Saturday, May 7, 2016

The GLOG

Everyone has a homebrew ruleset, and everyone wants to show it to other people, or at slap it around until it's presentable.

But no one is interested in your fantasy heartbreaker.  This is because everyone is up to their ascending colon in retroclones and besides, they're busy writing their own.

It's like trying to tell other people about your dreams.  No one cares.  Give them content, not another retroclone.

I know these things, and yet here I am.

So I started writing up some classes for the players in my home game, and I thought to myself, "Arnold, you should post some of this on your blog.  Some of these mechanics are pretty cool."

But of course, it's pointless to see the classes if you don't know the house rules, and so I had to type that up all nice and pretty, too.  And then I had to spend two hours looking at fonts, and then another hour learning how to put tables of contents into OpenOffice, and then somewhere in the middle of it all--between Garamond and Laudatio--I had to spend a few minutes wondering what the fuck I was doing.


But by then, it was too late, and I was done.

here's a selfie I took at that moment

So this is my fantasy heartbreaker.  Not all of it--I still have unsorted pile of mechanics-mulch--but enough of it that you could probably get a game going.


The GLOG stands for "The Goblin Laws of Gaming".  It's version -1.0 because it's not even in alpha yet.  It's basically a pile of crayon-scribbled napkins that I've stapled together, and now I'm waving them at you in an elevator telling you about my "revolutionary" new gaming system, while holding up my torn sweatpants with the other hand.

Here's ten martial classes.


If people actually seem to give a shit about this one, I'll maybe write up 10 spellcasters and/or 10 weirdos and slap them all together.  Protip! The Death and Dismemberment Rules make this painfully incomplete ruleset less painful (but also more painful, because dismemberment).

And holy shit, I guess you need a character sheet, so here's that.


You are now equipped.  Let me know if you're interested in this stuff.  Or, just ignore this post and I'll get back to blogging about Dwarven prom nights or whatever it is I do.

by will willingham

56 comments:

  1. I will read this, because it is goblinpunch, and goblinpunch should be read.

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  2. Would love to see the 10 spellcaster classes and the 10 weirdo classes. Pretty please?

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    1. Man after reading all the martial classes out loud to my pcs I have to agree. Bring on the spell casters!

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  3. This is freakin' awesome, always wanted to get insight into your actually rule-set you use for games.

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  4. Yes! I have waited for so long to see the "whole" thing since you talked about some of the mechanics back in 2014, and it was worth it... I'd love to see the other classes.

    (However, I think the skills are not explained clearly enough, but maybe it's me).

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  5. i read home rules and still will because still not same as mine and i might want to steal ideas

    actually my weird rule stuff gets lots of readers and my shitty bard class been in my top ten for years

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  6. everyone should write own rules - players who only wanna play latest official stuff amaze me

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    1. agreed, i never really get tired of it nor understand people who do. granted not every ruleset is gonna be a winner but even clunky ones can give you ideas of what not to do. anyway good rules arnold

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  7. Oh I am so going to poach stuff from this for my own game.

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  8. Looks like this is basically a more complete Goblin Doctrine from your pdfs, minus the spell schools, gods, and weapon abilities? I love this rule system, and someday when I chance to introduce a group to roleplaying, it will the one I use.

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    1. That's exactly what it is. I should add the weapon abilities to this PDF.

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  9. I love when game-meisters spend their time creating a thing and then just release it out into the wild. Thank you sir!

    Love the design philosophy. I tend to prefer "roll high" mechanics, but that is a minor quibble. Plenty of food for thought here. I for one would like to see more about the skill system and more classes.

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  10. Awesome. Would love to see more. One question: it appears that bow and sling Dave is modified by both Str and Dex, while crossbow damage is only modified by Dex -- is that a correct reading?

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    1. "Dave" meaning "damage", of course, since I'm typing on an iPhone and the backspace key is right next to the M key and I have fat fingers.

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    2. Thats a typo. I've gone back and forth on that. I think I'm going to remove Dex from ranged weapon damage.

