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The world of Redsky is full of adventures to be had, treasure to be found, and most importantly, monsters to slay! When they created Dema, the Overseers sought to craft challenging environments and extreme creatures to test the sentients down below in the hull at every opportunity.
The Overseers base all of their creatures at least somewhat on the DNA of animals from Earth. They place some creatures into worlds like Dema for the most part unchanged, or with only slight modifications to better fit a new niche. But in some cases, the Overseers sculpt creatures completely from the ground up in order to challenge, threaten, and test the sentients down below.
Many of these creatures are deadly, terrifying, and monstrously large. From the shrieking strigoi of the Red Desert to the titanic sea monsters of the Maelstrom known as Deep Ones, the outer rim of Dema is plagued by horrifying creatures that are hostile to all life. Every year these monsters wander ever farther inland, preying on hapless civilians and threatening civilization. This isn't including the dozens of different beasts who inhabit the average forest or sewer just a step away from civilization. Needless to say, the profession of ‘monster hunter’ is alive and well, from lone bows-for-hire to expansive brotherhoods and guilds. If you want a taste of some of these creatures before they get a taste of your hero first, read on!
Beneath the crashing waves of the Midnight Sea live innumerable monstrosities that would give a Daylander night terrors. The only thing that defines a Deep One from the other dangerous sea beasts that prowl through the most dangerous waters on Dema is that Deep Ones have eaten more Wakewalkers than vice versa. Clan Kahr is famous for hunting these creatures - their whole culture is dedicated to slaying as large a catch as they can. Children do not receive their names until they have attended and survived one of the ritualistic catchings of these leviathans on what is known as The Wild Hunt.
Given that Deep Ones are not a proper species, but a category of marine monster, they come in many forms. The Wakewalkers name them after cooking advice - for example, the “Smoke-With-Seaweed” is a serpentine leviathan 100 feet long that gulps water so quickly it can sink a katamar boat into its maw. Or the fearsome “Fry-With-Own-Eggs”, a tentacled kraken-esque monster that spews corrosive ink and has serrated claws lining each fleshy appendage. Who could forget the “Ferment-In-Dirt-Three-Nights”, a titanic creature that resembles a mermaid from old Earth’s folklore - if mermaids could rend through whales.
Any one of these monsters can feed a Wakewalker village for months, and the return of a hunting party is cause for celebration. A hunt can lose ¾ of those who went out and still be considered successful.
The darkened tunnels of the Thalkast are littered with forgotten tunnels, hidden burrows, and lost secrets from even more lost times. There are plenty of creatures to fear in caverns that have never seen the sun’s light - but chiefly among them is the Cave Horror. These fungal and insectoid beasts slither their way through tunnels, prowling for poor souls they can catch in their domains. Their venom is legendary for being toxic, their chitin is stubbornly tough, and their many legs are uncannily swift.
Like the Deep Ones, ‘Cave Horror’ is a class of creature rather than species. Yet the majority share a similar form, resembling an enormous centipede or millipede from Earth. Ranging anywhere from 10 feet to 25 feet, Cave Horrors are adapted to hunt the scarce prey found in the deepest parts of Dema.
The valqaren, 20 feet long jet black centipedes, are the most common of these monsters. They occasionally wander into Sporespawn roads or abandoned encampments and lie in wait to ambush the next traveler who passes through.
Deeper down, you’ll find the ozozoth, a heavily armored millipede-like creature whose serrated mandibles can shred through Sporespawn chitin-plate. They are often found guarding their young and will store kills to serve as a first meal. Rumors say that they can heal their wounds before your eyes, but few have seen this creature and returned.
The strangest of the common Cave Horrors are the semi-translucent ulqanet. These fleshy, caterpillar-like monstrosities possess a pair of antennae that secrete the strongest corrosive substance known - even able to wear through the metallic golems if given the chance. These creatures are relatively harmless to travelers, unless they have metals on them they wish to eat.
Imagine thundering steps that make towering trees quake, a small stampede of creatures from every part of the jungle's stories, crashing trunks and branches alike that break way under this next creature's mass. The saura'gash are titanic semi-avian quadrupeds that lumber through the Silverleaf Wilds. They stand at an enormous 30 feet tall, with most of their height being in their long necks. They are the only creatures able to eat the Eldertech infused leaves of the Silverleaf trees. Using the metals they digest, they grow thick, bark like plates to protect their head and neck that are then used for defense. When threatened, they will use their armored heads as a weapon to bash any that would dare impede these massive creatures.
