Call of Cthulhu® is the registered trademark of Chaosium Inc. Similarities between characters in Dreamlands Fifth Edition and persons living or dead are strictly. The Dreamlands is a universe where H. P. Lovecraft’s Dream Cycle series take place. It is an alternate reality that can only be entered via dreams. A person who visit the Dreamlands in his dreams. Dreamers generally remain within the Dreamlands for as long as they are asleep in the Waking World. Time in.
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Chaosium had commissioned a horror game called Dark Worlds, which never went anywhere. Sandy Petersen contacted them with a pitch for a Dreamlands supplement for Runequest, and they handed him the DW assignment. Petersen then added the Lovecraftian touches, and Call of Cthulhu was born.
I’d be curious to learn how Dreamlands campaigns have worked for CoC groups in practice. Amongst CoC aficionados there seems to be relatively little discussion of the Dreamlands at least that is my impression; I’m hardly an aficionado myself. I own this book, and very much like it, but my impression is that a Dreamlands campaign would be closer to a ‘weird fantasy’ campaign, rather than a ‘standard’ CoC campaign.
I think that’s right, which is fine, but it’s very jarring both when compared to baseline CoC and the source material on which it’s based. I’ve often thought of just running a “straight” Dreamlands game, where the PCs are all natives to this place and without any connection either to Earth or the Mythos, except the superficial ones present in HPL’s Dream Cycle. I’ve never done it, though. I love the Dreamlands, both the novels about it and the supplement the only CoC supplement I ever bought.
I’ve thought about running a “native” dreamlands campaign more than once, as both James and Akrasia said it would make for a perfect CASian weird fantasy. BTW a board member on dragonsfoot Turanil, I think has been working on a cthulhu themed fantasy setting for quite some time: I like both, though I agree Dunsany’s are better. Wow, you and I had very opposite reactions to the dream stories. I saw them as closely interlocked with the larger universe of the stories, and felt that, in that universe, the realms of dreams were as real as the real world, but that most people papered fancies over them in order to shield their minds from the shattering and dangerous revelations that could be found there.
In nearly every story they appear, dreams, whether lucid or half-remembered, hold the truth to the protagonists situation which the rational mind rejects until the very end. I’m still not sure if the ending of “Dream Quest It’s fair to say that it’s difficult to integrate the Dreamlands into an ongoing Call of Cthulhu campaign; I’ve been running and playing the game for almost twenty years and have never seen the Dreamlands in play.
That’s more an issue of tone than anything else though. It’s pretty clear that the two sides of Lovecraft’s stories are connected, at least by the time Randolph Carter turns up. There is a good argument that the original short stories were never supposed to be part of a cohesive Dreamlands, but the Carter stories pull everything together into a more coherent canon.
Or at least that’s my reading of it anyway. Even so, the shift in tone is too much for me to be able to bring the Dreamlands into play. It’s difficult to go from blobby eldritch horror to magical cats and fairy dragons without undermining one or the other.
Color Map of H.P. Lovecraft’s Dreamlands |
The Dreamlands are difficult to tack onto a baseline CoC game because of the incongruous mood shift that Kelvin mentions above. Additionally, player expectations and learned CoC habits get disrupted by the setting shift. However, if you start your campaign planning to get into the Dreamlands, then the campaign needs to be structured towards experiencing the “weird” rather than towards horror. Then the shift in mental gears isn’t so disruptive for the players.
I’ve played in such a campaign and it was really fun, a refreshing change from the Cthulhu standard. I’ve never played a full-on Dreamlands campaign but I do have Herber’s Spawn of Azathoth supplement which includes some Dreamlands material. The result is not all that successful. The Dreamlands stuff cthullhu oddly crow barred into the more mechanistic horror of CoC drreamlands doesn’t quite fit.
In my 90’s Cthulhu campaigns, I eventually had characters interact with the Dreamlands. By that point my games were a little more on the Gonzo Derleth side of things, with more action and adventure than a typical Cthulhu game.
PC’s used a technique that made the real world fade out slowly into nightmare before casting them into Dreamland, so I was able to slip in some Nightmare on Elmstreet type visions.
Sky was the limit. When they later encountered horrors in the real world, they would wonder if they were just falling asleep. Actually, I’ve wanted to run a “native” DL campaign as suggested in the most current edition from Chaosium. I’m with trollsmyth on this: I feel the Dreamlands, for all their malleability and strangeness, do have a somewhat solid foundation, and they do feel appropriate even in the dark Cthulhu mythos for the reasons he suggests.
