The act of killing by itself is a heinous thing, something adventurers often have to cope with on a common basis. Often it’s self defense against monsters and bandits, other times it’s for more insidious reasons. Some snap amidst the violence, losing any attachment to empathy or reason. Such people degenerate into cold blooded killers, driven by the thrill of slaying whatever prey comes into their clutches. After a while, it becomes less about adventure and discovering lost treasure as it is an unrelenting bloodlust and hatred for all who oppose your goals.
This path of bloodshed and psychosis is a chilling and horrid one, the basis for many stories of terrifying villains and disturbed madmen. Much of the time, these evildoers prefer to scare their prey as much as possible before causing them to meet their untimely end. Such tactics are more than butchery and savagery, as the power of psychological terror is essential for weakening their foes. Often, they’ll do whatever to take away their power and isolate a target as much as possible, finding impossible ways to stalk them as well. And when all hope is lost, the killing strike is unleashed! Few have survived the wrath of a murderous maniac… and they usually die in the sequel anyway!
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I’ve rediscovered an awesome expansion for World of Darkness known as Slasher. It’s built on the Chronicles era Hunter game, in which Hunters succumb to their own inner darkness and become the very villains of horror cinema lore… essentially. Of course, there’s more to it than that, but whatever. Anyway, here’s a template that borrows heavily from slasher cinema, in an effort to translate the idea into D&D. Enjoy! (I might update with a “Supernatural Slasher” in the near future! Who knows?) Also, as for the picture? I’ve always loved this scene from the original Halloween. Something about that shot highlights a character’s seeming futile attempt to hide from a masked madman… and said murderous pushing into a claustrophobic space, where everything seems lost. Did I mention that movie is one of my all time favorite films?
Also, this one will probably be revised once I get more accurate math for this one, maybe swap out one thematic ability for another. I’ll see what people say first.
Tales of wretched beasts, disturbing men and unspeakable evils pierce our ears and chill our souls. Countless villages, kingdoms, continents have stories of sinister monsters that seek to end us at any moment. Their motivations might differ or be strangely similar. Likely born of pure wickedness, these dark spirits haunt those who get too close to their very brand of malevolence.
Many of these monsters are often accompanied by tales of caution and woe. Those who drift too far off a righteous path are often victims of these horrors. Those who feel they’re too good for the morals of a realm or a certain way of life should always stay careful and alert, lest they fall prey to the evil that lurks nearby… waiting, stalking, preparing…
Author’s Note: Here’s another list of monsters, taking inspiration form creatures around the world. Also, here’s another case where I have 2 creepy horse-themed creatures… for some reason. Maybe I just find horses to be creepy? I don’t know. Perhaps it’s pent up horror caused by seeing that disturbing Archie McPhee horse mask? I don’t know.
After some suggestions from friends, I’ve decided on a theme! Granted, one of the big deciding factors a ways back was the Curse of Strahd D&D Module that came out in mid-March. As such, I think it’s fair to do a number of gothic-themed posts. Now Gothic doesn’t have to be horror all the time. There’s often an aspect of the horrific, but much of fantasy fiction has this too. Stories like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes (save for a few), Lord Byron’s tales of dashing and daring (but flawed) people and some others contain many aspects of the Gothic. But, they typically aren’t driven by plots about supernatural evil or the horrific (except for the whole examining of murders and other macabre elements.) You could argue I have covered the image of a grim and cynical knight, the mad occultist or a byronic hero with various posts like the Oath of Cynicism, the Piper College, the Scarred Mind Path, the Diabolist or the Grognard. You could argue that quite a bit of the Faerie Tale stuff I crafted before could fit within line of this theme too. But, why not cover more, given the chance?
Now, I’m doing more than just Gothic Horror, Ravenloft, all that good stuff. You could argue that Romantic style fiction (a la Dragonlance), Arthuriana and Politically heavy Dramatic settings (like Birthright and A Song of Ice and Fire) have a place within the Gothic in one way or another. And sure, I make snarky and cynical quips at the expense of steampunk in the past (as I prefer serial-era and later sci-fi), but a part of me likes it all the same! Similarly, Gaslamp Fantasy and Weird Western are very much at home here and rightfully so! So, it’s a part of the theme by all means. So, I have a lot to ponder over. I can’t promise I’ll cover all of what I said, but I’m sure I can squeeze a few extra ideas here and there.
Image Source: John Henry Fuseli – The Nightmare
Across the multiverse, priests of nature show their devotion to bountiful realms untouched by civilization and the divine powers that tend to them. Many of these priests make pilgrimages to distant demiplanes dedicated to these powers. The Demiplane of Nature is a realm of such untouched wilderness and raw magical power. However, many dark forces seek to harness and corrupt it. As such, a dark reflection of this domain was created, much to the ignorance of those who worship the forces of nature. When the corrupted wild plane reaches a faithful before the pure version, it taints their soul, maddens their mind and warps their body. Victims become horrible monsters, with nature priests and druids being the most heavily afflicted. Among them is a massive nightmare deemed the “Divine Atrocity.” This hulking beast was likely one of many important high priests dedicated to the plane, before being turned into a savage horror. Infection could be from the plane’s dark mirror feeding off of the victim’s hatred, perhaps a corruption within the blood itself.
Divine Atrocities dwell in lands of horrific plagues, planar incursions of the fey or of beasts, or sites of heavy lycanthropy. While lesser creatures create a nightmare for the remaining residents, these abominations help to wipe out any straggler still caught in the streets. Fortunately, these beings are a rare sight. This is in part because prolonged exposure to extreme corrupt energy was the main cause of these nightmares and most victims die long before turning into something like the Atrocity. However, there is a fear that dwells among many. As many nature-based societies come under attack by more technological societies, many will likely fall to that hatred that spawned such dread monsters. And such, a war against civilization will likely escalate to frightening new extremes.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I made a creation based on Nito from Dark Souls, so I figure it would be more than fair to tackle an awesome boss from Bloodborne as well. Or rather, taking inspiration and applying it to my setting’s planar cosmology a little bit. Who knows? If my FromSoft inspired monsters prove popular, I might make more!
“From a whirling vortex of vile energy, beings beyond comprehension emerge. Their properties and proportions are both impossible and demonic looking. Each are sculpted into grotesque and morbid forms, some of which brandishing relics and artifacts of incredible power. They glare at all of you with wicked malice, as they ready their rampage.”
In part due to the Blood War, knowledge of fiends has slowly traveled the multiverse. However, different dimensions entirely have introduced new sorts of fiends ready to wreak until havoc upon the planes, for whatever reason. These horrors come in shapes not seen by planar and clueless alike. Their daemonic nature implies siding with the daemons of Abaddon, Hades, Carceri and Gehenna; but time will tell where their allegiances truly lie. However, some assume that these creatures are recent additions to the Lower Planes. It is likely these “xenoforms” plane shifted from another universe entirely. In fact, less magical realities have had fateful incursions with their kind. The most prominent case was a base on Mars, which was quickly overwhelmed by atrocious creatures.
Halloween may be over, but that doesn’t mean the waves of nightmarish monsters will cease! Here’s a sampling of underworld monsters from the DOOM series of video games. Specifically, I’m referring to the Demon, Imp and Cacodemon.
Author’s Note: Some time a ways back, I created my own take on the Cyberdemon, albeit with a Yugoloth theme to it. With that, here’s my ensemble of gruesome terrors from the DooM universe, reinterpreted as monsters of the Lower Planes.