Tuesday, April 9, 2019


A few abilities inspired by/stolen from Skerples article about artefacts

X = number of segments combined
Flipping a segment like a coin will always have it land on it’s edge, and roll towards the nearest segment you don’t own.

If you're not sure where the segments might be, roll 1d100 each time you arrive at a new area:

  1. For sale from a tinker, for favours bizarre
  2. With a warlord that knows not what he has
  3. Trapped in a lab with a brain in a jar
  4. At the bottom of a well
  5. Buried in the ruins of a collapsed church
  6. Functioning as part of a town lightning rod
  7. Floating on a solid cloud
  8. In the middle of a field, surrounded by dead cows and burnt grass
  9. In the nest of an immense crow
  10. The wedding ring of an eccentric princess
  11. or more: not here! Keep looking

The Rod of Seventy Seven Parts is highly unstable, and does not go together easily. When joining together segments, the Rod has an X-7 in 20 chance of backfiring:
1dX segments teleport away and…

  1. The rod explodes for Xd6 damage, 20ft radius
  2. You are polymorphed into a random animal
  3. Killed stone dead, no save, with an idiot expression on your face
  4. Surrounding area is teleported in a random direction
  5. 1d20 lightning bolts hit randomly all around
  6. An apocalypse happens, just a local one

Adding the eighth segment has a 1-in-20 chance of going kapow, the ninth 2-in-20 etc. Joining together parts using mechanical/magical assistance may deflect or reduce the effects.

Abilities that recharge daily will do so at the first ray of dawn. Abilities that recharge weekly will do so on the dawn of the Sabbath. Cunning users will wrangle this to their advantage.

  1. Wind-up as an action, next hit deals 1d20 damage on a hit, staggers you on a miss
  2. Unique ranged attacks, deals 1d8 on a hit. Range increases with segments collected
  3. As shield, blocks 1d12 damage X times before consequences
  4. Transforms into any weapon
  5. Absorbs spells from wands/scrolls/magic items etc. can hold X
  6. If you don’t attack in a round, +X to Defence
  7. Deals exploding damage on a max roll
  8. X additional attacks per day, 1d6 self-damage per two extras
  9. +X to-hit, +X damage
  10. Polymorphs the rod into a seven-legged spider with X HD. Has a X% chance of going rogue, if it thinks it can best you in a fight. If the spider dies, the rod falls apart  and scatters segments everywhere.
  11. Perfectly block an attack, 1/day
  12. Perfectly hit an attack, 1/day
  13. Scan enemy HP, 1/combat
  14. Reroll failed saves while at full HP and/or wearing exceptionally fine clothes
  15. Change the dimensions of the rod by x7 in any direction
  16. Emits light as a torch for X hours per day
  17. +2X inventory slots
  18. Escape a dungeon with your party, up to X floors beneath the surface
  19. Can recreate the image and sound of a 10 minute scene in the last X days
  20. Vibrates gently whenever you are about to do something likely lethal
  21. Telepathy by making eye-contact, unusual usage up to X/day (just talking is fine, yelling, imitating other voices, is “unusual”)
  22. Translates between any languages, 10-X % chance of a mix-up per conversation
  23. Ask Advice, X/week
  24. Scout room, X/day
  25. Copies an ability you have been struck by, use it X/day
  26. Increase max HP by 2X
  27. Immune to critical hits
  28. Immune to level drain and death effects
  29. Take half damage from [1. Fire, 2. Poison, 3. Spells, 4. Traps, 5. Bladed weapons 6. Falling]
  30. Block the first X MD from spells per day
  31. Multiply damage by 1+1dX on a critical hit
  32. Critical range increases by X/2
  33. Reroll a d20, X/day
  34. Automatically succeed a d20 roll, X/week
  35. Produce an exceedingly useful item, X/week
  36. Produce a basic supply item, X/day
  37. Levitate up and down, slowly
  38. Walk on water
  39. Produces X hours of breathable air per day
  40. Blink, deals 1d6 damage every additional time used
  41. Teleport, 1/day
  42. Animate Object, X/day
  43. Invisibility, X rounds of combat per day, or X minutes non-combat
  44. Recharge any daily ability 1/day
  45. Add 1 MD to a spell, X/week
  46. Sleep, targets X HD of enemies, 1/day
  47. Fly, X passengers, 1/day
  48. Reattach a lost limb, 1/day
  49. Heal Xd4 HP per day
  50. Fireball, Xd6 damage, 1/day
  51. Transmute Flesh to Stone and Back, X/day
  52. Transmute [Weird] to [Weird], X/day
  53. Silent Illusion X/day
  54. Control [1. Fire 2. Water 3. Earth 4. Air] X/day
  55. Ask a yes/no question about something you tap, X/day
  56. Detect Invisible
  57. Detect Poison
  58. Locate Object, within X miles
  59. Detect Magic, X/day
  60. Speak with Dead, X/day
  61. Speak with [1. Fire 2. Water 3. Earth 4. Air] X/day
  62. Speak with [1. Locks, 2. Shoes, 3. Arrows, 4. Blood, 5. Roads, 6. Statue, 7. Teeth, 8. Self, 9. Spell, 10. God, 11. Stars, 12. Universe, 13. Light, 14. Darkness, 15. Memories, 16. Dreams, 17. Lust, 18. Lies, 19. Dave, 20. Mother], X/day
  63. Command Magnetism
  64. Determine Weather
  65. Astral Travel, X dreams
  66. Neutralise Hunger, X people supported
  67. +2 to a random stat, +4 with 7 or more segments
  68. Change a random stat to 18, another is halved
  69. Deal 1d6 damage to target in sight, X/day
  70. Time-stop, X rounds/week
  71. Cast a random spell, X/day
  72. Telekinesis, up to X kg at a time
  73. Pass through X feet of solid material per day
  74. Undo previous round, 1/week
  75. Wish, 1/century
  76. True Resurrection, 1/century
  77. Extends lifespan by X times

