Friday, September 8, 2023

The Cannon

This is a somewhat silly GLOG class I made for an adventure I hope to publish (here) "soon", called "the Yamac Sauce Caper".   This has not been play-tested as a PC.  As a "helpful" NPC?  100% this works :D

So you thought being a cannoneer was special.  Pfff.  What if you are the cannon?

You are a cannon with all that entails.  You somehow can talk, see and perceive as a human.  You don't need to eat, but you can eat a load of gunpowder, somehow, to heal as if  you had had a lunch. 

You gain 1 hp and 1 AC per template (your AC at level 1 is like leather).  If someone fumbles against you, they break their melee weapon against your hard metal barrel, or injure themselves for 1d3 dmg if using natural weapons.

A:  10 feet per round, aim yourself (you have +2 to hit), bombard's eye

B: 20 feet per round, Powder eater.  fast fire

C:  30 feet per round.  Ram, Safe

D:  Self fire.  Range

10 feet per round:   You have gained the power to roll yourself around at fairly slow speed.  You progressively move faster

Aim yourself:  You can aim yourself, possibly achieving greater accuracy 

Bombard's eye:  As per Skerple's cannoneer power

Powder eater:  Eat a load of powder to heal as per a ration (like taking lunch)

Fast fire:  Your advice and assistance makes you easier to use.  An untrained crew can fire you as fast as a trained crew, and a trained crew can shave off a round off their loading time (again, consult's Skerple's excellent rules).

Ram:  You can roll into someone and ram them with your iron tube, inflicting 1d6 dmg

Safe:  You are now completely safe to fire. If a roll indicates a serious misshap, the shot is instead interrupted (you know things are wrong)

Self fire:  You cannot load yourself, but you *can* fire yourself

Range:  Your range is increased by 50%

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

The Garbage Planet

The garbage planet - the "si-fi analogue" of a garbage dump.  A world where people fly in from all over to dispose of waste. 

Star Wars seemed fond of the idea (see for example Lotho Minor ) 

Is this likely? Does it make sense to launch garbage into space?  

To do this analysis, I will use the economy from the rather good Star Wars SAGA system.  Energy costs are cheap in star wars - it costs about 50 credits to launch a small cargo ship in space, a ship that can carry 100 tons.  Compare that to current space launch costs that are in the 10 000$ per kg!  

I did run a campaign with the SAGA system about 15 years ago; where commerce was important.  Based on that experience, I know that hauling goods in a light freighter can be profitable-ish with a 20 credits/ton margin.  Larger ships can do much better (meaning they only need to make a few credits per ton to make a profit).  So shipping garbage makes economic sense in star wars, there is quite likely that there are several garbage disposal ships in operation - we don't hear much about it because I suppose it's very unglamorous - scrapy smuggler or salvager sure, but garbage hauling - not cool enough for the movies.  Heavily populated planet probably have *fleets* of such ships.

That's just half the equation though.  Does this mean the existence of a "garbage planet" is plausible?  Well... the big flaw with the concept is *why* - why bother flying a long distance to a garbage planet instead of just using a nearby gas giant or star?  Star Wars fuel is cheap yes, but it still takes time and effort to go on long journeys. So why have specific "garbage planets"?  There has to be an economic reason for doing so... 

- I think a more likely explanation is that the garbage planets are more... immense salvage yards.  The economics of such a place could be varied, but they (some sort of overseer group) could purchase the salvage, then have low cost labor (droids? jawas? slaves?) extract "value" from this salvage to re-sell to merchants, perhaps in exchange for supplies.  It could be that the control of vital supplies is how the "overseer group" stays in power.  Or it could be a cooperative?  Definitely room for various forms of governance, and possibly adventuring hooks.  There could be planets where there is no more significant inlay of salvage/garbage, but there is so much build up that scavenging operations are ongoing.

