Monday, August 31, 2020

12 Sorcerer-Corpse Hazards

You've killed the Sorcerer. The evil witch lies dead at your feet. Now you're going to loot the corpse; except something still manages to kill or maim you. It could be a trap or final posthumous curse laid by the Wizard in spite, or it could be just a natural result of the Sorcerer's vile biological meddling with their own body.

Roll on the table for what hazard awaits within the Wizard's body, which usually only activates if they are looted or you attempt to burn them (cremating Wizards is common practice, so they can't try to come back from the dead). Apprentice Wizards only have a 1 in 6 chance of having a booby-trapped body, regular Wizards have one, Archmages and Sorcerer Lords may have 2 or more.

12 Sorcerer-Corpse Hazards
[1] The Sorcerer's mouth suddenly starts to spew a massive cloud of black-green smoke. The smoke deals 2d6 damage per round you breathe it in, no save if you were the one to touch the corpse. Every roll of a one deals one damage and also reduces your maximum hit pitons by one, permanently. The smoke clears in one round if you're outside and one exploration turn in an enclosed space.

The mouth and throat of the Sorcerer is stained bright green all the way down to the lungs. Both lungs in the body will be bloated and leathery, with extra gas-sac chambers growing like pustules on the sides. This Sorcerer was probably trying to acclimate themselves to an arcane atmosphere.

[2] You hear a tinny screeching coming from the Sorcerer's ears. Many years worth of “saved” conversations come billowing out of their ear holes, loudly stacking on top of each other and building the volume to a crescendo. Every round, roll a wandering encounter check. Those with sensitive ears, like Elves, must cover their ears with their hands and can't do anything else. Every round, all magic items in your possession have a 1 in 6 chance to fire off as a magic word or phrase is replayed from the irritating static of noises.

The noise will end after 1 exploration turn for a normally aged (old) Wizard, but may last for an hour or more for a truly ancient immortal spellcaster. You can also muffle the noise by stuffing the earholes shut or covering the dead corpse's head with pillows and blankets to stifle the racket.

[3] One of the Sorcerer's hands randomly shoots up and tries to grab and claw at you. It's not a zombie, the limb if just firing wildly. If it manages to scratch you (attack roll at +2), your matching hand on your body will start to act strangely every night, and the Wizard's hand goes inanimate again. This hand will try to scratch arcane symbols into any nearby objects when you sleep, or in your flesh if no objects are available. The hand also compulsively (saving throw to resist) touches, opens, and clutches spell books or arcane artifacts. Your hand seems to be trying to spread knowledge of magic through the drawing of runes and esoteric diagrams of things you don't want to understand.

If you cut off the Sorcerer's hand while it is flailing, it turns into a 1 HD monster that puppets the hand as its body, though in truth it is a mass of tentacles inside from an extradimensional monster, puppeting the Wizard's hand and granting enhanced dexterity for lapping at the caster's soul. If you cut off the Sorcerer's hand after it has already scratched somebody, the tentacles are already dead and it slides out like a snail boiled in its shell.

[4] The Sorcerer's body lies still, until the moment something burning or red hot touches it. It poofs into white powder, which, after one round, ignites and explodes as a 4d6 damage fireball in the containing area. Those who have managed to survive this booby trap attest to the fact that the Wizard's body smells like bread, as the white powder is in fact their entire body turned into very fine flour.

It is also possible to use a grind stone to change the Wizard who cast this spell into flesh and bone into bread. Eating this bread makes any normal human sick, but gives Wizards an easy feeling of nostalgia and comfort; you can make 30 Wizard rations from a bread-wizard corpse.

[5] The Wizard's eyeballs retain a shimmering quality after death, eyes wide open in death, as though staring right at you. If you touch one of the eyeballs at all, cover the face with a cloth, or try to close the eyelids of the corpse the eyeballs explode and squirt metal-burning acid at you. Make a saving throw; on failure you take 4d4 acid damage. The acid can burn through anything except stone and has a 1 in 6 chance to ruin your armor if you were exposed to it while wearing armor.

The acid in the eyes is a very common enhancement Sorcerers put into themselves. Injection of the acid causes early blindness, cataracts, and hallucinations, as well as a permanent “sunken in” look to the eyes that many magic users share. The acid has the beneficial property of “melting” any malignant text or trapped runes; the image is essentially burned away within the Wizard's eye before it reaches their brain to process it. This is a required surgery for any Sorcerer who wishes to read books made by other paranoid and possessive magicians.

[6] As you examine the corpse, you see several lumps under the skin around the wizard's body, hinting at internal tumors. The lungs start to change color, shift, and smell quite strangely as they mutate post mortem. The tumors are changing into metals, which were otherwise being manufactured or produced by the Sorcerer's body.

After one turn, the Sorcerer's body doubles in weight as some of the lumps turn to iron and lead. After two turns, being touched by water causes a burning stinging cloud to form from the Sorcerer's body; the lithium in their body reacting and exploding violently. After three turns, you can fish through the Wizard's corpse to find 1d3 nuggets of gold, worth 300c each.

[7] As the final blow hits the Sorcerer, their body releases a cloud of spores. These spores only infect dead things; any meat or corpses you are carrying will similarly be infected by the spores. The Sorcerer's corpse and all affected flesh sprouts mushroom heads- they grow from tiny buds into four inch long fruiting bodies in a matter of minutes. After one turn, these spore heads release spores again, infecting all nearby dead things again, spreading the chain of infection.

After one hour, any flesh hosting the mushroom spores will start to turn into putrid slime, pooling together and flowing like water. This will attract all manner of filthy creatures. Slimes will autogenerate from the pool of liquid; 1d6 HD worth of slimes per human sized corpse or amount of meat. If this mushrooming phenomena happened on the site of a great battle or within a large coven of Sorcerers, it's highly likely the entire surrounding countryside would be enveloped by slimes. Sorcerers tend to know the secret words that can control these mindless creatures, hence infecting oneself with these mushroom spores is a useful method to take back territory even after you die.

[8] Upon killing the Sorcerer, their sleeves must be rolled down or their clothes removed to reveal this feature. The corpse has holes along the arms; small nooks which are tiny nestboxes for even tinier sparrows. The bright-blue birds chirp and fly away the moment they are uncovered. For the next three days, the weather in the surrounding area becomes stormy and unpredictable, local wildlife acts strangely, cats wander far away from the houses and farms they are supposed to be ratting. It's as if nature itself is trying to kill these birds as fast as possible, and make sure they do not establish a foothold or create nests outside of the bodies of Sorcerers.

These birds, as with many species created by Sorcerers, has been purposefully designed to fulfill a purpose. These birds have flammable feathers and, if they are incinerated alive under the darkness of a new moon, the ashes will contain an amount of magical energy useful for several arcane practices.

[9] The moment the Sorcerer dies, all light around its corpse grows one level dimmer. Light spells and lanterns become like torches, torches become candles, candles glow like fireflies or not at all. This has the normal effect on vision and corresponding negatives for trying to fight in dark places.

The ability to reduce light is commonly associated with attempts to preserve the physical body after death- light speeds up the decomposition by attracting flies and insects. Lesser magicians have this adaptation to serve as better undead servants after death, powerful sorcerers retain it so they may raise themselves from the dead in a less severe state of undeath afterwards.

[10] Whatever weapon was used to kill the magician is now magnetically attracted to it, if it's made of metal. It is pulled towards their body and sticks to it so hard that only someone with a Strength of 18 or higher could pull it out. Every round you keep the blade away from the body, the magnetic force gets stronger and stronger, soon trying to pull the sword out of the scabbard or from a long distance or even bending the blade if you can hold it back. If the weapon touches the corpse for at least one exploration turn, the magnetic effect wears off.

The purpose of this enchantment is to catch returning arrows or boomerang-style weapons so the user can be disarmed or the weapon identified. Mostly given to Sorcerers who work as low ranking guards for higher powered ones; this enchantment is hard to remove though so most who ascend through the ranks end up keeping it later in life.

