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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Time Marches On: A Timeline in Richardsport

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I’m going to have a slight change of pace.  This one has been floating in the aether for a while now, if only because of a bunch of scattered memories tied to facebook posts from ages back.  Well, digging a mix of scattered campaign notes, FB posts and then some.  So, let’s dive into the past and observe the passage of time within what started as a small city and expanded into its own thing.

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Monsters IN SPACE – Sci-Fi twists on Classic Monsters

Vampire by Saindoo

Even vampirism has evolved alongside growing technologies…

“Magick…” he grumbles in a hoarse whisper to himself, “the force we all thought would hamper progress.  And here we are, traveling the stars with it.”  Letting out a sigh, he pushes his hovering seat away from a messy desk.  “If we were truly destined to separate ourselves from magick, the horrible monsters would have been vanquished long ago… not terraforming entire planets.”  The man slightly grips his teeth as he rises from the floating chair, joints popping from ache and wear.  The spacefaring man gazes into a mirror before continuing to shuffle.  The marks of fatigue and age on his face contrast the shining gleam of his badges, reflecting light from the ‘glow panels’ dotting the ceilings and hallways throughout the vessel.  Over towards a huge glass pane, the elder military man observes systems of stars with planets seemingly nestled in perfect viewing spots by ancient giants or celestial creatures.  “And this ship, it has served more of a home for me than it deserves.  But, through the mad crusades and bloody combat, it has served me well.”  The tranquility of an empty space fades as ships pull into view, built with alien geometries and operating through impossible physics, they charge weaponry for an epic battle.  The man cracks a faint grin as similar weaponry opens fire on the enemy crafts.

The worlds of magic and monsters don’t need to end when civilizations have advanced themselves into new eras; feudal worlds give way to industrial, which give way to information, which give way to hypothetical new technologies that Earth can only speculate about.  Even a world of fantasy can and should advance and change with the flow of time.  All too often do these worlds stagnate in the endless mush of quasi-medieval high fantasy.  Now, this isn’t to say that such a thing can’t be good and doesn’t still have a place.  It’s just that for many fans of the genre, such things have grown stale and resistance to change.

In a fantasy future, adventurers will continue to carry on their business.  Perhaps new sanctions are in effect and new regulations are in place.  However, there are still dens filled with malicious monsters and strange sights to behold.  There are gnoll raiders who operate miniguns instead of wield war-axes, elementals from a plane composed of radiation, beholders who bolster their psychic power through cybernetic enhancements, orcish biker gangs terrorizing the streets through their “hover hogs” and much more.  Granted, most of these will not be appearing in the article below.  However, they are ideas on how someone can twist a classic monster for a more Modern/Sci-Fi inspired setting.

Author’s Note: I figured this is a great way to close out the theme, a look at some classic monsters transferred to a new genre.  And by this, I mean transferring classic D&D monsters into classic (as well as some less standard) science fiction.  Also, please don’t mind the cheesy space-opera-meets-D&D blurb from up above.  I’m not quite what I’d call a writer, but I figured it would be a fun change of pace.

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Bloodlines of the Planes! – More Planetouched PCs!

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Planar-based parties are weird.

Planetouched.  Such a term can be used to describe humanoids that have an ancestry shared with an extraplanar creature.  The blood of fiends runs through a Tiefling, the blood of celestials in a Aasimar and the blood of elementals in Genasi.  But, these are but a handful of creatures gifted by strange sources lurking in the known multiverse.

Among their ranks are other creatures, either blessed or cursed by their strange bloodlines.

  • The Changeling is the result of a union between a mundane humanoid and an ancient magical creature empowered by corrupting sorcery, a hag or a bodach.
  • Dream-Touched are born from the powers of two fallen archfey; one of pleasant dreams and one from nightmares.
  • The Eldritch-Touched is an unfortunate creation of mad cultists, victims of dark gods and overly curious lunatics.
  • Fey Dog Barkers are the result of Fey Dogs who wandered too far into the Maddening Winds of Pandemonium… those who didn’t go insane were changed, perhaps for the better.
  • Finally, the Vitalborn are a race of creatures much like the Genasi.  Their elemental nature, however, comes from the Positive and Negative planes.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Not 1, but 5 new races!  (Well, 3 new races, a sub race and a remake)  I wanted to continue my planar/weird fantasy theme with some more player options.  Most of this started with a player wanting a hag-blooded tiefling in an early 5e game… which didn’t quite feel thematically right to me.  Though, it ended with the loss of famous meme “Gabe the Dog”… otherwise, the sub-race wouldn’t exist.  Granted, Fey Dog was a meme-based joke creation to begin with.

All in all, I got carried away with a whole assortment of planar themed racial options at your disposal!  While they need some playtesting (and some more than others), I’m still happy I managed to get all of this done.  Enjoy.

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More Werebeasts – Even more Savage Shapeshifters

UPDATE: You can get the updated version of this via DM’s Guild!  Zoanthropes – A Collection of Werebeasts is available now!  Please, support the blog via DM’s Guild!

Image result for d&d lycanthrope

What was covered by our resident archivist was only a sampling of the many were-creatures that torment civilization.  Many more threaten to bring ruination to all those who threaten their claimed territory.  Woe to those who encounter such fearsome foes, even if they are completely prepared for what lies ahead.

