Dreaming Circle
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The Dreaming Circle is a society or cult (depending on whom you ask) dedicated to the goddess Mara. Its members seek to enter a state of trance with the burning of certain exotic herbs collected from Malundi and stranger places, and each specific combination of herbs brings the "Dreamer" (as someone who is in the trance is called) to a different dream-world where he experiences life and adventures as if he was a native of that place. The Dreaming Circle has accumulated an enormous collection of recipes over the centuries of its existence, but these recipes are often closely guarded secrets even among its members and are only traded reluctantly against favors or other secret recipes, for it is not uncommon that different groups within the Circle with access to the same recipe will come to clash within the same dream-world.

However, recently the Dreaming Circle has gathered a lot more attention when the Astromantic Society gathered evidence that at least in some cases members of the Dreaming Circle had not sent their minds to "dream-worlds" at all… but to other planets in the solar system where they apparently possessed the bodies of natives! Usually, this fate befell the humanoid inhabitants of these worlds - the presumed "lost human colonies" - but in other cases even nonhumanoid creatures! Sometimes the Dreamers were considered evil spirits by the other natives, but in many other cases they were worshiped as the "Great Avatars" and warrior-hero spirits of their goddess (which often sounds suspiciously like Mara in their descriptions)…

The turning point in this investigation came when the Astromantic Society encountered an active Dreamer on Magrith, who seemed to be in denial about the situation, got upset, and proceeded to slay half of the expedition with the help of the natives. But since then, the word has spread and the Astromantic Society is willing to pay very large rewards for more knowledge of the activities and recipes of the Dreaming Circle. The Dreaming Circle in the meantime has largely gone into hiding, and many members are wondering about what they were doing all the time. Do all of their recipes lead to possessing someone on a distant planet instead of going to a genuine dream-world - and if so, where are all these planets located (as far more dream-worlds than planets are known)? Is it right to possess the natives on a distant world - and if so, should it be used to change those worlds?

And is there a recipe for moving one's mind around Rothea? And what do the rumored "deathless" grandmasters of the Dreaming Circle know about it all?

Adventure Ideas

The Dreaming Circle make for nice antagonists in a planet-spanning campaign - or, in an unusual campaign, they could even be the protagonists if the GM wants to deal with the multiple character incarnations…

Designer's Notes & Resources

This is probably one of my sickest ideas for Urbis yet, and that's saying something.

The original inspiration were the "Barsoom" stories where the protagonist is able to move from Earth to Mars through a trance-like state (Kenneth Hite once had an excellent "Suppressed Transmission" column on expanding this concept into a campaign, but sadly this column is unavailable now). Then I threw in some additional ideas from John Cameron's movie "Avatar" in which a mind possesses a new, alien body - only in this case, the mind is actually possessing the body of an actual living being instead of an artificial simulacrum…

And if you want to go there, there are also obvious parallels to MMORPGs. But that might be too self-referential for a role-playing game.


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