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Jsirhc

Dreamworlds in Delta Green

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Jsirhc

I've been wondering lately how the Dreamlands figure in the modern world of Delta Green. In Lovecraft's tales they are strange, medieval realms of fantasy. In comments on the Delta Green rpg kickstarter, someone suggested they may be more like the Renaissance in technology, or straight out realms of terror like in Hellraiser. Any ideas?

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The_Tatterdemalion_King

They mostly show up as a present absence in the 'DeMonte Clan' chapter, and as the playground of a sub-cult in the 'Cult of Transcendence' chapter. The latter writeup implies that, for the Cult's purposes at least, the old-timey Dreamlands of yellow sails is still around. The thing is, the niche of the Dreamlands—spooky dreams, surreal imagery, psychological horror—is filled in DG by the Tynes-KiY mythos. I think most people who would be attracted to making Dreamlands stuff for DG takes that route instead. On the other side, that leaves an open ground for individual GM interpretations.

Were I to actually try to use it in DG, I'd lead heavily on Sorenson's Lacuna and White Wolf's Wraith for imagery and context. 

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eternalchampion

A different option could be an idea taken from the film "dark city" and also from the scenario "Time after Time" from Strange Aeons II. What if our friends from space have created a dreamworld for us to visit so they can examine us in "natural" conditions.

Since our Plutonic friends do not seem to me very imaginative, that place would be... I don't know, strange and dark.

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Gaffer

I've long felt that the canon Dreamlands are just one possibility.

 

If they are indeed an alternate realm where sleepers go, there's no reason why they can't be  idiosyncratic (though, apparently, shareable -- unless your companions in dream are also dreams). Some who dream may usually go to some German Expressionistic realm of shadows and angles and a late 19th/early 20th century 'period.' Others may have a Renaissance/fairytale setting or pre-Columbian Americas or Pharaonic Egypt or anything else imaginable.  The Dunsanyesque/Arabian Nights milieu is just one alternative.

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dawnrazor

I'm with Gaffer here. For me, the dreamlands are a scary realm of "anything goes". Built by the dreams of individual dreamers and vastly diversified. I never liked the "canon" dreamlands as they are a bit too Wizard of Oz for me. There's hints for personal dreamlands in the Zagreb chapter of HotOE (at least in the original edition) and I quite like how they're envisioned in "Sense of the Sleight-of-hand Man"

 

Still, my version of the dreamlands is even more cryptic. I'm thinking of incorporating things like the weird places found in the KULT rpg, like Metropolis and the Labyrinth. Basically, no dreamlands will ever be the same, depending on who's the dreamer.

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Taavi

When thinking of a period for the Dreamlands, I start from the assumption that it's the collective unconscious of all humans living and dead. So the Dreamlands has been a sort of bronze age/medieval hybrid with agricultural city states because that's what the majority of all humans that ever existed experienced as "the way society is organised" and because dreams linger after mortal death (e.g. King Kuranes); plus you have ghouls keeping the memories of the dead indefinitely as a force for cultural conservatism. Even today we spend a lot of time dreaming about medieval-like societies: look at the popularity of Game of Thrones, or the "Fantasy" section of any bookshop, or the ongoing pop-culture fascination with royalty.

 

Even today the dead outnumber the living 10 to 1 (despite misconceptions to the contrary) so though the Dreamlands might be changing it would be more like the Renaissance than today's technical revolution; huge changes for a small elite (the living active Dreamers of now and a few powerful Dream rulers and beings) as new ideas and knowledge spread, not much impact on the mass of the Dreamland's population. Strong Dreamers might be able to tap high-tech in dreams, but it would be unreliable and wouldn't spread; they'd be like a star trek/stargate/etc 'away team' beamed down to a 'primitive' society and would probably provoke a fearful/hostile reaction from the locals if they waved their semiautomatics and mobile phones about.

 

Pelgrane's Dreamhounds of Paris has some great ideas on how to play out a Dreamlands being afflicted with modernism.

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SunlessNick

Dreamhounds of Paris takes the position that the Dreamlands are influenced by artistic movements in the waking world - that of Lovecraft's stories took after the Symbolists, while Dreamhounds has it being overtaken by the Surrealists (who were the only artists to affect it consciously, which ends in disaster of course).

 

After WWII, I thought a good model might be magical realism.  Give the overall Dreamlands a somewhat 1900-1950's South American look.  Technology is at about that level, but without any infrastructure - so houses have electricity with no need for power lines.  Keep the vibes of specific cities - so Ulthar is idyllic, Dylath-Leen is sinister, Hlanith looks most like a waking city (Rio in this case) - though cities that specific dreams, like Celephais, look like they always did.  The landscape is mostly stable, but the more important or emotional the events in a given place, the more otherworldly everything gets.

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Travern

Since HPL's Dreamlands stories are so unambiguously fantastic, there's that much more room for creativity to adapt them for the hard(er) science fiction of the later Mythos stories. For instance, the Lovecraftian Science blog has proposed linking the Dreamlands to the real world through superstring M-Theory (likewise some of HPL's non-Dreamlands fantasy).   Or perhaps the Dreamlands could be a collective hallucination that occurs from naturally produced endogenous psychedelic compounds, such as DMT, that humans have sought to emulate artificially, from Amazonian shamans to the CIA's MKULTRA programme.

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DAR

Personally I like the idea of there being multiple Dreamlands, with certain elements that bleed from one to another (like Leng) - I have no problems with the Lovecraftian version being a common one, or perhaps one shared with individuals who have been touched by the Elder Gods or Cthulhu or whatever. But I also like to have plenty of room for individualistic horror and fantasy based on character-by-character exploration.

