Weird Western Monsters – Part 3 (Steam Machines and Clockwork Fiends)

Image result for "Westworld"1973 robot

NEXT STOP, WESTWORLD, ALL A-beep-boop-beep!

I’ve seen plenty of things in my day, but none of them involved these divines darned machines taking over the place.  I work for a living and some oiled up rust bucket won’t replace me!  I’m a representation of the great folk who live here, at least out in Cascading Ridge, a real oasis if I do say!  Now the place is probably gonna smell of bad oil.  I’m gonna file a grievance to the mayor about this.  I won’t be replaced!
– Gristle Pete, deceased cook for the Cascading Ridge Saloon and former miner.

“Shame about ol’ Pete.  But, rumor has it that there’s an order hunting down folks who steal a fine explosive powder filled with magic.  I heard Pete’s been hoarding it like something fierce.  Plus, no machine can shoot with that level of precision, that bullet hole between the eyes?  That’s masterwork!  Hmm, certainly the act of an elite gunslinger, the wound is still somewhat fresh.  I’d say maybe a couple of days old.”
– Jeanette P. Hoffman, Human Smokepowder Shootist, “Wandering Medical Examiner”.

The machines, they seem to be popping up everywhere.  As long as there’s some hack scientist with some kinda idea, something automated will appear soon after.  Gristle Pete, the saloon’s mad cook got strung up by something a couple of weeks ago after babbling about “automatons replacing him”.  Poor ol’ loon.  Plus, the owner of the bar seems a bit toooo friendly with his top of the line automaton staff, it’s downright disgusting.  Plus, you got the mechanical miners too.  Ol’ Pete used to be a miner once, ya know?  No wonder he’s paranoid.  Keep your distance from one of those wandering tin cans, if ya know what’s good.

Author’s Note: Machines, constructs, robots!  I always love crafting something like that.  Hell, I did an entire post dedicated to robots before.  Plus, what better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than with some crazy, volatile machines!

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One with the Gun – Options for Gunslinging Shootists

Fantasy Rifleman by BrotherOstavia

The Order always prepares for adventure!

The Order of the Shootist, it’s a name claimed in both fear and mystery. They arrive with their incredible weaponry, unleashing thunder claps and smoke. And in mere instants, their enemies drop dead from incredible blasts of metal and fire. Only warriors worthy of their cause are admitted into their ranks. People know plenty about the mythical “fire brands”, as they have for countless years. However, most people are barely proficient. Even more fail to use them properly to begin with! The Shootist rises above these average folk. They hold sacred knowledge about not only wielding a gun with finesse, but a myriad of skills to truly champion their weapons.

For a Knight of the Shootist Order, there are many key features. One must move with a certain panache. Not only must they be graceful with their guns, but their steps must be constantly fluid. One slip up and you are shot down. A shootist has little time to stop and study their enemy, but must make a quick observation on the go. In addition, you won’t see armor worn as often within their ranks. Only truly strong and brisk warriors sport the arms and speed of a gunslinger with the armory of your traditional knight. Such individuals command both respect and a charismatic presence all their own. Some take to the shadows to get in the most brutal surprising shot possible, unleashing a devastating barrage.

Author’s Note: Lots of folks have asked a long time to revisit my shootist post. And since my theme for this month is Gaslamp Fantasy and Weird West, it was the perfect opportunity. So, let’s not just revisit the Shootist, but have a list of new options for the Rogue, Ranger and even Paladin! Take aim and fire, here’s a shooting gallery’s worth of options! However, these can easily be repurposed into a general ranged specialist if firearms are not allowed in your games or not common enough to allow training in.

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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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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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Smokepowder Shootist – A Gun-Focused Fighter Archetype

Fantasy Rifleman by BrotherOstavia

Time for a change.

Smokepowder, a powerful substance that has changed the landscape of battle, has become more and more popular as its name spread throughout wildspace and beyond.  This powder can ignite and produce a powerful explosion.  Many have sampled its alchemical properties for a new weapon, the firebrand.  In some realms, this projectile weapon is revered in religious circles as both a sacred artifact and testament to their craft.  For the less religious, many soldiers and warriors have trained in the art of the firebrand.  Honing their talents with these advanced weapons, a new breed of ranged combatant was born.

