d20 – Dreamspawn and their Kids

   People say that lonely kids, kids who aren’t getting their emotional needs met, and kids who are in terrible situations, tend to invent imaginary friends and monsters. Those fanciful entities provide the companionship and emotional support that they’re missing and to supply an easily-understandable explanation for their troubles.

   As is so often true, people are wrong.

   It’s the other way around.

   Children are often lonely, emotionally isolated, and in terrible situations BECAUSE they have “imaginary” creatures.

   Those creatures do like children – or at least THEIR child. And they’ll do their best – but they’re HARD on a child’s social situation. Those friendly creatures from beyond space and time have:

   No common sense.

   No self-restraint.

   No understanding of mortals or their society.

   And they like to “help”.

   And isn’t making passing angry fancies real, or bringing their young friend the things that he or she likes, or turning the area into a primordial jungle from another universe because their kid said they’d “like a change”, being helpful?

   You say no?

   Ah, but YOU’RE a human – or, at least, are very probably a human. You have some qualities that our creatures lack.

   The Dreamspawn Template:

   There are things that do not and cannot exist in our universe – or in any recognizable universe with a reasonable number of dimensions and comprehensible natural laws – in their proper form. Things which can barely squeeze themselves into a good imagination, and even then they tend to leak formless horror unsettlingly around the edges.

   Still, when a gate can be found, and a receptive mind (almost always a young child’s) is open, such things come through. After all, there are worse things – predatory things – back “home”, and this dimension offers safety; dreams are very, very, hard to kill. Fitting yourself within a shell of imagination, and accepting it’s rules and limits like a hermit crab, is a small price to pay for that kind of protection.

   Thus Dreamspawn are very, very, protective of “their” bondmates. They aren’t always sensible or clever – at least in terms that anyone else can understand – but they’re generally pretty obliging; if they’re rejected determinedly enough, or their bondmate is killed (or somehow deprived of his or her memory and imagination) they can be forced back “home”. Besides, it isn’t as if they have better things to do – or can actually suffer serious consequences.

When everyone else has abandoned you, your Dreamspawn will always be there.

   The Dreamspawn Template can normally be applied to any creature of challenge rating two or less, although it’s most commonly applied to nonsapient ones. That doesn’t mean that such a creature was transformed into, or born, a Dreamspawn; it simply means that whatever their bondmate has imagined is most comparable to that “base creature”. If little Timmy has dreamed up Verendior – a large creature with a furry, snakelike, body, a feline head, twenty pairs of legs, poisonous fangs, a green mokawk which runs down it’s back, and fire breath which likes to lurk on ceilings, pop out of bakers ovens, and play the bongos after midnight, then the base statistics for a Huge Monstrous Centipede might work best. Has Lerona dreamed up a tiny dragon which lurks invisibly on her shoulder and hypnotizes people? Perhaps a Pseudodragon base might do. Devera wants a beautiful unicorn? A Heavy Warhorse base will do. Please pay no attention to the smoking footprints, the blazing red unholy eyes, or the fact that – when you look at it wrong – it appears to have far too many legs…

