Dreamspawn and Dreamhunters

   In their own realms, most Dreamspawn are lesser creatures. For them, the material universe is a place of refuge from greater, and more dangerous, entities. To anchor themselves within that sanctuary, they bond with an imaginative partner who can provide them with a manifestation – a psychic shell for their utterly alien essence to inhabit.

   For the most part, that’s a successful strategy. Finding a gate into the material world, and locating a mind that can anchor them, and then finding their target again, is generally far more trouble than it’s worth for any hunter.

   Occasionally, however, a hunter is more persistent than wise.

   A Dreamhunter doesn’t generally intend it’s stay in the material world to be a long one. They’re here to hunt down other Dreamspawn – most commonly to devour them, but sometimes they have far less comprehensible motivations and patterns of activity. Of course actually devouring a dreamspawn usually involves doing something permanently unpleasant to the creatures bondmate – killing them, banishing their spirit, or destroying their ability to dream and imagine. Fortunately, Dreamhunters – and especially inexperienced ones – occasionally mistake loss of consciousness for death.

   A Dreamhunter uses a variation on the Dreamspawn Template – and so is always linked with a host. Unlike a Dreamspawn, a DreamHunter is simply using said host as an access point, and so doesn’t care much about their long-term welfare. A Dreamhunter host is infused with unearthly energies, and gains many of the passive benefits of partnering with a Dreamspawn – but tend to suffer from endless nightmares about “their” Dreamhunter and it’s activities, and will often never actually see the creature to which they’re bonded. Many go mad or die in relatively short order.

   Of course, there are a few differences. A Dreamspawn is normally a companion creature, while a Dreamhunter is – at best – a temporary affliction that is quite indifferent to (and usually totally uncomprehending of) the needs of it’s host. Secondarily the “base creature” (the material creature to which the Dreamhunter’s current incarnation is most comparable) can be of pretty much any challenge rating – although they’re usually savage creatures with greater physical than magical power.

   The Dreamhunter Template (+4 ECL):

