This is all I have to offer for now. I assure you that much more lurks beyond. There is much yet that they fair folk would prefer to presently keep hidden. Is there something worse than a nightmare conspiracy, cross planar war or the elimination of countless lives? Hard to say. The fey will remain an eternal enigma to even most planars.
Author’s Note: Special thanks to King Corn and ripvanwormer of thepiazzaforums for some incredible ideas! Anyway, that’s it for me in terms of fey politics, intrigue and factions. Additional thanks to everyone who participated in the January 2022 RPG Blog Carnival! More after the jump.
Take heed, mighty explorer! Danger is afoot! Always prepare!
You are among the brave few, those who readied themselves for the great journey into a breathtaking new world, one of many that swarm around the very source of much great power. The Steam Titan, as many call it, as a colossal body that anchors the many sites we aim to use for our cause. Far from alone, there are others like us who remain friendly for now. Likewise, other beings have existed on the micro worlds far before us. Tread lightly and with caution. For the environments beyond and their lifeforms? Steady and prepare. A carefree adventurer is a dead adventurer. The Queen’s Voyage Adventure Charter will explain more. Please report to them post-haste.
Author’s Note: Obligatory Victorian steampunk, almost arbitrary… Likewise, far more grimdark steampunk, because that’s really the only way I like the genre. Though, not enough look at over industrialization, to complete “Victorian High Tech, Low Life”. Well, here’s a continuation of my mess. Why am I tying all of these things into Spelljammer? I’m not sure. At least steampunk isn’t super trendy anymore, if I wanna be all hipster about it.
Dare you seek shelter in places where solace cannot be found? They have roofs and walls, but they are not homes. They are prisons all their own, where cries of horror and derangement mix with the maniacal methods of their overseers. Enter through these doors and never leave, for your caretakers have other plans for you now. Below are a few buildings designed to ensnare, persecute and afflict. They are not prisons in the traditional sense, but the dark powers have a habit of changing all to accommodate the punishment of another. Some existed prior, such as a place of holy contrition and a house of state security. Others came about as domains are built from a darklord’s sins or as a consequence of them.
Author’s Note: This one slides a bit into mature content, warranting a word of warning. As it is, one of the domains was built on a dare to make something quite disturbing. It is disturbing. Is it wholly original? Not really, it’s basically The Golden Cat from Dishonored meets dark aspects of Planescape and Ravenloft; plus the House of Lament. Will I use it for something? I don’t really know, but it’s now a piece of the Demiplane either way. Likewise a few other things slide well into proper Ravenloftian grimdark. Debauchery, zealotry and totalitarian horror await. For what it’s worth, more Planescape and Mystara references are here as well. And while I’m at it, very very few WotC-era references, hehe. But, even if this version is slightly tamed down, some viewer’s discretion is advised.
“Ah, there you are” chimes a snide and sneering scribe, “I was hoping you weren’t too distraught from your assignments. As it turns out, something of a thorn in the side of His Highest’s rival has resurfaced. You know of whom I speak, the Devil Strahd of the County Barovia. Tales tell of an enemy, Duke Gundar, that he has returned in revenge.” The scribe lays out an assortment of maps, parchments and sealed documents. “Be a good adventurer, by the master’s decree and look into it. I suspect someone is imitating that bumbling lord who gave The Devil Strahd a hard time.” The mysterious scribe rubs his hands, giggling madly as you are supernaturally compelled to gather the supplies and head out. For some reason, you can’t remember what lead to your arrival at that building, save for that you were returning to Darkon. You were always returning to Darkon. But, what matters now is another land. What matters is Gundarak.
Author’s Note: Behold, more details to the underdeveloped Gundarakites, Gundarak and Duke Gundar. My plan was to have plenty of things involving other domains, as well as a Planescape-inspired Cluster to build off of Reality’s End. Anyway, that will be another post. My stuff on Gundarak took over. Also, once again a huge shout out to the Prisoners of the Mist community! A minor character in this whole mess has its roots from there. But, hopefully this will be my last post on that domain, so I can focus on other things? Also, why was Jacques Renier never really brought up in canon after the Realm of Terror boxed set?