It's also possible, even likely, that these large salvage yards are causing significant environmental damage to the planet.  Depending on what the planet was before the garbage dumping started, or who lives there, this could lead to all sorts of conflict.

And I think all this is fertile ground for adventure, more than just a mere garbage planet "existing".  The more one knows about a planet and what makes it "tick", the more avenues for adventure exist!

Thursday, February 23, 2023

What the player wants vs what the character wants

 I recently saw a clip with an excellent point being made.  Basically, what your character wants and what the *player* wants are not the same.

Let's say you have a dangerous piece of jewelry you have to destroy inside a volcano in the lands of an evil sorcerer/warlord.  

The *character* wants to get the job done, in the most efficient manner possible.  They have a goal - to defeat the evil wizard and save the world.  Doing this efficiently and *safely* is important, to maximize chances of success and survival.  Why don't we just teleport to Mount Doom, drop in the ring, and teleport back out?  

The *player* wants the *adventure*!  The quest, the tribulations, the dark journey, the character arc, etc etc.  They know if they teleport to Mount Doom and back, the year long campaign will be over in a single session.   The DM probably wants the adventure too.

This was prompted by a clip from a discussion from Critical Roles GMs, starting at 1:28:

So great piece of insight, done deal right?  Wellllllllll

I'm not sure that this is completely true for all players.  If we keep looking at the Mount Doom analogy, just see how *persistent* the meme of "just fly to Mount Doom on Giant Eagles, dump the ring and go home!" is.  I think that some players' motivation ARE in line, partially at least, with the characters.  If there IS a way to circumvent the adventure and accomplish the goal/mission, they WILL take it, because it's what their character would do.  They *enjoy* efficiency, finding clever ways to solve problems.  If there is such a way and it's been ignored for "reasons" (the reason being that the adventure doesn't want to be bypassed), they will feel dissatisfied.  The game will feel... fake, contrived.  

I don't think there is a "right" answer here - rather, it is important to know what motivates your players - because if player 1 wants efficiency and player 2 wants adventure, it could lead to table conflict and dissatisfaction.  Yet another thing to cover in session zero!  It certainly possible to have both in a game - but the GM has to be flexible.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Yoon Suin 2nd Edition now on Kickstarter

 A very short post, but one I felt deserves to be made:

A 2nd edition of Yoon-Suin is coming out, now with more adventure content.  The first edition was *excellent*, and I am quite confident that this will also be the case.   As of publication, there are 9 days left to the campaign. 

Saturday, January 14, 2023

So you've been swallowed by a giant monster

There is a bit of a tradition amongst some bloggers to exchange posts as "gifts" and prompt to creativity.  I took part this year, and Kwub  made the following Christmas wish:

“So You’ve Been Swallowed by a Colossal Creature” dungeon room feature table or encounter table

Your party has heard of the legends of a great Sea Serpent, who's bellies is full of treasures.  Unfortunately for you, the Serpent was far greater than you anticipated, and has swallowed your party whole.  Lost in a labyrinth built for digestion, the heroes seek a way out... 

From "Uriah Jewett and the Sea Serpent of Lake Memphemagog" (1917)

Let's make this an encounter table.  Roll a 1d8

1:   2d6 Goblins.  

These goblins have been in the Creature for generations and consider it their entire universe, and have no interest in leaving.  Roll 1d6 or decide their attitude:

- Lone goblin survivor, afraid and cowardly

- Goblin ambush - goblins gotta eat!

- Willing to trade

- Cautious and fearful

- fighting something else

- Goblin cookout - fish tacos! 

These goblins use crude spears as weapons, and have a keens sense of smell.  They know things about this environment (although not how to escape).  However, for each useful piece of advice a goblin knows, the goblin will also give 3-4 recommendations that the goblin firmly believes in but is nothing but superstition.

Each goblin has a 10% chance of having a Serpent Pearl. 