  • Self-Development: Str +2, Dex +2, Con +4, Wis +2 (60 CP).
  • Defender: +1 Natural Armor (6 CP).
  • Skill Bonuses: +1 Speak Language (Bondmates Language), +1 Knowledge/The Planes (2 CP).
  • Extraordinary Returning (12 CP). Destroying a Dreamspawn requires that you kill it’s bondmate (or somehow destroy his or her memory and imagination) and then pursue the Dreamspawn into it’s home realm and kill it there. While simply eliminating the bondmate suffices for most purposes – the Dreamspawn may be killed at “home” and, even if it survives, it won’t be back until it finds another dreamer somewhere in the cosmos – “killing” a Dreamspawn without killing it’s bondmate simply means that it will be back in a day or so.
  • Immunity/Dimensional Barriers (Very Common, Severe, Major, Specialized/only usable to visit the co-existent planes, to use it’s senses and maintain it’s link with it’s bondmate across those barriers, and to produce trivial effects (such as ruffling someone’s hair) across the planes, always leaves a telltale trace on the co-existent planes, 9 CP). Dreamspawn can vanish into the various co-existent planes at will, although they can continue to perceive what’s going on just fine – allowing them to watch over their bondmates. From a normal, mortal, point of view they may shrink, transform into innocuous items or small creatures, turn into a vague shimmering in the air, or any of a hundred other tricks – a unique one for each Dreamspawn. Of course, that means that Dreamspawn are clearly visible to anyone who can see the plane they’re currently inhabiting, including each other, unless they have some additional power to use.
  • Immunity/Normal Bodily Needs (Very Common/Severe/Major, 18 CP). Dreamspawn do not have to eat, drink, breathe, or sleep, although they can if they want to. They often do want to; it’s fun, diverting – and it’s what their bondmates usually expect; hence the desires are built into the form.
  • Universal (physical and energy) Damage Reduction 10/-, Corrupted/does not work against psionicly-based attacks (24 CP). Infused with otherworldly energies, Dreamspawn are pretty hard to injure – but they are embodied in figments of the imagination, and therefore are subject to psychic attacks. In conjunction with their Immunity to Normal Bodily Needs (above) and Energy Resistance, this means that Dreamspawn (and their bondmates, see below) can survive in pretty much any environment short of being dropped into magma, a star, or a blast furnace – although they’ll probably complain a great deal about it.
  • Immunity/The limitation that only spells and powers are shared across the Companion link (Common, Severe, Major), Specialized/Only affects the Dreamspawn’s Immunity to Normal Bodily Needs, Damage Reduction, and Saving Throw Bonuses – which their “master” may use in place of his or her own (6 CP). Note that the effects of their Innate Enchantments are shared normally, but their protection against dispelling and ability to work in antimagic fields is not.
  • Improved Spell Resistance (10+Level, 12 CP).
  • Amorphous (6 CP): Dreamspawn – no matter how they look – can squeeze through cracks, fit into oddly-shaped spaces, and cannot be flanked, since for them “anatomy” is essentially optional.
  • Immunity/Sneak Attacks and Critical Hits (Common, Serious, Major, 9 CP), Specialized for Double Effect (negates up to 60 points)/only affects the extra damage such attacks would normally inflict, not the base damage.
  • Presence/Aura of Distortion, Specialized for Double Effect/only affects normal creatures from the prime material plane (e.g. – not aberrations, undead, or outsiders), Corrupted/enemies are presumed to make their saving throws for half effect (neatly canceling out the double effect). The presence of a Dreamspawn inflicts a -2 Morale Penalty to the attacks, damage, saves, and checks of all susceptible enemies within 20 feet (6 CP).
  • Opportunist/A Dreamspawn may take a free “aid another” action each round, but only on behalf of it’s bondmate (6 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (17 CP):
    • All Innate Enchantments are Spell Level ½ or 1, Caster Level One, and – unless otherwise noted – Unlimited-Use Use-Activated (x2000 GP) and Personal-Only where relevant (x.7).
    • Fast Healing I, up to a limit of 20 points/hit die/day (1400 GP).
    • True Strike, 3/Day (1200 GP).
    • Magic Fang (1400 GP). All of a Dreamspawn’s natural weapons are effectively +1.
    • Resist Energy (1400 GP). In combination with their natural universal damage reduction, this gives Dreamspawn – and their bondmates – 20 points of resistance to energy-based attacks, although this is reduced to 10 points against psychically-generated attacks.
    • Resistance (700 GP). A Dreamspawn gains a +1 Resistance Bonus on all Saves.
    • Immortal Vigor I (1400 GP). Dreamspawn gain (12 + 2x Con Mod) bonus hit points.
    • Expeditious Retreat (2000 GP). Dreamspawn gain a +30′ bonus to their movement modes.
    • Delay Poison (1400 GP). Dreamspawn have no natural metabolism, and are essentially immune to poison.
    • Mage Armor (1400 GP). Dreamspawn gain a +4 Armor Bonus to their AC.
    • Protection from Law (1400 GP). Dreamspawn have no alignment that’s comprehensible to normal creatures, but their very presence is a violation of many natural laws – and there isn’t much use in trying to control their minds either. Dreamspawn gain a +2 Deflection bonus to AC and a +2 Resistance Bonus to Saves versus attacks or effects generated by Lawful opponents and cannot be possessed or mentally controlled.
    • +2 each to any two attributes – albeit not the same one twice (2x 1400 GP).
  • Immunity/Dispelling and Antimagic (Common, Major, Epic, Specialized and Corrupted/only protects innate enchantments that provide personal augmentations, 9 CP).
  • Immunity/the normal XP cost of Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial [only covers first level effects at caster level one], Specialized/only to cover their initial template abilities, 1 CP).
  • Weird Powers/Inherent Spells L3, L4, L5, and L6, each usable three times per day thanks to Bonus Uses (36 CP). Dreamspawn always have bizarre powers. They may be able to carry their friends to distant places and worlds (Teleport, Plane Shift), swallow large things and burp them up again later unharmed (Spacewarp with the Mobile modifier), Breathe Fire (Fireball or similar), spit masses of webbing, paralyze opponents, suck out brains, make adjustments, and put them back (Charm), hypnotize people with their voice, or any of hundreds of other abilities. Those which affect or enhance themselves personally can be readily shared with their bondmates too…

   That comes to 239 CP. That’s a LOT. That’s in the middle of +7 ECL territory.

