Recurring Dream - The Fire Sermon

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All Echo Bazaar material is © Failbetter Games 2010, used by permission.

This page contains information that can be considered spoilers. You Have Been Warned.

Recurring Dream - The Fire Sermon

This is one of the recurring dreams you can have from opportunity cards in Echo Bazaar. If you don't want it spoiled, don't read any further! Otherwise, this documents the progress of the dream and effects you may receive/suffer.

This set of dreams has a themes of flames and various things burning, such as books, the Thames, yourself or children. The description of the quality is "Dreams about flames".

Red-bordered cards

These cards will be automatically played if you have the action points spare. They require no choices and as far as I can tell, have no chance of "failure", so what you see is what you get. The number in brackets is the level of dream which unlocks the opportunity.


A dream about something expensive happening (-)

You dream that you brought a candle into a dark room. When you raise it to see the room better, you accidentally touch it to the spine of a book. In an instant the book is aflame. Fire leaps from one book to the next, from one shelf to the next, and you realise you're standing in a burning library. Pages flutter around you like charred leaves.

  • 1 Fate
  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon +
  • Nightmares +

A dream about fireworks (1)

You dream that you're standing, holding a candle, in a classroom filled with cheerfully shouting children. You touch the candle to their heads, one by one. Each time you do, they go up in a cheerfully shouting shower of green sparks, which spreads across the ceiling until the rafters catch fire. When the roof falls in, you wake up.

  • 1 Fate
  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon +
  • Nightmares +

A dream about a burning river (2)

You dream that you're flinging books happily on to the Stolen River, the one they used to call the Thames. The river is on fire! Flames leap higher than the houses on either side. Every time you throw another book on, there is a flare of coloured light, like a firework, and a puff of sweet-scented smoke. You look down and realise with horror that you've run out of books: you are flinging your clothes on to the fire. When your clothes are gone, you begin peeling off skin and throwing that. You wake before it goes very much further.

  • 1 Fate
  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon +
  • Nightmares +

A dream about a burning river (4, Nightmares 6)

You dream that you're flinging books happily on to the Stolen River, the one they used to call the Thames. Quite abruptly you wake. Er, you're crouching over your fireplace, smearing your hands and face feverishly with ashes. You pause there in the dark. Perhaps you need a little holiday.

  • Nightmares +

A dream about a bridge (6)

You dream that you are standing on a bridge at night. Dark shadows surround you. Occasionally, you catch movement out of the corner of your eye. Black water slips below the bridge.

Gradually, the water begins to eddy and bubble. Points of reflected light on the water spark into oily flames, which spread across the river's surface. You are fascinated by the sight, and as you gaze down into the water, you have a growing sensation that someone is watching you from the other side of the bridge. Something - fear? caution? obstinacy? - prevents you from turning to face them. Two points of fire coalesce on the water below: something below is watching you, too. You are trapped in the middle.

  • 1 Fate
  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon +
  • Nightmares +

A dream about a city (7)

You dream that you are standing on a bridge. Your back is to the parapet this time, and you are looking up towards a city on the hill. Lightning forks across the night sky as you watch. Eery pale-green fire hangs and flickers at the tops of the city's spires. A glow begins to spread through the streets.

Spikes of jabbing lightning bring the scene to life for brief, confusing moments. The bolts tap tower after tower deliberately now, like a finger choosing cakes from a tray. Flames spread through the city. Then the water under the bridge grows choppy, and suddenly it is raining so heavily it feels as though the sky is collapsing. Someone is furious.

  • 1 Fate
  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon +
  • Nightmares +

A dream about a ship (8)

You dream you are standing on the deck of a ship at night. You are looking upwards, not down at the water, because you know the water would make you feel uneasy. A corona of strange fire shimmers and flickers around the tops of the masts. Luminous violet and deep blue dance around each other, and you can feel the energy in the air.