Brave explorers hunt these beasts down through the Midland's jungles, coveting their Eldertech bark plates that are stronger than almost any known metal. Finding these creatures is hard, as years of hunting has made them rarer and rarer.
The legendary island of Parime hides mysterious beasts - the Dragons. These winged reptiles rule the hidden river valley in the Mountains of the Moon with fire and their mighty size. They stretch to 20 feet in length and nearly 30 feet in wingspan. Their legs end in powerfully clawed limbs capable of stanching a hono, a yak-like creature, or a cren, the Moon Realms equivalent of a goat, with ease. Legend has it that they hoard the Eldertech of hunters who’ve dared to follow them into their lairs.
Dragon throats are prized for a gas producing organ that allows them to breathe fire. A single ignira can be used to make gallons of Scintillan Fire, a horrible weapon that burns with the sun’s brilliance. Hunters from all across Dema dream of taking down just one of these flying beasts, a feat not even Wakewalkers do with regularity. Before the unification of human cities in the Solar Hegemony, Scintillan lords would call their banner-men to take now legendary expeditions to bring down these beasts to complete the forging of their flaming Arindar weapons.
Ultra Dangerous (Apex Predators)
Like the Dragons of Parime, the drakes are large reptilian monsters that live on the secluded island of Parime. These creatures are different from dragons and come in shapes, but it can be simplified to anything that looks like a Dragon, but has less than 6 limbs (4 legs and 2 wings). Several can fly and all can breathe flames when threatened, sharing that special ignira organ and heat resistant scales.
The two most common types of drake are the common ground drake and the allindrak. Common ground drakes have 4 legs and are generally 10 to 15 feet long, and breathe their fire in a straight line twice their body’s length. The allindrak have 2 legs and 2 wings and are only 15ft in wingspan at their largest. They are unique in their fire breath, belching a flaming ball of oily spit that explodes on impact rather than breathing a line or cone of fire.
Though they are less dangerous than their 6-limbed cousins, the drakes are just as fearsome and seem to protect Dragon nests just as fervently as the Dragons themselves. None have ever been successfully hatched in captivity, despite the greatest efforts of Dema’s beast masters and scholars.
The three legged menace of the wilds! Every settlement has felt the tread of these shelled horrors. These creatures have managed to settle every one of Dema’s biomes outside of the oceans, from the shadow covered plains of The Moon Realms to the blisteringly hot dunes in the Sunbleak Wastes. If there are sentients, you can be sure that there are bylaks nearby. Regular nests are a nuisance to farmers, tearing through livestock and trampling crops. When a bylak queen establishes a nest however, that could mean doom for every poor soul for miles around.
An adult bylak stands 5 feet tall and 8 feet in length, with 3 long legs that end in sharp claws that cut through flesh like paper. Their thick shells are like that of crabs, just like their cold, unblinking eyes. They make little noise beyond soft chittering sounds, and it is still debated on whether or not they can actually hear noises or just respond to the vibrations that those noises make. Any hunter worth their salt can fell a dozen bylaks in a day, but that does not make them any less dangerous. Those untrained in handling their reach and swiftness will quickly find how their flocks were slaughtered overnight firsthand.
The Sunbleak Wastes are a hostile place. Anything not prepared or well suited for the extreme and persistent heat quickly falls victim to the sun. The efral count on this fact. These aggressive "scavengers'' soar across the desert's sky, searching for the dead and dying among the many dunes. However, their definition of dying is a lot more loose than the rest of Dema. The thick, bony plates on their heads protect their bodies as they dive bomb into their targets, pulverizing armor and skeletons alike into the sand. Flocks of efral grow bolder with each member, some even daring to attack shiseli landships.
Anatomically, the efral are overgrown vultures with thick, bony plates on their heads. Their wings stretch to an impressive 15 feet wide while soaring through the sky. When diving, they become the fastest creatures in Dema - until they crash into their targets. Even Hegemony iron isn't sturdy enough to survive the efral's crushing blow. Only Eldertech is strong enough to dependably withstand their relentless attacks, intent on pulverizing their targets into the loose sand beneath them. Those lucky enough to slay one of these monstrous birds, or to find a discarded bone plate, will find that their "iconic" hammers make for excellent maul heads.
