The Fate of Astralis

During the drive home today, I was brainstorming about ideas of future epic level things that could happen in a long term Astralis campaign.

What could be a huge event in an Astralis: Empire of Stars game? What could completely change the court of the Star-Pharaoh?

We Have Met the Enemy, and They Are Us

Astralis finds worlds in the Prime Material plane. Such worlds might be nearly anything. Including, a mirror of themselves. What if Astralis encountered another astral ship empire? What if that empire took notice, and waged a war of economic attrition and conquest over the colonies of Astralis?

A powerful empire, deriving from a world with a similar history, would be a potent enemy of the Star-Pharaoh’s far flung nation. The opportunities for battles on a thousand worlds would be near endless.

A Secret Grave

Astralis stumbles across the hidden world where Vecna’s Eye and Hand currently rest. Perhaps the lich has already consumed the soul of a new host, and is in control. Perhaps a wizard of Astralis becomes his new host. The arch-lich sees the throne of the Star-Pharaoh as an easy opportunity to become an Emperor again.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the material worlds, Kas senses that Vecna is on the move again. His demonic and undead spies bring him word of astral ships bearing the sign of the eye.

War With Gith

There are others who already sail ships through the astral plane. The githyanki and their lich queen launch raids into other worlds from their city resting upon the bones of a dead god. It is but a matter of time before the vessels of the Star-Pharaoh clash with those of the githyanki queen. And where the githyanki roam, the githzerai are sure to interfere.

A Plague of Tarrasques

There might be but one tarrasque. But many worlds have legends of one. Some take this to mean that there are more than one. What if the gods merely raise the singular beast whenever it falls? What if when it disappears to go into its long sleep, it is really being sent to another world instead? What if the Star-Pharaoh’s empire yet again angered the gods, and they set the tarrasque upon all of the worlds of the empire, one after another?

Could your adventurers defeat the tarrasque? If they proved that they could, might they be sent by astral vessel to every world where the beast appeared?

One Gate Too Many

The world of the Star-Pharaoh keeps building gates to other realms, extending teleporter pads to other places, sending astral ships to other places.

Someday, they push things too far. The pigeons come home to roost. Enemies burst through the myriad of planar gates, transforming regions of the homeworld into new landscapes. Teleporter pads flood the imperial lands with powerful strike teams who take up residence. Fleets of astral ships descend upon the failing center, intent upon seizing the treasures gathered from a thousand worlds.

The sages of Astralis do their best to shut it down. They crash the gates that they can close. The disrupt the teleporters they can stop. They destroy the astral vessels in their docks. War rages across the homeworld.

The flames consume the great libraries. The battles unleash terrible weapons upon the world. The warring factions  retreat when they can, but many are stranded. They divide the world between them. For the first time in thousands of years, the homeworld is a shattered realm with a thousand petty kings and queens. The civilization of the Star-Pharaohs descends into darkness.

Centuries go by. The worst disasters have stabilized. The world has come to grips with its new reality. Occasionally another planar gate or teleporter bursts through, or an astral vessel makes landfall, but there are ancient defenses in place that blunt such events. The inhabitants of a fallen world pick the bones of their ancestral lands, and live amongst its ruins.

Astralis – The Pitch

Astralis

Long ago, on a world with one single great continent, an empire finally united the world. Not the “known world” as savants sometimes later recall of other civilizations. The whole world.

Sailing the seas of the world, the restless empire found but a scattering of islands, here and there, which were easily devoured. The pharaoh feared that with no foreign enemies remaining, he might not keep his internal foes at bay.

He called together his viziers, demanding a plan for the future. One by one they proposed plans that disappointed his ambitions. Until, one evening, a brilliant vizier pointed him to the stars. “There, pharaoh, lie your new conquests.”

Though the vizier gained the pharaoh’s favor, years passed before his vision was made real. A ship which would sail into the astral plane, piercing the dimensions to land upon the worlds encircling other stars.

That was more than a thousand years ago. Now the empire sends ships to thousands of worlds, to explore, to conquer, to return with tribute. But even as they settle the universe, the universe sets its eye upon them. More than once an offworld warlord has seized the astral fleet and taken the homeworld for their own.

