Expedition to Barrier Peaks – D&D 5th Edition Conversion (PART 3) – Mutants and Monstrosities

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“Two of our party members died, but check out this shiny ray gun!”

“It looked like some sort of badger-like animal, until I noticed the eight legs!  Each of them had barb-like claws attached.  As the creature faced us, its jaws dettached and let out the most horrid of shrieks.  It pounced upon and tore apart the bardic minstrel in moments before we managed to put it down.  What other twisted beasts dwell here?”

-A survivor’s brief encounter with the Aurumvorax

Beyond machines and flora, countless species of fauna populate the strange wreckage.  Whether they’re organic forms from realms unknown or mutated experiments gone horribly wrong, their alien nature and ferocious abilities make them formidable foes to fight off.

Author’s Note: Beyond some easy to convert monsters using the monster manual, here’s a helping of monsters and beasts that roam the downed ship.  Some of these were pretty easy to tackle, considering many of them had been ported over to other systems (beyond the Next playtest) such as Pathfinder.  Stay tuned for my take on pre existing monsters as well as adding new monsters to the ship!

Continue reading “Expedition to Barrier Peaks – D&D 5th Edition Conversion (PART 3) – Mutants and Monstrosities”

Expedition to Barrier Peaks – D&D 5th Edition Conversion (PART 2) – Flora Folk and Mold Men

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“Why did the wizard explode into mold people?”

“The Grand Duchy of Geoff has sent a messenger out to you with an urgent alert! Sightings of strange creatures and stranger devices have been found somewhere beyond the hilly range known simply as “The Barrier Peaks.”  All parties sent to investigate have failed to return for a while now.  Rewards will be negotiated, alongside relics you may find in the threatening area you are sent to explore.  All demands and discussion will be handled with the Duke of Geoff.”

We continue our conversion, this time with plant-based life forms and related creatures.  Included is one of my favorite monsters, the vegepygmy.  Sure, their name is weird, a bit too cutesy and possibly a tad racist; but I’ve always liked the ever strange mold men.  Not to mention, their thorny companions were always fun too.  With that, I give you more monsters from the Barrier Peaks.

Author’s Note: I’m still chugging away at the monsters from this module.  Don’t worry, after this post, I’m over half way completed!  After that, I’ll tackle some room specific bits as well as treasure.  Stay tuned!

Continue reading “Expedition to Barrier Peaks – D&D 5th Edition Conversion (PART 2) – Flora Folk and Mold Men”

Expedition to Barrier Peaks – D&D 5th Edition Conversion (PART 1) – Robots and Androids

RPG Blog Carnival LogoTo kick off the August 2016 RPG Blog Carnival theme of “Super-Science and Sorcery”, I thought I’d show a part of a conversion I’m working on.  This module has always been a special one for me.  Not only was it a crazy fun house dungeon crawl, but it’s a bizarre crossover of D&D elements with the likes of Gamma World and Metamorphosis Alpha.  Plus, I’ve always loved conspiracies revolving around Ancient Aliens.  With that, I’ll be hoping to transfer Barrier Peaks to 5th Edition to the best of my abilities.  After it’s complete, it might go up on the DM’s Guild.

To kick things off, we’ll start the conversion with an assortment of robots and androids.  Now, you may be wondering, what do robots have to do with D&D?  I’m not entirely sure, as I’m running on coffee and sheer determination.  Granted, that hasn’t stopped me from finding a way!  Needless to say, the rest of the module is being converted in chunks, to be collected in a megapost in the end.

Author’s Note:  You read that correctly!  More or less, I’m going to be dumping some time into converting this module.  It’s very likely that this will take up a chunk of the month, itself.  Luckily, the Playtest made work a lot easier on me.  I’ve found help from other bloggers as well, thus making the journey a non-arduous one.  Plus, I’ve made a helping of techno goodies in the past too.

