Darker Oaths – Paladins for Grimmer Games

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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).

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Monsters IN SPACE – Sci-Fi twists on Classic Monsters

Vampire by Saindoo

Even vampirism has evolved alongside growing technologies…

“Magick…” he grumbles in a hoarse whisper to himself, “the force we all thought would hamper progress.  And here we are, traveling the stars with it.”  Letting out a sigh, he pushes his hovering seat away from a messy desk.  “If we were truly destined to separate ourselves from magick, the horrible monsters would have been vanquished long ago… not terraforming entire planets.”  The man slightly grips his teeth as he rises from the floating chair, joints popping from ache and wear.  The spacefaring man gazes into a mirror before continuing to shuffle.  The marks of fatigue and age on his face contrast the shining gleam of his badges, reflecting light from the ‘glow panels’ dotting the ceilings and hallways throughout the vessel.  Over towards a huge glass pane, the elder military man observes systems of stars with planets seemingly nestled in perfect viewing spots by ancient giants or celestial creatures.  “And this ship, it has served more of a home for me than it deserves.  But, through the mad crusades and bloody combat, it has served me well.”  The tranquility of an empty space fades as ships pull into view, built with alien geometries and operating through impossible physics, they charge weaponry for an epic battle.  The man cracks a faint grin as similar weaponry opens fire on the enemy crafts.

The worlds of magic and monsters don’t need to end when civilizations have advanced themselves into new eras; feudal worlds give way to industrial, which give way to information, which give way to hypothetical new technologies that Earth can only speculate about.  Even a world of fantasy can and should advance and change with the flow of time.  All too often do these worlds stagnate in the endless mush of quasi-medieval high fantasy.  Now, this isn’t to say that such a thing can’t be good and doesn’t still have a place.  It’s just that for many fans of the genre, such things have grown stale and resistance to change.

In a fantasy future, adventurers will continue to carry on their business.  Perhaps new sanctions are in effect and new regulations are in place.  However, there are still dens filled with malicious monsters and strange sights to behold.  There are gnoll raiders who operate miniguns instead of wield war-axes, elementals from a plane composed of radiation, beholders who bolster their psychic power through cybernetic enhancements, orcish biker gangs terrorizing the streets through their “hover hogs” and much more.  Granted, most of these will not be appearing in the article below.  However, they are ideas on how someone can twist a classic monster for a more Modern/Sci-Fi inspired setting.

Author’s Note: I figured this is a great way to close out the theme, a look at some classic monsters transferred to a new genre.  And by this, I mean transferring classic D&D monsters into classic (as well as some less standard) science fiction.  Also, please don’t mind the cheesy space-opera-meets-D&D blurb from up above.  I’m not quite what I’d call a writer, but I figured it would be a fun change of pace.

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Diseases and Plagues – Sinister Sickness for D&D 5th Edition

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Journal Entry 183

Illness.  A force capable of wiping out an entire city, if not civilization, if left unchecked.  My superiors theorize that it is the result of the machinations of the lower planes.  I know better though, I’m well aware that life so evil need not come from other planes, but from our prime material.  Sicknesses come from small germ-like creatures, accidentally bred through hosts and environments, but that’s as far as I can gather on my research.  By all means, I’m sure fiends can create their own diseases though… and I shudder at the thought.

That said, I will never rule out an element of the supernatural in plagues.  I’ve witnessed many things while acting as a physician: pustules emitting acidic vapor, coughing fits leading to burning alive, previously rotting and wasting victims returning as the undead, demonic incubation.  The list continues onward.  In fact, some of these cases I plan on covering more in depth, in addition to some new discoveries I’ve made.  I must go back into plagued lands to dive deeper.  However, one can’t venture into these dark depths without proper protection.  As unnerving as it may be to the public, the plague suit has proved quite effective.  Aromatic contents treated with protective wards is helpful enough, after all.  Now, I ready myself for travel throughout the planes, in hopes of understanding disease throughout all realities.

Author’s Note:  My avatar on many of my pages tends to be a plague doctor.  So, what could be more appropriate than analyzing diseases with such a character.  Also, I guess this marks a return to planar and sci-fi content, right?  Plus, one of the things that inspired this was Russet’s Mold and Vegepygmies from Expedition to Barrier Peaks… a module I had previously converted!

Also, be warned!  If you do not like Body Horror or other forms of Medical Horror, I do not recommend continuing.  While I don’t go into grotesque detail, I’ve still tried to capture both to the best of my ability.  And even then, many of the diseases here are quite deadly and have the capability to kill an entire party.  As such, use them sparingly.