[11] After the Sorcerer dies, you feel a faint rumbling in the ground. Make a saving throw to duck for cover. After 1d3 rounds, they explode with iron swords, daggers, arrows, and magic weapons. On a failed save, take three attacks from three random weapons. These require a to-hit roll, and use the magic weapons bonus to modify the to-hit.

Naturally, many wizards are packrats that steal whatever magical gear they can, even if they can't make good use of it with their weak arms and bodies. Regardless, after death, the spells that keep these weapons and items in extradimensional space cease to function, and these tools of destruction must return to the mortal plane with explosive results.

[12] The body disintegrates. If you're touching it on the moment of death (such as with a hand to hand attack), you must save or take 3d6 damage from the disintegration field.

Some Sorcerers don't want to be brought back.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

40 Minute Settings- Nalispar & The King's Island

On this episode of 40 minute settings, I used less randomization and more brainstorming. Because this is technically two settings instead of one, I allowed myself about 10 minutes of brainstorming time to come up with some basic concepts. You can find the completed bullet points at the bottom of the document, as to avoid spoilers.

I really enjoyed writing this one, possibly more then Etthurhia, because the idea was more fully formed in my mind and represents a type of fantasy I don't see as much in tabletop games that is nonetheless very famous and popular. I had to intentionally stop myself from thinking more about the setting before I started writing about it; since the whole point is to write it up in 40 minutes! Anyways, hope you enjoy this bit of fluffy worldbuilding.

The King's Island
On a small rainy island in the center of the known world is the heart of the greatest empire in the entire world. The King's Empire stretches from sea to land to mountain in all directions from this shining jewel of the world; King's Island. It is the heart of industry and technology, as well as the culture of the world. This island is rich; spices and goods from the colonies, the slaves and servants, and the technological innovation has made the King's Island the place to be.

But while adults work and serve in his Majesty's factories or under the banners of the great lion; the children sit in leaky boarding houses and dream.

Among the kids, the dark-skinned servants from the far off colonies, and the occultists come whispers of another place entirely. They call it Nalispar, a land of dreams. It is said that only those with imagination can enter it, and only when one is asleep. Strangely, the realm is not just a dream, as it is shared by all those who dream it.

The King's Island itself is a twisting maze of cobblestone streets, factories, smoke stacks, pinned in by expensive apartments and houses with lawns so small as to barely sit in. It has expansive docks, as the King's Empire mostly grew itself out of naval might, and the huge cannon ships dominate the skyline to the stroller along the boardwalk. The smoke of the city isn't exactly the cleanest, which is why residents often try to take vacations off on the far off tropical colonies, or up in the mountains in “rival” nations so small and insignificant to not even need naming here.

There is also a sense of mystery. While much of the world is being taken down and codified by the various scientists, borders on the map are being filled in, and newly discovered truths of the world such as Phrenology are taking away the commonly thought truths of the old realms. Nowadays, nobody believes in the magical and supernatural, and the old fairies of the druid's woad are thought to have either never existed, or perhaps just a long extinct animal with a few unusual traits. But even in this society on the up and up with science and learning; shadowy occultism exists in all levels of the society. From the shadiest back alley streets selling potions and palm-readings, to the highest secretive opium dens for the rich concerning themselves with psychic mediumship. There is still a sense that there is a secret lore out there. To the most attuned, they may have heard one shadowy name.

Class division is obvious, from the clothes that are worn to the streets one may walk along. Dapper individuals with waistcoats and ladies with long dresses stick to the clean sidewalks while busy errand boys and servants muck the street and hurry back and forth to deliver one of a million unfinished gadgets to the patent offices before they close for the day- even those of low social class can find themselves launched to the heights of wealth and nobility for the right invention. Policemen stand against stone pillars of old buildings and keep a lookout for urchins running between the legs of the adults; unsupervised and unwanted.

There are an unfortunate many orphans in the King's Island. The urban poor, dead soldiers, bankrupted business men, and many others chewed up by the teeth of this great and rapidly changing society leave behind their young. Boarding schools and orphanages are stocked up with a great many kids, who are often left to their own devices once the nannies and nursemaids retire for the night. Around these circles of beds and drawing books; tales emerge of another place.

For those who go to sleep with the heart to find it, and those who know its name, they may travel there. If you have never heard the name of Nalispar, it is said they cannot go there. Adults of the King's land probably haven't heard of the name, and the servants who speak of it from the far off colonies hush the children and try to silence them, as their cultures have more knowledge of it then even the greatest imperial scientists would dare know. If you do not wish to travel to Nalispar in your sleep, you also cannot go there, fear blocks the way. But to those board, cast aside, or simply adventurous young children, it offers a taste of freedom and escape from the foggy gray streets of King's Island.

The moment you find yourself in Nalispar, you will see color. The sky is a bright pink at dawn, shifts from yellows to blues to emerald greens in mid day, and finally falls on a curtain of dark blue and purple at night. The land is tropical, with the hooting and hollering of a thousand tropical birds, a million plants and their beautiful and delicious fruits. The monkeys paint images of themselves and their diminutive visitors on the tree trunks using pastel colored dyes they made from sticking their thumbs in flowers, a pastime that many of the young visitors will also try and tire of in their first few visits to the magical land of Nalispar.

When a child first dreams of the dream world, they find themselves in the center of a clearing with bright red lines painted onto the ground, each spiking off from the center as a giant pinwheel and pointing in a direction. They have begun at the center, which is adorned only by a small floating staircase with four steps ascending towards the sky, and nothing beyond. This place is where all children appear on their first visit. Those kids who sleep together in great communal dormitories or in their bedrooms will find themselves often appearing together in short time in Nalispar. The unfortunate lonely children may simply have to pick a direction and stick with it. These lines lead to the different lands of Nalispar, inhabited by its tribes.

In Nalispar, there are only children. No adults are supposed to be here. Every kid appears in their pajamas and sleepware. There are adults here but they aren't humans. At least, they aren't agents of their own wills. The children may be afraid of them at first, but there is no need to fear. All of them are jovial, simple. All of them are an unusual color, reds or blues, and adorned in tribal wear and feathers and flowers in their hair. They are very simple people, and are easily impressed and awed by the children telling them of the scientific world. The child who demonstrates a clever magic trick or invention of a simple tool can wow these simpletons; but their responses are canned, forced. It feels very much like these puppets are playing at being savages, a useful prop for the children of conquerors, who don't quite understand but still feel the vague sense of superiority they're supposed to have for a culture more primitive then their own. They are like actors, filling kids with a sense of adventure.

Of course- these adults have a sign. Their foreheads all have a raised white circle, a bump, which designates themselves as people of Nalispar. Not from the real world, none of them can ever be in King's Island nor ever will be.

The land of Nalispar itself is filled with tropical forests, an Arabian desert dotted with tombs built into geometric shapes, tropical beaches, a comfortably chilly autumn world with talking badgers and rabbits stuffing their finds into trees for a winter that never seems to come. The land itself is conductive to adventure; there always seems to be something new to find, a new beast to befriend, or a new treasure to find. The tribes who walk the land seem like keepers of the place, but have no trouble feeding and clothing the children who lose their way or take a tumble; its not like they need to eat here. But for many orphaned children, an imaginary warmed meal of corn and beans from a maternal figure is far better then anything they would get in the real world.

Every child that enters Nalispar has something special about them. It seems to be determined on their first trip, or unique to each child. Every kid can hold out their hands and be given something from the land. Usually, its a very old tree nearby the central dais that gives the gift to the child, but sometimes it is a tribesman, or other times it is even another child who knows the secret. Basically, they are given a small item. This is a special artifact, unique to that child, which has powers all its own. Brave young boys may be given a wooden stick which, when struck to the ground, can create a terrifying sound of thunder, or be tucked between the legs and flown like a witch's broomstick. Nice young girls are given magic thimbles, which let them make (sweet tasting) medicine from filling the thimble with water, weave warm, dry blankets from snow, or held out like armor against a thorn bush and breaking the thorns to make it safe to pass. Clever youths may be given pictureboks, which can record things they've seen in Nalispar with wonderful color illustrations that can be brought out again just by pointing at the picture. Those youths who boast their noble blood find themselves with a little tin knight who will grow to full size and valiantly quest for anything or anyone their heart desires. Regardless of the gift, they are all very powerful.

