Mage Vs. Machine – The Sheens

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“Machine, meet Mage!”

Rumors tell of impossible machines, constructs built by the bashers of an exceptionally accursed prime space.  Such a place was long buried deep in the dead book by its own hubris and acceleration, despite the warnings of their Powers.  The barmies kept on going, crafting up one of the most heinous things to pollute the multiverse.  I speak of the Sheens.  Baator-fed buggers seem to self-replicate and thrive, despite attempts to wipe them out.  They’re not just constructs either, but true thinking machines!  They lack souls, but have the mind and bone-box alike to surpass most eggheads.  Needless to say, this place burned down hard.  The Land of Blackmoor was no more!  However, their creation escaped far beyond its Crystal Sphere and beyond.  So, go ahead and kill one, multiple will show up out of no where to take you down!  The Metal berks burnt my tail bad too! – Geber Reynardt, Kitsune Alchemist and Sensate, survivor of The Sheen Invasion of Ignis

Who says sci-fi and fantasy don’t mix?  It’s been a thing for decades, eons, at least a century!  Even in D&D, we’ve had all sorts of strange crossovers.  The aforementioned Blackmoor has been around since the beginning.  That setting was a somewhat dirty and gritty medieval world that contended with a crashed alien space ship.  The result was an AWOL officer starting an uprising with a “frog cult”, as well as the ship thrown into other forms of turmoil.  The end result of the mess caused Blackmoor to experience technological leaps before ultimately blowing itself up.

And in the case of the Sheen, one of my favorite articles from Dragon Magazine (complete with a follow-up), they’re very much science-fantasy too.  The articles tell of the sheen, a strange and mysterious menace.  These constructs were made by a society more advanced in technology and probably magic too.  Their genuine origins are a mystery to most, but their desire to consume and conquer makes them a massive threat.  Plus, they have numerous forms that can adapt to different situations.  And while the sheens tear through organic life, they don’t do so out of malice or hatred, but a survival for their own “machine kind”.  Fortunately, countless defenders have learned enough to fend them off and even reverse engineer some of their own contraptions too.  In a sense, think like Horizon Zero Dawn!

Author’s Note: This one has been a long time coming!  The Sheens are by far one of my favorite obscure D&D monsters (or set of monsters).  Beyond two magazine articles, there hasn’t been too much buzz around them.  Hopefully, I can help to change that!  Here’s the first part of that, with a mix of both articles.  Sure, I’ve made robots already, but I really love these ones too!  Plus, should I find the time, I might be interested in converting the Kits and Spells introduced by the article too… eventually… hopefully.

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Rise of the Machines – Robots and Androids

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Robots – 1, Organics – 0

The Machine.  A testament to engineering and ingenuity.  Artificial life taken to the next form!  Whatever the case may be, these constructs are forged from a truly advanced form of artifice.  Many are made through a high technology not unlike many forms of magic.  Some are even crafted through rare forms of magical infusion.  These constructs are far more capable of thought that many predecessors.  Beyond their elaborate programming, some prove more than capable of having souls.  Such constructs truly achieve the joys of sentience.

Author’s Note:  ROBOTS!  I made a post many moons back, that I have since wanted to remake.  Plus, here are a few more ideas I’ve tossed around for general science-fantasy robot fun!  Plus, I decided to tie the Pathfinder settings(s) into Planescape/Spelljammer… for some reason.  Since my schedule is limited this week from preparation for and volunteering for a fair, things are broken up into chunks.  Expect more soon!

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Far Outsiders – More Cosmic Terrors

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Githyanki.  Like the Yuuzhan Vong, but not garbage

“So, you’re a fancy crew cruising around on your nice spelljammer.  And then all of a sudden, some ghost thing makes your captain go mad and he’s killing all of ya!  Then what?  That’s why you prepare for the worse out in those spacial depths.  Who knows what nasty things will be lurking out there!  You certainly don’t!” – Glass-Eye Erg, Dwarven Trader from Rock of Bral.

This time around, a few homages to Spelljammer and Star Wars. Long and short, one of my friends showed me the revised d20 Star Wars. It’s better than I recall it being, still no D6 though.  Needless to say, those very familiar with Star Wars will get some of my references.  The same goes for Spelljammer, but I’ve been making a bit of spelljammer stuff for the past couple of months.

