Wednesday, May 20, 2020

GLOG Reviews 3 - Minimal GLOG, Jar of Dirt, Nidus

It's been more than a year since I last reviewed some GLOG hacks, and since then there have been many, many more. So, after a bit of a shove from Oblidisideryptch, I decided I needed to get back to work and release some more reviews.

This is only the start - I've already found some more hacks that will be reviewed soon.

A note: I did not play any of these games, I only read them.

Minimal GLOG

Minimal GLOG is an attempt to package an almost entirely orthodox (read: like Rat on a Stick) GLOG ruleset in the smallest possible space.
  • Standard derived stats (Attack, Defend [called AC], Movement) except Stealth.
  • HP and Stat Bonuses use equations (CON - 4 and [Stat / 3] - 3 respectively).
  • May or may not be classless - the first page has rules for classless levelling, but someone else has added a section on more standard GLOG levelling.
  • Extra magic uses - Papercasting (codified use of scrolls) and Consultation (cast spell to ask it questions related to its purpose).
  • Appendix on miscellaneous rules - overland travel, hirelings, professions.
Minimal GLOG succeeds in its goal of being an incredibly concise version of the GLOG rules, but it fails to be complete and repeatedly references things it does not include - there are no listed professions or spells, for example.

But the question is - does a generic fantasy GLOG hack actually need any of these things? After all, the only thing that really matters to most readers is a good mechanic or two they can steal, and Minimal GLOG has that not just in its Papercasting and Consultation, but also in its simple HP and stat generation.

Jar of Dirt

In contrast to Minimal GLOG, Jar of Dirt is a large, setting-focused GLOG hack built to provide a low-magic piratical game.
  • Setting intro, largely stolen from Skerples' own pirate GLOG.
  • Uses d20 + half Stat ≥ 20 as a base system, instead of the more common roll-under.
  • Less hardcore stat generation - 4d4 base with switching and 2 free points to add.
  • 3-axis alignment (Superstitious/Skeptical, Romantic/Cynic, Traditionalist/Radical).
  • Fast healing - 1 hour of lunch returns 1d6+level, a night of sleep returns all HP.
  • 5e-style Exhaustion as an extra track for environmental hazards.
  • Hirelings are heavily abstracted and treated as a single mass in combat.
  • As well as Classes, characters have nationalities, professions, and skills, quickly and easily adding more character differentiation.
  • Levelling is based on Into the Odd - based on number of expeditions survived (as well as some extra requirements for high levels) and rewarding you with in-universe benefits.
  • Slightly more complex 5e-style combat.
  • Simple death and dismemberment seemingly a cross between the Many Rats table and Cavegirl's method.
  • Most classes are from Skerples' pirate GLOG, although some are from other sources. 
  • Ship rules (sailing exploration, ship combat, etc.) from Skerples' pirate GLOG.
  • Some setting-specific tables (I search the body, life goals, sailor's stories)
In terms of pirate GLOG rulesets, I prefer Jar of Dirt to Skerples' ruleset. While much of it is stolen from that hack, the core of the system is closer to what I tend to use. It's a very complete game, with plenty of subsystems (hirelings, ship rules) and resources (setting, tables) for the kind of campaign it's built for.

Nidus is another short hack, meant to be a Call of Cthulhu-style supernatural horror game.
  • 5 stats - Brawn, Agility, Willpower, Vigor, and Luck.
  • Occupations give you a set of possible Connections (an Artist having a connection to a publishing house they've worked with) and letting you roll 5d4 for one of your stats.
  • Skills, ranked from 1-4. The value is added to your stat for relevant rolls.
  • Standard roll-under checks.
  • Combat is similar to Many Rats, with a couple changes - separate Melee and Ranged derived stats, and Defense being replaced with damage reduction.
  • Levelless system - every 3 critical failures or critical successes with a stat, you can attempt to increase it by rolling over it on 4d4. Skills are increased in the same way.
  • Into the Odd-style health - when your HP runs out, you get a Wound and start taking damage to your Vigor. The Death and Dismemberment table is a very simple d6 roll with death occurring if the same entry is rolled twice.
  • Simple meter-style tracking for Sanity - as the derived stat decreases, you gain penalties off a pair of tables.
  • Spellcasting is largely unexplained, but doesn't seem to work on a standard GLOG system - instead, each spell cast gives you a point of Corruption, causing you to take more HP damage.
This hack raises an interesting question - what counts as a GLOG hack? Nidus is labeled as a GLOG hack, but it doesn't have the 2 most common features of the GLOG - the Templates system and the MD-based spellcasting.

