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.


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


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


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


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 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:


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.


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.

Oneira – An Intro

Throughout history, people have occasionally disappeared without a trace. These are the stories of where they went, and what they created.

Somewhere, there is a place which resonates with the dreams of Earth. It has been called Oneira, Fiddler’s Green, Alcheringa, and innumerable other names. We do not know this  place, yet we frequently touch it with our unconsciousness. When we sleep or drift deep into reverie, we add shape to it.

It is there that the truly missing go. Somehow they become so attuned to the essence of the dreamtime that their bodies slip into that world.

Yet, they still dream, and when they rouse, they live amongst the architectures of our imagination and theirs. They wake to a world of fantasies and nightmares, some of their own doing.

Oneira (just a working name) is a place that is given shape by human dreams. Mostly. Perhaps animals also impact it. It might be another dimension. A world in another universe. Whatever it is, it is attuned to our dream process.

Some people also become attuned to it, and in the process of doing so, they slip out of our world into this world. These people physically enter a world which is otherwise shaped by our dreams.

Because they originate in our world, though, they can still affect the dreamtime. When they sleep, their dreams manipulate the world around them. When they wake, the aftereffects of this are still there to some degree or other.

This is a talent which can take some time to master. An inexperienced dreamer may have little more effect than somebody still back on Earth. A master dreamer might turn his nightmares into weapons or his fantasies into miracles.

A conceit of this setting is that the bulk of our dreams are pretty mundane. Thus the world where this takes place is largely normal. However, those who can master the art of using their dreams to manipulate the world around them can gain strange powers or cause interesting alterations to the world.

Also, the inconsistencies between dreams are naturally handled. Obama is President, for most people. But you might enter a bar where Truman is still President, and a World War II soldier just returned home dances with the sweetheart of his youth. Gravity is still the rule of law. But you might find that you can fly. Your fantasy sex partner is married. But maybe some dream clone of them is waiting for you in your bedroom when you awake.

Typically, a dreamer stores up dream energy while sleeping, and this lets him perform interesting deeds while awake. Sometimes, however, he instead enacts permanent changes on the world through dreams. This might be done through the equivalent of “experience” found in other games, but spent simply by dreaming.

Character types


These are people who came directly from the real world. How long ago is up to the individual story, but it is a useful group for people who want to be new to the setting. It is also a useful group for the surprise upset type character.


These are people descended from Originals. Playing one probably requires more knowledge of the setting, but also probably makes it easier to be deeply embedded in the setting. My current idea is that they have to be at least 50% real-world descent, whatever path that requires.


These are the results of dreamers. They might be weak. They might be powerful. Whatever the case, they revolve around dreamers in some way.

Copyright Conrad Hubbard

Like A Girl

As I currently do on as many Saturdays as possible, I hiked Stone Mountain today. During my regular trips, I often overhear the conversations of fellow hikers. Mostly, it is chatter that doesn’t do much to engage my interest. Sometimes I catch clever comments or amusing exchanges. On this occasion, I encountered a family who was cruising across the mountain, towards the visitor center at the top. Two young children raced ahead of their adult entourage, competing for speed. A little girl called out to her brother, “You are so slow, like a girl.” I paused to watch them. Again she called out to him, “You are being slow, like a girl.”

Having read an article relatively recently that suggested that this sort of thing was bad, I started thinking that maybe I should say something. As the article suggested, I was thinking that little girls shouldn’t grow up thinking that there was something wrong with being “like a girl.” This seemed like one of those rare times maybe I could make a difference by saying something. I was nervous though. Who wants to hear feedback from a stranger? Nonetheless, I determined that I would say something to the parents.

I circled back, and approached the group of adults accompanying the kids. The two kids hurried onwards to the visitor center, and I thought that maybe I could say something to the adults about the situation. As I got close to the group of adults, I wasn’t sure who to address, so I tried to speak to them as a group. “I overheard her say ‘You are slow like a girl’ and I was thinking that she should know that some girls are really fast.”

Basically, the group ignored me and continued walking. Having decided to intervene, and getting past my nervousness about doing so, I wasn’t about to stop now. I addressed the one person who slowed down a bit. Apparently the kids’ mother. “I heard her say ‘You are slow like a girl’ – shouldn’t she know that plenty of girls are fast?”

There it was. The mother stopped, and gave me her full attention. I prepared myself for an angry parent, upset that I was trying to give them parenting advice from some stupid internet article. I was ready to explain that I was just trying to help.

