Penumbra, Lord of Nightmares – A Fey Villain for D&D 5th Edition

“Something horrid lurks and hides, the Chained Islands are where he resides!  He waits for you to fall asleep, for then it’s time for him to reap!  He’ll find your dreams thanks to his schemes, he’ll squeeze your mind till it’s a rind, he’s stuck in your head until you’re dead!  Oh Penumbra, he’s quite the sight!  Yer lucky if ye die o’ fright!” – A bardic tune about Penumbra

Many fear the evil of “The Dream Thieves“, but never question where they are from.  The Faerie Folk of Arcadia hold several mysteries and several realms cloaked in darkness.  The realms of dreams and nightmares is no exception.  Long ago, the Lady of Dreams fell silent to her deranged brother.  This being is not seen by anyone, save for those about to die in their sleep.  This stalker in our one place of solitude has given him notoriety.  Even without his dream thieves, he’s quite the capable slayer.  However, he prefers not to get directly involved, save for the most worthy of opponents.  Unlike many lords and ladies of the court, he has an almost feral hunting instinct, paired with a keen intellect rivaled by some of the greatest scholars of the realm.

Unlike his minions, he enjoys torture to what he defines as hilarious extremes.  For him, a subject must suffer in glorious ways, as he finds new manners to break his prey into submission and death.  The true hunt is the process of psychological destruction.  He often stews and broods within the dream realm that he has corrupted over time.  He is a petty and bleak creature, who shall never know any joy, merely taking it from others instead.  At one time, he might have been similar to his vanished sister, but hatred and despair have polluted his mind and made him into what he is now.  Hiding between layers of reality, his true form is equally masked away in obscurity.  It’s unknown if this lurking master of darkness even remembers his true form, only seeking another fearful mind to take a new form.

Author’s Note: I wanted to make a NPC super villain for your disposal, taking from my own setting as well as a variety of inspirations.  I’ve seen plenty of incredible epic level demons (a la Rage of Demons), Dragons (a la Tiamat) and the like.  In fact, we’re probably due for epic threat Giants when the newest adventure arrives!  That said, I haven’t really seen epic Fey threats.  So, I figured it was only right to craft what I imagined one would look like.  With that, here’s an evil and powerful creature of the fae as well as another contribution to the June 2016 RPG Blog Carnival theme.  Also, this is something I plan on using in a game at some point.  So, to any players in my games…  stop reading here!

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Gaslamp, Steampunk and Weird West NPCs for D&D 5th Edition

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Many heroes exist in the many realms.  From industrialized cities to lawless frontier wastes, champions against the darkness use sixshooter and spell book to ward off absolute evil.  While dark forces destroy most and corrode others, these few do all they can to fight back against those who seek us harm.  Purity and sanity are often lost in the process and these defenders of the common good are more than likely sacrificed in the process.  However, their actions help to preserve the balance that keeps reality as a whole from falling into an age of continuous torment.

Likewise, countless forces embrace the corruption that taints our reality, dragging it into an endless hell that will never die.  It is their goal to destroy all that is sacred and ensure that nothing will end the all consuming abyss.  These agents of evil and fallen heroes are the cancerous plague that continue to rot existence and will continue to do so.  As long as great evils exist in the endless multiverse, there will always be corrupted minions at their disposals.

Author’s Note:  Instead of backgrounds or monsters, I wanted to craft up some generic NPCs.  Some of which are based on existing NPCs as well as monsters I had made in the past while others are wholly new.  Here’s a wide variety of archetypes from western, pulpy and Gothic fiction.

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Let’s Ride into the Sunset

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My Gothic and Gaslamp theme has been tons of fun but, quite frankly, I want to move on to other things.  I’ve gone from horror to heroic fiction, all within an encompassing and overarching theme.  I’m going to wrap things up with my next couple of posts before exploring something entirely different!  And don’t worry, I have plenty of strange things in store far before it’s my turn to run the RPG Blog Carnival.  Stay tuned!

