Wednesday, May 15, 2019

HELLWALKERS: the Pilgrim’s Verse and the Crow’s Chime

Journey West, Pilgrims
Through field and mire,
Vine and spire
To the Pit of Flame.
Ring the Crow’s Chime,
Turn back time
Restore the righteous world,

The words float on the air. They linger on the lips of the wounded; they lure the foolhardy to the gates and echo after their un-worn boots. Those who heed the Pilgrim’s Verse are Hellwalkers. They all dream of saving the world—of becoming the true HELLWALKERS.

Rumors of the Pit of Flame (B07)

Their destination is the Pit of Flame: a volcano in the Western Mountains, just southwest of the town of Bones. Rumors drift down the river Styx to the town of Stones: the people of Bones are terrified of the Pit. They whisper of a beast, the Crow, but the journey is long; merchants are few and Hellwalkers fewer. No witness has ever returned with a direct account of the thing or its prize: the Chime.

Oscar of Astora (Dark Souls)

The Lab

A concrete bunker squats in the caldera. The doorway is exploded; the great steel doors, stamped with the seal of the Order of Asphodel, lay 40 feet away. Inside are countless piles of feathers, shinies, and small treasures. Skeletons both human and demon for the floor, and blood and feathers cover shattered test tubes. In the central chamber is a single large test tube frame the size of a small house, in the bottom of which is a huge nest with piles of coins and other treasures. A vault door lies in front of an alcove in the back of the room with a pedestal in it.

Treasures: Unhatched Crows’ Eggs, 6-Second Skip Pills, 6-Second Rewind Pills

The Crow

Crows infest the lab and the caldera. Their tiny hoards dot the area. Among their number, however, are demon crows and cyborg crows (2d8: 1 much bigger, 2 flaming, 3 shadowy, 4 teleporting, 5 laser eyes, 6 feather blades, 7 jet wings, 8 electric talons). They build their nests in the test tubes of their birth. They’re smart, and they’ll test the party with gifts and caws to see if they’re friend or foe. They are the younger siblings of The Crow.

It looms up to the size of a T-Rex. A hive of dimly-lit glass eyes set in a huge metal plate dominate the left half of its face (they shoot a huge laser). It raises its wings to obscure itself in shadow fog. Feather blades line its wings. It breaths with the noise of a jet engine and moves with speed to match. If wounded, its talons ignite with electric flame. It hungers for more shinies.

The Shrieker (Darkest Dungeon)

The Crow’s Chime

A rod of steel and silicon, as long as an arm and engraved with the seal of the Order of Asphodel. It weighs more than it should and catches light from unseen sources. It is, in reality, a sort of checkpoint, set to a day 15 years ago, 15 minutes before the beast breaks containment and four hours before the end of the world. If it is rung—twisted into position over the course of a day and struck by strong steel—it will drag the rest of the world back to its anchor point. The Chime pulls everyone touching it to its physical location in the lab as well, leaving their bodies, memories, and inventories intact. The ritual that ended the world took place in the lab four hours after the checkpoint was set. It can be stopped by the HELLWALKERS.

The Chime is not on its pedestal.

The Chime is in the Citadel (I08). With no one left in the lab to claim it, the demons took it to safeguard their victory in the past.

The Draft Room

An iron-banded oak door covered in charred claw marks blocks a side passage, or used to, before it rotted away. It was an office. Inside is a skeleton, a sturdy desk, and a small pile of opened cans, enough for two days’ worth of rations. On the desk is a one-way radio distress transmitter and dozens of sheets of paper—rough drafts of the pilgrim’s verse.

Journey West, Pilgrims, through field and forest, or grass and woodland, or sun and shade. Visit the Caldera of Knowledge, or the Scholar’s Cauldron, or the Final Volcano. Ring or toll or twist the Chime, the Chime of the Beast, or the Past-Walker’s Chime. Reclaim what was, or seize your former fate, or rewrite old wrongs right again: HELLWALKERS, or PASTSHAPERS, or PENITENTS. There is a final sheet of paper next to the radio with the final verse.

Other pages track frantic thought: “Door barred. Two days’ food. Chime remains for now. Order Asphodel ruined; no rescue. Battery for one transmission. Chime must be used to change past, but none in Order are stronger than Escapee. Must attract others.”

“Could explain situation. Broadcast openly. Too long to transmit, too much knowledge to bear. Instead: spread simple myth of Chime’s power through Order survivors.”

“First Hellwalkers—allies? [locations of two Hellwalkers] Know much. Will overburden others with strict morals. No doubt bitter. Chime must ring. Be direct. No distractions.”

“Last can. Transmission sent. Demons still outside. Chime remains. Pray they don’t take it.”

“So hungry. One day since last can. Rescue still unlikely.”

“hungry hu̸ǹg͢ry h͘ù́n̕͠gr̵̛y̡̧ h̴͜͡u̷͞҉҉n̸̛g̨̨̕͜r͠͏̵̷͜y̸̡ h̶̜̜͉̝û͓ͭ̊̿͒ͧ̌n̶̫̣͓̮̂ͯ̇ͩg̒͂ͧͦ̂̂̍ṟ͈̮̻̼ͪ͋ý̯”

MFW I'm waiting for the adventurers to Ring the Crow's Chime and Turn Back Time (imgflip)

Design Notes: Influences

Dark Souls
So, I didn’t really fight the Dark Souls influence here. As those of you who have played the game might have noticed, the Pilgrim’s Verse is directly inspired by Oscar’s Undead Prophecy in Dark Souls 1: a call to arms to visit a far-off location and ring something. The ringing of the bell in Dark Souls is so strongly imprinted in my memory that I just let that bleed through here: the Hellwalkers are also trying to ring a macguffin. The influence runs deeper than that, though—also like the Undead Prophecy, it misleads those who follow it: there is a second Bell of Awakening to ring in Dark Souls and the Chime is not in the Pit of Flame. Just like the Undead Prophecy, the Pilgrim’s Verse is a fabrication by a waning power hoping some future adventurer will restore it.

