Friday, April 17, 2020

The GLOGblin

it's happening again. it has happened before and it its happening now and it will continue to happen and never stop happen. the glog metastasizes, the glog grows, the glog collapses under its weight and rots and births new glogs fed on its rotting flesh. the glog spreads. the glog mutates. the glog becomes more-than-glog. the glog apostasizes. the glog ascends to godhood, falls, rises, damns itself to an eternity of glog. it is the far future and there is only glog. any sufficiently advanced technoglogy is indistinguishable from divinity. praise. praise. sing and write and disgorge rules and templates and classes from your yawning maw. fear the goblins who bring the laws on stone tablets and scrolls of skin, for once you have read of their words you shall never escape.

i wrote this for april fool's day. it's a while later but yknow what, that only makes me more of a fool. time means nothing in quarantine anyway.

GLOG Author

Affront to God

GLOGblin
portrait of the esteemed author as a young gob

Level 1: Blog, Oblogatory Cannibalism, 2 Blog Dice, 2 Classes
Level 2: Table Topper, +1 BD
Level 3: Blogroll, +1 BD
Level 4: GLOGhacker, +1 BD

Hit Die: d4
Starting Equipment: Set of polyhedral dice, nice pens, paper, map of the Tomb of the Serpent Kings (sans annotations), barbed spear (as spear, can lodge it in a hit target who takes 2 damage upon removing it)
Skills: 1. Poetry, 2. Squabbling, 3. Theft

Blog: You have a blog! Congratulations. Write some content for it! What's that, a class? Nice job! Everyone's gotta start somewhere. Either roll the classes that are on your Blog randomly on the BIG LIST, or pick ones you've actually written yourself on your real GLOG blog.

By scribbling madly and rolling any number of your Blog Dice (d6s), you can create a post that when read bestows (dice) templates (template A, then B, then C, then D, or levels 1/2/3/4) from a class on your blog upon its reader. It then crumbles into foul-smelling dust. Its abilities can be used (sum) times, and the reader may expend 5 uses from that reserve to create an appropriate resource die (like a Magic Die or a Rage Die) that they can use for those abilities. Blog Dice that land on a 4, 5, or 6 are expended.

Restore expended Blog Dice after a long rest.

Oblogatory Cannibalism: You can learn new classes and add them to your blog by eating someone of that class, or by eating another GLOGblin who's written that class.

Table Topper: You have seen the secret tables that the universe is played upon. Find a random table you like. Put it on your blog. When you would roll on a random table, you may expend a Blog Die to roll on a table on your Blog instead. Whenever a random table is rolled on (by a player or by the GM), you may expend a Blog Die. If you do, look at the table, and adjust the result by up to +/- the value you rolled. Whenever you level up, find a new random table to add to your Blog.

Blogroll: You can call upon the work of the GLOGblin collective, and write posts that gives a random class' templates from the BIG LIST. Roll the random class when the post is written.

GLOGhacker: You've written a whole dang GLOGhack! Good job, you. Post it up there and never run a game in another system ever again. You can bring its rules into the game. Restat your character in a GLOGhack of your choice (or your own). Play it in this one. You can enforce rules from that hack in any interaction your character is actively part of.

GLOGhacks are my Comfort Food

It's tumultuous times. I have lots of ongoing, half-finished, scope-creeping projects, and no structure in my day to get any of them finished to my satisfaction. It's why I haven't posted in almost a month, despite this blog being one of my darlings. So instead of going higher and farther and innovating in RPG theory and pushing the bounds what an OSR game can be, I'm going to write another GLOGhack. There's some new(ish) bloggers doing the envelope-pushing who are absolutely incredible, and have inspired me by proximity to put in the work on a new as-of-yet untitled game that's going to try to incorporate a bunch of the ideas that I was too new and too chickenshit to crowbar into Mimics & Miscreants.