Astralis is enduring, though. The barbarian at the gate is easily absorbed into a world of imperial luxury. What will you do? Rise to power or cast down the palaces of the corrupt?

Space Opera D&D without spaceships

Astralis is meant to be a setting for Dungeons and Dragons that creates a space opera type feel, without spaceships. By using astral ships, that sail through the astral plane and appear on other worlds by way of astral color pools, you get a multiworld setting without the automatic air-superiority that spaceships typically assume.

Astralis – The Home World

The Home World

Long ago, on a world with one single great continent, an empire finally united the world. Not the “known world” as savants sometimes later recall of other civilizations. The whole world.

(Think Pangaea, if humans had dominated it and it had not split apart.)

Thousands of years of history here… (but really a current interesting state should probably be introduced first)

Nine bows

At one point the ruler of Y offworld nation seized the astral fleet, and set off into the astral realm to reach Geba. He conquered the homeworld and installed his own capital near the heavily damaged previous capital.

Various events

In the year XX, the pharaoh died and insisted that things be brought to him in the afterlife. Astral vessels entered the outer planes to bring him his earthly desires. Heaven was offended, and great devastation was wrought upon the world. Perhaps the tarrasque appeared and rampaged.

The Modern Pharaoh

Nowadays, the pharaoh is largely symbolic. The pharaonic family continues ever onward, generation after generation, dynasty after dynasty, but the real power lies in a bicameral “senate” (hopefully some other name?). Now and then a charismatic pharaoh may wield greater influence, but the senate is quick to push back.

The Senate

Laws and administration of the government are really the province of the senate. This body consists of two “houses” – the House of Governors and the House of Viziers.

The House of Governors varies in membership numbers, and is comprised of the governors, or their duly appointed representatives, of those offworld nations powerful enough to warrant representation. Such a governor may be the native ruler of an offworld nation, or a military or political figure deployed by Seba.

The House of Viziers numbers 42, which is based on the religious numerology of the divine judge Duat. Officially, they are appointed by the pharaoh, but in reality the pharaoh rubber-stamps the powerful politicians who dominate homeworld governance. A senate-vizier must be a citizen of the homeworld, though in rare cases such citizens have originated from elsewhere.

Mirabilis

The capital of Astralis. This city was built by the conqueror XX near the ruins of the original capital XX.

gubble

“Gubble

Ability to pass things info between dream states or wakefulness”

On February 16, 2014, I tapped this weird note into my Notes app on my iPhone. It was some nonsense I had been musing as I lay half asleep.

Curious, I Googled “gubble” and discovered it was an old video game which I did not (consciously at least) remember at all. I couldn’t find any other real meaning for the word. On the other hand, ubble-gubble is claimed as a synonym for gibberish. Another related word is gabble.

Well, I guess I failed to gubble the meaning of what I was dreaming into my waking world, eh?

The default character idea for Oneira is a person who has physically passed into the dream world. As such, the passing of things/info into wakefulness could mean two entirely different things.

First, there is just the idea that they still sleep, and dream, even though they reside in the dream world. Like any normal person, much of that information is simply forgotten. Thus, the ability to pass knowledge from your dreaming self to your waking self would be just as useful to them as any of us.

However, in the process of dreaming, these individuals may move around the real in which they live. This may give them insight into the world in which they live in ways entirely unrestricted by space or conscious logic. If they can keep some of that upon awakening, then it might be applicable while awake. Honed to a razor skill, maybe the Oneira could even intentionally scout out areas of dream, and spy on enemies, or even target them with dream-fashioned changes.

Alternately, the Oneira might be interested in passing information to the real world. If you could interact with a terrestrial dreamer, and ensure they remember at least some part of the experience, then you can implant dream knowledge into the real world. For some Oneira, this might be the fulfillment of the simple desire to let their loved ones know where they have gone. Others have more sinister ideas, such as creating feedback loops, wherein their dream domains are strengthened by the minds of terrestrial dreamers.

The ultimate goal of some Oneira might be to transport objects or themselves from the dream world back to the terrestrial one. In the default setting, this is assumed to be something which no one knows how to do. If they knew this trick in the past, then the knowledge is lost. If anyone does know how to do it, they aren’t sharing. As creator of your flavor of the game, do what you will, but realize that the ability to go back to the real world changes everything. The Oneira are less tragic, and the real world of your stories is less believable. As far as we know, humans don’t really transport their bodies to and from other dimensions. Being able to escape to your home on Earth seems more like an end goal for most character.

