Monday, June 21, 2021

GLoG hacklet: 4-LOM

Force-Lords Oppressing Multitudes 

WOE! It is a time of suffering in the galaxy. The loosening arm of the GALACTIC STATE has given way to pirates, petty tyrants, and the lurid infiltration of SITH. There are no heroes on any side of the many border wars, raids, and disputes among the many peoples of the ever widening fringes of space. Entire planets are enslaved by privation, or under the gaze of a sith's tower. The galaxy is not yet ripe for the CHOSEN ONE to heal its defects, but in the meantime mystics and scoundrels will do good, get rich, and die in pursuit of that which is worth pursuing in the myriad parsecs of space and its multitudinous worlds.

Character Creation

You have 8 hit points (HP) and 1 force point (FP), which you can spend to increase or decrease a d20 roll by 1d6. You regain all HP with eight hours of rest. Unless otherwise stated, the rules of the game are like your hack of choice.

  • Alien: Randomly generate one. Make some random sounds; that’s your name. You speak Basic and the single language of your race.
  • Human: You may switch two stats around. You have a real-life name or a plausible fascimile of one. You speak Basic and get +1 to rolls to see if you know a language.
  • Droid: Instead of being an organic being, you’re an intelligent. Cross out the force point section of your character sheet. Decide on a body schematic and function with your DM, moving up to 4 points around to aid this. You can weld hardware directly onto your body. You have an alphanumeric name. You speak Basic and/or Binary.

When you encounter a language you have not encountered before, you may roll a d6. On a 1, maybe modified by DM discretion, you know that language.

Pick one of the following two classes, or suggest your own:

Force User

Starting equipment: a lightsaber of a particular color, robes of a particular color, one space artifact.

+1 FP per template, automatically deflect 1 projectile per round.

  • A: You can exert telekinetic force roughly equal to the strength of a human’s push or one-handed carrying ability, and jump about thirty feet.
  • B: If you did nothing but deflect projectiles last round, you can attempt to reflect incoming attacks with an attack roll. With a minute of focus, you can sense the general direction of life within one mile.
  • C: You are followed by a student (see the tables below). Additionally, you EITHER gain strong telekinesis; allowing you to mentally exert force equal to a rocket launcher OR gain a mind trick, allowing you to make those with less HD believe something plausible with no save.
  • D: Work with the DM to invent a special force technique that you master in a night of contemplation, like the ability to shoot lightning from your fingers or come back as a ghost.

“Jedi” is a force user of any school that is sanctioned (endorsed) by the state as peacekeepers. “Sith” is a force user of any school that is sanctioned (forbidden) by the state. Normally, this is for killing peasants and raising undead fleets. Consider the teachings of your school and the symbols of their practices, and whether they are generally seen as Jedi or Sith.

Jedi are assigned padawans as student, and responsible for teaching them probity, peacekeeping, and the practices of their order. Sith take on apprentices, teaching them the mystic criminal trade and tithing any "scores" their students make for as long as the master shall live. Roll on the appropriate table below upon reaching C Template.

d12 doofy padawan table

1. Weird but chill alien

2. Incredibly zen child

3. Incredibly zen child who sometimes lapses into dark contemplations…

4. Cowardly but fun-loving stoner

5. Inner-world suburban youth covered in tattoos of sealing

6. Inquisitive sort with the naivete of one of Socrates’s interlocutors

7. Jolly fellow with a thick beard and no shoes

8. Brought her own sword

9. Former child-monarch

10. Rustic farmhand

11. Roll on edgy sith table

12. Roll twice and combine

“The fact is that a man who wants to act virtuously in every way necessarily

comes to grief among so many who are not virtuous.” -Machiavelli

d12 edgy sith apprentice table

1. John malkovish

2. Clone child with extra letter

3. Libertarian magician

4. Instead, six assassin robot

5. baron(ess), count(ess), or viscount(ess)

6. Cyborg, with additions made to be deliberately scary

7. Always uses a helmet and voice modulator

8. Spooky thirty-something who looks exactly like a demon

9. Won’t stop lighting their fists on fire

10. Shaved acolyte who just hates jedi

11. Roll on doofy padawan table

12. Roll twice and combine

But, my pupil, as my pupil you have learned the worth of scorn,
You have laughed with me at pity, we have joyed to be forlorn,
What for us are all distractions of men's fellowship and wiles;
What for us the Goddess Pleasure with her meretricious smiles!
-Sadie Williams


Starting equipment: a blaster, work clothes, two space artifacts.