As for all of my "projects", I guarantee no completion. However, the stuff in this post should be broadly compatible and slottable into GLOGgy games - even M&M.
So here are my lofty aspirational goals:
  • A new combat system that doesn't ask a lot of fiddly stuff from players or the GM - whether it's weapon ability tracking, damage die balancing, or a million different wounds. That's what's in this post. It hasn't been playtested at all, but I like the core of it and I've played with lots of the ideas within.
  • Separate Meat and Grit health pools. I sing the praises of Cavegirl's Esoteric Enterprises, which introduced me to lots of the little mechanical tools I'm trying to fit in here, and this is one of the best ones. I'm taking more of an inspiration for them from video games with separate Shield and Health pools - and this is a great conceptual way to adapt them from a sci-fi setting into a fantasy one.
  • Crunchy bits, like the best part of slightly overcooked bacon. I've realized there's a bit of me that loves the crunch of fitting weird options together - not to the degree where I'll pore over obscure 3.5e splats for weeks, but enough to enjoy accidentally overpowered bullshit player option combinations. I'm including hooks and bits and bobs to appease that part of my brain, along the lines of the Fighter techniques in this post.
  • 10 level GLOG. So here's my problem: I love the speed and concision of 4 template classes, and spreading 4 templates over 10 levels hurts my soul the same way that 5e does. But I like awarding levels as session milestones, and I don't want players to end up capping out their book-granted power that quickly. I've played with this idea before, with the idea of classless upgrades in between template levels, and I'm not quite sure where I want to go with this. But I have ideas!
    • Some classes have 6 templates. Some have 4. Some have 2. Some only have 1. Mandatory multiclassing if you want to get to 10 levels. This isn't a new idea, some authors have proposed 5-template GLOG with 4-template classes for the same reason. I'm just extending it ad absurdum.
    • Optionally spreading out abilities across multiple levels, when you'd gain multiple things at one level. I hate the idea of dead levels, where you don't get anything but more hit points and your saves tick down, but a lot of the classes I write end up squeezing eight or more features into 4 templates. This is pretty easy to stretch out.
    • Abilities no longer tied to specific templates. This is a weird one and doesn't work for some classes, but I think it makes a lot of sense and I've played around with it in any class that has a table of options that you gain over time (like my Thieves, either the original one from Type1Ninja or my new Thieves' Guilds). We'll see if I can make it work.
  • I have a complicated relationship with race/folk/ancestry/background options in tabletop games. On one hand, I love the ability to mix and match folk/calling (race/class, for those of you who can read those words and not get distracted by what they signify in meatspace). On the other... race really doesn't end up having a mechanical effect on the game, certainly not to the same degree that class does. Fortunately, the OSR has an obvious answer to this problem: race-as-class! Unfortunately, that takes away the mixing and matching that I love. There's a few ways to solve this that I'm poking at - one is including race-as-class as a multiclassing option, and yes you can take levels in it after level 1 or mix and match race-as-class options, and another is includng it as a background skill, like previous failed career, putting it on similar mechanical footing to skills. Want to carve a tunnel? You could roll engineering... or you could roll Dwarf! Available to dwarves, those raised around or by dwarves, etc.
  • Failed career path table instead of Skills. I already pretty much had this, just not obviously. I love these in other games, and skills always feel like a bit of a cop-out. Overall, you'll get two rolls from your choice of the following 3 tables: a big table of generic ones, a table of folk paths, and calling-specific failed careers. It's kinda like a life path, except you can't die in the middle of it.
    • Yet.
  • Hireling rules. I've had these in the wings for like six months now, they aren't anything special, but with the number of hirelings I expect Fighters, Clerics, Jacks, etc. to end up with it's honestly a massive oversight that I haven't already.
  • Spell experimentation, like in Esoteric Enterprises. It's really good. Works like a charm. Don't have much more to say here besides the fact that it'll give me an excuse to dig up my Ways Wizards Explode chart.
  • Ability scores that are 3d6 down the line, with the option to invert them if you roll poorly, or the option to just do Esoteric Enterprises' point-buy thing where you get 3 of each value from 1 through 6 and can build your own array out of those dice, summing 3 values of your choice for each score. It just works.
  • Deed levelling! Loved it when I wrote it, and while I tend to just use milestones (or run one-shots), it's a system that fits together so much better with my playstyle than gold-for-xp.
  • d100 Alignments, yet another post I wrote and love and want to put in a proper doc so it can get the exposure it needs.
  • A solid diverse spread of weird classes and "normal" ones. Fighter, Butcher, and Fleshcrafter all have places in this system.
  • Abilities that expand diegetically, hooking into the material world of the game instead of the mechanics. See the fighter's Talismans, Scarred, and Legend-Smith for examples. You progress by doing things and getting rewarded for it in the fiction, rather than solely through abstract processes of XP accumulation and poring over item lists.
  • From Mimics & Miscreants, stuff that worked and I love
    • My GLOG levelless spell list. It's a travesty that it hasn't caught on. I'm gonna keep using it forever.
    • Modifierless. Fuck modifier tables. We use sum-to-20 in this house and never add more than 2 numbers together.
    • Scores-as-saves.
    • How You Know The Character To Your Left
Without further ado, here's my new combat rules. They aren't exactly a centerpiece - or, I'd rather they not become the centerpiece - but undeniably combat is something that I fall back on to fill time in sessions, and therefore it needs a solid procedure. Plus, it's fun.