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  11. Your character sheet is surprisingly nostalgic to me. Memories of my first heartbreaker and making a sheet in wordperfect.

    I will look at the other stuff too.

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  12. Some nifty additions I will port into 5e.

    I like the shield sundering rule. And also the drunken rule.

    I am considering weapon breakage, though only on a 1, since 5e has no fumble. Still, 50% seems punishing at first glance.

    I also really like the baseline of 1st level being "You can think of the base adventurer as Indiana Jones minus the Archeologist." Definitely stealing that.

    I would consider a death and dismemberment rule as well. Basically, we've been houseruling that failing a death save means a roll on the wounding table in the 5e DMG. But I like the idea of staying conscious but rolling on a percentile table instead when taking hits.

    My immediate idea would be something like 'disadvantage on all rolls at 0 HP, death save to stay conscious when taking dmg at 0 hp (any hit counts as a failed save for dying anyway), roll for wounding when making the save - death is an option on the table'.

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    1. The breakage rule expects combat to be infrequent. In 5e, combat is ubiquitous, so that 1-in-40 may crop up more often.

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  13. “But no one is interested in your fantasy heartbreaker.”

    What? No! We want to read it.

    The whole point of the so-called fantasy heartbreaker is to change the bits you have ideas about while keeping bits you don’t have ideas about. (Rather than changing things simply in the name of originality. As if originality mattered.)

    And a corollary to that is that we want to read other people’s in case there is an idea we want to incorporate into our own. We start from a common, modular base; and together we built things that are better than any of us could have created alone.

    And not just one that is handicapped by compromise, but a thousand that are all awesome.

    Thankfully we have the internet to grease the wheels so that we can do it so much more efficiently than when actual publication was nearly the only way to share.

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    1. Oath. This whole community is so great to have just to share everyone's different ways of doing shit.

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  14. This is really cool.
    Questions about criticals: do you have a policy for what they actually do? Fumbles too? And a critical hit would normally be on a 1, not a 20, right? (The Fighter template suggests expanding criticals to 19-20).

    Conviction: you can spend for +4 on a roll unrelated to conviction, but the next paragraph seems to imply that you cannot spend it on a roll unrelated to conviction. I may be misreading.

    Love the templates. Noble is cracking.

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    1. Multiple rewrites are stepping on each other. Thanks for noticing, I'll fix that.

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    2. Criticals deal double damage OR normal damage + something cool. The something cool can be a combat maneuver, but it is not limited to it.

      When unintelligent NPCs get a crit, they choose to double the damage if the die roll is even, and do normal damage + something cool if it is odd. Intelligent NPCs do whatever is worst for the party.

      Conviction: The most recent rewrite is the softer version. You can spend it on stuff unrelated to your Conviction, but the bonus is halved.

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    3. Thanks for clarification. this is all looking more and more boss.

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  15. First off, I love this.

    This is an amazing rule system. I also recently rediscovered this blog, and am looking through it as I write this.

    Looking forward to seeing more stuff! :)

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  16. Now I want to play as a Really Good Dog

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  17. I had been curious to see how you would implement paladins and rangers.

    I was once told that when the Pope demanded that armies stop fielding crossbowmen, given that they were so useful for penetrating knightly armor, the response from army leaders was basically: "I know! Isn't that great?"

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  18. Kudos for putting your heart on your sleeve and putting this out there! I don't exactly have the wherewithal to playtest it, but I wouldn't mind seeing you develop it more - even as an abstract exercise, it still has value. Meanwhile, a few thoughts:

    * In PvP contests, who rolls? Maybe you can rule that the active agent rolls, and that's good most of the time, but how about e.g. an arm-wrestling contest where both sides are equally active? This becomes extra important because it seems like only the person making a roll can get a 19 and break their stuff!

    * "Save" doubles as a Luck roll? Interesting!