Either way, it has a few things possibly worth taking for a more traditional hack - the Death and Dismemberment system is wonderfully simple, and Nidus's skill system is one of the best ways I've seen skills implemented in a roll-under system.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

The Birth-Cursed Ghouls (Sunless Horizon)

The Ghouls were never meant to exist. They are a byproduct of Keter's biolabs, misshapen mutants grown from human stock meant for the Empyreans (I should probably rewrite that article, but here's the simple changes - they are no longer a dystopia, there are a load of them spread through the ship, and it's built to be an area found very late in a campaign, that leads into finding out Keter's goals) or modified genes built for His Seraphim.

When they are found by the Disciples, they are removed, and left in Ein Soph to die.

Their Society

Batches of Ghouls tend to stick together, forming small groups. Once they move to safety, they create encampments of tiny metal shacks and communal fires. Their technology is nearly nonexistent - they hammer together dull glass-tipped spears and small metal shields for hunting, set simple mechanical traps to defend their camps, and fill the halls of Ein Soph with firelight.

These tribes are very local, rarely ranging more than a mile from their camps. They are also very small, with about 50 people at the most.

Strangely, Disciples tend not to react to the presence of Ghouls, a fact they are happy to take advantage of. Many tribes keep a few Acolytes or other low-level Disciples tied down somewhere in their camps, to use as weapons and labor. According to the Navigator Houses, this means Ghouls are intrinsically evil - look at how these dark spirits follow them!

Alone in the Firelight

Ghoul nests are spread throughout the worldship - some were found by the Navigator Houses before the Retreat, where they were treated like pests. Jackals would be sent to kill them, wiping out entire nests in a day with incendiary weapons and mass gunfire.

The Houses feel no different after the Retreat, but they have had unexpected difficulty with these Ghouls. 

Even before the Retreat, the Ghouls here were hunted by the many Oasis Kingdoms, and each survivor teaches new nests ways to protect themselves. Older nests are not the simple villages Jackals are used to - they are fortified complexes webbed with thin tunnels the unencumbered Ghouls slip through with ease as Jackals are trapped by the bulk of their equipment.

Some nests are even larger threats - so dangerous that they are either destroyed at all costs or carefully avoided. These nests are those gifted with a broken Seraph. Ghouls call these crawling, mewling creatures Hanged Kings, and idolize them as the last remnants of their pasts. They are only spoken of in the past tense - they are only fragments. They are already dead.

Their Stories

The Ghouls say that once, in the past, the world was beautiful. They were tall and strong; they built cities under a benevolent god, and ruled over all they surveyed.

But slowly, painfully, that god died. Its body calcified into a maze of impervious walls, all without the light it used to radiate. Its spasms threw the world into disarray, shattering the utopia the Ghouls once had.

Some pieces of it still survive. Fragments, hidden in metal shells. These are servant-angels, left by their god to help them. Its heart still beats, and with every pulse more Ghouls rise from its blood. This heart is suffering, forever. It must be killed, so it can be at peace.

They say their god was not the only one who died. All the strange peoples of the worldship come from their own gods, entangled with this one. If you could dig your way out into the void, you could float among an infinite plane of frozen corpses.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Samurai Butterflies

Coming, as all other things do, from a strange discussion on the OSR discord.

The Samurai Butterflies are strange, ethereal creatures heralding from the Shining Isle, a wandering island that drifts across the oceans. Rarely, they wander into human lands, where they will gladly work as mercenaries, soldiers, and other combative professions, stating it is necessary for their kind to survive.

Some of them seem to remember events from long ago, and even events they say they died during. Whenever one dies, they shatter into a swarm of tiny blue butterflies, which fly in the direction of the Shining Isle.

HD: 0 (1 HP)
AC: 19
Movement: Flight 50', Walk 25'
Initiative: Always goes first.

Counter: When an attacker misses the Samurai Butterfly with a melee attack, the Butterfly immediately counters (as 1x Sword attack) and disarms the attacker.
Deflect Projectile: When an attacker misses the Samurai Butterfly with a ranged attack, the Butterfly catches and returns the projectile, using the attack's stats along with an extra +3 to hit.
Sever Magic: A single use of the Sword attack can be exchanged for a single charge of Sever Magic. If the Butterfly would be affected by a magical effect, it can choose to expend a charge and remove the effect.