Enter the Gungeon
The quest is also inspired directly by Enter the Gungeon: in that game, the player characters are attempting to go back in time and undo their past mistakes. I think that’s pretty cool, and it makes me feel less bad about writing a world full of crappy stuff.

Doom (2016)
The Order of Asphodel works parallel to the UAC. Both meddled in demonic power and things went south. There’s some evidence of that here in all the broken test tubes, but I’m going to try to scatter more of it around the map.

Darkest Dungeon
It has a cool corvid boss fight.

Here's the map, for reference

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Rats, Snakes, and Small Swarms of Bees (Critter Master GLOG Class)

Oops, I accidentally dropped pictures of a bunch of cute critters all over this post, my bad (Wikipedia)

Way back in the dark pre-GLOG ages, Arnold wrote a Rat Master. I wrote an animal-agnostic, GLOG-compatible version.

Critter Master 

You can call one critter per minute, to a max of [templates] cubed (1, 8, 27, 64).

A: Critter Friend, Commander
B: Bond, Blessing
C: Dire Critter, Critter Form
D: Reinforce, Dire Form

Critter Friend
Pick a type of critter, for example: rats, spiders, snakes, pigeons, or small swarms of bees. You can speak to them, and they can speak to you, and they treat you with respect. Supernatural critters might not be respectful. You can call out for critters almost anywhere, crawling forth from nooks and crannies. You can call one critter/minute, to a max of [templates]^3 (1, 8, 27, 64).

You can command your critters in combat (in addition to acting yourself). Critters deal damage in clumps. They deal 1dX damage, where X is the amount of critter in the clump, maxing out at 1d12. Only one clump can attack a target at a time. When attacked, Clumps are unarmored and have X HP, and when hit by an AoE attack a clump must Save or Die, with half surviving on a success. You can order critters to explore and perform other tasks, but they’re not very smart.

You can sense the locations of your called critters.

You take on some aspect of of your critter (rat agility, spiderclimb, snake venom, bee sting). Abilities should be active and have [template] uses/day.

Dire Critter
Take 10 minutes to call a dog-sized version of your critter. It counts as 8 critters toward your cap. Stats are 1 HD, Armor as Leather, 1d8 damage, plus whatever else the critter would have.

Critter Form
You can transform into your critter.

Once per day, you can call any number of critters up to your cap in one combat round.

Dire Form
You can shift between normal, critter, person-sized critter, and part-normal-part-critter forms.


Design Notes

I like this class. I really like the growth from one little buddy to a whole horde of them. The werewolf-ish stuff is fun, too. I think this class is pretty straightforward, but I also think it has a good toolset for solving OSR-style challenges.

So far, this class has been tested in two sessions: once with snakes and once with pigeons. Both times went well: the uses of A Single Snake and A Single Pigeon are very intuitive and helpful, even when you don’t have any other class abilities.

Since we’re finally done with the Primary Trio of classes, there’s a lot less Design Theory going on. These are just for fun.

Look at this small friend! Stay away from me though, small friend! I'm low-key scared of you! You are a good small friend, though!

Pigeons! They can be cute too! (Wikipedia)
Drawing the line at spiders, sorry, so have Lucas instead (His series is great)
It's actually illegal for me to go an entire class post without including Darkest Dungeon. Picture this but it's a swarm of 30 dachsunds instead (Darkest Dungeon!!)

Tuesday, April 30, 2019



Demons invaded the world! Great warriors gathered from every kingdom to drive back the infernal forces!

They died.

15 years passed.

The demons erected a Citadel. A week ago, it began firing jets of green flame into space—a sickly omen. The brave rot in the pale light, but bravery never ensured survival. Scheming hope springs up amid the mud and flame. When heroes fall, HELLWALKERS rise.

I played the modern Doom and thought it was pretty good. Haven't played the original but I hear it's good too (Doom)

HELLWALKERS is a hexcrawl/setting/campaign I’m going to write and run in a few months. The Player Characters grew up after demons invaded their world, Asphodel (a moon of the gas giant Charybdis). Adventurers—known as Hellwalkers—journey out into the burning wastes to try to learn why the demons invaded, and, ultimately, save the world from its demon occupation. After the Demon Citadel began firing jets of green flame into space, the player characters took on the Hellwalkers’ quest themselves. If they can survive the hellish environment, if they can save the world, they’ll become true HELLWALKERS.

I just finished running the first campaign that really achieved the goals I set out to achieve at the start (a medieval fantasy pastiche hexcrawl featuring feudal politics and taxes). I might post about it in the future, but today what matters is that I am ever-ambitious, and I have lofty goals for this next project.

