Mist-cloaked Ways – Traditions, stories and beliefs of the Lands

Ravenloft by Stephen Fabian | Fantasy art, Concept art, Painting

Storytelling, it is a tradition.  For Vistani wanderers, there is no exception.  The spoken story has helped keep tribes and clans together.  And by all means, those of different clans have collected countless tales across travels.  Some speak of taboos, others of strange secrets, others purely bizarre.  Tonight, you are invited to hear some of these tales and decipher what is fact and what is mere myth peddled along for entertainment.

Author’s Note: Huge thanks to Matt Doyle alias “strahdsbuddy”.  His own creation got my own creative juices flowing, even if a few ideas were looted.  This one is a bit shorter, but that’s partially because I’m on vacation and need a break from life for a little bit.

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Of Lands Beyond Castle Ravenloft – Gundarak

“Ah, there you are” chimes a snide and sneering scribe, “I was hoping you weren’t too distraught from your assignments.  As it turns out, something of a thorn in the side of His Highest’s rival has resurfaced.  You know of whom I speak, the Devil Strahd of the County Barovia.  Tales tell of an enemy, Duke Gundar, that he has returned in revenge.”  The scribe lays out an assortment of maps, parchments and sealed documents.  “Be a good adventurer, by the master’s decree and look into it.  I suspect someone is imitating that bumbling lord who gave The Devil Strahd a hard time.”  The mysterious scribe rubs his hands, giggling madly as you are supernaturally compelled to gather the supplies and head out.  For some reason, you can’t remember what lead to your arrival at that building, save for that you were returning to Darkon.  You were always returning to Darkon.  But, what matters now is another land.  What matters is Gundarak.

Author’s Note:  Behold, more details to the underdeveloped Gundarakites, Gundarak and Duke Gundar.   My plan was to have plenty of things involving other domains, as well as a Planescape-inspired Cluster to build off of Reality’s End.  Anyway, that will be another post.  My stuff on Gundarak took over.  Also, once again a huge shout out to the Prisoners of the Mist community!  A minor character in this whole mess has its roots from there.  But, hopefully this will be my last post on that domain, so I can focus on other things?   Also, why was Jacques Renier never really brought up in canon after the Realm of Terror boxed set?

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Misty Rumors – Dread Tales of Ravenloft

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A clamminess completes the foggy night sky of Karg, refuge of Il Aluk’s intellectual schools of thought.  But your journey has lead you to a simple building, hiding place of a scribe in service to Azalin Rex himself.  In lieu of recent events, Toubirj the Quickened Hand has found himself waiting the darklord returning to “normalcy”.  But, a network of underground thieves, vindictive academics and disgruntled mages has lead you to an otherwise humble abode.  A short, meek and disheveled looking man answers, his ill-fit body frame moving like a tower of junk ready to topple.  A gangly left arm extends to usher you inside quickly, as he soon slams the door and closes several locks.  And with a few muffled words and motions, a spell further seals the way out.  Shuffling to a chair, he lurches over while placing his head upon his hands.  He studies you, inquisitively before cracking a smile.  Rather than speaking, he simply hands over a piece of parchment.

“Hail to you, reader.  You sought this scroll expecting that strange bard, yes?  Pity, he still has not been found.  I am but a humble scribe, commissioned by his mighty majesty, Azalin.  Divination boons have gifted me with the joys of deeper knowledge, if only to satisfy my liege.  While he has returned to a period of deep contemplation, I continue to collect and gather.  Times in Darkon have been an overflowing cauldron, bubbling and dripping, awaiting tipping point.  That time is passing, as my master returns to dark recesses.  Should you have particularly juicy information, less vulnerable information can be extended in trade…  Just, do it quick.  I know he listens, my arcane senses have made this known!  But, you care for Ramon.  Luckily, I have a few of his journals in my possession.  Allow to extend some of his knowledge to you.  But first, I simply desire to know what you offer in return.”

The frail and strange man finally opens his mouth, “Well, I’m waiting.  If you’re here, you have good information to share.”  He taps his fingers together, expectantly.  Reaching into your bag, you open a carrying case for various parchments, handing them in the direction of the squat man.  His grin widens as he gracefully accepts the documents.  Scanning them in rapid pace, he quickly jumps between pages of notes.  “Ah, this will do well.  First edition notes from the bard.  Let me offer some fine bits of my own in return.  And mark my words, we are safe from interlopers.  Do not fear these secrets being overheard… save for by his highness.  That isn’t an issue, is it?”

