While preparing to run my first game of D&D (5e), one of my players opted to create a kalashtar character. Not overly familiar with the race myself, I began researching what makes them unique.
In the canon Eberron lore, from which they originate, the kalashtar boast a few interesting psychic abilities as well as a deep connection to entities known as Quori from the enigmatic plane of dreams. In brief, the kalashtar are a fusion of originally human peoples and good-aligned Quori spirits who had fled their home from their evil-aligned kin known as the Dreaming Dark. (These evil Quori, in turn, found ways to create their own puppets upon the Material Plane, possessed people known as the Inspired.) Families of kalashtar “shared” their Quori through their lineage, as there were only so many to go around. In a classic fight of good versus evil, the kalashtar were destined to fight against the growing threats of the Dreaming Dark.
That’s all well and good but, as the only rules in Dungeons & Dragons you’re truly beholden to are your own, I decided I wanted to mix things up a bit. I read more into the plane of dreams, a place the Eberron lore refers to as “Dal Quor,” but also into other iterations of such a plane from different settings. Pages on the 1d4chan wiki and the Open Gaming Network’s 5e SRD were great repositories of information. I also found an incredible post from Reddit user darude11 detailing a home-brew plane of dreams setting (known by them as The Dreamscape).
With this information under my belt, I crafted my own Plane of Dreams.
The Plane of Dreams, also known as the Dreaming Plane or simply The Dreaming, is a plane aligned heavily with neutral chaos. It is a highly malleable space, constantly shifting and changing as a result of innumerable and invisible influences.
The Border Dreaming
The border region of this plane, closely connected to the Material Plane, Feywild, and Shadowfell, is an expansive void filled with countless “bubbles,” temporary demi-planes that each house a single being’s ongoing dream. Each bubble forms when a dream begins and “pops” once the dreamer awakens, its contents drifting off and merging into the ether. These bubbles are typically safe spaces, even if their contents turn nightmarish. Sustaining damage or expending energy and resources within them does not confer the same effects upon the dreamer’s physical form, and dying within these spaces jettisons the dreamer’s consciousness and spirit back into their body, causing a sudden awakening.
Under normal circumstances, no two creatures can share the same dream and all bubbles are safe from outside influence; however, there may be exceptions to these rules. Those who do not sleep (such as elves) and those who lucid dream still enter these dream bubbles, but find a slight advantage in persuading or manipulating their surroundings and may, very rarely, be able to venture beyond them.
Strange, primordial creatures known as the Ousia are plentiful here, though they can be found in the “core” of the Dreaming, too. The Ousia are masterful shapeshifters, and none can claim to know their true form, if such a thing exists. Though they appear mindless, they possess a form of intellect and can communicate with each other. They have not been known to require food or rest and are thought to be immortal. When an Ousia is encapsulated by a dream bubble, they take a form influenced by the dreamer’s own mind — a friend or loved one, a familiar stranger, or even a manifestation of their fears. When the dream ends, the Ousia reverts to another form, remembering all those it has taken before.
Some believe the Ousia to be protectors of dreams. They are not violent unless provoked, but have been seen punishing those who seek to damage or affect dream bubbles. There are also stories of Ousia guiding souls who are lost within their ever-changing home.
The Dream Core: Variat
Within the heart of the Dreaming Plane lies a world which mirrors the Prime Material. It has a variety of inhabitants, from animals and plants to sentient mortals and monstrosities, as well as occasional travellers from Outer Planes. This land, named Variat by its inhabitants and The Dream Core by a select few researchers elsewhere, is a funhouse mirror reflection of the Material Plane. Its features and landscapes are constantly shifting and rearranging, somehow affected by the dreams of outsiders as they happen. The skies above are rarely filled with light, leaving the world in a state of twilight with a constant view of the countless bubble clusters above. Though its inhabitants do not dream themselves, those on Variat know that the bubbles sustain the world itself: without them, the world may simply cease to exist.