    * Good luck trying to avoid "system mastery." Your players may not be able to calculate "optimal builds" for "DPs" or whatever, ha ha, but they will intuit tactics and strategies that are preferable to use or avoid as a result of how the system works - e.g. fight in the morning and then stop for lunch, maybe.

    * You say that "proud dwarven kings are not [susceptible to intimidation]," and since you have a specific alien nature for dwarves in mind that may be 100% true... but let's not call people "bad at the game" in general for ever having different conceptions about how the world works than the DM does! As soon as you start depending on "common sense," you're going to run into gray areas due to people's differing experiences in life. And yes, you mention "negotiation," which is good... but negotiating from a stance of "you're bad at this game" isn't the most productive, is it? :/

    * You have targets "rolling" in combat maneuvers. Is this vestigial, to be replaced by the "one roll with bonus/penalty according to target's score," or is this an intentional exception?

    * Why would you expect your pets to "fight and even kill" each other? Animals in the real world rarely do that, even when they weren't raised and trained together. Are you trying to limit the number of pets a party can surround themselves with? Because I'd recommend a method that breaks verisimilitude a bit less.

    * The absence of death/dismemberment tables, a discussion of what exactly lethal damage does, morale, etc. despite their being referenced is a bit jarring, but obviously it's a work in progress.

    Looking okay so far, especially for a negative alpha draft. Keep 'em coming! :)

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  19. Nice stuff, and I'll certainly be considering importing some of those mechanics into my own campaign.


    ...but, what's the expected audience? I ask because something I didn't consider until the past year or so is that it turns out that [some] new RPG players, are *really*, *really* confused by mechanics that means sometimes low numbers are better, especially when combined with modifiers. It didn't occur to me until I saw a new player (and they weren't stupid!) struggling to work out whether they'd succeeded when they rolled a 3 and had a +3 modifier and a -2 modifier and a -1 due to that condition and...

    That's one thing that WotC have at least addressed in newer editions of D&D; character generation is still massively sluggish, *but* at least the base mechanics are easy to explain. Higher numbers are better, always. Higher stats are better. Higher dice rolls are better. You never want to roll a 1. Most modifiers have disappeared, too, lots of bonuses/penalties are just roll 2 dice, take the better/worse.

    Having lived through 2E, it surprised me how much trouble some new players had with the numbers, but it turns out it's actually a thing ... I think the worst problem is that when you want to roll a low number, it becomes unclear (or at least, non-obvious) whether -2 is good or bad. Is that minus two to my stat (oh no!) or minus two to my dice roll (woo!)?

    (In one sense, it's the least important part of what you posted; it's somewhat trivial to refactor into a system where higher-is-better. Seemed worth mentioning though just because I *completely* failed to realise how much of a problem it could be until introducing a few different groups of new players to RPGs...)

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    1. I am certainly not new to the hobby, but I have always had trouble doing arithmetic in my head and keeping track of situational modifiers. Or, e.g., remembering to subtract damage resistance in games that have it. Those are some of the things I try to minimize in any RPG I play.

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  20. What does heartbreaker mean in this context? If I would guess, that it's something that you put your heart into. Is that correct?

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    1. In simple terms, in this context a "fantasy heartbreaker" is a personal game-system project, so called because returns (in terms of fame and fortune or even attention) tend to be minimal compared to the effort put into them.

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  21. This is great (as always.) Especially like the way you handled the classes. Waiting with bated breath for the spellcasters.

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  22. First thoughts: This looks really tight. I like it a lot.
    The way you do classes is cool as hell, and I might well nick it for future projects. I'm kind of interested in randomly picking classes as well.
    my only criticism is the 2d12 thing for skills. Why not just make 'skill' a number you roll like 'attack' and 'save' for the things you've got skills in.

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    1. I flop back and forth. The advantage of 2d12 is simplicity (there's only one number on your character sheet and it is neatly limited by your level) and elegance (diminishing returns are desireable, and it levels off at just the right point, I think).

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  23. You may feel free to wave stapled, crayon-scribbled napkins at me in any elevator you choose.