Author’s Note:  Am I done with Ramon?  What does the future hold in general?  I’m still not sure with either.  In the meantime, let’s return to various domains of dread.  And with that, plenty of secrets and rumors!

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Traversing the Mists – Ramon’s Research of Ravenloft

Castle Avernus | Tertius: Ravenloft Redux | Obsidian Portal

The journeys through the lands of the mists continue.  I find myself lost after leaving the dark clutches of Inza.  It wasn’t my place to fully stop her.  While the Black Rose is distant and gone, maybe someone else will thwart the usurper.  In the meantime, the strange powers that be seem to carry me, as if they too wish to see my quest for knowledge fulfilled.  But, they have an ulterior motive, for they never help one for free.  Perhaps I can be of use to help put Darklords in their place?  Given how I haven’t done much of that before, this is likely not the case….  But, something to ponder about later.  Something to deeply ponder about.

The meddlings of displaced Kargatane is most disconcerting.  Tales tell of Azalin’s meddling in an attempt to escape.  And yet, I have successfully escaped… all the more reason to use me in an experiment.  I’m not sure if I’m at the agenda of the dread lich or the Dark Powers.  Either way, it’s likely that little good will come from this, save for me documenting these awful places for posterity.  With any luck, I will be granted the same courtesy as before.  Every time though, it feels like escape was from sheer luck of nothing bad happening or just the smallest window of survival.  We shall see what awaits me then.  With any hope, I can evade these agents of the lich for as long as possible.  If I benefit with learning along the way, that’s certainly a positive, no?

Author’s Note: Ravenloft had a tendency to make crossovers with other settings.  So, let’s pull from their dip into Dark Sun as well as Spelljammer, even examining a possible domain from Eberron!  In addition, I look at a cluster I very much enjoy.  Also, what is Ramon seeking?  Why does he hide from Azalin?

 

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Eastern Gothic – Creatures of Slavic Folklore (Part 2)

Image result for siberian wilderness photograph

“You understand the risks of joining our hunting team, yes?  There are many things in the woods that would stop our enterprise, but we’re among the most elite in the lands.  Our skills are legendary.  Some angered spirits don’t threaten us!” – The last words of a foolish trespasser

The forest holds many mysteries beyond the fabled Grandmother of the Witches.  Life grabbing wolves, tree-like giant men, three headed dragons!  Such terrors and more lie over the mountain side and into the forest.  Travel with caution and tact.  And of course, show respect to the spirits around you.

Author’s Note: My exploration into Slavic folklore creatures continues.  Also, I’m gonna cover some weaker monsters for lower tier adventures later.  So far, all of these have been at least pretty strong.

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Bizarre Bazaar – Items of Castlevania (November 2019 Blog Carnival)

Image result for Netflix castlevania art"

As the fog begins to roll in, a comforting light barely breaches the blanket dead ahead.  A vardo wagon sits idly, alongside a crackling fire pit.  One lone man clad in ornate robes and a ceramic plate covering his head beckons you over.  His body language seems friendly, but he is clearly interested in business.  A quick wave of an arm showcases all means of strange and wondrous trinkets to behold.  The cloaked humanoid shape picks itself up, addressing the party, “Ah, well met!  All of you seek to fight off the legions of the damned?  Surely, you are in need of proper supplies.  You are fortunate to stumble upon this traveling merchant!”, hoarsely croaks the muffled shape through his sculpted helmet.

Author’s Note: While Castlevania is more action-horror, it’s still very much part of the history of horror gaming.  One could argue the early entries are a proto-survival horror too!  Plus, there’s the classic fiasco of Konami supposedly taking from TSR for their box art.  In general, Konami sucks and will probably always suck (unless some day they magically don’t), but we can still appreciate the classic franchise.  While this one focuses on the first game, fourth game and Symphony (because those are my favorites, I know… original); I might come back and do some items based on other titles at some point… not just the most popular ones.  So with that, here are a couple of items that pay homage to the franchise!  Enjoy and happy vampire hunting!  Also, I’m aware I reposted the solomon seal.

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The Living Dead: A Guide to Vampires

Halloween is over, but the chills never end!

