- It was a dark and stormy night. The wind whistles through the rafters, the rain beats on the roof, the thunder booms loud enough to shake the entire foundation. You walk the halls by candlelight, ignore the chills and the screams that filter their way down the halls, because the last thing you want to do is find yourself with a ghost attached to your hip, to your insides, to you.
But even so, it's tolerable compared to sleeping. When awake, you have control over yourself. You have agency. You're presented with reality, with all its creaking doors and evil cackles. In slumber, they grab ahold of your senses and your mind and refuse to let go. They twist you and they turn you, and whether awake or asleep, you can lose yourself either way.
Themes and Goals
This setting combines classic Gothic/supernatural horror with the psychological, going from the typical (ghosts, haunted houses, Frankenstein-esque experiments) to, perhaps, taking metaphors into literal territory (dreamscapes, the subconscious leaking over into the real world, quite literally facing yourself). There are two main settings: the mansion (and the town surrounding it) and the dreamscape itself.
The mansion is exactly what you'd expected: haunted. And the ghosts are excited, they're eager. Catch a glimpse of them, and they're malformed - whether side-effects of that pesky thing called death, or whether inflicted by something else is debatable. But they're happy. Viciously so. And they want you to join them. In fact, they'll even assist you in a test-drive sponsored by possession so you can. Meanwhile, an entire section of the mansion is locked off (an incentive for the ghosts, perhaps, as they have that convenient thing where they can float through anything solid. Jerks), and when the lightning is particularly bright, someone is at work up there, grabbing unsuspecting people and "fixing" them. New arms, new legs, new voices. New forms entirely. This is what happens when you die, perhaps. And he just wants to save you.
The dreamscape is a little different. Think of a maze that simply doesn't have an end, and the way it's presented is different depending on the characters involved. But here, one thing is always the same: you are always, always confronted with yourself. A doppelganger, of sorts. Something evil, something seething and loathsome. This isn't the unsettling elatedness of the ghosts, this isn't a what if. This is something that exists inside of you. Does it influence the way you see the outside world? Is it a product of the mansion itself? Will it cease to exist if you just don't sleep?
But without rest, the ghosts' influence gets stronger, and the desire to give in simply increases. You're fighting against yourself while fighting to keep yourself. The longer you hold off, the harder it is to actually leave the mansion, and the closer you are to being one of them.
The mansion itself is situated, conveniently, in the woods on the outskirts of a teeny, tiny town in the middle of nowhere. There's no beach, no real main roads. Just a ramshackle mansion and a run-down town and the woods, and all the sounds that come with them. The location itself is (conveniently) very prone to storms, so much that a clear day is very, very unusual. As for the temperature itself, it generally sits itself right in the middle of late-fall, with a nice (?) crispness to make everyone huddle nice and close together. Or, just stay inside. The ghosts would like that.
There's nothing out of the ordinary about the town itself, and perhaps that's the strangest thing. The complacency of the people. The distinct lack of anything involved. They'll acknowledge you, they'll greet you. There's a school and a couple of neighborhoods, a diner and a few stores all jam packed into a tiny, tiny area. And it's quiet. Very, very quiet.
Inside the mansion, first and foremost is the foyer, a large room lit only by candles. There's dust coating everything, paintings that look different depending on how the light moves. Stairwells that change position, hallways that lead to rooms with no exit. It's very, very easy to get trapped in the mansion, whether it's the doing of the overenthusiastic ghosts - or whether they're all working together with someone else. There does seem to be room for all of the subjects to live, even if space is cramped. If not, the townspeople are more than willing to put people up. As long as they stay.
The entirety of the mansion is not up for exploration. The entirety of the west wing is blocked off, opened up every so often for COMPASS' needs. That's the problem, though: you don't want the wing to be open. It lets characters, one by one, be plucked off by the ghostly doctor, fixed like he wants you to be. Lets your brains be picked and your bodies be twisted. There's incentive for staying out of things, for being complacent. Rebellion offers few rewards.
As stated previously, the dreamscape has no particular form. It depends entirely on the characters. More than one character can share the dreamscape at a time, leading to each character being able to influence the setting. It's the subconscious. Anything is possible. The one definite thing is that you will come face to face with yourself in that world, and it will morph into something beyond words. Is it possible for the duplicate to take over, to leave the "real" version stuck in the dreamscape? Who knows. (Yes.)
