Modern Masque of the Red Death – Some Horrors of Gothic Terra

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Here at the Hoffman Institute, we specialize in chronicling the strange, the distant, the shadowy.  Xenoforms and other horrors have found methods of breaching through thresholds and corrupting our very world.  Unless we’re prepared, a whole otherworld of monsters could bring Earth to its knees.  However, the future lies in both our veteran members as well as readied recruits.  Through honor, teamwork, diligence and knowledge; the forces of darkness will not prevail over the best humanity has to offer against evil.

We have a few notes from some upcoming assignments.  These will tell you what to look out for.  Above all, while protecting the public, we must keep these incidents secret.  We can’t let too much paranormal news get out to the public.  After studying these cases, be prepared to secure and contain the threads that they are attached to.  The Hoffman Institute is counting on you.  Best of luck.

Author’s Note.  So, some of the monsters here take inspiration from the previous post.  And no, I’m not trying to cheapen what I made before by giving creatures stats.  A few of these are directly tied to one ghost story, bu that’s okay.  Also, keep on the lookout for some more foes of gothic earth!  (A mix of Masque and D20 Modern inspiration.)

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Ramon’s Guide to Gothic Terra

Masque

“I came to, a willingness to survive kicked in.  When I swam above the waterline, I wasn’t greeted by Lamordia, by a mist-cloaked land anew.  Surely, this was but a trick of The Dark Powers, once more?” – Ramon DeLeon, wandering bard and planes traveler

Planet Terra.  It has been referenced in many planar logs.  Many worlds tell of a mythic world of great humans who fled the oppressive horrors of their old world of many names.  LaTerre, Uerth, Gothic Earth.  These names and more have been given to this world by many a scholar of Wildspace and The Planes.  Despite its mythic past, much of its fantastical glory days are over, with only dark shadows looming over the present.  The present, according to the widely used calendar of its people, is 2012.  The common people either mistranslate old calendars as prophecy or completely brush off any fear.  The reality of the matter is so much worse…

Author’s Note: Credit where credit is due!  A big thanks to Rucht Lilavivat of the Fraternity of Shadows community for his creation of Gothic Earth Eternal, a pathfinder mod that brings Masque of the Red Death into the Modern Age.  In my case, this is my means of highlighting a variety of chilling tales.  In the world of Gothic Earth, they’re most likely true!  Also, this is not the Earth you are used to, but one more akin to the gothic settings of the World of Darkness roleplaying game.  Life is deadlier, the aesthetics are grimmer and the world in general is far more sinister. Plus, I have an excuse to tie in Alternity Dark*Matter RPG’s Hoffman Institute and the forces of Shadow from D20 Urban Arcana, which are both canon in D&D.  I know Masque of the Red Death doesn’t traditionally have standard Domains, but this concept takes place over 100 years after the main campaign.  Anything can happen, right?

Also, this gives me the chance to showcase some disturbing stories through a supernatural lens!  The fate of the SS. Morro Castle, Jane and the Starving Period of Jamestown, fell curses in the Payton Randolph house, the murder of George Wythe, tavern tales of devil pacts and their supposed results, government conspiracies, southwestern ghost towns, real life camp killers and the infamous murder hotel.  Now, save for a tavern tale or two; the majority of the topics mentioned in this are real or are based on real events.  I don’t mean any offense or disrespect when adapting these events to horror fiction.  If anything, reality is far scarier than any fictional tale we could come up with.  None the less, I realize this one will be rather controversial.

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Weird Western Monsters – Part 1 (Spellslingers and Specters)

Spellslinger Poker

“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.

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MAY BLOG CARNIVAL – Spiritualist Sorcerer and Exorcist Background

Image result for Pathfinder spiritualist

One might wonder, what is the power of a spiritualist?  It’s very much laid out in their name, someone who works with the spirits of the deceased.  Such sorcerers are fabled for calming angry spirits who lacked desire to move on to the after life.  In some instances, they have found ways to harness the spirits, whether out of mutual pact or magical extortion.

For most of your life, you have felt a connection with spirits.  Over time, you tried to develop talents to reach out to the realms beyond.  While not a bloodline in its own right, you have been touched by the nether realms, planar domains where souls travel upon death.  Harnessing your talent, you are more than capable of communing with spirits either through seance or through a known spell.

However, conjuring and working with spirits is often taboo, and is such practiced in secret.  While some may hear of you and seek you out for counsel when dealing with the dead, others might see you as a second rate necromancer.  Some orders have even formed within various religious organizations as exorcists, while others revel in individual freedom when dealing with the shadows beyond our world.

Author’s Notes:  I’m back with Blog Carnival content once more!  This time, I thought I’d dabble into the Occult theme by making a Spiritualist based circle for the Sorcerer.  While other classes also felt like good picks, this felt like the quickest match for me.  So, let’s speak with the dearly departed as we explore the Nether World with the Spiritualist.  And as a bonus, have a background on exorcism. 

You may find more on the May 2017 Blog Carnival here!  Alternatively, you may be interested in the Sage Variant: Occultist background that I made last year.  This would better fit a medium who contacts spirits through seances and the like, should you favor a more gothic flavor over a high fantasy one!

Also, this is the first pass for this sub-class, it will be due for revision in subsequent weeks.  This first draft is experimental and possibly volatile.

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Dancing Dead – Waltzing Restless Spirits for D&D 5th Edition

Dancing Skeletons

This is getting really spooky!

The dancing dead are a unique kind of undead.  Their main facade is appearing harmless and whimsical, making them much like dark fae spirits in some sense.  They put on elaborate shows and dances, doing incredible routines that few can do in life.  In fact, some take part in music relevant to the dance they’re displaying.  (Rumor has it that this and this are the most common musical themes.)  Most likely, the Dancing Dead were once talented masters of art and acrobatics in life themselves.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  I made a swarm of spooky, scary skeletons for Pathfinder sometime last year or the year before and they were a blast to run!  With that, I brought them back for 5E, right on time for Halloween.  This time, I made them more generic undead.  They could be skeletons, zombies or whatever!  No matter, Happy Halloween, everyone!!

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Ghostly Haunt: A template of the Unquiet Dead for D&D 5th Edition

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When a soul faces great tragedy, not even the dead are granted final repose.  When this isn’t the case, some sort of plight plagues ghosts, tethering them to this world.  The whole experience horrifies, saddens and angers them greatly.  Ghosts are created from all the mortal races of the multiverse, trapped in the realm of the living until they can finally break free into the lands of the dead.

Creating Ghostly Haunts

Ghostly Haunt is a template applied to any living non-planar creature.  Creatures with this template have died and returned as undead.  Stats after the jump.

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