Wednesday, March 24, 2021

GLOG: Sorcery

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


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.



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. 

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.

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:

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.

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.

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.



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



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.


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.



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.