Combat

Initiative is determined at the start of each round by everyone making a Dexterity test, or another appropriate roll for the situation. Succeed and you go before the monsters. Fail and you go after them. Players get to figure out what their characters do during these phases; actions are treated as simultaneous or whatever order the players wish.

Each turn, you get to move up to 60', and attack. You can split these, do one in the middle of the other, forego movement to take other actions like reloading or pulling levers or whatever, it's not a big deal.

You only get one attack per turn unless something says otherwise.

Don't roll to hit. All weapons deal d6 damage and are solely differentiated by what else you can use them for.

Spears and polearms are long and let you make an attack against characters who try to close to melee with you.
Daggers are concealable, lightweight, and balanced for throwing.
Hammers reduce enemy armor on a hit.
Swords mark their wielders as members of the nobility (or as someone who killed a member of the nobility and took it off their corpse) and are hard to come by.
Axes are great tools for stuff other than war, and also will fuck up a shield something fierce.
Bows can hit targets at range.
Staves and the like are, at the very least, better than fighting unarmed.

Two-handed weapons, like a battleaxe, warhammer, or greatsword roll a d8 for damage.

Dual-wielding two one-handed weapons lets you reroll 1s for damage (unless it's a 1 from missing an attack against an armored enemy), if you're in any way trained martially to do so or the weapons are small enough that you won't trip over yourself.

Unarmed attacks deal roll damage with disadvantage, and don't get the reroll benefit from dual-wielding. Grab a length of pipe at least, come on.

There's other stuff you can have in your off-hand that'll be more useful than a weapon. Torches or lanterns. Shields. Your spellbook or holy icon. A rope. Your friend's hand. Swapping items on your turn gives you disadvantage on using them (or otherwise mitigates their utility).

Health
Player characters have two health pools, Grit and Meat. When you take damage, it first is dealt to your Grit pool. When Grit is depleted, further damage goes to your Meat pool. Grit gates Meat; if you have even one point of Grit the damage won't spill over into Meat. Grit can be restored during short and daily rests, or by magical healing, but Meat can't - it can only be healed in town.

When you drop to 0 Grit, take a Wound. A Wound is a temporary penalty to an action that lasts until you return to maximum Grit.

When you drop to 0 Meat, you may either gain a Scar and an associated permanent mechanical penalty, or make a death save. Roll your Meat dice and try to match or beat the amount of damage you've taken since you last dropped to 0 Meat. If you fail, you die.

Defenses
If you're wearing armor, when monsters attack you, you may make an Armor save. Roll under your Armor value. Leather is 6, chain is 10, plate is 14. Shields give +1 armor (or, if unarmored, base AC 4). If you succeed, you take 1 damage as the attack glances off you. If you fail, they get to roll for damage. Similarly, to attack an enemy who's wearing Armor, make a d20 roll vs. the enemy's Armor Class. A failed test glances off their armor, dealing 1 damage. If you succeed, roll damage as normal.

