Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Thou Hast Half-Prevailed Against Me (Arthuriana Combat, Questing)

    In this post, I laid out some setting info for an Arthurian campaign. But while GLOG works for a general grubby-grave-robber campaign, it isn't appropriate for a Romance. Have you ever heard of a knight falling into a bugbear's pit trap? Or swinging at a giant spider and missing? How many members of the Round Table have been caught burgling a house and chased away at crossbow-point? No, if you want to be a real Knight you need a more Knightly resolution system.

Source: Faded Glory by Birgitte-Gustavsen


    The way I sees it, there aren't many things a Knight has trouble doing. The general advice given to new GLOG GMs and players is that they should roll only rarely. Rolling is for situations where you are unsure of the outcome, or where time is what matters and is outside of the player's control. Rolling is for when a success and failure are equally reasonable and equally interesting*. If that isn't the case then maybe the GM should just decide what happens.

*If you tell a player "you failed" and they say "I roll to try again", failure wasn't interesting.

    With that in mind, Knights should never roll for anything. If a grubby-grave-robber fails a roll they can just try something else, but failure for a Knight is significant. There are stories whose premise is "a knight tried something and failed" (see: The Knight With The Lion). Instead of leaving it up to chance, Knights should succeed or fail their checks.
    Remember that Knights are in incredible physical shape (presumably the best it's possible for a human in their setting to be in) and are equally well-educated. They're also characters in a Romance, which means they succeed until it's more dramatic for them to fail. It's either obvious they can do something (because they are as capable as any human being can be) or obvious that they can't. Rolling a d20 is for plebeians.
    Heck, Knights probably shouldn't even track money. Perhaps they can be impoverished, well-cared for, stupendously wealthy or unbelievably rich, but that only matters in the context of raising an army or buying a new set of incredibly fancy armor. Knights are entitled (literally "in title") to things like their manor homes, and to room and board from other Knights while traveling.

    But I hear you calling out in dismay: "How, then, are we to challenge a party of Knight PCs? These freakazoid oldheads care not for cash (the essential D&D motivator) and, according to the information you have set before us, cannot fail at anything they set their hand to! Need the art of Tabletop RPG die on the rocks of the tropes of twelfth-century French Arthurian Romance?"
    No, it needn't, you dipshit. Fucking dumbass. Why do I bother talking to you people? I hate you so much.

    Here are some things that can challenge a Knight:
  • Another Knight with a bone to pick, like one who won't let them cross a bridge until they win a joust.
  • A horrible and fantastic beast, like a giant or a dragon.
  • An obstacle which requires special equipment, like a sheer cliff or a dark cave.
  • A danger that targets their stuff, like a jump that could kill their horse or a witch who might eat their servants.
  • An NPC who must be convinced to do you a favor, like a mayor or a scholar.
  • An abstract problem that can't be solved with fighting, like a brutal feudal system of economic inequality or a fairy curse.
    See? There are plenty of things that can challenge a Knight. Here's a few examples of problems common for GLOG PCs that would be inappropriate for a Romance:
  • A mundane locked door. If there's a princess on the other side, the Knight kicks it down. If there isn't, why would they burgle like a common thug?
  • A shortage of ready cash that requires them to take unpleasant jobs to maintain their lifestyle. Why is the Knight paying for anything? Are they some sort of fat merchant preying on the poor and the noble? Some common mercenary with an empty purse and boots full of holes?
  • Disrespect or distrust from authority figures. Again, this is a problem that normal people face. Knights always have each others backs, even if they're from different cultures (or species).
    All you need to do is keep in mind that Knights would never do anything that risks shame. That's the ultimate point I am trying to make; Knights do not roll dice on basic adventuring tasks.


    Here is a PDF link to some basic conflict-resolution. Knighthood is mostly about jousting and swordfights and dragon-slaying, and so is the PDF.


    As it mentions designs for shields, I shall include some banners:


    Basic rules for designing a shield: white and yellow are the metals Argent and Or; red, blue, green, purple and black are the colors Gules, Azur, Vert, Purpur and Sable. You can put a metal on a color or vice versa (that is, have them touching), but because of limitations in cloth-dying you are not supposed to have colors adjacent to colors or metals adjacent to metals. Simple straight lines or geometric shapes are your best bets for charges (the symbols); those who include animals do so at the mercy of the "artist" painting your shield. You aren't supposed to put writing on your shield but I guess Sir Kay didn't care.

    When Medieval Europe invents heraldry (some four-hundred years after King Arthur) there will be all sorts of rules about animals, mottos, flowers, and other details that make for an actual hatchement; what you see above are simply coats-of-arms intended to be displayed on a shield or banner to help identify the knight at a distance.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Milk Punch Recipe (GLOG Class: no, it's a recipe)

Milk punch in the style, no doubt, of King Arthur and the heptarchy.
  • Three ounces gin
  • Two ounces evaporated milk
  • Squeeze of honey
  • Dash of allspice, dash of cloves, dash of cinnamon
  • Lengthen with whole milk as desired
Source: Your struggles are in vain

 

Friday, November 6, 2020

A Hired Dick (GLOG Class: Thief Guild)

    This is one of Lexi's Thief Guilds. It will not make sense to you unless you click on that link and read it. If you read it and this class still doesn't make sense, I can't help you. Sorry.

Gumshoes and Flatfoots


Source: Gates of Arkham by JakeMurray
.
    Those gritty detectives who see the world as it is. Often seen working against the other Guilds, strangely enough. Every gumshoe is assumed to be a monkey by default.
Skills: 1. Industrial Chemistry 2. Art History 3. Irish Dance. You are proficient in knives, saps, one-handed guns and knuckledusters. You cannot wield shields or wear heavy armor.
Starting Equipment: a well-worn trenchcoat (as leather), a battered fedora, a hip-flask of medical-grade alcohol, 20 slightly-squashed unfiltereds, a lighter, a detective special (6 shots, 1d6 damage, 20/10' range), 30 bullets rattling loose in your pocket, a crippling alcohol dependency, debt.

  1. Investigator
    ✧ Sometimes the best clues are the most obvious ones. By forming a square with your hands and looking through it, you can magnify your view up to twenty times. You may wave your hand over a footprint to see if it matches another footprint you have examined before.
    ✧✧ Other times, you need to think a little harder. You may hold one eidetic snapshot in your head indefinitely. This isn't just a thing you can't forget, but a memory so perfect you may search it again later to find new clues. One second is enough to store your entire field of view.
    ✧✧✧ If you consider two clues for a full minute, you have a revelation about how they are (or aren't) connected. Every time you do this you have a cumulative 1-in-6 chance of coming down with a splitting migraine, preventing you from doing anything useful until you get a full night's rest.
  2. Street Smarts
    ✧ Follow your nose. With a sniff, you can identify plants, potions, poisons, and whether blood is from an intelligent creature or not. Once you have identified a substance, you always know where to find an expert in the stuff.
    ✧✧ Trust your gut. You can suss out someone's vices by observing them for a few minutes. In conversation, you can tell if someone knows they are being deceitful. Your own poker face is perfect, and even skilled people-readers get nothing from you.
    ✧✧✧ Listen to the voices in your head. You can Speak with Small Objects to determine what they are and what they believe their purpose to be.
  3. Detective Special
    ✧ The streets taught you some hard lessons, which you are happy to share with others. Attempts to throw or shove an enemy do not provoke attacks of opportunity. Your hands, fists and teeth are light weapons against targets wearing leather or worse.
    ✧✧ The trick to winning a fight is being unwilling to lose. None of your maneuvers provoke attacks of opportunity, and any items you could hide under a fedora cannot be found on your person without a strip search. Weapons operated with one hand can be drawn instantly, as if by legerdemain.
    ✧✧✧ You are a master of the sucker punch and the ambuscade. Melee attacks against unsuspecting targets require saves vs. being knocked the fuck out. The range of your ranged weapons is doubled. You may declare a ranged attack roll against an unmoving target to be 18 (or 3 if lower is better).
  4. Urban Wilderness
    ✧ Choose two of the following adjectives: smoky, narrow, dilapidated, shadowy, bustling, expensive, imposing, damp, loud, unwelcoming, shunned. While in an area described by that adjective, you can shadow a target without being detected, find free lodging (of some sort) for one person, and can guide one person (including yourself) through the area at double speed.
        Every time you level up, select another adjective. Effects stack. Adjectives may be selected multiple times.
    ✧✧ Sometimes, to make an omelet, you have to break into a few buildings. If a location is not under active guard you can enter it without leaving a trace. You can climb any surface a human could climb and make any jump a human could make without rolling.
    ✧✧✧ Inside a city, you are impossible to locate without magical means. In a crowd you are as difficult to shadow as if you were invisible. Your hideouts and safehouses can only be revealed by magic or betrayal.
  5. Substance Abuse
    ✧ Some people don't want to go through life sober. You are an experienced user of monkey drugs, and always get an additional save against poison and side effects. Each point of drunkenness also increases your critical success range by 1.
    ✧✧ A stiff drink of [level] fingers heals you for 1d6, even if poured down your unconscious throat (counts as magical healing for the sake of wounds). This increases your drunkenness by one point.
    ✧✧✧ It's hard to live day to day without a bump of mothballs and broken glass. While drunk, delay all sanity and trauma checks until you sober up. Most poisons intoxicate you rather than damage you.
  6. Bise Noir
    ✧ The background music is audible to you, and your DM will describe it. When an enemy is about to arrive, a femme fatale about to step through your door, a clue very near or something dangerous stalking you, you know at once.
    ✧✧ The narration is audible to you, and your DM will describe it. You are never surprised, and you know the names of nearby NPCs.
    ✧✧✧ Once per day you may narrate something and have it happen immediately. Options include, but are not necessarily limited to:
    1. "Even as I spoke, the thunder rolled and the sky opened up with miserable rain..."
    2. "Even as I spoke, the rain stopped and the sun shone for what felt like the first time in days..."
    3. "Suddenly, a man with a gun stepped through the door and opened fire!"
    4. "I hadn't heard the dame creep up behind me when she laughed, and said..."
    5. "This was strange enough, but I was really caught off guard by the gorilla..."
    6. "That was when the auto screeched to a halt. "Get in if you want to live", the driver growled..."
    7. "I rummaged in my pockets for a lighter. Wait, what's this? An unmarked package?"
    8. "I passed by a newsboy yelling the headlines. "[SOMEBODY] MISSING! READ ALL ABOUT IT!""

