“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!
“Why do they always faint when they see me?”
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 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! 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
“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!!
After some suggestions from friends, I’ve decided on a theme! Granted, one of the big deciding factors a ways back was the Curse of Strahd D&D Module that came out in mid-March. As such, I think it’s fair to do a number of gothic-themed posts. Now Gothic doesn’t have to be horror all the time. There’s often an aspect of the horrific, but much of fantasy fiction has this too. Stories like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes (save for a few), Lord Byron’s tales of dashing and daring (but flawed) people and some others contain many aspects of the Gothic. But, they typically aren’t driven by plots about supernatural evil or the horrific (except for the whole examining of murders and other macabre elements.) You could argue I have covered the image of a grim and cynical knight, the mad occultist or a byronic hero with various posts like the Oath of Cynicism, the Piper College, the Scarred Mind Path, the Diabolist or the Grognard. You could argue that quite a bit of the Faerie Tale stuff I crafted before could fit within line of this theme too. But, why not cover more, given the chance?
Now, I’m doing more than just Gothic Horror, Ravenloft, all that good stuff. You could argue that Romantic style fiction (a la Dragonlance), Arthuriana and Politically heavy Dramatic settings (like Birthright and A Song of Ice and Fire) have a place within the Gothic in one way or another. And sure, I make snarky and cynical quips at the expense of steampunk in the past (as I prefer serial-era and later sci-fi), but a part of me likes it all the same! Similarly, Gaslamp Fantasy and Weird Western are very much at home here and rightfully so! So, it’s a part of the theme by all means. So, I have a lot to ponder over. I can’t promise I’ll cover all of what I said, but I’m sure I can squeeze a few extra ideas here and there.
Image Source: John Henry Fuseli – The Nightmare