13th Sage: Builder’s Dreams

by Rob Heinsoo

When we wrote the 13th Age core book, Jonathan and I traded off writing Chapter 8: The Dragon Empire. I got the chapter rolling with a big rush of ideas I’d always wanted to use in a fantasy campaign. Jonathan added many sections, then I rolled back through to finish the chapter off.

All of that is to explain why I don’t know which of us wrote the following section, which got cut during layout because of space. The phrasing makes me think that it was Jonathan, with me revising; but that may just be a case of how we mimic each other’s style when we write together.

Not only do I not know which one of us wrote it, for years I didn’t remember that we’d cut this piece out of the book! I would have put it into 13 True Ways if I’d realized it had been knocked out of the core book during construction. I’ve told multiple groups the story, thinking that I was just repeating stuff they’d already read.

Touching up the entry for this post, I noticed that “Builder’s Dreams” apparently misplaces its possessive apostrophe—the highway had multiple builders, so why the singular? But I think that was originally intentional: a hint that there may have been a singular builder, one whose dreams are not dreams you want to share.

Builder’s Dreams

Part of the magic of the great Imperial Highways is that no one feels comfortable living too close to them. Inns, towns, and buildings of all sorts (other than temporary shelters from the weather) are almost always constructed at least 100 yards or more from the road.

Travelers who sleep too close to the highways often have problems with dreams. The dreams of the original road builders haunt the highway stones. The dreams won’t touch you if you’re awake. But anyone who sleeps too near the road can count on nightmares, terrible sleep, and a gradual degradation of their faculties.

Such dreams and disrupted sleep isn’t something that has game mechanics effects after a night or a week, but the effects could be a problem after two weeks. People say that the Lich King has no power over these dreams. It might even be true.

The innkeepers near Horizon and Santa Cora show off the strength of their warding spells by setting up closer to the road than inns built in less magically skilled areas.

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