Friday, October 30, 2020

Of the Death of Arthur I Shall Sing (Arthurian setting, characters, comments)


    This is the world of the British Isles in the opening years of the ninth century. Across the sea, Charlemagne has been crowned the Holy Roman Emperor; the first Emperor western Europe has seen since the fall of Rome. The Danes will invade before the century is out, then will come William the Conqueror, then will come the balladeers who record the legends (and write some new ones) that will make King Arthur immortal.
    Not that this is the real British Isles, of course; it is the Albion of those French legends. There are wizards and hags and elfs and prophecies and magic. There is a timeline which will never quite make sense. There is a host of characters who will live and die and live again with half a dozen names each, holding grudges and promises close to their changing hearts.


Source: Hirson



King Arthur and the Twelve.

All can safely be called "sir", but some hold other titles.
King Arthur the Boy-King.
    Idealistic, brave, rash. Rightful lord of Avalon, actual lord of Gutodin country, near the land of the Picts. Would-be ruler of the North. Wants to conquer the Heptarchy and, ultimately, the Isles.

Prince Angravain the Heavy Hands.
    Proud, unmerciful, ambitious. Nephew to Arthur, brother to Gawain and Gareth. Arthur has no children and Angravain is the presumed heir. He's a real cockmunch but a brutally skilled fighter.

Sir Bedevere the Perfect Sinew.
    Boisterous, friendly, natural leader. Arthur's first friend in the North. Only has one hand so he must tie a shield to his forearm. Serves as marshal of the realm, and is in charge when Arthur is adventuring.

Prince Bors the Youth.
    Somber, haunted, prone to violence. Son of King Bors (one of Arthur's first allies). Has killed many, many wicked things. Seen a lot of terrible sights. Destined to survive and take the throne — mortals don't know this, yet.

Sir Calowrennant the Even Lion.
    Chipper, easy-going, takes all things in stride. Cousin of Yvain. Known to be a great example of what a knight should be. He doesn't take defeats to heart and always gets back up to try again. A witch told him he is destined to die for Bors' sake.

King Caradock the Hoary Head.
    Experienced, jaded, doesn't buy the "Boy-King" line. Contemporary of Uther, Arthur's father. Trained Bedevere. Caradock was having knightly adventures in this land fifty years ago and you'd better remember that. He's seen everything there is to see, fucked with every wizard, fought every fairy prince, and is interested to know what will come of Arthur's kingdom.

Prince Gareth the Delicate Hands.
    Youthful, eager to learn, not assertive enough. Son of Lot, brother to Angravain and Gawain. Much younger than his brothers. Good friends with Bors, and will one day be his right-hand man (heh). Despite his youth and his inexperience Gareth is the greatest swordsman on the Isles; only Sir Tristan can even challenge him. Lancelot will unknowingly kill him as Gareth tries to peacefully subdue the other knight.

Prince Gawain the Esoteric Star.
    Kind, dangerous, always polite. Nephew to Arthur, brother to Angravain and Gareth. A little bit gay. Protector of the poor, the young, and the defenseless. Friend, later enemy, of Lancelot.

Prince Kay the Terrible Knight.
    Unpleasant, easily provoked, masterful warrior. Step-brother to Arthur. Hates how condescendingly Wart treats him now that he's king. Hates how people assume Kay will try to take advantage of his familiar connections. Always needlessly harsh with those he meets; this way, no one ever mistakes him for an ass-kisser. A peerless cunt whose insecurities make him easily manipulated.

Prince Lamorack the Unseeing Eyes.
    Unstable, prone to psychotic rage, several personalities. Son of King Pellinore, one of Arthur's first allies. Hates Lot and his sons, who he believes are responsible for Pellinore's death (everyone thinks this but no one is sure how). The blood of Dane chiefs flows in Lamorack's veins and makes him a berserk without equal. On the battlefield he is worth thirty lesser knights.

King Lot the Red Barbarian.
    Boisterous, pretends to be a fat stupid jester, cunning and treacherous. Early ally of Arthur, father to Gawain, Angravain and Gareth. His control over his Pict subjects has waned over the years, to the point that he spends most of his time on the southern borders. Always looking for young knights to send to their deaths pacifying the tribes.

Prince Tor the Distinguished Eyes.
    Quiet, broody, gives advice which people never listen to in time. Brother to (and only person trusted by) Lamorack. Hates Lot and his sons, but stays quiet about it. A decent fighter but a great adventurer. Lancelot will kill him in self defense when Tor tries to cut the man's head off.

Sir Yvain the Faithful Lion.
    Noble, loyal, loves animals as much as people. Cousin to Calowrennant. Hunts down people who disrespect his cousin and beats them to a pulp. Followed by a friendly lion and a flock of man-sized ravens. Knows how to turn invisible.

Other Characters

Sir Lancelot the Fair Knight.
    Brave, ruggedly handsome, obsessed with being a hero. Cursed and blessed at birth by two feuding fairies. Destined to be a legendary knight AND the downfall of a kingdom. Very close to Gawain. That will change.

Sir Tristan the Troubled Knight.
    Bold, heroic, near-perfect. His indiscretions are whispered by all — but never spoken aloud, for fear of his gleaming brand. Regardless of his personal sins Tristan is of noble blood and character, and for the moment can be relied upon to act heroically.

King Pellinore the Wise Councilman.
    Noble, peaceable, dead. He was to Uther as Lot and Caradock are to Arthur. In his dotage, he taught Arthur the ways of the Round Table (and gave a literal round table to the boy-king). Pellinore's death is shrouded in mystery. If he had survived a little longer maybe things wouldn't have turned out this way..

King Uther the Pen Dragon.
    Fearless, warlike, dead. Father to Arthur and many other bastards who still wander the kingdoms of Albion and the Isles. His chance friendship with Merdin is the only reason Arthur has made it this far, unless you believe the prophecies.

Merdin.
    Ancient, source of mystic wisdom, not half so clever as he thinks he is. Son of the Devil and a fallen nun. Merdin was destined to be the Antichrist and bring about the end of days, but was too unreliable and just a bit too decent.
    No magic-user in Albion can even compare to this legendary Wise One. He makes deals with the Fairy and the forces of Hell, and lives to sing of both. Wanders the islands seeking more power and knowledge. Fears death.

Nenevieve.
    Young, desperate for wisdom, loves Merdin more than he loves her. Lover and student of Merdin. Will one day betray him and trap him in a cage for all eternity. Takes many apprentices of her own in hopes of finding a friend and ally.

Mercedes.
    Young, unsure, filled with hate. Servant of Nenevieve and, unknowingly, half-sister to Arthur by their father and a fairy prince. Destined to outpace both Merdin and Nenevieve.

Foreigners in their Distant Lands

King Charles the Great Lord.
    Pious, warlike, wealthy. He has a Twelve of his own, which he calls "paladins" after, apparently, a hill. His father, Pepin (the Small Lord), was a contemporary and a rival to Uther. His grandfather, Charles (the Fearsome Hammer), was a contemporary and a rival to Mabon (the Mother's Son), who was Uther's father and Arthur's grandfather. So it goes and so it goes.

Queen Sarantapecha the Eastern Tyrant.
    Mystickal, schismatic, a woman. Rules a ruined kingdom called Byzantium on the eastern edge of the civilized world. Her cities are decayed and decadent, but her gold coins (the Byzants) are the finest around. Hates Charles for unknowable woman reasons.

King Solomon the Arab Lord.
    Barbarous, cruel, wicked. Rules a ruined kingdom called Catalon on the southern edge of the civilized world. His cities are decayed and decadent, but his alchemy is the finest around. Hates Charles because their peoples have been at war for several hundred years.