+2 initiative per template

  • A: Maximum damage against surprised foes. Once per episode, declare you know a particular NPC, and that they don’t want to kill you right away.
  • B: You always have at least the minimum technical skill required to steal or disable something.
  • C: Once per episode, do something totally against the odds.
  • D: Hirelings and allied fringe weirdos get +1 attack if they abandon all defense. You can use them as shields, reflecting 1d12 damage from an attack into them.

d20 space artifacts

1. Robot mechanic with an odd body schematic. Start with an understanding of binary.

2. Freighter, the space equivalent of a long-haul truck. Lots of nooks and secret spaces.

3. Fighter, the space equivalent of a sopwith camel. 50% of having a little ring that makes it hyperspace capable.

4. Laser-resistant vest. Gives DR 2 against laser blasts.

5. Flamethrower. Shoots a small cone of flame. Anyone damaged keeps taking damage until the fire is put out.

6. Jetpack. Can carry you 500 feet per round for up to ten rounds at a time, or slow your fall. Either superfast or just enough to break a fall, with no moderate speed.

7. Laser Crossbow. Throws damaged enemies back.

8. 2d4 balls of void-dynamite. Can be programmed with any sort of fuse routine. Annihilates anything within five feet, anyone within 30 feet takes 6d6 damage exploding. If cover is nearby, they can save for minimum damage.

9. Electro-fist. Also powers electronics

10. Universal power-pack. Slag fuel can be removed, having the general qualities of napalm.

11. A staggering amount of spice

12. A vantablack curtain that confers invisibility to all scanners and invisibility in shadows if you hold still. Large enough for two, if they’re cozy.

13. A lethal eCig. Save vs death, on a success you still lose ten years off your life.

14. Vibro-eskrima. Can punch through metal.

15. A handheld device that can detect midi-chlorians— microscopic creatures that attach to all forms of life, especially those strong in the force. This gives up a read-out of all life within 30 feet, and indicates how many HD of force user (or similar) any of that life may have.

16. A hand-me-down landspeeder, like a motorcycle but cooler.

17. 4 little probe droids, constantly uploading data to your handheld module

18. Rebreather, only a couple fingers big, that lets you breathe in water, fumes, or void for up to 2 hours before needing to be recharged.

19. Service of an alien. Start with their race’s one language.

20. The plans for a nearby dungeon


You either know how to use modern weapons, like blasters and vibro-knives; or elegant weapons from a more elegant time, like lightswords and blowguns. When using a weapon you don’t know how to use, get -4 to attacks with it and on a critical failure the worst imaginable outcome results.

Weapons deal 1d8 damage, and if you are unarmored and out of cover you also roll on a wound table. Lightsabers and giant cannons make you roll on the wound table anyway. At 0 or less HP, roll with a +1 on the relevant wound table. At -8 HP, you die messily.

Wound table (shot)

1. Graze. Take 1d4 fatigue.

2. Beloved charm or tchotchke absorbs the blow that would have fried your heart. Lose one significant item.

3. Arm shot. You cannot use it for 24 space-hours.

4. Gut shot. You are slowed, take -2 to most physical rolls and any further wounds are rolled at +2.

5. Blasted to within an inch of your life. Allies must get you to a healing tube, stat.

6+. Smoking hole in your head. If that was your only one, you are dead.

Wound table (cut)

1. Graze. Take 1d4 fatigue.

2. Vital part of a significant item bisected.

3. Hand cut off. Must get a new one from the local electronics store.

4. Hand cut off. Must get a new one from the local electronics store.

5. Beat to within an inch of your life. Allies must get you to a healing tube, stat.

6+. Cut in half. This kills you


4-LOM assumes a broad-strokes Star Wars-esk game. It occupies the spaces of intense anti-canon that early Star Wars gaming sessions must have, when no one knew what a Clone War or Darth was. It takes place in no particular era, and you should include everything from a Star Wars story that you really like, as well as everything you think is unbearably dumb. Include nothing which is boring. Notice that the allowed classes are Force User, Scoundrel, and anything the players suggest or that the DM think would be cool.

