Saturday, August 24, 2019

Dungeon Ticks, or, On the origins of Goblins

Those who travel underground have to face many hazards.   One of the lesser of these is the Dungeon Tick.  Almost invisible on the stone ceiling, it will wait many a year until it drops on a suitable host to feed on its blood.

Experienced adventurers who detect the tick sometimes chose to let it remain.  Although the tick can sap vitality, it somehow enhance vision*, a useful tool when the light fails or utmost discression is required.  Scholars have speculated that frequent exposure to dungeon ticks is what grants the underground dwellers their ability to see in the dark, and why, after a few generation of surface living, the ability fails.

 Recently, scholars studying the life cycles of the dungeon ticks have made startling discoveries.  Following a number of months of slow growth on its host, the tick falls off, finds a dark corner to hide and molts into a stony egg.  After a month of incubation, this egg hatches.

At this point, the story becomes muddled.  The wizard Lurm of Elderstone, who was trying to develop a dark-vision potion, believes that the egg hatches into a rat; while the Archbishop of Garboli claims to have proof positive that the tick becomes a pigeon, and has pressured the Pope to excommunicate Lurm over the affair. Po Befi, the Slugman Ambassador (and thus immune to threats of excommunication and far too wealthy for Lurm to bribe), was asked by the Pope to study the matter.  The Slugman concluded that the egg becomes a *bat*.  This, of course, did very little to settle the affair.

The three scholar agrees on what happens next however.  After a period of feeding and growth, the critter molts again into an egg, which transforms into a gremlin.  After some time of eating, this gremlin grows and guided by some magical instinct (or sense of smell as suggested by Po Befi), rejoins a goblin tribe (thus proving the dwarven affirmation that gremlins are immature goblins).  Lurm believes that the goblin generates spores which become more ticks, while the Archbishop firmly believes that the ticks spontaneously generate.  Research is ongoing, and Lurm has offered a bounty on live goblins.

Po Befi speculates that the stone underground is more nourishing, which is why surface dwelling goblins are often so wretched.  Goblins do not appear to be aware of this cycle, but they do know that if they live in caves or other underground settings, the clan will get stronger over time.  Too deep however and the critter - wether is be rat, pigeon or bat - fails to thrives, which explains the lack of goblins reported in the very depth of the earth.

*Adventurers wishing to let the dungeon tick feed on them to gain the 5 feet of darkvision can, but they lose 1 of their max HP, until the tick detaches, 2d4 weeks later.  DM may allow PCs to develop permanent 10 feet darkvision after years of use.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Ogre Mages and the Abattoir God.

This blog entry is based on the "curse as a class" entry by Bubbear Slug: The Abattoir God. I highly recommend you read it, but the tl,dr is this: A human is "chosen", slowly gains powers and becomes the Abattoir God, only to be later slaughtered and sacrificed by the cult members. A new one is then chosen - usually from among the cultist, but sometimes a random stranger.

This idea is too good to pass up, and here is how it would fit in Yoon Suin.

The Abattoir God's cult is ancient, and has its roots in Occidentalia, that mythical land far to the west. Its history is intimately tied in with the history of ogre-mages. The flesh of the Abattoir God is potent, and while the cultists eat much of it, they can raise significant funds by selling some of it to others. They also know that a member of the cult is not always chosen, and thus it is essential that outsiders also have access to the God-Flesh - only someone who has partaken in the Divine Flesh can be chosen to become the next Abattoir God.

About 1500 years ago, a mage, seeking to create a powerful servant, served head-cheese crafted with the brains of the sacrificed Abattoir God to an ogre. Pleased with the results, he repeated the experience. His two ogre servants, far cleverer and even tempered than a standard ogre, learned magic from him and served him well for several years. After a dozen years, they convinced them than a third member would serve him even better. They observed the procedure carefully, and after learning the secret, slew their master and left town with the third ogre. Thus was born the first three ogre-mages.

Knowing that God-Brain was essential to their propagation, one member infiltrated the cult while the other two worked to raise funds and located ogre candidates. During the next sacrifice, they purchased the entirety of the brain, and the number of Ogre mage jumped to almost a dozen. This persisted for several decades.

Over the decades, as the Authority's Church grew in power, the cult was displaced east, and the ogre-mage with them. Hearing of the greath wealth of Yoon Suin, and of the Rajah of Syr Darya's generous contracts to skilled mercenaries, the ogre mages manipulated the cult into crossing the mountains of the Moon (they were not so high back then) and entered Yoon Suin.