I am excited for the sequel. It is going to have Dark Souls style multiplayer. Also this lightsaber (Doom)


Focus on the hexcrawl. In my last campaign, the party spent several sessions’ worth of time sticking inside of single hexes, mostly dungeons and towns. It was great! But I would like to focus my next campaign much more on the hexcrawl part of gameplay, meaning less time delving dungeons and scheming in town and more time traveling overland. There will still be tombs to rob and civilized areas to visit, but there won’t be as much depth to them. The interesting bits will be in the relationships between spread-out locations.

Make a bigger map. The last map was just 8x10 hexes, and the players stayed in a very small area within it, only 6x3 hexes. They were always easily within a days’ travel of town, which reduced the pressure to gather supplies in the wilderness and heal STR damage in town. This time around, the map will be bigger, there will be fewer towns, and there won’t be as many roads.

Run an investigation. This has been sort of a nebulous goal of my last few campaigns. The players wandered around learning things, but it didn’t have any large impact and it wasn’t particularly guided. This time around, there will be major mysteries to uncover. To begin with, the players will be investigating why the demons invaded in the first place, and then, later, what they can do about it. I’ll spread known important locations and NPCs around the map to get them moving.

Run a more challenging (deadlier) game. I am a total wuss. Moonhop’s injury system is good because it removes me from the process—if the players take injuries or die, it will be mostly their fault. At some point, however, I do need to put actually-dangerous things on the map, things that the players won’t outsmart on their first try. Victory is sweeter when it comes after legitimate failure.

Give in to my gonzo science fantasy instincts. Medieval pastiche is fun, but I suspect that I am, at heart, a science fantasy person. I like cyborg, wizards, and cyborg wizards, and I intend to put all three on the same hexcrawl. I’m also going to tap into the OSR favorite Aesthetics of Ruin and try to make a really grand setting for the players to marvel at.

Watch a ragtag bunch of misfits rise to heroism or fall in a blaze of glory. My players definitely played misfits, but they accumulated power a bit more quickly than I’d like and there wasn’t ever much chance of the blaze of glory. I’m going to be more direct with this goal by setting the player goal at “Save the World” and putting deadly obstacles in their way.

On my last map, numbering started at 0, and let me tell you, that was a really dumb idea


I don’t know what all of the stuff on the map means yet. A big part of my process is putting down hexes that I think look cool and then thinking of things to put in them. I’ll try to blog about that process here. Arnold has some good words about the deep comfort of mapmaking.

I used Hex Kit to make this; it’s $15 for the program itself and a little more money for the pretty colored hexes. I recommend it. If you’re strapped for cash, I recommend Hexographer, which is clunkier and not as pretty but perfectly functional.

The seed of this campaign: “Joan of Arc and Doomguy
team up to kick ass.” (Courtesy of Dan at Throne of Salt)

DOOT (by Storm Wolf

Monday, April 29, 2019

A Conduit for Poor Decisions (GLOG Wizard Foundation Class)

Unquestionably a GLOG Wizard. The skull is probably a familiar. (Darkest Dungeon: still cool)

So, GLOG people like Wizards. Here’s my basic template for them, rounding out my Primary Class Trio. It’s adapted primarily from this Coins and Scrolls Class.


For every Wizard template you have, gain 1 Mana Dice (MD).

A: Wizard Features, School Features, +2 Spells Known (1-6)
B: Spell Breeding, Call Familiar, +1 Spell Known (1-8)
C: Wizard Vision, +1 Spell Known (1-10)
D: Arcane Communion, +1 Spell Known (1-10)

Wizard Features

Mana Dice (MD)
You get 1 per Wizard template. They are d6s. Whenever you cast a spell, you choose how many MD to invest into it (minimum 1). The result of the spell depends on the number of [dice] and their [sum]. If a MD rolls a 1-3, it returns to your pool to be used again. Otherwise, you lose it until you get a night of sleep. You can’t cast without MD.

They’re stored either in your mind or on scrolls/spellbooks, in “Spell Slots.” Spells stored on scrolls/spellbooks can be cast once per day. Spells stored in your mind can be cast as many times per day as you want. You can move spells between your mind and your spellbook every morning. There are two ways to acquire spells: levelling up, and stealing them from the spellbooks of other wizards.

+Spells Known
Every time you gain a Wizard template, you gain a new Mind Spell Slot and a new Spell, rolled randomly on your school list (more on that later). You start out with two Mind Spell Slots and two Spells.

By licking an object, you can tell whether or not it is magical.

School Features

Spell List
Every Wizard School has a list of 11+ spells associated with it. You roll randomly for them each time you take a Wizard template: 1d6 for the A template, 1d8 for B, and 1d10 for C and D. Later spells are Emblem spells that you must quest for.

A passive bonus/penalty.

Minor magical abilities you can use as often as you like.

Mishaps occur when you roll doubles on your MD. They’re potentially dangerous magic accidents. Dooms occur when you roll triples. There are three, and they occur in order. They will end your wizardly career or kill you if you don’t quest to avoid your Doom.

Level 2+ Features

Spell Breeding
With a night of work, you can breed (destroy) two spells you know or have on scrolls to learn a new spell, rolled randomly from your school spell list.

Call Familiar
You may call to a familiar, a magical spirit. The familiar will appear in 1d20 hours. You must then bargain with it for its service. They like ambition and valuable sacrifices. Roll under INT (bonus/penalty depending on bargaining); if it fails, no familiar will ever appear for you in this location again, but if it succeeds, the familiar agrees to a mutually binding magical contract. Your familiar will serve you to your last drop of ambition.

