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Oneiri

By dreams we are granted a vision of what isn’t but might and what is not but could. They are a gift of insight into world and self. Oxo made us wardens to this task and I cannot think of a greater one.
– Asakuxek the Wanderer, Oneiri Nexa

Summary

An Oneiri (pronounced Oh-ny-ree or Oh-nee-ry) is a diminutive creature, 1 to 1.5 meters tall, with slightly rubbery blue-grey skin, red or black hair and large almond shaped eyes set in vibrant colours. They have prehensile tails and feet and sharp claw-like nails. Oneiri have three sexes; male, female, and intersex. Male Oneiri tend to be more broadly built while female and intersex Oneiri are thinner and often grow horns as they age (typically after their first century). The Oneiri are a hidden symbiotic species that typically lives with humans and while many have met Oneiri most have never seen one in their true form. Instead most humans simply perceive Oneiri as diminutive humans, the result of a persistent ambient illusion that the Oneiri produce. Aeldan mythology suggests that the Oneiri were created by Oxo, the Caretaker Ayr to inspire and guide humanity. Oneiri are alternately known by some as Onos. Oneiri lifespans are significantly longer than humans, with some individuals reaching up to 500 years in age.

Advantages

Oneiri are intelligent and intuitive and this reveals itself in their gifts at medicine, crafting, and animal handling. Oneiri are able to communicate with others, even non-Oneiri via dreams, day or night and they can communicate silently with other Oneiri. The most unique gift the Oneiri possess is the ability to enter and manipulate the dreams of others, crafting pleasing or nightmarish experiences as they wish. Some Oneiri are able to induce somnolence or full sleep in sapients using a toxin secreted beneath their nails. Mature Oneiri are also able to travel by dream to a place known as ‘The Old Dream’, a shared space which acts as the heart of Oneiri culture. This dreamspace enables Oneiri to find each other and even survive physical death in a limited fashion by creating a residual dream-self.

Limitations

Oneiri are less powerful than most other species and their creator imbued them with an aversion to real combat (though not necessarily in dreams). Their nature as entities of two-worlds can also distract them, making them oblivious to their surroundings and vulnerable. The existence of the Oneiri is secret, mostly relegated to myth. Where they are uncovered they are often hunted either as aberrations or by those who would abuse their abilities. Oneiri who delve too deeply or often into the minds of others may inadvertently create a connection that places them at risk and those who delve into the minds of the mad or monstrous can inherit some portion of these conditions.

Description

The Oneiri, like the Tamaa, are a hidden species whose individuals persist in the background of most Aeldan societies. Unlike the Tamaa the Oneiri are far less physical beings, drawn instead to pursuits of intellect and spirit. Also unlike the Tamaa, the Oneiri lack control of their guise; the persistent illusion that causes humans to perceive them as human.

There are many legends and children’s stories which refer to the species but to most modern humans the Ono are considered a myth. The depiction of the species in folktale and fable varies significantly. Some stories depict them positively, as guardians and dream wardens who protect sleepers from the ephemeral terrors of the Aeldan night, while others emphasize their capacity for inflicting nightmares and spiritual torment. Only a handful of individuals outside the Oneiri know the truth and even fewer fully understand the symbiotic relationship between the Oneiri and Humanity. Whether by design or habit the Oneiri are instinctively drawn to humans, sustained and invigorated by dreamers. Conversely humans whose dreams are touched by Oneiri often find inspiration and direction from them.

The dream bound nature of the Oneiri causes them to conceive of the world in two parts; the reality we understand, and the skein of dreams that they access when night falls. There are as many terms for the two worlds as there are Oneiri but the most commonly used are the Iron and the Fire, or the Stone and Stars.

Many Oneiri do maintain a unique culture, accessible through the Old Dream, though it is typically secondary to their material cultures and identities.

There are a small number of Oneiri who exist openly, often as figures of worship or reverence in Subin and remote parts of Lux and rumours suggest that the Lady of Selene even supports a small colony of the Ono in the grey city. Beyond these few instances, Oneiri must cloak their appearance or face the persecution of fearful humans.

