A thick blood red fog that seems to pulse in time with your beating heart swirls before you, seeming to have arisen from the floorboards beneath your bed. Thin rope like tendrils trail around its edges, swirling in faint shapes and images that vanish the moment you try to fix your eyes upon them.
The mist itself seems heavy with dark droplets of liquid that bead gently on your blankets and the nightstand. Beside you small crimson rivulets trickle down the wall where its tendrils brush.
However rather then fear, you feel a strange sense of alluring mystery radiating from the cloud; like the wonder of wrapped presents on winter festival morning. Within this miasma could be the answer to your dreams. As your mind recalls some of your wildest hopes and most desperate desires the sanguine vapor flows over you, its embrace not at all sticky as you expected, but warm and comforting, like the arms of the lover you've dreamed of since you were a teenage child, yet never expected to find...
The mist itself is a left over fragment of the mists of creation, the very essence the gods used to create the heavens and earth at a dawn of time. Misplaced and long since forgotten by the deities themselves, the mist drifts aimlessly in between the waking and sleeping worlds, inexorably drawn towards those mortals whose dreams all but consume their waking thoughts, and long ceaselessly for that which they can never possess by normal means.
Among mortals this sacred mist is rumored to appear as a divine reward to those who never give up chasing their hearts desire, and adventurers who are willing to make their dreams a reality even at great personal sacrifice.
Some retired adventures, their dreams still unfulfilled join monasteries or withdraw to become reclusive hermits, meditating with every moment of spare time upon their dreams and desires, hoping to be rewarded by this mysterious gift. Others, particularly abusers of hallucinogenic drugs and elderly dreaming of youth, may draw the mist to themselves during a particularly vivid dream of their hearts true desire and awaken to find it filling their room ready to make their every fantasy come true.
Granted they may have heard wild stories of the price of such dreams, but for the lonely woman in search of true love, or the dying elderly king, such a price may seem cheap in comparison to the alternative.
The mist itself is not so much a fully sentient entity, as a vaguely self aware magical tool. Created to make ones thoughts reality, the Sanguine Mist seeks to make the dreams of longing mortals come true; no matter how bizarre or implausible.
Being quite literally the energies of pure creation, reality runs like warm wax within the mist, letting anything take form and solidify into existence or life as the occupant desires.
If the hapless dreamer desires riches beyond belief, then they will find themselves surrounded by a kings ransom in gold and jewelry. Those seeking love can find the object of their desire brought to life before them ready and eager to please.
For those who wish the power of a emperor or vast stretches of land, they may find themselves in possession of a suitable item of jewelry, scroll of inheritance/deed, or other proof of their new found lineage to a already existing nobility or estate. Even magical powers or changes to ones physical form can be gained while within the mists, although the alteration to ones body may well prove painful enough to drive them irrevocably insane.
The gods who used such mist for the creation of life as it is known, were easily able to pay the cost for raw creation with but a small expense of willpower and energy. Unfortunately for mere mortals, such creation comes at a steeper price taken from the dreamers own flesh, sense of self, and in the cases of fantasy lovers made real or resurrected children, a piece of their very soul.
Depending on what one desires the mist will extract a similar price upon the wisher. Physical rewards such as piles gold and weapons can cost a user their legs, or perhaps fingers and toes.
Arcane knowledge or combat prowess comes at the price of other memories, from those of early childhood to their very sense of self identity.
Physical changes, from youth to a more beautiful body often come at the expense of the mind, with the body of a goddess also granting one the intelligence of a fence post, and a second chance at youth brining with it a loss of worldly knowledge and experience.
For living creations a fragment of the persons very life essence is torn from them to breath life into the new being. A man wishing for the girl of his dreams to be at his side may find himself twenty years older, or perhaps due to part of his soul as the building block of this new life, he may find he shares every physical and/or emotional discomfort his new love does, their lives quite literally one.
The resurrection of a real person lost to the embrace of death, or destruction of an already living foe carries with it the highest cost of all, a life for a life, no other exchange sufficient to oppose the will of the reaper.
Of all the dreams mortals have, dreaming of a far off land is perhaps the cheapest, usually costing only a few months of life for the instant travel to such a location. However unless the dreamer was carrying the requisite supplies and means to survive, they could well find themselves in a far off hostile land with little more then the clothes on their backs.
Perhaps most insidious of all, while within the mist such dreams appear to be granted free of cost, seeming to simply appear to the user as if by the will of the gods, the mist itself even creating the illusion of a palace or romantic riverside view to accommodate the users idyllic dreams.
Theoretically one could exist within the mist for an eternity without cost, as long as they have no dreams or desires that apply to the real world. Unfortunately for mortals they inevitably wish to spend their newly acquired wealth, and introduce their newly found love to friends and family. It is when the users dreams involve the real world that the mist finds itself compelled to solidify their desires as reality before fading, and use the dreamer in part for the necessary construction material to achieve such ends...
Sweet Dreams are made of these:
Dreams, everyone has dreams, from the wet behind the ears adventurer, to the retired bar keep down the road. Recently the local herbologist has begun secretly selling a new drug called "sweet dreams" a powerful sleeping compound that he promises will make a users dreams come true in as little as a months worth of regular use. (In reality the potion enhances a users dreams to the the point of lucidity, making them a virtual magnet to the Sanguine Mist, as well as being highly addictive in its own right.) When local addicts begin turning up horribly disfigured, in possession of vast riches and strangely loyal companions word of a dark curse abounds.
Suffering from a recent bizarre influx of crippled people bearing irrefutable proof of inheritance to part of the royal kingdom and estate, the king offers up a tidy reward to whomever can put a stop to the madness before things get even further out of hand.
Magnar The Quick was always considered a sneaky genius, even among his fellow alchemists. It came as no surprise to his colleagues when he found a way to bottle the legendary Sanguine Mist and market it to unwitting buyers as a bottle of "cursed dreams." Using this bottled mist a user could splash it across another living person while envisioning a single dream of their own, and the dream would quickly come true, at the horribly painful expense of the poor victim covered in mist.
Now these bottles of dreams are turning up in the hands of foul tyrants and well meaning adventurers causing no end of moral dilemmas. (After all why shouldn't a murderer die to bring his victim back to life? Or a mere peasant suffer complete amnesia to restore the beloved old emperor to youth?)
Worse still, the mist itself seeks to reclaim its missing fragments, and begins hunting those in possession of the bottles, as well as those who benefited from their use in a desperate attempt to become whole once more.
A relative of one of the characters recently seems to have become heir to a small dukedom and a skilled mage to boot, but also somehow lost his right arm below the elbow and forgotten the rest of his family ever existed. Discovering the cause and possible cure behind their beloved uncles strange malady and sudden power could prove challenging, although his sleeping mutters of a red mist might just hold the needed clue.
Having seen the horrific effects this Sanguine Mist has had on people over the years the temple of order have taken it upon themselves to track down and destroy this chaotic force one and for all, sparing no expense in the hiring of adventures to assist them.
Such a journey could involve traveling to ancient holy ruins top learn of the mists initial creation and perhaps even to the plane of dream itself to destroy the mist in the one place where it may possibly be vulnerable.
Dreams Come True:
The Sanguine Mist appears to multiple members of the group one chilly night in a run down inn. Even with having heard of the alleged costs for gifts the question still remains, is a chance at a dream come true worth the price? Perhaps more important is the alluring question that stirs in the back of their minds, "Is it possible to make someone else currently in the mist pay the price for my dreams?"