2:  the Serpent Pearls

The legends of the great riches of the Sea Serpents has a core of truth - the Serpent Pearls.  You have found a clutch of 3d6 such pearls.  These pearls are larger and more irregular than oyster pearl and are worth 1d20 gp each; alchemists, adventurers, wizards and the sorts may be willing to pay more.  10 Serpent Pearls fill an encumbrance slot.  

It is known by some that the core of a Serpent pearl is always a small, hard object that was not digested properly.  90% of such objects have little or no value, however 9% contain a gem or jewel worth 1d100 gp (if a 100 is rolled, roll again and multiply by 10), and 1% contain a small magical items such as a ring or amulet. Unfortunately, investigating the nature of the core requires the destruction of the pearl.  There are no known reliable method of determining what is inside the core without destroying the pearl, which has lead some to speculate that the Serpent Pearls may be sovereign against divination magic.... 

3:  A black bear.

You know what to do.  

4:  Digesters (1d4) 

These creatures are part of the Sea Serpent's digestive system.  They appear as greenish squat worm, perhaps 8-10 feet long and over a feet in diameter.  They hunt on sight alone, and will pursue moving things doggedly, but lose interest rather quickly if their quarry is out of sight.  If attacked, they will emit a shrill keen, which will attract 2d4 more digesters within 1d6 minutes.

Digesters' only weapon is an acidic spray, that does 1d10 dmg in a 20 foot cone.  They can do so several dozen times in a row before their secretions get exhausted.   Once their acid has caused a foe to fall, they will spray said foe again numerous times to ensure a complete digestion.  This obsession may give the victim's allies a chance to flee.  


4 HD, AC as leather,  

Attack:  1d2 damage (weak bite) or 2d6 acid spray in 20 foot cone

Speed:  as standard human

Size: large

Morale: 9

Treasure:   A digester has a 4/6 chance of containing 1d8 Serpent Pearls.  Cutting one open and digging out the pearls takes 1d6 minutes...

5.  Wounded fish

This large sea creature is wounded but still has some fight in it.  


3 HD, AC as chain/scale

Attack:  1d8 dmg (tail slap) 

Speed:  as a crawling toddler 

Size: large

Morale: 12 - will fight to the death

Treasure:   it sweet delicious flesh

6:  The dungeon Merchant

How did he get here?  Where is he getting his wares?  Is this even a dungeon? Nobody knows!  But you are sure glad he is here.

The dungeon merchants has 1d10 rations for sale, 1d10 torches, 1d6 potions of healings and 1d4 randomly determined potions.  He will buy dungeon pearls for 50% of value.  If attacked, the dungeon merchant hurls an object to the floor and disappears in a puff of smoke.

Stats can be found here.  For better dungeon merchants, please consult the following.

7: The "Visitors"

This group of four adventurers was swallowed by the serpent nearly 30 years ago.  They still seek treasure, but have been here so long they have become part of it.  They may be willing to help the party, but this help won't be free.

Turmak,  dwarf ranger.  Turmak has completely forgotten his old life outside the serpent.  He is vaguely aware that there is an outside world, but sees this as irrelevant.  He no longer walk but glides on the fleshy surfaces of this strange inner world, covered in mucus.  He rarely speaks - he knows what to do - and has forsaken most tools.  He wears mostly ropes and pouches.  In battle, he throttles with strong, gnarly hands and bites with his sharpened teeth.

Vruss, the tortle druid.  Vruss is in many ways the leader of the expedition - their magical powers were instrumental in surviving the early days of their expedition, and Vruss now has reached a level of deep communion with their environment - they see this inner world as a sacred place.  In combat, they use spells of poison and acid.

Fennel, the elven thief.  Unlike some of her companions, Fennel  has not embraced her environment.  However, she is wanted for regicide in the capital, and is willing to spend a few human generations here to let the heat die down.  The three decades has worn her down however, and her mood has become very brittle as a result.  In battle, she uses a short bow and bone arrows coated in poison.

