While many have heard the story of the troubled monster hunter, there are other heroes that struggle against deadly foes and unspeakable evils as well. These unsung champions of the light do all they can to keep all hope from being extinguished in a dark and desolate world. Not all heroes are born from myth and legend. Many are souls who have faced great adversity, pushing them into impossible odds. Those souls have either become broken or are seeking ways to prevent them from collapsing under pressure. Whatever the cause, they have witnessed terrible things that pose a grave threat to them, as well as others. Perhaps the conflict isn’t so much external as very much internal. These troubled heroes seek retribution, redemption, truth and understanding.
In endless realms where mad lords and mysterious mists survey and control all, hope is all one has. Without it, one simply cannot live. And those who cannot hope anymore will likely be consumed. Many have tried, but many have fallen to the darkness as well. How will you fare differently?
Author’s Note: In celebration of Curse of Strahd, I wanted to make some backgrounds with a distinctly Gothic theme to them. Sampling from history and literature, here’s 3 new ones! Of course, you could easily reflavor my Researcher and Lost One backgrounds from the Fey post into something more gothic with ease. Also, I truly love the Haunted One background quite a bit! It’s why I referenced it in my first sentence, hehe.
After some suggestions from friends, I’ve decided on a theme! Granted, one of the big deciding factors a ways back was the Curse of Strahd D&D Module that came out in mid-March. As such, I think it’s fair to do a number of gothic-themed posts. Now Gothic doesn’t have to be horror all the time. There’s often an aspect of the horrific, but much of fantasy fiction has this too. Stories like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes (save for a few), Lord Byron’s tales of dashing and daring (but flawed) people and some others contain many aspects of the Gothic. But, they typically aren’t driven by plots about supernatural evil or the horrific (except for the whole examining of murders and other macabre elements.) You could argue I have covered the image of a grim and cynical knight, the mad occultist or a byronic hero with various posts like the Oath of Cynicism, the Piper College, the Scarred Mind Path, the Diabolist or the Grognard. You could argue that quite a bit of the Faerie Tale stuff I crafted before could fit within line of this theme too. But, why not cover more, given the chance?
Now, I’m doing more than just Gothic Horror, Ravenloft, all that good stuff. You could argue that Romantic style fiction (a la Dragonlance), Arthuriana and Politically heavy Dramatic settings (like Birthright and A Song of Ice and Fire) have a place within the Gothic in one way or another. And sure, I make snarky and cynical quips at the expense of steampunk in the past (as I prefer serial-era and later sci-fi), but a part of me likes it all the same! Similarly, Gaslamp Fantasy and Weird Western are very much at home here and rightfully so! So, it’s a part of the theme by all means. So, I have a lot to ponder over. I can’t promise I’ll cover all of what I said, but I’m sure I can squeeze a few extra ideas here and there.
Image Source: John Henry Fuseli – The Nightmare
To top off my fey theme for the months of February and March, I thought I’d compile a list of resources from my blog!
Author’s Note: This post will be updated periodically as more options are made available. Also, once it is readily available, please consider supporting my forthcoming work (including a possible bundle on the fey) via the DM’s Guild!
Races: Avian, The Fair Folk (original “Wyldfae” found here), Foxfolk/Kitsune, Yaksha (Dwarf Sub-Race)
Class Options: Circle of the Faerie Grove (Druid), College of the Piper (Bard), Sylvan Bloodline (Sorcerer)
Backgrounds: Arcadian Scholar, Charmer, Lost One, Sylvan Emissary
Spells: Black Barbed Curse, Black Barbed Shield, Black Barbed Transformation
Other Player Options: Fox Magick (Foxfolk Feat)
Monsters: Ælfr, Baba Yaga (and her Dancing Hut), Dream Thieves (Vampiric Fey), Divine Atrocity, Elder Hag, Faerie Goblin, Kitsune, Leprechaun, Lord of Goblins (Goblin King), Matabiri, Skin Hag (Boo Hag), Yaksha
Magic Items/Artifacts: Bottle of Dream Salve, Cold Iron Arrow, Gazing Glass of the Traveling Hag, Gem of Druidic Knowledge, Morphic Armor, Ring of the Spirit Hunter, Root Club, Staff of the Grand Courts, The Dancing Hut
Made by Doctor Necrotic, for Doctor Necrotic Media.
