Of Lands Beyond Castle Ravenloft – Of Awe and Contempt

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“I tell you, we are prisoners!  There is no such hope for us!  The governor holds us in an endless war against an eternal foe.  There can be no salvation in this doomed colony!  There is no hope and the divine has abandoned us!  Lock me up all you wish, in time you all will know the grim reality that you suffer from!  May the rats eat your eyes!  I am now lost to your cause, the darkness comes!  IT WILL DAMN US ALL!!” – Eustace L. Flanagan, Scholar within the colony of Dawnsveil, upon being sent to  Trinity’s Passing Hospital for the Mentally Ailing.

The Demiplane of Dread is a grim place, but its darkest secrets are indeed hidden for the better.  Even the doomed and imprisoned are largely unaware of the full details.  And those who are?  They are drawn into madness and obsession, in hopes of escaping or destroying the demiplane as a whole.  However, there is something to be said for ignorance being bliss.  While life in the Lands of the Mists is hard, those who don’t know full truth exist within their own lives and internal dramas.  But, what is known is that the strange and supernatural lurk just beyond reach.  And from those places, eyes stare back at you.  Dare you stare too long, you might see even more eyes.

Author’s Note: I’ve been thinking about ideas for the future, but I always do that.  If I get ambitious enough, maybe I’ll get around to making an OSR bootleg of some “Dominions of Darkness” or something.  I wonder what that would be?  But for now, just mad musings.  In the meantime, I give you more gothic goodies to greatly enjoy, including my own take on new ideas.  By the way, Dawnsveil is a custom domain.  Check the Doc’s Multiverse tab above for more.  Also, more looks into the future of the Time of Unparalleled Darkness, as potential plot hooks in time are fun.  Also, I was waiting to squeeze a reference to Eternal Darkness somewhere.

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Of Lands Beyond Castle Ravenloft – More Domains and Dread

“I must apologize for speaking to you on such short notice, my Count. Please take whatever comfort in my quarters that you require. My scheduled appointment was far later and I must thank you for willingly meet me within my own home. You are likely aware of why I’ve requested to see you. The crazed arcanist, known as ‘Azalin’, has-“

At the mention of his nemesis, Strahd twists like a gust from his seat, staring at the Burgomaster in contempt. A stare of shock and rage quickly transforms into the cool and collective grin shown to friend and foe alike. “Do understand,” Strahd calmly verbalizes, “such a name causes contention within my land. You should know that more than anyone. But, I rudely interrupted you by my reaction. Please… continue.”

His commanding words pierced the burgomaster harder than arrows or even the count’s hidden fangs could. As if he too was hit with a shocking statement, the burgomaster jerks back a bit. He sighs, trying to cover it up as the airs leaves his lips. Eyeing Strahd, the count simply raises an eyebrow after casually reclaiming his seat. After a few seconds of stammering, leading to the count’s arched eyebrow rising further, he continues with a hint of shakiness.

“-has been seeding the lands with spies to gather any information possible. He is plotting something big, but I shall rally the land to your aid. I am a patriot to Barovia first, and thus I shall heed any call to action. I know these matters cause a great deal of grief to you, but I hope to take some of the strain off of your shoulders.”

The count leans in, like a predator readied to pounce. “Yes, very fair. Now, out with it.”

The burgomaster visibly gulps his own spit while refraining from further stutter. “Several informants have reported to me, currently stationed at makeshift barracks by the village. They’re recanted some strange activity that might relate to Barovia and that other figure of contention. Fortunately, the rebellions of the subdued rival populations have been met with appropriate force. The rumors of their ruler’s return are grossly overstated, a mere distraction as an attempt to scare us.”

The Burgomaster twitches and fiddles in his seat, sweat drops gathering in more number like the growing armies he promised. The Count stares deathly upon the simple false ruler of the village, before his intrigued expression flattens into something more playful and cruel, “the active vigilance of a patriot should be rewarded. The call to action will begin soon, but first these informants of yours need my acquaintance. I must thank you for your service.” The Burgomaster shudders, while attempting to stiffen his stance in pride. Without further word, Strahd lifts himself to his feet and leaves toward the home’s wooden door. “And another thing, you would do best to find any spies and eliminate them quickly. I *shall* keep my trust in you.” As the door slowly shuts behind Strahd, the Burgomaster deflates into his seat from his received threats.

Author’s Note: Big thanks to P.N. Elrod, who inspired the intro blurb after a good rereading of “I, Strahd.” Likewise, big thanks to Ari Marmell for a reinvented version of Winding Road. Here’s my more constrained take, a pocket domain that links to Barovia… and possibly other domains as well. And a thought experiment gone wild, The Rule of Threes Cluster. One of the concepts is a call-back to a Planescape creation that felt right at home in the Mists, so here we are! As for the original Chaotic domain, Point Barmy was going to be it, but I was dissatisfied with it… and thus it was my April Fool’s post for how crazy it was. So, instead, here’s a domain inspired by the bank collapse of Florence. Also, I know I said I’d stop using Barovia, Gundarak, Darkon and Invidia… and yet here I am, haha.

