Sunday, May 9, 2021

TeleGLOGela Archaeology

The TeleGLOGela was a crime against humanity perpetrated by the OSR Discord. Twice.

Somewhere, in theory, there's something playable in it. In this post, we're going to look through the original TeleGLOGela, which you can read here, if you hate yourself

We are not looking at the even worse second edition, which among other things has a set of rules for dentistry and also removed every J, L and C from the document. There is nothing worth taking from it, and it should be abandoned. However, at the end of this post will be screenshots of some especially surreal parts.

Remember that none of this (except some of it) is original to me. This is research, not authorship.

Names & Deeds

The TeleGLOGela's advancement system (or, at least one of them) is Names and Deeds, a player-driven variation of milestone experience. Every time a PC accomplishes something significant, they can choose to append a fitting Name to themselves. Each time they wish to append a Name, their accomplishment must be grander than the last.

With each new name, they can choose one of three bonuses: an HP increase or Mutation (if you pass a Blood check), a new class template (if you pass a Sweat check), or a new skill or language (if you pass a Tears check).

Deeds are where the player-driven component comes in: at any point, the player can swear to complete a Name-worthy task. If they succeed at this, they can choose two bonuses instead of one. If they fail, they lose "an ability" of their choice.

The book also recommends using Names as a type of currency - giving it away to demons or other things in exchange for power.

Sundering & Spellcasting

Along with the common Shields Shall Be Splintered rule, where a shield can be sacrificed to lower the damage of a physical attack by 1d12, you can sacrifice a Skill to add 1d12 to a Save against a mind-altering effect.

Spellcasting works on the same system. Once a spell is found (for they are all found, and never known), you cast it by choosing to sunder up to 4 Skills, gaining 1 MD for each skill removed. MD can also be gained from natural means such as ley line intersections, some specially-built architecture, and sacrifices.

Sacrifices must be done in a specific way. You must take two opposing things (fire/water, metal/plants, etc.) and give the lesser to the greater. Plunge your last torch into a pool of water, abandon your sword in the weeds. These sacrifices must be of something needed. You can't throw a sword away when you're carrying three more, because you didn't really need it.

Experience and Unlocking Classes

The TeleGLOGela also recommends that some classes must be unlocked during play. While its ideas of what unlocks classes are all surreal (destroying the moon, finding an orb, inventing a medical technique, and killing (N ^ 5) + 1 cops are all options), I've played some GLOG campaigns where this was in effect, and thought it worked very well.

Not only does it give your players something they will definitely want to do, it also lets you slowly ease players into weirder games: start off with a Fighter, Thief, and Wizard, let them unlock the Flying Psychic Eyeball Man.

Vows

The scattering of the Cleric class, and its replacement with a more accessible form of religious magic, has become a widespread idea over the last year, but it is rarely reinforced with mechanics. The TeleGLOGela not only has this reinforcement, but does it excellently.

It instructs vows to be given in 4 parts:

  • the name of the god you are beseeching
  • what you ask the god to do, right now
  • what you vow to do in return, either immediately in the future
  • your name
And divides them into 4 categories of effectiveness:
  • Small things that could have plausibly happened without divine interferences (finding a lost set of keys)
  • Medium things that are technically possible, but very unlikely (evading the notice of bandits on the road)
  • Large things that aren't technically impossible, but would never happen (finding a weapon in a sack of potatoes, a locked door suddenly and randomly coming open)
  • Impossibilities that only happen because of divine intervention (causing the blind to see, incinerating false idols, banishing demons).
It also comes with guidelines for the GM on how to handle different types of offerings for vows. It is by far the most complete set of divine intervention rules I've seen in any game.