Races 

Human
    The natives of Albion and the Heptarchy. Fair skin, brown or tow hair, and a middling stature appropriate for the most common race of the Middle Earth. Capable and adaptable. Can be found everywhere.
    Human characters have +2 SAVE

Pict
    The grey-skinned Little Folk of the northern lands beyond the Heptarchy. If you believe their songs, they once covered all the Isles — until the Latins drove them out at the gleaming point of iron blades. Childlike in appearance, which can be distressing because they file their teeth sharp and go into battle wearing only feathers and warpaint.
    Pict characters have +2 SNEK.

Welsh
    Tall grey-skinned peoples of the western lands not counted among the Heptarchy. They are tough and nimble, and make their homes among the crags of the mountains. Some still practice the old religion, and others ally themselves with the Fairy and the forces of Hell.
    Welsh characters have +2 MOVE.

Dane
    Strange red-headed red-bearded mariners who fight with axes and sing songs of death and chaos. They came from across the whale-roads in search of treasure and glory, and can often be found in the service of local lords or among the ranks of bandits and marauders. They have dark ambitions for the Isles and cheerfully promise to one day rule it.
    Dane characters have +2 HRTS

Elf
    Those of fairy blood. They sometimes have mismatched eyes, or pointed ears, or webbed fingers, but always wear a puckish smile. Many are traveling musicians. It's bad luck to kill an elf and worse luck to keep them in your home.
    Elf characters have +2 SKLL.
 

Classes

No real thoughts to put here. What notes I had for my old Arthurian Campaign are 5e focused.


Monsters

Automaton (8 HD, 16 AC, 10 Morale)
    A mechanism built by the fairy to mind their homes while they are gone. Found in ancient ruins and in crashed fairy ships. They resemble humans made out of metal, though their guts are whirring clockwork and their faces are solid bronze. Usually armed with tools like brooms and trowels (1d6+2), but occasionally carrying proper weapons such as greatswords (1d10+2) or strange arbalests (1d8+2, 30' range).

Boar (2 HD, 12 AC, 7 Morale)
    Hungry, mean, smart. Much like humans in that regard. Their tusks (2d6 to leather or worse, 1d10 otherwise) are sharp, and on level ground their charging attacks always hit creatures slower than them. Nobles hunt them from horseback (safely enough) or on foot with spears (very dangerous).

Dead Man (2 HD, 10 AC, 13 Morale)
    Sometimes these are murders hunting their killers, or ancestors hunting their negligent descendants. Other times they are the product of foul sorcery or fairy trickery. Regardless, they take half damage from mundane weaponry and kill with long nails and teeth (1d8, two attacks a turn).

Fairy Prince (4 HD, 16 AC, 8 Morale)
    Here to cause trouble. They may appear as men or women, tall or short, young or old, and often go about in disguise to "test" mortals. The trick they love the most is to demand a favor, and then punish anyone who denies them. They can fly by moonlight and make deals by sunlight. Their gossamer swords (1d6+2) leave wounds which can only be healed by priests. Iron and fire always deals maximum damage to them.

Hag (2 HD, 10 AC, 10 Morale)
    Old women who know too much. Often warped by diablerie. They can brew potions and lay curses, occasionally offering those services but mostly using them out of spite. You know a Hag is around when the weather turns sour and your animals start dying of disease.

Headless Rider (4 HD, 14 AC, 13 Morale)
    The ghosts of lost knights and betrayed highwaymen who are cursed to ride forever. Cruel fate has stripped them of their faces and, therefore, any possibility for reconciliation. They carry lances (1d12) and ghastly swords (1d6+2). Their horses are usually intelligent and malevolent.

Madman (2 HD, 10 AC, 10 Morale)
    Lepers, wild-eyed prophets, or cursed knights. They live in the forest and eat rats. Giving generous alms to them is good luck, though you must be careful they do not steal anything.

Marauder (2 HD, 14 AC, 8 Morale)
    Vicious criminals who prey on travelers and small villages. Usually wearing gear stolen from some lord's liveries. They carry medium weapons (1d6+2) such as axes and short spears.

Pict (2 HD, 12 AC, 8 Morale)
    Small, grey-skinned, probably here for rape and pillage. Armed literally to the sharpened teeth. Their flint weaponry (1d6) is ineffective against fairy, but fully capable of carving you like a chicken.

Unicorn (8 HD, 18 AC, 13 Morale)
    These beasts are larger than horses and more dangerous than foreigners. They attack almost every living being on sight, except for human virgins. No one is sure why. Their alicorns (1d12+4) are priceless, powerful medicine.

Wizard (1 HD, 8 AC, 5 Morale)
    Old men who know too much. Often twisted by diablerie. They can cast spells and divine the future, occasionally offering those services but mostly using them out of spite. You know a Wizard is around when the crops fail and folks start seeing shadows in the corner of their eyes.

Wolf (2 HD, 12 AC, 7 Morale)
    Hungry, mean, smart. Much like humans in that regard. They like to eat sheep, pigs, chickens, and all the same things humans do. Their teeth (1d6+2) are sharp, and they gain advantage on attack rolls against targets adjacent to other wolves. Most towns offer small rewards for their heads.

Woodwose (3 HD, 12 AC, 8 Morale)
    Sad-eyed hairy men who live in the trees. They understand speech, but do not speak. They will not defend themselves if attacked. They eat fruit and sleep on the ground. When woodcutters come, the woodwise leave.


Notes on concepts and on the differences from other versions of Arthur


    The distinction between "human" and "Welsh" et al. isn't intended as a commentary on 9th century race relations, but merely a parochialism which I hope the reader finds amusing. Similarly, the highest rank these Arthurian types can imagine is cyng, or "King". This is the rank they ascribe to the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne, the Byzantine Basilisa Irene Sarantapechaina, and the Abbasid Wali Sulayman ibn Yaqzan al-Kalbi.
    The names of the knights and other characters should be recognizable gibberish, I've taken the form and the spelling from different sources with a mind to deliberately confuse things. The rivalry between Lot and Pellinore, when it appears in the stories, usually ends with Lot's death. Here things have gone differently.

    Here the arc of history bends in a complete circle. Alfred has not yet been born; the Danes are but wanderers, and the thousand year rivalry between France and England is yet to begin. How could it? There is no England, and there is no France. Charlemagne has only just toppled the Langobards. The "English" are speaking Old English (which looks nothing like the language I am writing in), the "French" are speaking Old German for the most part. The cold, linear history of later eras has not yet begun.
    Instead, again and again a king rises in the Isles, rides out conquering, and dies. This happened to Uther and it will happen to Arthur too. Identical stories will be relived. Faithlessness, cruelty and cowardice will topple Arthur's kingdom like the others.
    As the miner-mariners drove the Fomorians back into the sea, so did the Celts drive out the miner-mariners. The Romans drove the Celts into the wilderness, and collapsed, leaving the land in the hands of the Saxons. They will in turn be conquered by the Normans. Everything has happened and will happen.


Snippets of poetry

Of great limbs gone to chaos,
a great face turned to night —
why bend above a shapeless shroud
seeking in such archaic cloud
sight of strong lords and light?

Where seven sunken Englands
lie buried one by one,
why should one idle spade, I wonder,
shake up the dust of thanes like thunder
in smoke to choke the sun?

In cloud of clay so cast to heaven
what shape shall man discern?
These lords may light the mystery
of mastery, or victory,
and these ride high in history —

but these shall not return.

The Picts
Mistletoe killing an oak!
    Rats gnawing cables in two!
Moths making holes in a cloak!
    How they must love what they do!   
Yes, and we Little Folk too,
    We are busy as they!
Working our works out of view!
    Watch, and you’ll see it some day!

The Welsh
Sharp is my spear, and bright.
I will keep watch here at the ford.
And if I do not escape, God be with you!

If you escape, I will meet you if I live.
If you are killed, I will lament you if I live.
Do not lose the honour of a warrior despite battle hardship!

The Danes
There is always a thing forgotten
When all the world goes well;
A thing forgotten, as long ago,
When the gods forgot the mistletoe,
And soundless as an arrow of snow
The arrow of anguish fell.

The thing on the blind side of the heart,
On the wrong side of the door,
The green plant groweth, menacing
Almighty lovers in the spring;
There is always a forgotten thing,
And love is not secure.

The Elfs
Riding seems easy to every warrior while indoors,
and very courageous to him who traverses the highway
on the back of a stout horse.

Generosity brings credit and honour which support one’s dignity;
it furnishes help and subsistence
to broken men who are devoid of aught else.

Trouble is oppressive to the heart;
yet often it proves a source of help and salvation
to the children of men, to everyone who heeds it betimes.


The Men
And now of the death of Arthur I shall sing.
And how to the island Avalon he sailed;
the Once and Future King.


By mountain and by winter sea rode the din of shield and sword,
till Arthur's table, man by man, all fell about their lord.
Then bold Bedevere seeing his liege, with wound too deep to heal,
bore the king by light of moon to a chapel near the field.

Then said the king "Take now my sword and with what strength you can;
into the deepest water fling Excalibur my brand."
With all the strength that he could find, to land he knew not where,
Bedevere cast the royal blade in the morning-twilight air.