Familiars can provide a Service once/day. For each Service, you owe the familiar one Favor. They can be pretty nasty tasks, but failing to fulfill them incurs a Breach of Covenant, which are nasty for you. Everything else dealing with familiars is GM-facing. You are not required to call a familiar.

Familiar Services

  1. Detect Magic (for free, ask nicely)
  2. Teach you a new spell from your school’s spell list (1d4+1 max, first is free)
  3. Allow you to cast a spell from a scroll or spellbook twice in one day
  4. Grant you one free MD
  5. Exercise its unique power
  6. Save you from death, once
  7. Anything else you can think to ask of it. Just remember that it will count for a Favor. 

Wizard Vision
You always see invisible things as a faint lensing of light, and can tell roughly how big they are. By making eye contact with someone, you can tell if they are possessed, undead, protected by divinity, or a spellcaster.

Arcane Communion
You can pool your MD with other wizards (including lower level and NPC wizards). Mishaps and Dooms affect all of you.

Ohoho, you thought we were done with Venom, did you? You thought WRONG! (by Mike Hawthorne)

Design Notes

I really like to condense things. It’s fun, I think I’m good at it, and it makes things easier to understand. I’ve been condensing the wizard class since I first played the GLOG; I think this result is good.

I’m not going to talk about school design; Skerples has a good post on the subject over at Coins and Scrolls. I’m also not good at writing wizards—I don’t have any I’m happy with yet, and they’re not very high priority. I’m already spoiled for choice with existing GLOG wizards.

Now, on to the actual notes. Identify is great. It’s simple, it gives players just enough information to freak them out but not enough to help, and it encourages your wizards lick dangerous things. What’s not to love?

My system for spellcasting is sort of the opposite of Vancian casting; instead of having a limited number of more convenient memorized castings and less limited clunky book castings, my wizards can cast their “signature” memorized spells until they run out of MD and scrolls/books are for niche situations. It’s a bit more video-gamey and makes more sense to me. At some point, I might try real vancian casting, but I’m happy with this for now.

Familiars are great. Arnold says it better than I do, so if you want more detail and GM-facing information, head to his post on the subject. I’ve taken his rules and condensed them down to just the player-facing parts. Familiars hit a core theme: wizards are a class for making Poor Decisions. Free MD every day? Nice! Salvation from death? Cool! Horrible demon favors? Ye—wait, uh, what? The biggest issue with this is that I am a total wimp and I’m bad at thinking of good horrible demon favors. (Also I use CHA instead of INT for the roll since I don't have INT as a stat.)

Wizard Vision is another neat Arnold idea I’m formalizing as a wizard class ability. Arnold’s original version involves losing either WIS or CHA, but because I run with STR/DEX/CHA as the only stats and roll them with 3d6-drop-lowest, I don’t do the stat drain.

Arcane Communion is another conduit for Poor Decisions. At 4 MD, the chance for a Mishap is about 70%, and the chance for a Doom is about 10%. It’s not hard to get 8 MD with this ability and a couple first level shmucks, but—while it is very strong—it's also a colossally stupid idea since they’ll all have sparks shooting out of their eyes as the magic goes haywire. It’s perfect. As a side note, Monsieur’s Witch foundation has this ability at first level, but since I find it a bit complex for my tastes, I just decided to move it here.

Wizard Teeth

When a wizard casts a spell, sometimes the magic words get stuck in their teeth. Mostly, this makes them yellowed and crooked, but after a long enough career of magic, serious magical residue builds up. If you—ahem—acquire a set of wizard teeth, you can grind them down to get an iridescent ivory dust. Each charge of Wizard Teeth grants 1 temporary MD to cast with (it still returns on a 1-3, but once it’s gone, it’s gone for good). If you harvest all the teeth from one wizard, you get one charge for each level they had. Non-wizards can use Wizard Teeth to cast from scrolls. This is also the system I use for Moonhop, which is classless by default. I place charges as loot, mostly, but in theory my players could buy Wizard Teeth in a market place or try to find them in the wild.

Alternate Doom Events

Normally, Mishaps occur on doubles and Dooms occur on triples. It's very elegant. It also means that Dooms are impossible until 3rd level, though, and then only when your wizards really let loose with their magic. You can see the chance of Mishaps and Dooms with various amounts of MD in this handy chart, provided by magnificentophat:

I don't have any other pictures of wizards to show you but math is basically magic so

That leaves the chance of Doom too low for my taste, so I'm experimenting with a different system. Every wizard has a stat, let's call it Sanity, that starts at 20. Every time a Mishap occurs (on doubles, as before), they reduce their Sanity by 1, then roll a d20. If it's under their Sanity, all is well! If it's over, they experience a Doom.

I started using this system in my last campaign, and, for the first time, actually had a wizard experience a Doom (he got unlucky and rolled a 19 at Sanity 18). I think it really cements the inevitability of Dooms since any number of MD greater than 1 could bring your fate closer, and I think I've provided enough tempting options to boost MD to make it happen. I haven't done the math on how likely the Dooms actually are, but they'll definitely occur more often at later levels than normal Dooms.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Anything Not Nailed Down is Legally Mine (Thief GLOG Class)

If I can pry it loose, it's not nailed down (if you want to buy this thing do it here I guess)

Next in the Primary Class Triad: Thieves!


For every Thief template you have, gain +1 Stealth.

