The Gumberoo

I’ve started a new project based on William T. Cox’s whimsically delightful Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods, originally published in 1910.

Here’s an excerpt:

The gumberoo (Megalogaster repercussus) lives in foggy regions, especially near wooded ocean coasts in northern climes. Fortunately, gumberoos seem to be rare, but this might because this beast prefers “to remain in hiding most of the time in the base of enormous, burned-out cedar trees, from where it sallies forth occasionally on frightful marauding expeditions.” A gumberoo is always hungry and attempts to devour anything that appears to be food. “A whole horse may be eaten at one sitting, distending the gumberoo out of all proportions, but failing to appease its hunger or cause it the slightest discomfort.” A gumberoo resembles a coal-black, almost hairless bear. Its skin is “smooth, tough, and shiny and bears not even a wrinkle.” In fact, a gumberoo’s hide has amazing elastic properties. “Its elastic hide hurls back with equal ease the charging elk and the wrathy hornet.” Fire, however, proves to be a particular effective weapon against a gumberoo, but care must be taken, for these beasts tend to explode when burned.

HD 4+1; AC 2 (17); Atks 2 claws (1d4), bite (1d6+1); SV 13; Special elastic hide, fire vulnerability; MV 9; AL C; CL/XP 5/240

Elastic Hide: Any attack from a physical source, such as a sword or an arrow or a claw, may bounce off the gumberoo’s elastic hide without inflicting any damage. A gumberoo is permitted a saving throw against these attacks. Success means it takes no damage. If the gumberoo’s saving throw die roll equals 18-20, the attack rebounds to inflict normal damage to the attacker.

Fire Vulnerability: Any time a gumberoo is attacked with fire from any source, it must make a saving throw. Failure means the gumberoo explodes, inflicting 4d6 points of damage to creatures in a 10-foot radius. On the plus side, the gumberoo dies.

August 16th, 2014  in Spes Magna News No Comments »

Gettin’ Stuff Done

As my summer vacation winds down, I’m finally getting some new products on the Interwebz for you to purchase. This week, I’ve finished Ean Illiam’s Cavern Stores for Dungeon World and Aquatic Depths & Denizens for Swords & Wizardry. The links in that last sentence take you to DriveThruRPG where you can read the product descriptions. The rest of this post includes content excerpts from both PDFs.

From Ean Illiam’s Cavern Stores

Groitzarr’s Vile Menagerie (1 weight)
This common bamboo bird cage holds five scabrous, repulsive birds, each about the size of a parakeet. They perch silently, their rheumy eyes watching their surroundings with disturbing intensity. When you feed one of these foul birds a drop of your blood, roll+CHA. *On a 10+, the bird squawks out a clear, useful prediction of the near future. *On a 7-9, the bird’s prophecy is puzzling and riddlesome. Take a cumulative -1 forward each time to you use the birds more than once per day.

Custom Move: Dangerous Woods
When you act as scout while traveling through the woods near the village, roll+WIS. *On a 10+, choose 2. *On a 7-9, choose 1. If you’re known to have harmed local fey creatures, take -1 ongoing.

* No unwelcome attention is attracted.
* No equipment turns up missing.
* No clues to the true nature of the trouble are discovered.

Mastiff
Thick necked, solid skulled. Blunt muzzles. Crushing jaws and sharp teeth. Ean’s mastiffs are every bit as well-trained as his guards.

Group
Bite (d8 damage) | 6 HP | 1 Armor | Close
Instinct: To obey the master

* Drag down a foe
* Go for the throat

From Aquatic Depths & Denizens

Combat in Three Dimensions
Combatants who fight while swimming may jockey for advantageous position. Whenever an attacker wants to attack with a positional advantage, the attacker and the defender both make saving throws.

* Attacker Succeeds, Defender Fails: The attacker gains a +2 attack roll bonus.
* Defender Succeeds, Attacker Fails: The attack suffers a -2 attack roll penalty.
* Both Fail or Both Succeed: The attacker gains no advantage or penalty.

The Referee should describe the aquatic ballet of violence as attacker and defender push and twist against each other and the water as the attacker attempts to gain a momentary advantage.

Bahari
Squat, thick-skinned, hairless, spotted by barnacle-like growths, Bahari enjoy a +4 bonus on saving throws against poison and a +1 bonus to Armor Class due to their tough hides. They can see in the dark (darkvision) to a limit of 60 feet and have a natural swim speed of 6 and an out-of-water movement rate of 6. Bahari who are player characters may be Fighters, Thieves, or multi-classed Druid/Fighters or Fighter/Thieves.

Those Bahari who are not player characters might have abilities and limitations wildly different from those of an adventuring Bahar. The nature of the Bahar race as a whole is entirely the province of the Referee, and might include non-player characters of any class.

Jet
Spell Level Magic-User, 3rd-level; Range touch; Duration 1 turn/level + 1d6 turns

This spell triples the recipient’s swim speed for its duration. The Referee secretly rolls 1d6 additional turns; the recipient does not know exactly how long Jet will last.

Lycanthrope, Wereshark
HD 7; AC 1 (18); Atks bite (2d8), weapon (1d8); SV 9; Special breathe water, lycanthropy, hit only by magic or silver weapons; MV 0//18; AL C; CL/XP 8/800

Weresharks appear have humanoid torsos and powerful arms topped by the head of a shark. The shark’s distinctive dorsal fin grows from a wereshark’s back. Instead of legs, weresharks have a shark’s powerful tail. These monsters prowl shallow waters for prey. Weresharks can control normal sharks.