Players who have Grit, and no Armor, can roll to Dodge. Make a Dexterity test. If you succeed, the attacker rolls damage with disadvantage. If you fail, they roll with advantage.

After damage is rolled, a defender can voluntarily sunder their shield or helm (if they've got one handy) to reduce an attack's damage by 1d12, but the shield or helm breaks and falls to the ground.

Maneuvers
If you want to make a called shot or trip an enemy or some other maneuver, make a skill test as part of your attack. If you succeed on the test, the maneuver works as well as the attack dealing damage. If you fail, the maneuver fails, and the attack only deals 1 damage.


Retreating
Roll over your current Encumbrance to successfully retreat from battle. You may drop items to decrease the target number. Success means you scape into the previous area/corridor/etc, wherever's safe and nearby. Enemies get a chance to pursue you into that area; they must make a d20 roll over your retreating roll.

Rests
When you start the game, begin with max Grit and max Meat.

Once per day, you can eat lunch. Spend an exploration turn and a ration. Roll your Grit dice and restore that much Grit.
During a daily rest, with eight uninterrupted hours of sleep and a full meal of rations, return to maximum Grit.
Back in town, a week of proper downtime (i.e. no sudden movements, bar brawls, a roof over your head, 3 square meals a day) will restore you to maximum Meat.


Fighter
by Matt Dunbar
"You call combat a fail-state, and yet you keep hiring folks like me."

Hit Dice: d8 Grit, d8 Meat
Failed Career: 1. City Guard, 2. Criminal, 3. Gladiator, 4. Hunter, 5. Knight, 6. Soldier
Starting Equipment: 4 random weapons or 2 weapons of choice and 1 random weapon, chainmail armor, helm or shield, scar with history.

Level 1: Tools of the Trade, Trophies, 1 Technique
Level 2: Threat Assessment, Scarred, +1 Technique, +1 Grit die
Level 3: Commander, +1 Technique, +1 Meat die
Level 4: Legend-Smith, +1 Technique, +1 Grit die, +1 Meat die

Techniques: You've trained, and warred, and learned from the mistakes of your allies, self, and enemies. These techniques of battle have ingrained themselves into your muscle memory. See below for a d20 list (not all-inclusive). Feel free to reflavor them into whatever fits your concept - special moves, a fighting style, a property of your weapons and armor...

Tools of the Trade: You have an additional 4*level inventory slots, exclusively for weapons, shields, and armor. You may switch weapons and held items during combat on your turn for free.

Trophies: Whenever you personally kill an enemy, you can take a trophy from their corpse or gear. So long as you have the trophy prominently displayed to your enemies, or constantly reminding you of its presence, you have a small benefit related to their abilities. Can't be more significant than a technique, niche skill, +1 armor, or advantage on initiative rolls. Each trophy takes up an inventory slot, all must be visibly unique, and no two can have the same ability.

1d20 trophies, retrieved from the corpses of lesser fighters you bested in battle
1. A baleful-star warlock's cracked telescope
2. A berzerker's nose ring
3. A noble's glass eye
4. A skull pulled from the sludgy remnants of a gelatinous cube
5. A splinter of mimic meatwood, twisted mid-ambush
6. A vampire's cracked silver chalice, still filled with dried blood
7. An owlbearskin cape that lets you glide
8. Bag of saffron off a nobleman's chef
9. Bloodspattered page of a mage's spellbook
10. Hairball hocked up by a dying goblin
11. Hip flask full of jellied dwarven liquor
12. Locket with a picture of a mercenary's sweetheart
13. Scrap of a cultist's unholy standard
14. Scrap of a necromancer's dried, tattooed skin
15. Scrimshawed shark tooth
16. Silver piece paid to an assassin to kill you
17. The hilt of a rival's sundered rapier
18. The luminous eye of a machine from beyond the stars
19. The visor of a duke's helm
20. Vial of acid-preserved troll brain
       
Threat Assessment: You can ask the GM one question about the capabilities of an enemy force for every 10 uninterrupted minutes you have to observe them, or ask a question about a specific enemy when you hit them in combat.