Art Credit: A Glimpse of the Fairies – Charles Hutton Lear
The domain of the faerie folk is a seemingly endless realm of equally endless sights and sounds to behold. It is rich with diverse creatures and potent magic. While noble creatures traverse the plane with decedent splendor, vicious beasts prowl near by in search of their next meal. In a sense, it’s a world as diverse and colorful as our own… perhaps more so. It should come as no surprise that such a boundless plane has influenced your life in some manner. Perhaps you have an ancestral history of dealings with the fey, manifesting in your very bloodline or means of worship. Maybe you were taken from your home dimension as an infant or child, escaping at some point later. Perhaps your research of the esoteric has drawn you towards all things faerie. The possibilities are much like the demiplane itself, they seem quite limitless.
Here are some backgrounds for your PCs to explore a world of Faerie in one way or another. There’s a background for researchers, for those snatched away and many others. While the fey themselves are elusive and mysterious, it’s an all the more interesting subject for your characters to explore!
Author’s Note: The last post for my fey theme draws near, I’m afraid. However, I’m still eager to craft up a variety of themed content in the meantime. This time, I’m doing a direct collaborative effort with Brynvalk, who helped to pitch the fey theme in the first place! With that, here’s a handy list of PC backgrounds for players who want the fey to be an aspect of their characters. I tried to keep this entry more setting generic. Sure, I usually mention my fey inspired dimension of Arcadia; but for the purpose of collaboration, I decided to downplay it a bit. That said, I’ll probably write up more on Arcadia itself. In short, it’s my take on wonderful worlds of the fair folk.
Please check out Brynvalk’s fey themed backgrounds as well!
The fair folk have long since been creatures of mystery and whimsy, traveling too and from their alien worlds. They visit our realms for a variety of reasons; curiously studying how we live our lives or perhaps something more complex. Some feel they’re interested in us, so they could create fey creatures to blend in with our world. Perhaps they want to capture us to see if they can turn us into fey. Most scholars seem to put forth the idea that Arcadians want to create hybrid lifeforms. But the real question behind any of these theories is why? At the moment, none have an answer. Instead, a new question comes up in the form of a new creature. These creatures are the wyld folk, astral beings of clear fey descent, likely hybrids of multiple fey creatures. Were they early experiments at hybridization? Are they the start of planar colonization? No one is truly sure, but one can’t help but wonder their place in all of this.
Truly alien, wherever they go
The Fair Folk themselves are shrouded with just as much obscurity as their elder fey ancestors. However, these beings as a race are quite diverse, sharing all sorts of traits from around Arcadia itself. Some carry the beauty seen in the high courts, while others are grotesque like the worst of trolls and goblins. Within Arcadia itself, they are treated quite lowly. Mutts, impurities, mutants; these pejoratives and slurs are all but common in the lands of their birth. As such, they tend to live in the shadows of high fey society or branch away from it. Despite the conspiracy that surrounds them, many try to break free of their caretakers’ original plans and live lives as they please. Just as free-spirited and whimsical as their progenitors, they drift through the cosmos in search of fantastic new homes and equally interesting new people.
Author’s Note: My “Wyldfae” was due for a slight revision, so here it is! I modified the “Aerial” a little bit based on notes from my Birdfolk race. Some of the others were tinkered with in other ways, but nothing drastic. All in all, I hope this update is satisfactory for those who enjoyed the original version. Also, I didn’t realize before that Wyldfae was part of the Dresden Files universe. I respect Jim Butcher too much to randomly take terms he uses in his stories, after all. With that, here’s the Fair Folk.
EDIT AUGUST 2018: The Boo Hag has been remade here! Stay tuned for other monsters getting new life.
From many reaches of Arcadia, countless fantastical and strange spiritual beings gather and dwell. Many spirits from this plane of existence break free into the mortal realm for a variety of reasons. All have their own goals and means of expressing themselves. These fey creatures have manifested at different points of the multiverse, showing themselves to different cultures and transforming public perception forever more. Those who remain in this realm still have their ways of dragging creatures from the mortal realm into theirs’.
These magnificent beings come in a variety of shapes and sizes, born from multiple ideas across multiple realities. It’s likely that Arcadia itself was born from a collective of powerful ideas, rather than existing as an alternate Material Plane. This expansive plane is still a world onto its own, ranging from the great rulers of powerful Courts to the lowliest of peons that grovel just to get by.
Author’s Note: My first post felt incomplete. With that, here’s another helping of fey that take inspiration from various myths and folklore around the world.
It’s been fun making Faerie content, but I don’t want to lose steam along the way. To be honest, this has been a little more of a struggle for me. The fey isn’t a subject that I’m well rehearsed in. That said, I have had tons of fun tackling content I normally wouldn’t! But no matter, I’m wrapping up my last couple of posts for my current theme… such as an expanded monster list! After I finish them, I have some different themed content in the works, as well as generic posts.