So fell the brand Excalibur — but then there rose a hand!
Up from waters dark and deep, it caught the mighty brand.
Three times it wield Excalibur, as through the air it gleamed.
Then to waters black it sank, no more to be seen.

Behold; a dusky barge appeared through shadow moving on.
King Arthur breathing hard then said "Tis time that I were gone."
"Lay me in the barge" he said, so to the barge they came.
Three gentle maids stretched out their hands and called the king by name.

"Now I am alone my king!" Bedevere loudly cried.
"Whither shall I go my king, now our world has died?"
There long stood Sir Bedevere, in sadness looking on,
until the ship was one black dot against the verge of dawn...

Saturday, October 24, 2020

A Long Way Down (GLOG Campaign Report: No Light No Warmth 1)

The map left to us by our ancestors, such as it is.
March 3rd, 1853
    I have purchased this journal with the last of the petty cash. Everything else was accounted for; the climbers hired, the maps decoded, the keys to the front gates given to our butler, Blosip. If we never return, I suppose the old man will stay in the manor for the rest of his life. Certainly I have never heard of him having any family members. Maybe I never asked?

    If you find this on my corpse: I was Elliot Klohr, last son of the Klohrs. I accompanied my twin sister, Brooks, on an expedition down the Face of the world, following in the footsteps of our grand-uncle Patton Klohr. Hopefully we won't meet the same fate as him will survive the journey.

    If you stole this from my pocket: Give it back, Brooks.


March 5th, 1853
    I've met the climbers that Brooks hired. I wish she had consulted me more. Some of them are objectionable.

    Hereward, the old Zouave, regaled everyone in the bar with tales of campaigns in the mountains. I had read most of those stories in my textbooks of military history. Hopefully his experience and wisdom will be more useful than his age will be a hindrance. Another two solid companions are Bintu Ebi the Vertical Ranger, and his monkey-dad Bill Toast. They both seem competent and are excellent climbers.
Included here is a sketch by Brooks of Mr. Toast

    We will also be accompanied by a pair of... for lack of a better word: thugs. The Alpha Priest wears a blue mask and not-much-else of mostly denim. She is unconcerned by the cold and was very rude when I recommended she put on shoes.
    The other one is a monk from the west of Aeshe. He wears a mask and a skintight silk bodysuit and I do not believe he spoke a word to anyone the whole evening. Later that night I heard him muttering while staring at the moon, but besides that I know nothing about him, not even his name.

    Most worrying is Arthur McGill. He claims to be an Academy-trained archaeologist and manufactory. If that's true, then his hire was commendably cheap. If that's a lie, then the Academy has heard of our plans. Hopefully nothing will come of this.

    We sail from Kerlonen tomorrow, and will proceed down the western coast until we reach ice. Dogsleds will take us the rest of the way. The lodge that Patton launched his expedition from is only a few miles south of a whaling town which will supply us with lamp oil and food. Glory awaits!


March 11th, 1853
    Desperately, desperately seasick.


March 14th, 1853
    We reached the lodge around lunchtime, and noticed something strange; the whole building was frozen over, though it is too dry in these parts for snow and far too cold for rain. Perhaps there is some tectonic motion of the ice?
    The building is still in fine shape, regardless of any encrustation. The thugs managed to smash their way through a back window while the rest of us were struggling with the front door, though they discovered nothing worth stealing (I think).
    The Alpha Priest jabbered constantly while we searched for secret rooms. Several times she called the rest of us cowards, and ominously warned us of the threat of ice demons. Yes, demons, this far south. It seems to be her primary concern.
    Despite these distractions, she managed to destroy the master bedroom and reveal a secret study behind a bookshelf. It contained a few items of note, chief among them several valuable monographs on Patton's other expeditions to the blazing North and the East. Brooks is excited about this — no doubt those books will buy much rope and wine.

    I found a chapel as well. There's no easy way to put this an easy way to put this: the chapel had been desecrated by some heretic ceremony. I do not want to go into detail. The monk pocketed the ritual knife, Brooks reconsecrated the chapel and I boarded the door back up.
    Tonight we prepare ourselves, materially and mentally, for the beginning of the expedition. Tomorrow we will be on the Face.


March 15th, 1853
    Much has occurred.

    When I awoke something told me to investigate the cliff behind the Lodge. There is a spit of frozen rock there which reaches out over the darkness like the prow of a ship. I glanced at it last night, yet somehow I had missed a human figure. It stood at the extremest edge, peering out, leaning on its sword like a dandy might lean on a jeweled cane. I summoned the others in haste.
    When we investigated, we saw the poor creature had frozen to death. He was hunched against the wind and covered in a thin layer of ice, much like the door had been. Beneath that layer of rime we could make out dark clothing and a bright green mask.
    The others brought him back to the lodge, against my wishes, and attempted to thaw him out. To all appearances the thing was a corpse — until the Alpha Priest took the sword from his hands, whereupon he immediately sat up and gestured for it to be returned. His sudden revival scared the Hell out of me us. I find their dog-masks of the Green Heretics creepy, and their inability to answer questions (they make themselves dumb with sharp knives and branding irons) annoying. Unfortunately the Alpha Priest took to him immediately, and the others were swayed into not throwing the horrible thing off of the cliff.
    What answers he did provide included a tally of his murders. I did not find that information reassuring. Brooks believes he accompanied the first expedition for some inscrutable, prophecy-related purpose, as the Green Heretics are wont to do. Perhaps our uncle Patton was the Messiah they are waiting for. Ha! If that's the case, then the dog is out of luck. Regardless, he insisted on accompanying us down the Face. I will be keeping a close eye on him.
   

    After that unpleasant meeting we finally began our expedition. Mr. Toast was an invaluable asset, as we could easily dangle his tiny baby monkey body off the edge by a rope and allow him to test the stone for us. By this method we quickly found our way, and Hereward's mountaineering experience guided us down the Face of the World.

    I was pleased to discover that the maps were accurate; much of the Face is crossed with paths of a sort which do not require full pitches. The first such path we encountered was a series of hexagonal nodules jutting from the stone, where softer material had been worn away by the passage of ice and time. We made good progress at first. Unfortunately, we verified another element of my uncle's notes when we were attacked by a swarm of Eunoiacs.
    These awful things look like a murder victim wrapped in a carpet, or the bloated hands of a drowned man. Their voices cause madness — in this case, our porter-monkey Altagracia "Steamboat" Fourpennysworth was afflicted with terror, and Bintu was struck with guilt for the death of his order. With guns, thrown rocks and a blast of poison fire we made short work of the predators, but I fear they will be as common as ice slicks on our way down.

    On a more cerebral note, we made camp tonight on a shelf carved by some ancient civilization. The walls are covered with religious symbols; masks, kowtowing figures, signs of the Brothers, and all that sort of thing.
    We also discovered our first stone circle (these, if you are reading my journal years after the fact when it is published in some academic quarterly, are the rifts in space between which communication and translation are possible. Gold and information flow "up" to the basecamp; supplies and warm bodies flow "down", and this is how we can climb the Face without starving to death). We quickly lit the circle and reported the day's journey to my sister at the lodge.

    I write this update from my tent as Hereward takes first watch. With any luck, the rest of our campaign will be as uneventful.


March 16th, 1853
    Catastrophe has struck down two of our party members.

    During the night, Bintu alerted us of a strange creature prowling around the edge of our lamplight. By its shining blue eyes I guessed it to be a product of wizardry, and by the sound of its iron claws I guessed it to be hostile. The Alpha Priest labeled it an ice demon and smashed its face with one of her hammers, and it fell.
 
    We were on the paths around eight in the morning. The weather had shifted. All around us was a supernal glow; wizardry of some kind whose source was impossible to guess. It was enough for us to see a strange silhouette a short distance from the path, which I at first mistook for a giant of some sort.

Side note; I am sure of the presence of stone giants on the Face. Those titans who built the great cities and worshiped the Brothers are now rare in Aeshe and the rest of the civilized world, but my uncle's notes refer to a small community of them he met on his expedition.
    "We have cut the ashlar of G_d with our hands,
    as those hands were cut out by G_d, they say,
    when the seraphs lit the stars with their brands
    and the devils carried the waters away."

    In this case, though, it wasn't a giant. Just a corpse pulled in half and frozen to a cliff-face with its own blood. I found it quite grotesque, but the Alpha Priest climbed out to recover supplies and a pistol from the frozen climbers.

    Later we encountered another dead climber, this one more active. He had a screaming match with the Alpha Priest and threw an axe at me. It wasn't boring, but neither was it interesting.


    I suppose I am writing my way around the point. Bill Toast and Hereward are dead.


    About half an hour ago (as I write this) we assembled our gear for a climb. The map indicated that we could save a long, cold, roundabout journey with only a few hundred feet of climbing along the Face. We had no equipment failure, or lack of skill among the climbers — their deaths were purely ill luck. Bill Toast slipped while recovering our line, and was broken by the ropes and his harness. It took us several minutes to reel him back in. He was dead by the time we recovered his body. Bintu replaced his cowboy hat with his father's bloodstained tamoshanter, and now sits by the campfire in silence.
    Not ten minutes after the death of Mr. Toast, Hereward had a near-identical accident on the very cusp of reaching our goal, and bled to death before the gates of an ancient ruin of the races which predate Man.