Melee - Sword: 3 attacks with a +5 bonus to-hit, each dealing 1d8.
Ranged - Butterfly: The Samurai throws 3 small, blue butterflies, making 3 ranged attacks at a +3 bonus to-hit and dealing 1d6 damage.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

GLOG Class: Mime Thief

This class is built on the foundation created by Velexiraptor's Thieves' Guilds, which are an excellent framework to make all sorts of scoundrels. That post already has a standard Thief and a couple more particular sub-classes, so I'm not going to do that.

Instead, I'm going to go weird.


Hit Die: d6

Template A: 2 rank 1 abilities
Template B: +1 ability rank, +1 rank 1 ability
Template C: +2 ability ranks
Template D: +1 rank in all abilities, gain all abilities you don't have yet at rank 1


1. Charades
Rank 1: You can communicate silently in a complex sign language. The rest of your party knows this code, but no one else does.
Rank 2: Your sign language has gotten more interwoven with the cultures and languages you know, becoming a web of silent references. Through this method, you can communicate in every language you know silently.
Rank 3: The silent language starts to work through the subconscious mind. You can communicate with anyone, no matter what language they speak, silently.

2. Invisible Object
Rank 1: You can create an invisible simple object, at most the size of your head. You are the only person who can touch this object. If you create another one, the first vanishes.
Rank 2: The object you create can be the size of your body. Other people can touch the object, but you cannot hurt people using it.
Rank 3: The object you create can be more complex - a lockpick, a sword, etc. You can damage people with the object. 

3. Distraction
Rank 1: People love your acts. When you begin to mime, everyone watching must make a Wisdom save or watch you for 1d6 minutes.
Rank 2: Everyone who fails their save will watch for a full 6 minutes.
Rank 3: People no longer get to make a save.

4. Silence
Rank 1: You are silent. Things around you are not. For example, you can walk or run silently, but if you knock over a vase, it makes noise.
Rank 2: You can choose up to 3 people. For 15 minutes, all three of those people are silent.
Rank 3: You can designate an entire area the size of a house. Inside this area, nothing makes noise for 1 hour.

5. Hidden Hands
Rank 1: You can instantly move something from your hand to storage, without moving your hands.
Rank 2: If you can reach someone, you can instantly move anything on their person into your pockets. You cannot do this to anything they are currently wearing or holding.
Rank 3: You can do this to things someone is currently wearing or holding.

6. Unnatural Movements
Rank 1: Using invisible handholds, you can climb vertical surfaces at your walking speed.
Rank 2: Once per day, you can walk through walls on your round.
Rank 3: Once per day, if you are not being watched for any amount of time, including blinking, you can completely hide yourself.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

GLOG Class: Drifter

Somebody mentioned Hyper Light Drifter on the OSR Discord, and I decided to make a GLOG class. Why? uhhhhhh

don't ask questions
Hyper Light Drifter's a game I quite like - it's pretty, there's stab-murder, what else do you want?

This is a weird martial class - you've got a microscopic HP pool, but an ability that lets you avoid most attacks. Hopefully, the combination of this and the Laser Pistol/Zaliska should lead to hit-and-run combat gameplay similar to the videogame.

There's not many non-combat abilities here - Dash can be used to circumvent pits, and the Zaliska can do pretty well as a demolition tool, but that's all.

The Drifter would fit best in a science-fantasy game; the kind where finding (or building) a laser weapon and teleportation device would be possible.

HD: 1d4

A: Laser Pistol, Dash, +1 To-Hit
B: Reflect, +1 To-Hit
C: Zaliska, +1 To-Hit
D: Dash Strike, +1 To-Hit

Laser Pistol
The Laser Pistol has a range of 40' and deals 1d4 damage per charge used, up to 3d4. You have a maximum of 6 charges for your Laser Pistol. Each time you hit an enemy with a melee attack, you regain 1 charge. Beams from the Laser Pistol are incredibly hot, and can be used to melt through stone, burn wood, and scorch metal.

To prevent an overload, you must vent the Laser Pistol once per day. When it is vented, it returns to 0 charges. Unless you have something smart to do using this, just assume you vent it at the end of each day when you go to sleep.

At any time, you can move 10' instantly. You can do this once per turn - you regain the ability to do it on your round. If this moves you into cover from a ranged attack, the attack misses. If this moves you away from a melee attack, the attack misses. Dashes move you exactly horizontally - they will move you over pits, but not up walls.

You can Dash [template] times per turn.

Once per turn, you can reduce the damage of a ranged attack by 1d6. If this brings the damage down to 0, a target of your choice is hit by the projectile.