With things waiting to antagonize characters at literally every move they make, it's easy to make the idea of feeling trapped very prominent, in fact, the main focus. On top of that, characters are being pressured by the ghosts and the townspeople to stay, because it's such a nice place - which can either wear down defenses or trigger rebellion, depending on the person. The dreamscape adds to it, wearing characters down, outright swapping them for evil counterparts, and allowing them to quite literally face their own fears - and put a face to the evil that everyone is capable of. Also, to avoid it, you have to be willing to not sleep, which allows the other influences to grow, and judgment to become weaker.
The main location is the mansion itself, hidden in the woods, with a winding driveway and old, rusty, creaking gates. It's a huge place, and one that keeps growing (or is it your imagination?), and - yes - it is haunted. Everyone has their own bed, albeit not their own room, however, it is not mandatory that they stay there. The townspeople are inviting enough, allowing people to stay in their homes and in the abandoned houses around town - which, frankly, might be a better option. Less hauntings. However, the dreams persist, and the townspeople will become overbearing should you overstay your welcome (which - overstaying is impossible). It is possible to set up your own businesses, although - again - the townspeople would much prefer it if you let them take care of you! Think of them as the overbearing family you never wanted. The ones that want the best for you, and will make you see it their way.
As for communication, diaries provide a way to send messages out into the open area. Alternatively, incantations can work. Seances. Make the ghosts speak for you. Grab ahold of one (though that's up to you to find out how - they dislike being controlled, however willing they are to control others) and make it do your bidding. Make it tell people what you want them to know.
Life and the Living
The townspeople. They're pleasant, they're sweet, they're probably the nicest people you have ever met. While they marvel at the fact that you've come from the mansion out of seemingly nowhere, they're more than happy to have you! They'll give you a place to live, food to eat, money - anything you want - provided you stay for as long as they see fit. And they will go to severe lengths to make sure that you do stay, perhaps even getting violent. Think you're going to stay awake and get out of their clutches and refuse to dream? You're not. Sleep is healthy! You need it! Here, clearly you don't know what's best. But they do.
The townspeople operate like any classic town you can think of - and like you might think of, should you choose to integrate an original character into the setting. Teenagers go to school, but rebellion is at an all-time low. The shopkeepers and the restaurant owners are friendly. Very, very friendly. Politically, they don't concern themselves with much. The mayor exists. That's about it.
THE DOCTOR | More or less exactly what it says on the tin. The Doctor keeps to himself in the west wing of the mansion, high up in the tower room, and can only be heard when the storms are raging at their worst. He's the one dissecting and experimenting and attempting to get something out of it, whether it be another life, or just amusement, or something else. Typically hard at work - or research - he is generally rather difficult to contact.
THE SHADE | This one is somewhat more difficult to contact (as though The Doctor was easy), seeing as she doesn't live in the physical world. While the characters influence the dreamscape, she is the one that creates them - perhaps the one pulling the strings behind the doppelgangers.
Monsters and Wildlife
First and foremost, if you stay at the mansion, you have the ghosts. They come in all shapes and sizes, and they love visitors. Happy and unabashedly vicious, the ghosts will do anything in their power to get characters to stay with them. Meaning, they really, really want you to die and join them. This goes so far as possession, and an attempt to kick characters' souls out of their bodies. They can also be used for communication, and to grant characters access to things (or places - i.e. the west wing). However, you have to know how to perform a seance to make that happen.
Tying into the ghosts, we also have the previous experiments abandoned by the doctor. While they do come in ghostly form, they're not quite the same thing, evident by their maimed and twisted appearances. Not much information can be gained from them, and they're more in need of help than anything - either to be put out of their misery, or to gain back the life they once had. If killed, they become ghosts, which - either way, you're kind of screwed.
In the dreamscape, welcome to the land where doppelgangers rule! It's exactly what it sounds like: a duplicate of your character, however inverted. Good characters will find that their doppelganger drips with undeniable evil and a thirst for blood. Evil characters - frankly, will probably have more in common with theirs. However, one thing is certain: the doppelganger wants out, and that's at the expense of you. Do try not to get caught in the dreamscape. Who knows when you might find your way out again.
Text goes here
Text goes here
Text goes here