In the World of Darkness, there are a lot of different realms that stand apart from the Earthly reality. One of those realms is known as the Dreaming. It is a realm of pure Glamour that exists alongside Earth, interwoven with it, touching it and intersecting with it in places.
The Dreaming came into being during the Sundering, when humanity began to face their fears and apply Banality to their world in order to make sense of it. The separation happened as the Dreaming sought to protect itself from humanity’s Banality, and it is the true home of all the faeries, but it has become a strange and hostile place to them. Spending too long in the Dreaming results in Bedlam.
The best way to describe the Dreaming is that it is a realm of pure magic and imagination. For those of you who’ve played other lines in the World of Darkness, it is NOT the Umbra that the Shifters and some Mages know. The Umbra is a realm of spirits, and the Dreaming is a realm of mortal imagination and dreams. However, in Mage parlance, the Maya is the same as the Dreaming. To make matters even more confusing, the Dreaming and the Umbra intersect at several rare points, buuuuut… most Kithain will never step into the Umbra, and Shifters don’t enter the Dreaming unless they’ve been Enchanted.
The Dreaming is a realm of tripped out insanity. Dream logic applies here. Fantastic castles and magical beasts from imagination and faerie tales exist here. If you can imagine it, then it exists somewhere inside of the Dreaming, although you might have to journey a long time to find it.
The Dreaming is also divided up into layers of its own, as described below.
The Near Dreaming
This is the layer of the Dreaming that is closest to reality, overlapping with it and intersecting with it at rare points. In this layer, the Dreaming often mimics reality, so if a changeling enters the Near Dreaming via a trod, leaving behind mountains in reality, he might well find that he’s standing in mountains inside the Dreaming too.
If the Near Dreaming does not reflect reality, it will often reflect the whims and dreams of its ruler. This is the layer where a changeling is also most likely to find the chimerical territory of freeholds and homesteads (workshops and meeting places where Glamour flows more freely).
Changelings enter the Near Dreaming through trods, which often run from one freehold to another. Before the Resurgence in 1969, most of these trods had been closed and lost, and the Dreaming had become a more hostile place. The return of the sidhe and the influx of Glamour reopened many long-lost trods.
Travel time through the Near Dreaming is approximately the same as travel time in the real world. In other words, walking a mile in both the Near Dreaming and reality takes about fifteen minutes. However, the lack of Banality in the Dreaming makes other modes of travel much easier and much faster. The Arts of Wayfare are easier to use, and there are magical beasts or whimsical ships.
Within the Near Dreaming, sensations are more intense. Colours are more vibrant, scents are sharper, tastes burst across the tongue, and everything seems purer. Emotions are also purer here. Here, fury burns hotly and is almost given a physical form. Gladness may manifest as a pleasant tingle that runs from one person to another. The inverse is also true. Fear is a white-hot knife of incredible intensity, and sorrow can be crippling.
Many Changelings do not ever venture any deeper into the Dreaming than this. Here, in the Near Dreaming, enough Banality seeps through from reality to give the maddening chaos of dreams some stability and actual form. Going deeper into the Dreaming carries a LOT of risks with it, though travelers on the Silver Path are safer than those who go wandering off across Hell’s Half-Acre.
If you think of reality as being separated into layers, then think of reality being the core, with the Near Dreaming overlapping it. Now, overlapping the Near Dreaming is the Far Dreaming. And as you might expect, being further from the source of all Banality, this layer of the Dreaming is far more chaotic and malleable. It’s also a lot more dangerous. The Silver Path fades away or falls to ruin in this layer, leaving only the most powerful trods to extend into it for any real distance.
There are also nightmares and chimerical beasts that will snap up an unwary Changeling, make him into a slave, or just kill him for blood sport. Still, some changelings try to come here in order to escape the burdens of nobility or responsibility. The problem there is that any changeling who stays overlong is going to be beset with Bedlam rather quickly, so only the strongest faerie or chimera can endure long enough to actually live here.
Still, Arts have more fanfare here when employed. The effects are flashier and far more noticeable, like puffs of smoke, booming thunder, and the sound of whooshing air accompanying Wayfare cantrips. Travel is also much, much faster in the Far Dreaming. Some changelings have experienced what seems like years of arduous journeying only to find that mere moments had passed in the Near Dreaming and in reality.
The Far Dreaming is also where you will find a starting point for old gateways leading into the final layer, the Deep Dreaming. Most of these gateways are guarded by ancient chimera, traps, or tests designed by the sidhe to protect the realms beyond.
Continuing with the onion analogy, the Deep Dreaming is the very outermost layer of the Dreaming and the farthest removed from reality. These realms are the least structured and the most chaotic. They’re in constant turmoil, responding to the needs and whims of the moment. These are not the needs of any visitors; the Dreaming seems to serve itself, guarding hidden places, covering routes with illusions and trying to confuse intruders. Only a handful of trods exist this far into the Dreaming.
Arcadia is believed to be lost somewhere in this Realm, but no one has ever gone there and returned to tell the tale. There are also many places of paradise and many places of nightmarish Hell in the Deep Dreaming. Literally anything can be found or done here, and the more illogical it is, the more likely it is to happen.
This is a realm of pure dream logic. And like in dreams, which can shift landscapes with little rhyme or reason, the same can happen in the Deep Dreaming. Things happen here that would have no connection to one another in the waking world. Cause and effect does not exist. Anything can be found here, and anything can happen.