The Walking Disease: An Abhorent Mobile Plague for D&D 5th Edition

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… Eeeewww

“Writhing vermin, fungaloid spores, infected and mutated flesh.  Such a creature, its combination should be impossible!  Such a bonding of disgusting things, it makes no sense.  What mad arcanist would perform blasphemous rituals to create a redundant and putrid nightmare like this?  Why, I’ll inform you and shed the bliss of ignorance.  From the dark art of necromancy arose the magics of pathomancy, a school of magic devoted to diseases, infections and other maladies to afflict one’s health.  While one could debate the good in necromancy, pathomancy is almost certainly evil.  Its sole purpose is spreading illness wherever it goes.  Perhaps it is the ultimate in biological terror and weaponry.  And from these dark arts, evil creatures are spawned.  One such being is the Viral Undead, a zombified horror that is brought back to life through plagues rather than raw negative energy.  However, such creatures are the only beginning of such vile rituals.  There are far worse…  I speak of ghoulish things that control the bodies of the dead; plagues, fungi, vermin… seemingly corrupted by darkness and made into a weaponized hivemind.  There is only one title for an anathema to all that is holy, Walking Disease!” – Rambles of a mad archivist on the Walking Disease.

The Walking Disease is among one of the foulest necromantic beings ever created.  This thing is an incubator of some of the most foul and dangerous illnesses and parasites known to many, and some to few.  Disgusting environment, combined with magically enhanced organic tissue lends itself to the perfect breeding ground for a device of mobile biological warfare.  While it is certain this is a work of dark magic, such monsters thrive in environments like fetid swampland, damp and dirty dungeons, sewage tunnels and other environments hampered by humid moisture and/or rampant decay.  Some consider densely populated areas with little regard for hygiene as well as space to be perfect breeding grounds for the walking disease as well.  Sometimes, when eldritch arts go awry in the right conditions, the walking disease is made entirely by accident, usually from someone who passed on in such a disgusting environment.  The reason for such beings is unknown beyond forbidden magical power.  Some say that the specialized necromancers seek to perfect plague magic as a weapon against their enemies.  Others say cults devoted to gods of Death and Disease want to appease their dread masters any way possible.  Perhaps they were simply an experiment that went horribly wrong.

This sad thing is bloated and warped beyond any recognition of its original self.  Discernible anatomy is replaced by pus spewing boils, sickly sores, asymmetrically placed tumors, stretched necrotic lesions, chitinous-like plates, assorted fungal growths replacing some features entirely, chains of undead insects wriggling and swarming about, among other grotesque features.  Worse yet, almost every victim suffers these deformities and mutations in different revolting and shocking ways.  Despite its staggered appearance, the walking disease boasts supernatural strength and is surprisingly agile, making it a surprising and truly terrifying foe.

On top of this, it’s seemingly more observant and aware than other undead.  When not posing as a body being fed on by the wretched wastes around it, it might hide in a wretched hive of filth and grime.  While it feels no physical pain, its existence is prolonged by endless mental anguish and hatred.  Only a complete fool would be willing to actively engage such a monster.  And those who do often suffer a slow and agonizing death… only to rise up as another shambling colony of plague and despair.

Author’s Note: Considering I only posted one monster, I wanted to craft a second one for you all!  This one is a conversion of a conversion.  In other words, I updated one of my very first blog posts to Fifth Edition.  The original post was a quick and easy conversion of the “Walking Disease” from a somewhat obscure D20 accessory book called “Into the Black.”  For those who haven’t heard of it, the book is a great resource for subterranean and dungeon adventures.  I’ve used it a small handful of times, myself.  Also, the idea came to me while thinking about tons of horror and sci-fi monsters: The Flood from Halo, the Infected from The Last of Us, Spawn of Nurgle from Warhammer/40k, etc.  While this is a translation of the original monster, those creatures played their part in making this too.  Also, there’s nothing that gives me the creeps like medical horror.  We all fear illness and disease, so a perfect creature of horror is a literal incarnation of it.  The end result is a horrifically deadly creature that can slay its victim in mere moments, if not careful.

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The Cheerful Stalker – An Eerie Menace for D&D 5th Edition

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“Lovely evening, isn’t it?”