You become aware that the ship is pitching. The waves grow taller, fingers of foamy water reach into the air: as if they were trying to snuff out the masts like candles. You wait, calmly, to see if they succeed.

  • 1 Fate
  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon +
  • Nightmares +

A dream about lightning (10)

You dream that you are standing on a hillside, looking towards the sea. It is a dark and stormy night, and you spare a moment to wonder why you are outside. But your attention is caught by a solid shape, rocking on the water. A ship. You shiver.

Gusts of wind throw handfuls of rain in your face. But you cannot hear anything. For a few seconds, the sky is illuminated by a sheet of dirty yellow lightning. You see the silhouette of the ship, riding on the crest of a wave. Its sails are tightly furled against the silent storm and blue flames dance around the mast-tops. You are suddenly certain that there is no one aboard that ship.

  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon +
  • Nightmares +

A dream about a garden (10)

You dream that you are standing at a gate. The gateway leads into an old, walled garden. It is irresistible. You walk slowly along its paths, stopping sometimes to breathe the scent of jasmine or dip your fingers into the stream.

Twilight gathers. All around the flower-beds, tiny lights pop into existence. Green glow-worms wriggle on the earth. Their parents, the fireflies, dance in the air above them like little stars. You are captivated.

The stream swells at your side. It bursts free of its channel, and rushes across the ground, swamping the glow-worms and extinguishing their little lights. The fireflies, powerless to save their children, turn and flee in a soft green cloud.

  • 1 Fate
  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon +
  • Nightmares +

A dream about a hearth (11)

You dream that you are sitting by the fire. It is the end of a long, peaceful evening, and the fire has died down to embers. The warm glow is comforting and soporific. You are so cosy in your chair; you are drifting off to sleep.

A chill in the air. You awake. You are no longer sure where you are. The walls of the room have faded into darkness. You see with relief that there are still a few coals glowing. No. As you come to your senses, you realise that those points of red light are floating above you. And there are two pairs. In opposite corners. If indeed there are corners any more. The cold is biting now, so there may well not be. Fortunately, you sense that you are the spectator here - wherever here is. Those points of light are not focused on you.

  • 1 Fate
  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon +
  • Nightmares +

A dream about an angry mountain (13)

You dream that you are sitting in a boat. Close by, a mountain is exploding. Plumes of smoke billow into the air. Streams of white-hot lava cascade down the mountainside, destroying everything in their path.

The mountain slopes down into the sea. As the rivers of lava hit the cold brine, it boils instantly. The lava is all-consuming, but in turn is consumed by the vast sea. You sit quietly, just watching.

  • 1 Fate
  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon +
  • Nightmares +

A dream about ice and fire (13)

You dream that you are watching a volcano erupt into the sea. You have been here before. Blindingly hot streams of lava pour into the water, creating a boiling, hissing cauldron of steam. It's a spectacular sight.

But as you watch, the balance shifts. A layer of ice is spreading across the sea, towards the mountain. The waves solidify before your eyes, turning to thick green ice in a few heartbeats. The lava streams become glaciers, flowing upwards. Your breath freezes in your lungs. Worse, though, is the sense that there is a battle here: there is a terrible awareness in the fire, and its match and peer in the ice...

  • 1 Fate
  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon +
  • Nightmares +

White-bordered cards

These cards give you a choice when you play them, and you may opt out at no penalty. Once again, the number in brackets is the level in dream required to unlock the opportunity.

A dream about a bright fountain (5)

You dream that you are back in the garden, the one that feels like a honey-dream. Suddenly, it is night. You have returned to the fountain, and now it is pouring forth streams of coruscating sparks. They fly into the air and are carried away by the breeze. Flames lap at the fountain's base, like a pool of fire in a stone bowl. The effect is extraordinary. How do you feel?

This does not feel right (5)

Flames should not behave like that. Turn away.

You try to walk away...

...but the more you try, the harder it becomes. Each step is a greater effort: like tar, like treacle, like the bonds of old age. The heat at your back grows more fierce. Your presence is required here. You are not to leave just yet. Not just yet.