Oneiri have extremely low fecundity. They are able to procreate with humans and Kaeki but only have a 10% chance of producing an Oneiri child in any successful pairing. Despite the distinctness of the two species, there is no hybridization of traits; children are either born Human or Oneiri. Fortunately for the species survival, it is possible for an Oneiri child to be born of any descendant of an Oneiri, Human included. The precise nature of this odd reproductive cycle has eluded explanation by the most studious loremasters and natural philosophers of the age and most simply attribute Oneiri birth to celestial intervention.

Guise
Oneiri do not appear as they truly are. Instead observers perceive them as human. This illusion does not work on Artilects, Kaeki, or other Oneiri, but does seem to extend to Tamaa, Tollam, and Bellatori. The illusion does nothing to enhance or diminish the appearance of the Oneiri; it merely cloaks their quasi-human nature. The illusion is autonomic and persists even when the Oneiri falls unconscious. The only time it wavers is when the Oneiri is under severe stress or if the Oneiri chooses to suppress it. Suppressing the guise is akin to flexing a muscle and takes training and practice to do persistently, something few Oneiri choose to do.

Sagacious
Oneiri are gifted with keen intellects and intuition and their intrinsic nature and diminutive size leads most to develop and rely on these gifts. Most Ono attribute their sharp senses and excellent memory to their dual nature; the dream world is a dangerous place and Ono require their wits and wisdom to survive there.

Whispers
Oneiri possess the ability to speak without speech. The gift is easiest to use with other Oneiri, but with practice can also be used with other sapients. Whispers are conveyed on a semi-conscious level and typically manifest to humans as a day-dreamt voice requiring a level of concentration to understand and retain.

Friend of Beasts
Oneiri exude an aura that many animals find calming and trustworthy. This may simply be due to their unique heritage, but many Oneiri also point to their ability to whisper too and enter the dreams of animals as a more fundamental connection to non-sapient species.

Somnolent Sting
Though invisible to humans, the Oneiri physiology includes glands located beneath the fingernails capable of secreting a substance that induces somnolence or full sleep in many creatures. This substance does no lasting harm itself but in small quantities it induces a debilitating sleepiness and in larger volumes it can induce a deep sleep. The efficacy of the substance varies significantly and the effects can be resisted by the strong willed or particularly hardy.

Prehensile Tail
Oneiri possess a weak prehensile tail which is concealed by their guise. Most Oneiri use the tail cautiously and sparingly but it is strong enough to aid in sleight of hand, operate simple machines, or trip up enemies.

Dream walking
Oneiri possess the unique ability to ‘enter’ the dreams of others. The fundamental nature of this interaction remains a mystery but at any time an Oneiri may close its eyes and perceive the network of dreamers in their proximity. By focusing intently and entering a meditative state an Oneiri can cast its consciousness afield and attempt to enter the dreamscape of proximate dreamers. In this state the Oneiri typically perceives the dream as a lucid observer, outside the perception of the dreamer. Dream walking allows the Ono to gain a glimpse into the motivations, memories, desires, and fantasies of the dreamer. While most characters have no defense against such intrusion, player characters can always attempt to resist entry to their dream, though they are typically at a disadvantage. The roll to control one’s dreams is 2d10 + Will + Concentration vs 2d10 + Intuition + Phasma + Dreamcraft

Dream crafting
Once they have entered a dream most Oneiri remain a passive witness. Those who follow the Oneiri calling and are chosen by Oxo can do more, exercising their own will to reshape dreams as they see fit. By attempting to change the dream the Oneiri becomes a part of it and while the act of entering dreams is relatively easy, the act of reshaping them without alerting or waking the dreamer is more difficult. It takes focus and practice to hone the skill to be particularly useful
The limits of dream craft are defined by three factors: the mind of the dreamer, the depth of the dream, and the extent of distortion desired.

  • Dreamer: Intelligent, intuitive, and willful dreamers often possess resilient dreams which resist shaping, and lucid dreamers even more so.
  • Depth: The depth of a dream refers to how intense and engrossing the dream is. While most dreams are simple and vague, some dreams can push the boundaries of the real, capturing both the dreamer and the Oneiri in their flow. The deeper the dream, the more difficult the distortion.
  • Distortion: The level of distortion attempted by the Oneiri has a significant impact on the likelihood of the dreamer awakening. Entirely reshaping a dreamscape is far more difficult than simply re-purposing an existing dream.