Morgell of the Rings, the human mage.  Morgell supports the group with various utility magic.  He is here on a quest - he has it on good authority that one of the pearls in the Serpent contains a ring of wishes, which he intends to use to bring his dead twin sister back to life.  He has developed a test to determine if a pearl contains a ring.  So far he has found dozens of mundane rings and 3 magical ones - a ring of free action, a ring of protection and a ring of the ram.  Morgell is starting to get old, but he has not given hope yet.  In combats he uses web spells and the aforementioned  ring of the ram.

8:  The Parasites (1d12+1d4)

These worms have evolved to reside and thrive within the digestive track of the Great Serpent.  They seek to find living prey and devour it before it can be digested by the Serpent, giving little in return.  They are pale pink, a lamprey-like mouth, about the length of a human and 4-5 inches in diameter.  They approach with stealth, and try to overwhelm a straggler.  They show little fear.

Gut worms 

1+1 HD, AC as leather,  

Attack:  bite, 1d6 dmg.  They will inject eggs into dead bodies.

Special defense:  if grappled, restrained by a net or a spell etc, they will secrete thick mucus to escape

Speed:  as standard human

Size: medium

Morale: 8

Treasure:   None.  Their flesh is foul, but their skin may be turned into armor, if tanned properly. 

Lastly, I can't help but note that with a bit more work, this encounter table could be expanded, modified, into an *adventure* - Kwub's concept would lend itself very well to a "depth crawl", a bit like the Stygian Library.  Add more encounters, wonky treasures, spooky "rooms", and a way out... 

P.S.  I also received an entry.  I wanted a list of goblin relatives.  Instead I got ... *this* astounding Goblin Market. It is an *impressive* piece of work, very creative and substantial.  The writing, the lore, the quality of the items... 

Friday, July 15, 2022

A serious problem with 5e: the first sentences.

 I wrote a way back about a hidden problem in 5e with advantage.   I've recently become aware of another, perhaps more insidious problem:  the flavor/fluff writing and the mechanics *do not match*.

Basically, most spells or class abilities  have the format of a title, a sentence or two of fluff/flavor, then a mechanical description. But HOW OFTEN does the first sentence not really match the mechanics?!?  Let me give an example that happened in play very recently: 

So we had an encounter with a weird monster (I'm GMing gates of firestorm peak, an excellent 2e adventure I converted to 5e.) and the party paladin decided to "detect evil, paladins can do that in 5e right?"

So here is the power. I have put the first "fluff" sentence in italic

Divine Sense​

The presence of strong evil registers on your senses like a noxious odor, and powerful good rings like heavenly music in your ears. As an action, you can open your awareness to detect such forces. Until the end of your next turn, you know the location of any celestial, fiend, or undead within 60 feet of you that is not behind total cover. You know the type (celestial, fiend, or undead) of any being whose presence you sense, but not its identity (the vampire Count Strahd von Zarovich, for instance). Within the same radius, you also detect the presence of any place or object that has been consecrated or desecrated, as with the hallow spell.

The player tried to argue that the effect would detect evil... but it doesn't! It detects fiends, celestials and undead (and consecrated/desecrated stuff). The thing was plenty evil, but it was technically speaking an aberration but it was such a vile one (and kind of undead-ish) that I ruled it as detecting evil, but RAW (and probably RAI) it shouldn't have.

In my experience, a lot of casual players are... not super aware what their powers/spells do. So they look at the name of a power, read the first line, think "that looks cool and makes sense for this situation, let's do that!"   This is how they learn the game - by playing, by trying things and see how they work "live".   And all these powers/spells that have a miss-match trip up these casual or new players, and there is no need for it. There is no reason why the first sentence couldn't have said "The presence of extraplanar beings and undead register on your... "

Here is another example from a  few months ago, in a Drakkenheim game.

