The Feral and Ferocious Sub Rosa #18 arrives!

Sub Rosa emerges from the wilderness and comes bearing an issue full of beasts and monsters and things unknown! It took us a little bit, but then again, when you roam the realms where dragons lair, there's sure to be a delay or two.

This is your chance to pick up 129 pages packed with things that crawl, and swim, and fly, and deceive! Our awesome cover comes courtesy of the inestimable Jeff Menges, with additional internal artwork from amazingly gracious and generous group of regulars-- Jeff Menges, Angela Taylor, Elizabeth Porter, Jason Tseng, and Patrick Demo. You'll hear from Sub Rosa staff, and your regular bit of extra homework in the Mappa Mundi, but so much of this issue is packed with matters beastly and adventurous!

We have a look at the Intangible Assassin concept by Ars Magica authors Christian Anderson and Pelle Kofod, a dive into the Beast Masters of Hibernia by Jason Tondro, Mark Shirley presents an alternative take on mundane creatures, a selection of Ars Magica fiction by Mark Faulkner, and not least of all, twenty creatures from 11 authors including Timothy Ferguson, Pelle Kofod, and regular contributor Gerald Wylie, each containing descriptions, story seeds, as well as occasionally notes for playing one or for acquiring one as a service. Shape & Material bonuses occasionally included!

You're still sitting there? Do you want to be eaten by a shambling mound? Move! Get up and get your copy today!

Wait, wait, wait...

We have changed how you get Sub Rosa, if only a little.

If you'd like to purchase an issue of Sub Rosa, send $4.50(US) for single issues, $13(US) for a troupe issue via paypal to send and we'll shoot you a link to download your copy.

Seven years into this, and you still need convincing? We've put together a short preview here!

Our policy of providing a free copy of issue #19 the first three reviewers of issue #18 still stands-- if you've got #18 and want #19 for free, let us know what you thought of this issue. Post your review and send us an email to We'll hook you up. For the first time in a long time, we have three issues being sent to reviewers. You'll want to move fast if you want to buy Number 18 and potentially not buy again for as long as you're willing to let us know your opinions on the current issue.

I took a quick look at the website and I could not find any information on how to get old issues.

To get the old issues just email them. It's the same payment process as buying the current issue.

You can also find the full listing of previous issues on this posting here with links to reviews.


Hi there,

I'll review this issue of subrosa, so let's start.

Since there are a lot of creatures inside it, i'm not going to give my comment for each creature. First because there is a part of the fun to discover those played in game, and second because it's like a dictionary: you shouldn't read each entry inside it because there is no point to do that at first. i'll just speak about some creatures I think i could use and explain why.
Each crature provide: story background, design notes, behavior notes, story seeds and complete character sheet.

So first "normal "articles:

Under the rose
As usual: where is going sub rosa? I was a bit disappointed to not find any mention about two topics I think are not closed: did I miss Tres Ex Miscellanea in a previous edition (I thought not but i will need to reread) and did I miss Stella's vision on Diedne which wasn't in the 13th issue but promised for later... i'm gonna need time to check all of those. Maybe during my next vacation time!

advancing the intangible assassin
The authors are giving us a follow up on that project (from Hermetic Project first) which was also in previous editions. As usual, it's very "saga specific" because some power levels are more or less adapted to this game play, but anyway there is good ideas in there. There are additional files in an annex, which are metacreator files for those who use this program. What I like most is the "complete" sheets for character at various ages. Good to have plausible NPCs under the hand, if needed.

The devil's teeth an adventure of the ghost and the flame
It's maybe the most difficult piece to comment. It's a bit like the journal of [i have forgotten the exact name, but Argen' something] in previous editions. In the form of a fictional story with a dozen of pages, it is a tale which can give the reader ideas for background/adventure/enemies... like any fictional book or other tv-serie, movie...
As for the content, it speak abit of pirates. And ghosts. And sea. And fire-immune walking corpse (or are they just wet)?

discovering new shape and material bonuses
Gerald Wylie (a long time writer for sub rosa ... his name rings a bell from one of the first issues... i must check again... well serf's parma, i have only issue 18 at the hand) gives us a lot of ideas on how to discover new shape and material bonuses from adventuring (nothing like adventure to find fun!). it mixes a bit of other non hermetic traditions in one.

The beast master of hibernia

it's a tradition from the ex miscellanea, with non -hermetic potential. Since I do not much like Ex Miscellanea traditions by design of the Houses, i'm not fond of those, but for non - hermetic wizards , they are sufficiently developped to give resource for adventures requiring this kind of element.

Creatures: natural animals

A lot of information, ideas and stats for normal, mundane, animals. Useful to have read once, and pick when developing a story. It uses a "house ruled" way of creation, that one can simply dismiss if he doesn't like. it also give "packages" for progression of character animal creation in the fashion of grogs

mappa mundi
I feel like saying it each time but as usual: links on the internet for additional resources regarding creatures.