A: Wall Crawler, Scrounge
B: Pick 1 Skill, Roll 1 Skill
C: Roll 2 Skills
D: Pick 1 Skill, Roll 1 Skill

Starting Equipment: Roll on Scrounge Table

Wall Crawler
You climb just as well without climbing gear as with it. If a climb would be trivial using gear, you don’t need to roll, even if you’re free-climbing. If a climb would be impossible using gear, you can roll anyway.

Once per session, digging through trash, you can get an item rolled on the Failed Career Table (or another starting item table).

Skills d20

  1. Acrobat: You can move an extra 15’ per round (45’ total). You can jump 20’ instead of 10’. Treat your falls as 20’ shorter. You can easily maintain your balance on a taut rope. 
  2. Cat’s Eyes: With a little bit of light, you can see 30’ in darkness (no color). 
  3. Coward: Cover grants +1 Armor from normal (Low: Armor 2, High: Armor 3)
  4. Divine Grunt: 1/day Issue an irresistible one-word command. Only affects: d4 1 Undead, 2 Animals, 3 Plants, 4 Furniture
  5. Dog Whisperer: You start with a dog. Dogs you train can DEX Save for stealth with advantage, communicate if an area is obviously dangerous, and track a week-old trail by scent without fail (barring magical concealment). 
  6. Fashionable: Fancy clothes provide Armor 1 but don’t take up any Inventory Slots. 
  7. Getaway Horse: You start with a horse. Horses you train can DEX Save for stealth with advantage, understand abstract directions, and follow a schedule to the minute. 
  8. Lucky: 1/day, reroll one of your d20 rolls. 
  9. Opportunist: When you have a situational attack bonus, deal an extra 1d6 damage. 
  10. Pack Rat: +3 Inventory Slots. 
  11. Quick Fingers: You have advantage on DEX Saves to pickpocket people. You can steal things directly out of someone’s hands with a regular (no advantage) DEX Save. 
  12. Recorder Crow: You start with a crow. It can make and play auditory recordings. It responds to Record, Stop Recording, Play, Pause, Rewind, and Fast Forward. Max storage: 1 hour. It’s very smart. 
  13. Redirect: Once per round, when an enemy attacks you, you can make a DEX Save to redirect their attack to another enemy they can hit. 
  14. Second Chance: Once per lifetime, cheat death. 
  15. Square Meal: Lunch heals you to full HP provided you pair it with alcohol. 
  16. Tongues: 1/day Speak with d4: 1 Weapons, 2 Doors, 3 Birds, 4 Clothing
  17. Tricky: Advantage on Gambits. 
  18. Urchin: A street rat demands to learn. They’re a very sneaky hireling that doesn’t ask for pay. If you lose your urchin, you can recruit another wherever urchins are plentiful, but it will be difficult if you have a reputation for getting them killed. 
  19. Watchful: You have advantage on DEX Saves for initiative. You can’t be snuck past. 
  20. Wizardly Initiate: By tasting an object, you can tell whether or not it is magical. You have 1 MD that regenerates overnight. (You can’t memorize spells). 

They are also thieves (You can buy this as a shirt)

Design Notes

Thief should be, I think, the best class for new players. It should be as simple as possible, encourage shenanigans, and have room for variation in case multiple new players pick it. This class system—unique to my thief—hopefully does all three of those things.

Wall Crawler is a permission slip to get anywhere you like. It’s dead simple and fairly strong. It was inspired by a single passage in Veins of the Earth saying basically “let specialists [thieves] climb without rolling,” which I’ve turned into the core of the class. Scrounge is a consistent way to provide players with an extra tool for free: my first thief found 10 Hallucinatory Berries on their first use of the ability and they have proven incredibly useful for wizard-sabotage and bishop-assassination already.

The other abilities are invented or collected from various other thieves and thief-like classes. Every thief gets a unique combination of them, depending on what they pick and what they roll. My current thief player chose Dog Whisperer and rolled Second Chance; neither has seen a ton of use yet, but she was happy with both.

Lexi’s Thief and Scholar for Mimics and Miscreants at A Blasted, Cratered Land are based on this Thief, if you want to see two more takes on this concept. She posted hers before mine because I’ve been sharing GLOG classes on the OSR Discord for a while now for people to use and modify, but I’m only just now beginning to post them here.

I am a huge fan of knife+gun. It is just so cool (Darkest Dungeon is rad)
Just a real cool design (Darkest Dungeon is rad)
I don't have huge problems with bards as a class but this guy is knifey enough to count as a thief, too (Darkest Dungeon is rad)
Pretty clearly a thief who picked Dog Whisperer at template B (Darkest Dungeon is rad)

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Concentrated Early 2000s Energy: Klyntar (GLOG Class, Parasite Challenge)

I hope you're ready for some really dumb comic stuff because Venom is absurd and I love it (Venom #4, cover illustrated by Mike McKone)

I wrote this class as an entry in the informal Parasite Class Challenge on the OSR Discord! It's a hub of GLOG activity; a real buzzing, twitching lump of creativity. There are more events like this to come.

Klyntar (Symbiote)

For every Klyntar template you have, increase your HP by 1.

A: Alien Biology, Fashion Goop, Powerful Grip
B: Internal Arsenal, Lose Control, Nemesis
C: Skullcruncher, Host Hopper
D: Extra Limbs, Improved Arsenal

Alien Biology
You play a goopy alien symbiote attached to a regular person. You take double damage from fire. You take 1d6 damage per round from very loud or high-pitched noises. You must eat raw meat for rations to heal from lunch. You must eat sapient brains, sedatives, or chocolate to heal STR damage (negative HP in the GLOG). Mental effects only affect one of your two minds—the symbiote or the host.