Monday, April 8, 2019

A brief exchange

Spoilers. Credit Ian Jacobson

The west area has a couple nooks off the main room. In one is a large wooden chest. In the other, is a circle of chalk drawn in strange runes around a pedestal. Leaning against the pedestal is a weird wavy dagger, while there is a large, plain looking sword lying atop it.

Erziver the Gnome:
I want to step carefully towards the chest and inspect the latch

Looks fine to you, no signs of weird magic or trickery.

I tap the latch with the butt of my axe

Nothing. The latch is definitely free of traps

Bertrude, Nearly-Paladin:
I look at the rest of the chest for traps

"Wise choice, Bertrude"

I know the mind games

I'll sit in my saddle, hand on the latch, anxious to flip the fucker open

No traps
Do you open it Erziver?

I do!

Inside the box is... another chest!

Damnit! Does it have any obvious traps?

No obvious traps, no wires or runes or anything like that

I'll flip the lid up with my axe handle

The smaller chest lunges out of the bigger box and tries to bite your face off!
Roll defence, at +1 since you had the axe in the way


Ka-chomp, goes the chest on your arm, for... 8 damage.
Maybe that's your face, not your arm


Haha! I'm at exactly 0 HP!

Bertrude immediately grabs the chest and tries to pull it off

Fate smiles faintly on me

Make a Strength check Bertrude!

"Wee friend!"

(I hope that wasn't too much of a 'gotcha', but you were looking for "obvious traps" :shrug: )

I never thought of a mimic in a chest

I even considered sinking my axe into the top in anger
Oh yeah thats a clever ass mimic

Unless its an enchanted chest
In which case im good at dissasembling constructs

Uwela the Kobold:
Little mimic would be cuter though.

So its off of me, right?

It's off, wriggling in Bertrude's hands. Which it will shortly try and eat. You can see Ezriver's blood on it's fangs, but it doesn't seem to have hit anything too important.

I want to sink my axe into the top of the thing!

Uwela it is adorable
Make an attack! Don't fail by a lot, or you'll hit Bert!

"Damn fucking trickery! DIE!"
Failed by 5?
Oh no

Oh no
Is that a lot?
Erziver, you clip Bertrude with your axe
"Clip", for 4 damage

Dammit, you did more damage to me than the dungeon did
I twist away and drop the thing, hissing in pain
Then I stomp on it
Dead space stylez

I have a greataxe
"If you'd waited!"
"I would've!"
"Killed it!"

"Damnit damnit damnit!" I RAGE! "YOUR BLOOD WASNT WHAT I WANTEDD"

Uwela, quietly, in the background:
"Well this is getting out of hand..."

You all spend some time therapeutically stomping the absolute shit out of this tiny little mimic. it's guts, such as they are, are dribbling through the flagstones, and it's fangs shatter like glass.

I'll pass on stomping. Poor mimic.

I'm typing this whole exchange up
It's my favourite

Thursday, April 4, 2019

"There are more things in Heav- OH GOD IT'S BACK KILL IT KILL IT" - Nightmare Parasite for GLOG

Long, long ago, I was interested in this. I then discovered GLOG, and all of that melted away. But some of it stuck around. This is a love-letter to a 3.5e rebalancing homebrew, written for an OSR DIY sub-system:
For those who do walk his path, who embrace Terror as a means of strength, they may master the primordial arts of that Titan which should not have lived. To them, “Unafraid” is a mistranslation of “Ignorant”.
These inborn instincts can be traced back to The Nightmare himself, who rots and decays in that destitute pit, letting his existence blossom out unto the great wheel, spreading his legend, watching even in death, silently pushing those of his ascendents closer to his dream of perfect life. 
~ Xefas

It's so... purple. I dig it. This hobby rules.