Part 2: The Screenshots

sounds about right



give me the Egg





dibs on making the Pi Bug class

why

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Very Leetle Mountain (GLOG Class)

This should be all the context you need


A: Geological

B: Very Leetle Birds, Very Leetle Landslide, Size Increase

C: Very Leetle People, Size Increase

D: Very Leetle Eruption, Size Increase


Geological

You are a somewhat pathetic mountain: two feet tall and about 260 pounds, dragged along the ground by thousands of tiny legs (as all mountains are) at half standard walking speed. You have no hands, but can communicate (slowly) by vibrating.

You are automatically hit by all attacks, and cannot wear armor. However, you are immune to poison, disease, most fire, and other things that wouldn't affect a rock. You take half damage from physical threats (claws, swords, etc).

Every template, your height & width increase by 1 foot, and your mass increases proportionately.

B Template: 3 feet tall, ~900 pounds

C Template: 4 feet tall, ~2000 pounds

D Template: 5 feet tall, ~4000 pounds

Very Leetle Birds

A swarm of birds, each about the size of a gnat, have started to live atop your peak. You can politely ask them to do things for you. Together, they can lift 5 pounds.

Very Leetle Landslide

You can sacrifice HP to do an equal amount of damage to a target if the target is either shorter than you or below you. This does not require a roll to-hit. 


Very Leetle People

A village has been built in your foothills. Together, all the villagers can lift as much as a human, build as quickly, and otherwise be treated as a single human. It would be polite to warn them before a landslide.


Very Leetle Eruption

You can sacrifice HP to do an equal amount of damage to a 30' radius, and cover the area in lava, if the area is below you. Of course, I expect there are many other things you could do with lava.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Orbiters Local 519 (GLOG Hack)

In this post about a derelict-crawling GLOG I said "This is just classes, and it probably won't go further than that". Well, it turns out I'm a liar.

Orbiters Local 519 is a GLOG hack using those classes, built for an open table or set of disconnected one-shots. In it, the PCs play a group of scavengers sent to recover delicate resources from wrecked starships. It has two important differences from your standard dungeoncrawl, however: one of them is simply the 0g environment, but the other is more interesting: destructibility.

Generally, a dungeon will stay physically the same when the PCs enter to when they leave - maybe they'll kick down a door or two, but they won't be caving in rooms. In Orbiters Local 519, not only will they be tearing through walls, but the derelict will be falling apart on its own. Pipes explode, gravity falters, derelicts spin, and entire rooms can tear off from the structure.

Click on the cover to read the core book's PDF, and the two links below to take a look at some example derelicts. 

Example Derelict One - EAS Aspen

A Navy railgun corvette was destroyed in a skirmish about 7 months ago. No survivors are expected, and sensors are picking up a radiation leak. Hopefully you can get in and out before the Navy realizes we're here.

Example Derelict Two - ISK Halamandaris

A biology research ship, destroyed by a power failure incident. The AI, Pythagoras, should still be online. Most of the habitat domes are still in one piece, and we have no idea what could be inside. We shouldn't be facing any competition for this one, feel free to take your time. As much as you can, anyway. 

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Six-Monster Bestiary Review

Or, technically, I guess this is "The Six-Monster Bestiary and The Five-Element Treasury and The Rock-Cut Bazaar", to use it's full name. This new release by Jojiro is, in concept, an excellent resource document for an OSR GM - with both a bestiary, treasure generator, and one-page dungeon, it could turn any minimalist GLOG hack or other microgame into a full system.

But how well does it do in practice?

Disclaimer: this is based off of a reading of the supplement, not use in play.


Six-Monster Bestiary

The six monsters were chosen to be good introductions to wider concepts in D&D - a basilisk for save-or-dies, a carcass scavenger for paralysis, a demon spider for surprise, a gargoyle for immunity, a skeleton for undead mechanics, and a bear for just being very threatening.

Along with that, it has some adaptation notes: turning the gargoyle into a werewolf by removing flight, or a harpy by removing its immunities.