However, Nalispar is not always a land purely for the good hearted and innocent. Sometimes, children who are growing older envy Nalispar over the real world. They may seek to find a way to stay there forever, even as their body grows bigger and more frightening then what is intended for the residents of this place. Sometimes, adults who take special drugs or learn meditations in shadowy King Island parlors can slip into this realm. Armed with all the strength and cruelty of an adult; these men and women appear in Nalispar without the white raised circle on their head; only for a frightened explorer to see at the last moment in quite a panic.

Even stranger, these “magical” curiosities can sometimes, very rarely, be brought to King's Island. Children may wake up in their bed chamber with their magic thimble or broomstick or toy in hand. The next time they sleep with the item, they can bring it back to Nalispar. But if it is taken from them, they find themselves nearly unable to sleep at all, as if the item belongs to their dreaming self. Those children with their items taken will always grow into baggy-eyed, insomniac, dark adults who seek nothing more then to return to Nalispar to recapture the magic of their youth.

Original Brainstorming Session Bulletpoints
  • Nalispar is like the Lovecraft Dream Lands
  • This magical fantasy world is like Narnia; visited by kids from the “real” world, which is inspired by nostalgic Victorian London society
  • Very Peter Pan and Merry Poppins esque
  • Maybe some voodoo shenanigans, like Nalispar didn't exist until the colonies were set up in some not!Carribean?
  • Kids die or go missing because Nalispar isn't all fun and games
  • Kids have special powers in Nalispar
  • Nalispar is accessed through dreams, and only those with “imagination” can access it
  • Maybe adults lose imagination (not just figuratively as in real life, but literally) as they grow older, but crazy people or drugged up people on fine colonial opium can access the realm
  • Nalispar is a shadowy rumor that the kids don't take to adults about, but servants from the not!Colonies know about it and don't want them talking about it maybe?
  • King's Island is meant to be rainy old London and the heart of a great empire, hence the name
  • Currently ruled by a powerful King conquering places all over the world
  • Kids can be rich, poor, orphaned, abused, whatever; as long as they've heard of Nalispar they can access it
  • Maybe kids that come from shittier homes are more powerful in Nalispar, providing a tempting offer for them to leave the real world forever (?)
  • Maybe Nalispar is like a forbidden realm or maybe even a predator that spreads by getting kids to dream about it and then consuming them(?)
  • Nalispar is divided up into zones or worlds like a theme park maybe, split down equatorial lines(?) or branching from a central “zone”
  • One land is themed off ancient temples and cultures like mesoamerican Indiana Jones type stuff, another could be pirates on the high seas, something North American-y for Peter Pan vibes?
  • Grim or dark worlds probably wouldn't exist in the dream space, but danger from adventure certainly would
  • No human NPCs- everyone in Nalispar is a talking animal or object. Adults are evil in this world, or intruders on the fun family adventurers.
  • Maybe the “fake” adults in this world are all marked by a symbol, these are fantasy people not from the real world. Could be thoughtforms made from dreams or like literal actors in a play
  • Maybe Nalispar has only a fake exterior to draw kids in deeper, if you want to make it more grimdark, Like the trees are only painted on one side, temples unfinished except the parts you're supposed to explore, etc. Gives it a fake artificial quality?
  • King's Island is filled with foggy rivers and chimney sweeps; lots of class inequality and other very real concerns that children don't understand much
  • King's Island might have a black market for things brought back from Nalispar; maybe kids can bring back an item or items from Nalispar on rare occasion; perhaps these artifacts have magical powers or can act as a power source in a sort of Victorian occult steampunky sense?

Friday, August 21, 2020

Stealth as Combat

Stealth is one of those mechanics I never felt was right in TTRPGs. Often, you have games where the character that is the worst in stealth is the one deciding the fate of the party, as the least sneaky person has to be the one to make the roll that counts. Beyond that minor gripe, you also have the issue that unlike most rolls, Stealth totally changes the game in a single roll. It would be a bit like deciding all of combat on a single roll; the consequences are too dire for one roll. Getting found out doesn't instantly mean the enemy has “raised an alarm”, nor does it mean you have failed your “mission” but it does typically mean you can't enter stealth again until at least one group of enemies is eliminated AND it creates a pretty bad situation. Plus the actual negatives for failing a stealth roll often outweigh the positives; stealing a single item or sneaking past a guard to avoid one fight may not be worth the trouble of splitting up the party, putting out a torch, getting caught flatfooted, etc.

Now of course all of the above depends very heavily on the game. Here's an idea on how to do stealth in a semi-generic fantasy dungeon crawler.

Stealth Roll Roughdraft
This is a basic starting point for sneaking rolls; Stealth rolls are d20 + Stealth bonus (Rogue) + Dexterity modifier.
For intelligent humanoid enemies, roll over their morale.
For unintelligent animal or monster enemies, roll under their morale and add your bonuses to the target number instead of the die roll.

Intelligent enemies who have high morale are most likely going to be putting out watches, be more focused, and be more dedicated to their tasks. It's much easier to sneak by the dumb goblins gambling around a fire with low morale then sneaking past the King's high royal guard with very high morale. Unintelligent beasts, on the other hand, are more likely to be flighty and prey animals on constant vigil are more likely to notice you quickly. If you're playing a game that doesn't already use stealth DCs or target numbers, then this is a shortcut.

For creatures that do not have morale, you either always succeed in sneaking past them (undead), or always fail (constructs). You can still be “found” by them though if you perform an action or if a noise is activated, this simply simulates the idea of being able to get the jump on a zombie before it notices you since it's slow and stupid, not avoiding its sniffing ability to smell the living.

If a monster already has a X in chance to be surprised, add that chance to be surprised as a +2 bonus to your stealth roll, or a -2 negative if they're very unlikely to be surprised. For enemies who are never surprised, you can't sneak past them.

Stealth as Combat
Whenever you want to sneak up on someone and perform one of several special actions, you need to make a stealth rolls. Some types of armor make sneaking more difficult, or downright impossible. You only roll to perform actions on the state that you are in, where as the lower states are free actions with no chance of being discovered.
Every time you fail a stealth roll, you are closer to being discovered. Move down a state.

If you fail a first roll in the Stealth state- you are now in the Caution state, and cannot attempt actions exclusive to the first state. If you are performing an action on the lower two states, you do not need to roll- this means that in the Stealth state, you can always perform a ranged sneak attack, or in the Alerted state, you can always disengage without alerting the enemy to your presence- but it would require a roll, and failure would cause you to be discovered.

You always begin on the Stealth state if you are approaching the enemy from behind, in darkness, or they otherwise have no idea you are approaching. If the guards had a tip off that somebody might try to break into the palace on the night of the ball; then sorry, you start stealth in the Caution state instead.

Stealth State-
The enemy has no idea you are coming towards them, and with proper footwork you can get within touching distance of the enemy. Your roll to stealth is to get close enough to them to perform one of these acitons. You can perform any action in a lower state without needing a roll, as the enemy has no clue as to where you are and there is no chance of being alerted.
  • Make a melee sneak attack/coup de grace on an opponent with a dagger or other small weapon.
  • Perform a silent nonlethal takedown, if you know how.
  • Grab an enemy and hold them hostage. (Requires grappling/enemy gets a save)
  • Steal an item off their person.
  • Pass by the Enemy unnoticed through a entrance they are guarding.