Because of the curse of Syr Darya, the cult moved south and east, and is no longer as firmly controlled by the Ogre Mages. They are desperately trying to keep the knowledge of the potency of the god-brain away from the Slug-men. So far they have succeeded, but they know it is but a matter of time.

Flesh of the Abbatoir God:

These are several reputed, rumored or speculated magical items that can be created from the flesh of the Abbatoir God. The following are mostly confirmed:

Divine sausage: Not only do these sausage fill the eater with divine strenght (treat as potion of fire giant strenght) they also have minor healing properties (heal 1d6 hp).

Hide of the god: Leather from the Abbatoir God is well suited for enchantment. That from a chosen one of dwarven background makes for particularly potent armor (+2 CON on top of other effects).

Bristles of the god: the coarse hair of the Abbatoir God is useful for brushes used to scribe magical scrolls with divine spells.  Ground in a powder, they can be used to make dust of sneezing and choking.

Headcheese of the God: As detailed above, elevates the mind to a higher plane and provides magic. A very well kept secret.  A potion made with cerebral fluid will grant the drinker an extra MD (1 use only).

Eyes of the God: No known properties, but the Ogre-Mages, as a diversionary tactic, keep spreading rumors that they are phenomenal. Sooner or later someone will find the way to use them properly.

The priests of the Vulture God are very curious about the Abbatoir God's flesh, but leery of consuming it or offering it as sacrifice.  What if they - or their God! - is chosen?  

Ogre Mage Template (not suitable for a PC, a bit too potent...)

For each template of Ogre Mage, your HP goes up by 2 and your strength and intelligence goes up by 1 each. You gain one Spell Dice (SD) and learn spells (see table below)

A: Large fame, +1 SD
B: Ogre weapon, +1 SD
C: Fast healing, +1 SD
D: Tough, +1 SD

Large frame: You gain +1d6 HP. You are 7 feet + 1d6 inches tall, and you grow another 6 inches per template.

Ogre weapon: Your weapon damage dice goes up by one step. An ogre dagger does 1d8 dmg, etc.

Fast healing: You heal 1d6 hp per hour of rest.

Tough: You reduce incoming damage by 1.

Spells: Roll a 1d6 at level 1, 2 and 3 to learn 1 spell (reroll if the same spell is obtained). At level 4, choose 1 spell and roll a 1d8 for another.

1: Invisibility
2: Fly
3: Polymorphe to humanoid form
4: Ogrify - inflict the Ogre Curse on a cruel child.
5: Charm person
6: Sleep
7: Gaseous form
8: Cone of Cold

Finally, the Abattoir God should not be confused with Rustok the God of Butchers. Takes the form of a blood-stained grey langur (a type of monkey), favored color is yellow, bones are his preferred sacrificed. The God himself is never sacrificed, oh no, and this whole abattoir "God" is heretical nonsense.

Thank you to Bubbear Slug for the original idea, and Unlawful games for further suggestions.

Edit:  some more writings on the Abattoir God (and other very neat cults), by a group of authors, can be found here.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

On the classifications of games

How should games be classified is a common question. What is an OSR game? Is 5e medium or heavy crunch?

This was being discussed in the OSR Discord today, and thankfully (with a bit of help from a previous Noisms post, I was able to quickly provide a most definitive answer. Let us not speak of it again ;)

(a) Games that belong to the Emperor (games that are or have been played by royalty/other monarchs.
(b) embalmed games (games no longer under publication
(c) Games that need training (such as chess or Pathfinder)
(d) Games with balls (includes marbles, basketball)
(e) Hockey (includes games played in or on water)
(f) fabulous games (the current edition of D&D)
(g) stray games (systems that are published as free PDFs)
(h) Games that are included in this classification
(i) Games that tremble as if they are mad (games that make the players angry, like monopoly)
(j) innumerable ones (dice bucket games, card games)
(k) those drawn with a very fine camelhair brush (games with too small a font)
(l) others
(m) those that have just broken a flower vase (most children's games)
(n) those that look like flies from a long way off (kites, darts)

(o) Dwarf Fortress (and perhaps Rimworld)

Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Grain District - a part of the Yellow City

On the Western Isle near the Gulf of Morrays, occupying the middle third of the Island, is the Grain district.

