Picking up where last week ended, today I’ll be venturing into the next chapter of Gods of the Fall, which is all about the moon that hangs over the Nightland: Nod. Maintaining a strange orbit that keeps a perpetual shadow over the region, it would already be strange enough were it not for the way the place is a literal land of dreams.
Dreamers, particularly those in the Nightland, may find their dreams taking place on the moon; this alone might not e so bad, were it not for the independent psychic entities that inhabit the moon, looking for an excuse to break down the doors of dream and invade your dreamspace. Some unlucky souls may even find themselves taken to Nod physically, awakening in a realm of dream and nightmare, their body in the Afterworld being comatose.
Nod is said to exist because of a curse, although no one can say for certain whose curse or why it manifested in such a powerful way. It was, before the Fall, a realm in the Aether, similar to Soulrest, where dream and nightmare played out. With the fall of the heavens and the death of the gods, it was drawn into physical being, and some think it was merely the Fall itself that brought Nod into being – a leaf pulled along by the current left by the passage of the heavens. The only being who might know – the King of Dreams – is silent on the subject.
Dreaming is a dangerous thing with Nod existing; being killed in your dreams kills you in truth, although rewards can also be had – treasures from the moon can be brought back when a sleeper awakens. Most, sensibly, wish to avoid the moon entirely, using drugs that prevent them from being drawn to the moon and which grant a certain invisibility to the moon’s natives when one dreams. Some few – members of the Guild of Sleep, some sorcerers, and the less-wise adventurers of the world – do seek ways to reach the moon physically for any number of reasons.
Travel upon Nod is hard, as the entire moon is mutable, changing with the dreams of the world below it. Concentration and an Intellect check are necessary, although some places are harder – or easier – to reach than others. Failure likely results in being caught in the dream of something dangerous, or in a hazardous nightmare.
We also get a segment on the strange flora and fauna of Nod; dreamwasps, looking like tufts of fuzz and fluff drafting along, are nasty little things that damage your mind when they sting you, while rannics are plants that sing strange songs to everyone in earshot. Winged elephants – some of them, no doubt, of a pink color – drift through the skies above, and you can find the remnants of those dragged bodily to Nod in the Faceless, figures that wander the ever-changing landscape looking for a way out that they can no longer hope to find.
The palace of the King of Nod is where most deliberate trips to Nod end up, with arrivals landing on the stairway at the entrance; the King is aware of anyone who sets foot on them or within the halls of his palace, and greets visitors personally. While he certainly seems a kindly sort, he’s a predator who seeks to ensnare visitors permanently, the better to keep his terrible secret from those who would be rid of him.
The palace comes with several traps – a dream of an eternal feast, which acts to snare those who sample it as surely as eating food in Hades ensnared visitors; a library that siphons the mind and knowledge of those who browse it, rendering them into a book on the shelves; and the King’s own blessing, a psychic cyst lodged in a person’s mind the requires them to do the King’d bidding or have a clutch of dream-worms hatch out to devour their mind. With all of this in mind, it’s hardly any surprise that the choice between aiding Nulumriel and the King of Nod is one that no one wants to have to take sides on.
There are more than a few other locations on the moon of Nod that might be of interest to those daring enough to visit. These include Tower of Wishes, where – if you can defeat or bypass the seven guardians of the place – you can get a wish granted, although the wish is unlikely to be permanent. The House of Horror might be of interest to those seeking to undo the greatest ills of the Afterworld, as the creatures within mirror the fears of those observing the place, and can be negotiated with for tokens of power. Then there’s the Cave of Lost Treasures, which holds dream-replicas of every piece of treasure ever lost; these artifacts will burn away before long, but they may well function in the place of the lost item until then.
The Five Gates of Sleep stand across Nod, each with a different power and leading to a different place; some, such as the Gate of Bone, can be highly beneficial to those who find and use it. Others, such as the Gate of Iron, are dangerous unless used with great caution and care. None of them save, perhaps, the Gate of Bone can be considered to be free of charge; of course, that Gate makes takes its toll more indirectly.
And that covers Nod! Tomorrow we’ll be visiting the afterlife in the form of Soulrest, where things have perhaps gone even more awry than in the rest of the Afterworld.
See you then!