I do recommend that you let the galaxy be diverse and scruffy, enough that force users and scoundrels make natural company, and the mayor of a planet may hire them to locate the holocron-gem said to lie in the bottom of an ancient ruin.

The game loop of 4-LOM is almost identical to a typical dungeon game. The PCs seek wealth and pursue their goals by seeking dangerous, neglected places full of treasure, periodically returning to civilization to recover and spend their loot. Unless you have a specific reason to do otherwise, treat each planet with the same complexity you’d give a single six-mile hex. When the adventurers travel from the border town to the dungeon, they’re going from the fringe world to the ruin world. Feel free to expand the details on a planet more as time goes on, but don’t complicate things unnecessarily.

d12 planet types

1. globe-spanning city

2 globe-spanning forest

3. globe-spanning desert

4. globe-spanning ocean

5. globe-spanning tundra

6. globe-spanning wastes. 50% chance of atmosphere

7. globe-spanning mountains

8. globe-spanning sinkholes and tunnels

9. globe-spanning pastures

10. globe-spanning gardens

11. globe-spanning archipelago

12. Strangely, this planet has multiple biomes? Roll 1d4 times and combine.

“How vast those Orbs must be, and how inconsiderable this Earth, the Theatre upon which all our mighty Designs, all our Navigations, and all our Wars are transacted, is when compared to them. A very fit consideration, and matter of Reflection, for those Kings and Princes who sacrifice the Lives of so many People, only to flatter their Ambition in being Masters of some pitiful corner of this small Spot.” -Christiaan Huygens

Monday, June 14, 2021

Cursing Politics and Folly (GLoG class: Ranger)

Rangers are an odd thing. In their original D&D incarnation, they were potent fighters who got two hit dice at first level and only got experience if they were essentially alone on adventures. There was a lot to them, and while they seemed terribly unsuited to basically any D&D campaign where you hoped to level up they felt somehow cohesive. Ranging? How romantic. If later versions have seemed aimless I think it is in large part due to the attempt to tame this wild, weird original.

As with the druid, monk, barbarian, and the like, I want to focus on specific parts of the soup of ranger tropes, give them a coherent vector and a pathos, and inject some specificity. This class will be for the Acmori region, and represents those design goals. This ranger is an expedition captain, someone who leads parties out along the frozen seas of winter. (Alternatively, they are zoa captains, riding out on the open waves of summer. This is secondary because the Acmori campaign centralizes the winter adventuring party.)

The captain is a figure whose main tool is their crew, to which they are also bound. As a player, this creates a necessary tension. Over a captain’s career, they are well-served to cultivate relationships with particular crewmates, and eventually to negotiate better contracts. One captain might get around some obligations by gradually replacing crewmembers with crusading partisans. Another may constantly be on the lookout to make porters of the apefolk they encounter one adventure and lookouts of the eye-magi they find on the next. A captain PC is a natural adventurer, ruler, servant, questgiver, boss, and blue-collar.

Sword digression: the symbol of a captain’s office is their sword, and they also carry the previous captain’s sword. You have to carry both— make the crew carry almost anything else, but these weapons are your burden. Lose one sword and you’re jinxed. Lose both and you’re doomed. Pick one sword from the list below to be yours, and roll randomly from the same list to be the previous captain’s.


Starting Equipment: Crew of ten windfarers, thick beard or braids, fiery eyes, fur-lined crested helmet, banner with your personal device or that of your ruler, flask of gløgg, a tern or monkey, and two captain’s swords.