A fighter was surrounded by 2-3 foes.  The party druid decided to help their fellow PC out by casting a spell at one of the bad guys.  She looked at her selection, and chose Ice Knife.  She cast it at the foe and... it turns out that the ice knife is an *ice grenade*, and the spell hurt everyone in the area, including her fellow PC!  Let's look at the spell and what happened:

 Ice Knife

You create a shard of ice and fling it at one creature within range. Make a ranged spell attack against the target. On a hit, the target takes 1d10 piercing damage. Hit or miss, the shard then explodes. The target and each creature within 5 feet of it must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or take 2d6 cold damage.

So once again, the casual player takes a brief looks, thinks "this looks good" - and it turns out the ice knife, which sounds like a single target spell, is actually an area of effect spell.  It's a good spell!  But it's not what the label says, and a more "serious" player would not have made that mistake... but neither would have a casual player if the spell had been named properly. 

These experiences make the game less fun and harder to learn, and could be fixed easily with better writing. 

There are several more examples of this if you look for them.  The cantrip friend, for example. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

THE DEFENCE Of SAN FLORIA: A Short Glog adventure/Session Recap


I had a GLOG session a while ago that was quite interesting.  I wrote a recap, and I told myself: why not just slightly change it and publish a little adventure? :)

Enemy design:  Spekkio at black rat big hat
NPC guard/mercenary class design:  Petty Sell-Sword
Ruleset:  the GLOG, but I hope that there are enough details here that this could easily be run in B/x or something similar.

Basic scenario concept:  

In this campaign, the heroes are part of a large-ish mercenary company (the Fox's Company), who's captain has made enemies (as they do).  The captain, Ricardo Volpe, receives rumors of a plot to raid a monastery and frame him for the raid.  He sends some of his trusted followers (the PCs) to protect the monastery and his reputation.  There is a roughly 1 week window of time in which this raid will occur.

Feel free (of course) to modify this intro to fit your campaign.   The only real requirement is that the PCs would be seen as trustworthy enough to be hired for this.  If they aren't... you could reverse the scenario on its head and have the PCs be the raiders!

This adventure was play-tested with 4-5 2nd-level PCs using the GLOG system.  

The Monastery:

The Convent of San Floria 

Leader: Abbesss Maria:  A no-nonsense woman with a strong will, with sharp features and green eyes.  She is a bit dubious about this entire situation, and does not trust the PCs entirely, but will allow them to defend the monastery.  She is worried about the relic being stollen, but also concerned about the monastery’s extensive wine cellar, and she doesn’t want it raided or even discovered. Most of the other sisters will stay out of sight and not interact with the party.  She will provide some lodging (sleeping in the hayloft or something of the sort) and food to the party while they stay at the convent.  The convent has about two dozen nuns and a few servants.

Guards:  3 eunuchs, rescued from a difficult situation and devoted to the convent.  No armor, armed with quarterstaves, 5hp.  Will help the heroes defend, but more in a "extra pair of eyes" role - they see their main objective as protecting the convent itself and would rather let the PCs do the fighting.  The leader is Bernard, a boarman, 10 hp.  He did some soldiering in his youth, which makes him both relate to the party and yet not trust them fully.  The guards’ attitude towards the party will depend on how respectful and competent the PCs behave.

The Relic: a silver and glass reliquary containing the Hand of San Floria, said to be able to remove curses during lunar eclipses... it doesn't really matter, it's a McGuffin.  Worth a few hundred gp to the right buyer.

By Dyson Logos, see link above

Monastery grounds:

A wall surrounds the monastery, but in the north and part of the east is "incomplete" - a series of graceful arches beautifies but make it easy to bypass .

The convent is on a large patch of poor soil, used for pasture.  They have little agricultural activity beyond a few apple trees and beekeeping.   About 750 feet north-west of the monastery is a tiny hamlet - a few modest homes where an extended family of shepherds live.  A dirt track leads past it to the nearest town.   To the north and east there is a small cops of woods, and less than a hundred feet to the south there is a small river (15 feet wide and fordable on foot) in a small, bushy valley.

