“You’re just in time for our weekly Necronomicon Study! Sit down, have a glass of kool-aid.”
The concept of death inspires some of the oldest fears known to civilization. The end of life, the end of all we have worked for. The finality to our existence. While many fear death, the idea of undeath proves to be far more horrifying to many. The idea of losing ones self, the very essence, coming a shriveled shell that exists as a mockery of its former self. These are the fears of the undead. For that reason and more, they are a menace to civilization on the average.
Why are the undead are considered a menace to the living? For a variety of reasons, of course. Many of these reasons derive from ethics over necromancy, while others are because of their often destructive ways. None embody the latter more than a secretive cabal known simply as “the entropic gloom”. This quasi-religious order is dedicated to eradication of the living, assimilating them into the ranks of the dead. The reasons for this? Cloaked in shadow, much like themselves. It could be out of contempt for the living, some utopian ideal of unity or perhaps even a penchant for heinous acts of violence. While much of the ranks of this cult are typical undead, some have been transformed into truly incredible servants of dread forces.
Author’s Note: I loving making undead nasty nasties! This is no surprise, for those who know me well enough… So with that, here’s an assortment of living dead monsters to torture your players with. After reading up on monstrous synergy via Tome of Foes, I’ve plucked a few ideas to boot! Also, priest characters, you’re gonna have a bad day.
Come to the Dreamlands! It’s like Inception, but less convoluted!
Some arcanists travel over countless planes of power and thought throughout the multiverse. Infinite realms within these dimensions hold infinite possibilities. Some planes are manifestations of ideas come to life. The Plane of Dreams is, quite literally, one such plane. A realm where all matters of the mind run wild dwells, the traveler moves through this surreal realm in a semi-conscious state of being. Those who stay too long notice their magic is directly effected, as dream stuff changed the fabric of their being. Their ability to sleep is enhanced, visions in their dreams are more vivid and a piece of that planar power is sometimes inherited by the next of kin… or even themselves. Thus is the origin of the Dreams bloodline.
Dream Sorcerers sculpt their powers from the subconscious mind, creating incredible mystical shapes and forms. Some craft whole realities from the surreal images of the resting mind. Others are content with exploring the Dreamlands in their entirety. Some embark on dream quests, fighting creatures of dream stuff and more corporeal things like the Mi-Go. To some, the potential to rival the dark dream denizens of Dal’Quar in power is all too tempting. Some decide to forgo an absolutely mystical route in favor of the sciences, examining the nature of the mind itself and the effects of the sub-conscious. Those who maximize such powers to their benefit, no matter the motivation, are a force to be trifled with. Of course, Powers of the Dreaming are not to be taken likely. Those who abuse them could very well lose all grip on the difference between dream and reality.
Author’s Notes: I didn’t like how the original draft came out, it felt very un-sorcerer like… so I’m gonna fix that to the best of my ability. In short, some the abilities felt a bit dry; cut right out of some of my other work. Not to mention, I looked over the negative feedback the Favored Soul received from Unearthed Arcana, especially in regards to expanded spell lists. In the end, I felt like it needed some modification.
Beyond the mechanical, I wanted to expand on my Night Terror bloodline thematically too! I made it more general after reading up on all sorts of inspirations: H.P. Lovecraft’s dreamlands, dreams and their connection to the faerie folk, the Changeling setting from World of Darkness, various cultural looks at dreaming and divination and many more things! No matter, here’s my update of the “Night Terror Bloodline” from Halloween 2015.
EDIT: This draft is probably outdated. I sould have updated Ravenloft content coming at some point… maybe for DM’s Guild!
Elementals from the Demiplane of Dread
The Elemental planes contain forces that embody raw and natural powers. The denizens of these realms equally represent those forces. The four prime planes represent basic elements that transcend the multiverse. All around, these beings tend to be neutral in nature or unable to comprehend alignment as a whole. However, the multiverse is vast and has methods of warping the essence of the planes themselves. The Elemental Planes are no different in this regard. One such example of this is the Demiplanes of Dread, known to some as “Ravenloft.” This dark prison dimension is ruled by a mysterious power called “The Mists.” It is unknown what such entities are, in a similar vein as Sigil’s protector known as “The Lady of Pain.” When the mists touch upon an elemental plane, they forge a strange demiplane copy that fits in with the darkness and despair of the Dread realm.