While I do think these are all important niches, I would say it misses a couple: a wizard of some kind to introduce monsters' access to magic, a hobgoblin or similar to show that monsters can be organized and tactical, and an elemental or other creature to introduce weaknesses (while the demon spider is afraid of fire, this isn't a core part of it). There are also going to be other niches both the creator and I have missed.

The monsters themselves are very well-presented and made to be easily converted between systems: they have both ascending and descending AC, and a guide is presented to convert their default unified Save score into either the classic 5 or the 3e-era Fort/Ref/Will set. They vary between having d6s and d8s for HD, which might cause a somewhat rough transition into some systems.

All of them use Onion Statblocks as described in this post, which is meant to make running the monster easy for beginning GMs.

Five-Element Treasury

The Five-Element Treasury divides loot into (unsurprisingly) 5 categories: copper pieces, gold pieces, Relics (incredibly profitable items that are heavy, fragile, or otherwise take effort to extract from the dungeon), Equipment, and Expendables (potions, scrolls, and the like). 

For the latter three, it has d12 tables (except the Equipment table, which has 2 extra entries). The Relic table is less interesting than I would have hoped, focusing almost entirely on fragile items instead of heavy, sentimental, spiritual, or otherwise difficult items. 

The Equipment table is all magic items except for two (padded shoes and thieves' garb, both improving thief skills). These are all somewhat basic, but usually have something better than just being +X weapons (the +1 Mace of Disruption dealing double damage to undead or the +3 Arrow of Slaying instantly killing a certain creature, for instance).

The Expendable table is disappointing, with only one of its 12 items actually being described. Six potions are presented (Clairaudience, Gaseous Form, etc.), and their durations are listed, but no mechanics are given for them. While this isn't a problem for experienced OSR GMs who have these all committed to memory, it's a shame given how accessible the rest of the book has been to beginners. 

After that is the single described item, the Chime of Opening (which opens nearby doors when struck - all nearby doors), then five scrolls. The first is Cursed, which the book simply says contains "a curse of the referee's making", which I think is another piece of the treasury that could use expansion (at least one example curse, preferably a d4 or d6 table). The last four slots are spells containing random arcane and divine spells.

Along with the treasure tables, it has three categories of loot, each assigned to a type of monster - Intelligent Hoarders keep only the best, so their hoards have good chances of having gold, Relics, and similar, Shiny Hoarders collect everything they can, so their hoards are clogged up with thousands of hard-to-move copper pieces, though they'll still have worthwhile stuff buried beneath, and Incidental Hoarders only have what they have by accident, leaving them with nearly worthless hoards.

While the concept of the Five-Element Treasury is good, the Relic and Consumable tables need a second pass for more interesting entries (the former), or to be expanded with needed information (the latter).

The Rock-Cut Bazaar

The disclaimer again, because it's more important this time: this is based off of a reading of the supplement, not use in play.

The Rock-Cut Bazaar is a one-page dungeon meant to use both the bestiary and treasury in a true gameplay environment. It succeeds in this, but only somewhat - the treasury's tables are used once, but the bestiary is never referenced, and the dungeon's denizens are not given stats. While this could be seen as an example to a new GM, as they need to make use of the bestiary, I think it could have been made a better example by statting the monsters. Then, you would be able to show how far you can go with reskins and slight ability changes.

As a dungeon, the Rock-Cut Bazaar fits a checklist: a trap, a particularly dangerous monster (a bear ghoul), light faction play, and a future effect (if the players manage to cage a fool's gold-producing cockatrice). However, the map is very simple - a single central room surrounded by one-room branches, with no loops or secret paths.

The Rock-Cut Bazaar is fine, but given how little it takes advantage of the document it's a companion to, I see no reason to use it over other one-page dungeons.

Conclusion

While the Six-Monster Bestiary has an excellent concept, and could be invaluable to new OSR GMs or anyone moving to a super-light system, it has some holes that would be good to fix - unfilled niches in the Bestiary, simplistic relics and missing item descriptions in the Treasury, and the lack of connection between the Bazaar and the rest of the document.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Very Heavy Cube, Redux (GLOG Class)

The old Cube Owner class may be the single worst thing I've ever written. It's a stupid uninteresting cliche combined with a... tungsten cube? So, I'm redoing it.

Very Heavy Cube Owner
Weapons technology marches onwards forever. In your case, the march of progress got lost in a dark alley. The cube has its benefits, you desperately think to yourself - it's much quieter than a gun, and it's not stopped by armor.

These justifications do not stop anyone from laughing at your cube.


A: THE CUBE
B: Multitasking
C: Overcharged Suit, +1 Cube
D: Fine Motor Skills, +1 Cube

THE CUBE
Your body is covered in a prototype Kinesis Suit. In theory, you should be able to use the suit to telekinetically grab people and objects. In practice, the suit only works on materials made of a specific alloy - for instance, your Cube. You cannot wear any armor while wearing the Kinesis Suit.

On your turn, you can use the Kinesis Suit to move the Cube. The Cube moves at 100 feet per round, but it can only be controlled if it stays within a 50 foot radius of you. When it comes in contact with someone during it's movement, roll to-hit with a -2 penalty. On a hit, the target takes 3d6 damage. The Cube stops moving after hitting something.

The Cube is exactly 1 cubic foot. The Kinesis Suit can impart enough force to keep it immobile with a person standing on it, but cannot move it. 

Multitasking
You have two Cubes, and can control both of them at once. You get another Cube with your C template and D template.

Overcharged Suit
The Kinesis Suit can move the Cube twice as fast, and can move it at normal speed with up to 300 pounds of extra weight atop it.

Fine Motor Skills
You can modify the size and shape of the Cube using the Kinesis Suit - elongating it, widening it into a shield or platform, or simply expanding it by turning it hollow. However, no matter what, your Cube is still square, and cannot be curved.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

GLOG Impressions(?) - ENTHUSIASTIC SKELETON BOIS v 0.5, YAGH

To be honest, I'm not sure if these (or any of my earlier ones) are really reviews - they're mostly just descriptions, with a couple thoughts at the end. I don't think that's what's important though; my goal is to compile an overview of as many GLOG hacks as I can, with the review being secondary.

One important note - I haven't played any of these systems, I've only read them.

ENTHUSIASTIC SKELETON BOIS v 0.5

THE GLOG HACK – ENTHUSIASTIC SKELETON BOIS EDITION, hereby known as ESB (because I don't have time for that title, frankly), is a combination of ideas from the GLOG, Black Hack, EB, and other OSR systems, with some interesting ideas about resource management and combat.

Overview

  • Basic roll-under d20, with Advantage and Disadvantage
  • Four stats - Strength, Dexterity, Insight, and Willpower
  • Combat is auto-hit, and characters deal damage based on their class (heavy weapons let them deal damage with Advantage).
  • There are a few little extras to combat I think are taken from EB - attacks can be Impaired (dealing 1d4 damage) or Enhanced (dealing 1d12) by circumstances, and attacks from multiple enemies deal damage equal to the highest attack.
  • Armor is unique (I think) - it has an Armor Value in d6s, which you can choose to roll to block damage equal to their sum.
  • Inventory management is built around four items: Supplies, Torches, Camp Gear, and Tools. All of these use Usage Dice (called Risk Dice in ESB) and are drained by heavy use or damage (taking a Lunch drains Rations, walking through water drains Torches), but not by general use.
  • Hirelings are also based off Usage Dice, rolled when they're put under stress or use some abilities (for instance, the Mercenary tests Usage to enter combat.
  • ESB includes most of the generic OSR subsystems like Reaction Rolls and Morale, but has no dungeoncrawling or exploration rules other than a distance moved per round.
  • Most classes are taken from Coins and Scrolls, however the original ones (especially the Monk) are quite interesting. (Seriously, look at the Monk). 

Conclusion

ESB is currently my top choice for a fantasy GLOG. Its simplified combat & inventory management make it one of the lighter games I've looked at in this series, and the hireling system is excellent. It also has good original classes, which I prefer to classless GLOGs.  

YAGH

Yet Another GLOG Hack (YAGH) is... weird. A somewhat normal set of classes is broken up by Spiderman, the visual design makes me feel like my eyes haven't loaded, and ability scores are decided with a single roll.

Overview

  • A roll-over d20 base, with an assumed TN of 10.
  • Three stats: Strength, Dexterity, and Mind. Your entire statline is determined by a single roll on a d6 table (for example, a roll of 4 is 0 Strength, 4 Dexterity, and -4 Mind).
  • Combat uses Attack and Defense, but since it's roll-over it's a lot easier for me to figure out than MRoS or similar: 1d20+Attack vs. 10+Defense to attack or 1d20+Defense vs. 10+Attack to defend. It also keeps Stealth and Move as secondary stats.
  • A Death and Dismemberment table is provided - every time a character takes damage past 0 HP, check that damage on the table.
  • No classes use standard GLOG magic. Instead, the Shaman draws spirits into themselves, while the Summoner manifests them physically. Both of them are a lot less versatile than standard GLOG wizards.
  • There are no subsystems (exploration, etc.) - just character creation, checks, and combat.
  • Rules for conversion between standard OSR systems and YAGH are provided.
Conclusion
YAGH is a very standard GLOG, with few things to steal. The classes are mechanically interesting, but may not fit in most settings without conversion. Playing YAGH may require subsystems added from other OSR systems, but the rules provided for conversion are nicely in-depth. The tone is strange - some standard fantasy classes, an Old West duelist, Spiderman, and others.

The creator has since released a second GLOG hack, Mall Rats, that hits a more consistent weird 90's tone, though it seems to be mechanically identical. Unlike YAGH, Mall Rats is being expanded with monsters, but I'd like to see more of both - sample adventures in particular are a good way to demonstrate a game's tone.

Edit: about a week after this post, Walfalcon added exactly that for Mall Rats.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Derelict-crawling GLOG Classes

EDIT: updated versions of these classes can be found in Orbiters Local 519, my new derelict-crawling hack.

Since I am extremely boring, I absolutely love easy-to-run dungeoncrawling games. Throw together a Suspicious Location, drop a few people into it, and go. Sewer Rats is one, Sunless Horizon was originally one before it got way out of hand, and this is (sort of) another one.

What is the setting? It doesn't matter. Perhaps the Company rules this section of space,  or the Empire has just rolled through, leaving only ruin in their wake. The only solid fact is that there are ruined starships, whether modern or ancient, and they're worth obscene amounts of money.

This is just classes, and it probably won't go further than that, because it doesn't need to. Grab your GLOG of choice and drop them in, then you're done.

Just take care out there, OK? The void isn't one to take prisoners.

Destiny concept art


Controller

The Controller's mechanics are inspired somewhat by cyberchronometer's wizard.

A: Hacking Device
B: +1 Program Slot
C: +1 Program Slot
D: +1 Program Slot, Recalibration

Hacking Device
Your hacking device has one Program Slot, which can be filled with a Program before the start of a mission. Each time you use a Program, you must roll 1d6. On a 4 or 5, the hacking device misfires and burns out that Program Slot, preventing you from using it. On a 6, not only does the hacking device misfire, but the remnants of the derelict's countermeasures go off, and you must roll on the Countermeasures table.

Programs
1. Lock or unlock a door. 
2. Take over a camera.
3. Activate or deactivate a turret or other security system.
4. Activate or deactivate the gravity.
5. Rotate the derelict.
6. Scan a room of the derelict for motion. 
7. Download documents or other pieces of information.
8. Create a map of the derelict.

Countermeasures
1. Lockout - The system has recorded your information. Every future hacking attempt in this derelict automatically rolls a 6.
2. Alarm - A blaring alarm and flashing red light fills the derelict.
3. Imprison - Every door into the room the Controller is currently in closes and locks.
4. Biofeedback - take 1d6 damage.

Recalibration
Once per mission, you can exchange one Program in your Hacking Device for another. 


Observer

Duskers

A: Camera Drone
B: Sensorium
C: Combat Readiness
D: Automation

Camera Drone
You start each mission with a number of hand-sized flying drones equal to your Observer templates. Each one has 1 HP, 10 AC, and an inbuilt flashlight. They can only see in the visual spectrum, and cannot hear. You must pilot your drones, and cannot move or act while doing so.

Sensorium
Your drones' basic cameras are replaced with an advanced set of sensors. Your drones can hear, see in both ultraviolet and infrared, and zoom in up to 10x magnification. It still has its flashlight.

Combat Readiness
All of your drones now have 1d6 HP each, and you can outfit each one with one of these devices per mission.

1. Flashbulb - If triggered in a dark area, all creatures in a 30' cone are blinded for one turn, and animal-intelligence creatures must make a Morale save.  
2. Self-destruct - the drone is destroyed instantly, and everything in a 50' radius takes 3d6 damage, with a Dexterity save for half.
3. Lure - emits a spectrum of light and a set of varying tones intended to be visible and audible to as many creatures as possible, attracting animal-intelligence creatures to the drone.
4. SMG - 2 attacks on separate enemies or one attack at +2 to-hit, 1d6 damage.

Automation
You can give your drones basic commands: "move to this room and scan everywhere", "come back", "follow me". 


Sentry

https://www.artstation.com/artwork/lzw4V

A: 3D Printer, 2 Spools
B: +1 Advanced Design, +1 Spool
C: +1 Advanced Design, +1 Spool
D: +4 Advanced Designs, +1 Spool

3D Printer
The Sentry can expend spools of plastic and metal feed material to print defenses from their backpack-mounted 3D printer. Each of these basic designs costs one spool, and takes 1 exploration turn to print.

Basic Designs
1. Barrier - a waist-high, 10-foot wide metal barrier that provides cover to anyone behind it.
2. Sensor - detects movement in the room where it's placed.
3. Remote Charge - when detonated by the Sentry, explodes in a 50' radius, dealing 3d6 damage with a Dexterity save for half. 
4. Shield - takes one hand, but can absorb 6 damage before shattering.

Advanced Designs
Upgrading your 3D Printer has allowed you to create more complex objects. Each of these advanced designs cost 2 spools, and take 2 exploration turns to print and assemble.

1. Turret - must be operated by a person. +4 to-hit and 2d8 damage, or 1d8 damage in a 20' radius with a Dexterity save for half. Comes with enough ammunition for 3 bursts.  
2. Turret Ammunition - 6 bursts of turret ammunition.
3. Camera - automatically detects movement, and can be looked through by the Sentry.
4. Mine - detonates automatically upon sensing movement, dealing damage equal to the Remote Charge.
5. Electrified Wire - barbed wire connected to an electric charge. Halves movement speed and deals 1d4 damage each round to everyone inside. Enough for a 60' line or a 20 foot radius clump.
6. Smoke Charge - when detonated, fills a 60' radius area with smoke. Attacks into, out of, or through the smoke are at -4 to hit.

All three of these classes are meant to fit together (the Observer locates enemies, then the Controller manipulates them into a trap set by the Sentry). If you find this restrictive, feel free to add more classes: deus ex parabola's Spacer as a jack-of-all-trades, my Psychic to add some supernatural strangeness, or Lexi's Mechwarrior for people who want a more direct solution. Any of these would help you break up the close fit of the defaults.

Sunless Horizon Beta 2.3 Release

Commissioned from Scrap Princess excited screeching I've been posting about  Sunless Horizon  for about a year, and after finally gettin...