While the Border Dreaming is reached every night by those who sleep and dream (and can even be seen by those who opt to trance instead), there is no written record of the Dream Core having ever been reached. Frenzied stories of a nonsensical world have come to light in the past, but their narrators are those who’ve just recovered from comas and concussions and are not often believed. In theory, it is possible to physically enter the Dream Core via portal or magic, and there are stories kept secret of wizards who have done just that and never returned. It may also be possible to enter spiritually through a mastery of lucid dreaming, but escaping one’s dream bubble and reaching the Core is a dangerous feat. While the bubbles are safe, the same cannot be said of Variat. It is easy to become lost or stranded within its shifting lands, and dying here leaves your soul trapped and eternally searching for an exit.
The Wilds & Bastions
A majority of Variat is covered by The Wilds, shifting terrain often beset by roiling storms. Here, simply blinking or turning your gaze may leave you in a new environment, and tricks of perception leave travellers mentally exhausted far before their bodies give out. Nothing is quite as it seems and little can be trusted. The storms that pummel The Wilds are fierce, chaotic events; each drop of rain and gust of wind can afflict travellers and landscape alike with random effects and damage.
In the eyes of these storms are nomadic people known as Wurai. Using the storms themselves as shelter against danger, the Wurai have become somewhat resilient to its effects and their shelters are regularly moved to follow its path. Though softer areas of their skin are vibrantly coloured, much of their bodies are covered in thicker skin of mottled black, greys, and white. They appear surprisingly elven, including the typical elongated ears and angular features, and are typically known to be quite hardy and mobile. The Wurai believe strongly that their world is born of chaos, and that it is their job to increase its chaotic tendencies however possible. Though a small group of Wurai believe that they must directly interfere with their less chaotic Quori neighbours, some going as far as to attack the Quori and disrupt their kalashtar connections or even tamper with dream bubbles, most Wurai are content to leave the Quori well enough alone unless provoked. Violence and strife are chaotic, indeed, but longevity is truly the name of the game.
The Quori people, then, are beings who believe that Variat must contain a semblance of order and structure. While they still revel in the chaotic nature of their world, they believe that a world of complete chaos would dissolve into disarray and that it is their duty to prevent such an occurrence. Even the seemingly chaotic assortment of dream bubbles above them show a sort of contained order in their eyes. The Quori are strikingly human, with pale-hued or pastel-coloured skin and faintly glowing features. Their eyes are large and often glow, except for their dark pupils which remain enlarge in their nighttime environment.
Unable to maintain a more regulated life within The Wilds, the Quori have built large settlements known as Bastions: giant cities supporting a variety of life, encased in magically-erected domes which protect against the world’s chaotic events. The Bastions are not too dissimilar to typical cities found on the Material Plane, though the flare of the Dreaming Plane remains if you know where to look. Actively changing or manipulating space within a Bastion without permission is a punishable offence, yet many seem able to get away with such offences.
Alongside the Quori in their homes live many other humanoid races. Known collectively as “the analogs,” these races seem like distant cousins to those found on the Material Plane (and many believe they have origins there as well). Stout elves with thick beards, half-orcs bearing feathered wings, gnomes with three eyes, and all manner of animal folk roam the streets of the Bastions, content to live safe from the plane’s more dangerous terrain.
Even the Bastions are not entirely protected, however. While denizens of other planes are affected indirectly by the contents of their dreams (and thus, by the Dreaming Plane itself), Variat and the Plane of Dreams is heavily influenced by events on other planes. Periods of great chaos leave the Border Dreaming a greatly turbulent place, turning dreams into nightmares at an increased rate, resulting in fewer dream bubbles as they pop prematurely. Storms rage more fiercely when the Prime Material is in turmoil, and even the Bastions have been known to fall in times of uncertainty abroad. Travellers from other planes bring their own chaos, too — some seeking to implant a sense of perfect order within the fluid world, others seeking power within its hidden depths, and others still who try to use it as a path into the realm of mortal kind.
In the end, nothing within the Plane of Dreams remains unchanged for long. Perhaps this is why the Quori reached out into the Material Plane and forged connections with people there of good spirit. These people, the kalashtar, became intrinsically linked with a Bastion resident known as a “Kal-quori.” The Kal-quori are highly respected, for their decision to become linked is both a boon and a curse. Through this spiritual tie, they can spread their influence of peace and order into the Material Plane in hopes that they can stabilize their own world, too. Yet, the people of the Prime Material have short lives, and when they pass, so to does the Kal-quori. For those few Wurai who seek to tamper with the Quori’s plans, the Kal-quori and kalashtar are prime targets.