Your Laser Pistol has been retrofitted with a concussive emitter, causing the shots to explode on impact. As well as increasing damage, each charge expended in the Laser Pistol increase the radius of its detonation by 10'.

The Zaliska can shatter wooden doors, break through stone, and melt metal.

Dash Strike
After a successful attack, you can use your Dash ability and attack another target. This continues as long as you can Dash to another target. Each Dash used as part of this ability consumes one use of Dash for the rest of the turn. You cannot attack the same person multiple times with this ability.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Preparing Sewer Rats, Part 4 (Finishing Touches)

Countdown to the Grave

Sewer Rats' health system is a lightly edited version of the standard Into the Odd system, with a Darkest Dungeon-style twist.

Damage is completely normal - take damage to HP, when that runs out, take damage to STR. However, you do not roll for Critical Damage (placeholder) when you take STR damage. You function perfectly fine until you hit 0 STR, at which point you drop dead.

Healing has been changed around as well - at the end of each Delve, you regain all your HP. However, you never regain STR. It's just a timer, counting down until you die. This is intended to balance the increase in equipment characters get over time - as characters get better, stronger equipment, their STR (probably) decreases, making it more of a risk to bring them down into the sewers.

This gives the players a good, in-universe reason to start building up a stable of characters - it's a bad idea to bring a long-running character into a low-level delve, because they'll be slowly worn down through attrition (after all, even a single lost point of STR is a problem), and you want to save them for more dangerous, more lucrative missions.

Optional: Dying of the Plague

To no one's surprise, the sewers under a titanic metropolis aren't particularly clean. Luckily, as long as you don't get cut, you should be fine.

You didn't get cut, right?

When a character takes STR damage, there is a 1-in-8 chance their wound is infected. Roll on the Disease table of your choice (and please, post it in the comments, I need one).

Dungeoncrawling Procedures

Dungeoncrawling is pretty simplified, made up of Turns and Delves. Each Turn, everyone moves, you check off one turn of light, and you roll a 1-in-6 chance for a random encounter. A Delve is the entire time you spend in the dungeon. Most beneficial items will last for a Delve.

I'm using a very simple 2d6 reaction table (2: immediate attack, 3-5: hostile, 6-11: neutral, 12: friendly), and resting during a delve is impossible. They're simply too densely inhabited for it to be a good idea.

Optional: Salary

This rule adds some extra pressure to your players. The Ratcatcher's Guild does not pay for everything. If you do not complete either of your objectives, you get nothing. If you complete your Primary, you get 2 Coins. If you complete both, you get 4.

Coins can be spent on 4 things: Housing, Food, Medicine, and Ammunition. If you do not pay for Medicine, you do not regain HP for the next Delve. If you do not pay for Ammunition, you cannot recharge the Usage Dice of your Ranged Weapons. If you do not pay for Food for 3 Delves, you die. If you do not pay for Housing for 3 Delves, you lose your house. This limits your inventory to 3 items - you must carry everything you own.

Optional: Retrieved Equipment

While most equipment in Sewer Rats is provided by an incredibly efficient and effective system (cough cough), that doesn't mean there's nothing to find during Delves. However, your superiors probably want whatever it is you've found.

Firstly, you must surrender half of any mundane items or equipment uncovered. Hoarding equipment is illegal, and can be punished with lost salary, imprisonment, or expulsion from the Guild. Of course, if you stash everything in an empty part of the sewer to come back for later, who's going to know?

Arcana is of much more interest to the Guild. Legally, you must surrender any Arcana for inspection, which takes 1d4 Delves to complete. If a 4 is rolled, the Arcana is confiscated permanently. If the Arcana is incredibly destructive (disintegration ray, hurricane gem), inspection is automatically permanent. If you hide Arcana and it is found, it will be assumed to be a weapon, and you will be charged with terrorism.

Random checks of Sewer Rats' inventories occur after 1-in-6 Delves.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

GLOG Class - Fighter (Let There Be Blood-style)

Hit People with Stuff, The Game

Fighters are generally the simplest class - a lot of HP, attack bonuses, that's about it. Recently, more complex martial classes have come out of the GLOGosphere - deus ex parabola's Zouave and Sword-Shepherd, The Princess in Yellow's set of 7, and Basic Red's veterans, for instance.

This Fighter is built specifically for Let There Be Blood, my weird homebrew combat system. However, it should be pretty easy to convert. 