Of middling wealth, the district owes its name to the Great Granary, made of large topaz-flecked stone blocks.  This immense warehouse faces the God River on the eastern shore of the island, and its docks can accommodate both sea fairing vessels and Laramarkhi river-boats.  The granary was built upon order of the Council as a ward against famine, and is controlled by the House of Quartz (which, of course, takes a cut of every transaction).  It contains over 3 millions bushels, with vast quantities of rice, lentils, chickpeas, barley, wheat, and other grain, and it is said it could feed the entire city for a year.

The granary is currently operated by the slugman Wu Yi (holyman of Boxeos, the North Wind). The House of Quartz is noted for its infighting, and Wu Yi worries constantly that house rivals will try to embarrass him. He has spent considerable funds increasing security, but his fears persist, as his increased security measures triggered false rumors of a planned heist. He is assisted by the human foreman Veer, a noted gambler, and the dwarven warrior Barak, who lost an eye during a squidmen attack and now serves as head of security.

Near the Great Granary is the shrine to Parkij, the Crane of hunger.  Every morning the  priests ritually curse the granary.  They are quite disliked, but Parkij teaches the value of endurance.  

Other notable temples and shrines include the Temple of Red Waters (recently dedicated to the Beetle of Mislaid Memories) and the shrine to the Lady of Lentils and Grief, who provides funeral services to the poor.  

Abutting the great warehouse on the north western corner is a much smaller and modest building made of clay bricks: the Hall of Blessed Waters.  This tea house, operated by the retired club fighter Van Dan and his wife Ma Ga Na, provides services to the workers of the Granary and the priests of Parkij.  Also working there is the startlingly beautiful waiter, Alo Bak. He is quite glad to share his extensive knowledge of the area.  Regular patrons include the slugman adventurer Po Befi, holy-man of the Memory Tree and his companions, the shoe maker Pab Has, the matka-runner Kala with her smile and sharp knife, the recently disfigured assassin Aspru, and the golemist Kavela, who enjoys shocking the holy man Chit du Ban with heretical ideas concerning apotheosis.  

The teahouse serves flatbread, fish curries and lentils, as well as the following teas:

- Humble tea of the Third Quality (buy 2 pots get one free. One free cup with every meal)
- Caterpillar sleeper: 3 rupees per pot. Refreshing and revitalizing (5e: gain 1 hit dice in reserve.  Glog:  gain 1 hp (but only 1/day))
- Emerald Green: 1 rupee per *cup*. Brilliant green tea, excellent.
- Figher's brew: Deep brown tea. Caused lethargy and the drinker to sleep almost a full day. This results in 5e: healing dice have advantage and double amount gained (GLOG: heal all hp). 2 gp per pot
- Mountain's delight: Pale orange tea. Intriguing flavor with a mineral tint. 1 Paisa a cup

Located on the western side of the Grain District is a great arboretum, with well tended trees from all over Yoon Suin and beyond.  Its most famous specimen is the Memory Tree, a great and ancient pippala.  Its leaves move constantly, even in the absence of wind.  It's fruit is said to fortify the memory, allowing one to remember long forgotten facts, but also retain new knowledge.  The holy men tending the tree dress in pure white, and water its roots with blood.

In the center of the Arboretum is the palace of the House of Leaves, a scholarly slugman House of modest power specializing in the study of plants.  Their wealth comes from their production of rare plant extract and of rent income (in the Yellow City, as humans are not allowed to own property, they must pay rent. The rates are quite high and are used instead of taxation).  

The House of Leaves' spellcasters are noted herbalists and their skill is respected (Glog: Garden Wizards).   The House fixer is old Loma Ku, wily but perhaps too curious about human mating practices.   The House is not warlike, but recently several members were involved in a battle along side Bo Befi's gang vs followers of Garlok, Lord of Pain.  Pali Kali, clever with a bow, distinguished themselves, and the mage Vo La died, an experience they would rather not repeat. A blackwood staff, studded with teeth, was claimed as trophy and occupies a place of honor.  The House is also defended by a modest contingent of guards and well over 100 animated bushes. 

In the middle of the Arboretum are the ruins of the once fabled Red Bridge. Immediately north of the Arboretum is the New Bridge, a much more modest wooden bridge over the westernmost arm of the God River, which leads to the Red Bank district, popular with the Lamarakhi.  As the bridge is in frequent need of repair, both locals and Lamarakhi operate water taxi services.  To the south of the Grain District is the Pointed Dock District, and to the north is the Old Clays.  