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  24. These rules are really interesting, and I like the design thinking behind them.

    I would definitely like to see any more you may have. In particular, I'm keen to see the spellcasting classes, because that seems like a really important missing element - at the moment, you only have warriors. Which are very good. But still, if people want to use these rules, they will probably have players who want to play wizards, so...

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    1. If you look in the PDFs in the Goblin Doctrine file, there are rules for a generic Wizard and Cleric along with some deities, schools of magic, and a list of spells. Some of the other files have additionl template-style classes, like a berserker, fairy, and ghoul.
      https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0BxVHEMMjLlZ4ZnJyWnlSNEc3LW8&usp=sharing

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  25. I'm a little confused about defense.

    It says it is modified by Dexterity, but does that mean Plate is modified by Dexterity as well? Or do you just have a flat +5/6 to defense with plate?

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    1. Plate is a +6 to defense modified by Dex. Another thing due for a rewrite.

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  27. I'm a little confused by the attribute vs attribute content mechanic. It looks like if two characters had the same score, then the chances of either succeeding is zero.

    Personal preference is to aim for something where equally matched scores give ≈ 50% success.

    Something like:

    * Succeed if you roll ≤ score+10-opponent score.

    Or:

    * Both characters roll. Results ranked:
    • Roll ≤ score beats roll > score.
    • If both roll ≤ scores or both > scores then highest roll wins.

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    1. You're misinterpreting the math. If two characters are evenly matched in scores, then whoever rolls rolls against 10. So for example, if you have a 15 and the Cheesemongler has a 15, then the difference between the Cheesemongler's score and ten (15 - 10 = 5) is applied as a penalty to your score, for (15 - 5 = ) 10 as a target. I have a couple questions about the "only one side rolls" mechanic (above), but the basic math isn't one of them.

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    2. Ah, I see. Completely misread that.
      Thanks.

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    3. Confanity is correct. I'll edit for clarity when I write version -0.9.

      One note: rolling multiple dice instead of one begins to generate a bell curve. The more dice you are rolling, the bigger the advantage you are giving the stronger side. That's the biggest effect of replacing the d20 roll with a 3d6. They have the same average (10.5) but the 3d6 favors the stronger party much more often. Having two players each try to roll under their stat (like you mention) favors the character with the higher stat. (Which might be desirable.)

      Personally, I like a lot of chaos in everything except the rules for dying.

      So if two PCs were directly competing, I would let the player that initiated the action perform the roll. If both players were tied, I'd do the roll. Or like, just let one player bounce the dice off the other player's face, so they both contribute to the roll.

      Or make them hold hands with the die inside, and then the fight each other until the die falls.

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  28. in regards to contested maneuvers, how do you calculate the Str or Dex score for creatures that do not have those scores listed?

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    1. I started writing a response but then I turned it into a blog post instead.

      http://goblinpunch.blogspot.com/2016/05/game-design-when-to-write-rule.html

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  29. One last question...on encumbrance. You have listed "Armor takes up a number of slots equal to its Defense bonus," as well as, "Each point of armor's Defense bonus in excess of +3 incurs a point of Encumbrance." So heavy (plate) which is +6 would have take up a total of 6 slots or 9 slots?

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    1. I want to pull this comment back without really deleting because others might do the same thing I did. But as my wife often says, reading closely can solve most of your problems. I was misreading the encumbrance value that greater than +3 armor adds as also applying to inventory slots. My bad.

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  30. Really looking forward to GLOG v. -0.9, awesome rules, love them. What little inconsistency they do have is mostly fixable by DM ruilings, but of course if you were to tidy them up, that would be just dandy.

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  31. Looks like I'll be using GLOG, with a few tweaks, to introduce a bunch of noobs to RPGs. The game they described fits this system exactly.

    Do you have a list of "acceptable" skills that aren't social skills, perception skills, or stealth skills?

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  32. First game using a GLOG-based system is starting in an hour. Should be interesting. I'll post an after-session report at https://coinsandscrolls.blogspot.ca/

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