Nonetheless, don’t be shy if that’s the game you want to run. Perhaps there is an entire cadre of trained agents who move back and forth at will. Maybe they can’t do it so easily, and they depend upon the vast resources of some shadowy agency whose electric matrices flicker the lights with every dimensional jump.

Hoodbanks

I had a dream about this, in real life, in 2014. ( I know the time frame because of an iPhone note I made at that time.) This is a game world translation of that.

Hoodbanks is a hotel, which only exists within other hotels. One might go to a Hilton or Marriott or other upper end hotel, and find a small reception desk, somewhat apart from the host hotel’s reception area, which is poorly lit, and possibly only lets one reception employee work at a time. The Hoodbanks reception area has a single row line of velvet rope, in a deep burgundy.

As far as the hotel within another hotel, I believe that I heard a story about the Four Seasons working in such a manner, so I should research that if this is something I expand.

In Oneira, the hotel takes on other aspects beyond what a real world hotel within a hotel could do. The rooms, although contained on only one or two floors of the host hotel, are impossibly luxurious. In my dream, I knocked on the room door and when it was opened there was a ballroom party inside of what was apparently a suite. Zsa Zsa Gabor, or possibly her sister Eva misidentified, was dancing with a dapper gentleman, looking as young and beautiful as her black and white photos.

The reception desk seemingly closes at some hours, though. When I came to it, it was mostly dark, and the burgundy theater ropes were there, and a single bronze colored sign said “HOODBANKS” with no other explanation. Because I was unable to check in, I was not allowed into the party whose wonders I saw through the briefly opened doors.

In a nod to logical security, I would imagine that you cannot even get to a Hoodbanks floor without a keycard. I don’t remember doing anything special to get there in my dream, but perhaps I had to sneak up a staircase or follow a snazzy couple too closely into a limited elevator.

If the Hoodbanks hotel has dream qualities, it begs the question of why? Is it run by a dreamer? Is it run by dream entities? Is it controlled by a family? If so, then presumably that family is the Hoodbanks. They might show up to various hotel locations on occasion, but their enterprise is presumably too big for them to monitor at all times. Some of them might even enjoy some sort of dreamworld celebrity a la Paris Hilton and her father’s hotels.

It seems useful to let the dynastic family option be the default, because it gives flavor to a dreamer family.

What are the goals of such a family? Surely to preserve their connections to celebrity. Their wealth must be considerable, but some other industries must outclass them. Also, celebrity can be fleeting.

I could always make the founder of the chain be Kurt Hoodbanks, as a reference to Conrad Hilton. Perhaps Athena Hoodbanks rather than Paris? Nicole or Victory Hoodbanks as her sister?

As with most of the dreamer families, they would look for other dreamers as marrying material. This is still the best way to keep your bloodline’s power.

New Years Writing

Okay, so I have failed to keep this up in multiple years in the past, but I think it is time to try again.

Time to try, once again, to do a daily minimum word count of typing up my creative ideas.

I am hoping that I can focus a lot of this word count on my Oneira dream world game setting.

500 words per day seems like the stereotype goal that I should aim to achieve.

I am thinking that Google docs would be a good place to type it up, so I can update it from wherever. However, I feel like I should also download copies to my local desktop computer.

Things I might want to start with….

Dream harvesting, as Joe and I discussed.

FBI program, as reimagined to not be a physical transference. Instead, I could see it as highly trained individuals using sensory deprivation chambers to give them a stronger dreamer connection. Perhaps this strong dream connection lets them fake the whole “we are really coming here physically” angle. They don’t actually do so, but their impact is suitably hardcore enough that physically-there dreamers believe it.

It would be awesome if there were good terms for:

Physically-there dreamers

Earthbound-dreamers

Dream beings

I should do a real writeup of the naturally repairing aspect, which lets GMs allow stupid destructions to go by without consequence when desired. The net weight of the normal dreamers and their view of the scene keeps repairing it.

I feel like I am enabling some new-year expansions for Asaco, at least. I promised her a digital piano for Christmas, and gave her a symbolic ornament to represent this. On 12/31, we went to a local music store to see the pianos in person. We have already been researching them in person, and are still doing so post-visit to the music store. I hope she gets good use out of it.