Continue reading “Expedition to Barrier Peaks – D&D 5th Edition Conversion (PART 1) – Robots and Androids”

RPG BLOG CARNIVAL AUGUST 2016: Super-Science & Sorcery

This has been quite an exciting year for Daemons & Deathrays!  It marks me expanding my site content through new ideas and concepts.  It also will mark me making the leap to digital distribution and sales!  *fingers crossed!*  Above all, it’s the third time I’ve participated in the Blog Carnival.  In this case, spearheading this month’s theme!

On that note, the theme for this month is “Super Science & Sorcery.”  In other words, science fantasy.  This hybrid genre embodies a mixture of motifs found in both science fiction and fantasy fiction.  The origins of the genre stem from a time when speculative fiction was significantly less concrete in its terminology.  On one hand, you had harder science fiction typically written by people in directly scientific fields of study.  On the other hand, you had lighter and pulpier science fiction.  While they explored a variety of themes found in the genre, they weren’t as concerned with creating a world cemented in tested theories or making it feel exactly like our own world.  These range from Buck Rogers radio serials and b-grade midnight movies to fantastical epic stories like Star Wars and The Masters of the Universe.

In terms of tabletop hobbies, the concept of science-fantasy is as old as the grand parent of roleplaying games itself!  David Arneson’s Blackmoor made homages to aliens, high technology and even Star Trek.  Gary Gygax brought a spacefaring vessel (likely from Metamorphosis Alpha) into the world of Oerth via Expedition to Barrier Peaks.  The Post-Apocalyptic wastes of Gamma World and the western frontier of Boot Hill had options to bring strange gizmos across the planes via the Advanced D&D DM’s Guide.  Gygax’s friend and co-founder of TSR, Don Kaye, made a character that transported to Boot Hill and learned the art of the shootist.  Upon returning to Greyhawk, he was decked out in cliche cowboy gear and sixguns.  After Kaye’s passing, Gygax honored his character as a minor deity of magical technology.  During 2E’s run, Dragon Magazine had a plot involving invasive evil robots called “Sheens”, as well as an adventure called “Tales of the Comet” with a similar theme.  As the years continued, we saw a few steampunk articles for Dragon magazine, the D20 Modern roleplaying game, Gamma World revisions for new editions, Dragonstar, 3rd Party settings like Amethyst, among countless other genre mashups for the game.  With that, the concept of Science-Fantasy within the realm of Dungeons & Dragons (and roleplaying games in general) is far from new and far from over.  Beyond the realms of D&D, we’ve all sorts of works arise over the years: Warhammer 40K, Titansgrave, Shadowrun, Skyrealms of Jorune, RIFTS, the list goes on!

So, you may be wondering where you all fit into this strange theme?  For this month, I’m asking you to share any Science-Fantasy RPG goodness you have with me!  Stories, homebrew, etc!  Please, comment down below with a link to your creations.  Despite the D&D-centric nature of this blog, I encourage you to explore any RPG game or story within the realms of science-fantasy that works for you.  At the end of the month, I’ll do a round up post involving all of this month’s contributions.  Here’s to a successful month of mutants, magitech, machine men and more!

For more information on the RPG Blog Carnival, please visit here.

Image Credit: RPG Blog Carnival – Reis O’Brien

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

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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Curse of Undeath – A Dark Souls-inspired mechanic

EDIT April 2018:

Check out my updated take on this alongside some neat ways to change up Tomb of Annihilation (again) here!

“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.

An Affliction of Body, Mind and Soul

As the last of life’s flames extinguish, you become less and less human.  For every time you die, a piece of you is lost when you’re brought back.  Only through restoring your humanity can you truly become whole.  Even before the curse has truly taken hold of you, its dark power has tainted you indefinitely.  You may currently look like one of the living, but heinous power seeks to transform you into one of many mindless and angry dead.

The source of the curse can be from one of several horrible events.  Perhaps the Gods attempted to prolong the life of themselves and their followers by draining life essence from the planes.  Perhaps an entire area was desecrated by overuse of necromancy.  No matter the cause, the results will turn apocalyptic in the long run as people without souls begin to wither into deranged husks.  Even before before truly becoming one of the Undead, the cursed already suffer greatly.  Upon being afflicted by the Curse of Undeath, you automatically fail death saving throws when brought to 0 HP.  You must still roll a Death save.  Upon failure, you receive two failed saves instead.  Getting a natural 1 causes three failed saves instead of two.

