Werebeasts – Savage Shapeshifters for D&D 5th Edition

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The gang’s all here!

“I saw them as they left the citadel, they were covered in blood and they cackled about some noble family they had slain.  I figured they were mad assassins…  that was, until they emerged in the full moon’s light.  In an instant, they contorted and morphed into all sorts of vermin!  They raised their heads in dark tribute to some sinister master before finishing their transfiguration into the accursed things.  I’ve heard tales of witches and warlocks making dark pacts to gain animalistic power… sometimes spreading the curse to the most innocent of souls.  Fortunately, they didn’t notice me observing from a ramshackle shack nearby or they simply didn’t care…”

– A farmer’s account of unspecified werebeasts emerging from a murder.

Long have we come to fear nature, it is pervasive and will reclaim all that we abandon.  It cares not for our petty morality.  It exists outside of our constantly changing and growing societies.  If we are lost within it, there is a good chance we’ll never be seen again.  But, while those fears are relevant, the fear of nature speaks to something within us… something primal.  The fear of the inner beast is exemplified no better than the shapeshifting horror, the lycanthrope.

While the name is a big misnomer, the lycanthrope is a sinister beast that masquerades as a normal person during the day.  As the night falls, they begin to hunt down the very people they interacted with before by shifting into one of many beasts.  No one is completely sure why they do this.  Perhaps dark spirits of nature beckon and control victims into attacking civilization.  Maybe they are corrupted worshipers of the old ways who desire to tear down boundaries between society and the wild.  Maybe they’re just shape changers who went completely mad.  No is sure for certain, for those who have survived an attack eventually become one of the monsters themselves.  One thing is certain is that entire cults have been built up around werebeasts, revering dark gods such as Malar the Beastlord; a deity originally hailing from Abeir-Toril’s universe.

Scholars have pondered what type of changing beasts exist in the world.  Beyond a list of common creatures, there are rarer and newer beings emerging from the untamed darkness.  These creatures are based on an assortment of other animal stock, sparsely mentioned or researched by archivists and monster hunters.  Recently, brave souls and madmen alike have unnerved new types of werebeasts based on various stocks.  Some of these animal stocks seem to affect different races disproportionately.  For example, wereweasels have a strange habit of once being halflings, while werebadgers had once been dwarves.

Author’s Note:  Halloween season has returned to Daemons & Deathrays a little early this year!  I figured I’d start by converting some of the stranger therianthropic nasties across other editions and various settings.  Not to mention, create some new NPCs based on existing types.  With the Wereraven officially released in Curse of Strahd, that’s one less creature I need to stat up myself.  On another note, Werewolf the Apocalypse may have had something to do with this.  Whether it’s nostalgia or my unashamed love of Classic World of Darkness, but I just can’t hate that game… even if it’s filled with stupid (and borderline tasteless) nonsense.  With that, have some more werebeasties!  Also, you can find my werebat here, from last year!!

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GIANTS – Massive Humanoids for D&D 5th Edition

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The very word “giant” evokes fear and admiration.  In fact, the creatures known as giants practically invented new definitions for the word, in response to their incredible size.  Giants are titan-like beings born of the world in some manner.  They are raw forces given some manner of thought. One giant alone is an engine of destruction, capable of razing several lands in its wake.  To some giants, we are merely insignificant insects that act as an obstacle to our goals.  They have no inherent malice towards us, we’re just annoying to them.  The Church of the Cosmic Colossal preaches these values, proclaiming that Giants are Cosmic Entities that are far superior to other Material Plane creatures.

To some researchers, they are the first beings who emerged from a lifeless world of nothingness and chaos.  Some even say that they sculpted the world as we know it today.  To some, they’re early creations of the Gods that were in time rejected in favor of the smaller folk.  Perhaps they were once humans who embraced incredible energies of the planes, thus being transformed into massive beings of power.  Like many theories surrounding various creatures, they’re not totally conclusive or have too much evidence to support their truths.  All that is known is that each giant holds their own origin stories and epic tales.  Lest you be a fool, never challenge them on their mythologies.

