The stars carry their own ill omens. Sometimes, they are not always distant sleeping beings, but terrestrial creatures of a different sort. This doesn’t stop them from being completely alien in other ways. Sometimes, these things are from our own world and remain just as frightening as things from beyond the stars. The borders between dimensions falter, as a dark matter begins to traverse into our own realm. All means of xenoforms manifest as a result, with us ill prepared for what is to come.
Author’s Note: War of the Worlds, Alien’s Xenomorph, Classic Conspiracy Theories. Those are the subjects of this post. Also, remember when I said I was done butchering German? Well, I guess I lied… Also, I wanted to fit a few references to the Alternity RPG’s Dark*Matter setting. Also, please don’t hate me for poking fun at the recent Aliens universe…
Beyond even the Great Wheel and known space, there are incredible creatures with equally incredible possibilities. Distant worlds and distant planes, both hold incredible secrets to ancient realms and alien beings. Some reach just beyond familiar material Crystal Spheres, while some are as incomprehensible and untouchable as the Far Realm.
Author’s Note: Let’s bring in some real science fantasy! This time, I’m reaching for Star Frontiers/Star*Drive/Dark*Matter for inspiration! For anyone familiar with either game, these monsters should be quite recognizable. As it is, the Yazirian already got its own set of stats… well, under its Spelljammer name. At some point, I might hope to bring the Star Frontiers aliens back as races. Though, I’m far from the first to think about that…
There are a lot more strange planar creatures where that came from. In fact, we’ve only just scratched the surface. From technomagical bioweapons to distant watchers to strange experiments, the planes offers many mysteries.
Author’s Note: Last week had all Planescape stuff…. and this one has a couple that, well, aren’t. I dunno what prompted me to convert an obscure Pathfinder monster from Reign of Winter adventure path, but it’s in there too. Likewise, I added a jokey monster my sister came up with. Enjoy!
“Magick…” he grumbles in a hoarse whisper to himself, “the force we all thought would hamper progress. And here we are, traveling the stars with it.” Letting out a sigh, he pushes his hovering seat away from a messy desk. “If we were truly destined to separate ourselves from magick, the horrible monsters would have been vanquished long ago… not terraforming entire planets.” The man slightly grips his teeth as he rises from the floating chair, joints popping from ache and wear. The spacefaring man gazes into a mirror before continuing to shuffle. The marks of fatigue and age on his face contrast the shining gleam of his badges, reflecting light from the ‘glow panels’ dotting the ceilings and hallways throughout the vessel. Over towards a huge glass pane, the elder military man observes systems of stars with planets seemingly nestled in perfect viewing spots by ancient giants or celestial creatures. “And this ship, it has served more of a home for me than it deserves. But, through the mad crusades and bloody combat, it has served me well.” The tranquility of an empty space fades as ships pull into view, built with alien geometries and operating through impossible physics, they charge weaponry for an epic battle. The man cracks a faint grin as similar weaponry opens fire on the enemy crafts.
The worlds of magic and monsters don’t need to end when civilizations have advanced themselves into new eras; feudal worlds give way to industrial, which give way to information, which give way to hypothetical new technologies that Earth can only speculate about. Even a world of fantasy can and should advance and change with the flow of time. All too often do these worlds stagnate in the endless mush of quasi-medieval high fantasy. Now, this isn’t to say that such a thing can’t be good and doesn’t still have a place. It’s just that for many fans of the genre, such things have grown stale and resistance to change.
In a fantasy future, adventurers will continue to carry on their business. Perhaps new sanctions are in effect and new regulations are in place. However, there are still dens filled with malicious monsters and strange sights to behold. There are gnoll raiders who operate miniguns instead of wield war-axes, elementals from a plane composed of radiation, beholders who bolster their psychic power through cybernetic enhancements, orcish biker gangs terrorizing the streets through their “hover hogs” and much more. Granted, most of these will not be appearing in the article below. However, they are ideas on how someone can twist a classic monster for a more Modern/Sci-Fi inspired setting.
Author’s Note: I figured this is a great way to close out the theme, a look at some classic monsters transferred to a new genre. And by this, I mean transferring classic D&D monsters into classic (as well as some less standard) science fiction. Also, please don’t mind the cheesy space-opera-meets-D&D blurb from up above. I’m not quite what I’d call a writer, but I figured it would be a fun change of pace.
Floating within the bounds of wildspace, one can spot what looks like a whale or an orca. As if through divine power, it glides through the boundless reaches as if it were an oceanic current, all without touching the Phlogiston that so many spelljammers require. However, this isn’t the only place to observe them. Many dwell within the layers of the Beastlands, for they are at home in both the water and the air. Others find ways through their master’s demiplane into the Elemental Plane of Water, as well as of Air. Sometimes, one can be spotted in the Elemental Plane of Ice as well. In fact, there has been an allegiance forged with Ben-hadar and Chaan, the Good Archomental forces of water and air. Many other planar creatures have various levels of respect for them. The free celestials of Arborea, The Eladrin, have even ridden them into battle in some instances. However, the Devas and Angels of more lawful planes think lowly of them.
Among deific powers, the Master of the Pod is a lesser power. However, its message is familiar to many, through acts of joy and freedom. While known for discouraging battle, the Cosmic Coki inspires courage and virtue in the heat of conflict. In some cases, this can mean sparing even the most vile of enemies. Despite rumors, Coki isn’t actually a Beast Lord, despite their demiplane orbiting by The Beastlands itself. In a similar vein, the Celestial Pod aren’t truly native to said plane either.
Author’s Note: HELP! DOC’S ON DRUGS! Just kidding. Now seriously, this was an idea one of my friends had played around with for a long time. This is a mixture of things, tbh; an orca plushie located at a rummage sale, the space whales from Doctor Who and some random ideas thrown at the wall. I realize that Orcas are not technically whales… in case anyone has doubts. Also, the adventure I wanted to write was taking longer than I thought…
EDIT: Many of the linked monsters no longer exist. Plus, a lot of new monsters need an update.
Much of the art of conversion can be much more simple than one thinks. Minimalism is something I’ve been meaning to toy with, as well as looking at my previously available options. With that, here’s a list of existing monsters to modify for the adventure as well as creatures that already exist in some capacity. Enjoy!
“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!