Burn out never, Steam Forever – More Steamspace

The Aftermath by RhysGriffiths on DeviantArt

Steamspace, that which holds the greatest minds in the greatest crystal sphere.  Should you seek glory, invention and the power of a new age; Steamspace is for you.  Consult with the Steam Corps Recruitment Agency, found next to Lorenzo’s Museum of Wildspace Weaponry.
– From a flyer posted around The Rock of Bral

Steamspace is an odd land of many extremes.  There are miniature worlds with diametrically opposed harsh weather.  There are havens for artifice, but one of the most hostile refuges of nature found in the multiverse.  Ideal landscapes for urban empire exist in some realms, such as the Moon of Victoriana or the world of Valiance.  For the rest, it is a testament to ingenuity and innovation; powers of arcane engineering battling the deadliest that nature and the supernatural have to offer.  Beyond deserts of sand, icy tundras, wastelands under darkness and strange seas of green; there are other perils too.  Shadowy drow conspire while ancient elves channel forces of the light.  Battles still wage for the powers of lightning to some day overthrow dependence on steam.  Many mysteries line the sphere too.  The most advanced of the people here are actually ancient tribes that once belonged to a unified world, long blown up by mysterious tragedies.  Numerous societies hoard secrets on the creation of deadly weaponry that could risk annihilation of whole regions.  Many hide the literal deeper layers and depths to even their cities.  None the less, this does not dissuade brave souls looking to reinvent both themselves and reality around them.  Should success come to all and peace ring true, then there is hope for these wondrous creations to spread to the multiverse.

Author’s Note: One more for Steamspace!  Yes, I realize that Bashar and Destiny Expanse are getting a fair bit here.  Beyond that, references to silent horror cinema, Stephen King and various dystopian fiction.  Just because I’m not letting this get too dark doesn’t mean I won’t stuff plenty in there.

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Spelljammer’s Steamspace – Beyond Steam Titan

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The Steam Titan is a curious host. The world itself is hostile to most life, but its moons offer a diverse array of habitats and beings. None the less, the gases within the world have proved most useful in propelling already technical societies far forward, with fascinating innovations. But, what of other worlds within the sphere?

Author’s Notes: To keep in line with the fiction of the era, many of the worlds refer to various dime novel/pulpy tropes and then some, such as the lost world, masked heroics, divine revelation, proto-cosmic horror and then some.  Likewise, a poke at the genre mashup and rules-Frankenstein needed to make all of this possible.  Hell, one of the worlds is even more tie-in to my RavenScape stuff.  Anyway, here’s a post JAM PACKED with content!  Enjoy!  Perhaps at some point, I’ll return to Steamspace.

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Planes of Terror and Madness: Dark Shadows of the Wheel

Some mad scholars and greybeards speak of the Demiplane of Dread in hushed whispers. But, this is not the only accursed place to float within the Wheel. No. Other planes have been covered, including rather lightly from Ramon the Planes Chronicler. But, his information is too sparse to be helpful to many. I, a humble scribe assisting “The Narrator” shall regale you with wonders and horrors alike. Know that the planes isn’t just dangerous at times, it’s an unending nightmare.  Prepare to never wake up again and let us continue our journey.

Author’s Note: Happy Halloween from The Planes!  I figure it’s time to mix things up.  So, RavenScape madness continues as I also look at nightmares of the Great Wheel both canonical and fanon.

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Rumors in Mists, Endless Whispers

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Autumn harvest draws towards a close as the heat dies down.  A dull wind wraps along the lands, bringing in disquieting eeriness and a spine-chilling cold.  The time of phantoms returns, as the bridge between worlds living and dead lowers once again.  This is a time when spirits observe our realm, or so the stories say.  Those within Darkon are clever enough to document and comment on such things.  You would be wise to as well.  Beware, for upsetting the souls of the damned is a fool’s task!

Author’s Note: Whispers of secrets always travel the mists, at least as long as I can think of cool characters and places.  Also, more Prisoners of the Mists references.  Likewise, my homage to the Overlook Hotel from The Shining.  On one more note, please pardon the previous post, I was on vacation and was very tired.  Hopefully, all of the goodies in here make up for it.

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Grim Rumors Eternal – More Ravenloft Plots and Places

The Darkness lasts forever!  Don’t think the Light is still your friend though.

