Thursday, May 27, 2021

A Delta Directory

Updated 9 June 2021

Sometimes, people ask questions like "what is a delta class" or "how do deltas work" or "oh yeah, big guy-- what are you gonna do about it?" So for ease of reference, here are all the delta classes I could find. This will cause the universe to generate more such classes in order to outdate the index, but as they say "shrug emoji" person juggling emoji

A "delta" class is simply one in which there are certain diegetic tasks you perform in order to gain abilities, rather than gathering experience points to cash in for a level. For my sanity, I will only be tracking classes that attest to their delta designation in some way.

squigboss, the originator of this particular formation writes this outline of delta templates.

Purely delta-based advancement

Partially delta-based advancement

A dishonorable mention, my april fools "delta thief":

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

The Black Roads

  1.  After the passing of generations, the center of life shall be smote and my people will be in confusion. Each man shall do what is right in his own eyes and the nations shall be in confusion.
  2. And in this time a righteous man shall come to serve a wicked king, and I will anoint him in secret to lead his people in a new nation that I shall raise up greater than any, save the one I promise to you.
  3. And I will prepare the land for this nation as I have prepared yours for your people.
  4. In time, the land will grow prosperous, and become a nation of nations. They shall have no temple and no priest, only captains of law. And these captains shall commission the building of black roads between each town, such that two chariots may pass each other on the road.
  5. The width of these roads will be twenty-five cubits or more, and the length shall be half a myriad of miles. Fires of nur, of fire, of amber, and smaragdine shall show the way to travelers, so no man must wander who is a stranger in one portion of the country. Each principality I will also make to mark the byways. Each marking shall be gold or silver, but shall not mix the gold with the silver, or the man who limns so will perish right away. Each marking of gold or silver shall be colored also with sable, scarlet, turqoise, and other bright colors.
  6. The sacrifices that shall be offered to me shall be slaughtered in the black roads.
  7. Daily they will sacrifice myriad rodents and many wild game, the young and old together, the quick and the slow together. These they will be allowed to eat or set astride the road for me; the flies shall tear the flesh away until it is gone forever.
  8. On each day also I will send death to certain of the people on the black roads. I will bring quick catastrophe to them, and thereby seize their lives. These I will take undiscerning of age or standing, the wicked with the righteous, for the wicked I punish by cutting short their lives and the righteous I reward by sparing their living.
  9. In these days, I will not reveal myself to priests. The priests of my family the kings Hezekiah and Josiah will have slain, and I will have receded many generations.
  10. But I will speak to my Samyazazim, who partake of beer and are drunk, and ride long my black roads, unmoved by their hands yet trusting in mine.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Scenario: the Refutionary

 Exercising the old brain-muscles with a short scenario. This is meant to take place over a few months of downtime, perhaps while the player characters are pursuing their own domestic projects. The structure of the scenario involves two sets of progression: one is time and the other is escalation. If the PCs don't interact much with events, they will eventually become unavoidable. If they brutishly slay their way through the initial stages, matters will escalate. I also want to practice building in the potential for catastrophe.


A stranger came to your island in the latter days of the winter, not noble or wealthy but with a strange assurance of import. A magician, some said. A refutionary, he said-- someone hired to defend someone in legal disputes. He says he is a Canuanite, and that's why his law is not our law.

If a player character is a person of repute, he will beg their hospitality for the year. If they refuse, he will find hospitality from another house or live in the wilds, and the PC's business enterprises will suffer a divinely-ordained freak accident. (Socu-worshipers are pretty much obliged to oblige him.)

Come spring, strange folk will come to the island, having chartered the skimp Storm's Eye. Their skin is the pallor of ash, they wear dark robes, and their intense mien is unlike any found in known society. They announce every movement before them make them, and are clumsy, yet the cloy of magic is heavy on them. They seek the refutionary, offering payment to those who assist them. If the refutionary is a PC's guest, he will beg sanctuary against them, claiming they seek an item in his rightful possession. If asked why they seek him, they claim he stole an article of their faith. Both parties will be as vague as possible. 

The object is the Eye of Aygerim, a ball of cinnabar that the refutionary inherited from his mother. He is aware that it can be used to occult objects, hiding them to be retrieved later. It essentially functions like a bag of holding, if a bag of holding sent your gear to god's storeroom for the endtimes. He does not know that it contains a trapped giant, Körwşi, who will be freed if the orb is broken open.