   Fortunately – or perhaps unfortunately – the Dreamspawn Template is Corrupted. Dreamspawn are:

  • Bizarre and disturbing. They’re lovecraftian abominations which should not be. They do not belong in any universe inhabited by humans or anything like them. Pretty much nobody likes them except the people who associate with them, they’re easily recognized for what they are – if only due to the odd distortions, mutations, and tendency to waver a bit if you look closely. Reactions to them are rarely good, and are often quite insane. People who are already unstable can be driven quite mad if they spend much time around a Dreamspawn. People will look askance at anyone who associates with one too.
  • Outsiders. They’re affected by spells that banish, compel, or otherwise affect outsiders, and can be warded off or controlled, at least temporarily, by a variety of mystic rituals.
  • Alien. They don’t understand people, morality, and society, and they have no “common sense”. They’re only touchpoint for sane behavior is their bondmate. If their bondmate doesn’t like someone, to a Dreamspawn that’s a perfectly good reason to inflict some horrible doom upon that unfortunate individual. If their bondmate DOES like someone, they may just go and bring him or her to them. They may do something quite bizarre at any moment, simply because that’s what they see as the “appropriate thing to do”.
  • Subject to bizarre personal weaknesses. Maybe this one can be driven off by mirrors, bribed with apples, poisoned by salad dressing, or can’t resist stopping to listen to limericks. As a rule, any given Dreamspawn will have at least one thing which can hold it back or drive it off (finding out what can be pretty awkward though) and one thing with which it can be bribed – other than goodies for it’s bondmate.
  • Vulnerable to the imagination. Anyone confronting a Dreamspawn may unleash (Wis Mod +2) levels of Illusion “spells” against it – although such “Illusions” only affect Dreamspawn and are not affected by their spell resistance. Thus, Sir Albert, with his 12 Wisdom, can use three levels of “spells” against an out-of-control Dreamspawn – and is familiar enough with them to know it. Not being ready to confront the thing when he turns the corner and comes face-to-tentacles with it, he unleashes a “Color Spray” – simply envisioning a blinding flare of light and color – and then, while the creature is dazzled, focuses on the notion that it can’t see him, and so becomes Invisible to it. Sadly, it will be a few (GMO) hours before he can focus his mind well enough to use those, or any similar, tricks again. Sir Albert deals with the thing by getting it’s young bondmate to get it settled down. It’s not like “killing it” would either be easy or really accomplish much of anything.

   That set of difficulties reduces the template cost to a “mere” 159 CP – a +4 ECL Template. That’s still pretty expensive, but – as applied to a companion – much more manageable.

   Dreamspawn are normally “purchased” as Companions with two levels of the Template modifier, for a total of 18 CP. Of course, that’s Specialized: Dreamspawn tend to wander off on their own (although never out of range of their link with their bondmate, a mile or so is plenty of range to roam a bit), spontaneously try to help out, and otherwise do troublesome things. They’ll often have bad habits, and will indulge them no matter what their bondmate says when they “forget” – which they do a lot. It’s not always wise to tell them when they’ve created a problem though; if you do that, there’s a good chance that they’ll try to fix it – and that can be even more disastrous than the original problem.

   They’re awfully competitive in some worlds too, but that is, thankfully, not always true.

   That means that for a mere 10 CP you can have your very own Dreamspawn, and a +3 Speciality in handling the thing, as well as the 6 CP boost that a Companion grants to anyone. That’s pretty cheap! Why, with three disadvantages – lets say: Insane (you see nothing wrong with having an crazy monster for a friend, talk to no one, and claim all kinds of impossible things), Outcast (having a crazy monster that appears from nowhere when you’re upset or want something tends to lead to social ostracism), and Secret (the things your personal monster did when it first appeared) for a total of 10 CP – even a small child can have one.

   Oh, wait. That’s probably not a good thing – although it might be; it all depends on what they do with them.

  • The Evil Overlord has taken the women and children hostage while drafting the men into his army and workforce? Too bad he didn’t know about the mystic gate that opens in one village once a generation – and now, after eight years of his oppressive reign, a dozen children with Dreamspawn will be coming after him.
  • A benign and orderly society has grown used to the occasional kids with Dreamspawn. It sends them out to roam around in the wilderness – it’s not like anything bad is likely to happen to a kid with one of them – and lets them have monster-fights and train their creatures until they can pass the challenge-tests which are scattered around outside each city and are judged safe to re-admit to society.
  • Dreamspawn have only appeared recently – and are the heralds of greater gates, which are now opening. All too soon, even greater eldritch horrors from beyond will come pouring through – and those entities are nigh-invulnerable to everything EXCEPT supernatural entities from their own realm – such as the Dreamspawn. The youngsters and their creatures will be the worlds only defense. Depending on how secretive the kids have been, the world may not even know it…
  • Dreamspawn are rare indeed – but there are a few in the city; a lonely street child has one, as does a carpenters young daughter, an ignored third son of one of the local nobles (until now destined to be dumped into the clergy lest he compete with his older brothers), and a vengeful youngster who lost both his parents when the kings troops rode down a crowd of protestors. What secret power has thus struck at the stability of the realm?

   Is a frantic monster attempting to compel people to come to the rescue of a child trapped under an avalanche? As long as his Dreamspawn remains within a mile, the child can survive without food or air or water, and is highly resistant to the crushing weight – but he or she will be going slowly mad, and his or her Dreamspawn will not be in much better shape.

   Dreamspawn are, at least at first, often far more powerful than their bondmates – and may remain that way indefinitely if their bondmate opts to invest in additional modifiers for them, such as Might, Transference, or Great Form. While they’re rather fragile against psychic attacks, they’re difficult to deal with otherwise. That makes them a bit awkward to fit into most parties – unless, of course, everyone’s got one.

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