  • A: Writ, Excavation
  • B: Two-Weapon Fighting, Sealore
  • C: Old Salt
  • D: Aspyrian

Writ: You are bound by your duty to your crew. When you agree to go on odyssey for a patron, you are allowed to forswear payment but you must accept no less than 27 gold coins (or 32 gold coins and 4 silver, if you wish to claim your double share.) After a successful voyage you can replace any dead or retired crewmates (each has [level] HP), but if it was unsuccessful it will take a season of bottom-feeding in a port to find new hands.

Excavations: When on the ice, shipwrecked, or otherwise in the wilderness, your crew can quickly excavate a [level]-section bivouac, shack, or other hibernacle.

Two-Weapon Fighting: When fighting with your two captain’s swords, you get +1 defense and reroll 1s for damage. (Keep rerolling if you keep getting 1s.)

Sealore: When you encounter something strange on the ocean, you have a 2-in-6 chance of knowing a relevant tale about it.

Old Salt: You are never surprised in combat. Sleep does not make you any less alert. Additionally, after studying an NPC or mythic creature, get the answer to any one yes-no question about them.

Aspyrian: Through a combination of experience, lore, and intuition, you can track anyone or anything across any distance. You are led over bare stone or the ever-changing waves, seized by a conviction, a vision of your quarry that always proves accurate. When actively tracking someone, a black mark appears on their palm in warning. (This omen is caused by all sufficiently intense pursuits, not specifically by you. It's just a thing that happens, like the sunrise or spontaneous generation.)

This, but pre-Aesaetas Ruinas

d20 Captain’s Swords

1. A handsome falchion with a spiked crossguard and a manta-skin hilt.

2. A cutlass fresh-forged, kept in a bamboo scabbard bearing the ideograms “Let my Children Judge”

3. A keen falx, held in a purpose-built kney-green harness, hilted with damascene gold.

4. A gladius, the standard issue of the Summer Wars since rendered quaint. Now bears a modest carbuncle in the hilt.

5. An ornately-worked harpe, with an attendant tablet announcing its pedigree as the weapon of an ancient hero.

6. A carp’s tongue sword with a turquoise groove in the center. It weeps ancient blood in humid weather.

7. An arsenical copper jian with eight topazes inlaid in the hilt and one great topaz in the scabbard. The scabbard and hilt are bear-leather

8. A xiphos, inscribed with the ideogram “Vigor” on one side and “Votelain” on the other. One edge is serrated.

9. A rough-forged swerdan, battered, its newly-wound handle obviously standing out. Makes small black fires when held to something flammable while the ancient word “Fýr” is spoken.

10. A spatha, with one side wavy (to represent the sea) and the other side straight (to represent the land). This is used in Telumancy, where the weapon is thrown into the air and the side that points to the thrower is used to answer a question. The hilt has a discrete clip which can weight the result, always landing on the intended side.

11. A straight-bladed carnumban’s curtana, its scabbard and hilt ornate silver and gold, set with red glass gems. Whoever originally owned this was surely a beautiful fellow, possibly a temple champion.

12. A skydisk sword, with a small jade astronomical chart by the hilt. At the pommel is a small ideogram too ornate to be readable.

13. A leaf-shaped sword, engraved with a cartouche on the base of the blade, with blue velvet covering the bottom third showing an underwater scene.

14. A seax, with a brass hilt sculpted to resemble a snake belching the blade, with eyes of jasper.

15. An antenna sword, fitted into a cowhide scabbard, tattooed with a tessellating pattern.

16. A bronze rapier, a light weapon long enough to outreach most other light weapons. Held in a long sling like a strung bow.

17. A sickle sword with an intricate bifurcated hilt of coral and gold. It is made to be carried in a waistband, perhaps unwisely.

18. A grip-tongue sword, its hilt gold, its scabbard red leather tipped with gold. This scabbard-tip is actually hollow, a false bottom to carry hidden messages.

19. A khopesh with a mother-of-pearl handle and silvered hilt, inscribed with an invocation against shattering.

20. A falcata with an enameled wolf's-maw handle set with agates, the back edge of the sword filled with meticulous tallies.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Nor Shall Evil Conquer Virtue (GLoG Class: Monk)

We have seen that I can take any tired class archetype and make it wired, be it barbarian, paladin, bard, or druid. To finish the set, we consider the Monk.

