Weird Western Monsters – Part 1 (Spellslingers and Specters)

Spellslinger Poker

“The vast frontier.  It’s a place of wonders, of possibility, of a quick and easy death!  Don’t let the charms of a free and open land fool you, traveler.  It’s a killer place out there.  But, the market’s wide open for the taking if you know where to look.  There’s a lot of devils in mortal skin looking to sell you a miracle tonic or a little company.  If you’re smart, you’ll keep your wallet hidden and find a way to pull a fast one of your own.  Or if you’re stuck in the wastes beyond town?  Best pack well and ready more than one gun.  You don’t know if it’s a pair of fangs or a bandit’s gun that will do you in out there.  Of course, you can always drink and gamble your troubles away with us, stranger!  We don’t cause much harm, mostly to ourselves…   The ladies of the tavern are good at taking care of ya though.  Or if you prefer, there’s a handful of men who are good companions too.  I’m not just saying that as a recurring patron, either…”
-Rowan T. Jammerson, Human Maverick Rogue, drunken troublemaker, despised wandering womanizer, bastard son of Ex-Mayor Jammer J. Spellman.

Whether in the “civilized” frontier or the badlands beyond, tons of terrors walk the weird western soil.  From bandits beyond the grave to massive parasites that love the smell of gold, settlers and pioneers have more than their fair work cut out for them.  Even the native locals are wise to keep away from many dangerous lands.  And for a good trade, they might even be willing to disclose such information.

Author’s Note:  Most of this comes from a mostly forgotten mini d20 setting that is chock full of cool inspiration!  Spellslinger was part of the Horizon line by Fantasy Flight Games, who are mostly known for board games.  Horizon was a series of D20 books that twisted the system into various new forms, continued through Legends and Lairs.  These books allowed for play in steampunk, mecha, horror, weird western and other genres and were all around a good find!  Sadly, they’re a bit rare.  However, one need not obtain the books to enjoy these monsters.  Also, I twisted around some of the magical “brands” into NPC monsters of their own… twisted versions of the old player options, if you will.  Look out for a handful of other references too!

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One with the Gun – Options for Gunslinging Shootists

Fantasy Rifleman by BrotherOstavia

The Order always prepares for adventure!

The Order of the Shootist, it’s a name claimed in both fear and mystery. They arrive with their incredible weaponry, unleashing thunder claps and smoke. And in mere instants, their enemies drop dead from incredible blasts of metal and fire. Only warriors worthy of their cause are admitted into their ranks. People know plenty about the mythical “fire brands”, as they have for countless years. However, most people are barely proficient. Even more fail to use them properly to begin with! The Shootist rises above these average folk. They hold sacred knowledge about not only wielding a gun with finesse, but a myriad of skills to truly champion their weapons.

For a Knight of the Shootist Order, there are many key features. One must move with a certain panache. Not only must they be graceful with their guns, but their steps must be constantly fluid. One slip up and you are shot down. A shootist has little time to stop and study their enemy, but must make a quick observation on the go. In addition, you won’t see armor worn as often within their ranks. Only truly strong and brisk warriors sport the arms and speed of a gunslinger with the armory of your traditional knight. Such individuals command both respect and a charismatic presence all their own. Some take to the shadows to get in the most brutal surprising shot possible, unleashing a devastating barrage.

Author’s Note: Lots of folks have asked a long time to revisit my shootist post. And since my theme for this month is Gaslamp Fantasy and Weird West, it was the perfect opportunity. So, let’s not just revisit the Shootist, but have a list of new options for the Rogue, Ranger and even Paladin! Take aim and fire, here’s a shooting gallery’s worth of options! However, these can easily be repurposed into a general ranged specialist if firearms are not allowed in your games or not common enough to allow training in.

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Return to a Realm of the Strange and Gothic

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I love gothic fiction, gaslamp fantasy and weird westerns, as has been known through various posts throughout the blog.  Plus, pages like Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque remain both awesome to visit and truly inspiring!

So, for the next month or so at least, I’m going to try to keep a wide variety of gaslamp, pulpy and gothic flair.  This can be anything from more expansion of Tomb of Annihilation or Curse of Strahd to more content inspired by Eberron to more Victorian and Wild West inspired fantasy and horror content.  And while I’m at it?  Good old Ravenloft, as in the Demiplane of Dread (instead of the module)!  I’ve been pondering making a small adventure in one of the domains… possibly Dementlieu, Richemulot, Nosos or Lamordia.  I might put it up on DM’s Guild while I’m at it!  Of course, this is all pondering based on whether or not I’ll get around to it.

