The PASIV (Portable Automated Somnacin IntraVenous) device delivers a steady IV dose of a drug, somnacin, which allows several people to share a dream.
In the shared dream, the content of the dream is determined by the dreamer, and by the subject or mark, whose subconscious adds detail to the dream. The main dreamer on the dreamshare team creates the dream environments designed by the architect on the team, and the team learns these 'sets' when planning the dreamshare.
An Extraction is a dreamshare mission aimed at extracting intel from the subject's subconscious via a shared dream.
Inception is the use of a shared dream to plant information or a new suggestion in the subject's mind.
A shade in the dream is a dream-created individual who is a projection from the subconscious of the dreamer, usually someone the dreamer feels guilty and conflicted about, acting out the dreamer's self-blame.
The mark's projections are their subconscious defenses - they threaten the dreamshare team.
There can be several levels of dreaming. A dream within the dream creates two levels. Below level 3 is Limbo - a surreal place like the collective unconscious and hard to escape from.
When someone gets killed in a dream it kicks them out of the dream up to the next level, or to waking. If they're on level 3 of a dream however, getting killed sends them to Limbo. Especially heavy somnacin cocktails increase the risk of upper-level dream-death also leading to Limbo.
Clay - the Extractor. The team leader.
Cougar - the Point Man. The organizer and details guy.
Jensen - the Architect. Builder of the dream environment.
Pooch - the Chemist. Creates the somnacin cocktail and oversees use of the PASIV device.
Aisha - the Forger. Can morph into different identities in the dream.
Roque - Clay's ex-Point Man, killed in the past. Now a shade.