    For there is a ruin here, of course; the one which was marked on the map and which we were climbing towards. Patton's map marks their location (or someone has marked them on his map), but the surviving notes do not discuss them in great detail. We had hoped to find something of interest here, whether treasure or an item of more archaeological interest. Instead we seem to have found death after only one full day on the Face.

    Tomorrow we will explore it. Tonight we have laid Bill Toast and Hereward the Watchful under a cairn of stone and ice. G_d willing, they will not rise again. We have no means of blessing their graves.



    I include here a sketch of the doorway, in case you found this journal on my body and are trying to retrace my steps. We have made it two miles.


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

In the Garden of the Saint (October 5th)

    The fifth GLOGtober theme: maps. Here's a couple of maps for the Horizon Walkers to die in. They belong to a large man who does not like to make deals.

Cosmic Fortress of the King of the Universes

 
    This is the home of Saint Jonathon, sometimes Sin Dagon to his subjects, or Sanxoniatho, or Sun Aesh Ajax, or Yhn-Aten, or Imun G_d, or whatever title their mouthparts can cry out as they bow low and give homage. 
Saint Jonathon
40HD (140HP) Human Demigod, AC perfect (requires critical), morale 13
1d8+4 unarmed blows.
INESCAPABLE: The Saint walks faster than you run. He can jump 100' at a time.
INSTANT: The Saint may choose to succeed reflex-related saves.
INEXORABLE: The Saint's criticals vaporize and disperse his targets.
INDOMITABLE: If the Saint's result on a strength-related roll is less than 20, it is 20 instead.
FRENZIED: On the Saint's turn in combat, he makes an attack with each hand and one of his feet.
STUNNING: If a strike would kill his target, the Saint may choose to paralyze them instead.
EVASIVE: The Saint takes half damage from explosions and spells.
PURE: The Saint is immune to disease and poison.
TRANQUIL: The Saint regenerates all HP after 5 minutes of undisturbed meditation.
TONGUE OF THE SUN AND MOON: The Saint understands and speaks all languages.
    Are you here to steal something from Jonathon? Did you arrive by accident? Perhaps you are trying to rescue someone? Or deliver a letter? Regardless, you should step quietly in his halls. He can be irritable.





Arngrim
2HD (10HP) Human Fighter, AC 12, Morale 10
1d6+2 cut-and-thruster.
BERSERKER: The first time he takes damage, Arngrim enters a rage. While raging he does not roll morale and takes half damage from all sources.
GARDENER: Arngrim knows all there is to know about the exotic plants of the Saint's garden. He also keeps a small vegetable plot to feed himself and Meilod (the Saint no longer eats). If he were killed, much of the garden would wither: the Saint has a black thumb.
Meilod
2HD (7HP) Half-Elf Wizard, AC 10, Morale 7
Spells: Light, Magic Eye, Illusory Terrain. 2 MD.
FUTUROLOGIST
: By flipping coins, rolling dice, or drawing cards, Meilod can predict the degree of difficulty a plan will encounter. He can flip coins to receive "good/bad" forever, but dice stress him and tarot physically harms him.
LIGHTKEEPER: Meilod is responsible for the supernatural light which fills the Cosmic Fortress. He carries a runestone which lets him track and control light levels throughout the structure, and empowers his Light spells. If the stone were stolen, or Meilod were to die, the castle would be plunged into darkness. The Saint does not have darkvision.

Eyes and Nostrils Hotter than Hell (October 4th)

    The fourth GLOGtober theme: swirling rainbow vortices. An interdimensional portal looks like one of those (I think). 

Source: Horizon Walker by LuckyLeguan
 

Class: Horizon Walker

"Horizon Walkers guard the world against threats that originate from other planes or that seek to ravage the mortal realm with otherworldly magic. They seek out planar portals and keep watch over them, venturing to the Inner Planes and the Outer Planes as needed to pursue their foes. These rangers are also friends to any forces in the multiverse — especially benevolent dragons, fey, and elementals — that work to preserve life and the order of the planes."

    That's the official line, anyway. You are a ranger tasked with patrolling the planes and enforcing a cosmic Prime Directive, ensuring would-be Alexanders weep when they realize they can only conquer one.
    For every template you have in this class, you gain +1 sneak. If you have at least one template in this class you never fumble while using staves, knives, bows, or one-handed blades. You can wear both light and medium armor, and may use shields. 

Skills: 1. Endurance Running 2. Planar Mechanics 3. Counterintelligence

Starting Equipment: sturdy clothing (as leather), champagne saber (light), horn bow (see list below), another piece of planar gear of your choice.

  • A Wide Ranging, Portal Hunter, +1 HP
  • B Ethereal Step, +1 to-hit
  • C Ethereal Hew, +1 HP
  • D Ethereal Defense, Ethereal Prosecution, +1 AC

Wide Ranging
    Choose two of the following adjectives: barren, populated, abandoned, forested, frigid, windswept, arid, damp, craggy, dark, coastal, spooky. While in an area described by that adjective, you can light a fire (given tools, fuel, 60 local minutes and cooperative weather), find enough food for one person, follow tracks a local day old, and may protect one person from poor conditions.
    Every time you level up, select another adjective. Effects stack. Adjectives may be selected multiple times.
Portal Hunter
    Training has given you a special sense for holes in reality. You immediately know if  a new planar portal is opened within one mile. With an hour of meditation, you can sense the exact position of the nearest portal within one mile per level.
    If you focus on a visible enemy for a full combat turn (about six local seconds), your melee attacks against them deal force damage (fully effective against targets corporeal, incorporeal or entirely psychosomatic). If they leave your sight or one of you dies, you lose this focus.

Ethereal Step
    Taking a step parallel to all 10 normal dimensions places you in the Ethereal Plane. While in this state, you are invisible and lose all senses except 30' of monochrome vision. You may drift through solid objects, but if you are inside an object at the end of the step you shunt to the nearest unoccupied space and take force damage as if you had fallen twice the distance. The step lasts for about six local seconds (typically enough time to move 60' horizontally or 30' vertically).
    When you use this ability more than once per local day you have a cumulative 1-in-6 chance to fail to return. Those trapped in the Ethereal Plane age at 1/100th of local rate, and cannot be recovered with only stepping.

Ethereal Hew
    Bilocation is a common Planar power, but impressive nevertheless. When you attack an enemy you may simultaneously attack a different enemy within 60'. If the second attack connects and the first misses, you are now adjacent to the second enemy. If both connect you may choose your position.

Ethereal Defense
    What's better than being in two places simultaneously? Being in no places simultaneously. Once per combat round (about every six local seconds), you may blink in and out of the Ethereal Plane to ignore half of incoming damage. This does not count against your steps.
Ethereal Prosecution
    Rangers aren't actually part of the judicial branch, of course, but "Ethereal Prosecution" is a good name for a template.
    As a senior Horizon Walker you are empowered to make arrests of genies, devils, and other important members of planar society. You need at least some excuse to do this, and too many spurious arrests gets you in trouble with Interdimensional Affairs, but arrestees must make their planar court dates or face serious consequences.
    You may also request backup by saying aloud "I need backup". A pair of junior agents will materialize nearby within 1d6 minutes. They will return once you are somewhat safe. If you get them killed, Central will refuse to send you any more for 1d6 weeks per death. They are members of one or more of the following bizarre races:

  1. Human
  2. Snakewoman
  3. Birdman
  4. Big Squid
  5. Half-Orc, Half-Elf
  6. Obvious Werewolf
  7. Paper Doll
  8. Two Humans