Hail to thee of might and valor,

Dare you dive into the darkness and face an evil as ancient as the land?  The curse of vampirism persists throughout much of the multiverse, turning the innocent into blood-sucking monsters.  Explore this new tome and discover various kinds of vampires, as well as their unholy progeny.  From the fallen vampire to various clans from various worlds and beyond, their reach sprawls ever far.  Should this be of interest to any of you, please respond to the Burgomaster with haste.

– <name illegible>

Good evening, children of the night!  To celebrate Halloween, I have something special for everyone!  This time around, it’s a collection of vampiric horrors as a follow-up to last year’s werebeasts.  Here’s what you will find inside this terrifying tome.

  • Vampires in the realms of D&D: A look at the vampire and its place in various known (and unknown) realities.
  • Bestiary: A wide variety of vampiric evils to horrify your parties with.  Based on vampires from all over the world and more.
  • Vampires in your Campaign
  • Vampiric NPCs: Some sample NPCs in the vein of the monsters from the Zoanthropes book.
  • The Dhampir: The unfortunate spawns of a vampire and a mortal.  Seemingly impossible, but actually improbably; these offspring are stuck between the worlds of the living and the worlds of the dead.

 

A follow up to last year, this time I’m tackling vampires. Check out more here!

Included are new types of vampires, NPCs and Vampire adventurers, as well as the new racial option; the dhampir.

No Rest for the Wicked – Corrupted Villains

Even great evils can fall from grace or power.  However, that isn’t to say they aren’t inherently powerful beings.  In many cases, diving too deep into their tainted powers may make them stronger.  In many cases, these pitiful creatures are proof that depravities and wicked ways rarely turn out for the better.  All the same, these wretched terrors find their own boons in further exploring the path of evil.

Author’s Note:  I was tossing an idea in my head for a little bit and figured, sure why not?  By the way, the degenerated vampire might make an appearance in something else relatively soon.  Let’s just say a successor to a previous book project of mine is in the works.

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Terrors and Trinkets in Chult – Additions for Tomb of Annihilation

Chult Jungle Portal by Rusty001
Welcome back to Chult.

The Jungles of Chult are a place of many things; an incredible civilization that has survived against impossible odds, a realm of ancient and massive beasts and a land of sinister secrets that could very well corrode the world.  Within this jungle lies a conspiracy that could very well cost Toril and its denizens its life.  Delve even further to encounter new foes and new rewards!

Author’s Note:  Well, all of that took a lot longer than I had planned.  The long and short of it was, a lot of things weren’t going right.  On top of that, I had to wait a bit before borrowing this book in the first place.  But enough complaining, I was inspired by some posts on expanding this adventure, so I wanted to see what I could cook up and add in here.  I realize that there are some revisited pieces in here, but I’m always striving to improve my work and find ways to work it into other things, such as Tomb of Annihilation.  And with that, enjoy a sampling of crazy critters and awesome artifacts for your adventure!

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Bizarre Bazaar – Strange Magical Items Revisited

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A familiar face comes into view as patrons briefly part into a narrow opening, it’s a cloaked humanoid with a strange helmet!  The creature gets up from a meditative stance, acknowledging your presence.  His relaxed and idle stance changes into a beckoning yet inviting gesture.

“Ah, Zam’Dul has not forgotten you, traveler!  Many of my old wares are gone… The rest?  Well, a bored mind tries to see what can be done with spare parts.  You’ll see some older oddities as well as some new creations.  Please, relax and observe what the shop has to offer!  Never be afraid to ask questions, Zam’Dul knows all!”

He lifts a curtain beyond his little stand to reveal a massive archive of the wonderful and weird, seemingly infinite space is filled with encased treasures and incredible artifacts.  The helmed monk shuffles to a counter, seemingly observing you wherever you go.

Author’s Note: These were always fun to do!  Also, I’ve been messing around with some of my magic items.  Some needed a fair bit of overhaul, while others weren’t developed enough.  Plus, I have a few ideas I’ve been kicking around in general.  So, let’s get shopping!  (Or something!)  Keep an eye out for the Tomb of Annihilation nods, for any gamers eager to run the major adventure book for Fall 2017.  Also, this post was made in support of the November 2017 RPG Carnival with the theme “The Past, Revisited“.  Check out the post and its contributors!

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