Backgrounds for the Doomed – Dark Sci-Fi backgrounds for 5E

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Across the wastelands and into the mega-cities, all sorts of people dwell in truly dark places.  Many fall to corruption, whether from inside of or outside of its “protective” walls.  Many adventurous folk are not merely content with a mediocre life as a drone or even the life of a delivery courier.  While the latter explores the world outside, they are still tethered to a track, lest they quickly find themselves in over their head.  The rest who make their way across the strange and bleak world?  Thrill seekers, mercenaries, civilians on a vital but deadly mission, absolute maniacs!  But, haven’t adventurers always been this way?

Author’s Note: Yes, I know my RPG Blog Carnival is done.  But, I’m still quite inspired!  With that, here’s a couple of new backgrounds and how to incorporate them into a more average fantasy setting… and not so average settings.  Dark Sun, Ravenloft and other darker worlds might make for good fits.

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July 2017 RPG Blog Carnival: Ultra Cars and Death Machines

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“It’s time for New Oerth City’s favorite game show pastime!  ‘Killer Cars and Motor Murder!’  It’s the only game show that combines demolition derby, gladiatorial combat and modern popular culture!  Strap on your helmets and visors, it’s carnage time!”

In several dystopian and post-apocalyptic books, games and movies; technology hasn’t so much improved our lives so much as modified how we do things… whether it’s in the name of everyday convenience or horrible acts of violence.  In the case of today’s post?  We’re reinventing the former to do the latter!  Twisted game shows, a new form of combat among road warriors, an armored carriage against an unrelenting wasteland, improved assets for both warfare and public suppression, you get the idea.  I’m talking about stuff like Death Race 2000, Twisted Metal, Blood Drive, Mad Max, Cel Damage, Car Wars, stuff like that!  So today, we dedicate this post to decked out and weaponized automobiles!

Author’s Note:  I’ve been wanting to update vehicles for a while!  Plus, this is an excuse to write up some ideas for vehicular combat, in terms of more modern machines.  Jousting with motorcycles, fuck yeah!  And yes, I realize that some of the ideas below are somewhat sparse notes, but I’ll probably come back to this later.  After all, I promised someone something on racing, something on jousting and even mecha battles!  GIANT ROBOTS!!

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July 2017 RPG Blog Carnival – Post-Apocalyptic House Rules

Most creations of the apocalypse are accidental.

The end of the world happened as we expected, too many people squabbling over too many things.  And with their super weapons, a new breed of terror was unleashed.  Not only did the radiation spread, it became aware, it gained its own life.  And what followed?  I dare not say…  All that is certain is the horrors of this war spawned all of them.  Protect yourself at all costs, should you run into such a mockery of life.

The post-apocalypse, a staple of darker science fiction.  There are few greater fears than not only one’s own death, but the death of the world we live in.  Or at the very least, the death of civilization.  In most cases, we wouldn’t have roaming raiders, so much as starved out and depressed barbarians.  But, since science fiction gives some leeway, we’re able to explore the grittier side with the likes of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road to the more gonzo like Mad Max and all of the bootlegs and homages that it inspired!  (And ’70s/’80s Italian post-apocalyptic bootlegs are simply incredible.)  Or go even further with the likes of Adventure Time, especially in the more recent years as the old world was further expanded upon.  Even if settlements are rebuilding the old world and some semblance of stability comes to the wastes, there are still many hazards that roam the blasted out reaches.  Just like the dungeon crawls and treks of D&D fantasy, the world has regressed into an age of buried secrets, monstrous threats, lost knowledge and high adventure!

With that, today I’m going to focus on retooling some old ideas I’ve had for post-apocalyptic settings.  Effects of radiation, as well as enfeebled equipment and ruins of buildings are given some spit and polish.  Plus, I wanted to bring back a fair share of gruesome and ghoulish creatures I had worked on in the past.  Whether it’s an elemental power of radiation itself or the many mutants that is probably created, there are tons of familiar faces.  While I wanted to make a scrapping based craft mechanic, I couldn’t really settle on a base craft mechanic.  To be fair, neither has core D&D really.  And until we have an expanded idea, there are tons of concepts floating throughout the web.  So, I’ll likely come back to that in the future.

Author’s Note: Here’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while!  In fact, it’s part 1 for that matter.  Expect a heaping helping of horrifying mutants within the next couple of days to next week!  Stay glowing, my radioactive muties!

