“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, denizen of the town of Cactus Sting.
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!
You can also find a variety of NPCs at your disposal over on this page.
A sight to behold, these creatures look like cacti, bristling with needles all over their bodies. Their upright and humanoid stance should help to imply that these creatures are far from stupid, capable of a variety of nasty attacks. Despite looking grotesque, they’re rarely hostile against a random stranger, only apprehensive. Some are willing to lend their talents for creating water to dehydrated wanderers they might come across.
Large plant, chaotic neutral
Armor Class 16 (natural armor)
Hit Points 45 (6d10 + 12)
Speed 30 ft.
STR 18 (+4) DEX 15 (+2) CON 14 (+2) INT 11 (+0) WIS 16 (+3) CHA 10 (+0)
Skills Perception +7, Survival +5
Senses Darkvision 60 Ft., passive Perception 17
Languages. Plant-Speak, understands Common
Challenge 2 (450 XP)
Seek Water. The Needler can locate a source of water for upwards to 2 miles away, as long as it concentrates on seeking it.
Multiattack. The Needler may attack up to two times per round.
Needle Shower. Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 60 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (2d6 + 2) piercing damage.
Needle Grasp. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: ## (1d10 + 4) piercing damage. The Needler can forgo damage to grapple the target instead. The target must succeed an escape action (DC 14) to break free. However, upon doing so, they take 5 (2d4) piercing damage.
Orcs always have had something to prove, something to fight. From their early days fighting among other “green kind” to their travels into the frontier expanses, conflict follows the orc. While many are content with lives as bandits or warlords, others have taken a different approach. These brutal mercenaries range from glorified raiders to defiant defenders of the common folk. Legend tells of one named “Grimluk” who saved a whole town from not only the living dead, but a demonic entity that threatened the whole region! While not all are capable of hunting demons, some are content with taking down lesser bounties too.
Medium humanoid (orc), any alignment
Armor Class 15 (reinforced tanned hide armor)
Hit Points 52 (7d8 + 21)
Speed 30 ft.
STR 16 (+3) DEX 15 (+2) CON 16 (+3) INT 11 (+0) WIS 13 (+1) CHA 10 (+0)
Skills Insight +3, Intimidation +4, Perception +5, Survival +3
Senses Darkvision 60 Ft., passive Perception 15
Languages. Common, Orc, up to two languages from Favored Enemies.
Challenge 3 (700 XP)
Aggressive. As a bonus action, they can move up to its speed toward a hostile creature that it can see.
Relentless Endurance (1/Day). When they are reduced to 0 hit points but not killed outright, they can drop to 1 hit point instead.
Favored Enemies. The orcish hunter selects two types of creatures (such as Dragons or Fiends). Checks made to track this type of creature always have advantage. Furthermore, checks made to obtain or recall information on these creatures also have advantage. They gain advantage on Insight checks for Studied Attack, as long as it’s a favored enemy. They also gain any languages spoken by the selected creatures.
Studied Attack. The orcish hunter may make an Insight check against a creature’s Survival as a bonus action. Should the hunter win the contest, the creature target is marked and they may add an additional 7 (2d6) damage to their attacks. This lasts until the creature dies, in which they may attempt to mark a different creature.
Multiattack. The Orc Hunter may attack up to three times per round.
Blastlock Pistol. Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, ranged 40ft./80ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d10 + 2) piercing damage. The Hunter takes no action to reload the weapon.
Savage Axe. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d12 + 3) slashing damage.
Often upon a phantom steed lies the Pale Rider. Many of these hexed drifters dabbled too far in fell arts, turning them into necromantic terrors that travel the endless sandy divides in search of the dead to use for whatever strange rituals they wish to try. Many have lost themselves in the isolation, surrounding themselves with the living dead or through the exploitation of dark magic.
Medium humanoid, usually non-good
Armor Class 12 (15 with mage armor)
Hit Points 59 (9d8 + 18)
Speed 30 ft.
STR 11 (+0) DEX 15 (+2) CON 15 (+2) INT 14 (+2) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 17 (+3)
Saving Throws. Intelligence +4, Wisdom +3, Charisma +5
Skills Arcana +4, Deception +5, Intimidation +5
Senses passive Perception 11
Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)
Ghostly Steed. As an action, the pale rider may call upon a ghostly steed, which can last indefinitely. However, should the steed be slain, the pale rider must wait 24 hours before using this ability again. This otherwise works like the Phantom Steed spell.
Spellcasting. The Pale Rider is a 7th-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 14, +6 to hit with spell attacks). The pale rider has the following spells prepared :
- Cantrips (at will): chill touch, create bonfire, mold earth, toll the dead
- 1st level (4 slots): cause fear, false life, mage armor, witch bolt
- 2nd level (3 slots): hold person, ray of enfeeblement, web
- 3rd level (3 slots): animate dead, erupting earth
- 4th level (1 slot): blight
Reloading. After a Revolver fires 6 shots, the rider must use either a bonus action or action to reload its shots.