Image Source: Revenant – oevrlord

Based off of Dark Souls, which belongs to From Software.  Made by Doctor Necrotic, for Doctor Necrotic Media.

Stories from the Mists – Gothic-themed Character Backgrounds for D&D 5th Edition

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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.

Continue reading “Stories from the Mists – Gothic-themed Character Backgrounds for D&D 5th Edition”

The Planes, The Planes! – Doc’s look at the Planescape Setting

So, the theme for this blog for the past couple of months has been planar creatures and dimensional weirdness.  Nothing embodies both better in my opinion within the realms of D&D than the Planescape Campaign Setting.  While I’ve enjoyed other AD&D settings like Greyhawk, the Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance; Planescape has remained special to me.  It’s a strange and cosmic fantasy where imagination is truly the limit!  You want to fight insane mechanical cubes with ray guns?  You can!  You wanna gamble with a Devil with an Angel by your side?  It’s possible!  You wanna get flayed by a giant lady for treating her like a God?  PLEASE DON’T DO THAT!  But I digress, Planescape is a high concept setting with endless amounts of play and content to explore.  For the reasons above and the many reasons below, I hope the full flavor of Planescape returns to D&D 5th Edition.  So far, it’s my favorite incarnation of the rule set (and I loooove AD&D 2e, albeit mostly for the vast library of settings.)  While they more or less have the Great Wheel, it feels much of the shadow of its former self like in the 3rd Edition of the game.  I want the vibrancy, the absurdity and the wonder of those wonderful weird planes.  Digressing from that, I’m here to address another question… How does one do a Planar game in this setting?  Why, I’m glad you asked!  Here’s a few humble suggestions from yours truly!

Now, I know what you’re thinking…  “Doc!  Didn’t you write about the planes on your other blog?”  Yes, I did.  However, I think now is a good time to revisit that post, especially now that I’ve been creating content revolving around planar travel and alternate dimensions.  Plus, cosmological models and jumping between worlds has been one of my favorite aspects of D&D as a whole!  With that, let’s chat about campaigns within the planes.

For starters, you might also ask me something; “Hey Doc!  Aren’t there more cosmological models than The Great Wheel a la AD&D?”  And you would be right!  Especially since 3rd edition, new models have popped up.  The Portals and Planes D20 Book (a rare title, if I may add) had heavily versatile options for truly forging your own planar realms.  Pathfinder modifies the Great Wheel and adds to it in simply awesome ways (with help of Todd Stewart himself!)  Eberron has an orrery based system where some planes overlap at the material plane at points in time.  The World Axis is a duality between the Gods above and the Primordials below.  That said, the Great Wheel remains my personal favorite of mine.  To be fair, it’s where I had the most adventures within the planes themselves.

Continue reading “The Planes, The Planes! – Doc’s look at the Planescape Setting”

I WANT YOU…

…to give me feedback!

And you thought this was a recruitment effort!  Nope.  I’m encouraging my readers to tell me what they think of my creations, constructive criticism encouraged.  Most of my content (as of their post) is in playtest form and not 100% ironed out.  As such, there’s still plenty of bugs I’ll probably miss by myself.  Plus, interaction with the community is one of the things that keeps me going.  Hope to hear from more of you all in the future!

A Planar Grimoire Spell List (Book available on DM’s Guild)

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Of course I’ll teach you my magical knowledge… after you take care of some tasks for me…

The planes holds countless secrets, countless beings, and countless magicks!  Some are willing to share their knowledge with the multiverse, while others keep their secrets and will keep to protect them; extraplanar forces are no exception.  For those lucky enough, the powers of the cosmos begin to fall into their hands.  Their ideals grow stronger as the planes begin to change alongside them.  At the very least, their ideals shape into new spells, crafted from distant points of reality.

Continue reading “A Planar Grimoire Spell List (Book available on DM’s Guild)”