Wednesday, April 29, 2020

No Light, No Warmth (GLOG Expedition, new rules)

    We had a discussion in the OSR Discord channel a few days ago about "dungeon"-crawling through ancient alien ships abandoned in deep space. What would be the dangers? What hazards would you face, not just from wicked architects and hungry monsters but from the unthinking and total hostility of the environment?
    Strange visions seemed to flicker behind my eyes — of the Edge Chronicles (children's fiction about a bizarre society on a cliff-face jutting out over an unmapped abyss), Made in Abyss [a manga (later an anime) about a bizarre society on a cliff-face jutting out over an unmapped abyss], Vambrace: Cold Soul (a terrible Darkest Dungeons ripoff in a frozen world) Touching the Void (a docudrama about a mountaineering disaster).
    Then I woke, with the taste of blood and pumpkin on my lips.

    "A generation ago, the famous Klohr Expedition was formed to descend down the shadowy southern Face of the planet — which is, as everyone knows, an inverted tetrahedron. They made excellent progress, despite the antiquity of their maps, and discovered fascinating ruins from the ages before mankind. Then communication was abruptly lost.
    With the advent of new technologies, and a resurgence of interest in the fabled Losian Relics, the Klohr family has gathered enough funding for a second expedition. They, too, will descend the southern Face. They will recover the bodies (or discover the fates) of Klohr's group, and they will reveal the secrets hiding at the very bottom of the world.
    Main concerns: First, the Face is cold and perfectly dark. It has never seen the Sun. Anything that makes its home in these conditions must be horrible indeed.
    Second, your party is descending down a highly irregular climb. On occasion there will be caves, or slippery paths of ice. Other times you will be free-hanging from ropes and swinging to the underside of inverted cliffs.
    Third, the Klohr family expects results. They are putting their hopes and the last of their money into this. They want maps. Notes. Closure."

    Something like a Veinscrawl or a Darkest Dungeons run. An inverted mountain climb in an extremely hostile environment, while picking up the pieces of a failed expedition.

    A few classes have been prepared. I've done the up the Monkey Herder, who will no doubt be useful while descending the Face of the world. The Mad Queen's Court did a Blue Heretic, a variety of paladin too stupid to get cold. Mihau, an OSR Discord user, prepared the Vertical Ranger. I have recreated the Vertical Ranger in my ruleset for your amusement and edification:

    Your order was founded decades ago to serve on the Barrier, a mile-high and mile-thick wall which runs across the northern end of the continent. At first the only tools they had were grapnels and ropes. But the development of the Pneumatic-Grip Pants opened up new vistas, and many Vertical Rangers accompanied Klohr on the disastrous expedition.
    As a Vertical Ranger, you are proficient in pistols, knives, picks and grenades. You can wear light armor and use shields. If you fall off a cliff with a canister remaining you instantly latch back on, taking 1d6*5 feet worth of fall damage if you swing into a wall (if this distance is higher than the cliff, you hit the ground and then reel back up to the top).
  • A: PGP Experience, +2 Move
  • B: Swapout, Extra Tweak, +2 Climbing
  • C: Horizontal Viability, Extra Tweak, +2 Sneak
  • D: Rapid 3D Movement, +2 Climbing
PGP Experience
    You carry a treasure of your order: a pair of PGP. These things are difficult to use - imagine half-a-dozen steamjets strapped to your junk which are activated by flexing specific thigh muscles. They launch grapnels which seize on to pieces of the environment. Even the sheerest surfaces may be accessed through pants.
    A PGP is loaded with two pressurized canisters (on the hips, you freak) which are used to fire a cord and grapnel fifty feet. When you do so, there is a 3-in-6 chance of depleting it. Canisters may be refilled with two hours of pumping. Spares (pulled off of dead Rangers) occupy ⅒ of a slot. Cords are launched instantly and reel in at a rate of one second per five feet.
    Like all surviving PGP yours is a hack-job of tweaks and malfunctions held together with hasty patches and prayer. Roll once on each of the following lists to determine the initial state of your PGP. You might invent new tweaks with the approval of your DM.
  1. Thunder. Careful modification of the vents makes them resemble a trombone. Whenever you use a canister, you can also produce a terrific loud noise which frightens off demons and wild animals.
  2. Torque. An optimized motor to chew up cordage. Your cord reels in at a rate of one second per ten feet
  3. Dash. Simple modification to put a pep in your step. You can blast a canister backwards from your pants, expending it immediately and doubling your movement speed for about six seconds.
  4. Distance. Finding spare cordage wasn't hard (there are plenty of corpses hanging from the walls around here). Splicing two cords together, though, was tricky. Your cords are 80' long.
  5. Spare Motors. The things go backwards now, too. You may rappel with your pants. Doesn't even take a canister — you just attach the hook and abseil.
  6. Precision Flexing. You may target creatures with your pants. When the pants wind back in, the lighter/more unstable creature is drawn towards the heavier/better situated one. A PGP motor has 24 Strength.
  1. Chafing. The damn things don't fit right. Not surprising really, since you probably pulled them off a corpse. Whenever a canister is expended you take 1 damage, which can never reduce you below 0 HP.
  2. Whistling Sheaves. The pulleys won't stay on-track. They hiss noticeably whenever the cords are reeled in, which is both annoying and unstealthy.
  3. Overheating. Some elements or bearings are causing undue friction, and you don't know which. When you use your pants they begin to overheat, and need thirty minutes to cool down. If you continue to use them there is a cumulative 1-in-6 chance of mechanical failure. These mechanical failures take two hours to repair.
  4. Bad Rings. The company that makes them went out of business forty years ago. Your canisters deplete on a 4-in-6.
  5. Misalignment. The entire damned frame has shifted around, somehow. It takes ten minutes to swap out a spare canister
  6. Hair Trigger. When you take damage, roll a d6. If the result is under the damage taken, your legs twitch and your grapnel fires in a random direction.
    Though the company that makes the PGP went out of business years ago, and its scientists all boarded the same ship and were drowned at sea, and its CEO was executed for tax fraud, and the whole thing was covered up by the government... sorry, getting sidetracked. There are plenty of dead Vertical Rangers hanging splattered against a wall somewhere. With a few spare parts and four hours of fiddling, you can reroll a malfunction or tweak. You might even discover new malfunctions on someone else's PGP rig. Only you have the skill to alter these pants safely.
Horizontal Viability
    You've fully mastered the use of your PGP with your feet on the ground. You can triple the length or height of a jump by using a canister. While attached by your pants to a wall, you may walk and run as if it were solid ground.
Rapid 3D Movement
   You've fully mastered the use of your PGP while flying through the air. While moving around at cord-length, ranged attacks only hit you on a critical. You may fully expend a canister to move to any point within the radius of your cords. Remember the risk of fall damage from swinging into walls. The closest humanity has ever come to flight will, of course, be the death of you.
    The corpses of Vertical Rangers are scattered across the Face of the world. Some serve as landmarks.

    Xenophon of Athens prepared some GLOG-compatible climbing rules, and I really like them.
G20 sheet, with new CLBG stat (may be added to various rolls)

    Really want to run a weird reverse-Everest climb. Very excited by the prospect. Incensed with thought. Here's some weird NPCs you might meet on the way.
  • Arcus, Purple Mask Cleric. 8 HP, 8 Morale, poor climber. Knows the spells Guide Eyes and Literal Translation. Her scrying spells have started to show only one scene: a human form in a realm of absolute darkness, pinned to a wall, encrusted with black ice — yet still moving. She thinks this is a scene from the Face, and if she can find it she will once more be able to spy on her rivals.
  • Callaghan, Sword-Shepherd, 10 HP, 9 Morale, moderate climber. He is a student of the Damask style, and he has as many knives as he can carry. He carries GOLDEN CARTULARY CITY, a sword which sings to itself in a language no scholar recognizes. Perhaps revelations wait for him on the Face?
  • Minar, Tactician. 4 HP, 11 Morale, poor climber. Earned glory on the battlefield decades ago and knew Klohr personally. The Face calls to him in his dotage; he seeks a last victory before he joins his old friends in death.
  • Hull, pirate. 10 HP, 7 morale, climbs like a monkey. Was offered a choice: join the expedition and share rigging/ropes expertise, or be tied to an anchor and dropped into the middle of the sea. Deeply resentful. Fights with a hook. 
  • Audubon, Black Mask Cleric. 8 HP, 9 Morale, moderate climber. Knows the spells Hold Fast and Glorious Halo. He has heard that the last expedition ended in disaster, and the Unburied bodies of the explorers may still wander the frozen Face. Their souls will not be freed until their bodies are dispatched
  • Ggth, leper. 15 HP, ?? morale, poor climber. Wrapped head to toe in gory bandages. Won't stay behind even though you tell them (?) to go away. Apparently under the impression there's something they want on the Face.

    More will likely be added to this post over the next few days. Stay tuned! Talk to me on Discord! I don't have many friends!


  1. This is fantastic and evocative. The idea of a descending climb down a mountain face the size of a world that's cloaked in permanent darkness and definitely has zombie mountaineers and ancient ruins is now stuck in my head too.