Planar Gear

  1. Sturdy Clothing. Soft leather, boiled leather, protects your important bits. 0 slots worn, 2 slots carried.
  2. Champagne Saber. Works just as well as a real one. ⅓rd slot.
  3. Horn Bow. Not designed to be used on foot. 1d6 damage at 10', -1 to-hit every 5' beyond that. ⅓rd slot.
  4. Fancy Boots. Gleaming leather, curly toes, sharp hobnails. Protects you from the knees down. 1 slot.
  5. Big Hat. Shades you from the sun(s) and impresses the locals.
  6. Large box of Foreign Currency. Contains 50gp, 1d6 of which the people of this town will grudgingly accept. 1 slot.
  7. Conceptual Map. Allows route-planning between spheres.
  8. Clockwork Handbow. A great idea, but the technology just isn't there yet. 2d6 damage at 10', -1 to-hit every 5' beyond that. Explodes in a mess of wires and gears for 1d6 damage in 20' on a fumble. Fires steel darts, comes with a pack of 10. ⅓rd slot and 1 slot respectively.
  9. Grapnel and 100' of silk rope. 1 slot each.
  10. Chroma Glass. A scope which may be adjusted indefinitely to focus over the horizon. Takes about one local second for the focus to move one mile. Red light is lost in the transition. 1 slot.
  11. Packet of Goop Pellets. Not sure what's in this gunk, but if you drop it into a portal the next thing to pass through will be painted blue. Three doses.
  12. Coordinates Booklet. Includes the location of dozens of points of interest. Useful when setting up new portals. Do not allow this information to be captured. ⅓rd slot.
  13. REJOINDER Device. Something like a kaleidoscope. Allows you to view secret messages left in the environment by other Rangers, if you know the settings they used to encode. ⅓rd slot.
  14. Planar Sextant. Allows one to calculate local rate and proximity to a calibrated universal center (where you are and how fast you're going). ⅓rd slot.
  15. Perfect Filter. Looks like a tobacco pipe, extracts all potable water from a substance inserted into the larger end.
  16. Polymultitool. A heavy, complicated set of fold-out toolheads and spare handles. Six seconds of searching gives you a 1-in-6 chance of finding the specific mundane tool you are searching for. 3 slots.
  17. Walking Flask. A sturdy medium walking stick with a concealable 1-liter flask in the head. 1 slot.
  18. Inflatable Boat. Comes with a ripcord. 2' by 2' by 2' compressed, 20' by 20' by 4' expanded. 3 slots.
  19. Three sticks of dynamite. ⅓rd slot each.
  20. A strange or inexplicable curio. Roll 1d6 on the following list:
    1. A statue of a cricket. Makes cricket noises with impeccable comedic timing.
    2. Exotherm salt-shaker. One hearty shake converts a liter of water to ice. 10 doses.
    3. Transitive Opera Glasses. One lens is red, the other blue. When used, you see from their focal point as if you were standing there. ⅓rd slot
    4. Crowd-Patterned Poncho. Looks very strange when standing alone. Blends seamlessly into a crowd.
    5. Sack of cosmic flour. Baked goods prepared from this flour are alive and sentient. Enough for a dozen cookies or one medium cake. 1 slot.
    6. Hell's Eye. A large silvery diamond with a starburst flaw. Critical attacks against the wearer slay them instantly in a manner that destroys their face and other defining features, no matter how bizarre or unlikely that result is.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Tricky Wizards (The Sage Expansion Pack)

This is an expansion pack for Squig's Sage. The Sage is one of my favorite GLOG classes, and I've been in an expansion pack mood.

Source: the Guildmaster by tsabo6


Further Wizardly Tricks:

  1. Wind. Once per day, you can create a light breeze with a gesture or word that will blow until disrupted by stronger wind.
  2. Brow. Your eyebrows stick out past the brim of your hat. When you furrow your brow, you remind nearby NPCs of the most intimidating old man they encountered in their childhood.
  3. Step. While walking at normal speed you make no more sound than a cat. When no one is looking you take slightly too little time to cross distances on foot, almost as if you were sprinting the whole way... but that can't be right, since you're never out of breath.
  4. Sleep. You can fall asleep in any situation where you are not taking HP damage. You always wake instantly, prepared for combat, and can be wakened by any suspicious noise.
  5. Ripped. Underneath your wizard robe you're fucking jacked. Absolutely gleaming abs. Lats you can zest a lemon on. This has no effect on your ability scores.
  6. Mirror. With a little spit and the cuff of your sleeve, you can polish any surface to reflectivity.
  7. Slap. You can given anyone another save against ongoing magic effects by smacking them on the back of the head and barking at them to snap out of it.
  8. Card. You are a master of legerdemain, and can entertain idiots and children indefinitely with a pack of cards, or three cups, or similar street corner bric-a-brac.
  9. Feeble. By leaning on a staff and making your voice all croaky and whistly, you appear to be as old as your race can possibly get. Good-natured NPCs will hurry to assist you across streets, carry your bags, or open doors for you. This has no effect on your ability scores.
  10. Herb. You can identify non-magical plants on sight, and can always think of a use for them.
  11. Watch. You have a watch that always returns to your pockets if lost or damaged. It has the hour, minute and second hands, along with the trouble, the opportunity and the death hand.
  12. Compass. You have a compass that always returns to your pockets if lost or damaged. It points in any direction you feel like, or if you press it to something can be commanded to always point to that object.
  13. Pockets. Your pockets seem to always contain a bit of string, a fragment of chalk, a paperclip, an inch of wax crayon or other bits of office supplies when you need them.
  14. Loupe. You have a jeweler's loupe (20x magnification) that always returns to your pockets if lost or damaged. If you examine someone's eyes (the windows to the soul) you can tell if they are suffering from a disease or a curse, and how many of each.
  15. Tongue. You can identify enchanted objects and precious metals by taste.
  16. Grey. In a natural environment, you are almost impossible to find while you hold still in the undergrowth. In an urban environment, you are almost impossible to tail while you are walking through a crowd.
  17. Sword. You are as proficient with swords as an equivalent-level Fighting-Man.
  18. Speech. You can slip coded messages into normal conversation which will be immediately understood by those you intend to understand.
  19. Glance. If you lock eyes with another Wise one, you can communicate silently without language.
  20. Substances. You never seem to suffer the negative consequences from consuming alcohol, tobacco, opium or other exciting things. You still have withdrawal symptoms when you go without.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Worse than Useless (October 3rd)

    I've done a post on swords with THREE WORD NAMES before, and I sure do like giving magic swords out as treasure. But not every blade is made the same. The theme for GLOGtober 3rd is "goblins" — so, tangentially, how about some terrible swords? 

Source: swords by LancierPilum


  1. SOME NECESSARY PROBLEMS. She is a medium langmesser (+1) of pale and chardun. Her guard is four-part and too pointy to be safely carried in a normal sheath. SOME NECESSARY PROBLEMS requires double rations, and will loudly and constantly complain if this is not provided to her. She was recently stolen from an eccentric nobleman's collection, and abandoned by the side of the road by the thief. She knows his name, description, deepest fears and current destination, and wants him dead.

  2. DEAD RISE NEVER. It is a medium longsword of bronte. Its hilt and guard are decorated with amber and gold leaf. Once held in the hand, it cannot be released until a priest temporarily dispels its curse. Hopefully you didn't pick it up with both hands (or by the blade) Currently waiting, innocently, in a pile of treasure.

  3. GREAT SPEAR BLADE. She is a heavy jian (+1) of adamant. Her blade is much thicker and heavier than most of her type, and her handle is commensurately longer. GREAT SPEAR BLADE may, at-will, cause anyone within shouting distance to enter into a rage, which she tries to do only when it would be as funny as possible. Currently buried under several bodies in a ditch.

  4. GARDENER WAR DILEMMA. He is a medium drill hoe (+2) of chardun and bronte. As an awkwardly-weighted farming implement, he deals 1d6 damage when held in two hands and 1 when held in one. He can be used to hoe rows at triple speed, but he much prefers combat. Currently in the possession of an alcoholic Zouave.

  5. OLD MEN REAP. She is a light scimitar of ossgold. Her blade is elaborately etched with an agricultural scene depicting a wartime harvest; the women drag fallen trees to form crude abatis along the roads, the children tread grapes in vats full to their waists, and with grim smiles and bent backs the OLD MEN REAP. Her bearer can neither surprise or be surprised, as she constantly mutters about her surroundings and any hidden enemies. Currently hanging on the wall in an abandoned woodcutter's camp.

  6. GREAT INDELIBLE POEM. It is a massive nagamaki (+1) of bronte and ossgold. Its mottled blade and sharkskin grip are clearly the work of a master. It is terrified of fire, water, the dark, long falls and tight spaces. Currently jammed into a big rock somewhere in the middle of nowhere, waiting for a prophesied king.

  7. THE FIRST PRINCIPLE. He is a medium yataghan (-2) of pale. His hilt is missing, so someone has wrapped his tang in bloody bandages. He loudly, negatively, comments on his wielder's martial skills and absence of horse (if his wielder has a horse he will insult it). When used to deal a critical hit, THE FIRST PRINCIPLE will chuckle knowingly and deal an extra 2d8 fire damage. Currently at the bottom of a river tied to a human sacrifice.

  8. PENURY INERTNESS GRIMACE. She is a light falcata (+1) of chardun and ossgold. Her pommel is an eagle's head in gold, her guard an eagle's wings, and her attractively swept blade is sure to draw approving looks from nearby swordsmen. Unfortunately, she swears like a sailor with his head stuck in a toffee puller and knows every rude word in human language. Currently forgotten in a bank safety deposit.

  9. GOOD LUCK FRIEND. She is a medium wakizashi of bronte. Her name is engraved repeatedly on her blade, though it is only visible in the sections not covered with rust. When touched to stone she converts it to iron; when touched to iron she converts it to wood, and when touched to wood she converts it to stone. Violently allergic to living flesh and must be handled with mail mittens. Currently the property of a safecracker in way over her head.

  10. NOTHING TO IDENTIFY. He is a medium backsword (+4) of adamant. His knuckleguard has a warning written on it in an unreadable script, but he can recite it upon specific request: "Please do not touch, thank you". On a critical or a fumble he detonates in a 4MD Fireball, and reconstitutes 24 hours later in the possession of his bearer's next-of-kin. Currently lying on a sidewalk in a slum — he has explained the situation to the residents and they have (wisely) left him there.