This is a class of contraries, a character who loves peace but trains for war, whose privileged position endangers the order they wish to uphold. Mechanically, they resemble the warrior of my current VtS playtests.

The white monks are soldiers and crusaders, the vanguards of armies who are trained to take orders. The black monks are embalmers and confessors, the ministers to masses who are trained to be governable. The grey monks are neither. It is their place to try to serve what is right and to fall in the attempt. Their orders teach that fighting is in vain, but necessary. The first act of tyrants and revolutionaries is to outlaw the orbseekers. The last step of their program is always to dissolve the grey monks.

To be a grey monk is to be immune to the law for as long as you can flee it.

Grey Monk
Starting Ken: Exotic weaponry, war, or ancient atrocities
Starting Equipment: humble knee-length tunic, thick socks, carrying sash, inro, wicker bascinet, arnis, and a piece of baggage.
  • A: Mercy, Acts of Agility
  • B: +1 attack per round, immune to sleeping poorly
  • C: Walk the Wending Path, Secret Signs
  • D: Insight
Mercy: You do not lose morale for witnessing or committing acts of violence. Every time you use more force than absolutely necessary, deal double damage and gain 1 Disdain, then roll a d6. 
If the result is equal to or less than your Disdain, cross out the above rules, You still do double damage with wanton violence, but your scruples slip away and your mission becomes fundamentally broken. You turn away from your training and towards a life of consumption and destruction.  You now lose morale from witnessing violence; this takes the form of abject joy and sensual distraction for you.

Acts of Agility: you have a 2-in-6 chance to perform feats, such as running along walls or slipping through impossibly small holes. Each additional monk level increases this chance by 1-in-6. 
Roll the d6 before you attempt the feat-- failure means you know you cannot succeed in this moment and you do not attempt it. You There's actually a neat saying about doing vs.trying, ask me about it sometime.

Walk the Wending Path: If it is possible to sidestep ranged attacks or snatch missiles out of the sky, you do so with ease. 

Secret Signs: When confronted with a prophecy, omen, or obvious portent, your DM is obliged to give you an extra something-something, a little hint to interpret the meaning of said prophecy, omen, or portent.You are allowed to complain when nothing portentous has happened in a while.

Insight: Spend a week meditating on the nature of mortal war, immortal theodicy, and the shape of things to come. At the end of this week, ask any one question of terrible import, like "how can I entreat the angels to deliver us?" or "how can I control the winds?" or "how can I create a weapon that will destroy Kung Fu?" The answer enters your mind like sunlight focused through a lens.
Half of every monk order's tales start with a hateful monk's insight. The other half start with a well-meaning monk's insight. Both are full of destruction and woe.

d20 Pieces of Baggage
1. disgraced mentor (hard-hearted and cruel)
2. disgraced mentor (naive)
3. mentor slain by the master of the nearest dungeon
4. parents slaughtered by the one you now love the most
5. abandoned a life of wanton disdain
6. set aside by gods for trials
7. set aside by gods for punishment
8. true love the captive of the master of a far-off dungeon
9. true love the master of a far-off dungeon
10. kaballistic curse will kill you slowly
11. you must care for an illicit bastard
12. stoppered imp-bottle. The creature within is amazingly knowledgeable and will not lie to you, but will only answer questions it thinks will serve its (evil) interests. Obviously, don't let it out of the bottle. Invent a shameful story for how this object came into your possession
13. used the forbidden Dolorous Chain Strike against an opponent in a duel. Start with +1 Disdain
14. stole a polearm from a prodigal noble. Decide on the type of polearm, as well as the shining gem worked into the shaft.
15. The unhappy acquaintance (though not guardianship) of a godparent
16. curséd shoes, the Red Path Winklepickers. When blood-soaked, they can walk on air at the cost of +1 Disdain
17. curséd collar makes you a violent animal during the night before the sabbath
18. curséd steed, the Brimstone Horse. Destined to eat its rider's remains
19. curséd flyssa saber, RED MAWS MANY. Can harm anything, and wants to
20. Roll 1d4+1 times and combine.

Will you let these old fools exile you for doing what you had to do? Art by John Park