Their Techniques are built to let you make most common flavors of Fighter - raging berserker (Careless Blow + Brutal + Siege Engine + Rage), exhausted infantryman (Long March + Foraging + Tall Tales + Field Medicine), and aspiring noble (Respectable + Authoritative + Commissar + Beastmaster), for example.

A: Weapon Specialization, +1 Technique
B: Riposte, +1 Technique
C: Extra Weapon Specialization, +1 Technique
D: Extra Attack, +1 Technique

Weapon Specialization
Choose 1 weapon. All your Attack and Defense rolls with that weapon are increased by 1. This allows you to roll a 7.

When an enemy's attack is fully absorbed by your Defense, you deal damage to them equal to your Defense.

Extra Attack
You can attack 2 targets per turn, using the same Attack value for both.

  1. Careless Blow - With melee weapons, you may choose to roll both of your dice in Attack, adding the damage dealt. If you do this, you roll no dice in Defense.
  2. Heavy Guard - With melee weapons, you may choose to roll both of your dice in Defense, adding the protection gained. If you do this, you roll no dice in Attack.
  3. Commissar - Through a combination of roared orders and threats of violence, you can force your hirelings to reroll a failed morale check 1/day. Further use of this ability is possible, but requires you to assault one of your henchmen. Each of these later uses decreases every hireling's maximum morale by 1, permanently.
  4. Authoritative - People look to you in times of crisis. In the absence of actual authority, peasants, militiamen, and similar groups will listen to you unless you prove yourself incompetent. Gain a +2 to reaction rolls with these groups.
  5. Long March - You and your party can skip sleep for one night, and continue to travel overland with no penalty.
  6. Foraging - Through trial and (generally quite unpleasant) error, you've managed to figure out just about everything edible you can grab in the wild. During a long rest, you have a 4-in-6 chance to find 1 ration worth of food. This chance is decreased to 1-in-6 in less lively environments (deserts, cities, dungeons).
  7. Underhanded - You've heard about honor, and you want nothing to do with it. You can use Combat Maneuvers without requiring an action.
  8. Respectable - Your pompous bearing has gotten you some attention. You are not a member of the nobility, but you can get them (at least, the lower ranks of them) to pay attention to you. Gain a +2 to reaction rolls with these groups.
  9. Just Plain Rude - Using mocking jokes, loud swearing, and generally impolite behavior, you can goad anyone outside of the nobility into a fight. You must fail a Charisma check if this is during combat, or if anything much more important (the person's house is on fire) is currently happening.
  10. Brutal - You may be a bit too into this. When you kill an enemy, you may choose to do it in such a theatrically bloody way that the sudden fountain of blood, bits of skull, and flying limbs force every enemy to make a Morale check immediately.
  11. Monster Hunter - You've fought bigger. By grappling, you can climb onto any creature larger than a human. While grappling, all your attacks against that creature automatically roll a 6 (or a 7 if you are specialized in that weapon). As an action, you can make an opposed Strength check to forcefully steer the monster around.
  12. Tall Tales - Your time on campaign brought you around a lot of weird people, and a lot of weird stories. When presented with a monster or magic item of note, you have a 4-in-6 chance of knowing what it is.
  13. Assassination - You killed someone very important, though you won't admit who. Against unaware targets, your Attack die automatically rolls 6 (or 7, if you are specialized in that weapon). 
  14. Pest Control - You can attack as many small creatures (rats, giant beetles, goblins) with a melee attack as you can reach.
  15. Field Medicine - Enough liquor and rags make everything better. You can attempt to heal someone for 1 HP with this method. They must pass a CON save to recieve healing. You can continue to do this to someone until they fail this check.
  16. Beastmaster - You can try to tame utterly unreasonable things (gryphons, snakes).
  17. Siege Engine - You can batter your way through wooden doors and walls in less than a minute.
  18. Rage - Once per day, succumb to a violent war-madness. For 3 rounds, you roll a 7 for Attack with your weapon, but a 1 for Defense. During the rage, if you would be knocked unconscious, gravely wounded, or killed, you ignore those effects until the end of the rage.
  19. Vigilant - You cannot be surprised. When you roll an Omen for a random encounter, you may choose to reroll.
  20. Spellbreaker - Wizards are a nightmare on the battlefield, but you've learned that a clear head can usually get you through them. You have a +2 to saves against magical effects.

Sunless Horizon

Sunless Horizon is the most self-indulgent setting I'll ever make, taking inspiration from Veins of the Earth , Axis Mundi , HMS Apolly...