- A new gang, led by a stout man named Karang, is extorting money from merchants and even cockroach clans.  Said clans have left and refuse is piling up

- The mage apprentice Dubi Gan is looking for a few stout souls for a short exploration mission

- Someone has tried to poison the head mage of the House of White and Black (in the Pointed Dock District).
- Some shopkeepers have stopped accepting anas (a small silver coin).
- The shoemaker, Pab Has, has won Matka a lot lately... 

- There is a huge bounty of 50 rubies placed by the Cult of the Demon Elephant on the head of an exiled prince of the Hundred Kingdoms.

This entry was created as part of a GLOG challenge.  Here are the other entries:

Ortish Colony by Words for Yellow
Nahemot and Ezra, the city of noise by Alone in the Labyrinth
January by the Benign Brown Beast
A living, moving city  by Parasites and Paradoxes
Stones, a refuge in Hell by Two Goblins in a Trenchcoat. 
A village on the river Sword by The Whimsical Mountain (this one is almost an adventure waiting to happen!)  

(more to come)  

Post Scriptum.

I know my entry is not an entire city.  A very wise author once said that the Yellow City "should not be planned out: its vastness does not bear close cataloguing".

click to enlarge!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

GLOG 5 Daggers Edition: Skills

As mentioned previously, the lack of a "proper" skill system in the GLOG has been a bit of a source of frustration for my players in one group, and I already know the players in my Yoon Suin 5e campaign would not accept a system with no skill checks.

This skill system has to be simple/easy to use, but substantial enough to be worth bothering with.  However, the most important rule is that (one of the) GLOG principle be respected:  Only roll when there is a chance of failure.  A good sound plan to cross the chasm shouldn't require any rolls.  Jump accross and hope for the best?  Yeah, you better roll.

So what fits the bill?  A modification of the 5e skill systems seems reasonable.  (scroll to the end of the post to see the design notes) The central mechanism goes like this:

Do a stat check - roll 1d20 and try to roll equal or lower than the relevant stat.  If you are proficient in the skill, add your proficiency bonus to the roll (effectively "increasing your stat" momentarily).

The proficiency bonus is = the attack bonus implied by the increase in attack bonus.  In clearer terms, at level 1 it's +1, level 2-3 it's +2, level 4-5 it's +3, level 6-7 it's +4, and it maxes out at level 8 at +5.  Certain classes will get bonuses to specific skills, of course.

If a task is easy, or you came up with a solid plan to deal with it, you don't need to roll (DM's call).  If you are jumping through a paper wall, or knocking down an ordinary door with a sledgehammer, it just works.  The best skill remains player cleverness.

If a task is particularly difficult, or there are circumstances making things more difficult than it should be, the check is made with disadvantage (roll twice, take the worse roll).   If on the other hand the task is easy (but not so easy to get auto-success), you gain advantage - roll twice, take the best roll.

It should be noted that a 20 always fails. 

Trying again:  Sure, if it makes sense.

Group Stealth.
Stealth as a group is overly challenging in many cases, because if everyone rolls, odds someone will fail.  So, in cases where the most stealthy characters assist the others in some way - by keeping out an eye for sentries, creating a minor distraction etc, a group check is made.   Not everyone has to pass the check, instead, everyone rolls, and if at least half the group succeeds, they make it.

Example: Bob the thief, James the wizard, Lucie the figher and Blorf the priest try to sneak by a bored goblin sentry.  The DM rules that this is possible, but the cover is not great - there are gaps in the hedge the party is using to stay under cover, so a check is required.   Bob is observing the goblin and letting the others know when it's distracted.  

Bob has a dex of 13 and +4 to his check - he rolls a 7 and makes it. James the wizard had a dex of 8, isn't proficient in the skill but gets lucky and rolls a 6 - success.   Lucie has a dex of 12 and a +2 (yes, fighters can have stealth!) but rolls a 15, a failure.  Blorf is roaring drunk and rolls with disadvantage - a 7 and a 16 is a failure.   However, half the group succeeded and with the assistance of Bob distracting the goblin at a key moment, they manage to sneak by it and move on.   

Had the goblin been drunk, everyone would have rolled with advantage (except Blorf - the advantage and disadvantage cancel each other out).   Had the goblin been warned that intruders were imminent and on very high alert, everyone would have rolled with disadvantage.

