One of the many reasons that the concept of using a dreamlands-like setting for a D&D campaign is attractive to me is that it allows both the referee and the players complete freedom to indulge in flights of fancy not normally allowed in a “straight” D&D game. As much as D&D (and all role-playing games) is a “game of the imagination,” the need to acquiesce to certain logical constraints is ever-present. The only time we can usually get away with doing something completely off-the-wall is in a comedic or silly game, which are usually of short-term durations.
Dreams are free from such logical constraints. From what I’ve been reading, when we sleep, the parts of our brain that normally control logical and rational thought are effectively shut down, which is why it seems perfectly reasonable in a dream to be taking a trip to Antarctica with the Oakland Raiders on a bus driven by your fourth-grade teacher. I’m looking to explore some similar terrain with Insomnity.
In theory, I’m just as free to present the illogical as fact and not think twice about the whys and wherefores of it all. In practice, getting potential players to indulge in the same sense of disbelief without turning the game into a farce is one of the biggest hurdles this idea faces. I’m not certain what best way to avoid this might be, but I suspect loose limits as to what is too bizarre might be better than none at all. Playing the NPCs as everyday citizens, no matter how strange, is probably another good idea.
Even with using these thoughts as a flexible governor as to what I can get away with, the possibilities are still much more than in your average fantasy world. If you add “race as class” and the Crabaugh Method to the mix, there’s a lot of mileage to be gotten from a world of dreams.
The other night, with “Customized Classes” from the May 1986 issue of Dragon in hand and a thought I mentioned in a previous post in mind, I came up with the following new class. This is the rough version, provided just to give you an idea of where my flights of fancy have been taking me as of late.
Hit Dice: 1d6
Requirements: DEX 9
Combat Progression: as Cleric
Save As: Cleric
Level Limit: 11th
Weapons allowed: Any
Armor allowed: Leather and shield
You are an octopus, but whether you’ve always been one or this is a recent development is incidental. The fact that you are of unusual size for an octopus (your head rises 4’ off of the ground and your tentacles, when splayed out, stretch to 10’ in diameter) and that you seem well-adapted to life outside of the ocean also fails to keep you up at night. Although you are perfectly at home in the water, you don’t require regular immersion to stay alive – but there is something to be said for a nice cool bath or the occaisonal spritz on a hot day.
Multiple Attacks – Starting at 1st level, an octopus is allowed two attacks per round. These attacks must be of the same type (melee or missile) and be directed at a single target. If an octopus’ target is slain and it has one or more attacks remaining in that round, he may switch to the next available target and continue combat with them without penalty. At 5th level, an octopus gains a 3rd attack each round, and at 9th level, he may strike up to four times per combat round.
Camouflage – An octopus can naturally alter its coloration to blend in with its surrounding environment. When using the ability outdoors or in other natural surrounds, the octopus is 90% likely to be overlooked by observers. Underground or in artificially constructed surrounding, this ability is not as effective and the octopus is only unseen one-third (2 in 6 chance) of the time.
Climb Walls – Thanks to the suction pads that cover its tentacles, an octopus can Climb Walls as if it were a Thief of equal level.
Aquatic Affinity – Octopi have the ability to breathe underwater and can swim at a rate of 90’ (30’).
Mollusk – Although land-dwelling octopi are able to maintain more rigidity than their aquatic brethren, they lack an internal skeleton. Thus, octopi are limited to wearing specially-fitted leather armor at best, although they may employ shields. Octopi may also only carry half the normal weight capacity allowed for other races.
Magical Item Use – Octopi cannot use wearable magical items intended for humanoid-shaped races. This includes rings, bracers, gauntlets, girdles, boots, and cloaks. Helms and eyes are allowed, however. An octopus can use variant forms of these magical devices if they were crafted specifically for its species.
Experience Point Cost
1st Level: 0-1,899
2nd Level: 1,900-3,799
3rd Level: 3,800-7,599
4th Level: 7,600-15,199
5th Level: 15,200-33,299
6th Level: 33,300-66,599
7th Level: 66,600-129,999
8th Level: 130,000-259,999
9th Level: 260,000-427,499
10th Level: 427,500-569,999
11th Level: 570,000+