Friday, May 6, 2022

GLOG Arts of War

I've been away for a while; finishing my final semester of university, consumed with life, and playing far too much Elden Ring. This is the result - a GLOG class (as is tradition), but more importantly a system of weapon arts stolen from inspired by soulsborne mechanics. 

A Weapon Art is a school of combat connected to particular weapon types, revealed by scrolls (or similar records) that detail secret meditations and exercises that unlock the true powers within implements of war. Weapon arts detail multiple special attacks that can be used by expending Stamina Dice (outlined in the Warrior class), and may provide other abilities as well.

Scrolls must be found through play. Most cannot be bought, many are lost to the ages, and masters of an art keep their secrets close out of wisdom, jealousy, or a genuine desire for peace. Naturally, the scrolls detailed below are not a comprehensive list.

All weapons deal d6 damage by default. Two-handing a weapon, or wielding two identical one-handed weapons, means you roll 2d6 and take the higher value.

After you hit an enemy, you may choose to either deal damage or execute a maneuver. A maneuver deals no damage, but can provide an advantage in combat, whether tripping an enemy, feinting to drop their guard, temporarily blinding them with thrown dust, grappling them, etc. Negotiate with your GM. On a critical hit (a roll of 20), you both deal maximum damage and execute a maneuver.

These rules should be easily adaptable to other combat systems. You're reading GLOG content, you're smart and probably have your own GLOG blog, I believe in you. One easy change is simply to give every class some number of Stamina Dice, so that thieves and clerics and even magic-users can get in on the visceral thrill of turning people into corpses.



Speak not of right and wrong or truth and lies. There is only the blade, and which end you're staring at.

Equipment: Weapons of your choice, one weapon art scroll, armor of your choice, and a shield if you want one.
Warrior 1: Master-at-Arms, Warsight, 2 Stamina Dice.
Warrior 2: Push Yourself, +1 Prepared Art, +1 Stamina Die.
Warrior 3+: +1 Prepared Art & +1 Stamina Die, or +2 Stamina Dice

You have stamina dice, which you can expend to perform feats of strength, endurance, and bloodthirst. You can roll a Stamina Die to add it to any to-hit roll, damage roll, or STR/DEX/CON roll after you've seen the outcome, whether it's a success or failure. Stamina dice can also be used to wield Weapon Arts, rolling any number of your stamina dice and applying the result to the art's listed effects. Unless otherwise specified, using a Weapon Art takes an action on your turn. A stamina die returns to your pool on a roll of 1, 2, or 3. Restore all your Stamina dice after a hearty meal or a full night's sleep.

You may prepare 1 Weapon Art at a time before combat by performing the rigorous exercises and meditations described within the scroll. This takes approximately 10 minutes. The number you can have simultaneously prepared increases as you gain more Warrior templates.

All (successful) warriors develop a system by which they classify their enemies, so as to inform their judgments on who first to render into their constituent parts. The more intellectual warriors refer to such arcane principles as a "plus one to-hit" and an "armor class of 12", or speak of the "hit points" an enemy must be damaged at before they become a gibbering wreck.

You can see characters' mundane combat stats (if they aren't being deliberately concealed) and whether or not they have magical abilities. Mundane stats include damage die size, current and maximum hit points, armor class, and to-hit bonus.

Push Yourself
As an action, you may sacrifice HP to regain a single Stamina Die. The first time you do this during a fight, it costs 1 HP, and doubles each time thereafter (2, then 4, then 8, etc.). Reset this after you have performed your post-combat warm-down, similar to the Art preparation exercises.

Prithee, be careful. I don't want to see my work squandered.

Weapon Arts

Duelist's Handbook (one-handed swords)
The final word in rules and regulations of honourable combat. The ritual forms developed by the Marquis Fonchauntaire have stood the test of centuries, and to question them would be to invalidate all the blood spilled and feuds settled under its auspices.
🗡 You are immediately identifiable as a poncy motherfucker. Spend a round bragging to get +templates to attack and damage the following round.
🗡 Parry-Riposte. When an attack hits you, you may expend Stamina Dice and add the sum to your AC. If this would make the attack no longer hit, you parry their attack and may riposte, making a retaliatory attack at +dice that deals +sum additional damage.
🗡 Challenge an enemy who can understand you (anything that has a language, whether or not they share it with you). You must close in and attack each other instead of anyone else. Once either of you has dealt sum damage, the challenge is won, and whoever dealt that damage gets a free attack against the other. You may have multiple enemies challenged at once, but may make only one challenge per turn.