Fashion Goop
The symbiote can mimic any clothing, recoloring it to its own color scheme. It can’t mimic the effects of armor, but it can mimic its appearance, and all symbiote clothing counts as Chain armor.

Powerful Grip
You have advantage on grappling and climbing.

Internal Arsenal
You can reshape your limbs at will into any light or medium mundane melee weapons.

Lose Control
When you hit 0 HP, you lose control. You automatically heal 1d6 HP and your symbiote clothing counts as Plate Armor. You must attack every round. You are terrifying to look at. You may attempt to regain control with a 2-in-6 chance every round. You can’t lose control more than once per day.

Pick another member of the party to be your nemesis. When you lose control, you must treat them as a dangerous enemy—you can focus on other enemies first, but if you kill all other enemies before regaining control, you must attack your nemesis.

When you kill an enemy in melee, you can eat their head to regain 1d4 HP.

Host Hopper
You can separate the symbiote from the host, controlling both separately. The original host loses 1 HP per round without the symbiote. The symbiote can attempt to take control of another creature, which gets a Save to resist; if they fail, the Symbiote can control their actions. If they succeed, the Symbiote’s player still controls their actions, but they must work toward the temporary host’s immediate goals, which the DM must provide. They can do so inefficiently. The Symbiote must Save to disconnect from a host that passed their own Save. Success or failure, the symbiote can talk telepathically to the temporary host while attached. If the original host dies, the symbiote must Save or die every day, even when attached to a temporary host.

Extra Limbs
You can extrude up to two extra limbs. In Moonhop, when holding multiple weapons, roll damage dice for each and use the highest result.

Improved Arsenal
You can reshape your limbs at will into any mundane weapon (light, medium, heavy, melee, ranged). It still takes two limbs to make a two-handed weapon.

I mean, really, the sheer density of early 2000s energy in this image is enough to kill a small elephant
(Venom Vol 2 #38, penciled by Kim Jacinto and colored by Lee Loughridge)

Design Notes

Since it’s such a recent creation, this class is, of course, completely untested, and probably too powerful by the time you reach max level. To start with, though, you’re a well-armored climber, grappler, and fashionista  with several serious weaknesses—fire is common and dangerous, and long term healing requires special supplies.

At level 2, Internal Arsenal lets you smuggle weapons anywhere you like and switch your loadout to whatever best suits the situation. You also get Lose Control, a Rage-like ability that only activates in serious danger and carries a downside: enmity with your Nemesis.

At level 3, Skullcruncher grants unreliable in-combat healing and Host Hopper provides mind control, but with a downside—the potential death of your true host, the only one that can really sustain you. If you get “captured” by the temporary host, you can still hinder them and learn some of what they want, which is pretty neat. Other classes and items have abilities that could mitigate the risk to your real host.

Finally, at level 4, you really get dangerous: you double the number of weapons you can hold with Extra Limbs and greatly expand the categories with Improved Arsenal to become a walking cache of weapons. Notably, however, you don’t ever get a true Extra Attack, which I’m hoping will mitigate the power of being able to use two halberds or four pistols.

I mean, come on, isn't this just the coolest stupid idea ever? Don't you look at this, recoil a little, and then lean in? 
(Spider-Gwen Vol 5, cover illustrated by Khary Randolph) 

This. This is my favorite one. I own this comic and it is stupid, edgy, and ridiculous, and it is the best thing ever 
(Venomverse #1, penciled by Iban Coello and colored by Matt Yackey)
A fantastic OSR party if ever there was one (Venomverse #1 Variant Cover by Gustavo Duarte)

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

FIGHT (GLOG Fighter)

I will take any excuse to use Darkest Dungeon character art (Darkest Dungeon wiki)

I’ve written close to two dozen GLOG classes, but most of them just sit moldering in a folder. It’s time to fix that.


For every Fighter template you have, increase your HP by 1.

A: Cleave, Parry
B: Tricky, Rally
C: Sentinel, Threat Assessment
D: Extra Attack

Starting Equipment: One Weapon of Your Choice, Chain Armor (2 Inventory Slots, 1 Armor)

When you kill a creature or roll max damage, you can make another attack.

When an enemy attacks you, you can sacrifice a piece of combat equipment (weapon, shield, armor) or fancy clothing to reduce the incoming damage by 1d6.

Advantage on Gambits. Gambits are added to attacks. Say what you’d like to do (“I disarm the goblin”) and what will happen if you fail (“the goblin gets a free attack”). The GM has final say. Save (STR in this case) to try the gambit. You still deal damage regardless of the Save (like regular attacks).

Add +[templates] to Hired Hand Morale Saves.

Once per round, when an enemy leaves your melee range, you can attack them.

Threat Assessment
For every 10 minutes looking at or 1 round fighting a person or creature, you can tell one of: how many HD it has (roughly equivalent to level), how many mundane attacks it has, and how much damage each attack deals. Additionally, if it’s a person and you make eye contact, you can tell how many sapients they’ve killed: None, One, or Many.

Extra Attack
You can attack twice in each round.