Touch of Death. Melee Spell Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (3d4 + 3) necrotic damage.
Revolver. Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 40ft./120ft., one target. Hit: 9 (2d6 + 2) piercing damage; Reload 6.
Gunslingers who live by the gun and die by the gun can sometimes become cursed into something truly dreadful. The Pale Stranger is one such outcome. These faded and decayed shells are bound to their weapons, somehow still incredible and pristine… unnaturally so. A supernatural force pushes these living dead forward and gives them uncanny luck in gun duels. In fact, violence by the gun is all they exist for anymore, as that is what they made of their own life. In undeath, they have become the embodiment of the terror caused by weaponry.
Guns of the Grave. Like most undead, there is no need for it to eat, sleep, drink or breath. Furthermore, it can never be separated from its weaponry, as they have become bonded to the creature. Its bond is so strong that it is resistant to some aspects of the gun itself.
Medium undead, chaotic evil
Armor Class 16 (reinforced leather)
Hit Points 76 (9d8 + 36)
Speed 30 ft.
STR 10 (+0) DEX 18 (+4) CON 18 (+4) INT 10 (+0) WIS 13 (+1) CHA 7 (-2)
Skills Acrobatics +8, Intimidation +6
Damage Resistances fire, necrotic, thunder; bludgeoning/piercing/slashing damage from non-magical weapons
Damage Immunities poison
Condition Immunities poisoned
Senses Darkvision 60 Ft., passive Perception 17
Challenge 7 (2,700 XP)
Dead Eye Drain. When the pale stranger hits with an attack, the hit creature takes an additional 14 (4d6) necrotic damage. They must also make a (DC 16) Constitution saving throw. Upon failure, their maximum hit point total is reduced by the necrotic damage taken. This reduction lasts until the target finishes a long rest. The target dies if this effect reduces its hit point maximum to 0.
Stranger’s Boon. Once per round, the pale stranger may choose to reroll an attack roll, saving throw or skill check and take the second result.
Sunlight Sensitivity. While in sunlight, the pale stranger has disadvantage on attack rolls, as well as on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.
Undead Fortitude. If damage reduces the pale stranger to 0 hit points, it must make a Constitution saving throw with a DC of 5+the damage taken, unless the damage is radiant or from a critical hit. On a success, the pale stranger drops to 1 hit point instead.
Reloading. After a Revolver fires 6 shots, the stranger must use either a bonus action or action to reload its shots.
Multiattack. The pale stranger may attack up to two times per round.
Revolver. Ranged Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, range 60 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) piercing damage; Reload 6
VARIANT. Guns Akimbo.
- Gain additional trait: Akimbo. When you hit with an attack using the revolver, you may use a bonus action to attack with an off-hand revolver attack, adding its dexterity modifier to damage. This can be used in between multiattack.
- Increase Challenge. 9 (5,000 XP)
- Replace revolver with rifle
- Rifle. Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 120ft./600ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8 + 4) piercing damage; Reload 2
- Gain additional trait: Dead Eye. Sight based Perception checks are made with advantage.
- Increase Challenge. 8 (3,900 XP)
This siren-like ghost was once the spirit of a woman who deceased alone and miserable in the desert wilderness. She sings an eternally mournful song, bringing others into despair or insanity. When first met, she’ll appear out of nowhere looking as gorgeous as possible, a reflection of her idealized life. And in a mere moment, she’ll retaliate, wishing to take that bit of life that was so painfully taken from her. This creature is a truly pitiful horror of the endless barren wastes.
These share the stats of the Shadow with the following changes:
- Increase HP to 27 (5d8 + 5)
- Remove Amorphous and Sunlight Sensitivity, as well as vulnerability to radiant damage.
- Gain trait: Create Spawn – Any female humanoid killed by a Wind Maiden will become one 1 hour later. This effects both Melancholy Song and Wisdom Drain.
- Strength Drain becomes Wisdom Drain. This attack drains Wisdom instead and deals Psychic damage.
- Gain attack: Melancholy Song (Recharge 6). This attack targets all creatures in a 20ft. burst that aren’t Wind Maidens. They must make a (DC 13) Wisdom saving throw or take 1d4 points of Wisdom loss and gain the frightened condition for up to 1 minute if they were not frightened already. This wisdom damage is restored after completing a long rest.
- Challenge: Increase to 2 (450 XP)
IMAGE CREDIT. Various Spellslinger Art – David Griffith, Monte Moore, Michael Philippi, Joseph Querio, Hian Rodriguez
Spellslinger is owned by Fantasy Flight Games. All artwork pieces (as well as original creatures that were converted) are owned by FFG. Pale Stranger is property of Paizo. Grimluk the Demon Hunter, from the Grimluk novel series, is property of Ashe Armstrong. Created by Doctor Necrotic, for Doctor Necrotic Media. All rights and copyrights belong to respective owners.