Soldier's Scrawl (one-handed weapon and shield)
A crudely bound diary of a soldier who fought and died on the Archipelagan Front. Provides a harrowing first-hand glimpse into how the best-laid plans without fail go horribly awry, and how everything can be turned to purposes of war.
🗡 Your shield provides an additional +templates armor.
🗡 Shield Bash. Make an attack roll at +sum that on a hit deals damage equal to your shield's  armor bonus and staggers the target for their next turn. This doesn't count as your attack for turn, and you may follow up with a weapon attack.
🗡 Brutal Strike. Freely hit your enemy for sum+dice damage. They get to hit you in response, even if your attack subsequently incapacitates them. 

        NOTE: Staggered enemies can either move or attack, not both.

Brawler's Notebook (unarmed combat)
An artist's sketchbook filled with detailed studies of musculature and various fistfighting stances, lovingly rendered in charcoal. Towards the end, sketches tend kinetic, annotated with the names of long-closed bars and monikers like "Aurochs Pate" or "Benit the Butcher".
🗡 Your maneuvers also deal templates damage.
🗡 Unleash a Flurry of Blows on your enemy. Make sum attacks. Each attack that hits deals dice+1 damage. If at least half of the attacks (rounded up) hit, knock your opponent down.
🗡 Throw a Knockout Punch that deals sum damage minus the target's armor bonus, and doesn't require an attack roll. If this attack deals 6+ damage, the target is staggered for their next turn.

Beast Hide Diary (spears, axes, natural weapons)
Carved with the tooth of the beast it was skinned from. Records the hunting practices of apex predators, and instructs one to give in to those selfsame instincts.
🗡 You can speak to beasts. Their language is loud, raucous, and conveys complex ideas through light combat.
🗡 Charge into your enemy with reckless abandon, dealing sum damage and knocking them back dice*10'. Anything they hit in this process also takes sum damage.
🗡 Leap upon a distant enemy. Can move up to dice times your movement speed in this action. Deals an additional sum damage and knocks enemy prone.

Juggernaut Tablet (two-handed weapons)
An ancient stone slab engraved with pictographs of a rigid exercise regimen, and stained with similarly ancient blood.
🗡 You cannot be moved, stopped, pushed, or knocked over. No earthly force can hold you. If you would fall, you grab onto the ledge. If a wagon or even a battering ram would hit you, it stops in its tracks (though you still take damage).
🗡 After you hit an enemy, you may Cleave through them with a powerful, continuous stroke. Deal sum damage to the next enemy adjacent to them in a direction of your choice. Continue the cleave through up to dice total enemies.
🗡 Steel Yourself against your foe, gaining a pool of sum temporary hit points.

Manual of the Siege-Sage (colossal weapons)
Priests of the Conquering King Olgoros have waited centuries for an opportunity to finally entomb him. Each time his still-warring corpse arrives to besiege the gates of the cathedral tomb that was prepared for him, the priests have accumulated new knowledge with which to weather his storm.
🗡 You can wield siege weapons like twice-height polearms, battering rams, or ballistae with your own two hands. These weapons deal d12 damage, but you cannot attack with them in the same turn that you move, draw, or load them.
🗡 Shatter your enemy's guard after hitting them, dealing an additional sum damage and reducing their Armor by sum for the next dice rounds. Also works on inanimate objects.
🗡 Become an unshakable Bastion, providing +dice armor to yourself and adjacent allies for the next sum rounds.

Absolutive Prayerbook (crushing weapons)
Spilling thine neighbor's blood is proscribed by various holy texts across the Continent. Enterprising preachers have found ample ways to reconcile this with their abiding need to enact violence upon their enemies.
🗡 During combat, your weapon glows like a lantern. This light counts as sunlight.
🗡 Smite your foe with holy light. This attack deals +sum damage on a hit and inflicts holy damage. Whether or not your smite connects, your next sum attacks also inflict holy damage, and deal an additional +dice damage. This stacks with subsequent smites.
🗡 After you hit an enemy, you may chant a Guiding Prayer. That enemy glows with sunlight, and for the next dice turns, your allies get +sum to their attack rolls against that enemy.