Rather bland, but it shows the layout.  each square = 30 feet.  Taken late in the session.

The opposition:  

Marnie's Movers, a group of petty-sell-swords (designed by Spekkio, I added one member, Burak)

= Marnie (leader) =
F Human
9 9 9 9 14 9
Atk: +1 / 1d6 dagger [dual-wield]
AC: 12 (leather)

Items: 5 daggers total, 3 rations, shovel, 30' rope, a small insignia of Fox's Company to be left behind.
Treasure: 4gp 8sp various coinage, anklet worth 17sp
Skills: Literate, Brigandry (+2 to checks relating to executing an ambush), LOW CUNNING (+2 Stealth, can perform crude deception)

Appearance: Esmerelda from Quasimodo, but aging and with a few scars and pockmarks.
Personality: Dry and lowbrow. Motivated by greed.

= Burak =
M Dwarf
9 9 14 9 9 9
10 HP
Atk + 0 1d6 (hand axe)
AC: 13 (leather, shield)

Items:  3 rations, matock, large sacks
Treasure: 4 gp, ring worth 3 sp
Skills: Brigand  (+2 to checks relating to ambushes)

Appearance: stout even for a dwarf, black hair and eyes
Personality:  Cautious, suspicious, and protective, sees himself as Marnie's bodyguard.  The voice of "reason".

= Nicolin ("Young Nick") =
M Ratling
9 9 9 10 9 9
Atk +2 / 1d6 dagger (Fell Handed)
AC: 12 (leather)

Items: 3 rations, shovel
Treasure: 2gp various coinage, locket worth 13sp
Skills: Urchin/Pickpocket.

Appearance: Black fur. Squinty eyes.
Personality: As Todd T Squirrel.

= Percival ("Perc") =
M Ravenling
9 9 9 9 9 11
8hp (Eating Well)
Atk +0 / 1d6 dagger
AC: 12 (leather)

Items: 8 rations, shovel
Treasure: 8sp, 20sp bauble
Skills: Brigand (+2 to checks relating to ambushes)

Appearance: Beak heavily scuffed from clam habit
Personality: Thinks he's funny

= Nicholas ("Old Nick") =
M Ratling
9 9 9 10 9 9
Atk +0 / 1d6 dagger
AC: 12 (leather)

Items: 3 rations, shovel, lantern
Treasure: 18 sp, 6sp earring
Skills: EAGLE EYE (adv to perception checks), Brigand (+2 to checks relating to ambushes)

Appearance: Greying, with whiskers sticking out in all directions. Rather long and thin face.
Personality: Reticent.

= Winnifred ("Winnie") =
F Badgerling
9 9 13 9 9 9
Atk +0 / 1d6 dagger [dual-wield]
AC: 12 (leather)

Items: 2 daggers total, 3 rations, whompin' shovel
Treasure: 22sp, 3sp Toe-ring
Skills: LOW CUNNING (+2 Stealth, can perform crude deception), Peasant/Animal Handling, can dig

Appearance: -
Personality: Surly in comparison to normal people, rather upbeat for a badgerling. Still likes animals more than people.
Extra: has a small donkey, named Cheeky. She loves him dearly.

= Alais =
F Human
9 9 9 14 9 9
8hp (eating well)
Atk +0 / 1d6 dagger, 1d6 bow
AC: 12 (leather)

Items: 8 rations, shovel
Treasure: 14 sp, 12sp snuffbox (empty)
Skills: Urchin/Pickpocket.

Appearance: Pale and waifish. Tendency to stare.
Personality: Very intense.

Marnie is cunning and objective driven - she doesn't want to fight, she wants the relic.  Depending on what defensive measures the PCs adopt, she will craft a plan to bypass them (or so she hopes!).  She is a big fan of using a distraction to draw away defenders while the main group sneaks in the back. You can read the recap below to see one example of such plan.


