Sunday, November 22, 2020


 (note: not serious, discord nonsense)

Out of love for the truth and from desire to elucidate it, I, Phlox, master of art and spurious theology, and frequent blogger of Whose Measure, intend to defend the following claim and to dispute on them in that place. Therefore I ask that those who cannot be present and dispute with me on my blog shall do so in their absence by discord.

It has been contended by many in the GLoGosphere that what we refer to as GLoG cannot be defined or understood, and many jovial "definitions" of the GLoG have been offered, such as to say that GLoG is whatever claims the title of GLoG, or that anything which has touched GLoG becomes GLoG itself. This is the opinion of a pedant!

When we define things as part of a community, we are trying to describe things that make sense, that elucidate ourselves and our interlocutors. it is possible for different sorts of people to have different working definitions for the same thing. Many ancients defined bats as a kind of bird, but modern taxonomists say it is otherwise. Both are correct in the sense that both are using internally-consistent, pragmatic, helpful shorthand to stand in for more complicated ideas. To the ancients, it was far more useful to put bats in the category of flying winged creature than in the category of a genealogical progression about which they knew nothing.

Can you define a bird? Can you describe a bird? I advance that in most cases, definitions are simply the sort of descriptions which are useful for initial explanation. You know what a bird is, and can describe birds as flying, then backtrack and admit that some birds actually don't fly. 

Can you define the GLoG? Can you describe the GLoG? Surely you can come up with some examples of things that are more central examples of the GLoG and of things that are definitely not the GLoG. Arnold K.'s original GLoG notes, Many Rats on Sticks, and GROG are pretty central examples. Pathfinder 2E, Monsterhearts, and George H.W. Bush are definitely not. If there are potential edge cases, that is only because almost every class of things we use frequently has edge cases. Edge cases are not an argument for the undefinability of a classification. 

To that end, I will describe the GLoG as best I can. I do not claim that everything in this list is found in every example of the classification. instead, like all fuzzy classifications (e.g. US territory, Rock Music, happiness, Bronze Ages), I offer that these descriptions might help someone to understand whether MRoS or George H.W. Bush are examples of GLoG.

  1. GLoG is content for roleplaying games. [Sorry George]
  2. GLoG is a specific set of rules written by Arnold K., or taking inspiration from those rules.
  3. GLoG uses classes of four levels ("templates") each. [See how many GLoGhacks don't conform with this point? I don't care. It's still useful description.]
  4. GLoG incorporates OSR principles and indie vibes [See how I refer to other fuzzy definitions? But see how there is truth to it?]
  5. GLoG frequently has a wizard class that uses six-sided "magic dice" to cast spells.
  6. GLoG emphasizes hackability. Many GLoG games incorporate materials from disparate sources that were not conceived to work together.
  7. GLoG tends towards simple systems for character skills.
  8. GLoG tends to be "roll-under."
  9. GLoG is not specifically concerned with balancing character options.
  10. GLoGhacks tend to be incomplete. Even their creators tweak the systems while they are being actively played.

You can’t see anything in the city, they say,
That neon and bulbs black out beauty with promise of endless day.
Starlight is dull there, the concrete sizzling since daybreak,
Cassiopeia imprisoned, etched in planetarium’s edge, fake.
But light is additive and though it in distance can decay,
It grows, rolls, throws lumens, glints with hints of novae
Until the world’s gold web widens, until the gaze of cynics ache,
And “Earth” becomes the name of a star whose measure God could not take.


  1. Hark! See how most of these use "tend", "emphasises" or other such terms? There is a mountain that is GLOG, atop which there is a peak of GLOG. Some seek to reach the top, others will dabble in the foothills, others will enjoy the valleys between the mountain of GLOG and the peaks nearby. Where does a mountain stop?

    1. That said, this list is more useful that any wishy-washy not-really-a-definition I'd be likely to come up with. So!

  2. False advertising by at least 85 Theses! Heresy!

    Although, it must be said, a seductively accurate heresy