 

D.

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The_Tatterdemalion_King

I've sort of assumed that the Dreamlands are, in their entire, an avatar of Nyarlathotep, a kind of psychic oubliette where minds are slowly peeled down to their core in preparation for their exposure in ultimate apocalypse, or a psychic junkyard where emanations of all the minds and worlds that Nyarlathotep has touched echo against each other.

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PXR5

I'm using the Dreamlands as per the original supplement. I have boxes of old Runequest stuff which is easily ported across as they are both BRP and I'm taking the easy way out. It is the place PCs go for a bit of Swords and Sandals.

This is the nice fluffy Dreamland with kittens...

Nasty Dreamlands is the realm of Hastur/King In Yellow...

Alphonse is nice and retired in Ulthar helping out in the library pulling strings behind the scenes between 'in from the cold' DG and 'we're trusting no one' DG cells.

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neorxnawang

I often write things set in the Dreamlands and find that sticking well within Lovecraft's imagining is ample. As a whole it is a reflection of the collective unconscious of mankind (living and dead), and hence very image-oriented and archetypal. There are good dream parts and bad dream parts. Especially powerful dreamers can carve out their own little fantasy realms, reflecting their own dreams and nightmares. This can result in odd little pockets where things are different than the normal Dreamlands; there you are basically in captive orbit around that dreamer's gravity well.

 

SPOILERS

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This is exactly what I did in The Night Season, (in The Things We Leave Behind) where the players get sucked into the captive orbit of a powerful dreamer who is obsessed with scifi television.

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yronimoswhateley

I've sort of assumed that the Dreamlands are, in their entire, an avatar of Nyarlathotep, a kind of psychic oubliette where minds are slowly peeled down to their core in preparation for their exposure in ultimate apocalypse, or a psychic junkyard where emanations of all the minds and worlds that Nyarlathotep has touched echo against each other.

 

I'd never thought of it that way.

 

And it's probably a weird tangent to take based on what you wrote, but for some reason it suggested to me that, if we use the classic metaphor of humans being like ants to Nyarlathotep, then the Dreamlands are, perhaps, one of those old ant-farms they used to sell by mail order:  little aquarium-like containers that a bored Nyarlathotep can watch in mild amusement on slow summer days, as little human dreamers scurry around building their little anthills of Dream.  From time to time, Nyarlathotep takes out his magnifying glass and uses it to focus nightmares on the little ants to see them panic and burn, because - hey, he's Nyarlathtotep, and that's how he rolls....

 

vintage-ant-farm.jpg

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Dante7

If you want to draw on non CoC resources, there are other dream-based games that may come in handy- Don't Rest Your Head springs to mind, as does Shattered Dreams.

 

Oddly, the original Nightmare Lands substitute for Ravenloft covers dream worlds for individual people in a bit of detail. 

 

Nightbane's dream supplement has a couple of interesting dream creatures that might stand adaptation, if you're not violently allergic to anything made by Palladium. 

 

Dreamblade, however, might not fit the vibe.

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yronimoswhateley

Lovecraft's Dreamlands were sort of an adaptation of Dunsany's Dreamlands, so perhaps some reverse-engineering of what Dunsany was trying to do might suggest some ideas?

 

I get the impression from Dunsany's stories that his Dreamlands were inspired a bit by Irish faerie stories:  a sort of netherworld connected to our world just over that hill or just beyond that sea, where an entirely different country might be found....

 

Delta Green's equivalent to the faeries is, basically grey aliens:  many of the old faerie stories had a lot in common with modern alien abduction lore.

 

A Delta Green Dreamland might look something like an extended alien-abduction nightmare: a vast, never-ending, shadowy, zero-gravity, geometrically impossible, biomechanical labyrinth of corridors, rooms, and impossibly cavernous chambers inside an astral-projection hyperspace "flying saucer", peopled with various alien-human "hybrids", and strange races of humans who claim to be from Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, and planets that don't really exist, and sinister groups of "reptilians" and "greys" who prowl the alien forests under starlit domes and the bottomless crevasses and tunnels beneath the corridors, and enclaves of "men in black" and their sneering Director, Nyarlathotep, who operate from the semi-mythical Isle of Oriab on the 77th deck who sometimes claim to run the whole show, and other times seem to be prisoners in it as much as anyone else.

 

Sort of like Richard Sharpe Shaver meets Dark City and The Prisoner....

 

In fact, I'd totally stat up a race of Rovers for inclusion in such a world, which guard the borders between Dream and "life" to prevent prisoners from waking up....

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delrio

I've been wondering lately how the Dreamlands figure in the modern world of Delta Green. In Lovecraft's tales they are strange, medieval realms of fantasy. In comments on the Delta Green rpg kickstarter, someone suggested they may be more like the Renaissance in technology, or straight out realms of terror like in Hellraiser. Any ideas?

 

I use it as almost classic Lovecraft, with slight modernization, per Bob Kruger's story Identity Crisis (from the DG collection Dark Theaters).

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Lisa

And a lot of the old Kult RPG material might be useful.

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DAR

And a lot of the old Kult RPG material might be useful.

 

I have been thinking about this a fair amount since you said this - partially because I backed the new edition of Kult on Kickstarter, and partially because the more I think about it the more I like it. There is a nice vibe there that dovetails to a degree (for me at least) with the MiB's Heralds of Hypnos campaign/fiction which I always appreciated.

 

D. 

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