And now for something completely different…

A few more random anecdotes while I both get over feeling bloody awful and ponder future stuff for the blog. That said, I’ve already prattled on about how I’ve been blessed by Papa Nurgle… and believe me, that guy is a real jerk.

For starters, I’m thinking of chronicling my campaigns and games on my WordPress blog!  For a while, I posted some game recaps on my old Tumblr page (which I continue to cross post to) and have thought about doing it again.  Once a new game comes up, would you all be interested in me bringing this tradition back?

Next on the list, I’ve fallen behind on my efforts to get my work on the Think Tank.  I’ve pondered how to organize things, how to do things, in general overthinking things!  I’m going to try my best to create something I’d be proud to share on that site.  I know I keep saying this, but I feel I have more than enough custom work to utilize here!

Last order of business ties into my title.  I love Gothic Fiction and Dark Fantasy, but writing about depressing stuff hasn’t done wonders for my mood.  As I’ve posted on my other page (still on hiatus), I’ve been not having the best of times… but I digress from that.  In short, I’m thinking next theme will be more lively.  Perhaps, it might have a tongue in cheek element or two involved!  Why?  Why not!?

So, there’s a general update on things and how things are going.

Curse you, Nurgle!

http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/warhammer40k/images/6/69/NurgleManifestation.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20130323211642

I’m feeling a tad under the weather, probably due to me doing battle with one of the Chaos Daemons from beyond realms we dare not speak.  That said, I’ll do my best to still post something this week.  If I don’t meet the usual time, don’t fret, I’ll do so the weeks following.  I’ve managed to avoid getting sick nowadays, so this has become more of a rare occurrence.  Thanks for understanding.

Vampire Variants – More Vampires for D&D 5th Edition

V20 Dark Ages - Nosferatu - Penne Milde by Z-GrimV

I thought that by living my once idyllic mountainside home, I would be ridden of the evil that tainted such a land.  Unfortunately, this world hosts countless kinds of unholy creatures that suffer and bring suffering much like they do. – Passage from a bloodstained journal found on the victim of a vampire.

Vampires are damned creatures of undeath.  Countless stories are told of people that committed unspeakable taboos and were cursed to walk as the living dead in retribution.  These soulless monstrosities thrive on the misery of others, selfishly leeching life from mortals in an endless quest to prolong their accursed existence.  The castle dwelling Lord of the Night is but one of many vampiric creatures that blight the countless reaches of reality.  All sorts of sinister things wait, waiting for a mortal to steal life from.

The Asabosam is a stealthy creature that resides in trees and plays with its victims like a predatory cat.  This creature has hook like feet, allowing it to swing down and strike its victims while still hanging from its perched tree.  Its teeth is said to be as strong as metal itself, making it able to pierce through countless protective armors with ease.  However, it can attempt to blend in with humans better than other vampires, save for it’s obvious curved hook-like feet.

The Astral Vampire is a cosmically infused nightmare that is more aberration than undead.  The raw essence of realms beyond has a tendency to corrupt creatures distant from such planes.  This creature is one of the results of such exposure.  Instead of draining blood, they drain life force through the mind and afflict mental trauma.  Their methods are also dealt through their sickening gaze.  These beings looks like heavily mutated humans, displaying physical traits associated with the most unfathomable abominations imaginable.

The Jiang Shi looks like a stiff corpse, unable to move in normal manner beyond a hop like movement.  While they don’t drain the victim’s blood, they take their very life essence instead.  Much of the time, these horrors were created by accident.  Having a soul trapped within a corpse after death or through resurrection risks creating a Jiang Shi.  These angry dead desire nothing more than consume life as they arise to hunt under the night’s sky.

The Nosferatu is a lurker in darkness, so hideous that the sheer terror could very well stun them in place.  The Nosferatu is no ordinary vampire.  Some slowly become this way through eons of existence, while others morph themselves through dark sorceries that further defile their undead bodies.  No matter the truth, they are scarred and driven further away from the humanity they had once had.  They become alien, monstrous and sometimes feral as a result.

The Yara-Ma-Yha-Who looks like a little red man with a bulbous head and suckers upon his fingers and toes.  But beware, this cursed being seeks to drain and feast upon their victim before regurgitating their mutated corpse into another one of them, which the fiend then animates.

The following variants are available to the Vampire entry in the Monster Manual (page 297) as well as the Vampyr.  In some cases, they can be used for the Vampire Spawn entry in the Monster Manual (page 298) as well.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  I figured I’d cover a classic monster for my theme this time, the Vampire!  However, I thought I’d make a whole bunch of variants that sample inspiration from all over the world as well as popular culture.  Here’s a handful of monster templates to change up your vampires, giving them an assortment of new abilities.  Enjoy.