  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon +
  • Nightmares +

This is fascinating

Draw closer. Closer. Closer...

You are mesmerised.

Your cannot move from the burning fountain. It looks glorious. You feel its warmth caressing your skin. Even when you close your eyes, but you can still see the flames just as clearly. Someone approves of you: approves very strongly. Gradually, the burning grows to fill your entire world.

  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon +
  • Nightmares +

A dream about a burning city (7)

You dream about a walled city on a hill at night. The city is burning. Timbers crack and sparks fly into the sky, carried along by the breeze.

Try to help

Rush in, dreaming of rescuing children from smoke-filled rooms.

A dream of heroism

You race through endless rooms, coughing and shielding yourself from falling masonry. But you cannot find a single soul. Or a way out.

  • Nightmares is increasing +
  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon +
  • Magnaminous +

Just watch

Join a bucket chain? What for? It's not your city.

It's a beautiful sight

You are watching, now, from atop a hill across a valley. The city is an inferno by now, but dawn is breaking. As orange light dissolves the sky, the flames merge with it, and soon you are looking at nothing at all.

  • Nightmares is increasing +
  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon +
  • Heartless +

A dream about a walk in the marshes (9)

You dream of wandering in a lonely place. It is past dusk and there is a damp chill in the air. You can feel mud squelching underfoot. The ground is tussocky, and it is getting harder to see where you are going without tripping.

Over there. A ball of pale green flame rises up from behind a clump of fungus. It hangs in the air, flickering gently. You approach it, and it begins to float, erratically, away.

It's a corpse-candle! Leave it alone

You know the old stories. You will not be lured into a trap. Turn away from it. Stay where you are.

It grows darker

The will o'the wisp drifts away. You are standing in the middle of a marsh, with treacherous ground a step in every direction. Suddenly, you miss that little glowing light.

  • Nightmares +
  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon +

It's a natural phenomenon. Ignore it

Ignis fatuus. Foolish fire indeed. Keep walking and pay it no mind.

They also call them Jack o'lanterns, you know

You are right. There are no such things as pixies that use glowing lights to lure innocent travellers to a watery doom. But there is such a thing as Jack-of-Smiles. He creeps into your dream, carrying a carved pumpkin that holds a flickering candle.

Suddenly, the marsh is swarming with thick vines. Pumpkins flower and swell to maturity all around you. Each one is lit from the inside by a ball of green fire. It's beautiful. A field of soft lights spreads around you. You realise that the flames are moving, coming closer, crowding you...

  • Nightmares +
  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon +
  • Watchful +

...

...

A treacherous path

The light bobs and sways over tump and tussock. It is ridiculously pretty. You find yourself humming a tune that falls in time with its movements. You watch the ground very carefully. You've heard stories about these things.

It stops, then, bobbing expectantly. You take a step forward: it doesn't move. You step back: it moves with you! It's following you! You take a rather more rapid step back, and collapse abruptly backwards into black and scummy water. It closes over your head without a ripple.

  • Nightmares +
  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon +
  • Direct +

A dream about a will o'the wisp (10, Watchful 10)

You dream that you are wandering in the marshes. It is very dark, now. You have been waiting for the will o'the wisp this time. When it appears, its glow is as comforting as guiding starlight.

B----r the thing! You're not going to follow it!

Stay where you are. It can find someone else to lure into the mud. Admittedly this is your dream, so its options may be limited.

A departing light

The wisp fades and is gone. The only light is a wretched purply phosphorescence from floating marsh scum. You mooch wretchedly around the place for a while and then topple head-first into a dream about an army of savage ice-tongs. There are no more fiery dreams that night.

  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon -

Faery treasure!

Did you really say 'faery'? Oh dear. But then, this is a dream. Follow the light and see what it marks.

(A matter of luck: it could go either way.)