  • If the PCs assist the refutionary: the strange folk will make one major attempt to steal the orb, and if that fails they will flee the island and its justice. 
  • If the PCs accede to the strange folk: the refutionary will flee if possible but will not initiate violence, and can be manhandled into giving up the Eye before going out to the wilds to live in isolation. When they have the Eye, the strange folk depart on Storm's Eye.
  • If the PCs don't conclusively assist one or the other: the refutionary will have been able to escape to the wilds and live in hiding, with the strange folk staying on the island to seek him out. 

Come summer, a sinkhole tears apart a shepherd's field (temporarily imperiling a pair of adorable sheep.) Below is a heretofore unknown complex, and won't someone go down there and check it out? Even if the PCs don't want to enter this spooky dungeon, ask if they want to play the 0-level gravediggers and clowns that get stuck with it. 

This "complex" was an ancient headwoman's hall, its semi-labyrinthine layout a result of inferior architectural methods requiring many load-bearing walls. (For layout, overcomplicate a map of a a PC's or player's home.) Fossilized wooden beams still bear simple depictions of mountains, winged serpents, and seaborn rafts. Stony bones of two figures, huddled together. A bone knife. The tatters of a strange knitten tabbard that once held polished bronze discs. 

The basement of this complex is an open space, containing many basins of faintly glowing green goo. You really have to weave around these basins to get across the room, not what you'd want to do while someone threw stones at you. I don't know what this goo does to you, but I know it requires a save vs. death.

This, with more goo

  • Inscribed on a faded tapestry over the far wall is the spell NAPALM RAIN, a curse of mass destruction. If the refutionary is still alive, the PCs may find him here with a small pile of rocks, trying to decode the spell's contents. If the PCs try to deny him access to it, he will occult it with the Eye and try to negotiate with them, casting the spell blindly if violence seems inevitable.
  • If the strange folk are still on the island, they will linger around the sinkhole on the assumption it may have something to do with the refutionary. They will recognize the tapestry's power, and if they can acquire it the most morally dubious (but not outright antagonistic) port the islanders know of will be blasted to ruin by fiery flames.

Come autumn, the strange folk return, Storm's Eye full of partisans and and Becalmer, a line-zoa containing a prominent agtree judge and her family. They come to seize the Eye or anything discovered in the underground complex through traditional law. The line-zoa cannot legally port without permission of the island, since it is a war-ready vessel.

The agtree judge, Uden Baptizer, is widely recognized as impartial in matters of justice, though she has a tendency to exile those who attempt to subvert her.

  • If the refutionary is still alive, he will offer his services as a defendant and defense. The strange folk have recognized legal documentation of the Eye's significance to them, and have a religious mandate of stewardship of truly dangerous artifacts. Their case may be harmed by their previous actions in the scenario.

  • If forced to give up the Eye, the refutionary will first break it.


  • If the refutionary dies: two of his lovers, basically unaware of each other, separately arrive the next season to avenge him and figure out what he was trying to do with the Eye on this island. A hard task, since he was just trying to lay low and procrastinate.
  • If the strange folk die: The port of Posmatrač, which apparently has been sponsoring the strange folk's order, begins conducting war raids against the island. Most of their fleet are unarmored rebgraves, but they have access to certain weapons the strange folk sought to hide from the world: a great lens that uses sunlight to boil zoas, an aquatic vampire, and a basketball-sized orb of uranium. Their delegations will also take the role of the strange folk in future seasons.
  • If Körwşi is unleashed: he will act like he owns the place and issue orders to the PCs and other leaders. A succession of wacko mercenaries will turn up on the island to make trouble and eventually fight him.
  • If Körwşi is killed: Wow! You did it! His skeleton hatches from his body and sprints into the ocean. His flesh becomes lions that flee into the wilderness. His eyes shoot away and become patches of quicksand. Only his heart will remain.
  • If an island is destroyed by Napalm and the perpetrators are Socu Worshippers: a sect of Guian priests will come in secret to the island to work revolution.
  • If an island is destroyed by Napalm and the perpetrators are Dodkulists: An embargo is placed by most major Dodkulist ports on the perpetrators. The next conclave of priests (held every ~5 years) will meet to decide whether to extend the embargo and whether other actions must be taken.
  • If Uden Baptizer is killed: the apparent perpetrator is exiled in the eyes of devout members of the agtree sect. While in a center of Socu's faith, there is a 50% chance each season that someone will challenge you to a duel, diminishing by 10% for each duel or court case won.