Skills  for a generic medieval game:
Strenght skills:
Athletics (includes swimming, climbing, jumping, but not feats of raw strenght)

Dexterity skills
Sleight of Hand 
Disable device/open lock

Constitution Skills
Drinking/carousing (this is to party but somewhat keep your wits about you)

Intelligence Skills
Knowledge: Arcana 
Knowledge: History 
Knowledge: Nature 
Knowledge: Religion 
Knowledge: something else 

Wisdom skills
Animal Handling

Charisma Skills

Variable stat skills:
Vehicle: land (dex or cha)
Vehicle: water (dex, int or con)
Craft/ profession (alchemy, bow-making, etc) (int or dex)

Some skill check have more than one ability.  If you are trying to discern the best way to navigate a complex passage, this is an int check.  If you are trying to tough out a storm, it's con, for example.

Some skills have multiple instances.  A character could have both craft alchemy and craft armor-smithing, but not the other crafts such as shipbuilding.

Skills and relevant ability modifier for a Yoon Suin game:

As above, but knowledge golemology, knowledge intoxicants (opiums, certain teas) could be added.

Sills and relevant ability modifiers for a Post Apocalyptic game:

As above, with the addition of: 

Knowledge: Technology (int)
Knowledge: History (pre-fall) (int)
Knowledge: History (post-fall) (int)
Gun-smithing (int)
Electronics (int) 
Mechanics (wis)
Drive (dex)

Design notes:

I was originally going to have a skill system closer to 5e with variable difficulty classes (DCs), but I thought further about it and realized that I wanted to keep the "stat check" nature of the GLOG.  I also realized that there ARE DCs in the GLOG too, they are just implicit.  In 5e, 90% of the time you will use DC 10, 15 or 20 (for skill checks).  In the GLOG it's "don't bother rolling you got it", DC 10, and "don't bother rolling you can't do it".  Again, 3 levels of difficulty.  If you add advantage and disadvantage as a mean to increase or decrease the difficulty, you can have a reasonable amount of granularity.

So what the heck do I mean by saying that the GLOG has DC 10 checks?  Well... if your dex is 10, it's a DC 10 check isn't it?  Mathematically, it's identical.  

The main difference is how much bonus you get per stat.  In 5e your stat bonus tends to be +1 per 2 ability score above 10 (so strength 10 is 0, strenght 12 is +1, strenght 14 is + 2 etc etc).  In the GLOG, it's +1 per stat point - a strenght of 12 is +3 better than a strenght of 9.  

This seemingly would means that stats are "more" important in the GLOG than in 5e... but that isn't really the case, because your combat bonuses are a lot less dependent on your stats, so that balances out.

There is one flaw here with this system, and it's that very high stat, high level characters could reach a "I can't fail" level of competency - if you have 17 dex and +4 to your skill, you can't roll higher than it.  This is why the "20 always fails" rule is very important.  Humans *are* fallible creatures, after all...

I'll expand on who gets what skills in a further post!  

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Yoon Suin: Of Gods and Priests - the Vulture Priest

Yoon Suin has hundreds of gods , cults big and small.  In 5e this can be modeled fairly well with cleric domains and warlocks.  

In the GLOG, there are a few cleric classes floating around... but they tend to be generic and bland (in some cases, they are created begrudgingly by the author).  I don't think they fit the Yoon Suin Holyman very well.  I think instead it's much better to create a class for the priesthood of each god, as necessary - if a player really wants to play a holyman of Yato, keeper of secrets, or if they are facing a priest of the Elephant Demon of Hunger and Rage, create it!  Otherwise, keep it vague.  Not all priests will have classes that are suitable for adventure, but in the GLOG, balance is merely eyeballed, so even a priest with dubious powers can still contribute

The Vulture Priest

Embrace the ill luck of others oh mortal, because one day someone will relish in yours. 

With blackish robes and red collars, the Vulture Priests are an unwelcomed sight, lurking around, waiting for misfortune to fall - and it always does, sooner or later.  And from misfortune, opportunity.  As they grow in power their shoulders stoop, their neck becomes longer, their hair falls out and their nose become long and pointed.  The high priests of the Vulture God grow long wings, able to fly slowly but with little effort.  

For each template (ie level) of Vulture Priest, your perception goes up by 1, and your spell dice (SD) goes up by 1 (maximum of 4).  You learn 1 spell per level (see below).

A:  Iron Stomach, Temple Vulture,
B:  Scent
C:  Sense weakness
D:  Vulture merger


Iron stomach:  You can eat flesh in any state and safely gain sustenance - it does not matter if it is spoiled, poisoned or curse.  This does not extend to other foods - moldy bread is a bad for you as anyone else - although eggs do count as flesh

Temple Vulture:  A temple culture chooses you as a companion.  You can communicate with it.  It will scout for you, but its reports are vague - it thinks like a vulture, and mostly reports about potential meals.  It will not fight for you but will defend itself if it can't run away.  It needs one ration's worth of food a day.  It will gladly eat your corpse.

Scent.  You gain the keen sense of smell of a vulture - you can smell and track living things, or dead things, by scent.

Sense Weakness:   When an enemy adjacent to you is struck by an attack (spell, sword, arrow...) and is reduced to 3 or less HP by the attack, you can immediately take a free attack against this enemy.

Vulture Merger:  A Temple Vulture merges with you (you still keep your companion).  You grow two long wings in your back.  You can fly somewhat lowly (speed 40 feet, ie 16) with poor maneuverability, but if the sun is up you can fly nearly effortlessly over great distances.  When the sun is down or indoors, you can fly a maximum of [CON] minutes.  Your preferred food is now raw flesh, and eggs are delicious.

The Spells.

At level 1, roll 1d4 to select your spell. At level 2, 1d6, level 3 1d8 and level 4 1d10. You can only learn spells of your god (with one exception...) and if you get a result you already had, reroll. You always have all your spells memorized.  To use other magic, you must use a magical item that supplies its own power - potions, wands etc.

1 The Wake
Range: 50 feet Target: [sum] creatures Duration: [Dice]
You share the blessing of your gods with others. Targets gain the capacity to eat and digest flesh as if they too had Iron Stomach (the end of the spell only means that they can't eat further, not that they will throw up what they already ate). Can be cast on herbivores.

2 Read the Entrails
Range: 0 Target: One body with guts, less than 1 week old Duration: 10 minutes
You poke around the entrails of a reasonably fresh body, and obtain a useful Omen from your god about a specific goal, creature, event or location.  Usable only once per body.

3 Invisibility to Predators/Scavengers.
Range: Self Target: Nearby predators/scavengers Duration: [sum]X10 minutes.
It's not that they don't see you, rather they don't see you as prey - they know your place in the game. A guard dog, sharks smelling blood, trolls, will all ignore you. They might not ignore your companions however.

4 Scavenge
Range: 0 Target: One fresh corpse (1 day) Duration: Instant
You eat a bit of a recently deceased corpse, and extract some life from it. You gain [dice]X1d6 from it. To sustain a 1dice spell, you need a corpse at least as big as a cat. 2D: goblin sized. 3D: human sized 4D: horse sized. A corpse can only be scavenged once this way - although the rest can be eaten the normal way.

5. Vomit
Range: 20 feet Target: 1 creature Duration: instant/[dice]
You vomit violently at a creature, and your strong stomach acids wreak havoc. Target takes [sum] dmg, and has disadvantage on attacks for [dice] rounds. After using this spell, you must eat [dice] extra rations in the day to avoid fatigue.

6 Dread Above
Range: 100 feet Target: 50 food diametre circle Duration: [Dice]X1d3 rounds
The vultures circle overhead, and opponents must save vs fear or feel like dead meat. Every affected creature must make a morale check, and suddenly running away feels like a very smart move. Foes that are affected but do not flee have disadvantage on all their attack rolls.

7 The Misfortune of Others
Range: 0 Target: self Duration: [sum]hours
Whenever a foe attacking you or your allies fumbles (in most system, rolls a 1 on the d20), your next attack against that foe is automatically a critical.

8 Heal Disease
Range: 10 feet Target: [dice] creatures Duration: instant
You share the Vulture's resistance to illness. Cure any food poisoning, food born illnesses, parasites or infected wound (including infectious bites). Does not work against air-born illnesses.

9 Part the Skin
Range: 5 feet Target: 1 immobile "skin" Duration: Instant
You part the skin and make a 2 foot long, 1 foot wide opening. For 1D, the skin can be something like a tough leather. For 2D, you could part a wooden wall. For 3D, you part an inch thick sheet of iron. For 4D6, you part dragon scales.

10 Mind Eater
Range: 0 Target: self Duration: Until used again
Eat the brain of a spellcaster, and learn one spell they have memorized (chosen randomly). You can now use this spell as you knew it, until you eat another spellcaster's brain. Also, regain [D] spelldice.

