A layer of the world known by various names, including Tel’aran’rhiod, the Unseen World, the Wolf Dream, and the Spirit World. It is essentially a parallel world where all possibilities of the Wheel of Time connect, and as such it is linked to the myriad worlds that exist within the Wheel, yet remains separate from them.
Anyone can enter the World of Dreams but only a Dreamwalker does so at will. Entering Tel’aran’rhiod can be extremely dangerous for the uninitiated and lead to injuries carried into the Waking World, even death.
The ability is more common or understood in some Ages than others. In some Ages it is even taught.
The World of the Dream is malleable, and the light within appears ambient with no obvious source. There is often an accompanying experience of watching, unseen eyes. Time is difficult to measure, and may pass differently, but never flows backwards. You cannot wake up before you originally went to sleep.
It appears as a mirror of the Waking World in every Age. Objects such as geographical formations, forests, and mountains exist, as do buildings that have been around the real world long enough to create an impression in the Dreamworld. Everything else remains in flux. Objects appear and disappear; doors open and shut. Wild animals exist there, but domesticated animals do not. Wolves have a particularly strong connection.
Dreamwalkers have the natural ability to enter the Dreamworld at will. They can project thoughts to shape the world around them, though larger things are more difficult to maintain and control than smaller ones. An unskilled person may have difficulty with even their appearance, causing their clothing to flicker and change, sometimes without their own awareness. The key to mastery is in remembering it is a dream. To forget this is dangerous, and can result in the Dreamer becoming trapped, injured, or killed.
The most skilled Dreamers can affect constructs made by other individuals, and might even imagine something out of existence. They can believe themselves as being somewhere else, and instantly appear in that location. They can even affect their own body, to the extent of healing wounds if supremely skilled.
In some Ages, the ability to enter the Dream can be taught, or aided by wielding objects of power.
Dreamwalkers in the 1st Age:
- Thalia Milton
- Jon Little Bird
- Takeo Onoda
- John Carlyle
- Sören Lindgren
- Rajani Misra
- Daiyu Sòng
- Noah Crow’s Eye
- Melany Alvarez Tai Terrones
- Patricus I
- Adrian Kane
- Korii Kiyohito
- Nesrin Aziz
Dreaming is a separate skill, though it often goes hand-in-hand with Dreamwalking. Dreamers experience prophetic dreams, though these can be difficult to understand and interpret. All Dreamers are Dreamwalkers, but not all Dreamwalkers are Dreamers.
For a list of 1st Age Dreamers, see: Prophet
These people are rare and incredibly skilled Dreamwalkers who exhibit unusual finesse and control in the World of Dreams, able to affect its very substance and access other dimensions and worlds. It appears to be a talent connected to the soul, and reappears in each cycle of an individual’s rebirth, though in some cases may remain latent. What causes this uncanny connection is unknown; it’s possible these individuals have a permanent and specific link to Tel’aran’rhiod.
For a list of 1st Age Dreamweavers, and more information about the ability, see: Dreamweavers
Those with wolfkin abilities have a natural and powerful ability to enter the World of Dreams, to them known as the Wolf Dream. These people are usually more gifted and skilled at adapting to and manipulating their environment than normal Dreamers, aided by their ancient connection to the wolves who dwell there and the memories they are able to share.
For a list of 1st Age wolfkin, see: Wolfkin
A dreamshard is a merging of an individual’s dream and Tel’aran’rhiod. The person to whom it belongs has a high degree of control over the place, far more than in the normal World of Dreams. It does not flicker and appears indistinguishable from the Waking world. Creating and successfully maintaining a dreamshard requires a high amount of skill, but may be created by any sufficiently talented Dreamwalker.
Dreamers who discover or are aware of the Gap of Infinity are able to observe the dreams of others, something generally considered rude to do in most Ages. A Dreamwalker can also speak to others in their dreams or enter that person’s dreams directly. Entering the dreams of another is very dangerous, as the Dreamer becomes part of the other person’s dream and it is often controlled by them. It is possible for a Dreamer to get pulled into someone’s dream against their will if the dreaming person has exceptional feelings of hate or love towards that individual. A Dreamer who enters or is forced into another person’s dreams is no longer susceptible to the physical dangers of Tel’aran’rhiod and they fall back into normal sleep.
In some Ages this skill is used for communication, notably in the 6th Age by Morpheus and the Court of the Oneiroi. These individuals were particularly skilled at manipulating dreams, and could do so to send messages, or relay prophecy.