Also, please pardon the lateness of this post.  I’ve been under immense stress for the past month and a half.  Things haven’t been going too well for me and I’m doing my best to manage.  That said, things are getting better and I’m trying to make things go back to normal.  As always, thanks for understanding.

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The Walking Disease: An Abhorent Mobile Plague for D&D 5th Edition

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… Eeeewww

“Writhing vermin, fungaloid spores, infected and mutated flesh.  Such a creature, its combination should be impossible!  Such a bonding of disgusting things, it makes no sense.  What mad arcanist would perform blasphemous rituals to create a redundant and putrid nightmare like this?  Why, I’ll inform you and shed the bliss of ignorance.  From the dark art of necromancy arose the magics of pathomancy, a school of magic devoted to diseases, infections and other maladies to afflict one’s health.  While one could debate the good in necromancy, pathomancy is almost certainly evil.  Its sole purpose is spreading illness wherever it goes.  Perhaps it is the ultimate in biological terror and weaponry.  And from these dark arts, evil creatures are spawned.  One such being is the Viral Undead, a zombified horror that is brought back to life through plagues rather than raw negative energy.  However, such creatures are the only beginning of such vile rituals.  There are far worse…  I speak of ghoulish things that control the bodies of the dead; plagues, fungi, vermin… seemingly corrupted by darkness and made into a weaponized hivemind.  There is only one title for an anathema to all that is holy, Walking Disease!” – Rambles of a mad archivist on the Walking Disease.

The Walking Disease is among one of the foulest necromantic beings ever created.  This thing is an incubator of some of the most foul and dangerous illnesses and parasites known to many, and some to few.  Disgusting environment, combined with magically enhanced organic tissue lends itself to the perfect breeding ground for a device of mobile biological warfare.  While it is certain this is a work of dark magic, such monsters thrive in environments like fetid swampland, damp and dirty dungeons, sewage tunnels and other environments hampered by humid moisture and/or rampant decay.  Some consider densely populated areas with little regard for hygiene as well as space to be perfect breeding grounds for the walking disease as well.  Sometimes, when eldritch arts go awry in the right conditions, the walking disease is made entirely by accident, usually from someone who passed on in such a disgusting environment.  The reason for such beings is unknown beyond forbidden magical power.  Some say that the specialized necromancers seek to perfect plague magic as a weapon against their enemies.  Others say cults devoted to gods of Death and Disease want to appease their dread masters any way possible.  Perhaps they were simply an experiment that went horribly wrong.

This sad thing is bloated and warped beyond any recognition of its original self.  Discernible anatomy is replaced by pus spewing boils, sickly sores, asymmetrically placed tumors, stretched necrotic lesions, chitinous-like plates, assorted fungal growths replacing some features entirely, chains of undead insects wriggling and swarming about, among other grotesque features.  Worse yet, almost every victim suffers these deformities and mutations in different revolting and shocking ways.  Despite its staggered appearance, the walking disease boasts supernatural strength and is surprisingly agile, making it a surprising and truly terrifying foe.

On top of this, it’s seemingly more observant and aware than other undead.  When not posing as a body being fed on by the wretched wastes around it, it might hide in a wretched hive of filth and grime.  While it feels no physical pain, its existence is prolonged by endless mental anguish and hatred.  Only a complete fool would be willing to actively engage such a monster.  And those who do often suffer a slow and agonizing death… only to rise up as another shambling colony of plague and despair.

Author’s Note: Considering I only posted one monster, I wanted to craft a second one for you all!  This one is a conversion of a conversion.  In other words, I updated one of my very first blog posts to Fifth Edition.  The original post was a quick and easy conversion of the “Walking Disease” from a somewhat obscure D20 accessory book called “Into the Black.”  For those who haven’t heard of it, the book is a great resource for subterranean and dungeon adventures.  I’ve used it a small handful of times, myself.  Also, the idea came to me while thinking about tons of horror and sci-fi monsters: The Flood from Halo, the Infected from The Last of Us, Spawn of Nurgle from Warhammer/40k, etc.  While this is a translation of the original monster, those creatures played their part in making this too.  Also, there’s nothing that gives me the creeps like medical horror.  We all fear illness and disease, so a perfect creature of horror is a literal incarnation of it.  The end result is a horrifically deadly creature that can slay its victim in mere moments, if not careful.

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