  11. STRATEGIC MONKEY RESERVES. She is a light kris of adamant. Her hilt is wrapped in blue silk and her pommel is a sapphire. She steals angels from nearby clerics; this is usually immediately obvious to them and they will request to be returned, but STRATEGIC MONKEY RESERVES will do so only if she feels like it. Currently the only friend of a blue-masked hermit on a small island unknown to cartographers.

  12. NO SAFE HARBOR. He is a medium szabla of bronte and ossgold. Unusual acid wash sometimes resembles a face. As a generous benefactor of humanity, NO SAFE HARBOR delights in offering them what they want most. He can produce his own weight in material every day, consisting of what he thinks is most desired by those present (this is opium if there is a dope addict nearby and cheap gin otherwise). Currently in the possession of an unscrupulous tavernkeep.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Rekuratu Recreated (October 2nd: Blood)

    This post was originally cobbled together from campaign notes from 2015. It was the first post on this blog, and received some seventeen views before I de-published it in shame. I have not edited it except by fixing the image-embedding HTML that Blogspot broke at some point. There doesn't seem to be much difference between how I wrote then and how I write now. I have revivified it, and here present it as the second entry in GLOGtober.



Crudely traced from an old issue of Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly


Drinkers of blood, eaters of flesh. Vampires travel the world righting wrongs or causing new ones as the whim takes them. Sun-warding bandages cover them so thickly that their identities would be impossible to determine even if you could find someone who was alive however many centuries ago the vampire was. Like all immortals, vampires are vulnerable to (and sometimes masters of) fire and water. The bodies under the bandages are little more than dust, and will burn or dissolve easily. They fear the ocean like they fear the Devil and will only cross running water in the name of causes they are willing to die for. If they hate you, killing you is such a cause.


It is not difficult to make vampires hate you. They write the names of their enemies on the inside of those bandages they wear over their hearts.

Appearance:


The arrival of a vampire is heralded by all senses. Their voices are dry (or sticky-moist) as the air of a tomb. Their ancient bandages stink of rot, crackle like fire, and are rough as sharkskin. Tasting the bandages is ill-advised.

Old vampires have names in dead languages. Some of those names are recognizable to students of history; others are famed in story from the territory of the Hobgoblin Emperor to the endless deserts of the Parch. Many vampires lie about their names, but not all.Vampires are encountered in almost any climate or region. Like crows or ants, they are attracted to battlefields and sites of slaughter, but they can also be found walking the streets of the great cities at night, or simply wandering through the wilderness testing their skills on any travelers they come across.


Fighting:


Weapons, even enchanted ones, deal half damage to vampires. While they are on fire they receive 1D6 damage at the end of each full turn, and they burn until they immerse themselves in water or something smothers them magically. Immersion in water deals 1D6 damage to vampires, 1D6 at the end of each turn if the water is running or the vampire is moving around. If you can remove their bandages without killing them (and they will fight to prevent this), sunlight will destroy whatever parts of them are still human.

Each vampire carries trophies: perhaps a pennant of a kingdom long vanished from living memory, a lock of woman’s (or man’s) hair, a broken wedding ring, a religious symbol — detritus of a life that might not even be theirs. If a vampire loses a trophy through misfortune, it will abandon its tasks and wander off in a random direction to sulk, or meditate, or raze a village. If someone stole the trophy, on a 4-in-6 chance the vampire will hunt him until one of the two is dead. 2-in-6 chance for it to hunt the culprit for forty-eight hours, then lose interest.

Contents of a Vampire's Pocket (D8): 

1 - Heavy broach in rococo style, studded with semi-precious stones. Sold in parts, the broach is worth 30 sp. Sold whole, 120 sp, less whatever negative value the merchant assigns to running away from a vampire for the rest of his life.
2 - Blood-encrusted crossbow bolt poorly inscribed with runes of dragon slaying. A relic of a forgotten age. 4-in-6 chance a sage will identify these as runes of vampire slaying. Do not shoot a vampire with this. 20 sp.
3 - Slender book which the vampire has used to press daisies. The book was once the possession of Ozurdex the Groping Hand, a powerful prince of a race of necromancers. The flowers have ruined the text. Reading the title aloud messily kills all small animals within 200 feet. -50 sp. (You will have to pay someone a great deal of money to take this cursed thing off of your hand. Burning it yourself might be dangerous. Don't sleep in its presence.)
4 - Ring of Saffron. +1 to any reaction roll with creatures who can smell. There are nations of blind things, deep beneath the earth, who will recognize you as their vengeful blood-drinking g_d. 60 sp.
5 - Ram's horn, capped with silver on the cut end. A lifetime (or just a single war) ago, carrying this marked you as a revolutionary. It now marks you as an officer of the secret police. This vampire, unlike many, was probably only one of those things. 10 sp.
6 - Finger-sized lump of Alchemical Sapphire. This substance repels or destroys many supernatural effects. Someone has carved the base of this piece into a bolt so you can screw it to the tip of a dueling foil and hunt ghosts. 50 sp, 100 sp to an alchemist.
7 - Packet of Lead Sugar. Upon consuming this, take 1 point of damage to your highest stat. 1-in-6 chance of permanent loss; else a full night of sleep heals you. Tastes like home. 10 sp.
8 - A golden crown. Spake Synagis, Offa's Brother, "Crown of eight points, crown I hold in my hands, crown of kadzkadzat and opal, crown you took from our father, crown with the words of Mana over the inner arc, crown you wore as you killed your son..." This has the eight points, the jewels, and the holy writ, just like the skalds still sing. Where did the vampire find this?

Not Fighting:


Every vampire is a master of the Sacerd style of fencing, which emphasizes powerful killing blows with a plain iron smallsword and forbids the use of weapons or tools in the offhand. Fights between two students of the Sacerd style are over within three blows. Fights between a student and a non-student are typically also over within three blows.

Sacerd was developed by the paladin-priests of Tabernak, who believe evil men killed by this style are offered some slight remittance of sin, then perfected by assassins, who believe its coup de grace kills instantly and painlessly, and is now beloved of vampires, who hope (but do not believe) both things are correct.

Traditions of the Sacerd Style: 

Nothing More - These traditions may only be used with a plain one-handed sword and an empty off-hand.
Grooves in the Granite Floors of the Temples - Students of the Sacerd style train for years in the same basic positions and responses. +4 to individual initiative roll, or always get a surprise round if your group wins initiative. This tradition can be learned as a novitiate in a seminary, or in one year's study at a sufficiently old monastery.
Extensive Study of the Vascular System - It takes many long evenings, and careful diagramming by hand, before anyone can fully understand the arteries, veins, capillaries and other vessels that tangle through and about each other inside the human body. Expand your critical hit range by 1. This tradition can be learned as a student in a university, or in one year's study at a military surgery.  
Mindless, Blind Brutality - Few have a natural aptitude for the highest and most esoteric levels of the Sacerd style. Anyone struck by one of your critical hits must make a save vs. death. This tradition can be learned as an abused child, or directly from a vampire. How long it takes him to teach you depends on who you are.

The first five- or six-hundred years of immortality are full of wonder, as the weaknesses of the human condition melt away and the vampires are free to do anything that interests them. But as their half-rotted eternities wear on, ennui and self-hatred grow, and the vampires begin to pursue ever-more self-destructive pastimes.

In what free time they have between fighting for a cause or against each other vampires do little besides feed their bodies and train their swordsmanship, driven ever onward by their wholly justified fear of retribution. If a vampire were to convince himself that nothing persists beyond death and his soul would never face judgement, never be held accountable for his actions, then he would most likely kill himself immediately. But many vampires are old and strange enough to have actually spoken with the g_ds, and some have gone so far as to war with them. Vampires are rarely atheists.

Adventurers with a specific problem and a specific plan to solve the problem almost certainly won't be able to rouse vampires to assist them, even if the plan involves excitement and murder. Still; the worst thing the vampire can do is say no and eat you, so why not ask?

Thursday, October 1, 2020

I Shouldn't Be Alive (October 1st: Guns)

This is a post for GLOGtober. GLOGtober 1st is guns.

Source: Revolver Ocelot by CBedford

    One problem people (such as myself) sometimes have with guns in D&Dalikes is the lethality. I can envision what a missed attack roll looks like with a sword (a whiff), I know what a hit with a low damage roll means (caught on a bit of armor, poor timing wasted most of the momentum, barely nicked with the tip), I know what a hit with a high damage roll means (a nasty slice, a solid thwack to the shield-arm). To a degree I can even accept a high HP total that lets a PC take several high-damage hits (it's luck! it's grit! it's all sorts of things besides meat!)

    But what does that look like with firearms? How much damage does a gun do? It seems a bit stupid to have a high-powered rifle do basically the same thing as a big knife.

    Well, real life is pretty stupid as well. Here are a number of unusual effects of being shot.

