Adventure Conversion – Alterations (Greyhawk 2000)

Alterations

This isn’t the dreaded “Gothic Earth”, but something almost as odd.  It feels like the world of Oerth, known as “The World of Greyhawk” to many.  However, it changed.  It evolved.  The technologies here, while magical somehow, feel quite close to the wondrous artifice of Gothic Terra.  However, I can’t help but wonder how all of this came about.  None the less, I’ll take this place over the forces of The Mists or The Red Death any day!  I feel I’m not done with either though. – Ramon DeLeon, planes traveling bard

Oerth.  But, not the Oerth I remember.  This is one of a distant future.  Just as there are new hopes, there are new fears.  The evils of yesteryear are supplanted by the evils of today.  News of a new abomination of mad science and magic has made its way throughout New Greyhawk City.  A creature similar to the dread mouther, but created through artificial means.  The news does its best to cover up details, but the truth is far more twisted and will only be spoken of in hushed whispers.  The terror of the Millexium Mouther rests, for now.

Author’s Note: Dungeon Magazine #83 gets referenced once again!  The last time was the Faranth, a one-off aberration that has sadly never appeared in official form again.  This time, I’m referencing both Greyhawk 2000 and its tie-in adventure, Alterations.  It’s sad that GH2000 only got attention here, never again in Oerth canon.  D20 Modern would have been the perfect place to continue it.  Eh.  Whatever.  Here’s a quick conversion of the NPCs and monsters found in it.  Plus, the Millexium Mouther is a new monster to play with!  While I won’t encourage piracy, back issues of Dungeon Magazine have long since gone out of print.  You can find a copy of this issue via Archive.org.

 

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Ramon’s Guide to The Mists

https://daemonsanddeathrays.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/5f28c-ravenloft.png

Ravenloft!  The Demiplane of Dread!  The Mists!  All names for the same prison dimension for the foulest in the multiverse!  Those within the clutches of the Dark Powers must suffer, whether or not they deserve it.  These Dark Powers overseen all sorts of truly awful Domains of Dread, plots of artificially constructed spaces where the Powers observe the truly damned in the places of their own damnation.  The Darklords are those who have doomed themselves through acts of ultimate evil.  They preside over the aforementioned domains to remind them of their sins.  Usually, they don’t take kindly to visitors like myself.

Author’s Note: The Lovable World Traveling Bard vs. The Demiplane of Dread!  I always love writing bits on Ravenloft and this is a good way of introducing some of my favorite domains to players who might not be as familiar with them.  Of course, there are MANY domains that I wish I could ramble about, but I have only so much space and time to play with, unlike the Dark Powers.  In fact, their ability is limitless!  Plus, this is a good way of building up my own domains, Dawnsveil, Within the Woods and Feuer!  (Yes, the second one is Evil Dead 1 & 2.)  Keep an eye out for those new domains, by the way…  Also I continued a piece cut from my prior post.  The Black Lanterns was part of my Shadow Fell to Planescape conversion concept from before.

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Mage Vs. Machine – The Sheens

Todd Lockwood - Mech Hunter

Rumors tell of impossible machines, constructs built by the bashers of an exceptionally accursed prime space.  Such a place was long buried deep in the dead book by its own hubris and acceleration, despite the warnings of their Powers.  The barmies kept on going, crafting up one of the most heinous things to pollute the multiverse.  I speak of the Sheens.  Baator-fed buggers seem to self-replicate and thrive, despite attempts to wipe them out.  They’re not just constructs either, but true thinking machines!  They lack souls, but have the mind and bone-box alike to surpass most eggheads.  Needless to say, this place burned down hard.  The Land of Blackmoor was no more!  However, their creation escaped far beyond its Crystal Sphere and beyond.  So, go ahead and kill one, multiple will show up out of no where to take you down!  The Metal berks burnt my tail bad too! – Geber Reynardt, Kitsune Alchemist and Sensate, survivor of The Sheen Invasion of Ignis

Who says sci-fi and fantasy don’t mix?  It’s been a thing for decades, eons, at least a century!  Even in D&D, we’ve had all sorts of strange crossovers.  The aforementioned Blackmoor has been around since the beginning.  That setting was a somewhat dirty and gritty medieval world that contended with a crashed alien space ship.  The result was an AWOL officer starting an uprising with a “frog cult”, as well as the ship thrown into other forms of turmoil.  The end result of the mess caused Blackmoor to experience technological leaps before ultimately blowing itself up.

