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The Hidden Realm

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

It had taken years of research, months of construction, and a full twelve hours of calibration to reach this point. Vyarna stood before the door she had seen so many times before in her waking dreams, ready to cross thresholds others thought could never be reached. But this was the pursuit of artifice - to push the boundaries of invention into the impossible. The githyanki smiled, flicking her wrist and sending dozens of coils into a humming, electrified chorus. The door's glow intensified, forcing Vyarna to shield her eyes as it opened, flooding the room with bands of light that threatened to blind and burn with each passing moment. She had anticipated an energy surge, but the intensity shook her from her revelry. Jumping through the portal, everything became light and thought... Her feet found purchase on a stone floor - marble streaked with bright blue. She looked behind her, but there was no evidence of her doorway. Instead the room stretched forward into bizarre infinity. Bookshelves rose from the floor on both sides, tipping inward and bending to wrap over her head, creating a curved ceiling of thousands upon thousands of tomes. Regardless of any sense of distance, it felt as if all she need to to reach a book was look at it with intent, and the room would start bending itself to her will. Had she fallen short and stumbled into Limbo? A cleared throat called her attention away from the book she was reaching for - Convergent Qualia Through Shared Observation - to find a male orc wrapped in brown and deep blue robes. Small trinkets adorned his fingers and robe, but Vyarna struggled to focus on any specific bobble, instead drawn to focus on the individual's gaze. Gray eyes pierced her from beneath a heavy brow of dark black hair. "Ah, are you the master of this place?" The orc nodded, turning his body to face her more directly. "... aaand your name? I am Vyarna." The orc looked at her quizzically. "You know the path to my house, and yet you do not know my name?" Something about him was setting her on edge. She was sure there was a great distance between them, and yet she could hear him clearly at no more than a casual volume. It felt like he could reach out and pluck her from where she stood in an instant, and so her hand hovered closer to the blunderbuss at her back. "Eheh, apologies, but my theorems are still rather new. I knew that something existed on the other side, but I did not know.. what..." she says, voice drifting slightly as she dares to glance away from the man, finding even more doorways and passages leading out of this central hall. How large was this place? "Well, Vyarna.." He was behind her now, nose in a book. When had that happened? Was the flow of time.. "Sensations are different here," could he hear her thoughts? "and while your curiosity is respectable, I do not allow uninvited guests here." The titles on the books weren't titles at all anymore. Get Out Grovel Leave "I.. I assure you, I do not come with ill will or to plunder. I merely wish to learn.." She saw it this time. It was the blinks. He was changing things - how, she couldn't be sure - whenever she closed her eyes, even for a moment. The book had vanished from his hand and he was moving in to attack. She drew her weapon, one finger already on the trigger. The explosion rent the air, but the man seemed not to flinch in the slightest. His form lacked blood and his clothes remained untouched - another illusion? It didn't matter as his palm struck, forcing the air from her lungs and leaving her body limp. But his face did not match the violence of the strike. He had the look of a kindly grandfather, scolding with a smile. "Kintaro. Now, think on what you have learned." The world lurched to one side and Vyarna found herself strewn across a chair in her lab. Everything in sight smoldered and smoked, and the doorway she had worked so hard to construct stood open. Empty. --- It took several weeks for Vyarna to assure herself the encounter with the orc had been real. Initially she suspected an altered, hallucinatory state brought on by a near death experience - a plausible hypothesis given the aftermath of the doorway. But the evidence did not corroborate such a conclusion, and so she dove once more into research. "Kintaro" and the book proved to be fruitless leads. Nothing of science was there - only mysticism and vague constructions that were barely adjacent to arcane theorems she had already delved into before. Aside from wasting what little funds were left on a diviner, they would offer little to her pursuit. Instead she focused on what she could remember of her brief visit, combining some of these mystical theories with her mindfulness practices in an attempt to elicit some sort of deeper understanding. She was no githzerai, but her appreciation for the power of the mind is what led her down this path in the first place. Vyarna's first construction was small, but that is how progress happens: small, tentative steps into new realities. Hers was a pen. The ink flowed, the balance was just so, and its effects lasted beyond the scope of its own existence. It was as much a symbolic creation as a practical one. Decades ago her first functioning device was a fountain pen of similar stylings. This one, however, was not made with wood and metal. Vyarna had constructed it with her mind, sculpting reality from a waking dream. As the pen vanished into nothingness, Vyarna smiled at the schematic it left behind: a door, one of thought and purpose rather than metal, that would be the path to her greatest discovery yet. "See you soon, Kintaro."

Subclasses of the Hidden Realm

For those looking to dabble in more of the psychedelic, "mind over matter" styles of fantasies, we have released two brand new subclasses for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. These subclasses share a theme / setting called The Hidden Realm: a place of thought-made-real that exists at the intersection of the Material, the Astral, and the countless planes and demiplanes brought into being through shared subconscious, dreams, and waking thought. It is a place of mind palaces, forgotten secrets, and mutable physics.

The first subclass is Way of the Hidden Realm, a Monk subclass that focuses on precise control of the ki that exists in one's own mind and also the minds of others. The subclass taps into the heroic fantasy of Doctor Strange, who can use the mirror dimension to isolate targets and defeat them using a landscape he controls. The features give the monk some interesting party buff mechanics, some Roleplaying / Exploration utility, and also a unique combat focused ability that allows you to control the battlefield and isolate enemies. If you're looking for a way to help the party by tanking damage and controlling the battlefield while still getting to use all of those other dope monk features, this is the perfect subclass!

The second subclass is the Astral Tinkerer, a specialization for the Artificer class. With another nod to the MCU, this subclass allows you to feel like Tony Stark (or Spiderman) as you construct brand new technology using just your mind - think of those characters manipulating holographic projections that then become reality. You can create objects from thin air, as well as imbuing mundane objects with elements of impossible construction. A rope of infinite length? No problem. How about a ladder of infinite height? Or a door jam that can't be moved? All in a day's work for these "Creators of the Impossible"!

We hope you like the story above that introduces our two iconic representations of these two subclasses: Kintaro, Scion of the Hidden Realm; and Vyarna, the Astral Genius.

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