July 2017 RPG Blog Carnival: Doomsdays & Dystopias (Dark Genres and Settings)

Abandoned Environment Concept tutorial by maciejkuciara

While I enjoy tons of heroic settings with noble characters ensuring good in the world, I’ve always loved truly grim and dour settings.  I speak of worlds that fit the “GRIMDARK” moniker that’s been affectionately used.  For those who don’t get the reference, it refers to Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40K tagline, which states that “In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war!”  I’m speaking of places blighted by impossible evils, dystopias where any sort of righteousness and passion is repressed, a sinister universe that is out to destroy you, nuked out wastelands where the remains of society struggle to continue or scrap the last bits of the old ones… but you get the point.

So, why is my theme essentially “dark settings and dark themes”?  Sounds depressing, I know.  After all, spending too much time in an overly dark and oppressive world can wear one down, right?  Not exactly!  There are many reasons why dark settings are truly fascinating.  Before I turn the carnival over to you, let’s take a look at why starker settings can be awesome.  (Or if you prefer, skip down to the bold text.)

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More DOOM Monsters!

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Incoming transmission! “There’s even more of them captain!  We thought we were finished, but they’ve only just unleashed even more of the damned things upon us!  Many of these wretched hell things feel even stronger than the last ones we fought!  We can’t hold out for mu-” Transmission ended!

Author’s Note:  Sorry for being late on this one.  I found out last minute that my group wanted to postpone my game, so I would have had a game synopsis last week.  I also got very sick following a busy work week.  With that, here’s a handful of more DOOM monsters.  I might do an update later on with another popular monster in mind… Arachnotron… Mancubus… Something like that!

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Monsters of DOOM, Revisited

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Hell.  Many thought of it as a mere theological concept, written in ancient scripture.  A team of scientists, corporate representatives and military conglomerates one day discovered that there was so much more.  On martian base, an experiment was conducted to reach into other realities.  They got an alternate dimension the denizens called Hell.  Perhaps it wasn’t what many considered, but Hell had come to that reality and tore it asunder.  Thanks to the impossible efforts of one space marine, referred to as “The Doom Guy”, the forces were pushed out of our world… for what we hoped was for good.

Since that incident, the malevolent armies of this underworld realm have discovered other Prime Material Planes and have continued a campaign of multiversal conquest!  Parallel realities and other planes entirely have faced off against these things.  It has even been rumored that some of these fiendish terrors have faced off in the eternal battleground known as The Blood War.

Author’s Note:  I wasn’t too satisfied with my original creations, so I decided to have a bit of a do over!  On top of that, I wanted to expand the monster list a little more by adding a few essential classic creatures.  Enjoy.

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XENOS! – Aliens for D&D 5th Edition

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“We’ll be taking that world of yours!”

Extraterrestrials, xenoforms, space beings, aliens.  These are all methods to categorize something not from this world, something so detached from us in almost every way possible.  The thought of something we can’t quite comprehend frightens us, because we can’t anticipate their next move or attempt to understand their motives or culture.  For many, the Alien is the fear of the unknown and distant realized.  Some end up trying to learn their ways and branch diplomacy further.  Some react in hostility and branch war further into the known universe.  Either way, an encounter with an alien is one that will be known for ages to come.

While aliens have been documented across space and time, many popular ones keep show up in scripts, tomes and records.  These are the Greys, the Reptillians, The Children, Invaders, many more.  Many of these accounts have been destroyed, for many of these beings are inherently domineering and malicious towards “outsiders” or creatures they plan to conquer.  Others are merely just scholars trying to keep their research a secret, as they chronicle all know realities.  Some seem all too eager to share their knowledge with whoever will listen… almost to an imperialistic extent.

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Planarsoldaten – A Dimensional Menace for D&D 5th Edition

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That’s right, Moon Nazis…

“Their initial strikes have left us vastly crippled.  We never saw them coming, legions of men fitted with advanced armor and weaponry; adorned with the symbols of a diabolic looking empire.  They eliminated our troops quickly and many of our civilians even quicker.  There is little hope for our world.” – A letter found in a burnt down house

The planes hold countless universes and endless possibilities.  Among them is a dystopian world where a brutal regime managed to take hold of the world.  However, one planet proved to be not enough for them.  Their empire was forged on persecution and bloodshed; hatred and genocide.  Their global domination campaign cost the lives of billions, causing irreparable damage upon the world as a result.  Unsatisfied with controlling the entire world for many years, they eventually turned their cleansing campaign towards the planes beyond.  Thanks to their high tech moonbase experiments, they were able to rip open a portal within the fabric of reality itself.  Achieving planar transport, waves of these augmented super-soldiers unleashed hell upon anything unlike them.

Countless realities did their best to hold back the waves of soldiers and generals, armed with strange technologies.  Some succeeded in pushing their evil back from hence it came.  Others were conquered and their resources exploited until only dirt and death remained.  Some realms were enslaved and only the worthy preserved… or recruited.  With an ever present grip, those who manage to slip through the cracks continue to hide in fear, well aware that their attempts at sabotage or spying aren’t enough.  Many of these realities require a hero now more than ever, a rebellion to turn the tides against a dystopian cancer that seeks to infect all walks of life.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I wanted to revive my Wolfenstein themed post because the first version needed a touch up, plus I promised I’d come back to it.  Plus, I love the of Iron Sky…  Alien invasion plus an alternate-history nazi menace.  So, what if the horrors of Wolfenstein invaded the worlds of D&D?  Well, in the name of over-the-top pulp science fiction, I give you the chance to find out!  Also, as I had done with the previous post, I’d like to apologize for poorly translated German.

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The Starving Thinker – An Eldritch Abomination for D&D 5th Edition

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It is unknown who created such a vile monstrosity, but none the less these things lurk the cosmos.  It is rumored that their existence was a total accident.  Planar lore suggests that these creatures are a mix of powerful psychic energy, extreme violence, and raw hateful emotion; manifesting into a barely humanoid creature.  It is not uncommon for these creatures to dwell on planar battlefields, sights of a brutal massacre, or unholy ritual grounds.  These creatures aimlessly wander unto it comes across an organic creature, in which it begins to pace towards it as fast as it can, unleashing wretched psionic attacks upon it.

Their function is simple, slay a living creature and add its last moments to its memory.  Worse is the fact this creature is literally composed of little images of peoples’ final moments, mashed into a humanoid mosaic.  Witnesses claim they can hear many voices of anguish coming from one Thinker, even though those voices never belonged to it.  All of the mosaic-like pieces from the Thinker are typically victims long since dead, existing to remind onlookers what could happen to them if they dare mess with the Starving Thinker!  What’s worse is this creature can create another double once one devours enough memories, splitting into two or more bipedal horrors.  Their whole existence is proliferation of their species while devouring everything else.  To make matters worse, these creatures display no emotion or response to their actions; signifying they aren’t aware of their actions, but it’s more likely that they simply don’t care.  All of this has rightfully earned the creature the name “Walking Snuff Film” on their home world, (urban arcana) Earth, due to the fact moving images of gruesome deaths are tattooed to their “flesh.”

Despite its somewhat brutish abilities, this creature is a brilliant tactician.  It will find ways to trap enemies before draining them.  More than anything, it prefers to single out any target it can separate from the group.  However, this lowly creature is also cowardly.  When it becomes too weak, it will telepathically intimidate as well as use its holding abilities while it tries to escape.

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