Author’s Note: Mystaran homage, more lands based on Philippine folklore, more on the undead of Rockbaecche and a native of Kalidnay experiencing Abaddon.  Also, two more references to the excellent Prisoners of the Mist server for Neverwinter Nights.  If you love the Campaign Setting, it’s one of the best sources that keeps it alive.  Also, I’m aware that referencing Abrahamic religion in D&D is controversial, but thanks to Prisoners of the Mist, it could be a fascinating thing to examine in brief.  I should really pick that up again, it was good fun.

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Gazing upon a Misty Void

TAE _ - Sea Zombie-2

“This is the Alleigosto Exploration Team, is anyone out there?  Anyone on the Cog Auditory-Wave Line, please respond!  We are lost on the Ichthyan Sea.  We’ve observed and overheard terrible creatures.  Send help immediately.  These waters are dangerous, arm yourselves by all means.  I repeat, arm yourselves.  Air waves will remain open, in hopes of response.” – The distress signal of Her Heavenly Embrace, sunken wreck

It is time once again to gaze into the mists and see what gazes back.  I bring you tales and people traversing the mists, woes of the occult, crime never paying, schemes of a warmonger and rising spirits assembling a demonic gallivant.

Author’s Note: More ambitious conquering for Drakov, Victorian spiritualism, Japanese ghosts and more on a thieves haven homage to Yojimbo.  That is what to expect from this post!  Also, I know I’ve griped about it before, but I feel like I should cover and flesh out my own worlds.  I don’t really want to play D&D anymore, even though I like pondering about the settings.  It’s this weird paradox for me.  I have more posts I want to do, so we’ll see how quick I can get over this funk.

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Of Lands beyond Castle Ravenloft: Forgotten Domains and other Tales

These 5 Haunted Libraries Will Give You the Heebie Jeebies

“Bard’s tales for sale!  Scripted and sold by an honest book keeper!  All of the stories in these tomes are completely real!  I offer tales of bravery, terror, exploration and more!  Please, step inside for more!”  A familiar Darkonese man hocks various loud proclamations in the light of day, a fine market square acts as his stage.

Author’s Note: The setting is no stranger to B-Movie trash and neither am I…  So, there is plenty of that here too.  You have blobs of rotten food, plant hybrids, murderous ball ghosts and more.

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More Misty Rumors

Thief 3: Deadly Shadows", full walkthrough + 100% loot, Mission 1 -  Checking Inn, Cashing out - YouTube

 

“Don’t worry, I have more to offer. After all, this trade appeases my true master. So, just as before, present your trade.”

Rustling into your pockets, you feel crumpled pieces of parchment, a cold sweat drips from your fingers to nearly stain the hidden papers. You realize what else you can offer, things far more taboo than prior offerings. Hesitant, you remove your clenched hand to reveal more documents. The scribe taps his fingers, quietly chortling to himself in dark glee.  “Ah, now there we go.  I’m a man of my word.  When you deliver good content, I will supply far more.  Ready yourself, more things we prepare for here within our great Darkon.”

Author’s Note: My first set of rumors and happenings were enjoyed, let me craft some more.  For the time being, there is no marked time on the Barovian Calendar.  As an aside, this isn’t my first reference to the Prisoners of the Mist server for Neverwinter Nights.  My hints of Gundarakite rebellion took notes from there too.  I should really get back into that, it was good fun!

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Monsters of even more Forbidden Realms (Raven-scape Monsters Part 2)

15 Best Cosmic Horror Movies Inspired By Lovecraft | Cultured Vultures

You awaken to find yourself chained against a damp and musty cave wall.  What you see before you was likely once a man, but his flesh sways and twitches in ways not befitting a natural creature.  As he glances at you, several copies of his face seem to project, as if to magnify his speech. Multiple uncanny smiles form in disjointed succession, as the space-warped thing speaks.

“You thought you escaped?  What a foolish notion!  The Mists are eternal and you are a puppet!  A wise adventurer would best research on things that dwell in darkness, lest they be another story of the Dark Powers.  In the end, you are all the same.  But, a fighting chance is too irresistible to ignore.  So, fight on and fight well, mortal.  If you were wiser, you could have read onward about the awful things that sprawl and crawl.  I was once like you, but then I was chosen to be beyond human.  The cosmic eternity takes the worthy, granting them a new story.  But first, allow me to do the honor of ending yours.” 