About magical creatures I like, I selected a few to introduce to you:

  • the rat king. With the previous "rat magica" idea, I should ask: is it the year of the Rat in ars magica? :smiley: Without joke, I think this may provide a good underground story for companions.
  • the wicker man ; as it is bound to house Diedne, I could only like those creatures. How will I be able to use them in my saga is now the question!
  • the shambling mound : a creature of the size of a hill... that missed! As such, it's a poor opponent, but as background creature for an adventure, or NPC on the side for background color, it is interesting.
  • the oilliphéis : a giant marine creature... for an adventure ala Moby dick or Pinochio. I'm gonna have to use it because it's fun to have an entire adventure inside the belly of a gigantic monster!

See you next time!

Thanks for taking the time to review Sub Rosa!


Greetings, first time poster, first time reviewer. Hope I don’t get Marched!

Initial impressions: 128 pages long! Sub Rosa #18 is big any way you look at it. The cover art by Jeff Menges reminded me of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, never a bad thing. However, the interior art did not floor me; for my favorite I’ll pick Angela Taylor’s piece in the Rat King entry.

There are 20 new creatures from every realm: demons, leviathans, golems! About two Story Hooks per creature, although more spring to mind as you read the descriptions. Because many are unique, Shape and Material Bonuses for different parts of the beasties are suggested. Hunter Magi and Harvesting Assistants should indeed apply!

Top 4 creatures for me:
•Ermelina: The Beggar of Stories- Faerie impersonator of famous women
•Belagog, a small, lusty giant (size +2, maybe a typo?)
•The Giant Seahorse: potential familiar, loved one of its Hooks
•The Oilliphéist: a crazy large sea dragon, for that Job story you’ve been aching to run

Tying in neatly with the bestiary theme, we find an article by Gerald Wylie titled "Discovering New Shape and Material Bonuses”. It describes an alternate system to the Mystery of Vulgar Alchemy for any Magus to intuit the possible Hermetic properties of a creature’s body parts. Short and sweet, and strangely enough, not a lab activity!

For fiction, we have magi in a pirate-y adventure, "The Devil’s Teeth: An Adventure of the Ghost & the Flame”, by Mark Faulkner. It wasn’t for me, I’m sorry to say. Any chance of another Vulcanis Argens installment?

"The Beast Masters of Hibernia” by Jason Tondro, a writeup on the hedge wizard tradition, is excellent in every way. Fully-fleshed out history, powers, with Mystery Initiations into the Beast Master powers, possible Hermetic integration routes, etc. The Beast Masters aren’t powerful, but I really like them. Favorite article in Sub Rosa #18.

Christian R. Andersen and Pelle Kofod are the authors of “Advancing the Intangible Assassin”, a follow up to another article from issue #15, that is itself a follow up to one of the chapters in “Hermetic Projects". It’s long and a bit dry, as we follow the career choices of Ragna ex Bjornaer and Octavianus ex Guernicus, two killers trying to become even better ones through the power of both Flawless Magic and Penetration with connections. Magi are advanced 5 years at a time, not using the standard 30xp, but season by season, under certain given assumptions. I would have preferred that the wall of text had been broken up occasionally by the magi “+5/+10/+15/+20/+25 years” sheets that were instead placed at the end. I do love such articles, though, and would appreciate more like it, but perhaps about magi with different virtues? The magi themselves are useful to any Storyguide’s saga cast, but they are terribly deadly, so beware.

Finally, we have Mark Shirley and "Creatures: Natural Animals”, an attempt to harmonize descriptions of beasts of the natural world across AM5 supplements, mainly RoP: Magic, HoH: Mystery Cults, and Grogs. It’s good and simple, great for the Storyguide, but I highly doubt shapeshifters and Bjornaer -specially those going for the Inner Heartbeast!- would appreciate the changes. If I understand the article correctly, animal Qualities do not increase stats (they get Sympathies), can only be stacked in a few specific cases and up to a certain amount (Hippos for the extra Thick Hide x4!), animals do not get virtues and flaws common to their kind (that’s what qualities are for), but rather to differentiate from one another, in an amount appropriate to their role (mostly grog-level, I would imagine). I suspect that the intention is for shape changers to gain no additional virtues or flaws from assuming another form. But I could be wrong! There’s also a section on Swarms, animal size, animal aging, etc. Good stuff!

As always, there’s a Mappa Mundi section with lots of further reading. Already looking forward to the next issue.

Thanks for the review. Glad it hit the spot.

Everyone else seems to agree with with my thought that the various beasties in this issue shouldn't be reviewed individually, so I'll stick with that.

Nor will I write much about Under the Rose, as it mostly talks about about what is and isn't in this issue.

There are no Words from the Line Editor, presumably because we no longer have a Line Editor. It makes sense, but it's still sad.

Advancing the Intangible Assassin is an article following up on an article inspired by an article inspired by ... You get the point. The authors take the time to explain their end goal, their means and methods. Very through, if perhaps a tad too dry for some readers. Following this introduction is a Wall of Text. It's thorough and not without merit. It's interesting enough and in the ned, it does offer 2 very dangerous, very detailed, NPCs for use as allies or (dangerous) opponents. This article makes heavy use of Hermetic Projects and does assume knowledge of the original article in Sub Rosa #15.