The smokepowder shootist is a fighter or ranger whose focus is melding firing of guns with sophisticated martial techniques.  While a rival to the battlemaster, this type of fighter is far more focused on perfecting their gunslinging.  Understandably, their knowledge of this school of fighting has caused ire among other classes of warrior and martial tactician.  Some harrumph in disdain, for they find no honor in these new weapons.  Some seek the very same weapons for power or fortunes, hoping to pry it from the fighter one way or another.  As such, the order of the shootist is a rare and secretive one in many lands.  In places more adept to firebrands, or “firearms” as they’re likely known there, some orders are willing to train other warriors deemed responsible enough to handle guns.

For those that have banded together, the firebrand is a symbol of many things; technological advancement, futurism, terrifying new grounds in warfare, liberation from the elite, power to the people and more.  Their order wields this weapon with intense precision and finesse, pulling off elaborate displays that are equal parts tactical gun fighting and martial arts.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I’m still not fully content with my shootist sub-class and I’ve received requests to have it branch out to other classes.  I’ll likely expand this over the next week to do just that, once I really figure out what makes classes like The Ranger tick.  To be fair, even WIZARDS OF THE COAST doesn’t know!  (Yeah, I know, low blow.)  In the meantime, I’m willing to test this as is for Rangers and see what breaks down in the process.  Lemme know if you try! 

ALSO, this sub-class assumes that firearms are considered martial weapons or that your character is trained in them already.  If not, there is a campaign option to become proficient in a kind of firearm upon taking the sub-class.

Also, to answer a quick question of what’s with the name…  Well, a “Shootist” is a term dating back to the American Old West.  It refers to an expert hunter or gunfighter, often outside of the law.  In fact, infamous gunman and cattleman Clay Allison originated the term in the mid 1800s.  So, there you go.

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Gaslamp, Steampunk and Weird West NPCs for D&D 5th Edition

https://i1.wp.com/img14.deviantart.net/c882/i/2012/251/7/6/wild_west_dragon_by_albyu-d5dz8fi.jpg

Many heroes exist in the many realms.  From industrialized cities to lawless frontier wastes, champions against the darkness use sixshooter and spell book to ward off absolute evil.  While dark forces destroy most and corrode others, these few do all they can to fight back against those who seek us harm.  Purity and sanity are often lost in the process and these defenders of the common good are more than likely sacrificed in the process.  However, their actions help to preserve the balance that keeps reality as a whole from falling into an age of continuous torment.

Likewise, countless forces embrace the corruption that taints our reality, dragging it into an endless hell that will never die.  It is their goal to destroy all that is sacred and ensure that nothing will end the all consuming abyss.  These agents of evil and fallen heroes are the cancerous plague that continue to rot existence and will continue to do so.  As long as great evils exist in the endless multiverse, there will always be corrupted minions at their disposals.

Author’s Note:  Instead of backgrounds or monsters, I wanted to craft up some generic NPCs.  Some of which are based on existing NPCs as well as monsters I had made in the past while others are wholly new.  Here’s a wide variety of archetypes from western, pulpy and Gothic fiction.

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Factory Stacks and Sixgun Shootists – Gaslamp & Weird West Backgrounds for D&D 5th Edition

https://i2.wp.com/orig04.deviantart.net/1af6/f/2014/020/b/b/dishonored_dunwall_cityscape__no_logo__by_nordlicht-d730yzz.png

“Truly, this is paradise”

Not all who dwell in dark gaslamp lit towns and cities are called by the darkness.  Some take more heroic and honorable pursuits.  Of course, these people are just as susceptible to the darkness as the more “accursed” among them.  Noble deeds can be tainted and benevolent action can devolve into a fanatical crusade.  But in proper moderation and reflection, these heroes can be true champions of not only their ideals but for others as well.  A harsh society is made all the more overwhelming by the presence of dark forces.  In fighting them, even the most pure of hearts can fall to their wickedness.  Those who are careful prove to be the truest exemplars of righteousness and courage, but few rise up to the occasion.  Like countless others who are forced to take a stand, these mere everyday people must overcome extreme odds for not only victory, but survival as well.

Author’s Note: I tried to write as much as possible for this one!  After all, my last background post was a fair bit skimpier.  With that, I went a bit more overboard by giving you 4 new backgrounds and 2 variant backgrounds!  All of them fit a general 19th century inspired fantasy/horror/adventure theme!  Also, be on the look out for my next post!  It’s a tie in to a certain blog carnival theme for this month!!

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