Wednesday, January 29, 2020

OSR: How to Design GLOG Fighters

The GLOG is Arnold K’s homebrew system. Notable work has been done with it by Skerples, and many others.

A tradition in the GLOGosphere is the creation of unique wizard schools, often following a common template: “A coherent theme, a couple of original on-theme spells, perks and drawbacks, some cantrips, some Mishaps and Dooms,” as the Espharel blog puts it.

There are probably more wizard GLOG classes than all others put together. This article is my attempt to offer a template for creating fighters using the central advantage that wizard schools in the GLOG have capitalized on so far. From the beginning, GLOG wizards have had a very simple chasis, with most of their character and charm conferred by the specifics of the tradition. This seems an easy fit for something as generic as “fighting.” History offers many different kinds of fighting, after all…

Roman Kupriianov. Easy to design in various ways?

Obviously, fighters need abilities for combat. The generic fighter class usually gets such abilities as getting extra attacks, bonuses to attack, “notches” which let you specialize with a given weapon, and the like. All of the makes sense. Many fighter classes also have some non-combat aspect, even if it is just leveraging the social capital of being someone who fights for a living.

From this, a reasonable basis for what a fighter school— let’s call it a “discipline”— could be:

Fighter Discipline Template
Starting equipment: might be average, might define the discipline.
Starting skill: should be something weirder than the usual farmer/soldier/sailor
A: defensive ability, offensive ability
B: noncombat specialization and/or niche combat ability.
C: ability that widens options in combat
D: a “capstone”— this proves you are a master.

Fighting in the GLOG is dangerous. (There’s a reason a popular hack is called DIE TRYING.) Accordingly, I think some survivability should be granted from the onset. I put the noncombat specialization early because it makes the fighter relevant in more situations sooner. Whether they get two abilities or one at level two should of course depend on how powerful they are.


Blue Blade of Gal-Suzaz
You walk that thin line between heroism and folly, and never ask why. When you were just a shiftless bravo a man spared your life, and you will make that act of kindness a foundation for a life of adventure for the Right. Devout but easy-going, you perform deeds which jaded soldiers call impossible.

Starting equipment: studded leather armor, back-scabbard, blue greatsword (all blades you own turn blue)
Starting skill: rumor, parasite lore
A: arrow snatch, mark
B: Useful fool
C: sword throwing
D: quixoticism 

Arrow snatch: whenever an arrow, bullet, or other missile would hit a you, you may test dexterity to catch it from the air. You might need to drop something you’re holding.
Mark: Wounds you inflict bleed blue. Your attacks deal +1d6 damage against foes bleeding blue blood.
Useful fool: whenever you fail to ingratiate yourself to an authority, a plausible person of lower rank will try to favor you. This will usually lead to a request to participate in some ill-conceived plot.
Sword throwing: you may launch any bladed weapon up to 30 ft. without penalty.
Quixoticism: If someone you’ve wounded survives combat with you, they test charisma or are afflicted with a desire to live heroically and take needless risks. If they level up, they must level up in the Blue Blade of Gal-Suzaz discipline.

Urumi’s Wielder
You are a martial artist who has proven disciplined and skilled enough to be trusted with the urumi, a bladed metal whip. Training to master it has won you many cuts, but now you have advanced to the point where you can only improve through the crucible of adventure. Your relationship with your weapon is reverant, and many Wielders think of themselves as the noble opposite of the Demon Blade’s chariot.

Starting equipment: urumi (sword whip d8, 10’ range), silk armor, prayer book, 
Starting skill: massage
A: posture, coiling blade
B: vital points
C: sword tricks
D: cloud of steel

Posture: twice per day, reduce a combat maneuver check against you by 1d6.
Coiling blade: Once per round, if any enemy approaches you, get a free attack against them.
Vital points: massage someone for an hour during a rest to let them heal an extra d6. If they are an NPC, you may make a charisma test and ask a question. If you succeed, they answer without noticing that you asked.
Sword tricks: you are implausibly precise with an urumi, whip, or similar weapon, and can strike any object within 10 feet without a test, wrap your urumi around a beam like a rope, etc.
Cloud of steel: deal d8 damage to everyone within 10 feet, friend or foe. Armored people can save to negate this. Any formations or mobs affected test morale or flee.

Khazar Remnant
You are a warrior from a land quickly fading into the dim memory of history, eager to give up your ignominious people for a new land and a higher purpose. Even as you journey for a new homeland and a new tradition, your indivisible Khazar ethos grows to define you. It is taboo among the remnants of the Khazar to teach their language or the arts of its martial discipline.

Starting equipment: spear, lamellar armor, d4 javelins, salt lick
Starting Skill: acculturation
A: formation, ambidextrous
B: confounding dreams
C: holy mist
D: mass attack

Formation: You get +1 defense for each adjacent ally.
Ambidextrous: You can fight effectively with two weapons, and you can wield weapons with your feet. As long as you are holding two weapons, you can attack with each. (Hopping on one foot slows you dramatically and gives a penalty to dexterity.)
Confounding dreams: once per night while sleeping, do one of the following: gain a skill of the DM’s choosing for a day, learn about a significant NPC you are likely to meet, or get +1d6-3 to your next initiative test the following day.
Holy mist: while under the effect of gigre or other drugs, you may spend a wisp to make a free combat maneuver. (For hacks that don’t use this, 2/day make a free combat maneuver while under the effects of drugs.)
Mass attack: adjacent allies may use your strength for melee attacks and use your dexterity for ranged attacks. (For hacks which don’t use this, adjacent allies get a bonus to attack equal to how many more fighter levels you have than them.)

Repentant Hexchild
The child of a witch’s ritual, an infant swapped with a changeling, or the orphan of a raid against a monstrous race; you were raised to reject wickedness and magic. Authorities have explained how you are already damned, and how only a life of service can cleanse the sin of your origins.

Starting equipment: mace, buckled hat, writ of permission or morose familiar
Starting skill: rabble rousing
A: Suffer not, Keep back
B: Smell magic
C: Mob
D: Counter

Suffer not: once per day, test a relevant attribute to resist an ongoing ill such as curses, paralysis, or a disabled limb.
Keep back: When attacking while holding a torch or other light, any adjacent foes must save or catch fire (1d4 ongoing damage.)
Smell magic: You can detect the presence of magic within smelling distance. Different kinds of magic have different scents, and you start out with only rumors of what kinds smell like what.
Mob: If you are fighting alongside hirelings or gullible nobodies, you may act for them on your turn instead of acting yourself.

Counter: whenever an adjacent foe uses magic, you may take 1d6 damage to automatically spoil one of their magic dice. This die does not contribute to the spell or return to their pool.


  1. Loving it. I can already think of some variants of my own, though perhaps on a more generic bent; bravo, centurion, swashbuckler (literally, someone who bangs their buckler shield to make a ton of noise). There's some pushback in mainstream D&D now against the human fighter being inherently vanilla or boring. There's so much variety in real world martial traditions that the 'fighter' class doesn't bring across.
    Incidentally, the blue blood feature just makes me think of a noble class that, at high levels, literally bleeds blue. Much to dig into here.

  2. Very cool, having a template to work off of is always super valuable

  3. This is a great post, and I am saving it.

  4. The little implied horror story told through the Blue Blade of Gal-Suzaz writeup is very cool. It had me going back and reading the first sentence again thinking "oh I see..."

    1. Thank you. That class has stuck with me and seen actual use.