Archive for the ‘ Spes Magna News ’ Category

Lair of the Zorboes

Did you know that Matt Jackson is creating Old School maps that you too can support and own and cherish via Patreon? Well, he is, and you can. The map to to the right is a sample of Matt’s work. If you click the map, it embiggens. If you click this link right here, you can download a short 5E adventure using the map. It is written for 3-5 characters with an average level of three. The adventure features an oldie-but-goodie from 1983’s Monster Manual II, which I’ve posted below after some self-serving promotional stuff.

Did you know that I’ve released two new for-sale PDFs so far this year? Amazing, huh? If only I could be this productive every month.

Chance Encounters II expands your campaign using the fifth edition of the World’s Greatest Roleplaying Game. Revel at College of Cheer and Good Tidings. Gain a blessing from mulled wine. Be more alert in the glow of a guiding light. Fight side-by-side with a champion toy against an abominable snowman in cursed Arktinis. With five new character options, two new spells, seven new monsters, three new magic items, two new places, and an essay about cinnamon, Chance Encounters II offers something for almost everyone.

The war against the Axis Powers just got weird. World War Weird Classes presents 10 character classes from Demi-God to Gremlin to Zombie. Augment a team of commandos with something supernatural, or put together a Nazi-fighting monster squad. A huge thanks to Pete Spahn not only for WWII: Operation WhiteBox but also for being a class act and offering me numerous suggestions and corrections.

And now for that new monster!

“This carnivorous beast likes human and demihuman flesh. A zorbo has poor armor class and attack damage when first encountered, but it can absorb the natural armor class of its surroundings….” (Monster Manual II, p. 131)

Small monstrosity, unaligned

Armor Class 10
Hit Points 22 (4d6+8)
Speed 40 ft., climb 30 ft.
Ability Scores STR 13 (+1), DEX 10 (+0), CON 15 (+2), INT 3 (-4), WIS 13 (+1), CHA 8 (-1)

Skills Athletics +3
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 11
Challenge 1 (200 XP)

Item Absorption. When the zorbo hits a creature with its claws, the zorbo absorbs the Armor Class (including magical bonus) or magical quality of a random protective item worn or carried by the creature hit, even if the net result reduces the zorbo’s Armor Class. The creature can resist this effect with a Wisdom save against DC 13. If the protective item is magical, it loses its magical functions for 1 minute. The zorbo acquires an Armor Class equal to what it would have if it were using the protective item.

Magic Resistance. The zorbo has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.


Claws. Melee Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d4+1) slashing damage.

Nature Absorption (Recharge 6). The zorbo can absorb the natural armor class of whatever natural material it touches. This grants the zorbo an improved Armor Class, depending on the material: Armor Class 20 for stone, Armor Class 17 for metal, Armor Class 15 for wood, or Armor Class 13 for earth. The zorbo also gains a bonus on melee attack damage rolls: +5 damage for stone, +3 damage for metal, +2 damage for wood, or +1 damage for earth. The new Armor Class and damage bonus lasts for 1 minute.

January 16th, 2018  in Spes Magna News No Comments »

The Calefactive Cavern of Colossal Crystals

Accessible perhaps only through a high-altitude cavern in a region of feared geological instability, the Calefactive Cavern of Colossal Crystals provides shelter to no living creature for long. Not only is the cavern dangerously hot, not only is its atmosphere tainted with unwholesome fumes, but also the enormous, fast-growing crystalline structures in the cave emanate psychoactive radiation that may cause bizarre changes in living creatures too long exposed to these ineffable energies.

Mutant Future Version:

The atmosphere in the cavern is toxic. Anyone who breathes it for too long may be suffer. For every hour exposed to the toxins, there is a 25% cumulative chance of harm that requires a saving throw against Class 6 Poison (6d6 points of damage, or half that with a successful saving throw). Every hour spent away from the cave and/or spent breathing healthy air reduces the chance of suffering harm for that creature by 25%. The heat in the cave is also problematic. Temperatures in the cave reach 58 °C (136 °F) with very high humidity. A creature must succeed at a saving throw versus Energy Attacks once every 10 minutes or take 1d4 points of damage. Characters wearing heavy clothing or armor take a –4 penalty on their saves.

A living creature that survives in the cave for 24 hours must make a saving throw versus Radiation. If the creature fails, it develops a random mental mutation, and the creature also loses 1d4 points from Dexterity and Charisma. Additional saving throws against Radiation occur at an accelerated pace for time spent in the cavern past 24 hours, specifically at 36 hours, 42 hours, and 45 hours. After this time, new saving throws are required hourly. If a creature’s Dexterity drops to less than 3, the creature becomes paralyzed. If its Charisma drops to less than 3, the creature becomes dangerously insane.

Time spent away from the cavern gradually reverses mutagenic effects. Acquired mental mutations vanish at a rate of 0-3 (d4-1) mutations per 24 hours spent away from the cave. Lost points of Dexterity and Charisma return slowly, at a rate of 0-2 (d3-1) points per 24 hours spent away from the cavern.