Author’s Note:  I figure some more nods to Star Wars are a great way to transition to more science fiction inspired content.  For the next couple of weeks, I shall continue to expand my endless bestiary.  And no, this post isn’t about the Githyanki… I just wanted a swipe at how the Vong kinda look like them.  While I plan for the future, here are two entries based on existing Star Wars monsters as well as my take on the Neogi (as I don’t care for the official take for 5e… but I usually don’t in general.)

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Planar Mania – Monsters Continued

Wildspace Explorer | Into the Night by sdavis75

“Today, you have entered as cadets, mere trainees with little knowledge of the cast worlds beyond and the infinite stars that surround them.  Through extensive courses and simulations, you exit as readied soldiers.  The vast empty void is your grounds to explore, to understand, to build upon.  Be brave, mighty warriors, mages and more!  Go forth, into wildspace!” – Graduation at the Rock of Bral Spell Flight Academy

To some, a trip into fantastical space is a simple feat.  They’re quite far from the truth.  In reality, it proves to be quite the challenge for those who aren’t initiated.  And even once one travels into space, that’s not to say it’s just a lifeless and black nothingness.  Countless hazards threaten the discerning traveler.  Most poorly calculated move and you sail into a deadly trap!  While not all life beyond a material world is inherently deadly, there is still much to be weary of.

Author’s Note:  More Spelljammer!  This time, I’m sampling a little bit of Star Wars influence too.  Starweirds, Ysalamiri, maybe a few others.  Also, there seems to be an unintentionally recurring theme of racial tension in this post.  I guess the theme for this post is part Star Wars, part “racism is bad”?  I dunno.

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More Creatures from the Planes Beyond

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Good crew.  I address you all because we are about to embark on a journey that is likely to rend your minds and tear at your souls, should you stop being pure of heart and sound of mind.  Stay close and my allies will protect you.  Tonight, we discover the source of the soul-draining plague!  We descend into the land of fire and fell sorcery, Gehenna! – Lucien, an angel-blooded aasimar paladin, captain of The Indefatigable.

The planes are ever rife with mystery and wonder, just as they are with conspiracy and horror.  And its inhabitants are equally curious beings, incarnate representations of the very domains, dimensions and demiplanes whence they came.  Many creatures are born with a purpose, while others came into being from circumstance.  A mixture of creatures of destiny and lost souls of chance.

Author’s Note: Plane-Jammer stuff is back!  This time, more monsters.  As always, I love coming up with all sorts of downright bizarre creatures to help and hinder your heroes.  This time, it’s one half trip to Wildspace, one half trip to The Bleak Eternity of Gehenna.

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The Mechanical Bits of Alza’um

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While Alza’um secludes itself in secrecy, the land is still quite populous.  While the population is predominantly made of humans, gnomes, dwarves and even ratfolk; it’s still bristling with its own unique vibrancy and charm.  Much like the machines that operate on clockwork, so do the denizens.  Life is a chaotic schedule balanced under the facade of order.  This insular technical revolution is made under the assumption that the outside world isn’t ready, but they’re more than enlightened.  Whether this is truth or unaware foolishness hasn’t been determined yet.  Either way, strange adventures and even stranger locals await those granted the proper access.

Author’s Note:  It’s a pun!  But seriously, I felt like I was leaving out a lot of goodies.  At some point, I’ll want to flesh this out for say an OGL product or something, once I can get help with maps, layout and artists eventually.  In the meantime, here are some underground dwellers of this outlandish city of high magical technologies.  Of course, many can be repurposed for more steampunk oriented games.

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Threshold Magazine – The Egg be Dammed

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Return to the dark mirror that is Returned Blackmoor!  While issues remain in more populated lands, an ancient conspiracy has been unearthed in a zone far detached from prying eyes.  The Cootsbane Dam, a derelict turned military grounds, has had rumors of weird activity and stranger trespassers.  Investigate into the dark secrets and keep them from being unleashed upon the world at large!

Check out the current issue and “The Egg Be Dammed” Here!

Author’s Note: I wrote an edition neutral adventure for Threshold Mystara.  Admittedly, this was because I didn’t know what version of the game to tackle and Threshold tends to focus more so on BECMI, which I don’t have too much exposure to (outside of reading setting information of The Known World and beyond.)  I might update things for 5E or AD&D, maybe ask for a hand with BECMI for the next issue.