The Road (Thankfully) Less Traveled – Terrors on the Road

Foggy trail in Catskills, NY

“Take me home, country roads!”

Just beyond the veil of reality exists an entire bestiary worth of wretched things.  These monsters and entities lie beyond our grasp, waiting for the right moment to strike.  Many of these creatures are quite similar to the everyday and mundane aspects of life we take for granted, while others are incomprehensibly alien.  While in the comfort of our homes, we take much for granted.  But, on the road?  We are much more vulnerable.  The elements, wildlife and even fellow people can prove to be potential hazards.  But, even more troubling is the strange and supernatural sights that we all hope to never encounter…

Author’s Note: If there’s one thing I love in a ghost story, it’s encounters on the road; when you’re traveling, far away from home and quite vulnerable.  And worse yet?  Many of the things stalking you take up the guise of something far from insidious at all.  While some predators will fight head on, others are bit more crafty.  And some?  They’re just quasi-mindless masses of hunger.

Also, special thanks to Ian for helping to create the Haunting Traveler.  I shall inform you on how many people it kills, I promise!

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Strange Things in Bloodied Wyvern Peak Adventure Report: Part 5

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WELCOME TO PURPLE VIOLET!  (Don’t sue me, Green Ronin!)

We’re back!  Once again, the weirdness lifts off the material realm… or so it seems.  We lose one of our dysfunctional heroes and gain another and more things seem off… if a tad off track entirely!

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  Yes, Utopian-Orvaldt is a slight spoof on Blue Rose, with the fashion and style of Hirohiko Araki to boot, even though players didn’t have a chance to explore the utopia too much.  No, I don’t have a chip on my shoulder towards Green Ronin, even though I don’t particularly like Blue Rose.  The idea was based on old notes I had sitting around for the sake of a light-hearted plane hopping game.  I might do something more with that soon enough.  Also, I’m sorry for killing off your character super quickly, Evan!  Really, I am!

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Strange Things in Bloodied Wyvern Peaks Adventure Report: Part 4

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“Where are we?  When are we?”

It has been a bit of a hiatus, but we’re back!  Hooray!  The lands beyond Qvosfeir await, as our team etches closer through the rugged terrain of the bloodied wyvern peaks.  And by lands beyond, I mean quite beyond!  As always, things are about to get even weirder!

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Strange Things in Bloodied Wyvern Peak – A Mini Adventure for 5th Edition

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“That’s… not supposed to be there.”

Background:  All of you have been summoned on account of a king’s desperate plea for aid.  Resources have been running low for his people and attempts to trade with outside lands has been shut off completely.  The routes you’ve all taken are too unwieldy and out of the way for caravans to use often, in part because it is longer, far more hazardous and ideal locations for bandits.  All that is known is that the wider passage ways to Bloodied Wyvern Peak have been sealed off and going there is far too dangerous.  Attempts at leaving have been, more often than not, futile as the people feel trapped in their once cozy land.  To make matters worse, the soil and water have slowly been poisoned by something in the mountains.  King Orvalt Delinandor will reward handsomely for your efforts.

Inside the lavish meeting room, a temperamental man in kingly garb fidgets with his fingers as he attempts to give off a composed look.  He ushers each of you to take a seat at one of several ornate chairs, adorned with plush cushioning and fancy stitched patterns.  He rises from his comparatively large chair, himself, as to make a grand speech.

“I would like to thank all of you for making your way to my great kingdom.  Forsaking the usual pleasantries, I’d like to get to addressing our main concern.  The prime routes for trading and traveling has been completely cut off in the last couple of weeks.  Why?  I can’t really say, as most of my scouts haven’t returned for many days.  And those that are either died moments after returning or worse…  On top of that, imports are running low as our commerce has been thrown into peril.  Our soil has also turned bad, poisoning those who have used it.  Any mining operations have been halted, due to reports of collapsed tunnels and monsters.  Any workers, traders or scouts that came back alive from the mountains have returned scarred, plagued or driven mad.  Worse yet, entire towns have vanished lately.  People proclaim they see horrible things and disappear instants later!  Please, explore the cause of this; whether it’s bandits, monsters or worse!  Some blame our miners for unearthing something foul, but I have my doubts.  I’ll award a bonus if you bring any captured subjects back… dead or alive.”