Scarred: Whenever you take a Scar, in addition to taking a permanent penalty, take a permanent bonus of similar weight based on the lesson you learned from the scar. When you gain this ability, you may retroactively apply it to any scars you've gained in the past.

Commander: You have the reputation to hire a band of mercenaries on the promise of equal shares of the loot. They count as hirelings, and bring their own equipment, supplies, and weapons. One, your lieutenant, has a level in a non-casting class. You can hire up to level*d6 mercenaries at any town; their equipment and quality will depend on the town itself. If you lose their respect, or the shares can't cover their expenses... well, they're mercenaries. They go where the coin flows.

Legend-Smith: Whenever you personally kill a powerful, renowned enemy, you can write the weapon you used to strike the killing blow into legend. When you do, it becomes a magic weapon, empowered by your mighty deed. Name it, give it an appropriately legendary epithet, and it gains a supernatural ability based on the enemy you killed and how you killed them. A bow shot halfway across a battlefield may no longer have a maximum range. An axe that decapitates an archmage may shatter curses and banish summons. A sword that kills a king may bestow the right of kingship on its wielder. A weapon does not grow in magical power the more great deeds it performs (this only works once per weapon), but its reputation may grow - and reputation is its own sort of magic, in a way.

d20 Techniques
1. Ablate: You may sunder your shields and helms twice, and may sunder your own weapons as if they were shields (but only once per weapon).
2. Bastion: Unarmored people behind you can benefit from half your Armor Class.
3. Beastmaster: You have a pet! It has a d3 of Grit and a d3 of Meat, deals d6 damage, one special ability (like flying, poison spit, or being large enough to ride), and you control it on your turn. If it dies, you can train another beast when you're back in town.
4. Brawler: While you're unarmed, you count as dual-wielding, and make an extra attack on turns where you're fighting unarmed.
5. Cleave: When you kill an enemy, you may immediately make another attack against another enemy within range.
6. Combat Reflexes: At the start of each round, instead of rolling initiative, you can choose whether to go before or after the monsters. Doesn't work in surprise rounds.
7. Esoteric Armory: Step up the damage die size of any weapon you wield against an intelligent enemy unfamiliar with the weapon.
8. Fireblood: Whenever you deal damage, you may deal additional damage by spending Grit or Meat. 1 spent point = +1 damage.
9. Giantslayer: You can wield weapons made for creatures larger than you. When you do so, you can never go before enemies in initiative, but you roll a d10 for damage.
10. Gourmand: Once per day, when you eat a full meal, restore all your Grit.
11. Opportunist: Once per round, you can make a free attack against an enemy that enters the range of your weapon.
12. Parry & Riposte: When you successfully Dodge, you may attack back.
13. Precise: Reroll 1s for damage. If you already would reroll 1s on that damage roll, reroll 1s and 2s; if you would already reroll 1s and 2s, reroll 1s, 2s, and 3s, etc.
14. Push Through: Once per day, when you would take a Wound or choose to take a Scar, you may ignore it and restore 1 Grit.
15. Reaver: Whenever you deal maximum damage with an attack, you may inflict a Wound.
16. Shieldbreaker: Whenever you deal damage, 1 point of dealt damage goes directly to Meat regardless of the enemy's Grit or Armor.
17. Sneak Attack: When you attack an opponent who doesn't know you're there, ignore Grit and Armor. Once you've hit them with this technique, they know you're there.
18. Splatterjack: When you roll maximum damage on one of your damage dice, you can roll it again and add that to the result.
19. Tactician: You may forego an action on your turn in order to provide an ally with an action of the same type. Forego your attack to let an ally make an additional attack; move for move, etc.
20. Tough as Nails: Increase your Armor Class by 2. If you're unarmored, you have an Armor Class of 4. You can still Dodge when unarmored, despite having an Armor Class.

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