NOTE: Holy damage will vaporize corpses of the unholy upon death, preventing resurrection; but can only incapacitate enemies that aren't unholy. According to the CLXXIVth Conclave of the Continental See, "unholy" includes:
- All forms of material undead
- Malevolent (but not benign) spirits
- Devils
- Mortals excommunicated by a bishop or higher priest in good standing with the Faith
- Devotees of the Archipelagic Gods
- Beasts with more than two eyes or more than four legs.

The CLXXVth Conclave approaches with haste. All expect the Locrian Archbishopric to be added to this list and its practice of spiritcalling certified as an official heresy. Other changes may occur in the frenzy.

Trigonometrics, Vol. I (bows)
The arcs and forces necessary to propel projectiles across great distances were calculated by monks as an academic exercise and recorded in illuminated books of tables. Upon hearing of this innovation, the Baron Trigonometras (an acclaimed archer) took the monastery by force and replicated these mathematical proofs for distribution to his bannermen.
🗡 You can hit any stationary target you can see, so long as weather conditions are optimal. This only deals 1 damage, but can split rope, put out candles, push levers, break jars, etc.
🗡 Loose a High Volley of dice arrows that arch over cover to land scattered among your foes for highest damage per arrow. Make a separate attack roll for each arrow. May split volley between multiple adjacent targets.
🗡 Spend your entire turn aiming. At the end of the round, fire an Aimed Shot at a chosen location if it's still visible. Automatically hits, add sum to the damage roll, and if you chose to hit a particular body part, impair it appropriately. 

Trigonometrics, Vol. II (bows)
The Baron Trigonometras sought to extend and correct the monks' proofs to account for his experiences in the field. His own contributions, while less mathematically ground-breaking, are essential to the study of ranged combat in varied weather conditions.
🗡 You can fire a Grapple Arrow attached to a rope. The rope securely attaches to whatever it hits, and can hold one person's weight at a time.
🗡 Fire a Piercing Shot through one enemy and up to dice additional enemies in a row. Automatically hits the first target, make an attack roll at +sum for each following enemy. It deals highest to each enemy.
🗡 Release a Fan Barrage of arrows at a group of adjacent enemies. Make an attack roll for each target. Deals dice+1 damage to each of up to sum enemies, or sum damage to each of dice+1 enemies.

Trigonometrics, Vol. III: Sacred Arcs (bows)
Once the Baron Trigonometras perfected his archer's art, he set off to hunt a dragon. As he traveled, he sought deeper mathematical proofs derived from what he saw on the road. On the cliffs below Dragonroost, mere days before he planned to sight his quarry, Trigonometras renounced his title and used his considerable fortunes to build a monastery to repent and seek mathematical perfection for the rest of his days. This tome is the result.
🗡 Loose a Tracing Shot upon an enemy. Make an attack roll at +sum. The attack deals no damage on a hit, but the target glows with sunlight. Further ranged attacks to hit them (including spells or siege weaponry) can either take a +sum bonus (doesn't stack with additional tracers), or move around cover. An enemy can clear the tracer through acts of intentional devotion or heresy.
🗡 Break off an arrow's head to fire a Crushing Shot, sanctified and guaranteed not to spill blood. Make an attack roll at +sum, deals sum+dice damage. Deals holy damage. 

Kniferose Almanac (edged or piercing weapons, including bows & arrows)
Holds brewing instructions for the most common contact poisons, which range from the mildly inconvenient to the amusingly lethal. Kept only nominally secret by the Order of the Kniferose, a society of gentleman-assassins lauded among the upper echelons of Society.
🗡 Your combat preparations include the brewing of three vials of Kniferose Poison. One causes temporary blindness, another causes debilitating pain and nausea, and the final causes paralysis of the site around the wound. You may reveal which a weapon was poisoned with after hitting with an attack (you need not decide until the dramatic revelation). Applying a new poison removes the old one. The poison lasts until combat ends.
🗡 Feinting Thorn. After an attack with the poisoned blade misses, you may expend Stamina Dice to immediately hit with another weapon you're wielding that has not yet been revealed as poisoned. That attack deals sum damage.
🗡 Poison Spray. Artfully flick your weapon's revealed poison in a cone up to dice*10'. This removes the poison from the weapon and inflicts the status effect upon anyone it hits that fails a 10+sum save.