D&D Version:

Movement in the cavern, to include climbing and flying, encounters difficult terrain. In the case of climbing, the giant crystals offer few handholds and are quite hot to the touch. For flying, the interlocked giant crystals present few straight paths even for flying creatures size Small or larger. The hostile environment of the cave poses several dangers:

* The severe heat forces a Constitution save once every 10 minutes versus DC 10, increased by +1 for each additional 10 minutes spent in the cave. Failure causes 3 (1d6) points of fire damage and increases exhaustion by one level. Characters wearing heavy clothing or armor have disadvantage on these saving throws.

* The bad air forces a Constitution save once every hour versus DC 10, increased by +1 for each additional hour spent in the cave. Failure causes 7 (2d6) points of poison damage and imposes the poisoned condition.

* Every so often, major eruptions of steam occur in the cavern. These eruptions cause between 14 (4d6) and 52 (15d6) fire damage. A Dexterity save (DC 8 + one-half the number of damage dice) reduces this damage by half. The radius of the steam eruption is 5 feet per damage die.

* Pockets of flammable gas also accumulate in the cavern. If exposes to open flame, these pockets explode in a 20-foot radius, causing 14 (4d6) fire damage. With a Wisdom (Perception) check made against DC 15, a creature may notice the tell-tale odor of a gas pocket in time to prevent an accidental explosion.

Any living creature that survives in the cavern for 24 hours must make a Wisdom save against DC 15. Failure means the creature develops an innate psionic power that can be used at will. The creature uses its Intelligence as its spellcasting ability. The creature also loses 1d6 points from both Dexterity and Charisma. If Dexterity drops to 0, the creature dies. If Wisdom drops to 0, the creature becomes afflicted with indefinite madness. The saving throw must be repeated every 1d6 hours after the first 24 hours.

Psionic powers are gained in the following order: detect magic, detect thoughts, clairvoyance, and arcane eye.

Psionic powers fade after 24 hours spent outside the cavern. Lost points of Dexterity and Charisma return at a rate of 1d4 points each per long rest. A creature suffering paralysis due to lost Dexterity loses the paralyzed condition when Dexterity recovers 1 point, but indefinite madness does not go away on its own.

Over at the DMs Guild site, sales/downloads of The Dwarf are going fairly well. I’ve not received any feedback yet, but I’m still pleased with the initial response. For those who’ve not heard, The Dwarf brings you an old class made new. Back in the Golden Age of the World’s Greatest Roleplaying Game, dwarf was not just a race, but it was also a character class. Now you can relive the days of race-as-class. The Dwarf includes the complete dwarf character class, new dwarf subraces, new dwarf subclasses, and new dwarf backgrounds.

I’ve also made grand progress on Chance Encounters I. This supplement presents new options for characters, including a new bard college, a couple of new spells, a half dozen new monsters, and a few other goodies for use in 5E D&D games. I’m thinking the supplement will be completed, edited, et cetera, and available for purchase before the end of January. At the moment, I am uncertain whether Chance Encounters I will be available through the DMs Guild. I’m leaning toward releasing it through DriveThruRPG.

The Masks of Nyarlathotep

First, an update. If you’re one of those few people who obsessively keeps track of the progress of Spes Magna projects, the reason nothing has been completed and released lately is due almost entirely to my real job. In short, I’m teaching about a dozen classes across five grade levels in a seven-period-a-day schedule. My committment to my students takes priority over Spes Magna Games, which, to be honest, is more of a hobby than a real business venture.

In other news, and before we get to some October horror, please note that I have a couple of items for sale via ebay:

1. The first edition of Cyberpunk from R. Talsorian Games, complete in its original box. The box is good shape considering it’s nearly 30 years old. Some corner wear. Some yellowing. No split edges or tape. Includes all the original books: Friday Night Firefight, View from the Edge: The Cyberpunk Handbook, Welcome to the Night City: A Sourcebook for 2013, and the player reference sheets. These materials are almost new as this game has only ever been gently used.

2. Path of Legend for Fantasy Flight’s Dawnforge campaign setting. I wrote this adventure shortly after contributing a chapter to the campaign setting itself. Path of Legend introduces players and their new heroes to the Dawnforge world with an epic quest that combines location and event-based encounters that include roleplaying, puzzle-solving, and, of course, combat. The book is most gently used. It is one of the complimentary copies I received for writing the adventure. It’s never been used for play, and it’s almost like new.

And now, let’s meet the Masks of Nyarlathotep.

Hit Dice: 2-5
Nota Bene: The Masks of Nyarlathotep, insane cultists who serve the Crawling Chaos, are kept in asylums under the care of loyal servants. When enemies of the cult require correction, the keepers of the Masks release their charges with necessary instructions, monies, equipment, et cetera. Masks vary in skill and deadliness, but even the weakest are a cut above the norm. In combat, they fight with mundane weapons, preferring razor-sharp blades so that they can better see the looks of terror in their victims’ eyes. A Mask wears a grotesque configuration of straps that affixes a leather strap across his or her mouth. Painted on this strap are a pair of smiling lips. While not monstrous enough to threaten Sanity, this accessory holds dark power. A Wisdom Save is necessary to see the accessory as anything other than a normal part of a trustworthy face. All Masks can cast a number of random spells equal to half his or her Hit Dice.