Author’s Note: GIANTS!  I figured I’d write at least one tie-in to Storm King’s Thunder while the module was still relevant.  Since I’m not as into it as I was with Curse of Strahd, this post won’t likely be expanded into a theme of any sort.  No matter, I wanted to convert some classic giants to D&D 5e and this was my excuse to do so!  In fact, many of these come from some of my favorite settings.  In addition, I converted a giant that was made for a 3E campaign eons ago.  Enjoy.

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Minotaur- A Tough Bovine-like Race for D&D 5th Edition

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“Call me ‘beef’ one more time, I find human to be delicious!”


Born into Darkness, Creations of a Mad Man


Legends of their peoples’ origins have long since been an enigma.  Some say they were born in service to the glory of the puzzling maze, perhaps they are scions of the Demon Lord Baphomet, to some they are harbingers of the end days.  Much like the Minotaur themselves, these legends and stories have traveled across boundless planes.  In reality, the archfey lord of Nightmares brought such creatures to life in boundless mazes of his design.  Unlike the myths, these labyrinths weren’t made to protect something or to hide his work, but as a means of psychological torment and dastardly experimentation.  Few know the truth, but they have likely been driven to insanity by their petty pseudo-god.  Like all beast folk of Arcadia, their kind was not initially born but remade.  Several creatures ensnared under the Nightmare Lords grasp were warped into their current form, in an attempt to create relentless servants of chaos.  To this archfey, an army of unstable beastly horrors is exactly what was needed to turn the tides in war.


Fierce in Strength and in Spirit


While the Nightmare Lord’s brainwashed army of bovine-headed horrors began to ravish the material plane, not all were controlled to commit horrible acts.  Those who broke free from this control fled to dark corridors and sprawling tunnels.  Ironically, such hiding places were much like the horrible conditions they were tortured in for so long.  Even so, their familiarity with dungeons and mazes lead to them building complex mountain-side societies.  Rather than build over the land, they built into it; eventually developing all sorts of defensive methods against intruders and invaders alike.  In the years following, they had met conflict with the subterranean mound fey, human settlements and extraplanar entities.  This never deterred their survival instincts and knack for defensive innovation.  Eventually, some of their own became among the first to ascend.  A described high queen of healing and life was among those most powerful.  Those devoted to her cause can craft salves of magical healing through prayer and meditation.

Beyond worship of ascended minotaur powers, their societies have emerged to be an industrious and militant society built on protection and honor.  Some are driven by a passion to fight for what they believe in, while others are driven by keeping their kin safe at all costs.  These beliefs have lead to them being a prominent developer of arms and armory, making them a desirable trade ally.  However, their self-imposed sanctions make it harder for contraband dealers and illegal traders to gain powerful supplies.

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FREAKS! – Aberrant Beasts, Mutants and other Abominations

When magic is involved to experiment with life, the results can be horrifying and sickening.  So-called Freaks are born from careless tinkering with supernatural forces.  These “freaks” are often driven to madness and hostility by either their inability to grasp the world around them or reacting to a harsh and judgemental society.  Those who lack sentience tend to go mad from their tormented existence. Most of the time, their creators have little care for their warped creations.  Those who do seem them as the perfect meat shield, whilst they continue their depraved and disturbed experiments.

While many are the result of mad scientist, evil alchemists and deranged wizards; some are victims of corrupting powers and incomprehensible forces.  These powers greatly vary.  Forces like abyssal underworld hexes, maddening voids of realms beyond, places of raw and untamed energies.  Creatures born from such mysterious planes and domains are often thralls to their mad overlords.  Those who break free often became chaotic and destructive forces prone to rampage, much like material plane  “freaks”.  These planar-blighted beings were often enslaved as living machines of destruction.  They serve as pawns in warfare, conquest or acts of terror.