(Lastly, it should be noted that this is not playtested material. )

edit:  I did a few minor tweaks at the suggestions of the OSR discord group, which is, as always, very useful.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

On the Ecology of Bugs and Spells

One of the important ideas in my take on Yoon Suin is that magic is *so valuable* that people will go to great lenght to get it, slugmen and humans alike.  So if a would-be magic user can't hack it as a wizard, they will try all sorts of "alternative routes" to get to that magical power - things like alchemy, figmentalism, or golemology.  Others learn magical crafts that are passed down within families, like kojo-making amongst the Lamarakhi.  So for every proper wizard you have a bunch of summoners, weird priests and the like.  

That can be a challenge, rule wise, but it doesn't have to be.  The GLOG has many strengths, and one of them is that creating a new class is very easy.  So if you - or your player! - has a cool idea, you can create a class for it, or adapt one from the web (there are a LOT of Glog classes out there, and their creators would be delighted if you use them). One such interesting class is the Bug Collector.  Go read it to fully appreciate it, but basically it's a spell-caster adjacent class that uses bugs to generate magical-ish effects.  

On the GLOG discord server, this class came up and was discussed.  How did this *work* really.  Were the bugs just like spells?  Did it "merge" well with the GLOG's main spellcasting system used by wizards?  (In brief: spells are not techniques, they are beings made of ideas and spirit stuff.  A wizard brain's is used to wield these beings.  Arnold's K class poked fun at the concept a bit).

So how can we fit this bug collector idea into the GLOG "spell ecology" principles?  How on earth is a bug collector getting magic out of *bugs?!?*

Easy.  Bugs are spellcasters.  How else could a bumblebee fly?  The water flea breathe under water?  The worm swim through the earth?  Magic that is it.  Insects are symbiotic beings, a tiny body of brittle flesh with various spells riding along.  All the bug collector is doing is forcing bugs to use their magics for the bug collector's benefit.

And that is why the world is so full of magic - bugs are everywhere, carrying their spells and flinging them around mindlessly to perform their buggy tasks.  Wizards find this idea offensive and preposterous - but they are wrong.  Only the best of the bug collectors have grasped what is going on, and are better for it.  

The alchemist may think of his potion having medicinal properties because of the mercury and gem dust he put in it, but he's wrong.  It's the honey added for flavor that is the source of potency - all those spells of food and royalty (the hands of the king are the hands of a healer).  Wine has magic, because it's made by yeast who wields tiny spells to brew and ferment.  Naphtha is full of spells that have rotted under the earth for eons, closer to Hell for a near eternity, and the spirit of Fire has leached into them.  

But what does his mean, on a grander scale?  That bugs have so many spells, and humans so little?  Why is this so? It's because the mind is almost like a spell and it crowds out other spells.  And THAT idea has consequences!  Such as:

1:  Wizards have poor judgement because they made holes in their mind to make room for spells.

2:  The mind is almost a spell, but not quite because it needs a meatsack to keep it going.  But then... is that true?  Is the soul a spell?  Is the body a "meat magical item", a peculiar wand?  Necromancy - raising a zombie - is like a human's crude imitation of nature, puting a not quite soul in a not quite body, geting not quite life.  Furthermore, if the Soul just a kind of spells, (or spells are a kind of souls) there are all sorts of grand cosmological consequences to this too.

3:  The more intelligent an animal is, the less magic it has.  This is why birds are magical, but most of them not as much as bugs.  Also, why there are so many stupid wizards (even prior to making holes in their minds).

3b:  Perhaps the ability to cast spells for humans is dependent on an illness which makes holes in your brain.  

4:  3b has given me *ideas* about the origins of Ogre Mages - more to come :)

5: Metals have no magic at all.  But metals have properties.  Copper conducts electricity.  Arsenic is poisonous.  Not because they are magical, but because they do for actual valid reasons that you would know, had you paid more attention to in chemistry class that is.  And I suppose you could *add* magic to metal, it just never has spells to begin with. 

It was pointed out to me that once the players discover this, they may want to use this - have the PCs get poison magic out of wasps for example.  But that's ok, they aren't very good at it... and if they want to be, so be it!  Let them take levels of bug collector, or candle mage, bird witch, summoner, whatever is fun and vaguely balanced!

Many thanks go to the GLOG Discord collective for ideas and commentary, notably Madilynn for planting the question in my mind, for pointing out how potent honey could be, and thoughts on adventurer behavior.