The consequences of dream shaping can vary significantly. Shaped dreams are often harder for the dreamer to forget and there’s always a minute but real risk of the dreamer recognizing the Oneiri. More importantly for the dreamer, a reshaped dream can induce realizations, trigger epiphanies, or awaken hidden desires; alternately nightmares can induce new anxieties, fears, and psychological ailments.

Nightmare
The Oneiri talent for entering and shaping dreams is not restricted to good or generic dreams. Oneiri can enter or create nightmares. This is an extension of dream crafting but requires an high level of skill due to the propensity for fearful dreamers to pull themselves awake.

Lucid
Oneiri themselves require less sleep than humans, typically only a few hours a night. With the exception of true exhaustion, Oneiri with any skill in dream craft experience entirely lucid dreams.

The Old Dream
The Old Dream is the term used to describe an ancient, ephemeral and shared dreamscape accessible to the Oneiri. Not all Oneiri can enter the Old Dream and not all choose to. It is a difficult task, requiring several hours of focus and young or inexperienced Ono often struggle to maintain the concentration necessary without actually falling asleep. Simply maintaining ones presence can be equally difficult as a single worldly distraction can ruin a days worth of focused effort. The reward for persistence, however, is significant; the Old Dream is the heart of Oneiri culture. It is a place where all Oneiri can meet, converse, teach, and learn. It is also home to the phantoms of past Oneiri and these spectral inhabitants harbour millennia of Oneiri cultural history and knowledge. The Old Dream manifests differently to different Oneiri; some see it as a great tower set in the centre of endless green forests; others see it as a constellation of stars, each one a different place or persona; while others still see it as a vast city.
The Old Dream is not without its own dangers. Strange and alien entities dwell in the dreamscape, driven by occult desires and hungers. Unwary Ono do not always return from the Old Dream alone…

Phasma
Oneiri who visit the Old Dream regularly and spend enough time there find that they begin to form a dream-self; a spiritual clone also known as a Spectre, Phantom, or Phasma. This entity is concurrent with but not the same as the Oneiri. When the Oneiri is present the Phasma appears as a shadow,
a perceptible embodiment of their subconscious. When the Oneiri awakens, the Phasma remains in the Old Dream, pursuing the same interests the Oneiri might were they not inhabitants of the iron world as well. When the Oneiri returns they gain an intuitive understanding of anything the phantasm has learned and vice versa. Phasma persist even after the death of their progenitor and the many Phasma of the Old Dream make it difficult for an Ono to know if they are talking to a living individual or their spectral copy.

Exposed
The Oneiri ability to invade and manipulate the dreams of others does not come without risk. Dreamers with particularly deep or disturbing dreams and those who possess powerful wills present a danger to the Oneiri. Such dreams can trap an unwary Ono and inflict as much torment on them as the dreamer, and while the dreamer may forget their unpleasant vision, Oneiri have no such luck. Oneiri are often genial and friendly folk, but those embittered or be driven mad by the dark dreams of others, can turn to fiends, tormenting the sleep of others with vivid or inescapable nightmares.

Split Attention
The dualistic nature of Oneiri perception can be detrimental to the an Oneiri’s awareness. While exceptionally skilled Ono can walk both worlds at once, most quite reasonably find it difficult to be in two places at once.

Fragile and Passive
Oneiri size and physiology limits their strength, stamina, and resilience. As a result Oneiri are often averse to violence and few seek out martial or adventurous callings, preferring instead to remain in or near settlements, and away from combat and physical danger.

Factions

Oneiri factions are defined by their relationship to the species core talent of dream manipulation.

Nexa

Nexa are a mixed group; those who believe they are granted celestial privilege to enter and manipulate the dreams of others, and those who simply don’t see an issue and do as they please. Nexa are the dominant group among Oneiri.

Ascetics

Most Ascetics believe that they have no right to enter the dreams of others and even less right to alter then. They seek to shut out their natural talents and exist solely in the world of stone and iron. Less rigid ascetics are comfortable entering the dreams of those who invite them but refrain from entering the dreams of the unwilling.

Arbiters

Arbiters espouse a particular view of human dreams as windows into the true natures and moral worth of dreamers. Members of this faction seek out humans to punish based on their own moral code. This punishment takes the form of profound dreams and painful nightmares. Arbiters are the most frequently corrupted faction of the Oneiri, driven to dark deeds by their encounters with truly damaged and deviant minds.