The werebeast, lycanthrope or zoanthrope is a monstrosity born from something dark and primal within us.  It is awakened through dark pacts, wicked curses, magical plagues or even an act so vile that your own living realm changes you in response.  No matter the origin, such creatures remain a danger to all those around them, even the lycanthropes that aren’t inherent advocates of pure evil.  Raw and unrestrained emotion can lead to massive destruction if left unchecked and the were-beast is indeed freed and passionate anger incarnate.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  I didn’t finish everything I wanted to do, so I figured I’d expand upon it here.  With that, here’s a few more creatures at your disposal, including an update of my werebat from last year!  Plus, a whole bunch of inspirations have lead to some cool new creatures.

 

Made by Doctor Necrotic, for Doctor Necrotic Media.  Ravenloft and related content are properties of TSR Inc/Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro.  Special Thanks to James Introcaso

Baba Yaga and her Dancing Hut

UPDATE 2019: The math on this is a little wonky.  I might try to update things in due time, alongside some other ideas.  I’m thinking of a sampler of Slavic folkloric monsters.

Baba Yaga's Dancing Hut by noahbradley

Looks friendly enough.

The all powerful queen of Hags is a force to be reckoned with.  She can traverse reality, utilize powerful magick and is said to be immortal herself!  To many, she resembles the archetypal hag like any other, but this is far from the case.  She’s the most powerful of all hags.  Some say she’s even the progenitor of hags as a whole.  Her dark spawn fill countless planes and spread her dread curse upon many realities. Her motivations are shrouded in eons of mystery.  Perhaps she fancies herself as a Queen of Magic itself, seeking to one day control the powers she has long since mastered.  Perhaps she wants to make all realms her home, unleashing horrible spirit creatures and dark energies to terraform the planes.  No one for certain knows, nor do they want to find out.

To those who encounter her, the best course of action is to avoid at all costs.  For if she doesn’t attack directly, her magical hut will.  To those who can manage to defeat her hut, facing her within her own domain is a far more challenging task.  It is said that she rests deep with the Spirit World of Arcadia, as a means of recuperating from epic conflicts on the Material realm.  It is also said she has connections to lands of the dead and the Otherworld.  In fact, part of her existence is stuck between the Grey Wastes and Gehenna.  It is rumored many magical secrets of the yugoloth come from the Hag Queen herself!  However, it seems as though she is more than capable of appearing in multiple places at once, all while her hut contains several worlds in one.  Her motivations for collecting pieces of worlds are just as vague as her reasons for committing vile deeds.  Few mad scholars assume she has a sentimental attachment to the places she visits, collecting bits of them as a visitor would take a souvenir as a means of making memories.

However, Baba Yaga has a strange side as well.  While associated with absolute wickedness, she can show signs of kindness… when it benefits her.  Those who show her respect will usually be shown some level of respect in return, even her acting grandmotherly towards adventurers who follow her rules.  Sometimes, she observes the world around her through her various alternate forms of Maiden, Mother and Crone.  Perhaps she desires love, perhaps she wants to learn about a world she’s visiting, perhaps she’s seeking out a weakness so it’s all the more easy to take what is rightfully her’s!

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  As per request, here’s my take on Baba Yaga!  For inspiration, I sampled various tales on the fair folk as well as traditional Slavic folklore of the hag queen herself!  Of course, the classic adventure for AD&D as well as the Reign of Winter adventure path played their parts too.

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Felinian – A Cat-Like Race for D&D 5th Edition

EDIT: You can now find the stats via Patreon!

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“I shall smite you, glowing red dot!”

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Inquisitive and Adventurous Beings

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The Felinians resemble bipedal cats with a few humanoid-like qualities.  However, some are an inverse of humanoids with feline qualities.  Many tribes tend to have a variety of specific colorizations and various features, signifying different breeds.  As their cat-like descent would imply, the Felinians are naturally curious creatures that seek to know everything about whatever they find.  As such, social castes of scholars are often treated quite well within many of their societies, trading knowledge as if it were a monetary system.  However, their love of discovery doesn’t impede the power of a raw and savage nature that courses through their veins.  Gifted with the boons of their progenitor races, they’re capable of clawing a foe into submission, leaping incredible distances without too much damage and dashing incredible distances to track down prey.  That said, many fears and weaknesses associated with their ancestors carry over into much of the Felinian cultures, hence why most tend to live more inland rather than by coastal regions.

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Keepers of Balance and Seekers of Greatness

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To many a Felinian, achieving a greater sense of balance in one’s self as well as their world is the key to prosperity.  To them, a sense of neutrality is the key to survival.  In worlds that favor factions and feuding, they tend to not get involved.  Any involvement is either in self defense or eradicating faction influence within their lands.  That is not to say they won’t fight vigorously to uphold what they believe in.  Ironically, they value exploring almost anything.  While some would view their willing to indulge in something as hedonistic, Felinians typically view it as exploration.  Upon gaining greater awareness, it’s common to form group meetings in response to their discovery.  They are willing to trade in all sorts of sources of knowledge and many delights.  To them, balance can be recognized when all senses are properly “awakened.”  However, some view their philosophy as distasteful and self-serving.

Author’s Note:  Based on the positive reception from my homage to Mystara’s Lupins, I decided to tackle my take on the Rakasta sooner rather than later.  Enjoy.  (When I get the time, I’ll tackle my take on the Tortles too!)  Also, I felt motivated to do this request after rewatching the glorious vintage cheesy goodness that is (original) Thundercats.  That said, I’m probably going to start Eberron’s Quori now!

Find the stats via this post on Patreon!

IMAGE SOURCE: Shawn Ye