Also, let me respond to a request I’ve gotten a few times. I won’t do a review of the new “Ravenloft” book for 5e; it’ll be dismissive, biased and angry. I’ve seen enough of it, I won’t enjoy it. Even pirating doesn’t feel like it’s worth my time.

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More Gothic Terra – Even more frightening foes

Heroes against the darkness, across spans of time

People who aren’t careful have a habit of vanishing in this city.  The cops, they just don’t care.  Hired hands, they’re hiding something.  The likes of people like me, researching the truth on the side.  If you’re careful, you’ll stay close and ask few questions.  – Herman P. Finske, Attorney and Occult Reseacher

Even as times change and people progress, one things stays true…  there are things that always go bump in the night.  Your walled in lands of safety can still be infiltrated or outright broken down.  And even without that, there are still dark forces at work from within.  Mad experiments, mutants, things of the mind and more!  Monsters are going modern for this week!

Author’s Note: More urban fantasy/modern horror creatures!  This time, right out of the pages of D20 Modern with my own twists here and there.

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Ramon’s Guide to Gothic Terra

Masque

“I came to, a willingness to survive kicked in.  When I swam above the waterline, I wasn’t greeted by Lamordia, by a mist-cloaked land anew.  Surely, this was but a trick of The Dark Powers, once more?” – Ramon DeLeon, wandering bard and planes traveler

Planet Terra.  It has been referenced in many planar logs.  Many worlds tell of a mythic world of great humans who fled the oppressive horrors of their old world of many names.  LaTerre, Uerth, Gothic Earth.  These names and more have been given to this world by many a scholar of Wildspace and The Planes.  Despite its mythic past, much of its fantastical glory days are over, with only dark shadows looming over the present.  The present, according to the widely used calendar of its people, is 2012.  The common people either mistranslate old calendars as prophecy or completely brush off any fear.  The reality of the matter is so much worse…

Author’s Note: Credit where credit is due!  A big thanks to Rucht Lilavivat of the Fraternity of Shadows community for his creation of Gothic Earth Eternal, a pathfinder mod that brings Masque of the Red Death into the Modern Age.  In my case, this is my means of highlighting a variety of chilling tales.  In the world of Gothic Earth, they’re most likely true!  Also, this is not the Earth you are used to, but one more akin to the gothic settings of the World of Darkness roleplaying game.  Life is deadlier, the aesthetics are grimmer and the world in general is far more sinister. Plus, I have an excuse to tie in Alternity Dark*Matter RPG’s Hoffman Institute and the forces of Shadow from D20 Urban Arcana, which are both canon in D&D.  I know Masque of the Red Death doesn’t traditionally have standard Domains, but this concept takes place over 100 years after the main campaign.  Anything can happen, right?

Also, this gives me the chance to showcase some disturbing stories through a supernatural lens!  The fate of the SS. Morro Castle, Jane and the Starving Period of Jamestown, fell curses in the Payton Randolph house, the murder of George Wythe, tavern tales of devil pacts and their supposed results, government conspiracies, southwestern ghost towns, real life camp killers and the infamous murder hotel.  Now, save for a tavern tale or two; the majority of the topics mentioned in this are real or are based on real events.  I don’t mean any offense or disrespect when adapting these events to horror fiction.  If anything, reality is far scarier than any fictional tale we could come up with.  None the less, I realize this one will be rather controversial.

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The Ground is Sour – Resurrection gone Wrong

Image result for pet sematary jud
“Sometimes, dead is better.”

In particularly cursed places, the very ground itself rebukes death and damns the souls of whoever is buried there.  This could be from the sight of a great war, a disturbed burial grounds or more.  No matter the case, the land is tainted.  And for those who dare to gamble against the forces of life and death within these corrupted lands?  They may become something equally as wicked.

In other cases, the world may just have stacked odds against the heroes.  The world may be kept in the clutches of dark forces that conspire to corrode and twist all in their path.  Malevolent entities are challenged by heroes of horror, those who take a stand against the darkness at all costs.  They too may face trauma when losing an ally… and having them come back wrong.

Author’s Note:  This RPG Blog Carnival post came out of a few things.  In a game I was part of, the DM wanted to make resurrection a risk.  In that world, that sort of art is lost and things tend to not work always right when this is tried.  The idea was also going to be used in a Gothic Earth one-off I wanted to do at some point too…  Plus, I watched the original Pet Sematary recently.  So, here’s my revised take on risky resurrection! 

Learn more about the October RPG Blog Carnival theme here!

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