Migrants

A tiny faction of the Oneiri seek to abandon the iron world and ‘migrate’ to the Old Dream. They spend as little time awake as possible, often becoming monks, recluses, or exiles. They only awaken to satisfy their physical needs before returning to the dream.

Species Calling: Oxo's Chosen

Features

Calling Specialties
Oneiri excel at the following callings:
Oneiri Drudge: Animal Handling = New Level x2
Oneiri Handler: Animal Handling = New Level x2
Oneiri Tinker: Craft = New Level x2
Oneiri Surgeon: Medicine = New Level x2

Wise: +2 starting Intuition, maximum of 7
Intelligent: +1 starting Intellect, maximum of 6
Guise: Despite their true appearance, Oneiri appear as human to most observers. Only Artilects, Kaeki, and other Oneiri can see through this illusion.
Prehensile Tail: Oneiri possess a short prehensile tail. This tail has -1 Power and -1 Grace and can be used to manipulate small objects, operate small machinery, trip foes, an aid in slight of hand.
Whisper: Oneiri can communicate silently with others. No check is required for using this trait with other Oneiri but non-Oneiri must make an Intuition check, difficulty equal to 10 minus the Oneiri’s Will + Phasma to perceive the communication. This is typically one directional – the Oneiri can speak, but others can only hear, but Oneiri who develop their Phasma can overcome this limitation.
Somnolent Sting: The Oneiri can secrete a substance that induces sleep in a target. This requires physical contact or ingestion. Victims roll 2d10 + Power + Will to resist against a difficulty equal to 10 + the Ono’s Intellect + Phasma. Success indicates the victim resists the toxin. Failure by 1-3 inflicts a -2 on all actions. Failure by more than 3 indicates the target has fallen in to a deep sleep. Each additional application of the sting within a minute forces a new roll and adds a +1 to the difficulty. An Oneiri can produce a number of stings per day equal to 1 plus their level in Phasma. They can increase this by an additional number equal to their Potent Sting ability. The Oneiri can apply this substance to other weapons such as arrowheads and blades but the venom only lasts for a day before losing its potency.
Dreamwalk: Oneiri can enter the dreams of anyone within a proximity equal to 1 meter per point of Intellect. They must make an Intuition + Phasma roll to prevent the dream from collapsing upon their entry but otherwise may observe the dream without issue. All perception checks for events occurring outside the dream suffer a -3 penalty.
Claws: Oneiri can use their claws as a natural weapon. They inflict 2 damage as a base.

Fragile: -2 starting Power, maximum of 3
Exposed: Oneiri take a risk each time they enter an unfamiliar dream. If they enter a particularly deep or dark dream they may become trapped or be mentally injured, suffering stress damage. The nature and consequences vary depending on the dreamer, dream, and depth.
Outsiders: Oneiri must hide their true forms in most places or risk being hunted.

Skill Purchase Modifiers
Oneiri have modified XP costs for purchasing the following skills.
Combat +1 multiplier
Observation +1 multiplier
Survival +1 multiplier
Animal Handling -1 multiplier
Craft -1 multiplier
Medicine -1 multiplier

Oneiri Core – Phasma: The core trait for an Oneiri is their Phasma, the ephemeral representation of their dual nature. By embracing their dream self the Oneiri develops potent abilities both in and outside of the skein of dreams. All Oneiri are capable of following this path but not all do. The Phasma itself does not manifest as a perceptible entity until this trait reaches 3 points and is not truly independent until 4.

Abilities

Potent Sting: The Oneiri’s biology is altered to strengthen the power of their Somnolent Sting. The Oneiri can add their level in Potent Sting to the challenge.

Dreamcraft: Oneiri can manipulate any dream they have entered but it is difficult without some degree of investment in their Phasma. The Oneiri can spend 1 stress to make an Intuition + Phasma + Dreamcraft roll to make a single change to a dream. The more extreme the change, the higher the likelihood of the dream collapsing.

Noctambulism: The Oneiri can remove the paralysis typically imposed by deep sleep, triggering a target to move. With careful manipulation of the dreamers dream, the Oneiri can act as a puppet master, guiding them through the real world. There are several key limitations with this ability.

