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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.

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

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.

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.

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 »

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.

What’s Happening Lately?

Since the beginning of July, I’ve completed three PDFs and put playtest drafts out there for the public.

Aquatic Depths & Denizens focuses on adventuring underwater for Swords & Wizardry. It includes rules for swimming, drowning, fighting and spellcasting under the waves, five player character aquatic races, an assortment of aquatic spells, and a plethora of marine monsters. Download your copy and playtest today.

Optional Skill Resolution Rules presents a flexible system for resolving skill checks usable with Swords & Wizardry (and likely compatible with other OSR games). With OSR2, the Referee and players define a character’s skills based on race, background, and class. No skill lists restrain those choices. Do you want your Magic-User to be a ladies’ man? There’s a skill for that. Do you want your Paladin to have studied Forbidden Cults? There’s a skill for that. Download the playtest version of these rules today and see if they work for your game.

Here’s the playtest version of Astounding Archetypes: Bloodhand Gang. Presented in this Pathfinder-compatible PDF are five archetypes: dragon warrior, jotunkin, telekinetic monk, warp thief, and yo-yo magus (my personal favorite). I originally featured these archetypes on my website. I’ve tweaked all five a bit here and there, trying to clear up unclear rules, streamline class features, et cetera. I’ve also put together one villain for each archetype.

Of course, helpful folks who playtest the PDF and/or provide feedback receive credit in the final PDF. They also receive a free copy of the final PDF, providing I have an e-mail address. To further sweeten the incentives, playtesters/feedbackers may also select any single PDF from my on-line catalog to receive for free (again providing I have an e-mail address). My email address is mark at spesmagna dot com.

A Good Week So Far


I’ve not been this productive with Spes Magna Games in a while, and I’m determined to make more of my week off for Thanksgiving. So far this week, aside from blogposts, I’ve managed to get:

1. Metro Gnomes on-line for sale.
2. The Quid Novi? Collection on-line for sale.
3. Rantz’s Fair Multitude on-line for sale.
4. The Amphitheater of the Continuum on-line for free download.

Next up? Well, I’m going to try and finish Astounding Archetypes: Bloodhand Gang. This PDF will be a return to Pathfinder material for Spes Magna Games. It features five new archetypes, one each for barbarian, fighter, magus, monk, and rogue, plus five villainous NPCs, one for each archetype.

I’d like to have Astounding Archetypes: Bloodhand Gang on-line for sale before Monday, 2 December, but there’re no guarantees. As the number of hours of vacation left to me dwindle, those things I’ve been putting off (such as getting grades into the gradebook and lesson plans) start to become more urgent. Also, I’m running 3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars this coming Friday, and I really should finish up the scenario before people show up expecting to play.

Still, this has been a good week for Spes Magna Games. Huzzah!