Darker Oaths – Paladins for Grimmer Games

https://orig00.deviantart.net/2060/f/2013/277/c/3/diablo_2_paladin_by_ixxs-d6p5cez.jpg

While not fallen knights, these are holy warriors who have fallen on hard times none the less.  Certain orders of the paladin are not seen as the high and mighty crusaders of justice and good, but a necessity for dealing with evil… while preventing troubles members from falling themselves.  Many of the more righteous minded are uncomfortable around such types, as they tend to be far more dour, jaded and even looking they have the life taken out of them.

For many their path is seen as one of ultimate damnation, getting too close to that which they fight… or at the very least, losing sight of what’s worth fighting for.  Among their darker orders, they are the realists, the last line of defense, those who know too much about their enemy and the like.  Only a fool would turn down the aid of a dark oath member.  These crusaders are typically infiltrators, veterans, lore keepers and specialists against specific threats.  This of course assumes that suspicion doesn’t lead to their banning or worse.

Author’s Note: While these sub-classes are meant to be neutral/anti-heroes, they could be twisted into alternative options for Fallen/Oath Breaker Paladins.  All in all, I wanted these sub-classes to convey an almost gothic theme, alongside other inspirations.  Furthermore, I really wanted to experiment with these sub-classes, totally overhauling my original ideas for the “Oath of Blasphemy” and the “Oath of the Cynic”.  However, these sub-classes could easily fit vibes like Mythos Cultists, Instruments of Chaos and Trickery (i.e. Loki, Tzeentch, Cyric), Corrupt Clergymen, Fanatical Crusaders, agents of the Shadowfell or even servants of a less malicious God of Death (i.e. Wee Jas, The Raven Queen, Kelemvor, Anubis, etc).

Continue reading

Lizardfolk – A Reptilian Race for D&D 5th Edition

https://daemonsanddeathrays.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/f93c8-lizardfolk.jpg

Reptilians, Reptoids, Lizardmen, Reptile folk, Scaled Ones, Scalies.  A wide variety of names describe these creatures. Likewise, a variety of stories detail these creatures.  Whether it’s tales of mysterious scaled beings skulking in tropical rain forests or desert marauders that carry poisoned weapons, tall tales travel quickly… perhaps faster than the lizard people themselves.  No matter what stories ring true, the lizardfolk are a resourceful and enduring race; one that has faced immense hardships going back eons, perhaps before the existence of the “typical” races of today.

—————————————————–

From parts unknown, to realms obscure

—————————————————–.

Many choose to dwell within marshy or tropical climates, as it suites their cold blood well.  Others have expanded out to regions that are typically less humid and warm on the average.  These brave souls are typically adventurers or are merely curious about climates beyond what they’re accustomed to.  Some have reported brave souls traveling to frigid areas.  For lizardfolk who don’t come incredibly prepared, such a journey is suicide.  The purpose of these journeys varies as one would expect.  Some seek to expand their territory, others seek new lives.  The allure of fame, fortune, endless possibilities; it’s just as enticing to lizard kind as it is to the humanoids.

In ages past, an advanced society of the scaled kind ventured beyond the stars and into the planes beyond.  Thus were born epics of their people coming into conflict with fiendish underworld dwellers (with traitors switching sides in the process), walking mechanical shapes, fair-like celestials and other oddities.  One account detailed a city ruled by a series of squirrels wearing a headdress, a robe, and a ring of levitation; a cruel over-deity of sorts that smites all in her way.  According to this lore, many a wandering lizardfolk have met their end at the hand of such a monster.  However, the remainder of this famed troupe had returned with glorious anecdotes of cosmic adventure.  Tales of their legendary glory circulate among storytellers, medicine men, bards and even poets among the lizardfolk.  Such plots and campaigns are toted as proof that the lizardfolk are far braver and more intelligent than many rivals give them credit for.

