A Book of Monsters? A good choice! Zam’dul is happy to bestow such a tome upon you. The cost is effective too, for you invest in knowledge! Even with such knowledge, be quite careful. The planes themselves are very unforgiving and care not for visitors. – Zam’dul, planar merchant.
As you might have guessed, I love the multiverse created by AD&D 2nd Edition and tend to have a bias in favor of it in some capacity. By all means, you are correct…. Not that there’s anything wrong with my favoritism, of course! Anyway, I wanted to convert over a few more creatures featured in Spelljammer and Planescape before I hop over to other things. That said, there are a fair number of D&D-adjacent things outside of both of those settings that would be fun to tackle. So, I’ll probably consider some of that too.
In the meantime, I wanted to bring back some other favorite creatures of mine. As always a healthy mix of aberrations, constructs, undead and the like. Don’t worry, no fiends this time.
Author’s Note: I’ve covered the whole Planar theme for a while. I might do a few more things before I switch gears. Personally, I’m feeling a return to either Gothic or something else entirely soon. Who knows? I certainly don’t! I just pull ideas either out of my brain or out of my bum and go from there. If I actually had a plan, I’d probably have a production studio by now…
The Rock of Bral. Within the endless void of Wildspace, lies a cosmopolitan hub upon a still massive rock. This sprawling city within allows for almost any form of trade and meeting, as long as you stay low. Imports from through fantastic space have their way of ending up here, goods from all sorts of Crystal Spheres and demiplanes alike! Within the many markets, there are many strange and wonderful faces. One such is one you have met before!
“Ah, old friends of Zam’dul!” exclaims a helmet wearing man in monk’s robes. The stringy being gleefully approaches the team. “I assure you, these new wares will be of utmost interest. Recurring guests always get exclusive first looks at new goods. Please, come over. Please, look!”
Author’s Note: I’m back! Things have kind of sucked. None the less, I’m eager to return to things. However, Planescape and Spelljammer make me happy. So, time to return to what I love! Also, I’m returning to magitech as well as drugs! … Making stats for fiction drugs, that is.
The smoke bomb, particularly the toxic vapor. Only one group could produce something like that in such short notice, the Chymists! How desperate someone must be to turn to terror, such inadequate rubble will be eliminated from the city in due time. Mark my words, the Consortium shall rightfully reign over the future. – Gelzeer, Assistant Lead Mechanic for the Consortium of Machine, at Primus Security Foundation HQ
Despite splitting off from the world above, internal politics breeds their own issues; whether in the splendorous city proper or its bayside proxy. Various guilds vie for dominance, whether through honest or underhanded means. That’s not to safe that attempts at sales within the market can’t be a front for devious sabotage and spying… if not acts far worse. Some could argue that those who protect the city from these biased extremists are biased and extreme in their own right, favoring a repressive status quo and neutrality that inhibits both progress and tradition alike.
Even before these new issues had arisen, turmoil stewed within the city since early days. Wicked cults that twist the worst of ancient tradition, cruel slavers and exploiters masquerading as market movers and shakers and general violent madmen. None the less, the city boasts quite the strange history for one that is otherwise pretty young.
Author’s Note: I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, create a timeline as well as faction related stuff for my mini-setting. Plus, maybe an extra monster or two in an update. Also, the factions, alongside the monsters, can easily be repurposed for a more steampunk-oriented setting. Though, there’s no need to have the setting a dark and gritty urban setting deep within the ground.
Ever eager to innovate and create, the artifice city marches onward with all sorts of strange ideas. However, many prove to be quite practical. Whether to ensure the city runs like clockwork or to keep the peace in some regard, Alza’um provides in many strange ways. Even in Bashar, there are many marvelous sights to see… and some significantly less so.
Author’s Note: Pardon the extreme lateness. Job hunting and other things have held me up. Simply put, I can’t afford to dedicate too much free time to what I love until I find some kind of job in the meantime. That said, I’ll try to keep some stuff moving along. Plus, I have a project that I want to start up soon, inspired by one of my patrons on Patreon! Stay tuned for all sorts of magic and mayhem. In the meantime, hopefully some steampunk-y goodness will suffice.
While Alza’um secludes itself in secrecy, the land is still quite populous. While the population is predominantly made of humans, gnomes, dwarves and even ratfolk; it’s still bristling with its own unique vibrancy and charm. Much like the machines that operate on clockwork, so do the denizens. Life is a chaotic schedule balanced under the facade of order. This insular technical revolution is made under the assumption that the outside world isn’t ready, but they’re more than enlightened. Whether this is truth or unaware foolishness hasn’t been determined yet. Either way, strange adventures and even stranger locals await those granted the proper access.
Author’s Note: It’s a pun! But seriously, I felt like I was leaving out a lot of goodies. At some point, I’ll want to flesh this out for say an OGL product or something, once I can get help with maps, layout and artists eventually. In the meantime, here are some underground dwellers of this outlandish city of high magical technologies. Of course, many can be repurposed for more steampunk oriented games.
Alza’um, the true city beneath the smoke and mirrors. Life is far more controlled than in the port city of mysteries and merchants. However, that doesn’t make life any easier. Only the lucky and the blessed get their way in, without tricky maneuvering. Stowaways and thieves don’t make out too well. For those who make it? It’s a long way down the ladder and back up. Life in the city is a climb towards excellence. Of course, too many refuse to let others into their station.
In the beginning, a large caravan of outcasts, tinkerers, mages and artificers came together with a common goal. They wished to craft and hone their abilities in peace, trading and sharing knowledge within their enclave. For a while, it was a place of common ground and unity. Racial differences of these sages and inventors mattered little, but rather their devotion to their creations and the quality of their work. An ideal lead to a city, which fled underground after conflict with the outside world. This racial harmony ideal lasted… until the denizens of the darkness below found themselves in inevitable conflict with the city dwellers.
Author’s Note: Part 2 continues with the namesake city! In addition, I might make some extra crunch bits soon too. Needless to say, I’m having tons of fun with this.
The art of the shootist has transcended beyond certain types of warriors and scoundrels, expanding to even holy warriors, devoted protectors of spiritual ways or even magic-users themselves!
Author’s Note: I meant to do this long ago! However, monsters took over much of my gaslamp/weird western thing. So, let’s not delay this any longer! Here are more ranged (guns) sub-class options for your games! Also, this time an homage to The Dark Tower. Also, special thanks to my friend, Ian. Your insight really helped shape things here, and your endurance allowed you to deal with my endless rambling. Trying to hammer sub-classses based off a meta concept like ranged weapon combat proved to be a challenge for me… especially in regards to classes that weren’t quite meant for them. As such, this might be a little more janky than some of my other creations. I’ll try to refine whatever I can here.
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!
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! Both of these were made with my own take on firearms, which is similar enough to 5e core. Don’t worry, there’s no misfire included. 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.
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.)