Welcome back, gamers! I usually homebrew stuff and this is a complete change of pace for me. That said, I’ve been meaning to write pieces examining things within games in addition to homebrew. As it is, I’ve branched out with gaming recaps and those seem to reach some sort of audience, so I’ll continue to experiment. That said, homebrewing is still my prime focus.
Back on topic, last time I opened up the carnival by looking at why I think people like darker genres and topics in their games! Today’s post is deeper focus on dark settings in regards to conflict; whether it’s problems from society, the self, the environment or even forces beyond our control. One can’t have a darker story without extreme conflict, to the point it’s usually quite oppressive, or repressive in some cases. Sure, there are more examples than what I’m talking about, but I could go on and on about that. Also, I like rambling some anecdotes about old games I’ve played it, because I really love sharing gaming stories with everyone when I get the chance!
Author’s Note: I know, it’s a change of pace. Like I said, I’m not abandoning homebrewing. I promise. Also, this one is a little more mature oriented than other posts, touching upon rougher subjects.
“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.
Here is a complete list of monsters and hazards from the module, in alphabetical order. I figured this post would be useful, since I separated monsters into tons of categories to make conversion easier. So, here’s a handy list of creatures from the module. This post could be used in tandem with Part 5 for running the module in 5E!
NOTE: This does not include the optional new monsters I added to the adventure. Those can be found here. This is meant as an index for pre-existing monsters converted over.
“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!
To 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.
Please don’t anger the Lady of Pain!
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.