I am still wondering whether I should spend some time writing up ideas for using different game systems to make the Oneira world. For example, Mage: The Ascension could be used to represent the dream powers, with a reskin of what magic really is. Instead of it being “reality warping” it can be “dream warping” since the world they players join is the place where dreams occur.

10-12-16 Oneira Ideas

Waking transition

As dreamers become more and more attuned to Oneira, they eventually slip into it entirely. For many, this occurs while sleeping, as their dreams entangle with the dreamworld. Some reach the point of transition while awake on Earth. The disappearance of such individuals is typically more dramatic than that of a sleeper. A waking candidate who is flying a plane might leave it to crash mysteriously into the sea without a pilot.

Sleeping transition

Moving to the dreamworld while sleeping is probably less of a shock. The sleeper wakes to discover the world is different, and may even forget enough of the ways of Earth to accept her new locale. As though waking from a dream, and shedding the fog of dream, she might come to disbelieve some of her past. It was all a dream. This is real.

For others, though, waking from a dream to find themselves still within a dream might become a sort of endless waking nightmare. They keep trying to escape the dream, and can only awaken again still trapped by it. Such unfortunates may go mad, and this can be dangerous to those around them when their dreams reflect that madness.

Displacement

The world is not decreasing in mass. (Or maybe it is, if that is a theme of your game.) This makes no sense if dreamers are occasionally disappearing to another dimensional space. Perhaps the fall of stardust, literally with meteoric showers, offsets their loss. Perhaps some like mass of matter from the dreamspace transfers to Earth to offset their displacement.

Arlo Gennadi

High concept aspect: Warden of Bad Things

Trouble aspect: Family expects unconditional loyalty

Phase 1 backstory: Fell in love with a fellow psychologist. She was attacked and driven insane by a nightmare. Arlo locked her up.

Phase 1 aspect: Even monsters can be cured

Phase 2 interaction: Arlo locked up Harri at the behest of the Gennadi, but Harri escaped. Arlo feels guilty because he doesn’t think Harri deserved it, and obvious bad karma came out of it. (a thing or multiple things escaped)

Phase 2 aspect: Feels like he owes Harri

Phase 3 interaction: The Gennadi family tried to marry Arlo’s sister off to Matthew. Arlo knew that she was in love with someone else, and convinced Matthew to dissuade the family. Matthew used his powers to terrify the sister, which Arlo didn’t approve, but it did the trick.

Phase 3 aspect: Sucker for a love story

Skills:

Physique +2, Fight +1, Lore +2, Investigation +1, Notice +1, Contacts +3, Empathy +4, Resources +2, Provoke +1, Rapport +3

Stunts:

Gilded Cage (spends a Fate point to add an aspect to a single Zone which makes it harder for anybody to leave the zone, possibly an Empathy resist roll or possibly a flat resistance of 2);

Psychologist (standard Empathy stunt from page 109 of Fate Core);

Mental Contacts (spends a Fate point to initiate contact with somebody mentally, this puts awake folks into a daydream aspect state unless they refuse, allows brief communication including using Contacts skill with people who are otherwise inaccessible)

This particular stunt isn’t particularly powerful in a world where cell phones are commonplace. However, it is not useless, either.

Oneira 2-16-16

Familials

As noted previously, Familials are descended from Originals, the humans who come from the waking world. A person could hypothetically be of pure earthborn blood, but this is extremely rare, as it requires two Originals or pureblooded to mate. Such may occur from time to time, but becomes even less likely over generations. Nearly all Familials also descend from dreamborn people, too. Familials are the most common sort of the Oneira.

To be an Oneira, a Familial must be more than 50% earth descent. This can be a tiny fraction over half, though, so more than one Familial has been born of an Original and somebody with a scant trace of real world heritage. Originals are rare, and only occasionally come through into the dream world. Regardless, this has been happening for thousands of years, perhaps even millions, and there are many inhabitants of the dream realm with earth blood.

Over the ages, Oneira found one another, and learned much of their own kind. Some determined that stronger concentration of earth blood led to the birth of Oneira, while weaker blood did not. This led to the intentional forming of bloodlines of the dream-empowered in a manner not unlike classic nobility striving to keep their power intact by marriages of convenience.

