As a game master, storyteller, or dungeon master, surprising players with new challenges is a fantastic way to break through fantasy tropes and keep everyone engaged. While we all love opportunities to slay owlbears, wouldn’t it be different to present your players with unique and unexpected beasts? What about creatures with innate psionic powers, or ones open to negotiation? My favorite creatures in fantasy worlds are the ones who can help my team.
Enter the Magimundi Bestiary, your 5e and Pathfinder-compatible antidote to mundane monsters. Funding on Kickstarter through August 7, 2019, you can get the softcover (and digital version) for only $25.
To learn more about the variety of creatures available in this bestiary, I spoke with Maury Brown, President of Inexorable Media LLC. I asked about the various uses for the bestiary as well as specifics for those already familiar with the Magimundi (Brown’s magical universe, and the popular setting of the New World Magischola live action experience).
Tara M. Clapper: What makes the creatures in this book different from other monster manuals, collections, and compendiums?
Maury Brown: I would say that most monster manuals for 5e and Pathfinder in particular focus on the terrifying or horrific. Monsters are typically there to be fought, and generally vanquished and then looted. After playing D&D with my daughter and some other friends, we were wishing for some creatures to encounter that were interesting, unique, cute, or whimsical, and that our characters could interact with in ways that were not simply fighting them.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still some terrifying and monstrous creatures of the Magimundi, but there are also some that you can put in campaigns that will change up the tone or pacing. I think that makes for better storytelling when you have a variety of encounters and types of creatures, and that not every resolution is combat. I wanted to make creatures that fostered that type of play.
TMC: In New World Magischola (your live action setting), characters have been able to befriend, train, and learn from magical creatures. Is that possible in a tabletop game using the creatures from this book?
MB: Yes, absolutely. I’m excited to introduce some completely new familiars and companions that D&D or Pathfinder characters can befriend and accompany. New familiars include a cactus cat, fluffernut, teacup wyvern, squonk, and more. New companions include a wampus cat, hexpaw, wasco, and waheela, among others. We also have some new mounts for characters, such as a meerhunt wyvern, a gallinax, or a Pollhappler’s Mantis.
TMC: Are there more roleplaying books for the Magimundi forthcoming? Could I “build” my favorite New World Magischola character in a 5e-compatible way?
MB: There are! We are working on the complete setting book. The bestiary is a stand-alone book and a preview of more to come. We will have new classes of mages and wizards to specialize in specific types of magic. We are also building our own system that uses FATE dice and collaborative storytelling. You can playtest it at Gen Con and at PAX Unplugged this year.
TMC: Of all the cryptids featured, which one is your favorite?
MB: I’m partial to the bisonatee because he is a chill creature who has a lot of wisdom and has unique abilities we don’t often see in campaigns. Also, a sea-bison? What’s not to like? I’m also fond of the double-headed anaconda for different reasons. They are just terrifying and formidable. For sillier reasons, I love the shagamaw and the gallinax, because they are just so odd it will require parties to come up with something new.
TMC: For those who have larped in your setting or enjoyed the Compendium of North American Cryptids & Magical Creatures, what will the bestiary add to their knowledge?
TMC: How can freeform storytellers and game masters use the information in the bestiary to create compelling stories and challenges for their players?
MB: This bestiary is really set up specifically for either 5e or Pathfinder. We are hoping to reach the millions of people using those systems and give them easy access to creatures and monsters that can go into their campaigns. Because these are specifically statted up for those systems, the numbers and skills are not as useful for freeform game masters. They would do well to purchase our Compendium of Creatures Vol 1 or Vol 2 (coming later this year) as these use a more narrative approach and are primed for freeform.
TMC: What was it like to organize such a massive project? What tools do you use to coordinate the process, and how long does it take to produce something like this?
MB: Massive projects are kind of my thing these days, it seems. There are a lot of moving parts in a publishing project, but I am fortunate to have some amazing people on my team. Mike Young and I created all the brand new creatures, and selected others from folklore to expand on and bring to life. Ffion Evans is our artist collaborator for a few years now, and she is so amazing at taking our verbal descriptions and creating the fearsome or whimsical concoctions we dream up while using proper proportions and anatomy.
We’ve added Dagmara Gaska to the team, and she has such an amazing style for digital paintings and her take on our monsters gives them another level. I’ve been managing a team of developers who created stats and skills for the creatures and then playtested them in various runs. Dan Blanchett is our graphic designer extraordinaire. he’s also a game designer and developer himself, so his eye for clarity in layout is amazing.
We’ve been working on this project for about three years now, with a total of about 30 people doing writing, developing, editing, layout, or artwork. I’m happy to bring on Josh Heath, who is now coordinating our developers and ensuring consistency among and across creatures. We’re super excited to see it come to fruition since we’ve been working on it for so long now!
TMC: What stretch goals are you most excited about hitting?
MB: I’m always into more creatures, but I am most excited about adding more artwork. I’m always so blown away by what Dagmara and Ffion create.
TMC: What’s next on the list for Inexorable Media?
MB: The Magimundi setting book for tabletop games is next, which will be published concurrently with our game system. Right after that is our Compendium of Cryptids & Magical Creatures Vol. 2! We’re also working on a short larp anthology, #resistance, which will feature 12 larps about standing up to fight something. That is slated for mid 2020.
Ready to support this project and get your own copy of the bestiary? Head to Kickstarter.
Want to learn more about the Magimundi? Explore this magical world here.
Interested in interacting with some of these cryptids in a live action setting? Play New World Magischola.
Disclosure statement: The author occasionally provides work for Learn Larp LLC on a freelance basis.