And in the case of the Sheen, one of my favorite articles from Dragon Magazine (complete with a follow-up), they’re very much science-fantasy too.  The articles tell of the sheen, a strange and mysterious menace.  These constructs were made by a society more advanced in technology and probably magic too.  Their genuine origins are a mystery to most, but their desire to consume and conquer makes them a massive threat.  Plus, they have numerous forms that can adapt to different situations.  And while the sheens tear through organic life, they don’t do so out of malice or hatred, but a survival for their own “machine kind”.  Fortunately, countless defenders have learned enough to fend them off and even reverse engineer some of their own contraptions too.  In a sense, think like Horizon Zero Dawn!

Author’s Note: This one has been a long time coming!  The Sheens are by far one of my favorite obscure D&D monsters (or set of monsters).  Beyond two magazine articles, there hasn’t been too much buzz around them.  Hopefully, I can help to change that!  Here’s the first part of that, with a mix of both articles.  Sure, I’ve made robots already, but I really love these ones too!  Plus, should I find the time, I might be interested in converting the Kits and Spells introduced by the article too… eventually… hopefully.

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Far Outsiders – More Cosmic Terrors

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Githyanki.  Like the Yuuzhan Vong, but not garbage

“So, you’re a fancy crew cruising around on your nice spelljammer.  And then all of a sudden, some ghost thing makes your captain go mad and he’s killing all of ya!  Then what?  That’s why you prepare for the worse out in those spacial depths.  Who knows what nasty things will be lurking out there!  You certainly don’t!” – Glass-Eye Erg, Dwarven Trader from Rock of Bral.

This time around, a few homages to Spelljammer and Star Wars. Long and short, one of my friends showed me the revised d20 Star Wars. It’s better than I recall it being, still no D6 though.  Needless to say, those very familiar with Star Wars will get some of my references.  The same goes for Spelljammer, but I’ve been making a bit of spelljammer stuff for the past couple of months.

Author’s Note:  I figure some more nods to Star Wars are a great way to transition to more science fiction inspired content.  For the next couple of weeks, I shall continue to expand my endless bestiary.  And no, this post isn’t about the Githyanki… I just wanted a swipe at how the Vong kinda look like them.  While I plan for the future, here are two entries based on existing Star Wars monsters as well as my take on the Neogi (as I don’t care for the official take for 5e… but I usually don’t in general.)

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Planar Mania – Monsters Continued

Wildspace Explorer | Into the Night by sdavis75

“Today, you have entered as cadets, mere trainees with little knowledge of the cast worlds beyond and the infinite stars that surround them.  Through extensive courses and simulations, you exit as readied soldiers.  The vast empty void is your grounds to explore, to understand, to build upon.  Be brave, mighty warriors, mages and more!  Go forth, into wildspace!” – Graduation at the Rock of Bral Spell Flight Academy

To some, a trip into fantastical space is a simple feat.  They’re quite far from the truth.  In reality, it proves to be quite the challenge for those who aren’t initiated.  And even once one travels into space, that’s not to say it’s just a lifeless and black nothingness.  Countless hazards threaten the discerning traveler.  Most poorly calculated move and you sail into a deadly trap!  While not all life beyond a material world is inherently deadly, there is still much to be weary of.

Author’s Note:  More Spelljammer!  This time, I’m sampling a little bit of Star Wars influence too.  Starweirds, Ysalamiri, maybe a few others.  Also, there seems to be an unintentionally recurring theme of racial tension in this post.  I guess the theme for this post is part Star Wars, part “racism is bad”?  I dunno.

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Weird Western Monsters – Part 4 (The Brood, The Damned and the Undead)

Pale Bill by SpineBender

“Howdy, friend.  You also crawl out of Hell?”