We have a nice little story, The Devil's Teeth. Maybe not entirely to my personal tastes, but certainly a nice short story and not a bad read.

Gerald Wylie offers us an article about Discovering New Shape and Material Bonuses. This is supposed to be a compliment to the Vulgar Alchemy Virtue of TMRE, making it possible to discover the bonuses of unique creatures, substances and materials. I think Vulgar Magic doesn't work as written, but this article doesn't reference that virtue at all, so that's good. While the method suggested strikes me as possibly too simple, it does contain the idea that Shape and Material bonuses are inherent to said shape and material, and so may be discovered (not caused). This is good, and I like it better than the Vulgar Alchemy version.

Next up are the Beast Magi of Hibernia - what appears to be either a minor hedge tradition (along the lines of HMRE) or a minor Ex Misc tradition. Either way, it leaves me a little cold. Isn't this just a concept for a companion character, with far too much material added on? Or am I just lacking in vision?
Certainly, if you want a character (or NPC) focused around animals and magically skilled at this, here's your goto article. And it does fit well with the theme of the issue!

Mark Shirley presents us with an update to the rules for creating natural animals found in HoH: MC. For this I thank him. It builds on the same ideas as that text, but is much more extensive and precise. I'm tempted to use the word 'complete', as a compliment. There's even a box with rules for swarms, which appear to be the same as those given in The Traitor's Game, p. 120 of Thrice-Told Tales, luckily.

And finally there's the Mappa Mundi. Ever needed an idea for a mystical creature, preferbly one based on real folklore? Even better if it's actually from the area your saga's set in? You, here's 15 URLs for places to start that search. Now I know what to waste a few hours on.

With all of this though, the main attraction is to huge host of interesting new creatures and (usually) individuals written out for this issue. These cover most of the Realms of Power, a wide variety of power levels and home locations. So many beautiful ideas and stories. These are the real draw of this issue of Sub Rosa.

Since you posed your answer as a question, I'll respond. That is precisely the article's intention: for NPCs or, possibly, a companion. As discussed in the intro to the article, they're not intended as Hermetic magi or PC members of Ex Misc, because they're far weaker than other player options. In fact, a PC in my game is a much more powerful Ex Misc, and I made up the Beast-Masters of Hibernia to be a faction of hedge magicians who support the covenant and can be called upon as allies (especially when the covenant needs something done in Connacht, where Hermetic magi are not allowed to linger.) They have appeared at Tribunal, visited the covenant, and recently when an unexpected pregnancy threatened to draw the attention of European nobility, mother and unborn child were stashed in Fogartach's cave.

Admittedly, not many groups will have a use for the Beast-masters. But I did.

PS: I'm not sure Ars Magica 5e has a "far too much material added on" category. It seems to me that this game is all about exhaustive detail, limited only by page count. And, in an electronic book, even that is no longer a factor!

Thank you for the review!

Wow! All three freebie-claiming reviews within 10 days of release? I'm in Twilight over here. :smiley:

We will give this a few weeks to percolate and ruminate before announcing Sub Rosa #19's planned theme, and please, feel free to discuss or ask questions about various beasts in this thread. If there are more beasts you'd like to see in another bestiary issue, let us know. These kinds of issues are very art-heavy, though, so we can't do them too often, but with the great support the community provides, we can plan on working in another one.


There's still a cost-- each page must be laid out, it needs art, it needs review, all of which has a cost. Those costs are not overwhelming, but they're not immense-- and I say this as someone who's regularly worked on overdelivering projects, like Sub Rosa, or old Open Design projects, or a couple of kickstarters.


Ah, yes, you're right. No printing cost, but I didn't think about layout and art, yes.

Thanks for all the good work you do, Ben!

Everyone who contributes to Sub Rosa for each issue is great, and we couldn't do it without you! Thanks for your articles and support!

And we love new contributors, too! If you have an idea for an article and want some help, let us know!


That answers that. Thank you! :slight_smile:

I quite like the selection of beasties we have in there too. I'm really pleased that the story potential came out so strong for each one.

i very enjoyed this edition a lot. Some very interesting animals. I found Ermelina and Belagog very interesting. I got a chuckle out of Marks story( The Devil's Teeth) because I played in that game. I think I played Marcello in that adventure.

It is an adventure that never was. I drew on elements of that saga and some stuff we did. But the actual story is all original and tells a tale we never played out. I had Fixer's permission to use Wirth. If you are permitting, I can use Marcello in my next.

With issue 19 relatively imminent, we're willing to put one more free issue on the table for a review!

Yes, you heard right. We're getting the art assembled for issue #19, but we still think folks want to know what's in this if you picked it up and want to share your thoughts, we'll hook you up.


Issue 18 is, I think, probably my favourite that we've done. Partly because of how much I ended up putting in there myself but also because I think it's just so damned useful. And beautiful. Some really nice art in there.