After the meeting with the king, his guards escort you to rooms to equip all of you with proper provisions; climbing equipment, coats and other survival essentials.  After everyone is set with equipment, everyone is taken outside where a carriage sends them towards the outskirts of the mountain.  This ride take about 1 hours time.  The landscape changes from a bleak winter forest into jagged mountainous rock jutting from the earth.  The carriage driver indicates on a map given to you that the route follows the dirt path ahead, in through a canyon-like divide.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  Inspired by my Barrier Peaks conversion and Epicroll’s short adventure, as well as a lot of retro/pulp sci-fi, here’s my take on the classic sci-fi spaceship into fantasy world crossover.  This adventure is meant for characters of 7th level.  A WORD OF WARNING!  This module gets more and more deadly as time goes on.  Some encounters aren’t meant to be fought, but are meant to be part of a puzzle.  Either way, this is a bit of an experiment for me.  Enjoy.

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Diseases and Plagues – Sinister Sickness for D&D 5th Edition

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Journal Entry 183

Illness.  A force capable of wiping out an entire city, if not civilization, if left unchecked.  My superiors theorize that it is the result of the machinations of the lower planes.  I know better though, I’m well aware that life so evil need not come from other planes, but from our prime material.  Sicknesses come from small germ-like creatures, accidentally bred through hosts and environments, but that’s as far as I can gather on my research.  By all means, I’m sure fiends can create their own diseases though… and I shudder at the thought.

That said, I will never rule out an element of the supernatural in plagues.  I’ve witnessed many things while acting as a physician: pustules emitting acidic vapor, coughing fits leading to burning alive, previously rotting and wasting victims returning as the undead, demonic incubation.  The list continues onward.  In fact, some of these cases I plan on covering more in depth, in addition to some new discoveries I’ve made.  I must go back into plagued lands to dive deeper.  However, one can’t venture into these dark depths without proper protection.  As unnerving as it may be to the public, the plague suit has proved quite effective.  Aromatic contents treated with protective wards is helpful enough, after all.  Now, I ready myself for travel throughout the planes, in hopes of understanding disease throughout all realities.

Author’s Note:  My avatar on many of my pages tends to be a plague doctor.  So, what could be more appropriate than analyzing diseases with such a character.  Also, I guess this marks a return to planar and sci-fi content, right?  Plus, one of the things that inspired this was Russet’s Mold and Vegepygmies from Expedition to Barrier Peaks… a module I had previously converted!

Also, be warned!  If you do not like Body Horror or other forms of Medical Horror, I do not recommend continuing.  While I don’t go into grotesque detail, I’ve still tried to capture both to the best of my ability.  And even then, many of the diseases here are quite deadly and have the capability to kill an entire party.  As such, use them sparingly.

Also, please pardon the lateness of this post.  I’ve been under immense stress for the past month and a half.  Things haven’t been going too well for me and I’m doing my best to manage.  That said, things are getting better and I’m trying to make things go back to normal.  As always, thanks for understanding.

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Modern Myths and Local Legends – Contemporary Horrors

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Hello.

Stories of monsters changes through the ages, adapt to different societies and views.  Some tales and creatures alike die out, while new ones are born.  These can be from new developing trends or even tragedies.  Wherever they’re spawned from, their dastardly ways will terrorize much like their predecessors before them.

In a world closer to our own, when the stories truly connect to us on some level, we truly begin to think about it… and when we dwell on the thought, then we get scared.  This is the true effect of horror.  Now please, look behind you so we can be properly acquainted…

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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.

 

CHECK OUT THE UPDATED VERSION HERE!!

 

 

Art Sources: Keith Thompson – Pripyat Beast

Made by Doctor Necrotic, for Doctor Necrotic Media.