“Law and Chaos, two diametrically opposed sides, no one will refute this. However, what oddities and secrets do they hold? Why, I’m happy to show you. While I have covered a little on Pandemonium and Acheron, it’s only fair to look at the other mostly-neutral planes of Law and Chaos… plus a few looks at other related realms, and a few returns to some less than savory burgs and blights. But, all in the name of granting knowledge to you, fair scholar!” – An introductory speech for Ramon’s Lecture on Planes of Law and Chaos, at the Civic Festhall, in the Clerk’s Ward of Sigil
Planes of Law, rules taken physical form! While Acheron has shown the order of war at its most harsh, there is far more to explore within the possibilities of Law. One must account for concepts of atruism, unity, conformity and direction. While these topics can overlap between planes; they all have their respective places. Likewise, their inevitable counterpart is the eternal testament to disorder. The Planes of Chaos are a lack of rules turned physical. Chaos need not be just madness, like Pandemonium. Plenty of free thinkers are driven by many other passions. These don’t have to be completely selfish either. Some people just want a good time, consequences be damned! Others just want free reigns to express themselves, judgements be damned. So, as these two forces butt heads, let’s take a deeper look at some overviews as well as some of my own dug up finds. Join me as I return to the planes once again!
Author’s Note: More Planes! This time Law vs. Chaos. This was a fun chance to revisit my fey post from last Summer! (Shout out to Brynvalk for partially inspiring this brief revival!) Also, yes, Augmental probably won’t see use in MOST sane campaigns, considering it’s supposed to be a blend of Phyrexia, Hellraiser and H.R. Giger art in a blender. Though, I can hope some more tongue-in-cheek segments make up for my usual delves into grimdark.
In particularly cursed places, the very ground itself rebukes death and damns the souls of whoever is buried there. This could be from the sight of a great war, a disturbed burial grounds or more. No matter the case, the land is tainted. And for those who dare to gamble against the forces of life and death within these corrupted lands? They may become something equally as wicked.
In other cases, the world may just have stacked odds against the heroes. The world may be kept in the clutches of dark forces that conspire to corrode and twist all in their path. Malevolent entities are challenged by heroes of horror, those who take a stand against the darkness at all costs. They too may face trauma when losing an ally… and having them come back wrong.
Author’s Note: This RPG Blog Carnival post came out of a few things. In a game I was part of, the DM wanted to make resurrection a risk. In that world, that sort of art is lost and things tend to not work always right when this is tried. The idea was also going to be used in a Gothic Earth one-off I wanted to do at some point too… Plus, I watched the original Pet Sematary recently. So, here’s my revised take on risky resurrection!
Learn more about the October RPG Blog Carnival theme here!
A dark shroud has enveloped fair Toril, it is not of this world. A powerful force of raw necrotic energy has made its way into this world. What was once a mere Lich is slowly becoming something more, in part from his Death Curse. Worse yet, a powerful artifact is making the effects of this hex far greater and far more widespread too. But, for what purpose? Perhaps to empower him or possibly provide an endless font to create feats of magic locked away from even the gods! Adventurers are needed, as always. Many have fallen to the madness of the curse, becoming little more than empty husks who attack anything with a semblance of life force left. Go forth and bring life back to this world and don’t you dare go hollow on me!
The world of Abeir-Toril is fairing poorly against a strange incursion by a powerful entity known as “Acererak”. Stories travel around other prime material planes. These stories tell of foul magic, undeath and annihilation. Not long after the monster’s arrival, people found themselves somehow alive when they should have been dead. At first, people rejoiced! But soon, they caught on. Their hearts had stopped, their complexion faded, they began to look more like walking corpses. Many lost their mind, aimlessly attacking those who still show some signs of life. Some fear that this Acererak is not alone, aided by a far more malevolent force.
Author’s Note: Sure, the new adventure is coming soon or whatever. That said, here’s an idea I’ve been bouncing around for a while! What if, instead of merely wasting away from the Death Curse, victims would lose themselves to a slowly spreading and corrupting undeath. Then it hit me, this is Dark Souls! So, I mashed the two together in a sense. Below are a retooling of my Curse of Undeath as well as how to mesh it with Tomb of Annihilation. View the original here. Also, find more content for Chult here.
One final thing. This article contains major spoilers for much of the module. Do not read on if you plan on playing this module!
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.)
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!