Bizarre Bazaar – Gaslamp, Gothic and Weird West

Images of Hitchin Market Place as it was in Victorian times (1837-1901)

The monthly market at Granite Well Station’s market is rich with life as it always is.  Amateur crafters alongside trade professionals, artisans both local and well out of region, even a few arcanists willing to share a secret or two.  Among the oddest is that “metal head” fellow who just showed up at the last minute.  He calls himself “Zam’dul”, sounds like some really far eastern name.  Either way, he has a haul of junk to investigate.  It’s all pretty odd stuff, I have a feeling he’s making dirty money on pick-pocketed goods, but that’s just me. – Constable Taranath Glistendawn, long time officer of Granite Well; a town known for its eponymous well, where an evil creature was thwarted decades ago.

The Granite Well Station sports a diverse rummage sale and market at the start of the month.  As far as flea markets go, Zam’dul is no stranger to this.  While a somewhat dusty, but sprawling city space; it already sports a diverse array of fascinating vendors to choose from.  To compete, Zam’dul only brings the most fascinating odds and ends from around the world.  As always, he promises quite the show!

Author’s Note: Zam’dul travels to a city anew!  Since I’ve been doing a fair share of player options as well as monsters, why not items as well?  Like before, they have a gothic, victorian, western, dime novel or relate theme to them.  In addition, I wanted to add some more gun augmentations.

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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 2018 RPG Carnival – What Scares You?

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Heya, Doc here!  I wanted to do a slight change of pace from the norm.  In support of a theme I have been waiting to look into for a while, here is a sampling of creatures based on fears that I’ve come across at some point in my life.  Now, which ones genuinely effect me?  I’d rather not say.  But, here are some creepy critters inspired by various existing bits from the D&D multiverse as well as my own twisted psyche.

If you wanna jump on board this month’s theme, the theme is “What Scares You?”  Read on here!

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Forgotten Souls: A Tomb of Annihilation + Dark Souls mashup

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The so-called Death Curse seemed like a contradiction at first… we were robbed of our ability to die! Oh, how wrong we were! – A tattered letter from Camp Righteous

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!

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Time Marches On: Bizarre Bazaar – The Spark of Innovation! (Part 2)

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I had more beyond what I posted!  Here’s part 2, containing armor and misc. items!  So, let’s travel back into the strange, very chrome future and puruse some equally odd items from a truly alien era!  Enjoy!

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Return to Bloodied Wyvern Peaks

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We were once cowards, existing within a small bubble… Then, they came and lit they way.  With the help of portal devices and the temporal displacement fields, we did the rest. – Unnamed Fraal Engineer.

DISCLAIMER: Spoilers for the original Bloodied Wyvern Peaks adventure!

Background.

Several months ago, The King Orvaldt, the kingdom’s eponymous leader and House Patriarch, sent a group of adventurers to uncover the strange happenings in the mountainside.  Not only has trade and mining been disrupted, strange poisons had messed with the soil and water supply of local villagers.  As the adventurers ascended, they uncovered wreckage from some sort of advanced faring vessel, akin to a Spelljammer.  Encountering several constructs and mutated horrors, they were lead through a cave into some strange temple-like building.  Only, little did they know it was actually a part of a larger spaceship.  The team struggled as they made their way through winding corridors and abandoned halls still rife with devices that were literally alien in nature, as well as even stranger creatures that lurked the derelict wreckage.

By some miracle, the power source had enough juice to boot the battered ship back up.  Doing this alerted the remaining denizens, who were cornered in a secret room.  Slowly but surely, the team pieced together that experiments with portal technology lead to hostile coup by another species called “The Reptoids”, a race of scaled shapeshifting aliens.  The fight caused the technology to go haywire, slamming it into the depths of a mountain.  Much of the ship was crushed, even more totally destroyed.  Attempts at freedom were failures, as the Reptoids saw their chance to hijack the remaining operations on the ship.  Eventually, they were confronted by the team, who managed to defeat them in impossible odds.  The Fraal had emerged from their hiding and did all they could to rebuild elsewhere, after solving the very mess they caused initially.

Following the Fraal’s retreat from the mountains into the forest below, things have remained silent under an opaque energy dome for countless months, some say at least 5.  Occasional trade was made with The Kingdom of Orvald, greatly bolstering its defenses with both the mystic arts and strange innovations.  Some stuck around a while to help royal crafters learn the art of artifice, only to return once lessons were complete.  In addition, many of the Fraal could commune with important figures within the kingdom to discuss matters.  Sometimes, said figures would speak at some mid-point created by the Fraal, which was none the less a technical marvel. Some chose to join them in their hidden communes.  Others followed the beastmen and other mutants that lived in territory close by, who proclaimed a faith in the Fraal themselves.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  Depending on the outcome of my mini-dungeon, the landscape of your world might be drastically changed forever!  Aberrant plants and animals, Reptoids, Greys and more!  That doesn’t even account for the strange technologies that fill the crashed spaceship.  Like Blackmoor, this is a world that is being changed by an encounter with a technologically advanced race.  Granted, the alien visitors have also learned from the magical mysticism of the world they’ve inhabited.  More or less, this is an adventure location with plot seeds and ideas to sample from.  I might combine this with the module to create a product if reception proves positive.  While not typical for this blog, I wanted to try my hand at expanding my own little universe.  Sure, I’ve been reluctant to share it (in light of recent events),   Needless to say, my campaign isn’t even done, so this post might be entirely moot in regards to my own group.  None the less, here’s my take on an expanded world.

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Backgrounds for the Doomed – Dark Sci-Fi backgrounds for 5E

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Across the wastelands and into the mega-cities, all sorts of people dwell in truly dark places.  Many fall to corruption, whether from inside of or outside of its “protective” walls.  Many adventurous folk are not merely content with a mediocre life as a drone or even the life of a delivery courier.  While the latter explores the world outside, they are still tethered to a track, lest they quickly find themselves in over their head.  The rest who make their way across the strange and bleak world?  Thrill seekers, mercenaries, civilians on a vital but deadly mission, absolute maniacs!  But, haven’t adventurers always been this way?

Author’s Note: Yes, I know my RPG Blog Carnival is done.  But, I’m still quite inspired!  With that, here’s a couple of new backgrounds and how to incorporate them into a more average fantasy setting… and not so average settings.  Dark Sun, Ravenloft and other darker worlds might make for good fits.

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