Assassin's Journal (one-handed blades, shortbows)
The church holds that no mortal has the right to determine who lives or dies - yet mortals still determine that every day. This journal belonged to a prolific decision-maker in that regard, detailing their process and sketching out specific "accidents" that recently befell prominent nobles and pontiffs.
🗡 Disappear into the shadows. A darkness folds around you as you dash at your move speed for cover; enemies lose your location. You may make this in reaction to being hit. Choose one before rolling:
    - Get +sum armor against that attack.
    - Your next attack deals +sum damage, and if made from concealment gets +sum to-hit.
🗡 Wield the illusory Darkblade that carves flesh and bone without damaging the skin. Deal sum damage; this does not cause pain until the victim tries to move the affected area. If you're quiet, this won't break concealment. Shortbows can fire the darkblade as arrows.

Bleeding Parchment (edged or piercing weapons)
This short chirurgical paper details methods of sharpening a blade such that wounds it delivers will bleed excessively. It must be handled with care to avoid dire papercuts.
🗡 Whenever you take 6 or more damage, restore a lost Stamina Die.
🗡 Purge yourself of excess humours. Inflict highest damage upon yourself to remove dice conditions affecting you that have been inflicted during this battle. This can include immobility, poison, charm effects, etc.
🗡 Self-Mutilate. Feed the weapon an amount of your blood. Inflict highest damage upon yourself to make an attack that automatically hits for sum+dice damage. 6s rolled this way explode.

NOTE: Self-inflicted damage cannot be taken back once rolled. If it renders you incapacitated, the attack still occurs, your final action before collapsing in a pool of your own vital fluids.

Haemhorragic Manual (one-handed edged weapons)
A book bound in gnarled skin. Its pages weep blood when read, yet remain dry. It demands its student's hands be soaked through with fresh blood, and record in exacting detail the splatter patterns its techniques leave behind.
🗡 Spew Bloodflame over an area by vomiting blood all over your sword. It sticks and clings to surfaces, armor, and flesh alike. Lose sum hit points, then deal highest damage to everyone in a dice*10' cone. It continues to burn, affecting the area it coats and dealing lowest damage to everyone in the area and anyone it's stuck to at the start of your turn.
🗡 Expend Stamina Dice to cause a Bloodflame Rupture when you kill someone. They detonate in an explosion of bloodflame, scorching everyone around (including you) within sum meters for highest damage. This explosion chains; anyone who dies to it also explodes, and so on.

Shard of the Walking Kiln (hammers)
On the march, an amphora of water will save you where fullplate cannot; when besieged a pot of burning oil will prove deadlier than the most legendary sword. Before it shattered, the Walking Kiln provided this vital support to the greatest armies in history, and is still worshipped as a god in its own right by the smith-cults of the Penultimate Legion.

🗡 The shard itself provides enough heat to power a crude portable forge, kiln, or oven.
🗡 Your hammer leaves a Burning Brand upon your enemy. After hitting, sear their flesh with the mark of the Kiln and deal an additional sum fire damage. At the end of your turn, all branded enemies take dice damage for each brand you've inflicted this combat. Brands can be removed by quenching the mark, but leave a gnarled scar.
🗡 You are an Armorsmith, and know its strengths and weaknesses better than any of its wearers. Make an attack that gets +sum to hit and ignores armor; on a hit, in addition to dealing damage, your target loses dice points of Armor and you gain that armor for the rest of the combat.

Windweaver's Quilt (dual-wielded edged weapons)
A small but dense scrap of fabric. Running your fingers along its knots and holes reveals a dynamic flow of contortions that can weave the air around you into gale-force winds. Your blades are the knitting needles of the storm.
🗡 Surround yourself with a Whirlwind that disorients your enemies. Gain +sum temporary armor, which degrades by dice every time you're attacked (hit or miss). You may only have one whirlwind active at a time.
🗡 Fire off a Vacuum Blast at a faraway target. Make an attack roll; the blast deals sum damage and staggers the target on a hit, and deals half sum damage on a miss.
🗡 Bang your weapons together to cause a Thunderclap, forcing everyone unprepared nearby to save or be temporarily deafened for dice rounds.