Caution State-
Either due to happenstance, the enemy is now either looking in your direction, is slightly on edge, or is otherwise put in a position where getting close to them is now impossible. You can no longer perform any close up actions as in the first state, but can perform any of these actions with a successful stealth roll. You will start in this state for enemies who are on watch, with their backs to a wall or ally, or in a well lit area.
  • Perform a ranged sneak attack. If your attack kills the enemy, they cannot make noise in time to alert their allies unless the noise from the attack is enough (explosive arrow)
  • Steal an object from the room or general area without being noticed.
  • Throw a stone or otherwise make a distraction to shift the enemy's focus. (Doing this will allow you to move temporarily into the first state, or draw their attention so you can pass)
  • Pass by the Enemy unnoticed through an entrance they are patrolling.

Alerted State-
In this state, the enemy is aware that someone is there and will not be taken by surprise. You cannot get out in the open long enough to make a ranged attack, or get close enough to make a close range attack without them being alerted and rolling for initiative as normal. This state is entered as the default if the enemy is actively looking for intruders, and coming towards your hiding place.
  • Disengage (move out of the contested area)
  • Wait out the enemy (Moves you up one state, takes 1 exploration turn)
  • Draw your weapon (roll initiative without being surprised)
  • Use an item or silent spell without getting caught

If you fail a Stealth roll in the alerted state, or initiate combat, openly through killing a foe with their fellows nearby, then combat beings and initiative is rolled. Enemies surprised have a 1 in 6 chance of acting on the first round (surprise round).

Note that how the options are ordered; you can wait out the enemy without a roll in all states unless alerted, since they have a chance to find you. You can always move away from an encounter if they aren't looking for you, and only the most stealthy character has to roll to do anything in this system. Everyone else can either disengage, lock their bolts and fire in a surprise round, and so on without needing a roll.

Note; Guarding is for entrances or portals that enemies are directly standing besides or in front of. Such as the classic two guards posted out the entrance of a gate. Slipping by them would require quite a lot of stealth. Patrolling instead refers to entrances the a guard is only occasionally watching or passing by, such as a window in the first floor of a palace.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Small GLOG Critique + 20 GLOG 'A' Templates

Please don't take this as a negative criticism of the GLOG system. I haven't ran it and haven't played in it. This also isn't a criticism of the dice mechanics or anything like that; this is about classes and templates. There's just some things I don't get the reasoning behind, or don't agree with.

The idea behind the GLOG classes is that multiclassing is very easy. You have classes with templates; ABCD. You can only have a maximum of 4 Templates, so you can either get all of them in one class, or spread out into multiple classes. To be fair, the GLOG system grants bonuses to characters for taking any template in a class-type (like taking a template in Fighter grants +1 to hit regardless of what level of template it actually is) and most templates grant special powers or moves unique to that class. This means that your character power is less effected by your choice of class, moreso just what they can do changes with Templates, because Templates are almost always a specific, unique power as opposed to a straight upgrade to your characters power. This implies heavily that picking and choosing different classes to dip into is part of the fun of creating a character and kitting them out with all kinds of weird, disparate abilities. However, two things annoy me about this system.

Firstly, simple due to the nature of this idea and the specific number of templates you get, there is basically no reason to not specialize in a class. Not only are D template abilities always the most powerful and game changing, but once you have AB and C templates the only option from then on is to either get the D template in that class, or branch out and get one A template in another class, which tends to have the weakest or most underwhelming abilities. Now obviously if you decided to multi-class earlier in the game that would make more sense, but now the player is just locked into an earlier decision, which is less of a choice and just seems more annoying.

Secondly, every class in the game is presented as an “equal” choice or character path. Every GLOG class I've seen and can recall is a straight ABCD- the only class I can think of that doesn't work exactly this way is Skerples's Goblin GLOG class- which has a randomized bonus you get as you level. (I did a similar concept for the Many-Faced Man.) This I feel is a more interesting because you might actually want to dip into it, perhaps either at character creation or later on due to a personalized story-beat that makes you want to be a part of that class, group, monastic wizard order, etc. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; giving people a powerful bonus for specializing in one class is fine, but the problem is you have this interesting system with lots of possible combinations and choices that I feel nobody will ever experiment with because it's in their best interest not to. Of course, some people will always do the unoptimal thing in the pursuit of fun or dynamic role playing, much like masochistic Dungeon-Masters turned players like myself, but I feel like it could be designed in a slightly better way.

Proposed solution; Characters get Five Templates instead, or you stat-squish the abilities of all the D templates into the C templates (and move C templates into B templates, etc.)- the idea being that more powerful abilities come online faster or the players get more abilities to work with in general. This might mess up the math that Arnold has already been designing his games with of course, so you could take this idea with a grain of salt (or maybe like in D&D, you just stop getting hit dice at 4 Templates, but can still acquire more Templates?)

Then, you include E Templates for every class. (Or change all the D templates)- these new templates still provide a powerful bonus, but not to the character. Instead, all of these lead into Domain level play. For example, a Fighter gets all of their powerful class abilities at ABCD templates, but if they decide to take the E template, their personal power growth stops; but instead they get a fort with men to lead. This still encourages specializes in one class, but allows for further flexibility. Since your most powerful character abilities were already unlocked when you got the D template, you might be more willing to branch out and take an A template somewhere else. Also due to getting an extra template slot, you are now more encourages to multiclass earlier in the game; a character could start with one class, then pick a second class, and then pick which one to invest in fully without already having screwed themselves out of their most powerful abilities by straying from their one-and-only shot at the D template for their class.

The other “problem” I mentioned above is that every class is presented as a path for a character's growth. While this works double duty as each class is both a source of random abilities you might pick or go into for fun (templates A and B for multiclassing), they are also all their own full class pack (ABC and D). This is a good design thing, but the problem here is it is harder to imagine weird or fun classes, or quirky classes, as full “classes” in a game. Having a character take a template in something like “Rat Trapper” is a fun idea, and fits with the idea of the GLOG template system, but actually designing an entire class about trapping rats (unless if you're playing in Warhammer) wouldn't be very useful to the party and would be a bit of a stretch. Therefore, this could be fixed by having intentionally bad or overly specific and random classes with not a full set of abilities- a class like a Rat Catcher would just be an A template.

Maybe this could be presented a bit like a level 0 funnel character's background that develops into a full class ability. I also like the idea of having you randomly roll one of these as an “nerf” mechanic for really strong characters, maybe if you rolled too high of an ability score you are punished by never reaching full potential (D template) in a class, but get this little class which then leads you into picking a real class that has a complimentary ability? Something like a Jester may be just an A and B template, and so on. This does require the character to multiclass, but only “that guy” is going to want to fully level up as a fucking clown anyway.

So, here's 20 GLOG A Templates.

[1] Spiderbitch
Equipment, Skills, Bonus- As Thief or Acrobat

Maybe you fell into a very obvious spider web and were nearly eaten by it, a fact which everyone in your town makes fun of you for. “How do you fall for something so obvious?” Maybe you were literally molested by a particularly randy and sexually adventurous giant spider, drider, or some other spider-like creature. Maybe this is a euphemism for being the favorite slave for a Drow matriarch. Regardless of the actual reason; at some point in your life, you were a spider's bitch.

As a Spiderbitch, you gain the following abilities;

One Hand Free
Whenever you are totally tied up or immobilized, you can make a saving throw to get one hand free, regardless of how hard that would actually be for you to accomplish. If you fail this saving throw, your hand isn't freed and whoever or whatever has immobilized you will notice you trying to escape and will promptly either punish you for it, recheck your bindings to make escape impossible, or eat you first.

Spider's Scars
You have a higher pain tolerance to normal people, and can resist torture or interrogation much better then most. This ability can be limited to once per adventure, a bonus to a save, or just a permanent and unlimited immunity to painful interrogation techniques depending on how important or serious of a threat this would actually be in your campaign.

Also; there is a chance that some Spider laid their eggs in you at some point. When you get your fourth and final template, the next night there is a 1 in 6 chance you'll die from the eggs hatching and you are eaten from the inside out. Your body will then loose 2d20 Giant Evil Spider hatchlings, which will scatter. As a bonus, anyone present for this will be imprinted on those spiders' memories; they and their descendants are less likely to be attacked by the Giant Evil Spiders as they recognize them from when they were first hatched.