Micah from Nuclear Haruspex designed this challenge to create parasite-related content for GLOG. There are many others like it, but this one is mine:

Body King
Cuckoo Folk
Eater of Tongues
Mother of Osk
Parasite Brain
Temporal Paradox

Most other contributions are about people that have parasites, or playing a parasite that infects someone. You are a parasite, a scar, a blot on reality itself. And you're hungry.

This is you now. Credit Piotr Foksowicz

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

"I ought to be thy Adam" - Golemist (Wizard School)

This was a request/challenge by Micah from Nuclear Haruspex. I was all for collaborative work, but my honour was impugned, and thus, a friendly challenge was born! You can find his version here.

Optionally: there are two competing schools of Golemistry engaged in a cold war amongst the hallowed halls of the Foreign Parts. Golemists are uniquely placed in their ability to compete without risking anything other than the material components of their war machines. Consider:

  • Minute golem saboteurs
  • Gigantic mechs stomping about
  • Contracting them as mercenary forces will inevitably result in your opposition receiving a bid as well

These golems are completely different from elven drones. Probably. Maybe. Who's to say?

Credit Henrik Rosenborg

Monday, March 25, 2019

"Wanderer" v1.7

Tuesday, February 12, 2019


At some point, when you have been playing someone else's OSR system, you’ll reach a certain critical mass of houserules, fixes, adjustments and everything else, where it’s more of your own content, and less of the source material. For me, the gateway drug of GLOG and GLOG-alikes lead to it, but whatever the case: you’re now an OSR game designer, whether you like it or not. At this point, there is really only one viable option - slap a different name on it, and keep going.

Credit Konstantin Vavilov


DIE TRYING is only a few steps removed from Owlbear Stew, and shares a lot of content. Everything that fits into the family of GLOG will slot in perfectly, and it's OSR compatible. It uses the same races and most mechanics. Spellcasting, wizard schoolsspells, workings, and multiple other magical accoutrements are carried across. The Character Interestifier plays a part, as do some weird superpowers. In fact, any time in the past few months, if I've seen an interesting table or bizarre class mechanic, it's been added to The List. What is The List? It's the list of things each new character may have done before they became an adventurer. But I'm getting slightly ahead of myself. With all of these things that are clearly not mine, there are a few things that distinguish Die Trying from your average GLOGalike or OSR hack. For starters:

No classes.

None. Each new character generated is given a random selected appellation, but this has no impact whatsoever. What they do receive is three rolls on a nested 2d20 table (The List) of weird events that have impacted them. Whether providing useful skills, unique abilities, training in the mystic arts or "merely" a failed career, all pretty much guarantee that each new character is unique. As Ian put it in in his rather illuminating* (for me) review, each new character is created "lacking" something important. No one receives a neat package of interlocking abilities. Everyone is a mess of loose ends, and I think that's wonderful. Something, just sometimes, you might end up with a demigod aasimar with 18 Charisma (that's a story for another time), but characters like that are exactly as rare as they should be. The other difference Die Trying has is:

No levels.

No levels, and no experience points (as you'd know them). Instead, each seperate stat improves individually. Rolling a critical success, an enhanced critical failure (see below) or missing a check by one grants a checkmark next to that stat. Once you have the requisite amount, it improves. Defence can only be improved by acquiring better armour, and hitpoints improves every time you are injured or almost die, but apart from that, using an ability gives you a chance to improve it.

<sidenote> Enhanced critical failures also come from Owlbear Stew. Critical successes grant experience as-is, but critical failures do not. Instead, the DM produces a likely consequence of said crit fail, and the player has a choice: if they suggest something worse than the DM's idea, then they gain the experience. Otherwise, it's just a critical fail </sidenote>

There are quite a few other ways to acquire these checkmarks, or Xs, and anyone that has read Owlbear Stew will recognise a few of them. Showing up to the session, being selected as the MVP, having had the most dramatic moment of the session, and being the character with the fewest Xs all grant an X anywhere on your character sheet. Anywhere. There are a few other, more important ways to acquire these free-floating Xs: oaths and ideas.

Swearing a binding oath in return for an XP reward is a long-standing and highly effective mechanic. It links players and NPCs together, brings interesting decisions to the forefront and forces some difficult choices. Importantly, breaking any oaths removes the possibility of swearing more until you atone. Your word is your bond, and people will just know if you are a scoundrel. You can still say the words... but they'll just ring hollow, and I like that.