Some families are particularly old and powerful, such as the XX (make up name) Dynasty of Middle Kingdom China and the XX (make up name) whose descendants still reside in Egypt. Other familials are the children of a single household boasting two relatively strongly blooded familials, or perhaps even an Original and her thin-blooded husband.

Sample family:

The Gennadi of Gelsostrada

In 1896, Stefano Gennadi traveled from his home in Italy hoping to join the thousands of immigrants entering America. During his medical exam on Ellis Island, he was turned away. Back home, in Italy, he was ashamed, but he would hungrily consume the stories of the ritornati, those men who came back to Italy after a few years. His dream of America consumed him, and one afternoon he awoke from a wine-fed nap to find himself on the patio of a small restaurant in New York. Stefano was confused, but discovered that this was a dream from which he would never awaken. With little to guide him but stories, he set out to make a name for himself in the City That Never Sleeps. Accidentally discovered tricks of Oneira dreaming bolstered his forays into criminal racketeering, gambling, and prostitution rings. He married a stunning woman who gift him with many dreamer children.

Calling the Gennadi a Mafia family is like calling Detroit the Motor City. It may have been true in the past, but the world has changed. The underworld of the dream realm still experienced the diaspora of the Mafia into places like Las Vegas, but the continuing influx of dreams of the mob, often flamed by ridiculous Hollywood imagery, left a chaotic environment where the family has had to fight to survive long after most real world old school mobsters have “gone legit” to some degree or other.

Stefano no longer lives, but his family tries to keep his dreams alive. The Gelsostrada estate lies in the suburbs of New York City nowadays, but its children still flex muscle amongst the Gambino wannabes of the city streets.

Phantasms

Phantasms are beings created via the dreams of real world dreamers or those of the Oneira. Many exist only for a short time, spawned within the scope of a single dream, and lost to time as the dream world moves on to other dreams. Such beings may suddenly disappear when the dreamer awakes, but more often fade in some manner that makes sense. An abandoned phantasm might last long enough to round a corner, and be gone. Another might return to its logical home, never to be seen again. Some endure in various ways:

Recurring

A dreamer may have similar dreams, and thereby recreate a phantasm that has faded away. This is fairly common.

You might even kill such a dream entity, only to discover it has returned the following evening. There is debate among Oneira scholars as to what effect this has upon the psyche of the dreamer who spawned the dream.

Immortals

Some dreams last for a very long time, perhaps even achieving immortality. Most are products of the Oneira, but some real world dreamers spark visions which manage to exist beyond the lifetimes of their creators’ dreams. The Oneira are not immortal, although stories claim that some have achieved that state – certainly at the price of becoming a phantasm rather than a dreamer.  Dreams of a certain caliber, however, might remain forever, or perhaps only so long as mankind exists. Some may have started as recurring phantasms, whose presence somehow became part of the bedrock of human consciousness. Others may be fonts of dream energy so powerful that they will take centuries to burn away.

Copyright Conrad Hubbard

Oneira – Pitch

“Who is your dream character?”

“Real people in a dream world”

Imagine the world where our dreams and nightmares are real. Imagine living there.

The Small/Personal Setting

Whatever we come up with as wanting to play, as a group. This could be anything from a spy story to a dungeon crawl to a super hero game. However I am hoping for something that reflects well upon my idea for the Big Setting.

The Big Setting

There is a place where our dreams and nightmares take on a life of their own. What would it be like to slip into that world?

There is a place, another world or dimension, where the dreams of mankind shape the world. Those dreams are alive. They bear children, and they form societies which collect the lore of visioncraft.

However, in this realm,  the dreams of a dream are nothing but dreams. The dreams of those who come from Earth, however, are often real.

There is a realm somewhere wherein the dreams of mankind on Earth manifest. They shape the world forever. The people who were given rise by dream go on to have children. If they are cut, they bleed. If they are cut down, they die.

The reason for this is some strange attunement to the dreamstate of people who reside on Earth.

On rare occasion, humans from Earth (wakers) slip into this new world. Those who do so are called many things… outlanders, origine’s, etc. They have varyingly limited ability to dream and shape the world that they now inhabit.