Spear and shield is an underused combo, I think (Darkest Dungeon wiki)

A Noble Line (of Fighters)

The lineage of my GLOG Fighter is an interesting one, so I’m going to talk about it before my notes on my class. We start with Arnold K’s Goblin Guts Fighter, which is notable for inventing (for GLOG purposes) the ability Notches: as Fighters gets kills with specific weapons, those weapons get stronger.

Next in line is Skerples’ Fighter. Unlike Arnold’s Fighter, this one gets an Extra Attack at first level, due to the ambiguity of “+1 Attack” in the original Goblin Guts Fighter (I asked Arnold and it actually means +1 Attack Stat). Since most GLOG Fighters are based off of Skerples’, though, that small misinterpretation has rippled out to most of the GLOGosphere. Extra Attack *is* a good Fighter ability, though, so its popularity is not unwarranted.

Now we’re at my first Fighter. I moved Notches to first level, since I like classes that get their primary unique features at first level. I moved Extra Attack to second level, since it’s very strong. I moved Parry to third level, since I wanted my fighters a bit less survivable. This is the only version of the class I’ve had played in one of my games, and I concluded two things: Notches is too slow and abstract and Extra Attack is still too strong that early.

Before I move on to my version of the class, I need to make an honorable mention of zoeology31's Fighter; it rolls a d20 after each kill, and if the number is under the weapon’s Notches, the Fighter gets a new ability. I played in her campaign, which had a couple fighters, and it worked quite well.

Design Notes

Fighter is one third of the THIEF - FIGHTER - WIZARD triad, the Primary Classes at the top of my class list. I think a well-designed Thief is the best class for new players (they can be simple and still encourage shenanigans), but Fighter comes in second place for sheer simplicity, so I kept the ability list static (my Thieves are randomized and my Wizards use schools).

Now, for a review of the class itself. It hasn’t been tested yet, but I feel good about it.

Stat Buff and Starting Equipment
HP makes Fighters a bit tougher, as does Chain Armor (statted out for Moonhop). Getting your choice of starting weapon is fairly powerful on its own, especially in campaigns where guns are available.

It’s sorta like Extra Attack Lite. I’m writing all my classes to be compatible with Moonhop, which doesn’t have attack rolls, so instead of “activates on crits and kills,” Cleave activates on max damage and kills. That means that low damage weapons Cleave more often, which I choose to treat as a feature rather than a bug.

I came up with this version of the ability as I was writing this post; I don’t like the 1/day damage reduction parry because it would be the only limited-use ability my Fighter gets, and I like consistency. This version was inspired by the popular Shields Shall Be Splintered houserule. I’m hoping that making it a class-limited ability with lower damage reduction will balance out the more frequent, equipment-limited use.

Gambits are a catchall for risky things like grappling and targeted shots. My hope is that by making this ability strong, Fighters will go out of their way to do gambits, reminding the other players that they exist.

Impress is an ability that makes Fighters better with hirelings, but I don’t think I’ve ever had players in a situation where they could use it. I’m hoping this simpler hireling buff will be more useful and encourage all players to use hirelings, much like Tricky could encourage all players to use gambits.

When I’ve played 5e, I’ve found that reaction attacks really slow things down and confuse new players, and they also make it very difficult to make a fighting retreat. New players are important to me, as are fighting retreats, so I removed them from the main rules. It’s a fun class ability, though; it makes Fighters feel like badass combat experts.

Threat Assessment
Wizards get the ability to tell whether things are magical by touching them. It’s a useful ability, but a lot of the time it provides enough information to freak your players out and not enough to actually help them. My hope is that this ability will do the same when the party encounters a kindly old grandma with Many kills.

Extra Attack
It’s a very powerful ability. Between Extra Attack, Cleave, and Sentinel, my Fighters get a LOT of attacks, so they could be very overpowered. I tend to make most of my classes too powerful, I think, although they haven’t seen a ton of testing so far.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Sting's Deadbeat Cousins, or: Divinatory Item Generator

So, the Hobbit is pretty great, right?

Pinterest is the bane of my existence but I did manage to find the original source for this image (by theGorgonist)

Sting: Dagger that Glows when Orcs are near

Item that Action when Category is near

Item d20
  1. Dagger
  2. Sword 
  3. Spear
  4. Axe
  5. Mace
  6. Hammer
  7. Halberd
  8. Bow
  9. Crossbow
  10. Rifle
  11. Pistol
  12. Shield
  13. Breastplate
  14. Helmet
  15. Ring
  16. Necklace
  17. Gauntlets 
  18. Boots 
  19. Skull
  20. Tome
Action d20
  1. Glows
  2. Changes Color
  3. Emits a Beam of Light
  4. Screams
  5. Moans Pleasurably
  6. Vibrates
  7. Freezes
  8. Burns
  9. Strobes
  10. Smells of Farts
  11. Smells of Flowers
  12. Leaks Blood
  13. Recites Scripture
  14. Becomes Heavier
  15. Levitates
  16. Smokes
  17. Moistens
  18. Plays Music
  19. Whispers Psychically
  20. Turns Invisible
Category d20
  1. Orcs
  2. Humans
  3. Elves
  4. Dwarves
  5. Goblins
  6. Dumb Undead
  7. Intelligent Undead
  8. Predatory Animals
  9. Herd Animals
  10. Birds
  11. Books
  12. Alcohol
  13. Demons
  14. Ghosts
  15. Royalty
  16. Criminals
  17. Wealthy People
  18. Liars
  19. Virgins
  20. Sluts (anyone who has had sex recently and enjoyed it, even a little) 

Most of the results for "witch hut" are Minecraft, which, in retrospect, makes sense (by Tiana Maros)

The Shop

The shop is run by an old, old man who has been old for as long as anyone can remember. They call him The Shopkeeper in the Woods. He loves mysteries, especially the mystery of what his magic items do, and he’ll encourage the players to buy the cheapest items. If killed, he Obi-Wans out (with all his items and cash) and returns the next time someone visits the shop, gently admonishing his killers if they return. If they kill him a second time, they will never be able to find the shop again.

