“So, boys. Do we rob a bank, steal some mighty fine booze or feast upon some good old fashioned brains?”
“Some trails are happy ones,
Others are blue.
It’s the way you ride the trail that counts,
Here’s a happy one for you.
Happy trails to you,
Until we meet again.
Happy trails to you,
Keep smiling until then.
Who cares about the clouds when we’re together?
Just sing a song, and bring the sunny weather.
Happy trails to you,
Until we meet again.”
– A local favorite song written by a traveling group of musicians, known to many saloons across the frontier.
Sure, tomes and bestiaries aren’t as easy to come by out west. But, plenty of folks are filled with tall tales and plenty are still recorded in a helping of journals and logs. These stories might some day become traditions, passed down to both entertain and frighten listeners. But beware, many of these tales are quite true. They exist as warnings to watch your back and that your fear of the dark is probably a legitimate one! And sure, lots of the local tunes folks write are pretty cheery, but that’s just a means of keeping people with it. Now, when you have outsiders start dying off by the droves? They’ll either make songs to mourn you or outright mock you. The western frontier is a harsh place, the residents are almost as harsh as the monsters.
Author’s Note: Outside of a tie-in here or there, I’m gonna wind down on the weird western content as the summer begins to close. Of course, I’m down for going a bit longer, having the more traditional gothic wait till the Fall (or as I call it, “Halloween season”)! Either way, this is the last of my weird western (or rather, Weird America) monsters for now. I’ll have a few more in the future, in other posts… probably.
A lot of locals aren’t that friendly to outsiders… This one is no exception. It even drove off most of the natives themselves.
“Ah, another wanderer wanting to carve up the land. Surely, you don’t plan on heading to the caves of golden walls? There are tales of sinister things that guard the glistening walls of incredible rock and earth! No, friend, you should leave the golden cave down that way alone and continue on your way…” – Crafter-of-Words, a scout for the Clan of the Split Basin, trickster who loves pulling malicious pranks on settlers and travelers alike.
Here’s a continuation of my previous post. These creatures are inspired by various beings from lore and legend. Enjoy.
Author’s Note: This technically marks post # 300! Wow, that’s crazy! Anyway, thanks again to all who support me!
“There’s living dead, even in the wilderness… Well, damn.”
“The job is clear. You shall escort my caravan through the brutal and harsh beast lands, then aid me in distributing these medicinal creations to the people of my tribe. The latter is easy, the former is likely to kill you if you lack the knowledge. As it is, some buffoon who followed me around nearly died, but I taught him some of my ways. But, he’s not important. Are you up for this task? If not, stand aside. And please, direct questions for my caravan’s scout. He is knowledgeable on almost all travel matters. Also, don’t mind the living dead.” – Moonlotus Fadingdusk, a human witch from the Seeking Mind tribe… Or so she says.
There’s a handful of beastly creatures out there in the weird western frontier. A few varmints aren’t overly harmful, while others are truly malicious. The vast wilderness requires one on their toes at all times, lest they get torn apart by the seems, some quick snack for a cunning predator. It’s this reason why rangers and trailblazers join caravans, to minimize casualties outside of civilization.
Author’s Note: More weird critters, yeah! I decided a few obligatory folk tales were a necessary add-on, because fur bearing trout and jackalope are truly fun stories. While it was supposed to be in another post on native inspired folk beasts, I added the accursed wendigo here. Warning, this one is quite strong!
“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.
What a wild night I had. I got kicked outta Wicker Valley by a bunch of complainers, stumbled drunk in the desert, was chased by giant wolves and met the most beautiful wandering honey! She took me to some big tent or whatever, gave me the best boozy juice I’ve ever had. When I came to in the morning, I was face down right outside of this town. Lucky break, huh? Granted, my ears and nose look a bit weird and I look a bit mangy. Must have been out of my mind for weeks, but my luck got me to survive! Anywho, you want some info on the weird critters I stumbled upon? I got a whole notebook’s worth! – Rowan T. Jammerson, Cursed-Human Maverick Rogue
All sorts of incredible things lie in the reaches beyond the boom towns, outposts and whatnot. Some might be potential allies, while most will kill you for survival’s sake. And, the farther from main parts of civilization you go, the lower your likelihood for survival is. The wilds sports a wide variety of strange flora and fauna alike, some with minds all their own.
Author’s Note: Originally, this was supposed to be a conversion of Spellslinger. That fell through. So, that’s pretty much it for my take on Spellslinger related content, unless there are requests for more NPCs based on the Brands and the like. By the way, keep an eye out for more weird western creatures, as well as a few conversions from other games.
“The vast frontier. It’s a place of wonders, of possibility, of a quick and easy death! Don’t let the charms of a free and open land fool you, traveler. It’s a killer place out there. But, the market’s wide open for the taking if you know where to look. There’s a lot of devils in mortal skin looking to sell you a miracle tonic or a little company. If you’re smart, you’ll keep your wallet hidden and find a way to pull a fast one of your own. Or if you’re stuck in the wastes beyond town? Best pack well and ready more than one gun. You don’t know if it’s a pair of fangs or a bandit’s gun that will do you in out there. Of course, you can always drink and gamble your troubles away with us, stranger! We don’t cause much harm, mostly to ourselves… The ladies of the tavern are good at taking care of ya though. Or if you prefer, there’s a handful of men who are good companions too. I’m not just saying that as a recurring patron, either…”
-Rowan T. Jammerson, Human Maverick Rogue, drunken troublemaker, despised wandering womanizer, bastard son of Ex-Mayor Jammer J. Spellman, denizen of the town of Cactus Sting.
Whether in the “civilized” frontier or the badlands beyond, tons of terrors walk the weird western soil. From bandits beyond the grave to massive parasites that love the smell of gold, settlers and pioneers have more than their fair work cut out for them. Even the native locals are wise to keep away from many dangerous lands. And for a good trade, they might even be willing to disclose such information.
Author’s Note: Most of this comes from a mostly forgotten mini d20 setting that is chock full of cool inspiration! Spellslinger was part of the Horizon line by Fantasy Flight Games, who are mostly known for board games. Horizon was a series of D20 books that twisted the system into various new forms, continued through Legends and Lairs. These books allowed for play in steampunk, mecha, horror, weird western and other genres and were all around a good find! Sadly, they’re a bit rare. However, one need not obtain the books to enjoy these monsters. Also, I twisted around some of the magical “brands” into NPC monsters of their own… twisted versions of the old player options, if you will. Look out for a handful of other references too!
You can also find a variety of NPCs at your disposal over on this page.
I love gothic fiction, gaslamp fantasy and weird westerns, as has been known through various posts throughout the blog. Plus, pages like Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque remain both awesome to visit and truly inspiring!
So, for the next month or so at least, I’m going to try to keep a wide variety of gaslamp, pulpy and gothic flair. This can be anything from more expansion of Tomb of Annihilation or Curse of Strahd to more content inspired by Eberron to more Victorian and Wild West inspired fantasy and horror content. And while I’m at it? Good old Ravenloft, as in the Demiplane of Dread (instead of the module)! I’ve been pondering making a small adventure in one of the domains… possibly Dementlieu, Richemulot, Nosos or Lamordia. I might put it up on DM’s Guild while I’m at it! Of course, this is all pondering based on whether or not I’ll get around to it.
IMAGE SOURCE: Vampire Victorian Age: London by Night – White Wolf Games