—————————————————–

It Ain’t Easy Being Green

—————————————————–

No one is entirely sure where the lizardfolk came from, not even themselves!  For ages, shamans and storytellers have fabricated their own tales, mostly for amusement.  Some say that they descended from a race of ancients that were pushed below the world in ancient times, only to rise up and claim their own overworld turf.  Others say they were once “fleshy ones”, or perhaps actual lizards, transformed by incredible magical powers.  To others, they have just always been, much like the other races of the material realm.  Origin story never really concerned many of the lizardfolk nations and tribes anyway.  Some assume that the ancients that traveled the planes weren’t lizardfolk, but mythical beings that gave scaled kind the power of sentience.  In many religions, this syncs up with the belief that powerful entities known as the Ancients are the true bringers of life and will one day awaken from their tombs in the center of the world, where they shall unite all life under the scaled ones.

Beliefs in deep gods as well as the strange myths they tote as their origin stories only help to hinder their reputation.  Many view them as a strange oddity at best, foul beasts that must be vanquished at worst.  In many civilizations, the scaled ones are shunned as upright walking beasts incapable of grasping social graces and the nuances of culture.  Even in more metropolitan lands, there comes the base assumption that such creatures are oafish and think through instinct rather than rationality.  As such, traveling lizardfolk are often relegated to demeaning tasks.  This is mostly because most people are quite simply too afraid to enter a land ruled by the lizard folk.  To those who have tried to understand their ways, their society is just as complex and industrious as any other… and likely as flawed.  Much of lizardfolk society is ruled under a strict patriarchal code where Lizard Kings are respected with an almost divine significance.  In times of progress and advancement, the cultures tend to flourish under such reign.  In times of stagnation and regression, the opposite occurs.  Despite what one would assume, lizard women are treated quite well in such a society, even if they don’t hold positions of power.  However, such a tradition has worked well for these people through the ages, even if many outsider eyes view them as overtly sexist and backwards to much of the world around them.

The aforementioned deep gods make up much of the common religions, while existing as cults in more mixed/non-lizardfolk society.  No one is certain if such deities exist, but among the lizardfolk, they are all powerful and all existent.  For many high priests, they see the entombed giants as protectors who watch over the scaled ones while they sleep.  Truth behind this is uncertain, but it might have some basis to theories that they once lived in the center of the planet themselves.  However, members of the scaled church will refuse to answer more on this.

 AUTHOR’S NOTE:  I haven’t done a beastly race, let alone any race in a while.  This one was requested by a blogger on my Tumblr page a looooong time ago.  Whoever you are, I just want you to know that you were never forgotten!  I just get busy is all.  Anyway, here’s my take on the Lizardfolk.  Sure, my fluff exists as a parallel to my gnoll post from many months back, but that need not be a bad thing.

Continue reading

Stories from the Mists – Gothic-themed Character Backgrounds for D&D 5th Edition

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/61/b7/88/61b78806dee92d3b4669c674e1eb01f8.jpg

While many have heard the story of the troubled monster hunter, there are other heroes that struggle against deadly foes and unspeakable evils as well.  These unsung champions of the light do all they can to keep all hope from being extinguished in a dark and desolate world.  Not all heroes are born from myth and legend.  Many are souls who have faced great adversity, pushing them into impossible odds.  Those souls have either become broken or are seeking ways to prevent them from collapsing under pressure.  Whatever the cause, they have witnessed terrible things that pose a grave threat to them, as well as others.  Perhaps the conflict isn’t so much external as very much internal.  These troubled heroes seek retribution, redemption, truth and understanding.

In endless realms where mad lords and mysterious mists survey and control all, hope is all one has.  Without it, one simply cannot live.  And those who cannot hope anymore will likely be consumed.  Many have tried, but many have fallen to the darkness as well.  How will you fare differently?

