Take heed, mighty explorer! Danger is afoot! Always prepare!
You are among the brave few, those who readied themselves for the great journey into a breathtaking new world, one of many that swarm around the very source of much great power. The Steam Titan, as many call it, as a colossal body that anchors the many sites we aim to use for our cause. Far from alone, there are others like us who remain friendly for now. Likewise, other beings have existed on the micro worlds far before us. Tread lightly and with caution. For the environments beyond and their lifeforms? Steady and prepare. A carefree adventurer is a dead adventurer. The Queen’s Voyage Adventure Charter will explain more. Please report to them post-haste.
Author’s Note: Obligatory Victorian steampunk, almost arbitrary… Likewise, far more grimdark steampunk, because that’s really the only way I like the genre. Though, not enough look at over industrialization, to complete “Victorian High Tech, Low Life”. Well, here’s a continuation of my mess. Why am I tying all of these things into Spelljammer? I’m not sure. At least steampunk isn’t super trendy anymore, if I wanna be all hipster about it.
“Meikridas Steamships, are they not marvels?” The hand of a flamboyant man outstretches towards his wondrous sea craft. While he somewhat resembles a vistani in a few regards, he is clearly not of their ways. The sailor man smiles with the genuineness of an eager salesman, “come friends! The warm shores of Alleigosto are a mere boat ride away. I offer you leisure and hospitality unlike what is seen here in fair Dementlieu.” The pitch continues, as the showman distributes pamphlets detailing incredible works of art and technology, a history spanning empires of old and “magnificent” relations with nearby nations. While the man’s vessel is spotless and a marvel of engineering, the owner of this enterprise comes across as insincere and just as full of steam as the ship. “We board now, don’t miss the opportunity of a lifetime!” It is at this moment that you can swear the man’s eyes bulge unnaturally, even for a second. And at that, unblinking. Such a voyage would indeed bring wonders, but also new terrors to behold. What visions of the future does this “cog cluster” bring?
Author’s Note: I’m always good for more Ravenloft. Cursed robots, a zombie apocalypse, manipulative shadows, killers on foggy streets, the successor to the Atlantean Neur-Maise, the refuse of industry, fanatic technophobes, the distant (and not so distant) looming shadows of totalitarianism, utopian idealism crushed by said dark tidings, Deep Ones and more haunt a new cluster. Here is a new pocket domain, as well as a new cluster to house old domains (like how Fell Arts houses Farelle and Odiare). Major props to ScS of Fraternity of Shadows for inspiration on Nosos and other advanced domains. And with that, here’s my take on a Steampunk-ified cluster much like the proposal from Quoth the Raven issue 2, with The Shining Bay cluster. But, unlike that mixture of just Paridon, Timor and Nosos; this adds in several Islands of Terror I devised many years ago… some more recent than others. One is a plague-ridden urban sprawl taking notes from the 19th century United Kingdom, Prussian Empire and Northeastern Coastal U.S. (especially from the fiction of Lovecraft and King). Another is a mix of drama, Luddites, robotic horror and more in a Mediterranean based land. It is next to decaying Greek-inspired splendor spliced with The Shadow over Innsmouth. And finally, a somewhat Balkans inspired fake utopia. Plus, as an added bonus, an homage to the classic Thief games. And with that, enjoy one of the longer posts I’ve made. And should anyone be curious, I have no interest in anything Wizards of the Coast. I don’t want their new book, as I don’t care for the Post-4E/Shadowfell take on things..
“Zam’dul is closing up shop for the great bazaar. Do hurry, the fumes of these locomotive devices are quite sickening. Search at your heart’s desire, but do be quick. And also, do be careful. Questions are welcome and can very well save your life!”
Zam’Dul returns once again to unleash a wide variety of fantastic artifacts, contraptions and concoctions sure to amaze and bewilder.
Author’s Note: I had some item ideas that I couldn’t fit in the prior items post, so they’re here instead! Also, I didn’t have the time to finish my one post for DM’s Guild. So, it is unfortunately delayed a smidge. All I’ll say is that it is a conversion of one of the few 4th Edition modules I really enjoyed playing with quite a few years ago. Despite all the guff I give 4E, it certainly had its moments. And for that reason, I’m “reanimating” it for D&D 5E! Once it’s available, hopefully you all check it out!
The streets are seemingly cast in a dark and gloomy shade among the lit up lamps. Flittering insects cast sinister shadows on the cobblestones below. However, the chill down your back is far from a winter wind. You feel it, don’t you? A cross between a clacking of razor blades upon your coat mixed with the sharp feeling of exposure to ice. It’s right behind you. As to what it is? You dare not find out, but your doom is likely spelled out for you, regardless. Before you can react, the words, “I have use for you” buzz in your mind before all turns to black.
Author’s Note: Weird Western stuff is fun, but it’s only a single flavor of the Gothic. I’ve always been one for horror in an urban environment, such as jolly old London. Plus, I wanted to switch gears to something a little more traditional D&D. Also, I was really eager to bust out some references to Castlevania! (Yes, most of them are Symphony of the Night.)
“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.
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.
I love gothic fiction, gaslamp fantasy and weird westerns, as has been known through various posts throughout the blog. Plus, pages like Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque remain both awesome to visit and truly inspiring!
So, for the next month or so at least, I’m going to try to keep a wide variety of gaslamp, pulpy and gothic flair. This can be anything from more expansion of Tomb of Annihilation or Curse of Strahd to more content inspired by Eberron to more Victorian and Wild West inspired fantasy and horror content. And while I’m at it? Good old Ravenloft, as in the Demiplane of Dread (instead of the module)! I’ve been pondering making a small adventure in one of the domains… possibly Dementlieu, Richemulot, Nosos or Lamordia. I might put it up on DM’s Guild while I’m at it! Of course, this is all pondering based on whether or not I’ll get around to it.
IMAGE SOURCE: Vampire Victorian Age: London by Night – White Wolf Games
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!!