As if the wind called out in terror, I heard a faint cry being carried into the winding streets of urban civilization.  Minutes of silence filled the sloping labyrinth of metal, concrete and wood as the fog rolled in.  Barely within eyesight, he stood there as an outline in the mists.  The unearthly quiet was slain by his sickly cackle, a sound reminiscent of countless madmen laughing and screaming in simultaneous cacophony.  The hunter’s call was likely an attempt to demoralize me, making it easier to take down his meal.  Hunched over, the man creature looked as if ready to pounce; I becoming prey for an incomprehensible predator.  As it fazed in and out of corporeal state, the shadowy figure dashed ever closer, as if only existing in the faint illumination of the street lamps.  Before I could cup my mouth with an empty hand, the ghastly visage jumped directly within a few steps distance.  The monster’s proportions were similar to a man, but far too alien and uncanny to truly be registered as much.  A gaping maw, piercing marble-like eyes, almost digitigrade like stance, a hunched back.  Such a thing couldn’t have been spawned in this world, but an infernal underworld or somewhere beyond.  No matter, I gave into primal fear and reacted in violent defense.  Upon trying to slam an arced punch from my right hand, the creature was pushed back.  However, it looked neither stunned nor truly affected.  As such, I ran as to my house, never gazing behind my back.  I still don’t know what manifestation of evil I encountered, but I revel in absolute ignorance for the time being.  – A survivor’s account of the “Cheerful Stalker.”

Many assume this creature is a vampire who has turned to macabre theatrics to scare victims, a mad wizard whose dabbling in dark magic has turned him into a monster or even a creature from hellish depths sent to punish mortal creatures of a “sinful plane.”  All of these are false tall tales and narratives from the fearful masses. Such takes on this being are the results of political propaganda, mortified storytellers, anxiety-ridden survivors and culturally dependent interpretations.  A local legend, a mystery man, a cautionary tale, a moral avenger, a psychotic murderer, an alien threat.  All of these things could describe a strange “spirit” known by most as the “Cheerful Stalker.”  His name comes from the demented grin he displays to targets of his brutal wrath.  Also, it refers to his obsession with pursuing a target until their death or insanity.

Such a creature is actually fae in origin, hailing from the distant realms of Arcadia.  Like most denizens of said dimension, they follow complex and alien codes of morality; with viewpoints that are equally as surreal to the outside onlooker.  The Cheerful Stalker is no different.  It sees all life from this world as one of two things: objects to toy around with or food.  Sometimes, he’s partial towards both.  On another note, some have questioned if this creature actually is male, despite the fact that he prefers to mimic the form of a well dressed male of high society.  However, it is possible that this is just a preferred disguise.  The creature could very well identify as male as well.  While the creature is obsessed with hunting extraplanar creatures, it does so with intelligent planning and an almost sadistic zeal for prolonging the suffering for as long as possible.  However, he doesn’t hold grudges and will avoid targets that prove to be too strong or can overpower him.  The Stalker is, in the end, a coward.  Upon defeat, debasing and shouting down the remaining essence of the creature is the only way to kill it.

Author’s Note:  Alas, my Gothic and Gaslamp theme is slowly coming to an end.  My reason is simply that I don’t know how much more I want to do with it.  With that, I wanted to take part in Brynvalk’s RPG Blog Carnival theme of The Fae as well!  You can read more about that, HERE.  As I’ve said, the fey theme was a challenge for me.  However, I’ve learned quite a bit that has carried over into some of my other stuff.  Among them was applying the fair folk to horror.  Dark and nightmarish is my forte, after all.  So, with that, here’s a creature inspired by bogeyman legends, serial killers, creepypasta, faerie tales and various folk legends.  And seeing as he’s inspired by the concept of the thought form or “tulpa”, stories of his dark deeds will keep him alive for ages to come.

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Factory Stacks and Sixgun Shootists – Gaslamp & Weird West Backgrounds for D&D 5th Edition

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“Truly, this is paradise”

Not all who dwell in dark gaslamp lit towns and cities are called by the darkness.  Some take more heroic and honorable pursuits.  Of course, these people are just as susceptible to the darkness as the more “accursed” among them.  Noble deeds can be tainted and benevolent action can devolve into a fanatical crusade.  But in proper moderation and reflection, these heroes can be true champions of not only their ideals but for others as well.  A harsh society is made all the more overwhelming by the presence of dark forces.  In fighting them, even the most pure of hearts can fall to their wickedness.  Those who are careful prove to be the truest exemplars of righteousness and courage, but few rise up to the occasion.  Like countless others who are forced to take a stand, these mere everyday people must overcome extreme odds for not only victory, but survival as well.

Author’s Note: I tried to write as much as possible for this one!  After all, my last background post was a fair bit skimpier.  With that, I went a bit more overboard by giving you 4 new backgrounds and 2 variant backgrounds!  All of them fit a general 19th century inspired fantasy/horror/adventure theme!  Also, be on the look out for my next post!  It’s a tie in to a certain blog carnival theme for this month!!

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