[2] Wish-Waster
Equipment, Skills, Bonus- As Wizard (except for the Magic Dice)

You were very fortunate. Maybe you caught a golden fish which promised to grant you your heart's desire if you freed it, or maybe you actually found a genie in a lamp. Maybe you wished on a star and it twinkled three times. Regardless, a miracle happened and your wish was granted. The problem was you were too young, short sided, or stupid and you ended up wasting your wish on something extremely stupid. Even now you probably seek to find another genie in the lamp just for a second chance at getting your wish right, or maybe you need to find a source of magic strong enough to cancel the effects of your first stupid wish.

The Wish-Waster gains only one ability;

The Wish
You made a Wish. Whatever that wish was, it is still here, even if it is stupid. You must pitch an idea to your DM of a wish you made that was stupid, but not totally useless. The effects of that wish are still in the world, or still present with your character, but isn't as powerful or game breaking as a more well thought out wish would be. Think of this wish as a constant, passive first level spell effect that either flares up occasionally or comes with a drawback. You could also think of this as being about as good as any A template skill that any other class could have, but is something directly supernatural or too strange to be a class ability.

For example, wishing to be immune to all poison would be too powerful for this, but being immune to snakebites wouldn't, and would qualify as a dumb or short sighted wish. This also applies since an actual wish you could get as a reward for adventuring could make you immune to all poisons (or maybe just make you immortal), but you weren't specific enough the first time, hence this dumb power.

Another example is a large fortune or powerful connection to something that is no longer useful or too hard to reach in your current state. Perhaps you wished to own a solid gold boat, which then sank to the bottom of a deep lake. Now you adventure to find a way to get to the bottom of the lake reliably so you can harvest the gold and make your fortune. Another example would be wishing to be the long-lost son of a powerful king or making a powerful person indebted to you, only to find out they are now dead or deposed. You wished that the mad old archmage would teach you every spell in his arsenal, and he would, except now he's senile after casting his final spell and experiencing his Doom. You have to find a way to recover his memory or go back to the past to get your wish as you meant it.

[3] Royal Food Taster
Equipment, Skills, Bonus- As Noble or Thief

You were once a loyal, dedicated taste-tester for a Lord. In their paranoia or urge to fit in with the other nobility, you were hired to sample each and every dish for the lord as to avoid his untimely demise from a would be assassin. The job was dangerous indeed, not that you every actually got poisoned, but you took your duty with pride; each bulging step of your chunky thighs to report to your lord that, indeed, the food was safe. But then you were fired. Maybe the lord decided they no longer needed you, or he died from getting stabbed- not much your lips can do against that.

The Royal Food-Taster gains the following abilities;

Packing it Away
You're fat. Even if you don't look that fat, you have the pudginess to make clothes hard to fit. This has the advantage of giving you +1 maximum hit points, but -1 to your movement or reaction checks, whichever you think is more fitting. Secondly, you now take an extra week to starve to death. For whatever reason, even if you lose a bunch of weight from intentional diet or from a near-death experience of starving in the wild, you will gain it back just as quickly from your habits and tastes.

You have a higher standard of “rations” now after many years of being spoiled in a noble court. Whenever you decide to roll on a Carousing table, you gain a bonus +10% experience if there is a fancy restaurant on one of the results, even if you don't actually roll it- as long as it is in town you'd probably make a stop there even if you don't remember it.

However, your gluttony is a hard habit to break. If you make camp with your fellow adventurers and don't have at least one rare spice or herb to enhance the meal, aren't cooking with all fresh ingredients (eating hardtack or trail rations), or don't have a professional cook with your camp followers, you can't gain the benefits of a rest in the camp. This means you can't prepare spells if you're a magic user, lose out on healing if you're wounded, and so on.

[4] Castaway
Equipment, Skills, Bonus- As Ranger

At one point in your life, you were stranded. All alone on a tiny deserted island. This “island” could be a literal island, or like a tiny living cave ecosystem during a harsh long winter where you couldn't leave, or in the bowels of an otherwise abandoned ghost ship with rats living in the hold and so on. This went on for months; you were totally isolated and had to push yourself just to survive. But worse then the physical struggles were the mental ones; boredom and isolation made you go a bit crazy.

The Castaway has the following abilities;

Making your own Fun
You spend so long in a tiny place that every single detail was cataloged in your mind. You still feel as though you remember exactly how many leaves were on all of the trees on your island; you had nothing better to do all day then wait for rescue. Now this eye for detail has leaked into your every day life. If you spend at least an hour in a single place (such as during a long rest, when camping, or when imprisoned) you will start to notice tiny details others will miss; you've counted the number of tiles and can see where the pattern isn't quite right. This means you can detect hidden doors or switches from the tiny irregularities in the stonework and so on.

No Manners
Even though you've been brought back to civilization, you still have a bit of the wild in you. Mostly this manifests as having zero common decency. Long periods spent with yourself with no judging eyes really degraded your table manners and personal hygiene standards; you might forget about the unspoken rules of society since you view the world in more practical, real terms. Randomly picking your nose or simply not washing yourself in days (since that's how you smelt on the island anyway) are common flaws that people cite about you.

You can also channel the above ability at will; by sitting by yourself and intentionally just doing gross things, you create a 5 ft space where civilized, health creatures will simply not want to get near you. You can't do something so egregious that you'd get arrested for it, but picking the lice out of your own hair and eating it is enough to make most civilized folk balk. You could use this ability to reserve several seats or some space at a crowded gathering place, to quickly clear a corner of a party or block the entrance to a sensitive location by parking you in the doorway and being gross to yourself. If you're doing this ability around elves, expand the space to 15 ft but one of them will totally start plotting to kill you for dirtying up their sight.

Flavor Fatigue
While you were stranded, you had to adjust to a new diet. All you could eat was what you could find or hunt in your isolation, and it wasn't good. Maybe you just ate coconuts that fell from the trees, or you could only eat one specific type of mushroom since the rest were poisonous, or maybe you had to catch and bash the heads of rats every day just to survive. Regardless of what it was, your constitution was permanently improved by +1 point for this rough trial. However, you refuse to ever eat that food item again. Even in a life or death situation, you will never eat coconut, or rat meat, or woodland berries, or whatever food item you relied solely on during your isolation. You hate it so much after getting so tired of it you'd rather destroy it even if it was the last food item on Earth.

[5] Doom-Speaker
Equipment, Skills, Bonus- As Cleric

The Doom Speaker sounds badass but really wasn't. You are the kind of guy who stands at the edge of a town near a long winding road and tell everyone who comes near that going past this point or down that road means that they will meet their DOOM and demise in a dramatic fashion. You're kind of like a theater performer mixed with a danger sign that's harder for people to ignore and also helpful since most of the dumbfucks in your village probably can't read anyway.

The Doom Speaker has the following abilities;

Dire Warning
As long as you look appropriate (torn rags for the wilderness, fancy attire at a nobleman's ball, etc.) and you stand in the way of an entrance to warn people off, it will succeed against all but the most determined of foes. This even works against beings of other races or monsters who will see you not as an adversary but as an honest and true warning of things beyond. This only works if whatever threat your make sounds credible enough. For example, you could sit on a rock in the sea and warn away nearby ships from crossing into the straight; where the deadly LEVIATHAN lurks. Almost all will take your advice and go around, even if they're in a rush. The same warning will also work against Mermen, unless the Mermen know that the leviathan is away for this part of the year and call your bluff.

Couldn't have Expected That
You get +2 to saves vs death if you DID NOT receive an obvious, fair, and well marked warning of the danger beforehand. You lose this bonus if any sort of warning or sign of the danger ahead was shown to you; such as a pile of bones on the floor leading to a monster's lair, which will disqualify you from the bonus. Random attacks of surprise however do grant you the bonus, since you had no way of knowing of the danger about to befall you.