  1. Nothing seems to happen. Later, you will discover a gigantic bullet hole in your hat. 
  2. The shot passes harmlessly through your baggy dress pants.
  3. You open your mouth to shout in alarm and the bullet whistles through it, neatly removing your canine teeth. 
  4. The wadding catches you square in the forehead, knocking you onto your rear, as the bullet whistles by twenty feet above you.
  5. The bullet grazes your shin, which hurts like Hell and bleeds like a fountain. You need to take five minutes tying yourself off.
  6. Your weapon catches the bullet and shatters in a cloud of painful but harmless shrapnel.
  7. Your hat is taken, and an ear with it. You are otherwise unharmed.
  8. It goes right through the meat of your upper arm, disabling it for 1d6 days (exploding).
  9. As you hold some piece of gear up to examine it, the bullet drives it into your face. Your eyes are so blackened they swell shut, blinding you for the rest of the day.
  10. A shard of a bullet that broke upon firing catches you in the stomach, and you bleed profusely. Gain the effects of blood loss for 1d6 days (exploding).
  11. While dodging a shot you fall and twist your knee badly, reducing you to half speed for 1d6 days (exploding).
  12. Shrapnel catches you square in the chest and stomach, throwing you to the ground and reducing you to 0 HP.
  13. The bullet lightly grazes your temple, and you fall unconscious for 1d6 days (exploding). 
  14. One hand blown clean off by an unlucky shot.
  15. Shot through the thigh, save vs. Death or bleed out within a minute.
  16. One leg ruined by an unlucky shot. Reduced to 0 HP.
  17. Both of your arms blown off. Reduced to 0 HP. Time to learn how to fight with your teeth
  18. The bullet catches you in the breastbone and you fall dead instantly.
  19. The bullets shred you like paper and you fly backwards, your gear unrecoverable
  20. You liquefy, vaporize, and disperse like a fog cloud. Nearby NPCs make morale checks.

The Ranger of the Tomb, or; the Prophecy (GLOG Class: Ranger)


To the dark grave we go, bearing the proud and great,
    where quick decay will know no title or estate.
Pour forth the solemn strain, wail for the mighty dead;
    for dust has come to dust again and the warrior spirit fled . . .

Source: Ancient Temple Explorers by Suirebit

    The ground in these parts is full of hollows and the ruins of graves: empty spaces surely made by giants, who dug through stone like a gravedigger through soft earth, and who left behind many wonderful things to amuse them in the afterlife. If you make your living by retrieving these wonders, or guiding parties of others, you are a tomb ranger.
    As a tomb ranger, you can wear light and medium armor and can carry shields. You never fumble while using knives, whips, pistols, grenades or bows.

Skills: 1. Burial Rites 2. Ropes & Knots 3. Mechanics.

Starting Equipment: heavy work clothes (as leather), an exotic mask (see below for equipment list) a bullwhip (light), a bronze lantern , three doses of kerosene (⅓ slot each, burn for twelve hours) and one other piece of kit of your choice .
  • A Bloodstained, Light Foot, +1 HP
  • B Ghost Friend +1 to-hit
  • C Eyes in the Dark, Trophies, +1 AC
  • D Darkness in the Eyes, +1 to-hit

Bloodstained
    Horrors of the deep haven't bothered you in years. You can track fresh undead by scent like a bloodhound, and always know if there is a human corpse within 30'. After the DM gives you the Omen of an encounter, you can choose to encounter an appropriately large horde of undead instead.
Light Foot
    You have been trained for extended periods in the field — underground. You suffer no combat penalties from rough terrain, cramped spaces or dim light. If it comes up; you also have no strong objections to utter darkness, wading in stagnant water, or eating shoe leather.
Ghost Friend
    You have attracted a friendly (or at least curious) spirit. It has 2 HD and follows you around. Roll a d6 to learn its name and general outlook:
  1. Robert Logsville, ex-tomb ranger. Doesn't quite remember what killed him, but he knows a lot about the underground. Identifies most undead on sight.
  2. Jone Ries, ex-tomb raider. Endlessly fascinated by modern technology, especially guns. Can scout climbing routes to find the easiest path.
  3. Ogedei, a King who once inhabited the underground halls. Can't speak your language but likes to sing. 4-in-6 chance of pointing out traps and secret doors.
  4. The Sheer Veil, an old ghost without a name. Those it envelops are blind but take half damage from all sources. Usually follows directions.
  5. Shadow-in-the-corner-of-my-eye, an ancient ghost without a form. You cannot be surprised if you're paying attention to its gestures. Likes to hover behind attractive people.
  6. AGHDHS!, an antecataclysmic thing. Huge. Displaces other spirits, friendly and hostile alike.
Eyes in the Dark
    At will, your eyes project ghastly light for five feet. This is bright enough to allow reading text, and is visible for a long way in open space.
Trophies
    Wearing or wielding cursed equipment, which grave goods and evil swords tend to be, gives you proportionate bonuses to AC, to-hit and damage. Negotiate this with your DM, I don't have time for your bullshit, but a small inconvenient curse should give a +1 while a big terrible curse can be a +2 or 3.
Darkness in the Eyes
    At will, walk into a deep shadow and declare that you have disappeared. Nothing can affect you or be affected by you while you are so vanished, and you may reappear in another area of darkness at will unless it is literally impossible for you to have reached it unseen.

 

 Tomb Robbing Kit:

  1. Sturdy Work Clothes. Waterproof boots with soles that grip through dampness, big sturdy overalls that won't be torn up by squeezing through narrow passages, fuzzy fleece underthings to protect you from the deathly chill. As leather armor. 0/2 slots.
  2. Exotic Mask. Looks like a skull, or a monkey, or any other totem you have encountered in the underground. Some ghosts respond well to it.
  3. Bullwhip. A light weapon, has the reach of a thrown weapon without needing to be thrown. On a fumble it tangles itself in the environment and you must spend a minute retrieving it. ⅓rd slot.
  4. Bronze Lantern. Fine specialist gear, sheds light for 15' for twenty-four hours on a dose of kerosene. 1 slot.
  5. Silent Revolver. Astonishing bit of clockwork, makes no more noise than a fat man covering up a sneeze in an opera house. Deals 1d8 damage at a range of 10', with a -1 to-hit every 5' past that. Comes fully loaded with six shots. ⅓rd slot.
  6. Stick of Fluorescing Chalk. Glows in a color of your choice when exposed to even the faintest light.
  7. Sputtering Flares. Burns for five minutes, illuminating poorly for 5', and blinking slightly brighter once a second. Useful as a timer, or can be dropped down a hole to measure distances. Packet of ten. 1 slot.
  8. Scented Bandanna. Renders many inhaled poisons harmless, or at least down to ½ damage, and prevents you from tracking the undead by scent.
  9. 100' of rope and clip.
  10. First-rate Crowbar. Useful as a light weapon, and doubles your effective strength when lifting objects. ⅓rd slot.
  11. Curlicue Bow. Exceptionally small, exceptionally powerful for its size. The manufacturers promise it can be fully drawn and fired from the inside of a coffin. Deals 1d8 damage at 10', with -1 to-hit every 10' past that. Comes with a pack of ten steel darts. ⅓rd slot and 1 slot respectively.
  12. Three sticks of dynamite. One stick of dynamite explodes for 1d6 in 10', two for 2d6 in 20' &c. ⅓rd slot each.
  13. 30' of Ghostproof Cable. Steel mesh with a core of alchemical sapphire. Opaque and impassible to non-physical entities (ghosts, angels, astral projections). 1 slot.
  14. Waterproof Bag. Protects up to three slots of objects from the damp, or can be inflated to help you float on bottomless ebon pools of the underworld.
  15. Cave Helmet. Sturdy, to protect your head, with an attached carbide lamp.
  16. Pouch of 100 Ball Bearings. Useful as a weight, an obstacle to foes, probably fucking with mechanisms somehow. It's also a good way to move around large blocks of stone if you can lift them up a little bit with a lever. ⅓rd slot.
  17. Solar Compass. A crystal disc with an adamant pin. Always points to the sun, even underground. Sometimes confused by large, moving shapes in the darkness.
  18. Climbing Harness. All the bits and bobs, the straps and the hooks, for you to hook yourself on to a rope or carry important gear.
  19. Bronze Knife. A light weapon. Guaranteed not to spark or cause harm to fairy. ⅓rd slot each.
  20. Gilt Climbing-axe. A light weapon. Deals full damage to the undead.
  21. A strange or inexplicable curio. Roll 1d6 on the following list:
    1. Sociopathy detector. Worn around your neck, this small crystal will vibrate in the presence of a sociopath.
    2. Heat Bracelet. Gold and rubies in an ancient style. Detonates in 4MD Fireball when it hears its command word (you don't know what its command word is).
    3. A head of Diamond Garlic. Black garlic is made by heating whole bulbs over the course of weeks; diamond garlic by heating whole bulbs over the course of centuries. About ten doses of perfect garlic ambrosia.
    4. A bee whistle. Produces a sound only audible to bees and elfs.
    5. A jar of hatred. Lovely example of ancient glassblowing. When smashed, creatures within 20' must save against hatred. ⅓rd slot.
    6. A writ of divine mandamus. Directed at someone, or something, named Charm Person, who refuses (on ethical grounds) to perform their duties. Found in a decaying mailbag three miles beneath the earth.