The ritual magic system that is detailed within the Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Player’s Handbook provides your characters with the ability to create interesting and useful effects. By building on that system, you could introduce a new element to your campaign: the realm of Dreaming. This article introduces new rituals, an item, and a deity that can get you started if you’re interested in adding a strange and potentially very unsettling landscape to your game.
As with other rituals, dream rituals are found in either a ritual book or a ritual scroll. Because they are too complex to be memorized by a single person, the ritual caster must have a large ceremony that involves at least six or more people. One of these people must enter a dreaming state, while the others perform the ritual around the dreamer. Due to the nature of the magic involved, though, more than one person can enter the dream state, so a whole adventuring group could choose to venture into the realm of dreams together. While in this realm, the dreamers can seek out new adventures or find ways to understand themselves better. (Where you, the GM, take the realm of Dreaming is up to you!)
The basic ritual to enter the realm of Dreaming is called Slumber. If the GM integrates this realm into his or her game, doing so can be as simple as using only the Slumber ritual and working with the players to craft the experience. If the GM prefers to integrate the Dreaming realm to his or her game with a more dangerous element to it, the Waking ritual might be the only way for a creature to return from the Dreaming realm. Another option is to require this ritual if the dreamers wish to recall their dreams (otherwise, the events in the Dreaming fade upon waking).
Additionally, this article assumes that the core rules work in the Dreaming as they would in the world (thanks to the inherent magic within the Slumber ritual, which stabilizes the realm of Dreaming for a time—see the option noted in the ritual), but the GM should feel free to come up with some interesting morphing characteristics to emulate the sorts of things that happen within dreams for when the stabilizing influence of the ritual starts to fade. Perhaps movement rates change randomly or items don’t work as expected. You, as the GM, could allow the players more input when it comes to helping shape the environment once the ritual’s stability starts to fade, too, though you should remain mindful of the potential inherent in twisting the dreamscape around the adventurers at any given moment.
In all cases, the characters are placing their trust in another group of people to perform the ritual, and that in itself might cause some interesting story hooks. What happens if one among the performers has already set up the characters for danger within the realm of Dreaming? How would he or she have done that? Perhaps an opposing group of foes is already in the Dreaming trying to prevent the adventurers from achieving the goal they have had set before them there?
One or more people are placed into a deep sleep that allows them to enter into the realm known as the Dreaming.
Level: 2; Component Cost: 75 gold
Category: Dreaming, Travel; Market Price: 300 gold
Time: 30 minutes; Key Skill: Arcana
The Slumber ritual sends the target(s) into a deep unconscious state, allowing entry into the Dreaming realm 30 minutes after the ritual has started. (Option: The ritual stabilizes the realm of Dreaming for two hours. After that, the rules of reality that the characters are used to in their waking reality start to fray.)
Those currently wandering the Dreaming realm wake up and return to reality.
Level: 4; Component Cost: 150 gold
Category: Dreaming, Travel; Market Price: 600 gold
Time: 15 minutes; Key Skill: Arcana
The connection between the ritual performers and the dreamers alerts the performers to start the Waking ritual. The target(s) can recall what they had happened within the Dreaming for 1 hour. After that, memories start to fade.
A Deity for the Dreaming: Daramuth
Though you can use several of the deities in the D&D books to provide a gateway into the world of the Dreaming, you could also add Daramuth, the guardian deity of Dreaming, to your campaign.
Description: This three-headed lioness deity protects the realm of the Dreaming and those within it. She is the goddess of change, dreams, chaos, the mind, and trickery. Her temples are rare, because most of her priests and followers prefer to work their rituals and spells within the homes of their patients, and they travel in groups of five or more. Those few temples that exist were built within large wilderness clearings and vast cavernous networks.
These three dictates are the main ones that she has for her clerics and followers:
• Protect the Dreaming.
• Illusion and Reality are one and the same.
• Aid those who are negatively affected by those of the Dreaming.
New Magic Item: Chain of Daramuth
The following magic item can be introduced to your game and be used by those who perform rituals that involve getting people into or out of the realm of Dreaming.
Chain of Daramuth Level 3+ Uncommon
This golden necklace has three small red crystals dangling from it, and it strengthens your mind for the ritual at hand while even as it slows your foes.
Lvl 3: +1; 680 gp
Lvl 8: +2; 3,400 gp
Lvl 13: +3; 17,000 gp
Lvl 18: +4; 85,000 gp
Lvl 23: +5; 425,000 gp
Lvl 28: +6; 2,125,000 gp
Enhancement Bonus: Will
You gain an item bonus to Arcana checks for the Slumber and Waking rituals equal to the item’s enhancement bonus.
Utility Power • Daily (Immediate Reaction)
Trigger: An enemy hits you with a melee attack.
Effect: The enemy that hit you is slowed (save ends).