[6] Brownshirt
Equipment, Skills, Bonus- As Thief or Fighter

You worked for some kind of political organization or private group which used less then ethical (or just straight illegal) methods of drumming up popular support. Beating people up who tried to speak out against your group, blocking the entrances to voting-houses, modifying census reports to hide evidence of demographic displacement, and so on. You're a bit of a thug. Maybe your organization fell apart or was routed out by a more powerful authority, or perhaps you were just trained in these techniques or they came to you naturally from your own personal might-makes-right philosophy.

Brownshirts gain the following abilities;

Thuggish Presence
You are intimidating and know just how to stand with your buddies to make you all look a lot tougher. Whenever enemies size up your group and consider the difference in numbers, you treat your group as though you were two creatures larger. For example, if a group of goblinoids will only attack if they outnumber your group, and they have 7 goblins while your party has 5 adventurers, they will not attack the group with the Brownshirt because their presence makes them seem much scarier then they actually are- you project a presence that keeps enemies at bay.

Barroom Brawling
Whenever you get into a fight, lethal or otherwise, you never unintentionally kill your target unless you choose to. Your fatal blow is downgraded to just a bad bruise or knocked about head. You well know how to beat people up that just hangs on the edge of murder and legality versus a less serious but still very painful beatdown. You use clubs to crack ribs and beat muscles sore, not to crack skulls or break vertebrae. Even bladed weapons result in superficial injuries. You can take this as your attacks dealing regular damage but never being lethal (unless you choose it) or that your victims do not roll on the Death & Dismemberment table OR you can choose the least serious entry on that table whenever they do- such as severing a finger instead of a hand. Obviously, this ability means your battles don't escalate to outright murder and as such any legal fines or penalties for you picking fights will be much less then if you were killing people in the streets, letting you skirt serious punishment.

[7] Aquarius
Equipment, Skills, Bonus- As Cleric or Wizard (No magic dice)

You are a carrier of the water vase. At sacred temples or special banquets, you were or are trained in the art of carrying the water, oil, or wine to the tables and altars. You have been taught graceful movements of gently pouring water from a vase in a respectful or almost seductive dance. You are also used to the weight of your cargo, small as it may be, and how to balance it on your frame.

The Aquarius gains the following abilities;

Hiding in Plain Sight
You can disguise yourself by performing simple tasks (usually filling wine glasses) without much trouble; as long as you aren't too outlandishly different in race, sex, or appearance from what is normalized as a 'servant' in your current culture. Your movements are refined and elegant enough that it looks like you belong, and people are easy to skip right over their notice of you; giving you a chance to sneak around in plain sight.

Carrying the Hydria
You gain +1 to your maximum load in standard units or coin-bag values, regardless of your level of Strength or carrying capacity of your body. Alternatively, you can ignore any encumbrance penalties you would take when carrying a heavy urn or vase of water or other liquid- this means you can ignore the penalties for wandering monsters, stealth, speed, and so on.

[8] Witchdoctor's Apprentice
Equipment, Skills, Bonus- As Wizard or Druid

Once, you were a Witchdoctor's Apprentice. You had a gift for magic and the unnatural, and began your training underneath a tribal sorcerer. But you never finished it, this is because you were rescued (or perhaps colonized) into a proper, real school of sorcerers and academic study.

In order for this class to function in the GLOG system- you must pick a monastic wizard order. This is your “real” class that you must take at least one more template in to complete your Wizardly training. You retain the taboo and drawback of that school, but do not gain the perks or cantrips of that school until you level up in that school at least once more- you still retain the magic die from this template, and gain the random starting spells of whatever Wizard school you will advance in later as usual. As an added penalty for this A Template's ability, the DM may also remove one of your eventual cantrips from your Wizard school from your character which can never learn. Think of your wild magical heritage taking up the space in your mind that you would otherwise dedicate to a trick of your more academic background.

You could also theoretically take this class template after you already are an advanced Wizard. In which case, just get rid of one of your cantrips permanently- you spent some time learning the ways of primitive magic and you'll continue to be a bit frazzled because of it.

The Witchdoctor's Apprentice also gains the following ability;

Big Mojo
By setting yourself in a trance state and with some ritual accouterments, you can perform some big magic. This means you have to decorate yourself in some kind of tribal garb, get drunk or high, and dance and sing some wild pagan dance when casting your spells. Imagine a proper Elementalist or respected Orthodox Wizard suddenly putting feathers in their hair, decorating themselves with face paint, and wearing their robe around their waist tied into a knot. It's a savage, tribal magical tradition that is sure to offend any civilized folk while giving you a boost in power.

Whenever you decide to use this ability; you may add a 1d4 roll to all spells you cast. The result of this die roll is added to the result of all of your spells, but the die itself does not count towards the [dice] effects of any given spell. However, doubles and triples to activate mishaps and dooms do count with this extra die. The normal die rules of GLOG casting (roll 1 to 3 to return dice for the day, or 4+ to lose it for the day) still apply, so once this dice rolls a 4 you can no longer use it until you fully rest or otherwise regain your magical abilities.

[9] Crystaltech Engineer
Equipment and Bonus- As Thief or Wizard (No magic dice)
Skill- Crystaltech Engineer (explained below)

Imagine a high fantasy location, like a magical flying city, or the city of ancient elves. These places are personified Magitek- magic that has become so common or industrialized that it is used in everyday life. Perhaps the streets are lit by glowing magic crystal lanterns, or a giant crystal protects your town from dark magic. Maybe you immigrated from Endon, or perhaps you just dreamed it all from false memories of your ancestor, slaving away in the ancient city of R'lyeh. Not all of your setting has to be this way, just one part. Maybe it isn't even still standing.

The truth is that, like any industry, there are those who invent and develop the techniques and technology, and those that maintain it. And unfortunately, those who maintain it are never quite in the same league as those who invented it in the first place. You might have worked in the magical factories or repaired the magic crystal arrays, but you still suffered from it. Perhaps you inhaled a lot of crystal dust from your training or long term exposure as a crystal guinea pig did a number on you. Regardless of the reason, you have incredible skill with magical crystal technology, though it took a toll on your body. Select either your Strength or Constitution- reroll it and take the lower result.

You also treat yourself as though you have the character skill or background as Crystaltech Engineer, regardless of when you actually took this class template. Use the GLOG rules for this skill, however that works, but you can repair crystals and shit. I dunno.

The Crystaltech Engineer also gains the following ability;

Resonance Cascade
By simply touching and arranging magical power crystals, you can cause them to create an ever more unstable feedback loop or set them to explode. These bombs are roughly as powerful as all of the energy the crystal can produce but released all at once; even simple street lamp crystals or small mana crystals used to cast basic spells could be used to blow up houses or perhaps worse! You can set the explosion to either happen right now, or in one turn. Being anywhere near the explosion is a save vs death situation.

[10] Bow Levy
Equipment and Skills- As Fighter or Tactician
Bonus- +2 to hit with Bows (explained below)

You were never properly trained in a fighting art. You aren't a landed knight of nobility, nor were you a brigand or criminal who learned the skills from that profession. You were just a normal, average member of the Third Estate. But you were part of the Levy- by the King's decree, all people of your age and sex had to practice with the bow every week. As such, you became quite good at it. You're not a soldier, but you are a levy. You trained enough that now you can fight as well as a professional... but only with the bow.

Instead of the normal +1 to hit with all weapons that Fighters get per template, you get +2 to hit with Bows for this template. Only Bows.

Additionally, the Bow Levy gains the following abilities;

If you are firing your bow with at least 3 other archers, you can count your entire attack as a volley. This means at least one arrow is guaranteed to hit the target. If you and a bunch of other archers fire at a dragon and technically none of you were able to hit, instead at least one of you hits, damage is rolled as normal- determine the actually successful arrow hit by either the character with the highest To-Hit bonus, highest HD, or just randomly.

Well Oiled
The next time the DM tells you that any piece of equipment related to archery (your quiver, arrows, thumb-ring, bowstring, etc.) breaks or wears out due to the weather or entropy, tell him to fuck off. Your bow and string don't break if left out in the rain once or twice.

[11] Loony
Skills and Bonus- As Wizard or Cleric (No magic dice)
Equipment- None (for starting characters)

You went crazy. If you select this template at character creation then you're a lunatic that just got released from the asylum, or perhaps you just got back on your vision quest/rite of manhood that didn't go so well. If you take this template after already having another class's template, you take a brief period to lose your shit and come back, slightly unhinged but still retaining your old class skills and abilities, in addition to these.

Optionally, you can take this class without any downtime as a consequence for a spellcasting Doom. You still advance a step towards your 3rd and final Doom, but you don't take the consequences for your first or second Doom by taking this instead; however your class is permanently stunted as you don't get a magic dice for taking this template.

In exchange for this class's features and the strain that such insanity would plague you with; you must choose your Wisdom or Charisma. Reroll the stat and take it if it is lower.

The Loony has the following abilities;

Contort Mind
You can view things that would make lesser men go mad. I mean, you're already mad, so it's not as big of a deal for you. Using this power, you can experience one round of wizard vision, cast read magic, or view the ancient tablets of madness without going mad. You could also do things like read a letter with explosive runes inscribed on it without triggering it, or mention an Unspeakable without bringing it back. You can only do this if whatever you want to experience has a mechanism to do so, even if a normal person couldn't activate that mechanism. Ie; you can look through a piece of glass to see an infinite reflection even if a normal person couldn't.

Beyond being able to experience these without losing your character or suffering the consequences, you can also pledge yourself to otherworldly powers if you so choose. You're the only person in the party who can worship Ungoloc the Devourer of Infinity and still just sit around the campfire and have a pleasant conversation with them. This is once again due to your contorted, otherworldly mind.

Skeevy Dedication
As a mentally deranged crazy guy, you have that sort of almost-supernatural level of dedication and work-ethic for doing things. You know, the crazy guy who writes eight hundred pages of the exact same text in his “book” or that crazy lady who makes a doll of every single person who sleeps in her house using a clipping of their actual hair? You're that person.

You can dedicate yourself to a task that would take two exploration turns and do it in only one. In the same way, a task that would take three days can be done in one. If you have a task that would take a month, you can do it in one week. Finally, a task that takes one year takes you two months.

Whenever you use this ability, you lose maximum hit points permanently from the strain of sleepless nights and total isolation, your single-minded energy draining your body and sapping you of your youth. The number of hit points lost is determined by the DM but should be based on the length and difficulty of the task; only things too physically demanding or mind-numbing for a normal person with a strong work ethic to do should count.

[12] Cynic
Equipment, Skills, Bonus- As Cleric

You see the bad in everyone, and everything. You're not necessarily a bad person, just a huge party pooper. Maybe you took this template after a bad falling out or hitting rock bottom, or maybe you started with this template meaning you had a troubled and dark past.

This class primarily influences Conviction, the GLOG meta-currency for characters. Your character can no longer gain or spend Conviction. You are a worldly, dour person who does not hold any serious beliefs beyond expanding your own power or wealth, and are quick to critcize others who hold ideals you view as false. To put it bluntly, you're kind of hard to be around.

If you do not use Conviction, then you can instead replace this with something like daily class powers that aren't based on a resource in-setting, a scaling morale penalty, or perhaps a sort of “unlucky” roll where a character must roll with disadvantage after the Cynic criticizes them.

The Cynic has the following abilities;

The Critic
You can criticize others- for how they waste time, work towards impossible causes, remain ignorant towards statistical facts, or how none of their accomplishments will matter in the end. Whenever a character would gain Conviction (for GLOG), Inspiration (for 5e style games), a morale or hunch roll, or a free experience point- they don't get it instead. You get one Cynic point.

Note: Obviously this is a kind of character ability that is directly working against the party, and probably shouldn't be used as written. Perhaps if both players agree to it, then the ability still works; moreso trading one point for another. Or if your game is intentionally antagonistic.

You can also choose to gain a Cynic point in exchange for ½ of your experience points to the next experience level; essentially delaying it. You whine about the futility about life instead of learning and reflecting on it.

Party Pooper
Whenever you are swept up into a whimsical moment, a fairy-tale chase, affected by a cool spell, or otherwise inconvenienced by something mysterious- you ruin it. You just shit on it. This ability costs a Cynic point.

Imagine if your party finds a talking pig in a fairy tale village which will tell you what way to go to find the secret treasure, but only if you find the best mud-hole in the village for the pig to wallow in. The Cynic just kicks the pig in the ribs until it tells everybody what it knows, and you move on. If you get caught in a magic spell which causes you to fight your inner demon personified in front of you, then the Cynic would just see an inky black void and step through it to stab the spell caster. You can ruin anything cool or fantastical in this way, or use this ability to bypass something that would take precious time you don't want to spend otherwise not working towards your main goal.

[13] Horse Whisperer
Equipment, Skills, Bonus- As Ranger or Tactician

You're good with horses. You can tell their moods, their health, their personalities just from a little time spent with them. Needless to say, you can ride well and know all the steps to properly care for and groom your horses.

Firstly, this ability makes you really good at telling out horses. Whatever rules you use for horse riding or horse stats in your horse game- you know them and are good at it. You can tell the best horse from a group, and can ride around on your horse real good without a check or whatever. I'm not listing this as a class/template ability because it should be obvious that you get this without it.

Second, the Horse Whisper should probably only be in a setting or location in a setting where horses are going to matter a lot. Like don't put this class in the game if you're going to be mostly doing a megadungeon or pirate island adventurers, it's not very fitting for horses.

Also, the Horse Whisper gains the following ability;

Horse's Friend
If your horse dies under no fault of your own; the horse's spirit will return to aide you. More often, you will simply find a new horse that is about as good as your old one, though maybe not as well trained. Your new horse will be able to be tamed very easily and acts as a good replacement.

However, if your horse dies and you need to ride a horse right after (such as your horse dying when you get captured by bandits, and they're going to execute you in the morning)- you will instead be visited by the ghost of your horse. It will appear miraculously alive, as normal, and you can ride your horse to safety. But the moment you get off you horse and turn around it will be gone.

Finally; if you ever talk to a talking horse get +1 to the reaction check. Maybe give this character a +1 to reaction checks when talking with centaurs just cuz.

[14] Fireworks-Man (Fireworks Conspiracy-Theorist)
Equipment, Skills, Bonus- As Alchemist or Wizard (no magic dice)

You make fireworks. Whenever the harvest festival comes up, you prepare by creating rockets and stages of burns in the firing-tubes so they show up as flowers in the night sky. Whenever a King needs to impress his court, you pack rare metals into gunpowder to make fabulous explosions or every color. You work with dangerous materials and need a careful and steady hand, but have a first rate understanding of chemistry and practical (not magical) alchemy.

However, you're also a bit of a conspiracy theorist. You keep telling people that your fireworks, this materials? They could be used for so much more. Imagine packing them into an iron ball filled with shrapnel, and then throwing it an enemy to make an explosive weapon. Or imagine packing an iron tube with gunpowder, and using it to propel a collection of arrows or even a heavy iron ball! But no matter what you try to do, nobody wants to experiment with your ideas. You loudly proclaim that your lord could benefit from this improvement in warfare, but he just whisks you away and silences your every protest! Fools! Why do they keep practicing with swords and spell when flaming steel could revolutionize the world?!

The Fireworks-Man has the following abilities;

Selectively Deaf
You listen to loud explosions all day, and have probably lost some of your hearing. But in general, this means you have a pretty good tolerance for loud noises. Whenever subject to a loud noise with magical or dangerous effects (Hideous Laughter, the cry of a wampus, mandrake scream, etc.), you get advantage on your saving throw to resist the effect. If an enemy has a sonic spell or attack, then you get to drop one die off the total damage, ignoring it completely if it just has 1 dice of damage.