 

IMAGE SOURCE: Vampire Victorian Age: London by Night – White Wolf Games

Legion of Entropic Gloom – A Dastardly Undead Cult

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“You’re just in time for our weekly Necronomicon Study! Sit down, have a glass of kool-aid.”

The concept of death inspires some of the oldest fears known to civilization. The end of life, the end of all we have worked for. The finality to our existence. While many fear death, the idea of undeath proves to be far more horrifying to many. The idea of losing ones self, the very essence, coming a shriveled shell that exists as a mockery of its former self. These are the fears of the undead. For that reason and more, they are a menace to civilization on the average.

Why are the undead are considered a menace to the living? For a variety of reasons, of course. Many of these reasons derive from ethics over necromancy, while others are because of their often destructive ways. None embody the latter more than a secretive cabal known simply as “the entropic gloom”. This quasi-religious order is dedicated to eradication of the living, assimilating them into the ranks of the dead. The reasons for this? Cloaked in shadow, much like themselves. It could be out of contempt for the living, some utopian ideal of unity or perhaps even a penchant for heinous acts of violence. While much of the ranks of this cult are typical undead, some have been transformed into truly incredible servants of dread forces.

Author’s Note: I loving making undead nasty nasties! This is no surprise, for those who know me well enough… So with that, here’s an assortment of living dead monsters to torture your players with. After reading up on monstrous synergy via Tome of Foes, I’ve plucked a few ideas to boot! Also, priest characters, you’re gonna have a bad day.

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Tales of the Astral – The Gith

Dak'kon by Grosnus

“Endure, in enduring grow strong.” – Dak’kon, Zerth Disciple

The endless struggle in the planes beyond.  This is brief summary of the Gith, a displaced and wounded people.  Long ago, they came to know suffering under a domineering race of creatures known as “Illithid”.  The horrid creatures broke and enslaved these beings into servitude, harvesting them when it became convenient.  In a showing of will and defiance, rebellion lead to the gith breaking free.  However, factions arose over what to do with their newfound freedom.  The split lead to the rise of many new groups rife with their own strange philosophies and viewpoints.

Despite this fracturing, each respective faction remains strong and proud in their own manner.  Each continues onward in their ideals.  Each finds their place in the multiverse.  However, they remain sullied by hatred and biases of the past.  Many refuse to deal too much with their kinds, lest they risk getting dragged into Gith politics.  However, a wise and powerful ally is usually welcomed within a team.

Author’s Note:  Wouldn’t you know it?  I’m not overly satisfied with a non-core book on races, once more. Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes is by all means a great book in terms of conflict inspiration as well as monsters, but I was eager to do my own take on things.  As I’m a master of reinventing the wheel, here’s my own take on the Gith.  But, in all seriousness, I’ve been wanting to this for a while.  Even before Tome of Foes was announced, I wanted to do a whole assortment of Planescape races.  The new book just encouraged me to get to it.  Mind you, most of this was already pondered when the initial unearthed arcana article came out.

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Horrors of Khorvaire and Beyond – Dal’Quor

The Darkness Comes... Loading screen by proud-pyramid
“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.” – Edgar Allan Poe

Beyond the realm of Khorvaire lies many horrible things. Some exist upon the Prime Material Plane, while others are haunted remnants of old conflict. The wasteland of Cyre lures curious onlookers hoping to know more of the Last War. An empire of the undead waits patiently while assembling its forces. A deadly draconic power below prepares for an onslaught like none have seen. However, these threats and more are far more terrestrial. Within the realms of a sleeping mind lies a gateway into a dark unknown. It is here that the Mi-Go flutter, elementals of dream gather and the Quori plan their dreadful deeds.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I love Eberron… a lot! Now, I wasn’t the first to convert some monsters over to 5E and I won’t be the last! Given my posts about dream-related content, it’s likely Dal’Quor content will show up in something else if Eberron isn’t unleashed to the public any time soon. So as always, continue to divine in the realm of dream and you too might learn a thing or two. For more dream wandering content, check out The Dreamlands tag.

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