Author’s Note:  Many of these are original with the help of some of my friends (Thanks Bobby, Centaurpede will give me nightmares!)  Also, the creepy horse mask inspired some of the flavor text…  In the case of some of the others, they are homages.  The Cosmicoid is both a nod towards Alien and the equally inspired Wanamingo from Fallout 2.  The Hulking Mutant is a more clear reference towards the Super Mutants from Fallout.  Meanwhile the Atomic Beast was my translation of Keith Thompson’s Pripyat Beast and Psi-Zombie is Zombified Stalker from S.T.A.L.K.E.R. meets the Witch from Left 4 Dead.  Also, Atomic Beast and Centaurpede are conceptually very similar…  Granted, one’s alive while another is a From Software staple.

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Super-Science and Sorcery Roundup

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For starters, I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to contribute to this month’s theme.  While many themes have come and gone through carnival history, I’m not too sure many have really tackled this idea in depth.  Perhaps it’s due to the fact the genre hybrid of science-fantasy isn’t as popular as it once was.  Perhaps people just wanted to tackle something else that tickles their fancy.  Both are very fine reasons.

At first, I was hesitant to make the theme about science fantasy.  The reason was that it’s very much a niche flavor within a niche hobby.  I love it, but I figured not too many other people shared that same love.  None the less, plenty of fans came out of the wood work to support a pretty cool concept, if I do say so myself!  Mages and dragons meets techno-crafters and giant robots!  I mean, come on!  That’s pretty darn cool!  Also yes, RIFTS was one of my favorite settings way back when… how did you guess?

Anyway, I’m gonna stop prattling here and get to showcasing this month’s RPG Blog Carnival posts.  Here are the posts for the August 2016 theme, “Science Science and Sorcery!”

EDIT: Added missing links

 

 

6d6RPG: The Monster in the Machine – jfoster merges machinery with the strange and supernatural to create some fascinating and unsettling new monster ideas!

Anarcarnivàle: Any technology sufficiently advanced… – Clark proposes ideas on fusing magic and technology together with the help of historical scenarios.

Brynvalk: Cold Iron Corruptor – Faith from Brynvalk mashes classical fantasy creatures of the Fae with Sci-Fi elements such as cyborgs and mutants.

Crossplanes: F@NE For Savage RIFTS – Mark from Crossplanes creates a creature for the science-fantasy world of RIFTS, now compatible with Savage Worlds.

Daemons & Deathrays: Expedition to Barrier Peaks – Brian (Me) of Daemons & Deathrays has devoted the month to converting a classic module to D&D 5th Edition.  These posts consist of:

Forgotmydice: Astounding Tales of Science Fantasy – Grynning examines Clarke’s Third Law in its relation to the Sword and Planet genre, as well as figuring out how to run such games in D&D.

Forgotmydice: Warlock Patron of Interest – Griss makes a pact with a new warlock patron, The Machine.

Forgotmydice: ‘Tis New to Thee – Trevor transports people from a Modern world into the realm of Fantasy thanks to a new background!

Forgotmydice: From the Red Hills of Mars – Robert channels John Carter in the blog’s August 2016 finale by creating Green Martian stats.

Forgot my dice: Allons-y! – Trevor makes an intellectual and scientific sub class for the Ranger.

Mythus Mage: Are You Sure? – Alan dissects genre and treats magic as a science.

Notes of the Wandering Alchemist: Science-Fantasy Trinket Table – Based on the PHB, John has made a table of random trinkets you can incorporate into your games.

Rollcall: Reskinning to Maximize a System’s Range – Rollcall shows how simple it is to reflavor fantasy RPGs into science fiction.

Tales of a GM: Serpentfall in Heroquest – Phil takes from “The Day After Ragnarok” setting to build an epic interlude with a helping of science-fantasy!

Temple of Ravens: Super-Science and Sorcery – Anthony of Temple of Ravens ponders Sci-Fi series like Star Trek and how to run them within the realms of D&D and beyond.

 

If you would like to participate in an upcoming  RPG Blog Carnival event or host your own event, please check out this page to learn more.