[The Nightmares Underneath] Byzantium: Nightmares Undreamed Of

Izidor Gašperlin, Ethiopian Warrior

You are an adventurer, a professional class of folk who deals with Nightmare Incursions that continuously bubble up.
It's a calling, an inherent trait.
People who aren't you go mad trying to deal with that crazy shit.
Highly lucrative. Dangerous as ****.
You're a rock star with weapons and spells.

You live in the greatest city on the planet, the trade hub between
East and West
North and South
Stars and Earth
Those Dimensions and Ours

You're a shiny new player on the scene.
You're getting invited to all the parties.
These people most certainly want something from you.

Have fun.


Let's play The Nightmares Underneath. Free edition is here. It's badass. The paid version, with all the artwork, is more badass. This game will also use rules from the magic supplement The Nameless Grimoire. Don't worry about it if you don't have a copy; we'll figure it out.

The Nightmares Underneath is a game that very skillfully weds OSRishness with newer game design elements (Powered by the Apocalypse feels very adjacent), with old-schoolish characters who are very good at what they do.

This variant on the game is set in a metropolis, and is more about the social and political game of new 'rock stars' coming onto the scene and being pulled and grasped at by various factions seeking to exploit their talents. But, you know, heads will be smashed, too. Some Nightmare stuff will show up. (As if anyone could keep it away...).

I used the System Label of Dungeon World, but this isn't really a Dungeon World game. Think of it more like some OD&D and some OSR meet Apocalypse World in Vornheim during a psychedelic metal concert / noble wedding / workers' protest.

This game will also use elements from The Perilous Wilds, Dungeon World, Fate, and other stuff that springs at me in the middle of the night with teeth that refuse to disengage. You don't need to own any of those tangential things. Hopefully you won't notice much when they get introduced to the game.

If you want to learn more about TNU, I've posted a short Let's Read of it at rpg.net.


This is likely to be a short-lived thing. My life is sideways right now, prone to chaos and disruption. I'll apologize now, ahead of time, and strive to not do much of that as we progress. We may be at it a month, possibly three. Longer than that is unlikely, but we all can dream. I'm not averse to picking things up again when I'm right-side up, if the stars align.


We'll start play in a fantastical metropolis. This game will dip into wyrdness. We're here to have a ridiculous amount of fun. It will feature social and political combat as much as physical combat. It may not delve overmuch into the eponymous Nightmares of the game. At least, not overtly.

Rolling dice: I'm going to roll for some stuff, you'll roll for some stuff. I don't have it all figured out yet, but this will probably default to players stating intentions and GM rolling for resolution most of the time, for expediency.

Posting rate: Daily, please

Your GM: I was super-active here from 2008 - 2015 or so. Been in a lot of games. Ran a couple, most of which have been short-lived. One was the longest-running 4e campaign on the site. This one will probably be shorter.

Note: There's a possibility this game will run at rpg.net instead of here. It'll depend on if I can import players from there to here.

Player Selection

This is not first-come, first-served, but I'm not intending to drag out player selection. Post your interest, I'll supply attribute rolls for you, post up your character. Add a paragraph about why you want to play in the game and what you look for in games. At the end of the September 2nd weekend, I'll make selections. I'm looking for five players, but may have 1-3 already (it's complicated).


Here's the bit that made me decide that TNU was forever going to be among my favorite games. It applies here.

from The Nightmares Underneath

Your character may be beautiful, ugly, striking, or plain; of any race, gender, sexual orientation, and biological construction you desire; wearing any type of clothing (or not). You might be brown or white, elf or dwarf, angel or snake-tailed minotaur—as long as you are not a nightmare, you may choose as you will. Use your imagination. The numbers on your sheet remain the same, and you do not get any superhuman abilities (like flying or breathing fire) because of your appearance.

You should also decide whether you are an anomaly or if there are many like you, and whether you are celebrated, persecuted, tolerated, or unremarkable in the kingdoms that you frequent.

We're not playing in the default setting of the lawful and Arabian Kingdom of Dreams, so don't marry yourself to that. You're adventurers, and trouble is your way of life. Chaotic and Evil are viable alignment choices; note that TNU makes them especially viable (p. 86).

In addition to your Attributes, Profession, Alignment, Appearance, and Motivations (per the book), please supply three Aspects: Background, Defining Aspect, Secret. Be evocatively succinct.

Here's an example:

Edmurton Hrubb, Chaotic Champion


Gentleman of the Sword (Background)
At the core of Edmurton's demeanor and identity is his self-conception as a gentleman and a duellist. The honor of the sword represents his core convictions on how a gentleman must carry himself.

Impassioned Securer of Darkest Lore (Defining Aspect)
Having known decades of subjugation to the will of dark agencies, Edmurton now applies his expertise to the securing of the tools of those agencies, that they not fall into the hands of men.

Powerless at Her Hand (Secret)
Edmurton is entirely in the thrall of Almerin of the Seventh Stair, his erstwhile lover. He knows that she is an agent of an unknown entity and he hates himself for his powerlessness against her. He possesses wit enough to know that he is unlikely to refuse any request from her, and so has established certain safeguards against her influence.

Don't trouble yourself at this point with Spells. We'll work on that together, generating them randomly with some guidance.

Additional Features
After player selection, as we delve further into chargen, we'll develop some contacts and establishments in the city around you. Each PC will start play invested into a Notable Institution (p 125). Don't trouble yourself with that now.

I think that's enough for now.

To apply as a player:
  • Post interest. Include a paragraph about why you want to play in the game and what you look for in games.
  • I'll roll attributes for you and start an Application Thread for you in the game forum
  • In your Application Thread, post your character concept, including Attributes, Profession, Alignment, Motivations, and Appearance, as well as your three Aspects (Background, Defining Aspect, Secret)

Thanks for reading this and considering the game! If nothing else, go download the free edition of The Nightmares Underneath by Johnstone Metzger. It's a treat and a treasure. Your gaming life will be better for having read it.