Resentful Corruptions of Nature
The so-called “Dread Elementals” are the results of such sinister mingling. These fallen elementals are empowered by same wickedness that spurs the defiled darklords and depraved denizens onward. Unlike traditional elementals, these shadowy doubles are openly malicious and will appease the mists in one way or another. This is because they hate what they are. The mists have transformed them into sick minions for their bidding, giving them the slightest inkling of awareness to render them mad. In their hatred, they lash at those who extend their mockery of an existence. Other times, they target those who dare to oppose either their goals or the goals of the dark powers.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I love Ravenloft, oh so much. Not to mention, the elementals don’t really get enough love… even with the decent adventure rolled out by Wizards early last year. Sure, I’ve made a handful of elemental beings, but it’s always fun to craft some more. Or rather in this case, continue my theme of simple modification to create a new monster. And what better way to close out my Gothic theme with a set of monsters from a Gothic Campaign Setting! I’ve learned quite a bit during this theme alone. However, it’s time to move on to bigger and better things. Since this one was a quicky, I’ll have something by the end of the week for you bodaks and ghouls out there. I’m mostly gonna dabble with some ideas in the next few weeks and prepare for my own RPG Blog Carnival theme in August, “Super Science and Sorcery!”
Wizards are weird.
In darker settings, distant beings and magical powers are hard to trust… and for good reason. In older iterations of the game, as well as darker fantasy RPGs like “Dungeon Crawl Classics”, delving into the supernatural had a risk far beyond a price tag and losing a spell slot or gaining the ire of a church. Exploitation of eldritch powers could leave the victim becoming mad, diseased, or both. Turning the forces of chaotic energy into an orderly event is by all means a paradox in and of itself, taking its toll on those who craft too much. Likewise, making bargains with incomprehensible entities too takes its toll. Those who take either too far risk becoming mad or warped beyond recognition.
And worse than exposing yourself to the unknown in immersing yourself is realms tainted by absolute corruption. Desecrated lands, alters to dark gods, creatures that are the truest essence of evil and so on. These sources of the most vile powers in existence are just as likely to twist and decay the soul into something it is not… or was not. While some struggle with sanity, distortion at the hand of dark powers are far worse.
If you prefer, here are some alternative lists that can work as well. Mutations – Part 1 (Benefits), Mutations – Part 2 (Drawbacks), Wild Magic Surge (Alternate)
Author’s Note: This is inspired by corrupted magic from Dungeon Crawl Classics, Carcosa, Taint from D&D 3.5 Heroes of Horror and the Insanity option from the Dungeon Master’s Guide. At its core, this is a variant of the Sanity and Madness rules from the D&D 5E DMG. Also, this is merely a draft for my concept. Expect revision at some point!
Made by Doctor Necrotic, for Doctor Necrotic Media.
IMAGE SOURCE: Dungeon Crawl Classics
EDIT 2019: This is really due for a revision. I like the overall concept of this, so I’ll probably create something in the near future. After all, why should the warlock have all of the diabolical fun!?
Throughout the ages, many schools of magic have been created and also destroyed. Some have come under attack due to ignorance; arts such as Necromancy and Enchantment have been targeted in particular. Among the most notorious is the art of magic inspired by fiends. The school of Diabolism is such an art, where contact with dark planes leads to manipulating vile energies into wholly new effects.dedicated to dark gods and demonic creatures. While many styles of magic are unlawfully targeted and discriminated against, the diabolists are almost always cruel and wicked.
While pacts with otherworldly beings are the results of enslavement, diabolic mages intentionally scour obscure tomes and demonic rites to enhance their magical craft. Some are connected to patrons like warlocks, while others steal devilish secrets for their own purposes. Warlocks forge direct deals with fiendish beings. Meanwhile, most Diabolists cheat their way into obtaining fiendish magic, often resulting in horrific consequences. That said, many Diabolists are active within cults and truly follow their infernal agenda to its fullest extent.