Conductive Scroll (polearms, spears)
A leather scroll depicting a Lichtenburg scar. Following its patterns reveals miniscule text within the fractal's whorls and spines, revealing the secret nature of the connection betwixt thunder and lightning.
🗡 Lightning Rod. Feel the charge. Smell the ozone. Breathe deep and shatter the clear blue sky. Make an attack roll against an enemy within walking range. If it hits, it deals sum+dice lightning damage and you may swiftly leap adjacent to them at any point before your next turn. If it misses, you may immediately move adjacent to them anyway.
🗡 After hitting with an attack, you may make an additional attack against another enemy nearby at +sum. A Crackling Chain strikes from your initial target to the new one, and deals sum damage. You may repeat this process, subtracting dice from sum each time, until an attack misses, you run out of new targets to add to the chain, or sum reaches 0.

Sword Sage's Thesis (swords)
Even wizards grudgingly respect the primacy of the blade. Some even take up its study, and realize that properly wielding a length of sharpened steel is just as complex as wielding phenomenal cosmic power. Those who are appropriately humbled by this experience and pursue it still become sword sages, and contribute their writings to magical libraries throughout the Archipelago.
🗡 You may use your Magic Dice as Stamina Dice and vice-versa.
🗡 Your attacks are inherently magical, and so can hurt ghosts and other ethereal enemies.
🗡 Your blade is more real than the world it cuts through, followed by Blade Echoes of itself. Make an attack with +sum to-hit; whether or not it hits, an echo makes a follow-up attack with no bonus.
🗡 Dispel magic (and magical effects) with a slash of your blade. Attack the magic. If sum+dice is greater than the spell's sum, negate it. You may use this in reaction to a spell being cast, a dragon loosing its fire breath, etc.

Shieldmaiden's Creed (shield)
The Stars Above speak; we answer the call,
Our Inner Light protects us all.
'Til Final Death shall do us part,
We stand together, hand on heart.
When evil finds its shallow grave
The stars shall judge -
    My shield shall save.
🗡 Your shield blazes with Blinding Light. You can flash the light in a semaphore code known only to other Shieldmaidens and those who serve with (or against) them. For the next dice rounds, any who approach you must either approach at half speed to shield their eyes or take highest holy damage.
🗡 You Retaliate with swift and righteous judgment, cold as starlight. As a reaction to one of your allies within a turn's movement being damaged, move to the attacker and smite them with a holy attack at +sum to-hit. The afterimage of vengeful wings imprints behind the eyes of onlookers.
🗡 A Dome of Radiance blossoms as you raise your shield, protecting you and your comrades from harm. The shield has a radius of dice\*10', and protects everyone within it from sum mundane attacks, regardless of how powerful the attack is. The dome can be entered, but cannot be left, and attacks made from within to without will bounce uselessly off its inner surface. You can move the shield with you, but as soon as you lower your shield, the dome dissipates.

Stargazer's Ravings (melee weapon)
The chant won't leave your head. It appears on empty pages and clear skies, when you close your eyes, when you hear silence. When you write it down, the ink is blood, and it smears uselessly across the scroll. You give it to a friend, and they can read it perfectly. They say it's a star-map, but a pointless one, as the constellations are all mixed-up and backwards. You look at the sky and you can't tell if it's right or wrong, the sky is just words. You pick up the fire poker, and know what you must do.
🗡 Anyone who touches you in combat takes fire damage equal to the number of SD you currently have.
🗡 SPREAD THE WORD. Your eyes see fire. Their eyes don't. It's not fair. They need to see fire too. Your face blazes with starlight; anyone looking at you saves vs. being horrifically enraptured at a sum penalty. All they can do for the next dice rounds is either snuff out your light or run screaming, their eyes burning like yours.
🗡 STARS FLAYING STARS. Your weapon is an extension of your arm, your arm an extension of your will, your will an extension of the stars, and the stars an extension of the universal principle of violence. You scourge them as they deserve, making an attack at +sum to-hit that deals sum fire damage and turns their mind to jelly. Their next attack is against whoever is closest to them, regardless of friend or foe. If no one is close enough for them to reach, they will turn their weapon on themself.


  1. You could say that Trigonometras repented for his sin!
    [deafening silence, a single tumbleweed rolls across the stage]

  2. Very nice! Now we just need the Lands Between as a hexcrawl.

  3. These are probably my favorite "GLoG fighter maneuvers" to date.

    Does Trigonometrics, Vol. III: Sacred Arcs have a third maneuver?


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