Paradigm Basics: Others believe that the Dreamspeaker paradigm is one of animistic belief and petitions to spirits to unleash their will. This is but a tiny fraction of the truth. Any mage with Spirit can see that, indeed, the Middle Umbra is a place composed of spirits. These spirits can be petitioned to perform tasks. Both of these facts are about as close to an objective truth as any mage is likely to get. Yet anyone with Spirit can clearly see that the Dreamspeakers can perform effects unheard of amongst spirits, and suffer Paradox in much the same was as the other Traditions, which would not happen were all their magick the work of natural forces.
In truth, the Dreamspeakers do often use spirits to do their work, simply because Spirit is the sphere they excel at. But there are eight other spheres to choose from. A mage of the Dreamspeakers bases these, and her knowledge of Spirit, on the paradigm that underlies her beliefs.
Forged out of disparate understandings, the unifying principle of this Tradition over the last half millennia has been polytheism. Each Dreamspeaker understands the world as being the plaything of multiple godly entities. These forces are more powerful than the umbrood that call themselves gods, and work in mysterious ways. These forces can be the Triat, the Loa, the pagan deities, the Hindu gods, or any similar organization of ineffable powers. The beings in question are bigger than the knowable cosmos and can thus move unseen by the mystical forces of the world. They find themselves reflected in the umbrae, true, but their full forms defy comprehension.
Each true mage has a spark, an Avatar of these gods that is much like an umbrood but strangely different. This being serves as a link between a mage and the capricious gods of creation. By supplication, the mage can send this Avatar as an envoy to the realms beyond in asking for a manifestation of the god's power. The actual results vary depending on the religion of the mage in question.
Purification rites, ordeals, dance circles, paintings, herbalism, prayer, and many other foci are useful in gaining the favor of these gods. As a Dreamspeaker becomes increasingly skilled in the spheres she learns to prepare herself as a channel for different kinds of power and how to phrase the request for this power in a way that ensures that the gods will respond.
To the Dreamspeakers, following the path to Ascension means moving up to the level of reality on which the gods walk. A mage who reaches this peak will have unbelievable power over her old cosmos but, more importantly, will have the capacity to seek out the next stage of existence that is beyond the gods themselves.
Finally, perhaps the reason why the Dreamspeakers are so often painted as dealing directly with umbral spirits rather than the gods is due to their hedge wizards. These shamans are far more prevalent and united in their beliefs, and, due to their linear ways, are limited to a very set relationship with the spirits of the world. Often vocal in the extreme about the old ways, the linear casters tend to have a limited comprehension of the actual paradigm. They learn the methods of summoning spirits and interpret this as the truth, since this is all that they have learned. Yet this is not the whole truth, and it requires an Awakened individual to truly comprehend the gods and an awakened Avatar to contact them directly.
Paradigm Casting: Casting times for Dreamspeaker effects are about average for the Traditions. Rotes and fast-cast prayers can be invoked in a few seconds. These usually involve promises to the gods that must be made good on later, or bad things could happen. Most spontaneous effects take a rite of a few minutes to pull off without penalty. Rituals are enacted over the course of hours and involve massive rites of supplication and purification, coupled with powerful, rhythmic music.
Paradigm Benefits: The foremost benefit of the Dreamspeaker paradigm is the ease with which they interact with spirits. Both good conduct in the past and the aire of self-sacrifice carried around by the mage combine to make most spirits of the natural world inclined to be friendly to the Dreamspeaker. In general, add the Dreamspeaker's Arete as bonus dice to any social roll to convince a spirit to do something for the mage.
Secondly, Dreamspeakers tend to be seen as oracles, visionaries, elders, and wise men due to their role as mediator with gods and spirits. Like with the Ecstatics, strong resonance makes the mage seem "otherworldly" but not necessarily "weird." While the mage's resonance has its normal social effects on most people in the western world, this penalty becomes a bonus when dealing with those with similar beliefs. In general, this includes anyone with polytheistic or animistic beliefs and a strong belief in the need of a priest or shaman to mediate with the otherworld. For these people, the Dreamspeaker can lower social difficulties by maneuvering the discussion in a way that is appropriate to a resonant adjective while also fulfilling her role as shaman. The difficulty reduction is equal to the points in the invoked resonance.
Paradigm Limits: A problematic fact of gaining powers by the worship of whimsical deities is that one must work very hard to keep them happy. Like the gods of myth, the gods of the Dreamspeakers must receive regular tribute and sacrifice, whether or not the mage currently wants something from them. These recurring rituals may make it hard for the Dreamspeaker to make other commitments or to pass herself off as a normal member of whatever society she lives in. In general, these rituals should require about an hour per week (either all at once or spread out) at a set time. The mage may perform a short invocation every day at sunrise, sunset, noon, or midnight, or may enact a massive four hour ritual on the night of the new moon, or something similar. If this ceremony is missed or interrupted the mage will find her magick difficulties increased until the gods can once again be properly placated.
The Dreamspeaker paradigm also tends to make the mages seem off-putting and self-righteous to others. These mages do not just have to support their own beliefs and causes, but also the beliefs and causes that their gods support. While, for example, a Dreamspeaker herself might have no need to harangue others over the plight of the wilderness she may believe that her gods want her to be strongly active in this sense. This is further compounded by the fact that Dreamspeakers are often in the process of paying tribute to spirits that they wish to do things, and not supporting that particular spirit's idiosyncrasies might break the deal. Thus, Dreamspeakers often speak for gods and spirits, rather than for themselves.