October 9th, 2017  in RPG, Spes Magna News No Comments »

September 2017 Setting Sale

As part of a September Setting Sale at DriveThruRPG, some of my PDFs are (drumroll, please!) on sale. I know. Shocking.

That’s a Goblin for $2.01

Catch your players off guard with this Old School supplement that presents 23 goblin mutations, 15 fey goblin abilities, 3 goblin subspecies, and 6 goblin tactical specialties. Mix and match to create scores of different goblins! Also included is Tributary of Terror, a mini-adventure taking place within Reyr’s Well, a detailed fantasy hamlet suitable for just about any campaign world.

Goshahri: The City in a Cave for $1.84

Goshahri: The City in a Cave presents not a dungeon or even an adventure per se, although it includes a brief adventure. Instead, Goshahri is a place to be included as a recurring location in a Referee’s campaign world. Adventurers may visit Goshahri, perhaps to seek black market goods, to curry favor from the Bandit King, to deliver ransom payments, to rest and recover from an adventure, et cetera. While visiting Goshahri, adventurers may find themselves embroiled in the mysteries and intrigues that simmer just beneath the surface of the Bandit King’s domain.

Better Craft & Magic Bundle for $1.75

Improve your Pathfinder game with three products: Ars Metamagica, an alternate system for metamagic; In One’s Blood, a collection of new sorcerer bloodlines; and Making Craft Work, my all-time bestseller that turns the Craft skill into something that both makes sense and is useful for characters.

Ean Illiam’s Cavern Stores for $0.67

Find what you’re looking for in Ean Illiam’s Cavern Stores. Fully compatible with Dungeon World, this campaign location includes excellent features, such as cartography by Matt Jackson that includes blank spaces; not-too-complete descriptions of the cavern stores; two adventure fronts; stats and descriptions for the people, creatures, and animals found in the stores; pictures of the major and minor NPCs; and lots of helpful sidebars, including questions to ask and blanks to fill in, as well as new magic items and tables for randomly generating NPC names, types, instincts, and knacks.

September 19th, 2017  in Spes Magna News No Comments »

The Teeth in the Darkness

First, some news: I’ve released the playtest version of The Grimm’s Fairy Hack via DriveThruRPG. It’s listed as Pay What You Want with a suggested price of $2. Of course, as a purchaser (even if you choose to purchase the game for free), you’ll automatically receive updates to TGFH, to include the final, for-sale version. In TGFH, a based on The Black Hack roleplaying game, the players take on the roles of children from our real world who find themselves lost in a dangerous, magical realm. These playtest rules include all the information you need to get started exploring your own versions of grim tales.

And now a monster inspired by an entertaining film starring Finn and half of Firestorm.

Teeth in the Darkness
Frequency: Very rare
No. Appearing: 5-30
Armor Class: 6
Move: 12″
Hit Dice: 2-5
% in Lair: 35%
Treasure Type: O, P, R
No. of Attacks: 3
Damage/Attack: 1-4/1-4/1-6
Special Attacks: Add 1/2 HD to damage rolls
Special Defenses: See below
Magic Resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Low to Average
Alignment: Neutral evil
Size: S to M (2′ to 5′ at the shoulder)
Psionic Ability: Nil
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil
Level/X.P. Value: 60+2/hp (2 HD); 110+3/hp (3 HD); 185+4/hp (4 HD); 290+5/hp (5 HD)

Found in caverns and ancient forests, the teeth in the darkness are intelligent predators that run in packs, hunting much like wolves. These creatures lope about most of the time on all fours, and they are skilled climbers but do not swim well. Their forelegs are longer than their rear legs, giving them an appearance somewhat like an gorilla. The teeth in the darkness have no eyes (and are consequently immune to attacks and illusions that affect the sense of sight). They have highly developed olfactory senses as well a form of echolocation that uses clicks, grunts, snarls, and surprisingly human-like screams; some of the teeth in the darkness’s vocalizations cannot be detected by normal hearing. The teeth in the darkness use these same sounds to communicate with each other. Due to their unusual senses, the teeth in the darkness are surprised only a on 1 (in 6), and they track prey by scent like a bloodhound.

In the dimly lit and shadowy conditions, these monsters are almost impossible to see as long as they keep their mouths closed to conceal their bioluminescent fangs. They move silently with cunning. In the dark when they cannot be seen, they surprise foes 5 in 6 times. Even in lighted conditions, they still surprise foes 3 in 6 times due to their stealth. The size of these monsters (and HD) varies with age and sex. Males are generally larger when fully grown. Regardless of size, they are quite strong. Add one-half the monster’s HD (round up) to damage rolls with its bear-like claws and glowing fangs. Their fur is blacker than black, and it does not reflect light. This makes it difficult to accurately judge their position at distances farther than 15 feet, especially when they are moving; this trait imposes a -4 penalty on “to-hit” rolls with ranged attacks.

July 4th, 2017  in RPG, Spes Magna News No Comments »