In the only Cthulhu game I played with a strong Dreamlands component the gamemaster purposefully separated the games by having our standard Call of Cthulhu characters play characters in the Dreamlands.
In other words the dream avatars of our characters were different. An interesting aspect was that you could pay magic points to draw on a skill or knowledge from your other character sheet, although many dream skills were of limited use in the real world and vice versa.
For example, once my real world investigator suddenly needed the ability to fight with a sword.
“The Dreamlands” stunning 6 minute trailer | Lovecraft eZine
Although it also relied on a related plot happening in each world. It’s the escapist element, I’m afraid, where dreams aren’t as scary because at the deepest level you know they aren’t real, and characters and places can be larger than life. If I were to run it that would be the tone I would take.
Wow, what a fanciful cover that boxed set has! I own the later, book form editions, one with the ship on the cover and the last reprint with the ominous, almost petrified sleeping faces from andI presume.
I don’t think that the Dreamlanvs Cycle is any way inferior to the rest of the Mythos, on the contrary, I feel the childlike wonder and the longing for unattainable beauty quite moving, like HPL allowed a leave for himself from his usual bleak, inhuman rigor, and let his lyrical half frolick free. A long-time pet project of mine is to dreamlahds a game set entirely in the Dreamlands, with characters native to the place and little to no connection with Earth.
Alas, Dreamlands doesn’t include any of those that I can recall. The map is very nice and some ideas are wonderful, I hope he will publish it one day. You’re right; that’s a very interesting setting. Thanks for pointing it out to us.
I am dreamladns running a campaign in the Dreamlands. I’m using it in a fantasy context rather than a Call of Cthulhu game. Xreamlands treat it dreamlanxs an alternate reality accessible to all worlds via dream; from the ‘H.
So, two of my characters are shamans from different parts of the world of Nehwon, and a third is a psychic space navigator from a starship in a barely defined science fiction setting. All of the characters possess some level of ‘Dreaming’ skill mentioned in the supplement which allows them to modify the environment.
That’s probably the key difference between the Dreamlands and a ‘normal’ fantasy setting. Questbird– I have run a short campaign exactly like yours; it was quite successful. I haven’t read the Dreamlands book, but I remember being interested cthilhu it and leafing through it in a shop. It’s not an old-school game, but it has simple mechanics and an example world. The example dthulhu is too defined to my tastes for a dreamy game, but it’s easy to modify it.
The game is about people who can’t sleep and acquire mystical powers via ddreamlands insomnia. I’ve run two one-shots using it and it has been fun.
The game has some advice on giving more than the traditional amount of narrative power to the players, as opposed to the GM and even though I haven’t used it, it might be a good thing to try out in a dreamlands game as other people might have different interpretations of things and describe more dream-like things happening.
It’s a small book, so it might be worth checking out if you’re looking for a game dreaklands run a Dreamlands campaign. The DL could be a pretty scary place as well Drealands is something I’ve been kicking around for a while: What would Barsoom be if it existed in CoC?
The Dreamlands of Mars! I have run CoC many, many times, including extended campaigns. I have used Dreamlands several times, and my players and I found those adventures to be quite satisfying. A pleasant diversion from the more standard pulp-noir-Cthulhu gaming.
Dream,ands also long had a desire to run a native Dreamlands campaign, even though the COC game does pretty much nothing for me.
I also personally feel the HPL’s Dreamlands stories are among his compelling and also that they’re clearly tied to dreanlands mythos via Randolph Carter.
I also agree that random-tablature seems ideal for conjuring the flavor of the setting but I might argue that random mechanics were very out-of-favor at the time of this supplement being printed. Dreamlands was hard to incorporate into CoC games because you needed a Sanity score of 75 or more to make it past the Cavern Of Flame and down the Steps of Deeper Slumber. I always wanted to run a game completely in the Dreamlands.
I even created a Dreamlands Module for online play using Neverwinter Nights. I never got to use it though.
I simply assumed that the Dreamlands were an aggregate, the sediment of myriad mercurial dreams intermixed. They were the dreams that “sunk to the bottom” and took on a level of coherency. On the other hand, I always made it clear in my CoC campaigns that the Dreamlands were also a sort of Internet But rdeamlands all the “computers” were destroyed the Web would vanish with it.
As a final note, I viewed them the way HP often did Wednesday, November 2, Retrospective: Posted by James Maliszewski at MX November 2, at Akrasia November 2, at James Maliszewski November 2, dreamlannds Geoffrey McKinney November 2, at John November 2, at LJR November 2, at 1: Jeffrey Fleming November 2, dgeamlands 1: Brunomac November 2, at 2: Anthony Emmel November 2, at 3: