Wednesday, March 24, 2021

GLOG: Sorcery

This doesn't have triangles. It's also flawed. 

SORCERY

Wizards study magic from dusty old tomes and rune-carved stones. Witches learn their craft from covens and crones. Priests channel miracles from their g_ds. All have to find magic, to practice and train and learn.

Not sorcerers. Not you. Your heart pumps magic like blood, your lungs breathe magic like oxygen, and your nerves crackle with magic like so much electricity. It's a part of you.

--

THE MECHANICS OF SORCERY

You get spells in the same way standard GLOG wizards do: a couple of spells at level 1, +1 for a few levels, and then a legendary around level 4. 

THE BRINK
As a sorcerer, you have a brink. This is your physical limits, your ability to control your own magic. Reach your threshold, and you might lose control.

By default, your brink is 6.

If your brink reaches 0, something terrible and wondrous happens to you: your soul detonates in an etheric inferno, or you morph into gibbering star-spawn, or your neurons fray and you lose all sense of self, or maybe you ascend into a crackling g_d of madness. Who knows? Whatever it is, you're gone.

SPELLCASTING
Sorcerers have 1 MD. You don't get more when you level up.

When you cast a spell, you must spend all of available MD:
  • If the results are less than your brink, your dice return to your pool of MD. 
  • If the results are equal to or greater than your brink, your dice are spent.
Pretty familiar so far, yeah? Basically just higher-powered, more reliable wizards. 

Here's where things get fun:

EXTRA MAGIC
At any time, you can add +1 MD to your pool; when you do so, decrease your brink by 1.

Spent MD (meaning they rolled equal to or higher than your brink) count as doubles for calculating mishaps and dooms.

BACKING OFF THE BRINK
Each of the following raises your brink by 1, back to a max of 6:
  • You go a week without using any magic, sleeping through the night all seven days.
  • You level up.
  • You get a powerful dose of magical healing (like a remove curse or regenerate or something, not just a basic healing).
  • You eat the heart of something of roughly human intelligence and magic (or something very intelligent and not very magical, or something very magical and not very intelligent).
  • You mutate (roll on your favorite scary mutation table that has a chance of killing you).
  • You carve, brand, or tattoo a magical rune onto your skin, at least a few inches large. This can and will hurt you in the process.
  • You decide to release your juices: the GM rolls 1d20 secretly; that many hours from now, you will detonate in a fiery blast, burning off all of your clothes and dealing [6 - brink]d6 damage to everything but you inside 1d20 × 10 ft. (use the same d20 roll for time—the longer you go without release, the bigger the blast).
There might be other ways to back off the brink. Awakening inanimate objects, maybe, or consuming sickening amounts of food and drink, or rapidly aging living things until they turn to dust. Something spooky and costly and strange.

DOUBLES, TRIPLES, AND QUADRUPLES
Use mishaps and dooms as per your standard wizard class. If you get a quadruple, something nasty happens that isn't a doom: you explode into a million pieces and have to reform painfully over a week, you're transformed into a goat, diamonds or insects come tumbling out of your mouth, something bad. 

This sort of enables a "shooting the moon" scenario where it's better to get a quad than a trip, but I think that's okay. Dooms should be reversible anyways.

--

THE AESTHETICS OF SORCERY

You can and should change all of these to better fit whichever wizard class you pick. This is loosely based around the orthodox or "standard" wizard.

Starting skills:
  1. Military experiment escapee
  2. Faerie Queens' favorite
  3. Djinni's wish recipient
  4. One who reached enlightenment
  5. the Devil's own investiture
  6. Seventh child of a seventh child

Signs of your approach:
  1. Scents of sulfur & brimstone hang in the air
  2. Grass withers beneath your feet, and does not regrow again
  3. The wind tugs at your hair and clothes, always
  4. Animals and insects follow you around in neat, peaceful lines
  5. Gold you touch turns to lead, but lead turns to gold
  6. The sun shines its rays to alight your path

Physical manifestations:
  1. Your voice reverberates and wavers, as if more than one voice were speaking
  2. Your eyes are heterochromatic, almost iridescently so
  3. You have six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot
  4. Your hair grows an inch every day
  5. You have a swishing, animalistic tail
  6. The lines on your palms form pentacles

--

SORCERY DESIGN CHAT

It's a gambling class, basically. You can tap into an almost-limitless number of MD, if you need them, but you risk more and more as you burn through more and more MD. 

Critically, you're always the one to control when your brink goes up and down, but you don't decide when your MD will get permanently spent. It means you might suddenly run out of power unexpectedly, but you won't ever be in a situation where you're going to blow up with no way out (or, well, you might, but you'll be the one to get yourself).

This draws a lot of inspiration from Cthulhu Dark's Insight die, which does a similar thing as you investigate and your mind opens to the true horror of reality. This just has magic dice stapled on.

Also, this isn't a complete class. You still need a wizard to go with it. In my head, you play "a Necromantic Sorcerer" or a "Sorcerous Illusionist" or whatever, not just a plain ol' "Sorcerer." I dunno. Maybe that's weird? Maybe "Sorcerer" should be it's own thing? But to me, sorcery is less about literally doing different magic, and more about being a different kind of magician.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

GLΔG: Knife-Fighting

 A shorter triangle-GLOG, since the other two are very long.

GLΔG: KNIFE-FIGHTING

Anyone can use a knife: they're the most ubiquitous weapon, and any fighter worth their salt knows how to use one. 

Some people learn knife-fighting in fancy schools, but most people learn them the old-fashioned way: by getting in lots of knife-fights, and probably getting cut up a bunch in the process.

Every knife-fight has requirements: complete the requirements, and you can fight that way. Requirements are in italics.

They're numbered, as normal; you need one from the current rank to unlock one of the next.

(0) Learn the Hard Way
Lose at least one finger to a knife—a foe's knife or your own.
You know how to safely handle a knife with the hand that's missing a finger: how to hold it, cut with it, carve with it, stab with it, threaten with it, guard with it, and all the other snazzy things anyone skilled can do with a knife. You're very good at the knife-finger game, and know a seemingly-endless number of tricks with a butterfly knife.

If you're down a finger on each hand, you can wield two knives simultaneously, ambidextrously.


(1) Sneaky Bastard
Smuggle a dozen knives into somewhere very high-security, like a castle or noble's party.
If you have no knives, you can always produce one knife. Maybe it was hidden down your boot, maybe it was beneath the pillow, maybe it was from your enemy's belt, maybe it's magic. But you've always got a knife.


(1) Dance the Finger-Dance
Win a game of knife-throwing against a circus performer, a street kid, and a military veteran.
When you throw a knife, you can always decide exactly which end of the knife (the stabby end or the blunt end) will connect with the target. You're very good at throwing knives.

You're also very good at catching knives. If you see a knife flying towards you (either because you're juggling or because someone's trying to kill you), you can always catch it. 

If you can't see it coming or if it's attached to something solid—like, say, the arm of a murderer—it's much dicier.


(2) Blink of an Eye
Escape a pair of handcuffs using only a knife and your wits.
If you have a knife in one hand, you can always get it to the other hand, and you can do it more or less instantaneously. This works even if you're, say, bound on a cross, or have one hand in an alligator's mouth. Again, maybe it's clever legerdemain, maybe there was a second knife, maybe it's magic.


(2) Knife to a Sword-Fight
In cold blood, slit the throat of someone who didn't deserve it.
Your knives' blades can reach an extra couple of inches past where it seems they like should be able to. Imagine a three-inch knife, but it cuts like a six-inch knife, somehow.

This lets them stab very deep into stuff, obviously, but also makes them very useful for: snagging objects that are far away, poking at dangerous things from a distance, or winning odd bets.


(3) Twisty-Stabby-No-Release-y
Kill a bear (or something bear-sized) by stabbing it once, and then hanging onto that one stab for the rest of the fight until eventually it bleeds to death.
If you stab your knife into something—flesh, wood, ice, etc.—and then twist it, your knife will never come loose, unless you want it to. 

This doesn't stop the thing your knife is stabbed into from coming loose—like a single brick coming dislodged from the rest of the wall—but your knife itself won't ever come out until you want it to.


(3) Doesn't Seem So Bad
Lose an eye and an ear, get your nose and tongue split in twain, and lose at least six square inches of skin—all from knives.
At your option, when you cut someone with a knife, you can delay the damage. This means that for about 10 seconds (give or take), there won't be any blood, they continue to function normally, and they don't feel any pain.

The cut's still there, obviously, like you can touch the cut-mark and feel the flap of skin and everything, it just takes a bit for the target's brain to realize something's wrong.


(4) Only Friend You Can Trust
Successfully fake your own death.
You can't be killed by knives. You can still get horribly wounded and mangled and cut up, but the knife-blows themselves won't kill you. 

That said, if you get stabbed thirty times and then get hit once with a rock, you'll be a goner for sure.

---

Trying out more martial ideas for GLΔG. Not entirely sure how I feel about this one, but it's got some interesting ideas. Also, none of these are "essentials" or "freebies" in the same way some of the pyromancies and disciplines are.

Largely inspired by the "stereotypical rogue," Carcer from Night Watch, and that one Donnie Yen alleyway knife-fight scene.

---

In general, I think part of the issue with Martials With Deltas is that traditionally, Fighters et al. get "system-crunch" abilities. If you imagine the four-to-five fundamental categories of D&D ability as:
  • Physical (fly, grow or shrink, etc.)
  • Social (lie, convince people, etc.)
  • Intellectual/Informational (learn secrets, get bonus info, etc.)
  • ""Magical"" (non-specific world-manipulation stuff, like Wish or w/e)
  • System Crunch/Combat (+1 to hit, bonus HP on rest, etc.)
Fighter-type characters almost exclusively fall in the last category. This isn't an exhaustive statement by any means, but I've noticed that in nearly all trad systems and many OSR systems, Fighters are the ones who get the most system-crunchy abilities. They get bonuses to hit, extra HP, better stats, more attacks, more feats, all that classic D&D crunch. This is fine, mostly, since in typical D&D it just transforms them into the "badass normals" of the group, and some players (like me!) are into that kind of angle.

For my nascent little GLΔG project here, though, where I'm trying to avoid any and all systems or systemic terminology, that gets a little dicier. How do you explain "you're really good at killing people with a sword" diegetically? How do you "make the Fighter interesting"?

Well, I don't really know. My instinct is to expand into the other categories, and give the Fighter-types perks from the other categories (my Ranger does this, sorta, in that it's a "martial class" but its abilities are largely informational-focused), but I'm also not 100% convinced that this is the best path forward. Obviously, there are some social and knowledgeable perks a Fighter can get, and plenty of physical ones, but it's hard to describe being good at combat in a way that A) doesn't descend into fiddly minutiae and B) doesn't invalidate a bunch of what it feels like others should be able to do anyway.

I'm going to keep noodling around with this sort of thing. As always, if you want to hack/remix/alter any of this, please go ahead—and tell me! I'm very curious about how to develop diegetic fighters. 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

GLΔG: Discipline

The GLΔG: it's just like GLOG, but this time with more triangles.

GLΔG: DISCIPLINE

Everyone learns the disciplines differently: some learn from a single master, some learn in a class with teachers, some learn through intuition and experiment, some learn from a strange old monster, some learn by reaching enlightenment.

Anyone can learn the disciplines: it takes no special training, no tools or equipment, and no special gifts or boons.

All it takes to learn the disciplines is time, energy, and patience.

Each discipline has requirements: complete the requirements, and you can perform the discipline. Requirements are in italics.

These disciplines are numbered: you must has at least one discipline from the previous rank to learn a discipline of the next. Other than that, no requirements: any class, any level, any person.

(0) Meditation
For one month, spend ten continuous minutes per day meditating, at the same time each day. If you miss a day or don't complete the full ten minutes, begin again.
You can feel every inch of your body in sharper focus and greater detail. With a moment, you can regulate your breathing. If you spend a minute breathing, you can soothe your mind to an even calm.

You no longer have to meditate at the same time every day, but: if you go a day without spending ten continuous minutes meditating, you lose all of your disciplines until you do the full month, at the same time every day, again.

(1) Limber
For a month, spend an hour a day practicing calisthenics in complete silence. If you miss a day or if you speak, begin again.
You know how to do all of the basic athletic and acrobatic moves required of you: climbs, rolls, vaults, leaps, hurdles, handstands, handsprings, somersaults, flips, and so on. You can't do them perfectly every time, not yet, but you know the foundations. 

(2) Strikes
Find somewhere stony and barren, where no plants grow. Spend a full day meditating there, from sunrise to sunset.
Provided you have meditated today, you can strike with your hands, feet, elbows, and knees with the power and might of clubs and stones—and you can do it without breaking your bones. 

While clubs and stones are not as strong as axes and arrows, they are certainly stronger than ordinary fists.

(2) Weave
Spend a month wearing nothing but rags: no shoes, no hat, no gloves, nothing but decency's necessities. 
If you keep your hands in front of you and regulate your breathing, you can avoid the strikes and blows from a single foe.  If you move your hands (like to hit them), or if your breathing gets out of whack (like to sprint away), or if you can't see them, this doesn't work. But: keep your hands up, keep breathing, and keep your eyes on them, and they can never hit you.

This doesn't work against multiple foes. It also doesn't work against non-physical-attack-ish attacks, like dragon's breath or magic lightning.

(2) Concentration
Spend a cumulative month meditating.
While you meditate, your mind cannot be unduly influenced: charms, possessions, and their similar ilk cannot affect you. 

So long as you meditate at least an hour per day, the long-term damaging effects of loneliness, isolation, and routine cannot effect you. 

(3) Rest
Spend a week sleeping on a stone bed with a stone pillow. Then, carry a pebble in each of your pockets. If you lose the pebbles, you need to find new ones before you can perform this discipline.
You can meditate and sleep anywhere—atop sharp sticks, on jagged rocks, in bitter snow, half-submerged in stagnant water, and the like—like it was a soft feather pillow.

You decide exactly when you want to fall asleep, how long you want to sleep for, whether you can be roused from your sleep, and whether or not you wish to dream.

(3) Fall
Find a mountaintop where you can see nothing higher. Meditate there for a full day, from sunrise to sunset.
If you fall and shed some external piece of clothing as you land—like a cloak, hat, scarf, sash, and so on—you suffer no harm from the fall, regardless of height.

(3) Leap
For a month, never stop touching the ground: some part of your skin must touch solid earth.
With a length of something loose and light in your hands—a scarf, a whip, a rope, and so on—you can leap as far and as high as a mountain lion. Critically, though, you only travel as fast as a normal human jump; this might leave you in the air for several seconds. 

(4) Haste
Using only your bare hands, chase after and catch a squirrel, a hawk, and a carp.
With empty hands and bare feet, you can run as fast as a horse canters. For every ten minutes you've spent meditating today, you can run for an hour without growing over-tired. 

(4) Throws
Carry a pack full of rocks on your back for a week.
If you hit someone with a kick or punch and have two limbs squarely planted on the ground, you can launch them backwards. If they're small, they get launched far; if they're large, it's not quite as much distance.

(4) Tranquility
Go a month without touching metal. Wood, stone, and bone are fine, but touch any metal, and you must begin again.
While meditating and unarmed, you appear harmless; foes will be put off-guard, and enemies hunting for you will likely not mark you down as anyone of import. It takes someone of great will and passion to attack a person harmlessly meditating.

(5) Balance
Spend an entire day with only your hands touching the ground.
As long as one hand or foot is touching a solid surface, you never lose your balance. You might sway and bob and tilt, but you'll never fall over. This includes handstands, meditative poses, odd martial maneuvers, and that kind of thing. 

That said, if something hits you hard enough to literally lift you off the ground, this probably won't work.

(5) Coordination
Shave all the hair off your body, and spend a full day meditating beneath the open sky. 
While your breath is held, you always know exactly how close to you everything is, and if it's moving, how close it will be. This means, for example, you know precisely where a falling raindrop will land on you, or where an enemy's arrow-point will pierce your body.

With difficulty, you can move to avoid or interact with such moving objects: brush arrows to redirect their course, catch enemy blades mid-swing, or avoid oncoming falling raindrops.

(5) Empath
Go a month without speaking.
If you observe a living thing for fifty of their heartbeats, you can feel their basic emotions: anger, fear, joy, hunger, and so on. If you touch them, skin to skin, this only takes three heartbeats.

This lasts as long as you can hear them. You can feel the emotions of multiple living things at once.

(6) Iron Hand
Forge a weapon with your own two hands. Then, hang it on a wall within easy reach, and never use it.
When you wield a weapon, you can feel every inch of it as if it was the skin on your hand; just as you do not have to think to ball your fist or take a step, you do not have to think to cut or thrust with the weapon. 

As long as you aren't holding up something else with the weapon, it is as if the weapon is an empty hand. This works for Weave, Haste, Balance, and so on. 

If the weapon intentionally leaves your hand, you can still feel it until you lose control: for example, if you toss a club in the air and then catch it, you feel it for the duration; if you toss a club in the air and let it fall, you feel it until you no longer could have caught it. 

(6) Whirlwind
Spend a month with your hands bound together with tight gloves, so your wrists are stuck together and you can't move your fingers at all. 
While your breath is held: when others strike, you strike twice; if a foe misses you, you can strike them instantaneously; you can draw and stow your weapons in a flicker of an eye.

(6) Prediction
Spend a week with your eyes blindfolded, unable to see.
When you make eye contact with a foe, you know exactly what they're going to do, moments before they do it: where they'll strike, where they'll move, how they'll next maneuver. If you blink or break eye contact, this stops functioning.

(7) Awareness
Go one month without engaging in any vices.
Your senses no longer require their organs to function: you can see with your eyes closed, hear with ears muffled, smell with your nose filled, taste with your tongue gagged, and feel with your skin numbed.

(7) Truth
Omit nothing relevant. Spread no rumors. Tell no lies. Break any of these, and you lose this discipline.
If you can detect a person in any way, you know when they're lying, when they're hiding something, and when they're going to betray you.

If they meditate with you for an hour, you can compel them to tell you the truth.

(7) Paralyze
Spend a full day meditating while completely unable to move. Bound in an iron coffin, perhaps, or buried in sand.
When you strike a foe, you can choose to inflict no harm. If you strike them in this way once for every sense they have (for most creatures, this is five), you can paralyze them, leaving their body rigid and their muscles locked. 

They remain paralyzed for fifty heartbeats (your heart, not theirs). If you begin meditating during that minute, they stay paralyzed for as long as you meditate.

(8) Synchrony
Meditate for one hour every day for a year. 
Every hour you spend meditating feeds you like a full meal, and refreshes you like sleeping for two hours. If you spend six hours of a day meditating, you do not age that day.

(8) Improvise
Spend a month wielding a weapon: it never leaves your side, you use in your meditations, you fight with nothing else. If it breaks, if it leaves your person, or if you fail to meditate with it, you must begin again.
You master a weapon. Once mastered, you can wield any item at all similar in place of it. For example, once you have a mastered the sword, you can wield a stick with the same power and efficacy as a blade of the finest steel.

You can master multiple weapons, one month at a time.

(8) Quiver
Spend one week without your feet, shins, or knees ever touching the ground, or any other solid surface you can walk on. This includes time spent sleeping.
With your eyes closed and your breath held, you can Weave against as many opponents as you have limbs. 

With Iron Hand, you can increase this number beyond your natural four (if you can juggle weapons, this number can get very high indeed).

(9) Emptiness
You must stand atop a cricket, an ant, a beetle, a fly, and a preying mantis, each in turn, without crushing any of them. If any of them are harmed, you must spend a cumulative month worth's of time meditating before you must begin again.
At your choosing, you can compel your body to weigh as little as an insect, but maintain the strength and size of your regular form. This means you can leap huge distances, run up walls, walk across the surface of water, glide on a strong wind, balance atop thin reeds, and otherwise remain near-weightless. 

Whenever you choose, you can return to your normal weight.

(9) Rend
Go a full year without killing any living thing: not animals, not plants, not people.
When you strike a foe, you can choose to inflict no harm. If you strike them in this way once for every year they have been alive, and are not struck once in turn, you mark them.

Within a year and a day of a foe being marked, you can, with a twitch of your finger, cause their spirit to leave their body. This almost always kills the body.

(9) Wisdom
Wear no finery, indulge no pleasures, possess no wealth. If you return to materiality, you lose this discipline.
For every cumulative month you spend meditating, you learn the true answer to any one question you might have.

(10) Mastery
Learn every other discipline, and spend a cumulative decade meditating.
You can fly.

---

Some references and sources of inspiration:
  • Most of Avatar and Korra, but Henry Rollins especially
  • Absolver
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, especially this scene
Not entirely sure how I feel about this one, to be honest. 

As always, feel free to hack, remix, and adjust this however you see fit.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

GLOG: Pyromancy

 I've been playing Dark Souls again.

Art by Dawn Carlos


PYROMANCY

Nobody's born a pyromancer, from providence or curse; likewise, no one goes to an academy and learns about pyromancy from a collection of books. There are only three kinds of pyromancers:
  1. Those who were taught by another pyromancer, as master and apprentice.
  2. Those who were taught by a great beast of heat, like an ifrit.
  3. Those who taught themselves, through trial and tribulation.
Every pyromancer who has ever lived has fit into those three categories. 

Every pyromancer begins with their spark. Just as a spark is the beginning of a fire, so too is a spark the beginning of a pyromancer. Here are some places where a pyromancer might have found their spark:
  1. In a bonfire of ancient books.
  2. In the belly of a dying salamander.
  3. In a pinecone burst from a forest fire.
  4. At the mouth of a living geyser.
  5. In a glassblower's white-hot furnace.
  6. At a lighthouse's ever-lit brazier.
There are many other sources of sparks; these are just some.

To become a pyromancer, you must find a spark. To learn pyromancies, you must do other things first; each pyromancy has a requirement listed—do it, and you can perform the pyromancy. The requirements are in italics.

These pyromancies are numbered; you must have at least one from the previous rank to learn a pyromancy of the next—e.g., to learn Blast, you must first know one of TorchlightGust, or Cool.  Other than that, there are no restrictions or requirements to learn these. Any class, any level, any person.

(0) Spark
Find a spark.
You have a spark: a tiny flame that's always with you. Most pyromancers bring forth their sparks by rubbing their hands together and blowing into them; within their cupped palms, there will be a small wisp of flame, always there when they need it.

Your spark can do anything a normal spark can. Mostly, that means it can light very well-prepared fires (with tinder and kindling and fatwood and everything), or blow out at the slightest resistance.

Not to worry. Your spark will always be with you. 

(1) Candle
Spend a full night in the light of a fire started with your spark. If the fire goes out, begin again.
With a minute or two of coaxing, your spark can grow to the size of a candle's flame. It will stay in your hands so long as you keep your palms cupped and keep the fire going. If you expose it to the air, it will be snuffed within mere seconds—same goes for if you clasp your hands together.

(2) Torch
Same as candlelight, but it now must be for others, a dozen people-nights in total. One person for twelve-odd nights would suffice, as would twelve or so people for one night. 
Your candle-flame can now grow to the size of a torch. If you make a bowl with your hands, your torch-flame will burn within them for as long as you hold it. If you separate your hands, your torchlight will burn for ten seconds or so as it fizzles out, just hanging in the air. 

Remember, your own flames can burn you—imagine holding the flame of a torch for more than a few seconds. Take care of yourself.

(2) Gust
At a minimum of a few feet from the flame, catch a dozen sparks on your tongue from a dozen different fires.
With a gust of air from your lungs, you can blow your flame out from your hands, guiding it for a few seconds—and thus a few feet away—with your breath. When you run out of air, the fire behaves normally; usually, this means it twists and wends for a second or two, then burns out.

Learning to control their breathing is essential for any novice pyromancer. 

(2) Cool
Scorch six of your fingertips, singe a few inches of hair, and burn off an eyebrow. At least.
So long as you hold your breath, your own flames can't hurt you. 

This doesn't work once you take another breath, and it definitely doesn't work on flames that aren't directly under your control. And remember that you can't breathe smoke.

(3) Alter Fire
Brand a rune of flame onto the palms of your hands.
You can gently modify a flame as large as a torch: snuff it, cause it to grow larger and brighter, pick it up and carry it, or bend its shape to your will.

(3) Blast
Burn one tree for every year you've been alive. 
If you ball your fists with a flame within them and throw a punch, you can conjure forth a conical blast of flame, a half-dozen paces long and just as wide. It will catch anything in its path ablaze, but if there's no fuel, it'll burn out within a few heartbeats.

(3) Inner Warmth
Keep a single continuous flame going for an entire season, without it ever going out. It doesn't need to be in your hands—a torch or campfire is fine—and it can be transferred from object to hand and back again, but it must never go out. 
You don't feel the cold, and the cold can't hurt you. You can walk naked in a snowstorm and never freeze to death.

(4) Quicken
Light a dozen fires in a dozen minutes, and then keep them burning for a whole day. If any go out, begin again.
You can summon a handful of sparks instantaneously, and can summon your candle-light in a few seconds. 

If you just need a spark, you don't need to do the hand-rub-blow routine: a snap of the fingers will suffice. 

(4) Tongue
Burn off all of your taste buds, and then go without speaking until they grow back.
If you hold a torch-fire (from your hands or a real torch) in front of your face and blow, you can conjure a continuous stream of fire. The stream can reach out a few feet, and lasts as long as you keep blowing.

This does not extinguish your torch. 

(4) Divination
Melt down an metal object of significant value that is at least twice your age.
If you etch a question onto a metal plate and cast it into flame, you can see the answer in the way the metal cracks.

Iron plates earn an answer for the next hour; brass plates for the next day; silver plates for the next week; gold plates for the next month.

(5) Fireball
Burn down a building with people inside.
If you lob a torch-sized flame from your hands, you can cause it to expand to a huge sphere, a dozen paces or more in diameter, that can hurtle forward as far as you can shout.

Where it lands, it makes a huge explosion of flame. 

(5) Linear Flame
Walk across a bed of hot coals barefoot. If you ever put on shoes, you lose the ability to perform this pyromancy until you coal-walk again.
If you punch the ground with a torch-fire in hand, you can conjure a line of fire across the ground, as wide across as your feet are apart.

The flame-line moves forward one foot for every second you hold your breath and keep your fist on the ground. If you take a breath or remove your fist, the line ceases. The fire will burn as long as it has fuel.

(5) Heat Vision
Brand a rune onto your brow, between your eyes, and wrap both your eyes and the rune in cloth. If you remove the cloth, you must brand the rune once more.
You can see heat: hot things appear light, cold things appear dark. This works on invisible things, and heat can also sometimes travel through walls, floors, etc.

This works even if your eyes are closed or covered.

(6) Sculpt Fire
Brand runes of flames onto the backs of your hands, your knuckles, your wrists, your ankles, and the small of your back.
You can sculpt a fire as large as a bonfire: snuff it out instantly, pick it up and carry it, cause it to grow or shrink, or twist its shape to your will.

(6) Cleansing Flame
Sacrifice a part of someone's body—an eye, an ear, a couple of fingers, a foot—to the flames. 
You can heal someone an affliction: illness, disease, infection, blindness, leprosy, and so on. Each person must each make the sacrifice for each affliction.

You can do this for yourself, too.

(6) Flash Sweat
Burn off half your skin, and survive.
So long as you hold your breath, no heat can harm you.

(7) Awaken
Light as many fires as years you've been alive, and keep them burning for a week. If any go out, begin again.
You can summon sparks with a thought, candle-flame in an instant, and torch-flame in a few seconds. 

(7) Tranquil Lungs
Once a day for a month, swallow a red-hot coal. 
You only need take a breath once every ten minutes to refill your lungs. You can exhale for thrice as long as a normal person.

(7) Fire Whip
Lash yourself every day for a month, and ensure the wounds stay open. Then, cauterize them and seal the flesh with your own flame.
You can cause a torch-fire to twist and elongate into a whip of hard-edged flame, thrice as long as you are tall. This whip burns whatever it touches, but is solid: it can snare legs, wrap around posts, and leave bloody marks in flesh.

The whip lasts as long as it stays in your hand. 

(8) Dragon's Breath
Eat the raw heart of a beast of pure flame: an elemental, an ifrit, a dragon, a true salamander, something similar.
If you hold your breath for five minutes, you can then exhale a cone of flame, large as a dragon's, lasting as long as you exhale. You can open and shut your mouth as you will to control the cone, so long as you don't take a new breath.

(8) Black Flame
Sear one of your eyes until it's blind, one of your ears until it can't hear, and one of your hands until it can't feel. 
When you create a flame, so long as you keep your eyes closed, you can cause the flame to give off no heat, no light, no sound, or any combination of those. This last until you open your eyes, or until the fire is no longer under your control.

(8) Burning Halo
Encircle your brow with an molten iron crown. If you remove it, you lose this pyromancy.
With a flame in your hands, your breath held, and heat rising beneath you, you can float in the air like so much smoke. You drift down slowly without heat beneath you; if you float to another hot spot, you can rise again. 

(9) Firestorm
Burn a town full of people or a forest full of life.
If you snuff a bonfire in an instant, you can cause columns of flame, ten paces wide and as tall as redwoods, to materialize from thin air. The columns incinerate anything inside them; where they rest, the ground will liquify and turn to molten slag.

While you keep your eyes closed and your breath held, a new column will appear every second. The columns burn for the duration, but vanish as soon as you open your eyes or take a breath. Column placement spreads out from you in a loose circle, with a maximum radius of about as far as you can shout.

(9) Control Flame
Brand runes all over your body. 
You can fully control a single continuous body of flame of any size. You can snuff a burning house with a look, carry a flame as large as an elephant, and twist fire to any shape or scale you can imagine.

(9) Shared Spark
Learn every other pyromancy. Then, go a year and a day without performing any pyromancy at all.
You can share your spark with other things. If you give it to a person, it will make them a pyromancer, just like you.

If you give it to an inanimate object, like a stone, or a sword, or a corpse, it imbues the object with new life: so long as the spark remains burning, the object has the beginnings of a soul and a mind. What it will do with that mind and soul is impossible to say.

Art by Pliss M.

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Strong inspiration drawn and lots of content stolen from this very good pyromancer, the Dark Souls pyromancy list, and our edgy boy.

This is a "magic class" that isn't really a class—it's the kind of thing that I would use in a classless magic system, or in combination with another class. A thief who steals a spark and learns pyromancy without realizing it, or a fighter who slays a fire-demon and gets a bit of its power on accident? Awesome ideas.

It also doesn't use levels, magic dice, spell slots, or any real kind of resources. The terminology is kept deliberately vague—I honestly should just concede a little and find-and-replace all instances of "pace" with "feet"—but you get the idea. Pyromancy scales off of your body, your age, your lungs, your shouting and seeing distance, and other random variables. (For reference, a regular person can hold their breath for about 1–2 minutes, and can continuously exhale for about half as long.)

I did this for two reasons: for one, I like diegetic scaling. If I can remove abstraction, like spell slots or magic dice, it feels good to me; it feels more magical, more wild and mysterious. Second, I love the idea of binding fire to your breath, and your eyes, and your skin. Fire is physical, it's raw, it needs fuel and air, and its magic should reflect that.

As always, this almost completely untested. If you get a chance to try it, please let me know.

I also might do another one of these pseudo-magic class things with delta template requirements. Might be a wind/air mage, might be a cannibal blood-drinker, might be something else entirely. To be determined!

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Big Wet Five: Past Lives, Stats Arrive

This is about the Big Wet, my postdiluvian Mothership hack setting thing.

WET STATS

Mothership has four stats: Speed, Strength, Intellect, and Combat. It also four saves—Body, Fear, Sanity, and Armor.

I'm cutting saves, I think. I'll figure something else out for armor, but the Big Wet is fundamentally less of a horror setting than Mothership, and I prefer to just make stats and saves the same thing anyway. Stress is probably getting slashed, too.

The current stats I'm think about for the Big Wet are:
  • Brain: your intellect, processing power, knowledge. Left and right brain both, really.
  • Nerves: your reaction speed, ranged combat abilities, fine motor control. Anything connected to your senses or nervous system.
  • Heart: your emotional sway, willpower, tenacity. More metaphorical than physical.
  • Lungs: your athletic talents, endurance, melee combat abilities. Anywhere oxygen flows.
I like these because A) they're good fleshy nouns with some zest, and B) they're a little more flexible and metaphorical and thought-provoking than just basic terms. 

They follow the same procedure as Mothership for determining them: roll 6d10 for each stat, down the line. Roll under that stat to succeed on a check. 

Wet, of course, is the fifth stat: it comprises your literal wetness, but also fatigue, weariness, exhaustion, and lack of will. 

(Eyes, Ears, Hands, Fingers, Bones, Face, Tongue, Liver, and Meat were all reject stats. They might get added in later. We'll see.) 

DRY TIMES

Mothership has classes, which give you your starting saves, a couple of skills, and one or two random abilities. I'm not super into them, to be honest, so instead the Big Wet's going to have a giant d100 list of "who you were when it was dry," which gives you some starting skills. Roll one of these at chargen.

Not all of these are equal. The basic weighting is that stats > free skills > selected skills, and a given background should have the equivalent of ~4 free skills, but the balancing is pretty loose. Embrace the inequality, to some degree.

Here's the list:
  1. Accountant
    +10 Brain, Mathematics, 2 skills
  2. Activist
    +5 Heart, Politics, Tactics, 2 skills
  3. Actor
    +20 Heart, Art, 2 skills
  4. Airline Pilot
    Driving, Piloting, Vehicle Specialization, 2 skills
  5. Architect
    +5 Brain, 3 skills
  6. Arms Dealer
    +5 Nerves, Bartering, Economics, Post-Collapse Markets, Fighting, Firearms, Ammunition Recycling
  7. Assassin
    +5 Lungs, +5 Nerves, Fighting, Firearms, Close-Quarters Combat, Weapon Specialization
  8. Astronaut
    +5 Brain, +5 Lungs, Mathematics, Physics, Diving
  9. Author
    Art, 3 skills
  10. Banker
    -10 Heart, Mathematics, Economics, 2 skills
  11. Barista
    +5 Nerves, +5 Lungs, 3 skills
  12. Bartender
    +5 Nerves, +5 Face, Coastwise, 2 skills
  13. Bodyguard
    +10 Lungs, Fighting, 2 skills
  14. Boxer
    +20 Lungs, Athletics, Fighting, Close-Quarter Combat
  15. Bus Driver
    Driving, Coastwise, 3 skills
  16. Caregiver
    +10 Heart, +10 Brain, 2 skills
  17. Carpenter
    +10 Nerves, +5 Lungs, Mechanical Repair, 1 skill
  18. Cashier
    +5 Lungs, +5 Heart, 3 skills
  19. Celebrity
    +10 Heart, +10 Lungs, 2 skills
  20. Chef
    +10 Nerves, +5 Brain, Agriculture, 1 skill
  21. Chemist
    +10 Brain, Chemistry, Explosives, 1 skill 
  22. Civil Servant
    +5 Brain, Politics, Administration, Governance, 1 skill
  23. Dancer
    +10 Lungs, Athletics, 2 skills
  24. Dentist
    +10 Brain, Biology, Medicine, Surgery
  25. Dietician
    +5 Brain, +5 Lungs, Agriculture, Biology, 1 skill
  26. Drug Dealer
    +5 Lungs, +5 Nerves, Bartering, Economics, Post-Collapse Markets
  27. Ecologist
    +10 Brain, Hydrology, Biology, Botany, Meteorology, Climatology, Neo-Ecology
  28. Economist
    +5 Brain, Bartering, Mathematics, Economics, 1 skill
  29. Editor
    +5 Brain, -5 Heart, Art, 3 skills
  30. Electrician
    +5 Brain, Mechanical Repair, Scavenging, 2 skills
  31. Engineer
    +5 Brain, Mathematics, Physics, Engineering, 1 skills
  32. Farmer
    +10 Brain, Agriculture, Meteorology, Botany, Hunting
  33. Fast Food Worker
    +5 Lungs, +5 Heart, 3 skills
  34. Film Producer
    -5 Brain, Bartering, Politics, 3 skills
  35. Fisher
    +5 Lungs, +5 Nerves, +5 Brain, Biology, Hydrology, 1 skill
  36. Flight Attendant
    +5 Heart, +5 Nerves, 3 skills
  37. Forester
    +5 Lungs, +5 Brain, Biology, Botany, 2 skills
  38. Game Designer
    -5 Brain, -5 Heart, -5 Lungs, -5 Nerves
  39. Garbage Worker
    +5 Heart, +5 Lungs, Scavenging, 2 skills
  40. Geographer
    +10 Brain, History, Art, Hydrology, 1 skill
  41. Hairdresser
    +5 Heart, +5 Nerves, Art, 2 skills
  42. Historian
    +5 Brain, History, 2 skills
  43. Hunter
    +5 Lungs, +5 Nerves, Hunting, Firearms, 1 skill
  44. Illustrator
    +10 Nerves, +5 Heart, Art, 1 skills
  45. Influencer
    +10 Heart, +5 Lungs, Athletics, 1 skill
  46. Insurance Agent
    Bartering, 3 skills
  47. IT Tech
    +5 Brain, Mechanical Repair, Computers, 1 skill
  48. Jeweler
    +10 Nerves, Art, History, Bartering
  49. Journalist
    +5 Brain, +5 Heart, Coastwise, Art, 1 skill
  50. Lawyer
    +10 Brain, -5 Heart, History, Tactics, Philosophy, Ethics
  51. Librarian
    +20 Brain, History, Politics, Administration, Governance
  52. Linguist
    +10 Brain, 3 skills
  53. Locksmith
    +10 Nerves, +5 Brain, Breaking & Entering, Safecracking, 1 skill
  54. Magician
    +10 Nerves, 3 skills
  55. Marine
    +10 Lungs, +5 Nerves, Fighting, Firearms, Close-Quarters Combat, Amphibious Warfare
  56. Marine Biologist
    +10 Brain, Diving, Biology, Hydrology, Scuba, 1 skill
  57. Martial Artist
    +10 Lungs, Athletics, Fighting, Spirituality, Close-Quarters Combat, 1 skill
  58. Mason
    +5 Lungs, +5 Brain, Scavenging, 2 skills
  59. Mathematician
    +10 Brain, Mathematics, 2 skills
  60. Mechanic
    +5 Brain, +5 Nerves, Mechanical Repair, Driving, Jury Rigging
  61. Miner
    +10 Lungs, Scavenging, Urbex, 1 skill
  62. Musician
    +10 Heart, +5 Nerves, Art, 2 skills
  63. New-Age Guru
    +10 Heart, Spirituality, Theology, Apocalyptic Mysticism, 1 skill
  64. Nurse
    +5 Brain, +5 Heart, +Nerves, First Aid, Medicine
  65. Organized Criminal
    +5 Lungs, Breaking & Entering, Coastwise, Politics, 1 skill
  66. Painter
    +5 Nerves, Art, 3 skills
  67. Pharmacist
    +5 Brain, Chemistry, Biology, Medicine, Pharmacology, 1 skill
  68. Police Officer
    -20 Heart, +5 Lungs, +5 Nerves, Fighting, Firearms, 2 skills
  69. Politician
    +5 Heart, +5 Brain, Politics, Tactics, 2 skills
  70. Priest
    +5 Heart, +5 Brain, Spirituality, Theology, 2 skills
  71. Private Eye
    +5 Nerves, +5 Brain, Fighting, Firearms, Scavenging, Hunting
  72. Psychologist
    +5 Brain, +5 Heart, Biology, Psychiatry, 2 skills
  73. Public Health Worker
    +5 Brain, +5 Heart, Biology, Agriculture, Hydrology, Politics, Administration
  74. QA Specialist
    +5 Brain, Mechanical Repair, Scavenging, 2 skills
  75. Rancher
    +5 Lungs, Hunting, Agriculture, 2 skills
  76. Realtor
    +5 Heart, Bartering, Breaking & Entering, 2 skills
  77. Receptionist
    +5 Heart, 3 skills
  78. Roustabout
    +5 Lungs, Scavenging, Urbex, 2 skills
  79. Sailor
    +5 Lungs, Hydrology, Athletics, Diving, 1 skill
  80. Salesperson
    +10 Heart, Bartering, 2 skills
  81. Sanitation Specialist
    +10 Brain, Biology, Medicine, Sanitation, 1 skill
  82. Schoolchild
    Scavenging, Fighting, Coastwise, Diving, 2 skills
  83. Sculptor
    +5 Nerves, +5 Lungs, Art, 2 skills
  84. Secretary
    +5 Brain, +5 Heart, Politics, Administration, 1 skill
  85. Singer
    +5 Lungs, +5 Heart, Art, 2 skills
  86. Social Media Manager
    +10 Heart, +5 Brain, Politics, Administration, 1 skill
  87. Spy
    +5 Nerves, +5 Heart, +5 Brain, Athletics, Fighting, Coastwise, Politics, Breaking & Entering
  88. Stripper
    +10 Lungs, +5 Heart, Art, Athletics, 1 skill
  89. Student
    4 skills
  90. Surgeon
    +5 Brain, +10 Nerves, First Aid, Medicine, Surgery
  91. Tailor
    +5 Nerves, Art, Scavenging, 2 skills
  92. Teacher
    +10 Heart, +5 Brain, +5 Lungs, Coastwise, Tactics, Command
  93. Thief
    +10 Nerves, Breaking & Entering, 2 skills
  94. Trucker
    +5 Lungs, +5 Nerves, Driving, Coastwise, 2 skills
  95. Trust Fund Kid
    -5 Heart, +5 Lungs, 2 skills
  96. Undertaker
    +5 Lungs, +5 Brain, Biology, First Aid, Scavenging, 1 skill
  97. Veterinarian
    +5 Heart, +5 Brain, +5 Nerves, Biology, First Aid, Medicine
  98. Weather Person
    +5 Brain, Hydrology, Meteorology, 2 skills
  99. Yoga Instructor
    +5 Lungs, +5 Nerves, Spirituality, Athletics, 1 skill
  100. Zoologist
    +5 Brain, +5 Lungs, Biology, Hunting, 1 skill
I'm sure there's a few more in here somewhere that I'm missing. Feel free to make your own, too. 

BIG WET FUTURE V

My semester is starting back up, so my time is reduced, but next on the docket are things like:
  • Dry Wonders, all of the artifacts and strange devices that you, as scavengers, are hunting for
  • Wet Vehicles, for land and sea (and both), and all of their stats and stuff
  • Flooded Wastes, and how you might run the over-land/sea procedures of the game
  • Wet Gear revised, since the last listing were slightly suspect
But yeah. Keep an eye out.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Big Wet Four: Skills Galore

I made a skill list for the Big Wet, my flooded (post?) apocalyptic Mothership hack thing. 

If you're unfamiliar with Mothership skills, they add to your d100 rolls, increasing your stat by 10-20%; if you had a 35 in Intellect but can apply a +15% skill, you now succeed if you roll under a 50. 

I don't think I'm going to have classes in the same way Mothership does, so I don't quite know how these skills will be acquired, but here's the list:

Here's a link to the PDF. You can also click on this image to expand it.

Most of these skills should be relatively self-explanatory, I think. Weapon and vehicle specializations mean you pick one single vehicle or weapon, and get +20% with just that one. 

This list is slightly more filled-in than the stock Mothership one, but I think that's okay; the Big Wet's a more-defined setting than the default Mothership, and the specific scientific sub-disciplines matter more.

BIG WET FUTURE IV

My next thing to do for the Big Wet is to make a giant d100 table of "What you did before the world ended," which give you some starting skills and probably a piece of gear or two. 

I also think I'm going to change up the stats. Not quite sure what they're going to be, but I find the Mothership stats slightly too narrow and slightly bland for my tastes. 

Keep an eye out. 


Saturday, January 23, 2021

Vayra Asks Ten Questions, I Give Ten Answers

 Vayra has questions, I now have answers.

1) What class knows the most martial arts? Are they real martial arts like kung fu, or made up ones like krav maga?

...Fighter? Maybe? My games usually don't have an archetypal unarmed martial arts-type warrior class. Unarmed fighting, usually, is only something you do in my games when you don't have weapons. That said, Fighter, because they're the best at fighting. 

Most of the martial arts would not exist in real life (though probably would draw inspiration from them) but would be "real" in the context and history of the game, although the idea of a more-constructed martial art is not at all out of the question.

2) Can you start having already made a deal with the devil or do I have to do that in game?

Hmm. This one depends. If we're doing collaborative backstory generation together, where all the PCs link their characters together some way or another, and if deals-with-the-Devil are something that's part of that collective backstory, then sure? Otherwise, though, I'd say it's probably something you have to do in-game. If you express a desperate desire to sign a devilish contract early, though, I'd try to make sure you got that opportunity early—and probably tell you that, too.

3) Do I want you to write an 8-page backstory? Can you write an 8-page backstory, if you want to? If you write something down in it like you're the timelost princess of the Brass City and the daughter of the sun and you commanded legions in the Hell War but was betrayed by your father's vizier but you don't know that, or that you're elf Conan and cooler than everyone else, will that be true?

No. 

If you really, really want to, and you write me a TL;DR, and acknowledge that it's difficult for me to incorporate all those elements together in-game.

Probably not. If it is—which is probably only if every other player is okay with it—I will 100% dump extra responsibilities, problems, and challenges onto you accordingly.

4) If you eat someone's heart, will you gain their powers? What about their brain?

No? Like, maybe if it's a big fancy monster and you specially prepare it or it's part of a ritual or something. But usually no.

5) These classes are boring, can you be one from somewhere else? What about a different system entirely?

This is another big "it depends." I usually provide classlists that have a "Recommended" list and then also a "Maybe but talk to me first" list. So you'd have to talk to me, but probably.

"Different system" means different things to different people. Can you play a B/X class in GLOG? Sure. Can you play you a Troika background in Apocalypse World? Probably not.

6) If you make a sword, which one of us gets to name it?

You. You're the one who made it.

Unless you mean coming up with a magical sword as part of your backstory or whatever, in which case see answer #3.

7) Are you allowed to kill the other PCs? What would you have to do to be allowed to? Do you win if you kill them all? How do you win at all?

Maybe.

Have a genuine conversation as part of session zero and talk about whether or not PC-killing is a thing we as a collective table want. If yes, you then have to earn it with sufficient character- and tension-building in-game. A session or three at least.

No.

You don't. Roleplaying games almost never have win conditions; some have endings, some even have "good" and "bad" endings, but almost none have a genuine win condition. 

8) Which language stands in for "Common?" Or what are we all talking to each other in? Like the party, mostly, but also everyone else?

Depends a lot on the campaign and the setting. 

Assuming the traditional glove-trotting adventure campaign, I usually have the "common language" be a kind of late-stage traders' pidgin that's taken on a life of its own and thus is spoken widely, but is rarely someone's first-language. Like, say, Polari, but with the wide spread of Esperanto, but also successful and largely syncretic, and now with a life of its own.

That said, I am a huge fan of having lots of tiny shitty villages that the party travels through (and resupplies from) have nobody who speaks the trade tongue. Not knowing most of the language is a critical part of strangers-in-a-strange-land, in my view.

9) How do you learn to talk to rocks? Not once a day, but just, like, normally?

I don't know? Probably either some kind of druidic ritual, or else by being descended from a stony creature, or possibly by being some stripe of ultra-ascended-enlightened grandmaster. Or maybe just by being an elf? (Or a dwarf? Or a gnome?)

I really don't know. 

10) Which kinds of wizards get to serve kings and live in towers and shit, and which ones are run out of town or stoned to death in the streets? Can you be both? At the same time?

Again, depends a lot on the campaign and setting. Generally, though, the wizards that get to live in towers and serve monarchs are the ones that go to (magic) school and sign a bunch of paperwork and have their true names and blood type and everything locked in a CIA-analogue vault somewhere. Usually. Otherwise, wizards usually get reported to the local authorities, who won't hang you immediately or anything, but will definitely ask some strongly-worded questions. Unless they're directly beneficial (your healers, crop-growers, cold-warders-off, etc.), in which case the common folk turn a blind eye and try not to draw attention to you or themselves.

You probably cannot be both. School-and-paperwork wizards have badges and papers and things, which generally prevents the authority-questioning, and wizards that get their magic elsewhere usually can't then fill out the paperwork without strongly-worded questions.

That said, you could play a paperwork wizard who's gone rogue, or a wild wizard that's too useful for the CIA to kill, or some combination thereupon. Worth thinking about and planning with the others. 

--

Ten questions, ten answers. Not sure how I feel about these questions, not sure how I feel about my own answers.