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.

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...