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Graveyard Tyrant, Divine Atrocity & More – FromSoft inspired Horrors for D&D 5th Edition

https://i0.wp.com/img02.deviantart.net/8c1b/i/2014/021/1/d/gravelord_nito_by_eemeling-d73486o.jpg

There is a certain darkness that lurks within our multiverse.  Great beings of power hold dominion over reality, creating guardians to defend their reign.  Likewise, powerful mortals meld conviction, innovation and craft to create a testament to their beliefs  Among them are foul creatures that epitomize forces of corruption.  These creatures are born out of hatred, malice, destruction, tyranny, bedlam and a wide variety of other horrid acts and negative emotions.  However, many of these fell beings were forged from the best intentions.  Purity, piety, justice, liberty, order, compassion, knowledge; all desires to improve or better understand the worlds around us.  However, positive intentions are distorted by extremes and turn into unending nightmares unforeseen by the perpetrators.

Where kindness and creativity go awry, cruel and unspeakable monsters arise.  All are the embodiment of some ideal that has turned horribly wrong.  Spiritual powers of nature contorted into vicious beasts, an arbiter judge of the dead turned callous taker of souls, the most virtuous and divine being unraveled and maddened by the abyss, those dedicated to a cause pursuing their quest into the depths of insanity.  Such tragic horrors are just examples of great power that falls from grace.  These beings were not meant to be or not meant to become this way.  The Divine Atrocity is the desecration of nature by its own followers, The Graveyard Tyrant is death’s hatred for the living taking hold of the land, The https://i2.wp.com/img03.deviantart.net/9c58/i/2014/243/d/8/bloodborne___cleric_beast_by_artsed-d7xeote.jpgDemon-Shackled is a fell knight who gave up on all that is sacred for the Abyssal chaos they fought, the Sundered Saint is the deranged remains of a faithful being driven insane by their convictions and goals.  Thus, a swift death is a true act of mercy when it comes to their existence.

These sacrilegious mistakes often haunt wastelands plagued by far worse evils.  The entropic decay and destruction only serves to empower these tainted powers.  Mad cults, other beings born of the same madness as such abortions of science and arcana.  They pose a challenge to any crusader, chosen one or hunter foolish enough to get in their way.  In some cases, the very land around these abominations conspires against those who bring their wicked masters any harm.  These soulless forgeries of life seek to destroy all those who oppose their sick mutation, those who defy their damnation, those who defend against their twisted ways.

Author’s Note:  I wasn’t really happy with these creations, initially.  So, I figured they were both due for an update.   We’ve had horrors from the mists, some classic dark fantasy and a bit of weird western and steampunk for good measure too!  So, I’ve done all I can to expand my “Gaslamp and Gothic” theme to it’s fullest.  On that note, the other reason I wanted to do this is a tribute to the gaming series/multiverse I love so much.  The Souls games (and Bloodborne) are coming to an end for the time being, so polishing some homages is fitting tribute.  Here’s my take on Grave Lord Nito and Cleric Beast in D&D 5E.  In addition, I create some extra content to commemorate Dark Souls III and make general homage to all of the Souls games (including Demon’s Souls).  And as always, the mad rambling prose is in part thanks to my love of Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem and of course, H.P. Lovecraft.  The first three monsters are directly inspired by various creatures, while the third is a general homage to several beings from the series.

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The Shootist – A Gunslinging Martial Archetype for D&D 5th Edition

One with the Gun.

Just as a Monk masters using their body as a weapon and a knight channels their energy into their blade, the shootist treats their “fire brand” as an extension of themselves.  Explosive power of the gun is truly an art form in the hands of a shootist.  While declare guns as a dishonorable weapon, the shootist shows that it merely requires its user to have panache, constant mobility and an eye like no other.  No longer is the fight about stopping and studying, as the fighter is always on the go.  Their new goal is to outpace their rival while sinking a challenging hit.

Unlike other martial trainings, the shootist is a considerably rare one.  While many are capable of picking up a gun and shooting it, few can truly master the art of gun fighting.  The ways of steel and fire are too complicated for some and likewise too frightening for others.  Even so, orders that are dedicated to this fighting style are very protective over it.  To risk sharing it to an unworthy fighter is an extreme disgrace.  With an almost religious fervor, they seek out anyone who would dare to steal their secrets… or worse, give them to someone unworthy.  Much like the outsider, the informant is also deemed an outcast among the shootists.  Outcast Shootists are typically tracked down and executed by a posse.  Just as the punishment for transgressions and mockery of the art are harsh, joining them is just as harsh.  Due to their secretive nature, they tend to be very picky on who can join.  Much of their “initiation” tasks are actually suicide missions meant to kill off potential recruits.  Those who survive some insane ordeal are then tested in a lethal trial grounds.  Anyone capable of surviving the onslaught has proven themselves to be a worthy addition to their cause, so long as they prove themselves loyal as assistants on missions.