If you feel like making the scenario thornier, a third party may intervene - a local taxman who has a dispute with the monastery for example - a taxman the party may mistake for a raider scout/impostor?  Perhaps a young nun is interested in one of the PCs?  Perhaps Bernard is not a boarman but a were-boar and the full moon approaches?  Have fun!


The Abbess will reward the party with a bottle of fine wine each, claiming that they were given to the monastery by a noble a few years ago (true) and that they had no use for it (quite false).  These bottles can be sold for 5 gp each (it's a somewhat famous vintage), or simply enjoyed.  She will also gift them with a large jar of honey.

Captain Ricardo will reward the PC according to their success.  A complete failure yields no reward, a successful defense will earn the PCs 10 gp each, and information about the plot another 10 gp, and perhaps extra equipment from the company store. (adjust according to your campaign, of course)


So how did this work in my game?  Explody.  Here is how it went down:

Ragno, a spiderling sawbwones (level 2)
Xerses, a dwarven Sorcerer from afar (level 1 sorcerer, level 1 thief)
Mr Bill (level 2 human Zouave)
Violetta (level 2 gnome tactician, player is absent for most of it)
Giuseppe (level 2 human hunter, has a crossbow) 

The party managed to establish a decent rapport with both the local guards and the local shepherds - the later achieved with an offer of a few silvers to the shepherds to keep an eye out.  A few days after arriving at the monastery, they got word from said shepherd of "suspicious strangers" seen lurking in the north (Marnie's men were scouting the scene - they paid the shepherds in coppers, not sliver).

Correctly anticipating a nighttime raid, the PCs surrounded  the monastery with fires at night, so that no one can sneak in unseen.  Marnie, seeing this, developed a plan of attack.

First, a distraction - 3 members (Alais, Nicolas and Winifred) "attacked" from the north at night.  Each carried a long pole, each end of the poll having  dummy carrying a "spear" and a torch, creating the illusion of 6 attacking torchbearers and "more" poorly seen.  Once within about 200 feet of the monastery, they stopped, put down the poles on support (the fake attackers are now "standing on guard") and begin shooting flaming arrows at the building from extreme range.  If a counter attack happens, they run.  But because they start their charge from quite far, it takes a long time for a counter attack to work...    The flaming arrows did little damage, but certainly caused a lot of concern, and the monastery guards went on fire control duty, leaving the PCs to take care of the fighting.

(I'll note that in the GLOG, ranged attacks have significant penalties, and these ranges may have to be adjusted so they make sense for your system.  The attackers want to be close enough that shooting arrows at a far range at a large collection of building is possible, but far enough that return fire has little chance of hitting them). 

In the south, Marnie, Burak, Nicodin and Percival snuck close to the back of the monastery, taking advantage of the distraction and cover from the small river valley.  They have with them bales of hay that they soak in the river and use to extinguish one of the fires, and a ladder to go over the wall.

But Xercese, the party sorcerer, suspects that something is amiss and heads south.   He manages to signal to the others that the mercenaries are coming, but his efforts to slow the invaders down only spur them to greater speed.  He paralyzes Marnie and her dwarven guard Burak, green sparks shooting out of his ears from the magical effort.  But the fat ravenling Percival and Nicolin the ratling are already over the wall and charge him, with Percival yelling "grab the wizard!!!", and they tackle the sorcerer.

Ragno and Mr Bill are rushing south, and Guisepe is trying to flank, but are just a wee bit too far.  Xerces is not hindered by the grapple -he is not a wizard, but a sorcerer, he doesn't need mumbo-jumbo gestures or chants!  He draws his powers for the third time, and paralyzes Percival with a thunderclap!  Nicolin panics, and decides the solution to the "wizard problem" is stabbing!  He misses.  Guisepe fires a bolt but misses as well.

