Gloomy and Gothic Story Hooks

Endless tomes tell tales of brooding beings locked in wretched crypts, of things we are not meant to know dwelling beyond the skies, of shocking creatures that terrify as they stun, of punishment for grievous sin and decedent folly.  These stories of old have fueled events to come for generations.  History has a habit of repeating, especially the negative…

Author’s Note: What?  Something non-crunch related???  That hasn’t happened in a long time, I know.  I prefer the mechanical bits, myself.  That said, I wanted to do something a little different.  I’ve made backgrounds, NPCs, monsters, class options, a race and then some with a gothic theme… why not stuff on the campaign itself?  Plus, this example is literally about literature.  So, here are some hooks inspired by various stories.  I’ll post something else later in the week, I promise.

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Therianthropes! – A Collection of Werebeasts for D&D 5th Edition

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Hey, ghosts and ghoulies!  Doc is back at it again!  This time around, I have an assortment of werebeasts at your disposal.  The document includes new content including: a werebeast never posted on the blog, new NPCs inspired by each animal stock, cleaned up versions of two previously existing sub-classes and more!

You may find the document HERE!

Spawn of Death – Creatures born and reborn from the dead

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You are a creature created from the impossible, either unnatural life given back to a body or from a birth most foul.  In either case, the death infused are considered abominations by many.  In some cases, they were created from revival rituals and necromatic magic gone awry.  In other cases, merely the results of trying to achieve immortality… with horrific results.  Arcane experiments in general are the source of the half-undead, either to crossbreed horrors or to create a new form of unlife entirely.

While the Death-Spawn are tainted by different forms of negative energies and dark power, they tend to share similar aspects in traits.  They convey a sense of lifelessness or at least an uncanny sense of life.  They typically lack the warmth of a living body, feeling clammy and/or cold to the touch.  Some are lucky enough to have bodies perfectly intact, looking indistinguishable from other average humanoids.  The unlucky look akin to shambling corpses and disheveled zombies.

Author’s Note: I wanted to take a crack at races again.  So, here’s a new race of undead-touched creatures inspired by a handful of resources: The Raven Queen, The Crow, Pathfinder’s Dhampir, the Half-Undead from Dragon Magazine and so on and so forth.  Just a heads up, this is a rough draft and none of these have been tested yet.  I am likely to revisit this at a later time though.

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Darker Oaths – Paladins for Grimmer Games

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While not fallen knights, these are holy warriors who have fallen on hard times none the less.  Certain orders of the paladin are not seen as the high and mighty crusaders of justice and good, but a necessity for dealing with evil… while preventing troubles members from falling themselves.  Many of the more righteous minded are uncomfortable around such types, as they tend to be far more dour, jaded and even looking they have the life taken out of them.

For many their path is seen as one of ultimate damnation, getting too close to that which they fight… or at the very least, losing sight of what’s worth fighting for.  Among their darker orders, they are the realists, the last line of defense, those who know too much about their enemy and the like.  Only a fool would turn down the aid of a dark oath member.  These crusaders are typically infiltrators, veterans, lore keepers and specialists against specific threats.  This of course assumes that suspicion doesn’t lead to their banning or worse.

Author’s Note: While these sub-classes are meant to be neutral/anti-heroes, they could be twisted into alternative options for Fallen/Oath Breaker Paladins.  All in all, I wanted these sub-classes to convey an almost gothic theme, alongside other inspirations.  Furthermore, I really wanted to experiment with these sub-classes, totally overhauling my original ideas for the “Oath of Blasphemy” and the “Oath of the Cynic”.  However, these sub-classes could easily fit vibes like Mythos Cultists, Instruments of Chaos and Trickery (i.e. Loki, Tzeentch, Cyric), Corrupt Clergymen, Fanatical Crusaders, agents of the Shadowfell or even servants of a less malicious God of Death (i.e. Wee Jas, The Raven Queen, Kelemvor, Anubis, etc).

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Alien Horrors from Beyond

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There exists dimensions beyond our own.  And what dwells in those realms?  Entities far beyond our comprehension, of course!  Only a fool would research too deeply into such theories, as they’re liable to go mad from either dark truths or being constantly called a liar and a fool.

Author’s Note: It’s been a while since I’ve done something truly inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s brand of horror.  While my personal campaign has inject Lovecraftiana into a Barrier Peaks homage (making it more Firestorm Peak), my blog has been lacking in that.  So, let’s revisit Cosmic Horror by revisiting some of my older monsters!  Enjoy.

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MAY BLOG CARNIVAL – Spiritualist Sorcerer and Exorcist Background

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One might wonder, what is the power of a spiritualist?  It’s very much laid out in their name, someone who works with the spirits of the deceased.  Such sorcerers are fabled for calming angry spirits who lacked desire to move on to the after life.  In some instances, they have found ways to harness the spirits, whether out of mutual pact or magical extortion.

For most of your life, you have felt a connection with spirits.  Over time, you tried to develop talents to reach out to the realms beyond.  While not a bloodline in its own right, you have been touched by the nether realms, planar domains where souls travel upon death.  Harnessing your talent, you are more than capable of communing with spirits either through seance or through a known spell.

However, conjuring and working with spirits is often taboo, and is such practiced in secret.  While some may hear of you and seek you out for counsel when dealing with the dead, others might see you as a second rate necromancer.  Some orders have even formed within various religious organizations as exorcists, while others revel in individual freedom when dealing with the shadows beyond our world.

Author’s Notes:  I’m back with Blog Carnival content once more!  This time, I thought I’d dabble into the Occult theme by making a Spiritualist based circle for the Sorcerer.  While other classes also felt like good picks, this felt like the quickest match for me.  So, let’s speak with the dearly departed as we explore the Nether World with the Spiritualist.  And as a bonus, have a background on exorcism. 

You may find more on the May 2017 Blog Carnival here!  Alternatively, you may be interested in the Sage Variant: Occultist background that I made last year.  This would better fit a medium who contacts spirits through seances and the like, should you favor a more gothic flavor over a high fantasy one!

Also, this is the first pass for this sub-class, it will be due for revision in subsequent weeks.  This first draft is experimental and possibly volatile.

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Bizarre Bazaar Addendum – More Spooky Items

“Haven’t had enough of the ol’ hunchback shopkeeper’s wares, huh?  Well, there’s more where that came from!”

Here is a small helping of even more magical items for Halloween.  Enjoy.

Author’s Note: I wanted to make a few more magical items in addition to what I made before.  Also, more JoJo references?  I figured why not, since Part 1 is airing on U.S. television.  I had to hold myself from making anything Vento Aureo, Stone Ocean, Steel Ball Run or Jojolion because not enough people read the manga… and they should.  Also, be on the look out for how many Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem references I can squeeze into one item.

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