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In The Sandman - both the comic and the new Netflix adaptation - Morpheus, Dream of the Endless, takes some of his power and invests it into three tools: a pouch of sand, a helm he made from the bones of a dead god, and a ruby, sometimes called the dreamstone or by other names.

There are hints of each tool’s powers, but they’re not drawn very distinctly. The sand of the comics primarily gives incredibly vivid dreams, and also allows Dream to locate his helm in Hell; in the series it also transports him from one realm to another. The helm’s powers are vague, though in the series it seems to grant the ability to see what Dream desires. The ruby is described in the series as having the power to make dreams real, but in the comics Doctor Destiny uses it to manipulate only dreams, both on a worldwide scale and more directly of those near him.

I’ve read most of the comics - certainly the full main run - but it’s been a while. I don’t remember this ever being explained beyond Dream vaguely saying he created them to help him in his duties. But it seems pretty clear he doesn’t really need any of them - he can do everything they “helped” him do on his own once he reabsorbs the power he put into them (as seen with the ruby at the end of Preludes & Nocturnes). The other Endless have their sigils, but aside from Destiny’s book, they don’t seem to need any tools - or, most of the time, even to actively do anything - to fulfil their roles.

So: what are the actual powers and purposes of Dream’s tools? And why did he create them?

I’m primarily interested in an answer that draws on the comics, but if I’ve missed something in the series I’m also interested in an answer based on that. And I’m also happy to have it confirmed that the specifics were never revealed, which I suspect is the case, but I’ve not been able to determine.

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    I interpreted it as he had transferred some of his power but not any specific powers. I’m not sure if he has powers that can be listed off like a superhero. More like he has all the power(s) that dreams have and is essentially omnipotent inside the dreaming and probably inside anyone’s dreams as well. He seems to have some power(s) in the waking world, but far less and very limited. All endless have sigils, including Dream - which aren’t tools or imbued with power, the are sort of media for communication Aug 15 at 12:56
  • They help him do his duties, the same way a screwdriver helps you screw one thing to another. You could use a knife or fingers, but screwdriver is much more efficient. The helmet is literally his symbol and is a skull of a dead god. It is used as a protection. The sand mostly puts people to sleep. The ruby helps shape dreams. Which doesn't mean you can't use a wrench as a hammer (which is what usually happens when humans come to own Dream's tools). It is not really specified in the comics what each tool does. Or what is the difference between Dream's ruby and sapphire and opal...
    – jo1storm
    Aug 15 at 12:59
  • @ToddWilcox oh yes, I don’t expect anything like a laundry list of superpowers. But he must have had some reason to put his power into his tools, and since there are three different ones, each presumably serves a distinct purpose. But I’ll also not be surprised if the answer is “we don’t know”, because it’s not actually important to the main story being told, so Gaiman may have never decided. Aug 15 at 13:01
  • @jo1storm I’d be very happy with an answer that confirms it is never explained, with any relevant information about what little we do know. But to use your analogy, a screwdriver has a definite purpose - it’s intended to drive screws. You can use it for other things but there’s a reason it was made. If there is even a vague hint of what those are for Dream’s tools, I’d love to know what it is. Aug 15 at 13:04
  • "The first DC comics character to bear the name The Sandman wore a gas mask. I wanted a visual tribute to that gas mask, and I thought: let’s make it the kind of thing HR Giger would have created. The idea was a metal, leather and bone gas mask, essentially made out of a spine" - theguardian.com/books/2022/jul/30/…
    – Valorum
    Aug 15 at 18:08

2 Answers 2

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The Sandman Companion gives us some idea of the powers of several of the items.

The Pouch

The Sandman pursues the pouch, which holds the sands of dream.

The Ruby

This is a tool that normally carries out the Sandman's wishes so he doesn't have to think about how to perform every task himself; that is, it functions as a kind of genie's genie.

The implication is that the tools act as labour-saving devices

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  • Aha - great! I wouldn’t be surprised if this is as much as we ever get, but this is a good find, thank you. Aug 15 at 22:03
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The helm is his sigil

Whenever one of the Endless is trying to connect to another member of his family, they use the copy of the recipient's sigil. You can see this in the series, when Desire is contacting her twin sister Despair, using the latter's sigil - a ring with a fish hook. Please also note, that Destruction's sigil is missing and no one is able to contact him.

If I remember correctly, in another story someone steals Death's sigil (an Ankh cross), but she was not really concerned about it and quickly created a new one from a cheap trinket bought on a street corner, so it seems that Dream could relatively easily create a new one, but Morpheus is at this stage much, much weaker than Death in the similar situation.

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    It is presented as actual armor when he is gearing up for a conflict. I believe one specific example is when he is planning to return to Hell for Nada. Aug 16 at 19:19
  • I’d forgotten this was his sigil, but unlike the sigils of the other Endless (aside from Destiny’s book) it does seem imbued with power. Certainly he feels it will help him to retrieve it before going after the ruby, which surely wouldn’t be the case if it was just an easily replaced symbol? Aug 17 at 5:18
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    @GuybrushMcKenzie how easily it is replaceable is a matter of discussion. Death could do it with a cheap trinket, but when Destiny lost his book he was hopelessly lost (other stories, not Sandman). The helmet is definitely important for Morpheus as he made it from bones of defeated god, so it must have power of its own.
    – Yasskier
    Aug 19 at 1:53

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