“She said turtle,” the mother informed me. Oh, I thought. “She is just trying to get under his skin,” the mother finished. And there it was. I overheard a conversation that wasn’t my business, and I misread it. I brought my own prejudices to the table, and heard what my own experience had programmed me to hear. The little girl was just comparing her brother to a turtle. She was engaging in smack talk, and I was the one who didn’t understand.


Computer Age Postal Service

A petition to the White House:

Please publicly recommend to Congress that they exercise their Constitutional power [from Article 1 Section 8] “to establish Post Offices and post Roads” to create a United States Postal Service infrastructure which also offers the de facto post of the information age: email and the internet.

The precise nature of this would surely evolve over time, as our communication technology continues to advance, but it might begin with adding such things as wireless internet service broadcast from every post office and sorting center, etc.

As with the physical mail already carried by the post office, this would not prevent private enterprise from competing with our national postal service. It would, however, guarantee a baseline of postal service worthy of Americans in the digital age.


As I get older I wonder if it’s true
That I have nothing of value left to say
Or if people have just beat me down
And made me feel that way.
I am as self absorbed as they,
Maybe more by far.
I do not set out to be that way,
But it is the way we are.
So if I made you wonder
What your value is today,
I am sorry for any ills I did
That made you feel that way.

Lunar Shapeshifting

In Exalted, Lunars are meant to be shapeshifters, but it always seems like the system doesn’t quite figure out what to do with that. The Tell kept it from being a perfect disguise, without Charms, but it still feels like a giant collection of Charms thrown onto the character for free, right off the bat. Just for being a starting character Lunar, one can fly, breathe water, generate any number of poisons, see in the dark, use sonar, disguise themselves from most targets, gain immense strength, fit into small places, resist heat or cold or lack of water, gain fangs or claws or horns, etc. And that is just the mundane animal kingdom. No, really, Etc!

Possibly an interesting system to investigate might be one where Lunars cannot shapechange into things which give them superhuman powers or disguise who they are without related Charms/knacks/whatever. Thus, a Lunar might not take on the form of a bird that can fly until she has a power that lets her fly – the learning of that power unlocks the flying capability of shapeshifting.

This could be done in a couple of different ways. You could let Lunars gain shapes of birds, etc, but be unable to actually fly without the required Charm. This would let them gather forms when the opportunity presented itself, and let them use them immediately, without giving the character the superhuman powers of every shape in and out of Creation. In a sense, it would also mimic the Tell situation a bit more. You can take these forms, but you cannot use them to their full ability. However, it might lend itself to some weirdness. Why is that fish drowning? Oh, it must be a Lunar who doesn’t actually have the water-breathing Charm.

Alternately, a Lunar might simple be unable to gain a new form at all if the form has abilities which they have not unlocked via some Charm/knack/whatever. A Lunar who does not have the flying power unlocked might be unable to gain the form of any bird that can fly. This isn’t as simple as it appears, however. Many animals, for example, can do multiple things that are beyond human ability. The Storyteller and players may not even know about some of these at the time when a form is initially approved.

My favorite aspect of the 2nd edition Exalted “knack” system was just that it eliminated the need to repeat the phrase “this Charm cannot be learned by Eclipse or Moonshadow” Caste Exalts. That could just as easily be accomplished by a Keyword, though. A keyword such as “Lunar-Only” or “Natural” or whatever could mean “you cannot get this Charm unless you are a Lunar” and that would eliminate much of what I think was gained by Knacks.

There is one other side effect of Knacks, though, and that is the fact you can give Lunars a number of them separately from their Charm count. This may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your view of it. If you want the possibility of Lunars who are just not as good at shapechanging as other Lunars, and can spend their time learning other Charms, then Knacks somewhat limit this. Sure you can stop learning more of them in the future if you want, but you are stuck spending some of your “starting” powers on them. If you want the possibility of Lunars who intentionally focus on other things Lunars can do, then you maximize this by merging Knacks and Charms into the same power list. If you want Lunars to always have some baseline of shapeshifting that they are required to take, then you possibly maximize this by having a category of shapeshifting powers set aside, such as Knacks does.

From a viewpoint of trying to examine the total Lunar package, though, it might be easier to merge Knacks into Charms. If you can readily see where Lunars get access to flight, while you are writing up other Charms, then you might have an easier time painting the quicksilver image of their power trees. It would also potentially let certain shapeshifting powers be tied to other abilities. For example, possibly before being able to shift into the form of a god, you might need the ability to sense spirits in their dematerialized form. To fully use the form of a god, you might need the ability to dematerialize. Alternately, being able to dematerialize at all might be a Charm which had a god/elemental form Charm as a prerequisite.