Author’s Note:  In celebration of Curse of Strahd, I wanted to make some backgrounds with a distinctly Gothic theme to them.  Sampling from history and literature, here’s 3 new ones!  Of course, you could easily reflavor my Researcher and Lost One backgrounds from the Fey post into something more gothic with ease.  Also, I truly love the Haunted One background quite a bit!  It’s why I referenced it in my first sentence, hehe.

Continue reading

Gnolls – now on patreon

EDIT OCT 2018 – You can find the stats on my Patreon page.  The crunch itself remains open to the public.  The rest of the post is found below.

You may find the stats here!

A Gnoll Matriarch Defender

For ages, the Gnoll has been viewed as a threat to developing civilization.  Tales of savage beasts with hyena heads mauling travelers and attacking city walls have struck fear into even the most trained of soldiers.  Their origins are equally mysterious, shrouding them in further mystery and fear.  However, as information spreads and reality dispels mythology, many people driven by old ways began to witness that Gnolls aren’t inherently evil.  Despite their bestial appearance and instincts, they’re more than capable of rationality and guidance.

—————————————————–

Wild Hunters, Clever Survivalists

—————————————————–

Despite many misconceptions and stereotypes, tales of gnolls being able to take down incredible prey as well as stories of them enduring brutal deserts and unforgiving wastelands contain more than enough proof.  For this reason, more accepting lands view the gnoll as a testament to the tenacity of the wild.  Within their own lands, Gnolls forge resourceful societies capable of repurposing much of what they come across, due to harsh lessons learned in barren wastes.  Also, many Gnollish culture have gained infamy for creating little of their own; relying on the ideas and supplies of others.  This has also lead to the troubling assumption that gnollish travelers are actually raiders looking to jump the unlucky wandering that crosses their path.  Being both scavengers and hunters, they’re able to adapt to any land ripe with hunting game or the barest of dead lands.  Such experiences have hardened them as both nomads and settlers.  Besides their impressive endurance, they’re viewed as incredible hunters more than able to thwart the mightiest of beasts.  While this leads to misconceptions of them being savage brutes who care for little more than brutality and bloodshed, they often save “The Hunt” for when they’re certain they’ll need the resources.  While they find little wrong with hunting other humanoids, this is often for the sake of meals rather than pure sport.  However, some populations have made a sport of hunting anyone who comes too close to secretive grounds.  Granted, they usually post significant warnings first.

—————————————————–

Strangers in a Strange Land

—————————————————–

No one is sure of where Gnolls came from, and to be honest, neither do the Gnolls!  Some have rumors that they’re the creations of mad cultists and druids, crossbreeding hyenas and humanoids.  Some suggest they’re the spawns of demonic plane-jumping conquerors, set out to hunt all in the name of Yeenoghu.  Maybe they are the result of a mad Bouda Witch corrupting the nearby lands.  Perhaps they’re just beings exposed to the arcane forces of the Plane of the Wyld, forcefully morphed into bipedal hyena creatures.  No matter the truth, Gnolls take pride in what they are and will defend their existence till the end.  Outside of their own tribes and settlements, they are the epitome of outsider though.  While many beastly folk are infamous for coming across as uncivilized and feral, gnolls face this situation far more often.  Their tendency to feast upon carrion, as well as their bone chilling cackle sound is off putting to those outside of their circles.  Their animalistic instincts have also had tendencies to kick in at bad moments.  While many traditions and actions are socially acceptable at home, they are likely taboo elsewhere.  Horror tales of a gnoll making its way into a funerary service, only to feast upon the corpse have become drunken racist jokes at bars.  Other rumors of gnolls mating or hunting in open streets have only further hindered their social status.  One famous tale that circulates through Gnoll-kind involves a wandering starved outcast gorging himself on the foods of a bazaar, before guards arrived and slew him with extreme prejudice.  This story is often toted as propaganda by those who seek to enforce xenophobia within Gnollish society.