Life in Tenaybre is difficult enough - it is the furthest land from the sun. But, even the darkest and coldest part of the world is host to its own legendary monsters. The Cairnkeeper tribe of Nightriders have legends of these woolly creatures, with some legends even stating that they're the spawn of Iskar, the primordial titan beyond the Walls at the End of the World. They stalk and protect the misty thermal forests scattered in the Tenaybre's sink-hole caves and thermal vents. Their name is considered bad luck to say unless you've survived the Frostrite, and even then, the Cairnkeepers believe uttering their name outside Tallon's walls will attract one.
Bircraat, or Iskar-kin, are much like Earth's gorillas, but adapted to the harsh climate of Dema's permanent night side. Their shaggy gray fur protects them from the cold. Their distinct tusks jut out from their piggish faces, relying on smell much more in the misty thermal forests. They hide their true size by walking on their knuckles, with the largest encountered on a Frostrite reported to loom at nearly 9 feet tall when standing upright. Bircraat are fiercely territorial, though a traveler may not know that they've entered dangerous territory until it is too late.
Shores, bays, and even marshes that border The Midnight Sea host an ever-present threat to any hapless mariner or careless child. Waiting just below the surface, tekgens remind any who live in a large range to fear the water’s edge. Dema's hunters make good pay keeping these predators from pushing deeper into civilization.
Tekgens resemble crocodiles. Their powerful maws, thick hides, and general body shape are reminiscent of the Earth predator. However, their strong, grasping tongues are similar to frogs and chameleons. Unlike those smaller predators, tekgens bring down larger prey to their watery grave. They can reliably pull anything under 200 lbs under water, where they will either drown or swarm and shred their prey.
The Light Plains were once covered with verdant forests, basking in the sun's unyielding light. In the shadowy understory of these forests hid the longtime bane of human homesteads and trade caravans, the mumpen. Lured by the enormous stockpiles of grains and seductive glimmer of metals, these raccoon-like creatures were historically a thorn in humanity's side until humans fully had their lands under their yoke in the Redsky Era.
Mumpen stand at 3 feet tall when standing on their hind legs, but prefer to scramble on 3 to 4 limbs when not actively fleeing with their ill-gotten gains. Living at humanity's edge, they slowly started to mimic their behaviors. Some even used stolen tools as weapons and wore scraps as armor. Despite their seeming intelligence, they never appeared capable of being reasoned with, and all attempts to detect language failed.
Pre-Hegemony fables from Deonar depicted the mumpen as tricksters or ne'er-do-wells that would try to lead the story's hero astray. Even as the Hegemony nearly drove them to extinction, human children would always know what these little thieves looked like through illustrations or vivid descriptions in their bedtime stories.
There is danger even in the basements of Dema's cities. Hidden among the dark places in society skulk insidious monsters known as maldormacs. They cry out in the parroted voices of sentients, echoing through cellars, sewers, and mines alike. This lures prey looking to investigate into the dark, just close enough for a victim to see the flash of what looks to be a face. By the time they realize that voice and face are false lures, they are already caught in a maldormac’s trap like a fly in a web.
Little is known of the maldormac besides what survivors report and professional hunter organizations can gleam. They have spider-like bodies nearly 5 feet across, with four gangly limbs they use to hang from ceilings. Their head looks like the face of the creature its egg was laid in by its parent, and can be extended to look around corners on a fleshy appendage. This head splits apart at a seam in the middle to bite its prey. They can spin sticky webs like spiders, which they use to restrain victims. What makes their study so difficult is their aversion to light. Exposing their bodies to direct sunlight will slowly turn them into little more than a bubbling gray goo.
Most mysterious of all is how they have managed to invade nearly every city's underworld. From Luminos to Sunbleak to Yaras, hunters across Dema will always find contracts to investigate signs of a maldormac. Some scholars have theorized that they are related to the strigoi of the Red Desert, but due to the inability to research them, no conclusive evidence has been found.
The Moon Realms are home to many strange creatures like the fleckans. These creatures make small nests of 20-30 that also operate as traps. Their tunnels destabilize the ground around their home, making small sinkholes for large herbivores to fall into. It is unknown when they migrated to human farms, but they soon became dangerous vermin to the yamar, the primary cattle animal of the Hegemony.
Matt's illustrations are always a treat. These sketches in the article are obviously just a small handful, but we hope we can commission even more after the fundraising, or have community-submitted sketches that we can feature. Have an idea for a monster of your own? In Dema, all it takes is writing a stat-block and your imagination to include one in your stories.
Read on to find out about environments just as unique as the creatures that live in them, like the strigoi-infested wasteland of The Red Desert, or the endless diversity of the jungles of Panacea. Check out the rest of the blog for even more lore that represents the potential of this setting for your tabletop campaigns.
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