The Well of Dreams is a magical site that was inspired by an idea that I had for a precognition mechanic. The mechanics are intended for use with Dungeons & Dragons 4E, but the basic idea should be pretty easily modified to work with any game system. The fluff places the site in a ruined eladrin city in my homebrew world of Malune.
The Well of Dreams
Some dreams are more real than others.
Once the thriving heart of the Principality of the Seven Stars, the city of Aelion now exists only as toppled ruins overgrown by the surrounding Silverleaf Forest. Nearly three centuries ago, the city fell into ruins when the ruling princes drank too deeply from the Well of Dreams and unleashed the horrors of their own nightmares upon their people.
The Well of Dreams is a font of magical water that gives anyone who drinks it dreamlike visions of the future. The foresight provided by the visions can be a source of great power, but it is not without risks. Drinking too much of the enchanted liquid can lead to overwhelming visions that can shatter the drinker’s mind and even draw nightmares of the dream world into the natural world.
When the gods discovered the Well of Dreams in the dim past, three of them joined together to ensure the protection of the well. Each tasked a guardian to protect the well for all of eternity. Ioun appointed the sphinx Calistea to serve as a guardian. Vecna tasked one of his most trusted angels, Merekotra, with protecting the secrets of the well. Finally, a third god who has been forgotten to history assigned the crystalline dragon Gulikaz to watch over the well. These guardians, powerful in their own right, were granted a fragment of their patron deity’s power in order to ensure that the well could not be used against the gods.
Millenia after the gods discovered the well, a growing eladrin kingdom spread through the forests of eastern Avornea and rediscovered the Well of Dreams. Over time, the city of Aelion rose around the ancient ruins housing the well and the eladrin princes used the knowledge granted by the magical waters to transform their nation into an empire known as the Principality of the Seven Stars.
Unfortunately, the temptation of ever more knowledge proved too powerful for the princes. When the three guardians of the Well denied their requests for more and more cups of its magical water, the princes began to plot against the well’s guardians. While Calistea and Merekotra still enjoyed divine patrons, Gulikaz’s deity had long ago vanished, so the eladrin nobles waited until it was Gulikaz’s turn to watch the well and attacked the dragon. The sudden attack overwhelmed the well’s guardian, but as the princes drank more of the Well’s water than they could safely consume, Gulikaz unleashed a dying curse and opened a rift to the realm of nightmares. The unleashed horrors spread through the streets of Aelion, slaughtering the eladrin and bringing an end to the Principality of the Seven Stars.
Reaching the Well
In order to drink from the Well of Dreams, a character has to overcome several obstacles. First, the character must locate and travel to the ruins of Aelion deep within the Silverleaf Forest. Then, he or she must delve into the ruins of Aelion’s palace, battling the lingering nightmares to find the chamber of the Well of Dreams. Within the chamber, there is a chance to encounter either of the remaining guardians. Calistea judges those who come seeking the waters of the well, and if she finds them worthy allows a single cup of its waters to be taken. Merekotra, on the other hand, denies any access to the well and reacts violently towards those that ignore him. One third of the time, however, the well is left unguarded due to Gulikaz’s death at the hands of the eladrin princes.
I picture the guardians as low epic level solos, but that could easily be adjusted to fit your campaign. If I was building stats I would start with a Sphinx Mystery (MM2) for Calistea and Vecna’s Silence (Dungeon Delve) for Merekotra. Both remaining guardians are invested with divine power that allows them to return to life after a few days if slain in battle.
Drinking from the Well
When a character drinks from the Well of Dreams, he or she sees dreamlike images of the future. Often the meaning of the visions isn’t initially apparent, but at the right time the true meaning becomes clear giving the character a distinct advantage. A character that drinks water from the well is subject to an attack as the visions threaten to overwhelm his or her mind:
Attack: Character’s level +5 vs. Will. The attack gains a +2 bonus for each Dreamsight Point possessed by the target.
Hit: The target loses one healing surge. If the target does not have any remaining healing surges, it instead loses hit points equal to its healing surge value. In addition, the target takes a –2 penalty to its Will defense until it takes an extended rest.
Effect: The target is stunned until the end of its next turn.
If the Maddening Visions attack misses, the character gains one Dreamsight Point. These points are kept by the character until they are spent. The following powers are available to any character with one or more Dreamsight Points:
Images from your visions swirl together in your mind and make your next course of action clear.
At-Will + Dream
Free Action Personal
Requirement: You must have at least one Dreamsight Point.
Effect: You spend any number of Dreamsight Points. For each point you spend as part of using this power, you gain a +1d6 bonus to your next attack roll, skill check, or ability check.
As you are attacked, you have a sense of déjà vu and know exactly how to react.
At-Will + Dream
Immediate Interrupt Personal
Requirement: You must have at least one Dreamsight Point.
Trigger: An opponent makes an attack against you.
Effect: You spend any number of Dreamsight Points. For each point you spend as part of using this power, you gain a +1d6 bonus to all of your defenses against the triggering attack.
The Ruins of Aelion
I’d recommend filling the ruins of Aelion with monsters inspired by the theme of dreams and nightmares. Because the nightmares that prowl Aelion are mostly from the minds of eladrin, twisted versions of dark fey such as fomorians, lamias, and quicklings would be especially appropriate. In addition, I’d recommend using a mechanic like @gamefiend’s Horizons in order to make the ruins more dangerous each time the heroes took an extended rest in them.
Using the Well of Dreams as a Story Device
The fragmented visions that the Well of Dreams provides offer an opportunity for you to foreshadow events planned for later in the campaign. The fragments that you reveal when the characters first drink from the well might not make sense at first, but they could gradually encounter elements from those visions in future adventures.
If you want the characters to have visions of a certain event, perhaps to help in a climactic fight against a BBEG, then you could decide to either withhold their Dreamsight Points until the fight or grant them an extra point when the fight begins. If you take this route, you should definitely describe a few fragments of the visions that hint at the BBEG. Because the visions provided by the Well of Dreams are meant to be somewhat fuzzy, it’s okay if the details end up being a little off from what actually happens during the eventual fight.