But, this doesn’t mean that gnolls are savages without culture or morality.  Gnoll society is typically matriarchal in nature, with a high queen who proves herself through rigorous challenges.  To the outside eye, most gnolls look the same due to lack of dimorphism of their hyena ancestors.  Despite a matriarchal society, male gnolls do not suffer from discrimination like with the Drow.  However, important choices tend to be favored by females of each clan.  Many societies not dictated or ruled by sex/gender tend to view gnolls as a curiosity or are outright hostile towards their approach for many a reason.  Some view them as inherently sexist or biased in nature, whether or not these claims are actually true.  However, many gnolls from other material planes tote a much darker side.  Names such as Lamashtu and Yeenoghu imply an abyssal origin for countless legions.  These gnolls are creatures of chaos and evil, derived from both hyena and demonic bloodlines.  Their values lie within savagery, butchery and dark tributes to their demonic masters.  While it is uncommon for gnolls to become adventurers, it is even rarer for demonic gnolls to explore with creatures outside of their kind.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  Gnolls!  I figure I’d give them some vanilla fluff to make them feel a little closer to actual hyenas rather than stick to the generic D&D lore.  Of course, they wouldn’t be gnolls unless I threw a bone here or there (haha.)  With that, enjoy my take on the race (including an inside joke toward the bottom.)  No matter, here’s another entry in support of the RPG Blog Carnival, particular the Homebrew Holiday Gifts theme for the month of December!

 

College of the Piper – A Sinister Bardic College (and background) for D&D 5th Edition

“They called me a mindless fool, I MADE THEM MINDLESS FOOLS! AHAHAHA!”

Your years of ridicule, discrimination, and being labeled a social pariah have slowly driven you mad.  For ages, you’ve toiled over many schemes to get back at all those who have caused you wrong.  Rather than trying to resolve the turmoil in a sensible way, you like your festering insanity guide you on the path to revenge…  Or rather, prepare an epic ballad about revenge, with you as the lead character!  However, as your decaying mental state continues to worsen, you begin to see all opponents as those who have wronged you in the past.  You’ll make the public adore you or you’ll kill them trying!  Will you ever come on top as the “hero” or will your obsessions be the end of you?  The world is your stage, the upcoming events are the unfolding drama and you are the director and main actor of it all!

Unlike other bardic colleges, you focus in manipulation and sabotage above all!  While others bolster their allies, you humiliate and tear down your foe.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  I became dissatisfied with this subclass and won’t be updating it.  I might remove this post in the future.

Continue reading

Diabolist – A Fiendish Arcane School for D&D 5th Edition

EDIT 2019: This is really due for a revision.  I like the overall concept of this, so I’ll probably create something in the near future.  After all, why should the warlock have all of the diabolical fun!?

 

Throughout the ages, many schools of magic have been created and also destroyed.  Some have come under attack due to ignorance; arts such as Necromancy and Enchantment have been targeted in particular.  Among the most notorious is the art of magic inspired by fiends.  The school of Diabolism is such an art, where contact with dark planes leads to manipulating vile energies into wholly new effects.dedicated to dark gods and demonic creatures.  While many styles of magic are unlawfully targeted and discriminated against, the diabolists are almost always cruel and wicked.

While pacts with otherworldly beings are the results of enslavement, diabolic mages intentionally scour obscure tomes and demonic rites to enhance their magical craft.  Some are connected to patrons like warlocks, while others steal devilish secrets for their own purposes.  Warlocks forge direct deals with fiendish beings.  Meanwhile, most Diabolists cheat their way into obtaining fiendish magic, often resulting in horrific consequences.  That said, many Diabolists are active within cults and truly follow their infernal agenda to its fullest extent.

Continue reading

Ratling Scoundrel – A Lycanthropic Roguish Archetype for D&D 5th Edition

The original draft, which I consider to be quite unbalanced in one way or another, has been removed.  The updated version of the crunch is available via “Zoanthropes – A Collection of Werebeasts” via DM’s Guild.  It will likely receive a final revision though.