Path of Nightmare

So you thought it was all in your head, did you? All those terrible, awful things... the ones that made you sit up, screaming, in the middle of the night? They were all just your imagination, huh?

Well, that might have been then, bunky, but this is now. I'm here with you, in your head. And you're trapped here, with me, until I decide to let you wake up.

That's right. No one can hear you. No one can help you. You're with me, now...

... and you are so fucked.

Named after ancient demons who preyed on the dreams of the young, Incubi {male} and Succubi {female} have a mixed reputation amongst the Dead. On one hand, they give the gift of dreams to the Dead, who can no longer sleep. On the other, there's no guarantee that they won't enter those dreams and play havoc with them for their own sick amusement.

All the Arts of the Path of Nightmare require that the target be asleep {or a Ghost in her Fugue}. The Wraith must then not only touch the target, but actually phase into her, so as to bodily enter the "dreamscape" within the target. It's a lot like Bios' Basic Art of * Possession, in some ways, only it works on Wraiths and Ghosts as well.

Once inside the Dreamscape, the Wraith cannot be hurt in tandem with her host, and can end her observation or meddling at will. However, the Wraith had best leave before the target wakes up, or else she'll be forced out. This ejection takes place within a Turn, and she suffers a varying degree of Bashing Damage that she can't Defend against.

The following Arts work on Mortals, Wraiths and Ghosts, though there's a danger of Awakening the Ghost if the Wraith should have a Dramatic Failure on a roll. Tainted Essence is only gained through these Arts if the Wraith creates a nightmare, though ***** Dreamslayer is always cause for a great deal of Tainted Essence if a mortal target is killed by it. Wraiths and Ghosts don't give so much, since they can just reform - usually...


** Dreamwatcher:

This Art lets the Wraith enter the target's dreams, or the Fugue state of a ghost, and watch. The watching can either be from the vantage point of the dreamer {"seeing" the dream through her eyes} or just outside of it, as though she were standing no more than five feet away.

The Wraith can interact with the dreamer to a small extent, but this is limited to small talk, or simple questions and answers. The dreamer will always assume that the Wraith's a part of the dream, and either ignore her or go along with her presence. If the Wraith should try to do more than that - such as attack the dreamer, or stop her from doing something - the dream ends, the target wakes up and the Wraith will be painfully ejected.

The Wraith can also use * Hand of Fear to recall a stored Nightmare or Dream, and then use this Art to unfold it inside the Dreamer's mind. That stored Dreamscape will supplant whatever the Dreamer was imagining, but - as before - the Wraith cannot go too far from her side, nor interact too strongly with her for fear of being ejected.

Oddly enough, dropping a dreamer from an idyllic dream into a horrifying nightmare won't run any risk of waking her up.


*** Dreamwriter:

The Wraith can now interact more fully with the dreamer, and move further away from her. She can also spend Essence to change details of the dream she finds herself in - or has pulled out of storage - no matter how small or large. As before, turning a placid dream into a terrible nightmare won't make the dreamer wake up, given the shifting nature of dreams.

The Wraith can now attack the target, or stop her from doing something, but can't cause any real "damage" to her while in the Dreamscape without the dream ending, and the Wraith being ejected. Even if the Wraith succeeds in causing damage, it's an illusion, and it will not carry over into the dreamer's body. However, stopping a living target from having a good night's sleep may cause her to suffer from Fatigue {The World of Darkness, pp. 179 - 180}

This Art can also be used inside the Wraith, herself. She can concentrate for a turn, find a stored Dream or Nightmare, and use this Art to go inside it and change is as she sees fit, either to stitch different ones together or try and increase their potency. The alterations cost Essence, just as they would in another's dream, and such changes are permanent - there's no "reset" button in these stored dreams.

While she's inside her own mind, the Wraith has no idea what's going on around her. Incubi and Succubi often agree to watch over one another while performing this, knowing all too well that a "sleeping" Wraith is a victim waiting for a crime.


**** Dreammaker:

In previous Arts, the Wraith has to wait for the target to fall asleep. However, this Art makes the target fall asleep within a Turn, and it can be used both on mortals and Wraiths. Neither can normally resist the pull of sleep that the Wraith gives to them, though a Wraith with this Art can make a similar roll to try and stay awake.

Wraiths who fall asleep dream for an hour per success. As they dream, their Shadows are subsumed back into them, so that the division no longer exists. Any Thorns that were active turn back on where they left off once the Wraith wakes up, though.

This Art can also be employed while in the Dreamscape for the opposite effect: the Wraith can do whatever she likes with or to the dreamer, and she will not wake up until the Wraith allows her to do so. As before, however, any "damage" done to the Dreamer is an illusion, and has no bearing on her true self, though someone who "dies" in her dream will suffer from Fatigue {The World of Darkness, pp. 179 - 180}

This Art has another use: it can be employed to stop a Ghost from Awakening, so long as it's just in time. Once the Ghost is Awake, this Art will not put her back Asleep, and the best it can be used to do is make the new Wraith take a nap before she does anything stupid.


***** Dreamslayer:

They say that dreams can't really damage someone, but that's a lie: Dreams can turn deadly, and Nightmares can be made to kill. This Art allows a Wraith to kill and destroy in dreams, and its power is both appalling and formidable - so much so that the "Dreamkillers" {also known as "Sandmen"} who regularly practice it are often banned, even amongst the Freewraiths.

By using this Art, the Wraith can do damage to a dreamer that somehow does affect the body. Any health levels lost in a mortal's dream are lost in the waking world as well, though there will be no visible damage done to the target's body. And if the mortal dreamer should perish in this deadly dream, her heart will stop, and she will die in her sleep.

Wraiths and Ghosts who are dropped to zero Corpus by this Art act as is normal for them. However, a Ghost who is thusly traumatized may Awaken once she emerges from her Anchor, given the heavy disruption this Art will cause to her Fugue state {Storyteller's prerogative}.