  • The Oneiri must remain within proximity of the dreamer to maintain the effect
  • The Dreamer has a glassy-eyed, blank stare and dilated pupils. An Intellect + Medicine roll of 12 is enough to discern the person as sleepwalking.
  • The Dreamer suffers a -4 on all real world checks in this state. For example, while a skilled Oneiri can theoretically manipulate a dreamer into dreaming a battle that matches with reality and the dreamer will respond accordingly, real world action is sluggish and clumsy.
  • The Dreamers speech is entirely gibberish in the real world, though it is intelligible to the Oneiri
  • The Dreamer can be awoken by very loud sounds, physical force, or extreme changes in temperature.
  • If the dreamer is awakened they will be severely disoriented with a -2 to all mental checks for 1-4 minutes. An awakened dreamer, whether naturally awoken or forced awake will not remember any of their actions during sleep.

To achieve this effect the Oneiri must spend 3 stress and roll Intuition + Phasma + Noctambulism. On a roll of 14 or higher the effect lasts as long as the target is not actively awakened by outside forces. On a roll of 12-13 the effect lasts for a number of minutes equal to the Oneiri’s level in Noctambulism. On a roll of 11 or lower the effect does not work but the dreamer remains asleep. On a roll of 2 the dreamer awakens fully.

Mara: The Oneiri can wake a sleeping person while maintaining their sleep paralysis. This highly stressful and disturbing ability is believed to be the source of “Night Hag” folklore. The Oneiri rolls an Intuition + Phasma + Mara against the targets Intuition + Will + Core trait. If the target fails they are paralyzed for a number of minutes equal to the spread between these two values and suffers an amount of stress equal to the level in Mara times the number of minutes. If the target succeeds they are free to act normally.

Night Terror: Oneiri are able to alter a dream in any number of ways, triggering general fear in the dreamer, however the stress of such dreams is heavily mitigated by the transition to consciousness. This ability allows the Oneiri to conjure a true terror that transcends sleep. The Oneiri rolls an Intuition + Phasma + Night terror against the targets Intuition + Will + Core trait. If the target fails they are plagued by a dream so terrible and frightening that waking from it is only small comfort and they take 2 points of stress per point of spread. Even if the Dreamer passes this roll they take stress equal to the Oneiri’s level in Night Terror.

Waking Dream: The Oneiri with this ability can “plant” a dream that they can then trigger later. This dream can be pleasant, terrible, or banal, but it must be short. The Oneiri must spend 3 stress when planting and must establish a trigger for the dream; a word, sound, or sight that the Dreamer must hear. When the trigger is encountered the dreamer falls into a short stupor and experiences the dream as described by the Oneiri. The Oneiri can include a number of major elements equal to their level in Waking Dream and the dream state lasts 1rd/6 seconds per level the Oneiri has in Waking Dream.

Dream Warrior: Not all dreams are safe and not all Oneiri are friendly and while most Oneiri can conjure weaponry with relative ease, the potency of such ephemeral weapons is often minimal. Oneiri with the Dream Warrior trait have focused some portion of their own Phasma to act as armament against the dangers of the Fire. With this ability the Oneiri can summon armour and weapons equal in strength to the level in Dream Warrior x 3. E.g. An Oneiri with level 2 in dream warrior can conjure up to 6 points of arms and armour; a 3d dagger and armour with a soak of 3 or no armour and a weapon with a damage of 6. The Oneiri can change the distribution at the start of each round, shifting from attack to defense and vice versa.

Altered Guise: The Oneiri can temporarily alter their guise, gaining a bonus to social checks such as persuasion or intimidation. Once per game the Oneiri can add their level in Altered Guise to a social roll.

Gift of Rest: The Oneiri can bless other mortals with the restfulness of a full night of sleep without the actual sleep. The Oneiri can do this to a number of individuals equal to their level in this ability.

Academy of Dreams: The Oneiri can teach others while they are asleep, granting them a bonus to attempts to learn a new aspect or skill. The Oneiri must have at least level 4 in the ability they are trying to teach. Anyone seeking to learn from the Oneiri can pay 1 less experience when leveling up that ability. There are no higher levels to this ability.

