The Early SandmenEdit
The first Sandmen were descended from mystics from several different Western cultures, chief among them the Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Hebrew peoples. These mystics had one thing in common: in life, they intently studied the art of dreaming and analyzed the mental images. Phantasm is believed to have evolved from their interests given power in the Shadowlands.
For many years, those who worked in Phantasm were splintered and nomadic. They were mistrusted by those who did not hold to such beliefs in dreaming, and primarily existed as messengers with the living. It all changed with the First Great Maelstrom, when it was found that Spectres had learned the basics of the art of Phantasm, via those who had fallen to Harrowings or Oblivion. Disturbed, the Phantasm users decided to band together in order to teach and regulate their arts, lest Oblivion gain the greatest secrets they held. This early gathering evolved into the Sandmen Guild.
The War and the RevoltEdit
Christianity brought the focus of the Sandmen back to the Underworld, as many Western mortals no longer held stock in the dreams of ghosts and gods. They began to focus their art's abilities on their fellow wraiths; dreams that could be used to heal, communicate, and inspire other spirits to greater callings. The Sandmen continued to remain to themselves for the most part until they were dragged into the War of the Guilds by the Mnemoi, who convinced the Sandmen that the Artificers were going to replace places of power and inspiration with soulforges, and they should help wrest power away from the Soulforgers before it was too late. The Artificers, in turn, ran off many of the Sandmen’s clients and contacts, which lead to the Sandmen becoming primarily Renegade in nature. It was these wraiths that eagerly signed the Compact of the Guilds.
With the war out of the way, the Sandmen began to return to their roots of dealing directly with dreams. They began to use their powers to create fantastic plays and shows to move wraiths. These presentations evolved into the Oneiric Theater, which became one of the most valued and appreciated art forms among wraiths, even to this day. Sandmen began to gain valuable patrons in the Hierarchy, but took advantage of them to the point they lost their support. When the Sandmen participated in and subsequently lost, along with the other Guilds, the Guild Revolt, their former patrons had no issues with encouraging the Breaking of the Guilds.
More Recent TimesEdit
The poor view of the Sandmen continued for several centuries; no longer were they as welcome, nor as powerful as they once were. The Guild refocused yet again, back onto itself. However, many still held a grudge against the Hierarchy, even as they joined it in an attempt to earn a living and help the Sandmen regain respect. The latter did not happen, and the frustrated Sandmen finally decided to strike back. The War of the Proscenium saw the Sandmen create numerous satires that made fun of and completely disrespected the Deathlords and others of importance. Attempts to shut down the War were all for naught, as the Renegades retreated to the underground, and continued to act out their blasphemous plays for the living as well as the dead. They also focused on bringing mortals into the Shadowlands, to show them what awaited them in death.
In the 1900s, the Hierarchy finally grew tired of persecuting the Sandmen, and decided to leave well enough alone, as the Sandmen created more trouble for every means they came up with to bring them down. The Sandmen cautiously returned to the public stages, some as genuine entertainers, while others continued their work to undermine the Hierarchy. However, they assisted greatly in the Fifth Great Maelstrom, finally earning them a place of respect among the Hierarchy and the other Guilds.
Their main focus of battle today is not the government of Stygia, but Oblivion itself. The Sandmen continue to grow alarmed at how Oblivion has adapted their arts to dark purposes and used them to encourage humans to go through with their darker urges. They work to stop Spectres from perverting their art. Many Sandmen also remain Renegades, as they believe Transcendence to be connected to dreaming. Some want to find and return Charon to rule, while others just want to be done with the government as a whole.
Dream Menders (Soma Shamans) Edit
Probably the most news-making division of the Sandmen, the Dream Menders are those dedicated to the arts of healing a mortal's body by stimulating the brain to release certain hormones while their target is asleep. There is controversy, as they obviously violate the Dictum Mortuum, but frankly, no one is really complaining.
Dream Lords Edit
These are a special type of Ferrymen who still have ties with the Sandman Guild. They have an exceptional command of Phantasm, to the point that they can imitate Spectres and Malfeans, make elaborate shows without assistance from other Sandmen, and even appear to be living without the use of Embody. However, Dream Lords tend to keep to themselves and so are rarely sighted in regular Stygian society.
Paphians (Dream Whores) Edit
Quite simply, the Paphians are Sandmen that hire themselves out to paying customers to help them see their fondest fantasies. Most Paphians are licensed by the Guild as safe practitioners, but there are a few independents that defy the law and work in the Underground. They are frowned upon by their fellow Sandmen.
Fortifiers (Psychonerists) Edit
Fortifiers are Sandmen that attempt to use dreams to drain their Shadows of Angst. Although they are growing in numbers, many note the danger to others if a Shadow somehow manages to wrest control of the dream from the Fortifier.
A group mostly made up of young wraiths (or those who died young), Nightriders use soulslipping (sliding a mortal's soul out and in as quickly as possible) as a form of childish prank on the Quick. Furthermore, those who chose to perform a nightmare usually use the simplest means possible (nihils are favorites) rather than elaborate drawn out terrors of the mind. Although they are held in little regard, most Guild members see it as a passing phase for young Sandmen.
Night Terrors/Night Angels Edit
These Sandmen work closely with Proctors to bring a horrific nightmare almost literally to life. The Sandman's horrific dream causes a mortal to wake up screaming and sweating, only to see the Proctor in real life. This is frequently used against Quick with weak hearts as a means of assassination. Night Terrors are forbidden by the Sandmen Guild.
In contrast, Night Angels are rare, but always in demand. Working in pairs, they reward mortals with beautiful imagery and feelings of peace and grace. Their services are extremely expensive, and as a result, very few Sandmen become successful at being a Night Angel.
These wraiths serve as advisors to high-ranking officials. Their primary purpose is to pit one official against the other, in an attempt to destroy one or both of them. Their motives are usually unknown.
Playwrights (Dreamaturgists) Edit
Probably the most popular and welcomed in the Shadowlands, as well as the most numerous, Playwrights are Sandmen that write and perform the elaborate dream shows that constitute much of the popular entertainment in Stygia.
Guild Culture Edit
Notes on initiation and other practices here.
Other Notes Edit
Sandmen exist in other forms in other Dark Kingdoms. In Swar, the Sandmen take the form of the Ghandarvas, owned by Swar’s Regent and forced to perform beautiful works of art with the penalty of being smelted if they fail. In Karta, the land of the Australian Aboriginals, Sandmen are plentiful and considered sacred, as the Aboriginals hold Dreamtime as an important aspect of their spirituality. In the Yellow Springs, Sandmen rework the dreams of wraiths and mortals alike to support Yu Huang; overall, however, Sandmen are rare and strictly regulated by the government. In the Bush of Ghosts, some Sandmen are okomfo, valued members of the culture who, among other roles, communicate with the Animal Realms via dreams.
The Sandmen are named for the Sandman, a character who brings sleep and dreams to children.