  • Self-Development: Str +2, Dex +2, Con +4, Wis +2 (60 CP).
  • For non-sapient base forms, Intelligence should be rolled on a 3d6 without adjustment. As per the Building Sapient Animal Characters article, this would normally translate to an additional +1 ECL – but given the alien nature and logic of a Dreamhunter, it doesn’t much matter: they don’t normally communicate comprehensibly, use complex skills, or operate as a part of society. Ergo, there’s no ECL adjustment.
  • Defender: +1 Natural Armor (6 CP).
  • Skill Bonuses: +2 Knowledge/The Planes (2 CP).
  • Extraordinary Returning (12 CP). Truly destroying a Dreamhunter requires that you first break it’s link with it’s host. That’s not easy, although there are a variety of approaches – exorcism, finding a way to hold the Dreamhunter off while you keep the host awake for weeks on end, counseling the host until he or she manages to reject the creature, or (more destructively) killing the host or finding a way to destroy his or her memory and imagination. After than, you can pursue the Dreamhunter into it’s incomprehensible home realm and kill it there. Fortunately, simply breaking the bond suffices for most purposes; doing that ensures that the Dreamhunter won’t be back until it finds another suitable host in the vicinity – and they’re pretty rare. Sadly, of course, “killing” a Dreamhunter without breaking it’s link with it’s host simply means that it will be back in a day or two.
  • Immunity/dimensional barriers (Very Common, Severe, Major, Specialized and Corrupted/only usable to visit the co-existent planes and to use it’s senses across their boundaries, always leaves a telltale trace on the co-existent planes, 6 CP). Dreamhunters can vanish into the various co-existent planes at will, although they can continue to perceive what’s going on just fine. 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 Dreamhunter. Of course, that means that they remain clearly visible to anyone who can see the plane they’re currently inhabiting (such as Dreamspawn and other Dreamhunters) unless they have some additional power of concealment to use.
  • Immunity/Normal Bodily Needs (Very Common/Severe/Major, 18 CP). Dreamhunters 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 such desires are built into many of the figments that they inhabit.
  • Universal (physical and energy) Damage Reduction 10/-, Corrupted/does not work against psionicly-based attacks (24 CP). Infused with otherworldly energies, Dreamhunters 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 Dreamhunters (and their unfortunate bondmates, see below) can survive in pretty much any environment short of being dropped into magma, a star, or a blast furnace. Clever Dreamhunters may find ways to exploit this, by – for example – entombing their bondmates to make sure that no one interferes with them. Since that also ensures that rejecting the bond will be fatal to their unwilling partners, it’s insurance on that level as well.
  • Mystic Link with Power Link, Identity Link, and Transferable, Specialized and Corrupted/only to bond with suitable dreamers (who are pretty rare), link can be broken by suitable interventions or specialized magics, causes horrible nightmares and mental disturbances in the victim, and has a limited range – a few miles at most (5 CP). Since a Dreamhunter cannot move out of range of it’s host, this means that it’s almost always possible to locate that host – and thus make an end run around a Dreamhunters special abilities and defenses.
  • Immunity/The limitation that only spells and powers are shared across the Power Link (Common, Severe, Major), Specialized/Only affects the Dreamspawn’s Immunity to Normal Bodily Needs, Damage Reduction, and Saving Throw Bonuses – which their host 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): Dreamhunters – 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 Dreamhunter inflicts a -2 Morale Penalty to the attacks, damage, saves, and checks of all susceptible enemies within 20 feet (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, Personal Only, 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 Dreamhunters natural weapons are effectively +1.
    • Resist Energy (1400 GP). In combination with their natural universal damage reduction, this gives Dreamhunters – 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 Dreamhunter gains a +1 Resistance Bonus on all Saves.
    • Immortal Vigor I (1400 GP). Dreamhunters gain (12 + 2x Con Mod) bonus hit points.
    • Expeditious Retreat (2000 GP). Dreamhunters gain a +30′ bonus to their movement modes.
    • Delay Poison (1400 GP). Dreamhunters have no natural metabolism, and are essentially immune to poison.
    • Mage Armor (1400 GP). Dreamhunters gain a +4 Armor Bonus to their AC.
    • Protection from Law (1400 GP). Dreamhunters 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. Dreamhunters 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 initial racial abilities, 1 CP).
  • Weird Powers/Inherent Spells L3, L4, L5, and L6, each usable three times per day thanks to Bonus Uses (36 CP). Dreamhunters always have bizarre powers. They may be able to bind opponents to the ground (Hold), freeze those who attack them (Fire Shield), unleash deadly dreams (Phantasmal Killer), or do any of hundreds of other things. Those which affect or enhance themselves personally can be readily shared with their hosts as well, not that their hosts will usually find this much compensation.
  • Subsumption/Major Privilege. After defeating another Dreamspawn or Dreamhunter, a victorious Dreamhunter can “steal” one of its Weird Powers and keep it for the next lunar month to try out. If it likes it, it can buy it later on at two-thirds cost – but this requires that the “victim” remain alive and creates a traceable link between the Dreamhunter and it’s prey. Dreamhunters do not always exercise this privilege of course (6 CP).
  • Binding/A Dreamhunter that defeats a Dreamspawn or another Dreamhunter may attempt to imprison it inside itself (either to slowly digest or simply to keep) – or to break it’s link with its bondmate or host. In either case, this is simply a pair of Tricks (12 CP).

   That comes to 253 CP. That’s a LOT. That’s up in +7 ECL territory, and not far from +8 ECL.

   Fortunately – or perhaps unfortunately – the Dreamhunter Template is Corrupted. Dreamhunters 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, 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 Dreamhunter.
  • 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.
  • Unbound. They MUST have a link to an appropriate host to spend more than a few minutes in a normal universe – and must put up with the limitations of the form which that host dreams of. Breaking that link will banish the Dreamhunter in short order.
  • 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 Dreamhunter will have at least one thing which can hold it back or drive it off. Finding out what that weakness is can be pretty awkward though.
  • Vulnerable to the imagination. Anyone confronting a Dreamhunter may unleash (Wis Mod +6) levels of Illusion “spells” of up to level six against it. While such “Illusions” only affect the Dreamhunter, they are not affected by their spell resistance. This can be quite powerful if anyone happens to know about it.

   That set of difficulties reduces the template cost to a “mere” 169 CP – the upper limit for a +4 ECL Template. That’s still pretty expensive, but it’s not like NPC’s have to worry too much about that.

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