Christine by AlexRaspadOf course, that isn’t to say that the shootists are an inherently corrupt order.  To them, innovation and order must be handled gently, by those who can be trusted.  To let it slip into the wrong hands would result in unethical science and totalitarianism, among other atrocities.  Balance in all things is a philosophy held strong by this gunslinging knighthood.

Beyond the dimensional nexus where this quasi-religious order was started, its influence has made its way into countless Prime Material planes throughout the multiverse.  In worlds like Abeir-Toril, residents of the technocratic island nation of Lantan pay tribute to their planar inspirations by making their own gun-based arms.  On Khorvaire, the secret is horded by mercenaries and artificers who have long since disbanded from the dimensional order, often seeking new methods and black markets around urbanized regions like Sharn.  On Oerth, this order takes a heavy divine angle in service to a plane traveling deity named Murlynd, who brought the secrets of explosive powder from a realm named “Boot Hill.”

Author’s Note:  The original Shootist post needed a bit of a pick me up, so here we go!  Granted, this one turned out to be a hybrid of The Brotherhood of Steel from the Fallout games and the characters of the Dark Tower saga.  That said, if you want to ignore the fluff, by my guest!  Make them a studied guns expert, a weird western gunslinger, a honed rifleman, etc.  Nothing mechanical is directly tied towards the Order in anyway.  I simply added that in the fluff for the sake of being a fanboy.  With that, I updated my Shootist archetype.  After some mulling over, I tried to downplay the Pathfinder Gunslinger element that was heavily prominent in the initial version.  This one takes cues from the Battle Master, as well as a 3E class made by one of my good friends (with their permission) and just bit of the Paizo class.  Also, you may be wondering what this has to do with my gothic theme?  Quite simply, my idea was “Gothic and Gaslamp”, expanding out towards Dark Fantasy, Steampunk and Weird Western.  Besides, this is just another type of romanticized warrior of sorts.

For the longest time, I asked myself one thing, “Do I want to remake the archetype or expand it into a full class with its own archetypes?”  To this day, I still ask this.  I’m considering making a full class at some point, but not at the moment.  Personally, I find Tribality’s full class to hit that niche pretty well.  As it is, I’m going up against Matt Mercer’s take on the archetype… (which in my opinion is just a conversion of the Pathfinder class.)  With that, here’s a modified fighter archetype!  Enjoy.

Edited 10-28-2016

DISCLAIMER:  This version is somewhat tested, utilizing some feedback to try something completely different.  Lemme know what you think, as I’m more than eager to develop it from here.

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Curse of Undeath – A Dark Souls-inspired mechanic

“Yooou who reeeekindle the Flaaaame, embraaaaccceee deeaatttthhhh!”

Sometimes, the sweet embrace of death is all but impossible for countless damned souls.  They are forced to continue to walk a dark path.  For them, they seek to regain an essence of life and restore their shattered minds, lest they be lost to an abyss of emptiness and madness.  Such a curse can be from a variety of sources; an exploitation of a life source at a deific level, exposure to/using evil magics for too long, a hex brought upon by a powerful caster or even a destructive force bent on draining life from all reality.

The Curse of Undeath is a vile magical power that breaks the soul and leaves the body as little more than a husk.  These drained husks share little with their once living counterparts.  They are merely corpses controlled and warped by dread energy.  Any remnants of mind left in these creatures are stretched to madness and driven to violence.  While many of them retain enough knowledge to fight as though could in life, it is impossible for them to engage in rational dialogue let alone interact peacefully.

Author’s Note:  Dark Souls III is out and I love it!  With that, here’s an optional rule for handling a curse similar to the Undead of the Dark Souls universe.  If you don’t want to literally be running Dark Souls, it shouldn’t be too hard to reflavor this into a different dread curse of sorts.  If you’ve ever played Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, Anthony’s chapter certainly comes to mind.  One last disclaimer, these are mostly random ideas in my head, in an attempt to make a Dark Souls inspired mechanic.  As such, it’s more than likely that this idea is a bit clunky.  It will probably receive a revision in the future, if reader interest is there.

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