Teodor, Refutionary: Malsani Barbarian 1. (fights perfectly in darkness, reads lips, and signs, master economist, can speak to trees, sleep comfortably in all circumstances, doesn't understand war, hatred is infectious to him, doesn't understand sexual reproduction, faceblind)

  • Bears the Eye of Aygerim (domain: perspective.)
  • Carries copious amounts of kruber, a strong dill beer.
  • Only weapon is a kirpan with "votelain" inscribed in silver on the blade; this is an archaic/legal term meaning comfort or ease.
  • has a wire brush for personal grooming.

The Order of the Eye is of occult origins, but claims to have studied miracles in God's whirlpools for well over a thousand years. They set themselves against Resativa, a body of unconscious beliefs which people have little power to change and which promote egocentrism. They come from the Vergarites, but are not initiated into the deeper mysteries of that sect.

They tend to leave out the tale of their origins, for it betrays their great weakness. Concealed beneath their robes, each has a great eye filling their chest, and it is this eye which controls their body, save for their head and neck which is controlled by their heads. This is why they narrate their actions and are seen as clumsy-- their head must tell their chest-eye what is before them. Each carries a walking staff to feel their way forward as well, but are careful to conceal this intent from outsiders.

Each member of the order is tyrannously strong (Str 18, etc.), but in combat take penalties for being blind, even as their head mutters directions.

ThAKNHSThA, Abbess of the Eye: Sanx Cleric 2/Magician 1. Hers is a common acronymic name. It is short for "The arm knows not how sure the aim." Knows the spells Eye Lasers, Snakelike Jaws, Viscerakinesis, Iconoclasm, and Jeremiad.

  • She possesses, and is willing to distribute as bribes, the following items: an immaculate cutting sword with a mosaic hilt and a blade with a cinnabar groove, a mercury thermometer(!), a faience gaming board, a jug of milky wine that induces a death-like sleep, 150 gold coins with intricate claimshell inscriptions, and godparentage (ocean/witch).

Uden, Islam, Sezim, and Udeno; acolytes of the Eye: Damdar or Sanx Cleric 1/Magician 1. Know the spells Eye Lasers, Snakelike Jaws, and Iconoclasm

  • Among them they possess five staves, two board-shields, three bronze-and-leather caps, two balsam gaming boards, 8 chunks of cinnabar, and 43 gold coins.

Körwşi, the Flesh-Rimed Beholder: Nephil 3/Juggler 2 (obsession: mourning). Was imprisoned by the ancient wanderer Aygerim, with whom he did battle. On his heart is tattooed the image of his partner, who was killed in the Titanomachy. Ever since he died, the beholder swore that nothing good was left in the world. He remembers on which island his tons-heavy armor and spear are, and may trade their location as a bargaining chip or send any peons acquired to seek them out.

Mega, lover of Teodor: stats as Teodor. The youngest of ten older siblings, all of whom would avenge him. In fact, given his mouth they probably expect to avenge him at some point.

Safira, lover of Teodor: Malsani green pilgrim 1. Good at working up domestic animals into a frenzy.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Cursed Evermore (GLoG Class: Acmori Clerics)

(This owes obvious homage to the masked clerics. Thanks to the many folks of the GLoG discord who offered thoughts.)

The collared clerics are successors to Uden, the first Priestess, who was herself taught by the goddess Socu. The goddess make a sea worth living in, and Uden taught us the way to live on it. Neither intended that we should suffer through terrible winters, to brave cold winds and watch our animals die. Your people have generally accepted that it is their lot to suffer, but this is not set! In the temple, in the banquet hall, in the deeds of good women and the words of wise judges, the collared cleric sees the potential for the old teachings to save us from new woes. 

The laureled clerics are the descendants of those who crossed the ice into Acmori, to bring life to death. The god Dodkul favored the city of Sacrum with thews, lore, and grace, and entrusted you with an essential task. You must go to the graves of the world and prepare them through your peoples' rites, that the bodies of those in the afterlife can also rise, to live as the Righteous Dead. A time of fire is coming, a time that the living cannot endure alone.

Glog Class: Collared Cleric, Laureled Cleric

A collared cleric is likely a Socu-worshipping woman from among the Damdar, Stani, or Sanx peoples, nominated by her temple and appointed by her ruler. 

A laureled cleric is likely a Dodkulist man from among the Sanctides, Viroj, or Malsani peoples, chosen by the entirety of the clerical conclave. 

Their particular sect furnishes them with certain religious strictures, access to potent spells, and further equipment.

Suggested Ken: History (Socu), Archeology (Dodkul)

Starting Equipment: a staff, a wrath, a robe, a garlic clove, a sack, some twine, and a dose of wine, as well as a sectarian symbol.

  • A: Ordained, Sectarian, +1 MD
  • B: Prayer, +1 MD
  • C: Miracle Worker, +1 MD
  • D: Sage, +1 MD

Drawback: Your power is tied to the oaths of your sect. Breaking its minor tenets causes an immediate mishap. Breaking your first tenet is an immediate Doom.

Cantrips: You can make a fire by shouting prayers over a pile of wood. You can tell if an object is aligned with or against your god. You can psychically wrestle other clerics and magicians.

Ordained: You are a member of a specific social class. People will make assumptions about you and your behavior. They will support you or oppose you based on the disposition of your order.

Sectarian: Choose a sect from the list below. You are familiar with two spells taught by your sect's temple; they are randomly determined from a curated, secret list. If you are achieving a victory for the main tenet of your order, roll another MD when casting these spells. Each following level, another sectarian spell comes to you in a dream. You can hold [level] such spells in your head at any given time, switching them out with an hour of prayer. You may learn other spells from scrolls, and discover new sectarian spells.

Each sect binds you to its tenets; failing any of the minor tenets of your order leads to an immediate mishap. Failing a major tenet brings your Doom.

Socu's Sects (sectarian symbol/primary virtue)

1. Traditionalist (wrinkles/hospitality)
Sentiment: "We sell our children's future when we make war our way."
2. Agtree (Baptismal grail/oathkeeping)
Sentiment: "First, get rid of the liars. Everything else will start to take care of itself."
3. Reformed Chelonian (glossoliaiac's gag/patriotism)
Sentiment: "If there must be war, I want it to be my king to decide where it is and who wins."
4. Cratocrat (firangi/resolve)
Sentiment: "Stop making compromises with the people trying to kill you."
5. Canuanite (muscles/excellence)
Sentiment: "First, become capable."
6. Tavreshite (striped tent-cloth robes/utopia)
Sentiment: "This is the age where we can finally end indignity and misery. There is a plan we can follow to make a heaven in this sea."
7. Vergarite (bird of paradise/pragmatism)
Sentiment: "We could have won so easily, but you killed our best chance. The sooner you cease fighting your own rescuer, the less blood there will be."
8. Roll twice. You are the first roll in truth, secretly infiltrating the second.

Dodkul's Sects (sectarian symbol/primary virtue)

1. Precepor (memento mori/tolerance)
Sentiment: "The soul of the world is found throughout the world."
2. Pursuant (falx/secrecy)
Sentiment: "There are secrets which cannot be told."
3. Ordinant (fat-bladder/purity)
Sentiment: "Getting right in the eyes of god requires lifelong commitment and sacrifice that most people can not and should not claim."
4. Thumist (shaven head/independence)
Sentiment: "I cannot worship in a way foreign to me, nor a foreigner worship in a way that pleaseth me."
5. cynic (fool's mask/mockery)
Sentiment: "Seem not too respectable. Most who do right are only performing."
6. Priest of Gui (folio modesty undergarment/revolution)
Sentiment: "Tyrants don't give up power. This is the exceptional case where death alone can treat much misery."
7. Woman of Just Conduct (saukele headpiece/bravery)
Sentiment: "You will be saved who save others."
8. Roll twice. You are the first roll in truth, secretly infiltrating the second.

Prayer: When adventuring, you can give a fervent prayer and roll an orison die (a d4) once between sabbaths, (i.e., once a week.) On a 4 or higher, something happens. 

Get +1 to your roll for each of the following:

  •  you have expended all your MD
  • you are injured
  • you make a major binding promise to your god

If the result is 6 or more, regain the spent die.

Miracle Worker: Choose a spell you are familiar with. It physically changes you in a corresponding way, such as a DIVE spell giving you fins and fringes or a HALLOW spell giving you serene grace. This is pretty cool and NPCs will react accordingly. If it is a sectarian spell, it does not count towards your limit. When casting this spell, your MD exhaust only on a 5 or 6.

Sage: You are visited by a giant of Socu, or a Righteous Dead of Dodkul, and they confide your probity to you. Your soul now has 50% iron resistance. You can spend a season ruminating to learn a Way to Power or to trade one of your sectarian spells for another on the same list.

Centers of your faith have a 40% chance of treating you like a living saint. Centers of your faith that follow a different sect also have a 10% chance of treating you like a living saint while trying to assassinate you.

If you wish, you may take on the mantle of heresiarch, which messes with those odds.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Bius Station: a note on violence

 It is seven billion years in the future. The sun weighs heavy in the sky, numbed by all the deeds perpetrated in its sight. It looks over Bius Station, the last of two hundred breeding pits for the biomantic creations of the Circle of Life, a cabal of power-mad alchemists.

It is the last because all others overflowed with rage and war, and its gibbering monsters assaulted the remaining cities of the world. Each was defeated in turn, by the Sons of Chromas and the Daughters of E, by the grit of the Bound Companies and the personal horrors of a trillion desperate conscripts.

One hundred and ninety-nine times out of two hundred, the biomancer in question chose to wreak the work of war. In the last case, in Bius Station, he chose otherwise.

The biomancer here gave up his previous name. He is called only the scientist, the alchemist, or father. For when he looked over the myriad lives his profane science produced, he saw not weapons nor sons but people, living beings upon whom he had already inflicted cruelty after cruelty. He has spent a hundred years making up for those cruelties by caring for his creations, for their lives are not easy.

I will not tell you he is good or bad. I cannot say that the service he has rendered makes up for his sins, though I can't imagine that treating a wound is as good as inflicting that wound was bad. Crucially, the weight of his heart does not matter to me.

Bius Station is an adventuring location, a "dungeon space" as I have called them in the past. The scientist's creations that are still fairly mobile fill out a random encounter table, and the facility's slow decay offers many challenges of traversal. An adventuring party can be brought by rumors of strange beasts sighted, or by news that scavengers and raiders often visit the location to trade with its biomancer, for his charges require a multitude of things he can no longer synthesize, if they are to live lives as fully as they might.

I can well imagine player characters or their players feeling guilty, betrayed, wroth, if they spend the first half of their visit to Bius Station "slaying monsters," in a place where the moral dignity of the things they encounter are not telegraphed, not signposted by eloquence or grace. What were they meant to do?

There is no moral supplied in Bius Station. I hope it feels authentic to the inadequacies of the real world, as you have seen it. Some are born to endless night, and all that.


How are we to depict violence, the catalyst of so many wrongs in the living world?

  • An escapist might say we should construct our fictional worlds to excuse violence, to offer heroic outlets in which we slay shibbolethic hordes of demons.
  • An Aesthete of Desperation might say we should depict a world which is fully cruel, but make violence feel scary and desperate, to offer vicarious thrills from escape and cunning play.
  • A different escapist might say we should construct our fictional worlds without violence, to offer a kinder example or provoke more creative problem-solving.
  • A third escapist might say the first escapist is hopelessly misguided, and has simply constructed an excuse to channel a love of violence against iffy justifiable targets. They might say we should instead construct our fictional worlds as moral examples, to offer heroic demonstrations in which we slay analogues of specific real-world oppressors.
I will not tell you what is right. You and I certainly have many thoughts on each approach and when, if ever, one is appropriate. What I will tell you is what I have tried to do.

I feel many games collapse towards escapism #1. Their rulesets lavish loving attention on combat rules, and their scenarios imagine engaging ways to overcome through physical contest. I think it is unfair to make a game about violence, then shame the players for playing it. I am also not dedicated towards escapism or uncomplicated fun. I want to be moved, to feel sorrow for Gorgons and misery for nameless Grimm princesses and respect for terrible Liu Beis or Achilloi.

In my work, I will not deny that a warrior can be gallant or a sword can be aimed towards the right. I want player characters to struggle, to contend with arms in many cases, and to win victories thereby. Sometimes they will commit grave errors, and we will see them play out. Sometimes they will succeed totally, but the violence of their success will bring more discord. As Blake said "Vain the sword and vain the bow/ they never can work war's overthrow."

I run roleplaying games, and players absolutely surprise me. The vanity of violence is a tendency, not a foregone conclusion. Sometimes, immediate violence really will be a panacea, either because the ills that result are acceptable to the PCs or because I'm running a game lighter and more adventurous in tone. But when I design a scenario with full and serious intent, believe that the default, violent solution will not work war's overthrow. That's just not authentic to what in the world I have seen, or to the tales and sagas which work through and unwork themselves through violence.

A warrior who swings a sword aiming at right is an acceptable, sometimes beautiful, player character. The Fall of Camelot is tragic because so many men and women tried so hard to do right, to turn the violence of the age to worthwhile problems, and because they could have succeeded, but vain the sword. Josiah discovering the book of laws or Jehu's anointment to end the house of Ahab is tragic because everyone in the tale is trying to find out how they can live in an imperfect world and make it right, but unfortunately they live partway through an age of madness, and it doesn't matter how many heads of princelings you pile; vain the sword. The biomancer of Bius Station and the creatures he cares for are easy to solve but impossible to solve in a satisfying way; vain the sword.