Quote: Create a unique, interesting, simple and/or effective solution to a problem. This grants an X anywhere on the sheet. In my opinion, the above four traits are the hallmark of effective lateral thinking, and that is what the game is about. Is the game about combat? Then combat provides XP. Is the game about being sneaky and overcoming challenges and getting loot? Then gold recovered from dungeons provides XP. Is the game about making friends and enemies and exploring stories. Then... something provides XP, I'm not really sure, but the point stands. In Die Trying, the X system links back to my personal mantra of what it means to be OSR: Play The Damn Game!

One issue that stems from having stats improve according to their rate of being used, is that it can encourage players to roll dice when they don't need to, or preferably, be attempting to avoid them. As Type1Ninja puts it "good plans don't roll". However, compare the 15% chance of acquiring an X for rolling, with a 100% chance for having a good plan.

Another OSR issue - being able to place your Xs anywhere on the sheet might seem at first glance to allow "builds", with all the problems that entails. However... this hasn't seemed to be an issue in practice? Players will place Xs where they need them, and next to what parts of the game they are interested in. Some will shore-up weaknesses, others double-down on strengths, or merely try and twist my brain with their creative placement next to items, abilities, Trauma and peasant followers. One slight quibble is that free-flowing Xs acquired during combat can distract a player from the gameplay. An easy fix: if an X isn't placed within three seconds, leave it until the end of a session or in-game rest. 

One particular design decision that I'll take far too long to talk about here was the Save mechanic. Saving throws were an invention that provided a second chance for heroes to survive almost certain death. Save is also the GLOG stat with the highest level cap, and starts the lowest. It is modified by Charisma, which has something interesting to say in terms of how the universe/destiny looks after those deemed "lucky" and "important". Hence, it more or less functions as a measure of how heroic a character is. In order to reinforce this, the Save stat in Die Trying is more difficult to acquire than other ordinary stats. There's no benefit for missing by one. Critical successes grant a permanent +1 to that specific type of save (Save vs. Fear, Mutation, Falling, In-Laws etc.) but not to the base stat. Instead, Xs to Save can be granted from:
  • Clearing a small dungeon
  • Clearing a large dungeon floor
  • Saving the life of an ally
  • Funerals for dead allies
  • Going carousing
  • Per achievement on dead/retired characters
Save is a measure of heroism, and these are the things that are heroic in nature. If you were to use Die Trying for a different setting you would change those to whatever behaviour was deemed to be that of "heroes".

There was a funeral shortly after. Credit wr3cking8all

Progression and Abilities

In short, Die Trying does not provide hard-and-fast rules for earning new abilities. However, remember that some Xs can be placed anywhere on your character sheet. If added to your race, consider allowing some race-as-class abilities. To your name? How wacky would that be? I've used them for reducing the sting of negative traits, but more importantly, allowing them to be used offensively. Combine two traits ad-hoc, then cement them with three Xs into a solid ability. Get beaten up, and learn that move to get revenge. Slaying enemies and getting trained in combat is linked to the modified Notches system. Players should always be able to discuss any particular abilities they want, and how they might go about finding them. Parties that complete major quests should immediately receive an ability linked to their recent endeavour. As Arnold K mentioned recently, "a character made out with a mermaid and now he can hold his breath for +2 rounds". That kind of stuff is good. Characters can teach other players their abilities using the new Haven system (post inbound), and I think that's just cool.

And finally, if all else fails, and there are three Xs sitting in the middle of a blank section of character sheet, you can always roll 1d100000 and see what you get (table is 0.39% complete at time of writing. We can do it!)

How it has gone

For the most part: pretty damn well. Characters have lived, breathed, strived, died and been rerolled. The instant character generation has played a good part in bringing vibrant, interesting characters to the forefront. The tension between the various "incomplete" characters has been intriguing and resulted in a lot of gameable moments. I haven't tried it with brand-new players yet, but I'm very excited (and somewhat nervous, considering how important it is) to see how that goes. I've also yet to see whether it can hold up over a longer campaign, though I believe that should help some of the quibbles and issues with abilities smooth out of the way.

Let me know if you are interested in joining in as well! I'll be running playtests from now until- well, the end of time, probably!

If you need a character sheet for meatspace play, this is the one I'll be using in about two weeks time. I've found smaller sheets work better, to a point, and this has plenty of open space for weird X placement!

"DIE TRYING is a transmedia storytelling project that blurs the line between platform and experience and transcends traditional narrative frames." I mean, I'll take it!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Domains, Altars, Statues and Runes