HPL's Dreamlands in First Edition

This document lays out the house rules for my own First Edition campaign set in the mystical world of Howard Phillips Lovecraft's Dreamlands. There are some significant deviations from the standard First Edition rules herein. Most notably, the Cleric has been removed as a playable class as, conceptually, he does not have a place in the Dreamlands setting proper (where priests tend to be arcane sorcerers). Likewise, the optional Demi-Human classes of First Edition have been removed, as they are not appropriate for the setting. Other changes are noted below and explained in detail where it is prudent to do so.

Maximum Hit Points
All characters start at First Level with the maximum number of hit points possible. Frex, a Magic User at First Level will start play with 4 hit points.

Reserve Hit Points
A character’s quantity of reserve points is equal to his full normal hit point total (e.g., a character with a normal hit point total of 8 will have 8 reserve hit points). After a character becomes injured (by losing hit points), reserve points begin automatically converting to hit points at the rate of 1 per minute of non-strenuous activity (such as resting or hiking, but not climbing, swimming or fighting). Thus, for each minute of non-strenuous activity, the character regains 1 hit point and loses 1 reserve point. Characters naturally regain lost reserve points at the same rate that they naturally heal lost hit points. If a character receives any magical healing, that healing is applied first to the character’s lost hit points. Any excess healing left over after the character’s hit points are restored to full normal is applied to increase the character’s current reserve point total (up to its normal maximum). If a character’s Constitution modifier goes up or down, his reserve points go up or down just as his hit points do. If a decrease in Constitution would drop a character’s reserve points below 0, any excess reduction is deducted from his current hit points.

New Magic User Spells
The First Level Cleric spell Cure Light Wounds, the First Level Cleric spell Detect Evil, the Second Level Cleric spell Slow Poison, the Third Level Cleric spell Cure Blindness, and the Seventh Level Cleric spell Restoration are transferred to the Magic User's spell list and treated like arcane spells. The Magic User has access to no other Clerical spells. These five spells are the only exceptions.

Changed Magic User Spells
Spells that deal with summoning creatures now exclusively summon creatures of the Cthulhu Mythos as described in the rule books that you are using. Any referenced to demons and devils are specifically supplanted by lesser and greater servitor creatures, as defined in the appropriate rule books.

The Wicked Champion
By default, the Paladin class is a champion of truth and righteousness but, in the Dreamlands, there are many more strange, frightening, and weirdly alien god-things than there are righteous and benevolent deities. These beings have their own wicked champions, as described in more detail below. The Wicked Champion is simply a Lawful Evil Paladin variant who is in service to an unfathomable, alien, godhead. Rather than being able to Detect Evil and having Protection from Evil, they can Detect Good and are Protected from Good, in the same manner. Similarly, they can Control Undead, rather than Turn Undead. Finally, their Lay on Hands ability transfers hit points directly from the character that is touched to the Wicked Champion. The Wicked Champion will most typically be encountered as a non-player character, but is presented here for use as a player character where deemed appropriate by the GM.

Auras of Fear and Madness
Certain creatures of the Dreamlands are horrible, sanity blasting monstrosities whose visage man was never meant to gaze upon. Such creatures project an aura of Fear (as the Magic User spell) that player characters must save against when first they encounter the creature. Further, some creatures (notably god-things) are so hideous in their otherworldly might that they may actually cause those who gaze upon them to go insane. A saving throw versus spell must be made every time that a player character encounters such a creature in actual play (they are, indeed, that hideous). A failed saving throw indicates that the player character has been driven permanently insane by the sight of the horrible creature that they have laid eyes upon.

Signs and Symbolism of the Dreamlands
Signs and symbolism both play large roles in this strange world of magic and horror. Here are discussed two symbols that the player characters will undoubtedly encounter in their travels. The most common arcane sign in use throughout the world of the Dreamlands is the Lesser Elder Sign. The Lesser Elder Sign, usually depicted as a five-pointed star with an eye in its center, is marked upon a surface, then imbued with magical power by way of the Enchant an Item spell. An item or surface marked in this manner turns all lesser servitor creatures of the Cthulhu Mythos as a First Level Cleric turns Skeletons in the First Edition rules. Less common is the True Elder Sign (pictured above). Like the Lesser Elder Sign, it, too, is commonly marked upon a given surface and then imbued with magical energy via the spell Enchant an Item. An item that has been marked with the True Elder Sign turns all lesser servitor creatures of the Cthulhu Mythos as a Third Level Cleric turns Skeletons in the First Edition rules and greater servitor creatures of the Cthulhu Mythos as a First Level Cleric turns Skeletons. Imbuing a Lesser Elder Sign requires a one-time, permanent, sacrifice of two hit points from the person (or persons) that it is intended to protect, while imbuing a True Elder Sign requires a onetime, permanent, sacrifice of four hit points from same said persons.

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HPL's Dreamlands in First Edition Copyright © 2010 by James D. Hargrove