Revelation: The Oneiri can summon up an important secret of a dreamer. They must roll a Intuition + Phasma + Revelation against the targets Intuition + Will + Core trait. If the target fails the Storyteller will select a secret that will be revealed in the dream.

Bestial Guise: The Oneiri is able to modify their guise to better calm and commune with animals. The target animal perceives the Oneiri as one of its species granting a bonus to animal handling checks equal to the Oneiri’s level in Bestial Guise. This ability only works on animals, not aberrations and monsters. This altered guise only appears to the animal in question, anyone else watching sees the Oneiri as they normally appear.

Walking the Stars: For most Oneiri the greatest limitation of dreamwalking is proximity, but with this ability the Oneiri is able to extend their reach significantly. Each level taken in this ability extends the range from which it is possible to enter a dream by the modifiers listed below.

Level Multiplier
1 10 m
2 100 m
3 1 km
4 10 km
5 100 km

Library of Nod: Using this ability an Oneiri can access the knowledge of nearby sapients, essentially using their minds as a library. Once per day the Oneiri can gain a bonus to lore checks equal to two times their level in this ability. E.g. An Oneiri with Level 3 in Library of Nod gains a bonus of +6.

The Long Dream: The ability to access the Old Dream, home of the Oneiri, requires patience and practice. Maintaining a connection to the distant dream is challenging and few Oneiri can manage more than a few minutes at a time. Extending this duration requires focus and practice and for each level taken in the Long Dream the Oneiri is able to stay that much longer.

Level Duration
1 30 minutes
2 3 hours
3 3 days
4 3 weeks
5 Indefinite

Nightmare of Eternal Waking: Perhaps the cruelest curse an Oneiri can inflict on an enemy is the Nightmare of Eternal waking. A victim damned by this curse finds themselves waking into a new nightmare over and over, each time thinking they’ve escaped the terror of the last dream, and each time facing some new horror. They pay a cost as their body is forced to cope with the constant terror inflicted by the nightmare. No natural force can awaken them; only the Oneiri who laid the curse or an Oneiri of equivalent Phasma can break it. The duration of the curse is dependent on the Oneiri’s level in the ability.
This ability is not without a cost to the Oneiri. When inflicting this curse the Oneiri spends 1 health and 5 stress and must roll an Intuition + Phasma + Ability check. This sets the difficulty it takes to escape the dream and the target can make an Intellect + Will check at the frequency listed below to awaken from the nightmare.

Level Duration Physical Effects Frequency of Saves
1 3 hours 3 stress/hr 1 an hour
2 1 day 5 stress/ 4hr 1 every 4 hours
3 3 days Max stress, 2 damage 1 every day
4 9 days Max stress, 4 damage 1 every 3 days
5 Indefinite Max stress, damage decided by Oneiri 1 save every year

Familiar: As the caretaker’s chosen, Oneiri are able to establish deep bonds with animals. This connection can only be made with a single animal at a time and the following benefits.

  • Projection: The Oneiri can extend the range of their dream-walking ability by using their Familiar as a conduit. This allows the Oneiri to connect to dreamers who might otherwise be too far from them. Their familiar must remain in proximity to the target and any action taken against the Familiar breaks this connection.
  • Dream Companion: The Oneiri can bring their Familiar into a dreamscape with them to act as guardian or scout. The Familiar and the Oneiri share stats and any damage done to one is done to the other. If the Familiar dies in the dream, they suffer significant damage in the real world as well.
  • Link: The Oneiri can establish a direct link to their familiar, allowing them to communicate without words. Most animals communicate in impressions of emotion or general imperatives, rather than language, but the Oneiri is usually able to discern some meaning from this link.
  • Sacrifice: Though rare and obviously unpleasant, it is possible for an Oneiri to sacrifice their familiar for protection or power. The sacrifice of a familiar can allow an Oneiri to escape an otherwise sure death within the dream. Alternately, the sacrifice can grant the Oneiri the power to overcome obstacles within the dream.

Passengers: With practice an Oneiri can learn to bring others along with them into dreams, even non-Oneiri. For each point in this ability the Oneiri can bring one additional person into dream with her. That person possesses no power over the dream and any damage they suffer is suffered by the Oneiri as well, but the Oneiri can call on the skills of their companions in order to achieve things otherwise beyond their own abilities.