A strange little hoard

The ball of flame bobs along gently for a while and you follow it, splashing through the mud. After a while it stops, and hovers above a small tuffet of grass, flickering encouragingly at you. You stoop to look. Nestling amongst the toadstools is a heap of tiny, silver bones. You dislike the idea of touching them. The light winks out. Where are you now?

  • You were fortunate!
  • Nightmares +
  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon +

An eery song

You stumble along behind the will o'the wisp as it darts faster and faster across the marsh. It's all right, though - somehow the boggy ground feels firm and springy to walk on. As your pace increases you hear faint strains of song. They seem to reach towards you with silvery fingers.

You stop dead. You are perched at the edge of a crevasse. One more step, and you would have tumbled into the dark water below. The ball of fire hangs in the air, reproachfully. The Drownies' song is mournful. How did you know when to stop?

  • You were unlucky. Better luck next time...
  • Watchful +
  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon +
  • Nightmares +

A dream about stars (10)

You dream that you are standing on a hill. Cold stars are strewn across the sky. This is a dream, so there is no need to wonder why they are there. Some begin to fall from the sky.

Stay where you are

You're quite comfortable on the cold hillside. Comfortable-ish.

The light fades

Somewhere close by, there is an exasperated growl. You put out your hand, and it rips the darkness as if it were charred paper. The moonish light of the Neath filters in. You are still abed, but it's getting to the point where you can no longer pretend you're asleep.

  • Nightmares -
  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon -

Follow the shooting stars

They must be trying to lead you somewhere.

(A straightforward challenge for your Watchful quality., A matter of luck: it could go either way. [?])

A valley of fire

The stars leave fiery trails across the sky. You climb down the hillside and set off to find where they are landing. You walk for a long time.

You are on the edge of a cliff, looking down into a valley. Thousands of little fires are scattered across the land, glowing red in the darkness like a shower of sparks from a chimney. You feel eyes watching you and turn around; but all you see are two more red embers in the dark.

  • You were fortunate!
  • Watchful +
  • You succeeded in a Watchful challenge!
  • Nightmares +
  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon +

You climb down, and down, and down

Soon, you are in total darkness. There are no stars above or below you. But you can hear water crashing against rock, somewhere nearby. Very nearby. The back of your neck is certain that someone is watching you.

  • You were unlucky. Better luck next time...
  • You succeeded in a Watchful challenge!
  • Nightmares +
  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon +

A dream about an earthquake (11?)

You dream that you are standing on a beach. You look out across the water. On the horizon stands a mountain, its shoulders sloping, its peak scooped like a giant's bite. The ground begins to shake. The ocean heaves.

  • Nightmares +
  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon +

(yes, you get stat changes when you accept the dream!)

Warn the city (12)

Somehow, you know you can raise the alarm, if you try hard enough.


You are standing in a square.

You are surrounded by people. You shout and shout about the coming tidal wave, but everyone ignores you. They walk right by you, unseeing, oblivious. You grow more and more desperate, but then you realise: you are already underwater. That's why they can't hear you...

  • Nightmares +
  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon +
  • Magnaminous +

Save yourself (12)

It is too late for everyone else.


You made your decision

Suddenly you are on the slopes of the mountain. The ground is shaking apart beneath your feet. A chasm opens; the cracks in the earth glow bright red. You do not feel hot, though. You become aware that you are not alone here, but no one is paying you any attention.

  • Heartless +
  • having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon +
  • Nightmares +

Royal Bethlehem Hotel cards

A plan occurs (1)

What if you burnt down the hotel? That would show them, wouldn't it. What would they do then? With their hotel? Their burnt hotel?

Start a fire in the kitchens.

Oh, this will be pretty!

Well that was disappointing

Everyone's on fire, but they're really not paying attention. It even seems to have livened the steps of some of the older guests. The under-scullion complains about the burnt porridge. That's it. Still, you feel a little more free of the place.

  • A twist in your tale! You are no longer having Recurring Dreams: The Fire Sermon.
  • Nightmares -