At every visit, the shop has 5 items for sale, all rolled randomly. They count as magic for the purposes of hitting ghosts and werewolves or whatever.
  1. Two unlabeled items, each a bit cheaper than a silvered sword
  2. An item with its action labeled, 2x the price of the unlabeled items
  3. An item with its category labeled, 3x the price of the unlabeled items
  4. An item with both its action and category labeled, 4x the price of the unlabeled items

Tables for items like these would probably be cool, too (xkcd)

Betty Bacontime has her own version of this table here.
The button was built using Spwack's Automatic List-to-HTML Translator v2.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

BE HELLBOY! or: the Sanctioned Cambion--a GLOG Class

So, Dan over at Throne of Salt wrote a Hellboy class for dB/dX games. In the grand tradition of the GLOG, I decided to adapt it (with his permission). The class was already quite close to GLOG format; I just added Fan the Hammer, tightened the wording, and ordered the abilities. Without further ado, here’s the class:

I haven't read any Hellboy yet, but he sure does look cool (image via IGN)

Sanctioned Cambion

For every Sanctioned Cambion template you have, increase your HP by 1.

A: Infernal Heritage, Leadfoot
B: Blessed Lead, The Gitchy Feeling
C: Drawing Out the Devil, Ember Eyes
D: White Sacrament, Fan the Hammer

Starting Equipment: Revolver (d6 exploding on 6, offhand, 6 shots)

Infernal Heritage
Take half damage from mundane fire and embodied demons. You are immune to seduction.

You’re heavy, as though made of stone. It’s difficult to move you or knock you down. Most humans can’t do it at all, and you roll with advantage against stronger creatures. You sink.

Blessed Lead
Keep up to [templates] bullets primed to deal triple damage to possessive demons (and none to their hosts). It takes a day to prepare one bullet.

The Gitchy Feeling
Sense the presence of demons and spirits within 60’, and (roughly) their numbers and strength.

Draw Out the Devil
Force incorporeal demons to Save or be trapped in an object. If you know the demon’s true name, it has disadvantage on its Save.

Ember Eyes
With a bit of light, you can see 30’ in the dark (no color). Your eyes glow like hot coals.

White Sacrament
With an hour long ritual, you and your allies can enter a pocket of hell and strike at the blackened soul of a manifested demon. For every HP you sacrifice, your allies all get +1 damage on their next successful attack. If you are killed, everyone is trapped in hell.

Fan the Hammer
You can fire your revolver as many times in one attack as it has bullets remaining, but use only the best roll for the actual attack.

Here’s a neat trick: you can set a google doc so that anyone with the link can view it, then get a shortened URL and QR Code attached to that link, then print those things out. An iPhone's camera, Android's Google Lens, and Snapchat can all read QR codes. That lets everyone at the table look at the doc on their phones without printing a bajillion copies or emailing them the link. You can just print the QR and show it to them. This link goes to my google doc for the Sanctioned Cambion, which will update if I make any changes.

Like I said earlier, this class is mostly not mine, but I do have some commentary on the abilities and changes I made.

Ability Ordering: I spread the three applied exorcisms out over the last three levels and the infernal bits out over all of the levels. That way, the Sanctioned Cambion grows in power both with their hellish abilities and as a demon hunter, which is pretty cool.

Infernal Heritage: Reduced the fire immunity to resistance, because I’m not a fan of total immunity.

Leadfoot: Removed the math from it, because less math is better.

Blessed Lead: This is the same--Dan updated his version to match mine.

The Gitchy Feeling: Added a range specification.

Drawing Out the Devil: I didn’t want to bother with turning tables, and Save scales with power anyway.

Ember Eyes: I worded this one to match my thief ability.

White Sacrament: I don’t like spell activation effects, so I converted it to simple HP-for-damage.

Fan the Hammer: This ability is an original. I tried to word it so that it would make sense in both the GLOG and Moonhop. I considered giving the class an Extra Attack, but I decided that infringed too closely on Fighter Territory. I’m proud of this ability, though--it lets players mess with crit/exploding damage chance, if you use those things, and practically guarantee a hit at the cost of using a lot of ammo.

So, I’ve written 15 other classes, but I posted this most recent addition first because it was easy to write commentary for. I think I want to say more about the other stuff I’ve written, but I also don’t feel like writing it down right now, so they remain unposted. If you do want to see them, you should hang around on the OSR Discord, where I workshop and share my stuff regularly.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Moonhop (an Oddhack)

Here it is! I’ve been workshopping this on the OSR Discord for a while now and I think I’m happy with it. It’s a hack of Into the Odd (paid version, free version), with GLOG-style races, failed careers, and a bunch of player-facing rules, including classless GLOG Magic, a new-ish set of Hexcrawling speed rules, and weird Hireling Squad rules.

Click the image or this link.