an hour straight?
 


Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Oh, so that must be where the DM in the game I loathe must be pulling this from.

Once or twice, I’ve used dreams to communicate info to the players, but I use it very rarely - maybe one every three campaigns or so. Current DM uses this every session, much to my chargrin. Especially when it goes on for an hour or so of play time.

That's...awful.
 

aco175

Legend
The best dream sequence I recall was back in 3e when we went to a mage tower to train to gain a level. The first night there, the tower was attacked and we rushed out to defend the mage and the other NPCs, but most of them ended up dying. We woke up the next day to it being a dream and training was over. The cool thing was that each PC somehow practiced what they were training for for skills and powers.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Wait, for real?

The dm has an hour long dream sequence every session?? I hope its at least interactive! Or is he just talking at you for an hour straight?
sigh For real; last session took an hour out of the start of the game for the DM to go through the dreams of the four PCs (not counting me) at the table. I'd say 90% of it is the DM talking, the players might make one decision and several head nods - but I've gotten to the point I tune out for the whole sequence and just make a mental note of the time elapsed.

At least I've made my displeasure well enough known the DM skips me. Luckily, as the game is at my house, I can sit and paint minis as I wait for this portion of the game to pass.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
sigh For real; last session took an hour out of the start of the game for the DM to go through the dreams of the four PCs (not counting me) at the table. I'd say 90% of it is the DM talking, the players might make one decision and several head nods - but I've gotten to the point I tune out for the whole sequence and just make a mental note of the time elapsed.

At least I've made my displeasure well enough known the DM skips me. Luckily, as the game is at my house, I can sit and paint minis as I wait for this portion of the game to pass.
That's deeply unfortunate. This sounds like a game you're remaining in for non-game social reasons--which I understand; I suspect it's something most of us have done at some point. I hope you're involved in, or able to find, a game more suited to your tastes.
 

I use dreams fairly frequently (as in maybe once ever 8 sessions or so?) Primarily for two purposes:
1) They're one of my preferred methods by which spirits or deities communicate with clerics, paladins, druids, warlocks, or other character with a strong supernatural connection. Directly talking to a such an entity tends to...cheapen the experience to me? Or make it seem less dramatic. (There are other suitable means of communication as well, I meant one of when I said one of).

2) As sort of a counterbalance to warn the PCs when they mess with forces beyond their capabilities. I try to run game worlds with powerful factions like deities, nations, religions, secret societies, guilds, powerful monsters, god-like heroes who are not (yet) the PCs. These entities have their own motives and defined means - which are frequently NOT fully understood by the PCs; and are likely to curbstomp those who approach them in the wrong way or say the wrong thing. I feel this makes for a more realistic game world...but it occasionally also puts the PCs in danger that stems not from poor tactical choices or general recklessnes, but because they simply don't know any better. Dreams are one of the methods I convey information to prevent arbitrary deaths.

I try to keep dream sequences as brief as possible; provide just enough clues to let the players figure things out for themselves; and allow PC interaction if possible. Because dreams are essentially DM exposition where the player has limited ability to decide things for themselves; and that's not fun.
 

Stormonu

Legend
That's deeply unfortunate. This sounds like a game you're remaining in for non-game social reasons--which I understand; I suspect it's something most of us have done at some point. I hope you're involved in, or able to find, a game more suited to your tastes.
I wouldn't pity me - I have two other ongoing games that I have greatly enjoyed - one of which I am DMing. This particular one just hasn't turned out as I had hoped, but I would say the DM is still learning how to handle a game.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
I wouldn't pity me - I have two other ongoing games that I have greatly enjoyed - one of which I am DMing. This particular one just hasn't turned out as I had hoped, but I would say the DM is still learning how to handle a game.
If that came off as overly-pitying, I apologize. It was meant more as commiseration. I've recently-ish left a campaign that was almost exactly hitting all of my do-not-want buttons. That DM wasn't a beginner, alas. OTOH, I'm enjoying the hell out of the two campaigns I'm DMing. It kinda balances out.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
sigh For real; last session took an hour out of the start of the game for the DM to go through the dreams of the four PCs (not counting me) at the table. I'd say 90% of it is the DM talking, the players might make one decision and several head nods - but I've gotten to the point I tune out for the whole sequence and just make a mental note of the time elapsed.
That sounds terrible. I’m certainly not advocating for bad DMing.
 

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