It is also possible to pull a dreaming person into Tel’aran’rhiod and keep them there, something Lethe regularly did in the 6th Age. During the 3rd Age, this was considered an evil act, employed only by those pledged to the Shadow.
An individual’s need is another if potentially dangerous way of navigating the Dreamworld. It is a method of allowing the Dreamworld itself to interpret inner desires and fears, and manifesting it in the world around you.
It is most useful for searching for or uncovering knowledge, however it can sometimes be difficult to discern why the Dream has shown you what it has, or taken you where you end up. Some Dreamers may find themselves particularly in-tune to the undercurrents of need that make up the dreaming world. Nimeda is particularly adept at using it and travelling its currents to find others, perhaps because she has no fear or concern for how dangerous it is.
As it is connected to other worlds, Tel’aran’rhiod may also be visited by others. The Huldufólk are known to use it, as are the Yakṣaṇī. Notably the Arboreal constructs are able to navigate and dwell in the Dreamworld, but the Ogier cannot. In fact Steddings are not accessible through Tel’aran’rhiod at all.
Nightmares are described as small, swift creatures of deepest black fur that can move on all fours or squat on their hind haunches. They feed on fear, figuratively and literally. In the 1st Age, Daiyu describes them as her pets, and she is able to exert some influence over their behaviour. They mostly reside in the Dreamworld but can appear in the waking world when a nightmare is inflicted upon a person.
They stalk dreams more than Dreamers. In Ages when their mistress is reborn, they are usually held back from feeding on other Dreamwalkers, for it is considered disrespectful. In Ages where Morpheus’s soul is also reborn, the punishment for such is their deaths.
Wolves are able to enter the dream world via the Wolf Dream, and do so regularly to communicate, bond with, and instruct their wolfkin brethren. They are skilled at controlling the dream, and dwell there between rebirths. Wolfkin who succumb to their primitive urges and are killed often return to the dream as wolves.
Wolves generally avoid dreamers, though some they watch or are wary of. In Ages where the Shadow is prevalent, they will attack evil entities.
One of the worlds connected through Tel’aran’rhiod is the hellscape trolls return to upon their death in the waking world. In the dream and waking world these corpses appear as basalt pillars.
In the dreamworld these pillars retain some small measure of communication and awareness, and are desperate to be set free.
The Gap of Infinity
This is the place between the waking world and Tel’aran’rhiod. One who enters this strange place feels as if they are floating through a sea of stars, but they have no body that they can see or feel. Each of these stars represents the dreams of people in the world as they sleep. In this place a Dreamwalker can find the dreams of others. It is also the membrane between worlds, dimensions and other planes.
In the Waking World, it is the place through which Skimming works. There it is perceived as a place of absolute darkness.
The Crevice is a sickle-shaped space that exists at the edge of the Gap of Infinity, and was harnessed by Asristin, a master of Tel’aran’rhiod in the 2nd Age, who used his talents to build permanent structures within it. It exists throughout the Ages, and is only accessible by him. In each Age of rebirth this location is rediscovered by his soul. Among its hidden secrets are bridges connected to other worlds.
Heroes of the Horn
Heroes bound to the Wheel of Time who have not yet been spun back into the waking world wait for their rebirth in Tel’aran’rhiod, or for the call of the Horn of Valere, whichever comes first. Rules that govern the heroes prohibit them from contacting or communicating with Dreamwalkers, though at times this tenant has been broken. Heroes have little control over the Dreamworld but more awareness of what goes on there.
Known Heroes: Kiyohito
Nimeda is a soul that exists in Tel’aran’rhiod in every Age. She has been known by various names.
The reborn soul of Melinoë, who spends much time in the dreamworld due to her incarceration in a psychiatric hospital. Notably, she is able to control nightmares.
The Tārās (5th Age)
In the 5th Age, Tārā was a title belonging to a small collective of channeling women bound by the same ethos and teachings to serve the world for its betterment. Among them was a group known as Green Tārās, who were gifted with the ability to walk the Dreamworld and who actively sought out others to train and join their cause. They collaborated across the known world, and had connections with the Yakṣaṇī of that time. These women protected dreams, comforted, mediated, and provided wisdom. They certainly had permanent infrastructure in Tel’aran’rhiod, however whether any of this survived the destruction of the godswars is unknown.
The Watchers (5th Age)
An order of angels who among their duties were tasked with guarding the bridges, pockets and the Star Gap of the dreamworld. Prophecy divined from the lessons of previous Ages led to strict governance of Tel’aran’rhiod, and in particular the pathways between worlds. Exploration or meddling with the Pattern of the dream was strictly forbidden. The order was made entirely of men.