Shadowy projections of his hand reach over, to simply touch your forehead.  Protrusions and mockeries of the flesh extend from the tainted thing’s arm.  The mass plants itself upon your head, as you feel its horrid pull.  The force of a thousand realities tries takes your essence.  All goes black, the alien void has won.

Author’s Note:  I had more planned, I just wanted to space them out instead of cram it all into one post.  I’m still pondering where to go next.  But, the Stars are Right for… something.  And yes, The Thing was one of the inspirations behind The Paradox.  But, how would you conduct a blood test for it?

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Blackmoor Week 2020: Blackmoor, Into the Future

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Blackmoor week celebrates the birth of Dave Arneson and his creation of the Blackmoor setting.  As the co-founder of the game and other grandfather of roleplaying games, he deserves some love as well, hence this week on the web.  You can click the image above to see more of what Blackmoor Week has to offer.  But, should you be interested in my own mad ramblings and homages to Arneson’s setting and beyond, do continue here as well!  Doc’s Laboratory awaits!

Since its inception, there have been a number of iterations of the lands of Blackmoor.  The ones most tied to Arneson were the first and last incarnations.  And to an extent, even the alteration into Mystara’s history counts.  My experience with Blackmoor started mostly with the final versions, the 3rd edition and 4th edition source books provided by Zeitgeist Games at the time.  While I knew it was put into the distant past of The Known World and beyond, I never had a chance at the Mystara friendly version of it for a while.  None the less, I favor a blend of the classic vision with the Mystaran one.  It even factored into a game friends took part in long ago.  Said game was a multiple campaign arc in Mystara, with tons of crazy time travel and other antics with reality.  The last game ended after our travels back and forth into Blackmoor’s history.  For numerous games, we were called to deal with progressively evolving threats in the kingdom-turned-empire.  However, our final threat was something we weren’t prepared for, a Blackmoor in the modern age.  Sadly, the campaign ended as we caught a glimpse of an imposing and bleak city over the horizon.  Mind you, this was during the days when many of us still thought Blackmoor would be fit in the Broken Lands, before we realized that later developments changed that.

This isn’t the end of Returned Blackmoor, just it in active campaign form.  Years and years passed, before the Mystara Reborn Facebook group became the encouragement I needed to give life back into this new Blackmoor.  With old notes in hand and scrambled bits from the rest of the old table, I cobbled together an image of what a Blackmoor might look like if it used time powers to survive its doom in the Mystaran world.  It turns out, having your land rotated into a frigid wasteland can massively throw one off.  This, combined with plague and political instability lead to a trusted member of the military staging a coupe and establishing a harsh dictatorship.  While the arcane-infused high technology of Blackmoor recovered and developed anew, the culture became far more stagnant and stale, as leadership forbid it to develop further.  As the decades passed since it leapt into the near-present, the leader began to lose a grip on reality as well as physical health.  Ultimately, he would become something of a quasi-undead cyborg, a major campaign reveal.  (A brain-in-a-jar piloting a robot body, a staple science fiction trope.)   Meanwhile, movements arise in the shadows to oppose him, some more extreme than others.  Other forces stir, many of which driven by wicked ends.  All sorts of enemies roam this new Blackmoor: wasteland raiders, rogue robots, mutant animalmen, atomic undead, acolytes of new dark Immortals or even the slumbering Egg of Coot!  Those are only a few examples.

Now, how does this involve the players?  Well, many games could involve them in the mayhem and wonder of this forbidden land.  For starters, they could help shape an uprising against the corrupt usurper state.  Heroes may choose to help remnants of the old ways help restore classic order within the realm.  They might consider radical change instead, favoring one of several other factions, ranging from reformists to new potential overlords.  They might even earn the trust of the regime and become ambassadors to the greater world.  Over time, the current ways of Blackmoor may become less extreme in their own way.  For the more Arneson approved old school experience, there are a number of dungeons both classic and infused with gonzo science-fantasy, even Castle Blackmoor has received modifications over the eons.  It seems with time that many of the kinks that caused Blackmoorian tech to go haywire are more properly ironed out too.  Or at least, more attention to potential sabotage.  Potential for larger plots exist too:  Blackmoor trying to integrate safely into the greater world, the Immortals having none of it and punting the land into the Hollow World (alongside the Blacklore Elves), a massive war risking a Greater Rain of Fire, the rise of a new Blackmoor Empire and much more.

To dive more into Returned Blackmoor, check out Threshold Magazine!  Issues 20, 22 and 26 (edited) have articles by me.