“Lemme tell you ’bout this really freaky gent, just lingered outside of town for a bit.  He got this big ol’ rictus grin, like someone who died clenching their teeth.  He asked me about my evening.  ‘Course, it was lovely.  One of the men of the inn helped me relax real well upstairs a bit, hehehe.  Anyway, the mad smilin’ man vanished after I told him off.  Damn ghosts.  I need some rest, so I don’t cleave off someone’s face…” – Booker L. Wyatt, Human Barber, owner of Wispy Cliffs Barbershop

Dark spirits gather in these parts.  Maybe they love the sorrow and struggle that comes with developing frontiers; the lawlessness, the adverse environment, the lonesome people.  All sorts of negative traits and qualities seem to lure all sorts of vicious monsters to prey on the miserable locals.  Many of the monsters themselves were once the very same miserable locals, in some cases brought back from the grave to terrorize anyone who dares to live life well.  Some are just manifestations of pure evil, formed upon this world to destroy.

Author’s Note: You can’t have most weird west tales without a degree of horror.  So, let’s dive into some particularly nasty creatures.  Some of them are homages and conversions of beloved and infamous monsters from various games; such as Darkwatch: Curse of the West and Deadlands: The Weird West.  You could say, I like both… a lot.  Also, good lord, are the Hangin’ Judges SOOOOOO 1990’s!  I love them, but they are a trope of their era.

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Werebeasts – Savage Shapeshifters for D&D 5th Edition

UPDATE: You can get the updated version of this via DM’s Guild!  Zoanthropes – A Collection of Werebeasts is available now!  Please, support the blog by grabbing a copy!

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The gang’s all here!

“I saw them as they left the citadel, they were covered in blood and they cackled about some noble family they had slain.  I figured they were mad assassins…  that was, until they emerged in the full moon’s light.  In an instant, they contorted and morphed into all sorts of vermin!  They raised their heads in dark tribute to some sinister master before finishing their transfiguration into the accursed things.  I’ve heard tales of witches and warlocks making dark pacts to gain animalistic power… sometimes spreading the curse to the most innocent of souls.  Fortunately, they didn’t notice me observing from a ramshackle shack nearby or they simply didn’t care…”

– A farmer’s account of unspecified werebeasts emerging from a murder.

Long have we come to fear nature, it is pervasive and will reclaim all that we abandon.  It cares not for our petty morality.  It exists outside of our constantly changing and growing societies.  If we are lost within it, there is a good chance we’ll never be seen again.  But, while those fears are relevant, the fear of nature speaks to something within us… something primal.  The fear of the inner beast is exemplified no better than the shapeshifting horror, the lycanthrope.

While the name is a big misnomer, the lycanthrope is a sinister beast that masquerades as a normal person during the day.  As the night falls, they begin to hunt down the very people they interacted with before by shifting into one of many beasts.  No one is completely sure why they do this.  Perhaps dark spirits of nature beckon and control victims into attacking civilization.  Maybe they are corrupted worshipers of the old ways who desire to tear down boundaries between society and the wild.  Maybe they’re just shape changers who went completely mad.  No is sure for certain, for those who have survived an attack eventually become one of the monsters themselves.  One thing is certain is that entire cults have been built up around werebeasts, revering dark gods such as Malar the Beastlord; a deity originally hailing from Abeir-Toril’s universe.

Scholars have pondered what type of changing beasts exist in the world.  Beyond a list of common creatures, there are rarer and newer beings emerging from the untamed darkness.  These creatures are based on an assortment of other animal stock, sparsely mentioned or researched by archivists and monster hunters.  Recently, brave souls and madmen alike have unnerved new types of werebeasts based on various stocks.  Some of these animal stocks seem to affect different races disproportionately.  For example, wereweasels have a strange habit of once being halflings, while werebadgers had once been dwarves.

Author’s Note:  Halloween season has returned to Daemons & Deathrays a little early this year!  I figured I’d start by converting some of the stranger therianthropic nasties across other editions and various settings.  Not to mention, create some new NPCs based on existing types.  With the Wereraven officially released in Curse of Strahd, that’s one less creature I need to stat up myself.  On another note, Werewolf the Apocalypse may have had something to do with this.  Whether it’s nostalgia or my unashamed love of Classic World of Darkness, but I just can’t hate that game… even if it’s filled with stupid (and borderline tasteless) nonsense.  With that, have some more werebeasties!

IMAGE CREDIT: Night Howlers – TSR Inc.