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MAY BLOG CARNIVAL – Spiritualist Sorcerer and Exorcist Background

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One might wonder, what is the power of a spiritualist?  It’s very much laid out in their name, someone who works with the spirits of the deceased.  Such sorcerers are fabled for calming angry spirits who lacked desire to move on to the after life.  In some instances, they have found ways to harness the spirits, whether out of mutual pact or magical extortion.

For most of your life, you have felt a connection with spirits.  Over time, you tried to develop talents to reach out to the realms beyond.  While not a bloodline in its own right, you have been touched by the nether realms, planar domains where souls travel upon death.  Harnessing your talent, you are more than capable of communing with spirits either through seance or through a known spell.

However, conjuring and working with spirits is often taboo, and is such practiced in secret.  While some may hear of you and seek you out for counsel when dealing with the dead, others might see you as a second rate necromancer.  Some orders have even formed within various religious organizations as exorcists, while others revel in individual freedom when dealing with the shadows beyond our world.

Author’s Notes:  I’m back with Blog Carnival content once more!  This time, I thought I’d dabble into the Occult theme by making a Spiritualist based circle for the Sorcerer.  While other classes also felt like good picks, this felt like the quickest match for me.  So, let’s speak with the dearly departed as we explore the Nether World with the Spiritualist.  And as a bonus, have a background on exorcism. 

You may find more on the May 2017 Blog Carnival here!  Alternatively, you may be interested in the Sage Variant: Occultist background that I made last year.  This would better fit a medium who contacts spirits through seances and the like, should you favor a more gothic flavor over a high fantasy one!

Also, this is the first pass for this sub-class, it will be due for revision in subsequent weeks.  This first draft is experimental and possibly volatile.

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Bizarre Bazaar Forever – Even More Planar Items!

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Welcome back, weary traveler!  Please, as always, you are more than welcome to observe my inventory.  Should anything be particularly fascinating to you, signal me and I’d be happy to tell you more!  Of course, some of these artifacts are VERY dangerous and should be handled with care.  Fortunately for you, the GREAT Zam’dul is happy to provide assistance!

Author’s Note: Making magic items from around the planes remains to be one of the most fun topics for me to tackle.  As such, I really wanted to return to it so soon.  With that, enjoy another sampling of weirdness from many a reality.

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Internet Trash Spells

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Memes.  They’re garbage.  But, we love them… for some reason.  Sometimes such ideas spread so fast, as per the theory that named them, that they reach other planes.  Such planar scholars witness these cross-dimensional ideas and sculpt them into something else entirely.  And thus, new spells are created from what started as a simple idea!  These mad sages have provided four of their latest creations.

Author’s Note:  Sure, I’ve done stuff like this in the past…  But, why did I do this?  Also, these spells are likely unbalanced, as they were made as spur of the moment jokes.

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Bizarre Bazaar Returns from the Planes! – More Planar Items

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The hustle and bustle of the market gives way to something you’ve seen before.  Ahead lies a familiar tent and sitting underneath is a figure wearing spacefaring gear over robes.  Their head tilts in your direction, acknowledging your presence and expecting reaction.  Upon getting closer, the creature straightens its back as it lifts from the ground with seemingly little effort.  Facing you, they extend a cloth covered arm in greeting, it is Zam’dul the Plane Traveler.  The thick breathing from a chamber in his mask lightens up as you can hear sounds like a throat being cleared.

“Hail, friend!  It has been a while, has it not?  Please, do not shy away.  Since your last visit, I have procured many new items from the distant cosmos and beyond.  I open my collection for you, if you can handle a potentially steep price.”

The dusty, wrinkled merchant shuffles over as an arm extends to highlight various wares.  Much like before, you bare witness to a wide variety of truly odd looking crafts and artifacts.  Some resemble items you’ve seen in your travels, others are far too alien for you to fully comprehend.  Zam’dul surveys the crowd while ringing a strangely shaped bell, hoping to garner interest.

Author’s Note: We’re slowly closing out our planar theme for the time being.  However, I figured it would be fun to return to another installment of Bizarre Bazaars!  This time, I’m going back to my roots and doing another planar theme, including the truly bizarre and perhaps even horrifying aspects of the planes.  But, if you wanted normal items, you wouldn’t have come here.  As a bonus, I’ve converted over some items from Planescape Torment.  No matter, take it away, Zam’dul.

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