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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July 2017 RPG Blog Carnival: Doomsdays & Dystopias (Dark Genres and Settings)

Abandoned Environment Concept tutorial by maciejkuciara

While I enjoy tons of heroic settings with noble characters ensuring good in the world, I’ve always loved truly grim and dour settings.  I speak of worlds that fit the “GRIMDARK” moniker that’s been affectionately used.  For those who don’t get the reference, it refers to Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40K tagline, which states that “In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war!”  I’m speaking of places blighted by impossible evils, dystopias where any sort of righteousness and passion is repressed, a sinister universe that is out to destroy you, nuked out wastelands where the remains of society struggle to continue or scrap the last bits of the old ones… but you get the point.

So, why is my theme essentially “dark settings and dark themes”?  Sounds depressing, I know.  After all, spending too much time in an overly dark and oppressive world can wear one down, right?  Not exactly!  There are many reasons why dark settings are truly fascinating.  Before I turn the carnival over to you, let’s take a look at why starker settings can be awesome.  (Or if you prefer, skip down to the bold text.)

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Super-Science and Sorcery Roundup

RPG Blog Carnival Logo

For starters, I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to contribute to this month’s theme.  While many themes have come and gone through carnival history, I’m not too sure many have really tackled this idea in depth.  Perhaps it’s due to the fact the genre hybrid of science-fantasy isn’t as popular as it once was.  Perhaps people just wanted to tackle something else that tickles their fancy.  Both are very fine reasons.

At first, I was hesitant to make the theme about science fantasy.  The reason was that it’s very much a niche flavor within a niche hobby.  I love it, but I figured not too many other people shared that same love.  None the less, plenty of fans came out of the wood work to support a pretty cool concept, if I do say so myself!  Mages and dragons meets techno-crafters and giant robots!  I mean, come on!  That’s pretty darn cool!  Also yes, RIFTS was one of my favorite settings way back when… how did you guess?

Anyway, I’m gonna stop prattling here and get to showcasing this month’s RPG Blog Carnival posts.  Here are the posts for the August 2016 theme, “Science Science and Sorcery!”

EDIT: Added missing links

 

 

6d6RPG: The Monster in the Machine – jfoster merges machinery with the strange and supernatural to create some fascinating and unsettling new monster ideas!

Anarcarnivàle: Any technology sufficiently advanced… – Clark proposes ideas on fusing magic and technology together with the help of historical scenarios.

Brynvalk: Cold Iron Corruptor – Faith from Brynvalk mashes classical fantasy creatures of the Fae with Sci-Fi elements such as cyborgs and mutants.

Crossplanes: F@NE For Savage RIFTS – Mark from Crossplanes creates a creature for the science-fantasy world of RIFTS, now compatible with Savage Worlds.

Daemons & Deathrays: Expedition to Barrier Peaks – Brian (Me) of Daemons & Deathrays has devoted the month to converting a classic module to D&D 5th Edition.  These posts consist of:

Forgotmydice: Astounding Tales of Science Fantasy – Grynning examines Clarke’s Third Law in its relation to the Sword and Planet genre, as well as figuring out how to run such games in D&D.

Forgotmydice: Warlock Patron of Interest – Griss makes a pact with a new warlock patron, The Machine.

Forgotmydice: ‘Tis New to Thee – Trevor transports people from a Modern world into the realm of Fantasy thanks to a new background!

Forgotmydice: From the Red Hills of Mars – Robert channels John Carter in the blog’s August 2016 finale by creating Green Martian stats.

Forgot my dice: Allons-y! – Trevor makes an intellectual and scientific sub class for the Ranger.

Mythus Mage: Are You Sure? – Alan dissects genre and treats magic as a science.

Notes of the Wandering Alchemist: Science-Fantasy Trinket Table – Based on the PHB, John has made a table of random trinkets you can incorporate into your games.

Rollcall: Reskinning to Maximize a System’s Range – Rollcall shows how simple it is to reflavor fantasy RPGs into science fiction.

Tales of a GM: Serpentfall in Heroquest – Phil takes from “The Day After Ragnarok” setting to build an epic interlude with a helping of science-fantasy!

Temple of Ravens: Super-Science and Sorcery – Anthony of Temple of Ravens ponders Sci-Fi series like Star Trek and how to run them within the realms of D&D and beyond.

 

If you would like to participate in an upcoming  RPG Blog Carnival event or host your own event, please check out this page to learn more.

Covert Infiltrator/Techno-Spy – A Sci-Fi Roguish Archetype for D&D 5th Edition

Infiltrator vs. Minotaur

“Voracx Corp seems to have everything! The idea of planar travel blew peoples’ minds, but that’s just the beginning! I’ve seen prints for machines that can traverse time, travel to locked dimensions, and even locate worlds that simply shouldn’t be. If you allow me to lead, we can show those lunatics a thing or two about preventing their apocalypse!” – Arlon Devan, Human Covert Infiltrator.

Your purpose is typically two-fold; espionage and scavenging. Perhaps you have a role in stealing prototypes and blueprints to secret technology. Maybe you’re a wasteland raider whose trying to salvage lost technology for profit or for personal use. Either way, your knowledge of subterfuge and tinkering have proved to be very useful skills of survival. However, there’s a market for folks like you who help “share” ideas. After all, if competition can get away with copying an idea without proof, it’s all the better. As for yourself? Something has changed you; augmentations, exposure to magic or radiation, or something else entirely. Or maybe you’re a top notch spy with an arsenal of gadgets to boot!  Either way, as long as you keep to the shadows, nothing can stop you. Continue reading