August 7th, 2014  in RPG, Spes Magna News No Comments »

Dinner & Gaming & Playtesting

I decided to start hosting Dinner & Gaming nights again, doing so once a month. I like to game. I like to cook. (I even considered going to a culinary arts school until I figured out I have anosmia.) So, I fixed taco salad, got a couple bottles of sangria, and broke out the Swords & Wizardry, In Search of the Unknown, and a couple copies of my WIP Optional Skill Resolution Rules.

With only two players in attendance, I was flexible with class and race combinations. Alex made up Brother Zaphod, an Elf Cleric/Magic-User who had been raised by weasels in the woods. I imagine them to have been giant weasels. Christopher made up Weeble Kneecracker, a Halfling Fighter/Thief who is also a skilled chef and a pariah from polite Halfling society. This stalwart pair of rookie heroes hired two men-at-arms and a torchbearer: Maximilio, Baldrick, and Leofrick.

The party traveled north into the hilly woodlands between the frontier village and the realm of the hated barbarians. After some traveling and searching, they found the entrance to Quasqueton. Weeble picked the lock on the door, and the group moved into the hallway beyond. They were startled by magical mouths that pronounced a grim warning.

Weeble crept forward, searching for traps. He determined there were none, but his intense concentration led to him being surprised by a pair of ghouls. Weeble was clawed and paralyzed.

The hirelings and Brother Zaphod battled the ghouls, killing them. Brother Zaphod suffered a moderate injury in the process.

Skill checks using my OSR2 system were made to convince the hirelings to work for free in exchange for spiritual betterment, to open the locked door, to search for traps, and to determine the weaknesses of ghouls. Based on this brief session of actual gaming, I think the system works pretty well, although I did leave out one detail regarding the characters’ starting skills, which I’ll have to amend next time we play S&W.

July 24th, 2014  in Product Development, RPG No Comments »

Aquatic Depths & Denizens Gets Some Art

As I’ve mentioned, I’m taking advantage of my summer vacation to get some much-delayed writing done. One of those project is Aquatic Depths & Denizens, which focuses on adventuring underwater for Swords & Wizardry. You can download the playtest version of the PDF at the link in the previous sentence.

As I was working on the PDF, I just knew I had to have a group picture showing the five new races standing next to each other, just like the 1E Player’s Handbook had (and which I’ve displayed to the right). Unfortunately, a picture that included a Merman, a Naiad, a Triton, a Bahar, and an Aquatic Elf wasn’t the sort of the thing I’d be able to find laying around in the public domain. This meant hiring an artist, which is something that my tiny budget doesn’t let me do a lot of. So, I mulled.

While mulling, I read through MurderHobos from Brent P. Newhall’s Musaeum. (Mini-review: MurderHobos is exactly what it says it is, namely “a simple OSR game that hews closely to d20 mechanics. The stats are silly, but they do make a playable game.”) I noticed the interior art had a certain, rugged Old School fantasy gaming vibe to it, so I checked the artist.

Turns out the artist is a fellow named Peter Seckler, who just happens to be one of the many people I’ve never met with whom I am friends on Facebook. A few messages later a deal was made, and a few days later I had the picture I needed:


From left to right: Aquatic Elf, Triton, Bahar, Merman, Naiad.

The Six-Sword Box

If you’ve not supported Matt Jackson’s Wounded Warrior Project fundraiser, please do so. As previously posted, sales from my OSR PDFs go to support this worthwhile project. Item descriptions and discounts for those PDFs are in this PDF. Wheels within wheels!

If you’ve not watched Steven Chow’s Journey to the West, you should. It’s a hoot. Certainly right up there with Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle. Journey currently streams on Netflix.

Today’s magic item was entirely inspired by Show Luo’s performance as Prince Important in Journey.

Six-Sword Box

The fabled Six-Sword Box appears to be a finely crafted, lovingly lacquered box of the sort often used by ladies to hold jewelry. Instead of such baubles, the box holds six miniature swords, each carved from hardwood. With a flick of the wrist and a sung command, the box’s holder can set the miniature swords to flying, at which time they transform into full-sized weapons forged from the finest steel. The swords race through the air, turning and flying as directed by the box’s holder, who must maintain line of sight on the swords for them to continue functioning. When a sword draws blood, it returns to the box and reverts to its original wooden form. The Six-Sword Box functions once per day.

Barbarians of Lemuria

Each round, the box’s holder directs the swords and makes 1d6 attacks against visible targets. These attacks are modified by the holder’s Mind. A flying sword does 1d6+2 points of damage with a successful attack. Once the box’s holder has made six successful attacks, the Six-Sword Box ceases to function until the next day.

Dungeon World

Whenever unleash the Six-Sword Box’s swords, roll+WIS. *On a 10+, you succeed with 1d6 attacks against visible targets with each attack inflicting 1d8 points of damage. *On a 7-9, you succeed with one successful attack against a visible target, inflicting 1d8 points of damage. The Six-Sword Box can make six successful attacks in a single day.

Swords & Wizardry

Each round, the box’s holder directs the swords and makes 1d6 attacks against visible targets. The swords fly with a speed of 36, and they attack as monsters with 6 Hit Dice, inflicting 1d8 points of damage with a successful attack roll. When a sword succeeds with an attack, it flies back to the box, reverting to its original wooden form.

July 21st, 2014  in RPG No Comments »