Ragno and Mr Bill are so close!  Xerces decides to turn invisible for a short moment to escape, thinking that Mr Bill and Ragno should be able to handle Nicolin.  But Xerces has used too much magic today, and the spell catastrophically backfires.  For a brief moment he is engulfed in crackling magical energy (tacking 9 dmg) ... and then he *explodes* in a fireball, inflicting 16 damage to everyone within 20 feet.  Xerces, paralyzed Percival and stabby Niccodin are obliterated....   Mr Bill and Ragno, outside the blast zone, can only stare in shock as Xerces's peculiar hat flutters down from a great height...

(note: in the GLOG, the sorcerer is a caster that the more they cast, the more dangerous it gets - the player pushed his luck too far.  They knew they were going to blow up sooner or later!)

The arcane explosion brings the battle to a stop.  Marnie, still paralyzed, is captured by the PCs, along with a few others.  In exchange for their freedom, she tells the PCs all about who hired them.  The party begin to see the outline of a plot against their captain... 

 Thanks to Kwub for helpful suggestions and revisions

P.S.  I have pretty good notes from this campaign, and I think a few of the other adventures are also "decent enough to publish".  The next one will not be a battle, but a "capper" - The Yamac Sauce Capper.  I think we need more adventures in the GLOG - enough classes!

Thursday, May 19, 2022

The GLOG alchemist: a playtest

 I previously published a GLOG class called the alchemist.  I was pretty proud of my creation, but it was a complex class, and it hadn't been playtested.  Anyone who does game design knows that no matter how "solid" something seems, if you don't playtest it, you can't be certain that it works like you intended.

The first thing I realized is that I hadn't included backgrounds.  Oops

Either come up with something good yourself, or Roll 1d3:

1: wizard.  You have no talent at casting spells, but you can detect magical items as a wizard.  You start with 2d10 silver

2: cultist:   Use the summoner class as a guide to create the cult you used (or still? belong to).  Start with 1d6 silver and a dagger.

3: Inventor:  You start with 1d12-6 gold and a peculiar crossbow that only you can use.  If  you have negative gold, you owe it to someone who may prove troublesome.

The second thing - much more important - that playtesting uncovered was that the  degradation rules and the resulting "stabilize" system just do not work well in play.  The design intent was to prevent someone building up a huge arsenal and "nova strike" with all their spells at once.  It doesn't really, and it really is penalizing to the character.  If a level 1 alchemist prepares a concoction one day but doesn't use it, each day there is a 1/6 chances of it being lost forever - those CDs aren't like a wizard's MDs, they don't "come back".  But if the alchemist doesn't, well the alchemist has no magical powers.  This is *not* ideal nor fun. 

 What we compromised instead was that alchemical preparations should have an "expiry date".   How to do that easily in game?  Simple.  Keep track of the character level at which the preparation was made, and 2 levels  higher the preparation has gone stale and is worthless.  

Example:  Kava the gooseling alchemist has made a smoke pot at level 1.  He keeps it for a while, but if he doesn't use it by level 3, it is now a dud and the CDs are lost.

So why not simply at the next level?  Well it could result in something expiring *very* fast if the PC happens to level up on the same session as the smoke pot was prepared.  

I would update the preparation tracking sheet with something like this:

Lastly, we decided that the sword of St-Germain alchemical enhancement can be used on a dagger - or any vaguely sword-like implement.  It seemed a bit silly that the alchemist could not use the sword they prepared due to proficiency issues.  

So how did it play?  Fairly well!  The alchemist basically plays a bit like a conservative mage, but can be rather good in clutch situations.   It's not for every players clearly, but my player enjoyed it.  We also found that the proposed amounts of CD was about right, at least right for my campaign pacing.  I also occasionally allowed the player to find spare CDs when it made sense, such as finding an abandoned alchemist's lab.

Of course, one PC in one campaign not sufficient playtesting, so if you too have played an alchemist, I would love to hear about it.