It's a Conspiracy!
During downtime, you develop black powder and your fireworks into weapons. You know there is potential here, and you are obsessed with finding it. You must spend at least 10% of your earnings on your research. As you develop more advanced forms of rocketry and find new uses for your explosive powders, you will keep running into snags, your laboratory accidentally burning down, your contacts disappearing, and sudden freak weather events ruining your most important firing exercises and big test days. It's like fate is trying to keep you from uncovering a potential weapon from your fireworks; if you progress too far in your research too publicly, your character may just disappear without a trace.

Also, when you reach 4 total templates you achieve a breakthrough. You have developed a small, one handed weapon that appears like a tube with a fuse on one end. By packing this weapon with a special fireworks charge and lighting it, it can be used as a one shot 1d8+1 weapon which can only be reloaded between combat encounters. It shrieks and explodes on contact in colorful lights, and counts as magic to hit things like ghosts, demons, or other supernatural creatures. Unfortunately it's just a prototype and probably isn't practical enough for mass production.

[15] Pink Fortress Mason
Equipment, Bonus- As Fighter or Noble
Skills- Mason / Architect or Engraver

The Pink Fortresses. Made of magical pink stone, located far away. Perhaps you lived a past life defending their halls, or maybe your fortress fell many years ago. Perhaps you were just trained by one, it's a genetic duty after all, your father teaching you the rites and powers of this most illustrious profession. In the land of the pink fortresses, a Mason is a position of respect and prestige, and above any common solider.

The Pink Fortress Mason is exceptionally skilled at whatever GLOG skill you have given them. Make it a +1 in 6 chance or whatever. They're really good at Architecture and detecting those hidden walls and hidden slopes and stuff.

The Pink Fortress Mason has the following abilities;

Pinch of Pink Dust
Whenever a spell is cast in your presence, you can toss out a pinch of pink dust, which is found only in the walls and shedding of the great Pink Fortresses. The dust makes the spell “heavy”. Heavy spells have their range reduced by one category (any distance to sight, arrow-shot range to throwing distance, throwing distance to close, close to touch, touch to self, etc.), but have their power increased by one [Dice] worth of magical power. If the caster of the spell suffers a Mishap or a Doom, you do too. Use this before a magic user casts a fireball and make it blow up at their feet, but you'll also get sucked into a portal to the forbidden-zone along with them.

You begin each adventure with 1d4 pinches of dust, which you find or make each time you return to civilization. Maybe there's a brick you grind bits off, your last treasure from the old land.

Masonry Magic
If given enough time, a chalk outline, and a pinch of your pink dust; You can draw a recess in a stone wall or section. This recess is then pushed in and the stone will move back. This lets you create things like small hiding places, shelves to put useful stuff, defensive positions, etc. This recess cannot break into another chamber and has a maximum depth of 6 feet or shorter if that would break through a shallow wall in the dungeon. It has a maximum height of as tall as you can draw without a ladder, and a maximum width of 20 ft.

This magical recess slowly goes away over time as the chalk is worn away. If it is erased, the recess will fill up and the wall will return to smooth uniformity by 1 ft of depth per turn.

[16] Bull-Wrestler
Equipment, Skills, Bonus- As Fighter or Barbarian

You're a strapping lad who wrestles bulls to entertain crowds. Truthfully, the bulls aren't very vicious in your town and it's less about how strong you are and more about how you throw your weight. Still- increase your Strength score to 11 if it's lower.

The Bull-Wrestler has the following abilities;

If someone or something charges at you, you can brace yourself for impact. This reduces the distance you are knocked or pushed back by half, or ignores any effects that would knock you prone.

Against anything with horns, you get +3 to rolls to grapple or restrain them. This includes horned viking helmets.

Town Hero
Being a Bull-Wrestler gives you a sort of heroic figure. While this mostly applies to your home town, any small or rural community that appreciates that sort of thing will admire your scars and think of you as a brave and accomplished person, if nothing else. This only applies to rural communities or places where bull fighting or bull wrestling are common or accepted- giddy socialites and sensitive, animal rights pansies (like elves) will look at you with disdain.

[17] Fly Guy
Equipment, Skills, Bonus- As Acrobat

At some point in your life, you flew. Maybe you found a magic carpet, or had a dragon to ride around on. Maybe you once were a powerful sorcerer in a past life, but have since been reborn and lost everything except dreams of flight. Whatever source of flight you once had is now gone, but its left its mark in your mind.

The Fly Guy has the following abilities;

Not Afraid of Heights
Your character isn't scared of heights, illusions of heights, or climbing up things at all. Give a +2 to saves to avoid falling from a lethal height, just because.

You've seen breath taking vistas and felt the wind rush past your hair, you know what it's like to feel alive on the cusp of peril. If you're one hit away from death (being attacked by something that could kill you in one hit), you get +2 MV or can run faster and jump higher then the average person.

[18] Penguin
Equipment, Skills, Bonus- As Ranger or Druid

No, you're not an actual penguin. But you like penguins. You joined a bunch of kooks that dress up as penguins, fish while diving in full-body fursuits (not fun) and endured the harshest winters to feel the animal spiritual connection with all penguin-kind. Many also become criminal masterminds, for some reason. Your little cult was either broken up, or maybe you left out of disagreements of if the Emperor Penguin was truly more regal then the Rock Hoppers.

You can also swim, if you couldn't already.

The Penguin has the following ability;

Penguin Endurance
You have adapted to a very harsh climate, or maybe Penguins are just your spirit animal. You can survive the cold. You don't need “cold weather” or “warm” clothes in harsh snowy places or tundra, you can survive just in regular clothes by bundling up and waddling around happily. Also, you take half damage from Cold spells and Frost-Dragon breath.

[19] Candlestick Maker
Equipment, Skills, Bonus- As Rogue or Cleric

Every town has them; the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. You're supposed to be the kind of characters dying in droves in a level 0 funnel; not you. You're PROUD of your craft.

The Candlestick Maker has the following abilities;

Spare Candle
If you run out of torches or lantern oil in a dungeon, you can pull out a spare candle from your pant leg at just the last second before the torch burns out and light it up. This candle has half the duration of a torch (30 minutes), will go out automatically if you make an attack roll (moving too fast), and only gives off barely enough light to navigate and read a map- not enough to see far or do big puzzle stuff in the dungeon. Still, this beats dying.

When in dark places, you can treat the ambient light level as one higher for your character's perceptive ability. Dim lights become as bright as torches, torch light is as bright as midday. This isn't dark vision, your ability still requires some light to work, it's just improved senses.

Wax Burns
You have incredible patience from dipping candles over and over to fatten them up, plus years of burning your skin with dripping wax. You get +2 maximum HP. Also, if an enemy tries to torture you, ignore the first turn or roll you have to make to resist torture; just assume they tried dripping wax.

[20] Guy with Ray Gun
Equipment, Skills, Bonus- As Rogue or Noble

You're just a guy with a ray gun. How you found the gun is the question. If you're a human, you probably just found it somewhere, or maybe it was passed generation to generation before being activated by you. If you're a dwarf, maybe you made it in a strange mood. Regardless of how you came into possession with the weapon, you now own it.

There is no way to recharge this raygun. The only ability of the Guy with Ray Gun is owning the ray gun. Here's what it does;

Ray Gun
You have a ray gun. It probably looks futuristic. The DM will roll a secret 2d4+1 roll. This roll is the number of charges it has left. Whenever you aim and pull the trigger, the ray gun will emit a stream of super charged particles that superheat the target and explode. The ray gun can blow up just about anything, but is especially powerful against living things.

The Ray Gun deals Xd6 damage, where X is the number of charges when the trigger is pulled. The damage is rolled by the DM in secret and is the only indication of how many charges this weapon has left. The weapon is ergonomic and has a +2 to hit, but otherwise has no other special properties.