2021/04/20

OSR: 4 GLOG Classes for Loxdon College: Brawler, Duelist, Thief, and Dandy

The working title for the GLOGhack is "Pointy Hatted Rat edition".

While writing and playtesting Magical Industrial Revolution, I worked under the assumption that the PCs were (at least initially) outsiders coming to Endon, and that the book would be used to supplement existing rules sets or games. For this game, the PCs will start as insiders. These classes (and this whole project) are designed for a very specific type of game, and should be viewed accordingly. These aren't the correct or canonical classes to run a GLOG game set in Endon; they're the classes I want to use for a specific project, with players who may or may not have visited Endon already.

Traditional dungeon-crawling combat will probably not dominate this game. It might happen, but most fights will be brief, accidental, or poorly planned. Smash-and-grab jobs gone awry, punches thrown as a distraction, or a last resort when negotiations fail.

I suspect most players will play wizards. It's a game about a magical college, after all. But I don't want to let wizards have all the fun. Students of Law, History, or Medicine should also be supported. Multiclassing into these classes will also give a spellcasting class an interesting twist.

This game shares several considerations with my GLOG pirates hack: low or no armour, firearms (though a less reliable and abundant), and an emphasis on schemes. I could probably port those classes over 1:1, but where's the fun in that?

Students of Law, History, or Medicine will (probably) roll on the Electric Bastionland Failed Career table, with results modified by the GM, just to add an extra touch of weirdness. Or they might not. Testing is ongoing.

Lord Byron's Boxing Screen

Brawler

Starting Equipment: stout walking stick (medium weapon) or fortified handbag (medium weapon).

A: Improvisational Genius
B: Athleticism, Flurry of Blows
C: Catfall, Nah
D: Punch Up The Conk

You gain +1 HP for each Brawler template you possess.

A: Improvisational Genius
In your hands, any item counts as a weapon.
  • A mug, stone, or carrot deals damage as a light weapon (1d6+SB / 1d6 30’ range thrown).
  • A towel, broom, or candlestick deals damage as a medium weapon (1d8+SB one handed / 1d10+SB two-handed).
  • A bench, hatstand, or beef haunch deals damage as a heavy weapon (1d12+SB two-handed).

If an improvised weapon deals max damage, it breaks. Improvised weapons only deal lethal damage at the GM’s discretion.

B: Athleticism
In your spare time, you have acquired basic training in all sports. You may still need to roll to perform well.

B: Flurry of Blows
Once per fight, instead of attacking normally, you can make a single melee attack against each adjacent enemy, or make up to 3 ranged attacks with thrown light weapons.

C: Catfall
You treat falls as if they were 20’ shorter. If you are knocked prone, you can Save to immediately spring to your feet.

C: Nah
Once per day, you can declare that something doesn’t affect you. You can do this after an attack’s damage is rolled. Works on anything you could feasibly dodge.

D: Punch Up The Conk

Once per day, you can punch an opponent with total HD no higher than your Level. They are knocked unconscious. No attack roll, no Save. They remain unconscious for 2 hours, until they are vigorously shaken, or until they take 1 or more damage. Killing an opponent you Punched Up The Conk is unsporting.

Mechanical Notes on the Brawler
Anyone can use improvised weapons. They deal 1d4+SB damage (or more if the GM decides it's a good idea). The Improvisational Genius ability allows the Brawler to do some serious harm with improvised weapons. Everyone has a plan until they get hit with a soup tureen. In Endon, weapons are taxed and students are broke. Carrying a traditional murderhobo's loadout will get you some odd looks on campus.

Also, while the default mental image for this class might tend towards Sherlock Holmes or Lord Byron, don't forget Honoria Glossop or graduates of a certain notable boarding school.

Catfall and Nah are from Arnold's Lair of the Lamb Acrobat. Punch Up The Conk works on non-living opponents too. Suplex that train. Creatures that are explicitly immune to Sleep effects might just be stunned for 1d6 rounds. Maybe not though.

Lap Pun Cheung

Duelist

Starting Equipment: leather dueling suit (as leather armor, but unfashionable), rapier or sabre (medium weapon), goggles.

A: Disarm, +1 attack per round
B: Danger Sense, Scars of Worth
C: Envigorated, Impress
D: Flynn

You gain +1 Movement for each Duelist template you possess.

A: Disarm
Once per fight, if you hit with an attack, instead of dealing damage you can instead choose to force your opponent to Save or drop one held item. You can Save to catch the item in a free hand.

B: Danger Sense
If you are surprised, you have a 50% chance to act in the surprise round anyway.

B: Scars of Worth
You gain a +4 bonus to any Saves made as part of a roll on the Death and Dismemberment table (Mangled, Crushed, etc.). For every 3 Interesting Scars gained, you may test to improve 1 Stat, as if you had levelled up.

C: Envigorated
Whenever you attack and deal damage to a worthy opponent, heal 1 HP. This ability cannot heal you if you are at 0 HP or below, and cannot remove Fatal Wounds.

C: Impress
Whenever you win a fight against challenging foes, people who don't like you make a new reaction roll with a +4 bonus. This even works on people you just defeated in combat, unless you caused them undeserved or disproportionate harm. Hirelings get a +2 to Morale or a new Save vs Fear.

D: Flynn
At the start of your the Initiative round, instead of making any attack rolls on your turn, you can select a number of enemies with total HD no higher than your Level that are currently fighting you with melee weapons (claws count, teeth might not count). Until the start of the next Initiative round, the selected enemies cannot deal melee damage to you.

Mechanical Notes on the Duelist
In Endon, duels of honour are still fought, but they are considered rare and scandalous. Students join dueling clubs and merrily slice each other to ribbons. Fatalities are not uncommon, but are usually accidental.

The original version of the Duelist in the Pirate GLOG hack didn't work as well as anticipated. Too much player-driven tracking, too many fatal duels, not enough interesting hooks.

Anyone can attempt a combat manuver to disarm an opponent; a Duelist just does it better, and with less risk. It's not an option PCs frequently take, so putting a reminder right on the character sheet seems sensible. Since Duelists get 2 attacks, they can use the first to Disarm and the second to deal damage.

Technically, as written, you could hit an opponent with a ranged attack, knock something from their hand, have it fly across the room, and catch it. I'd rule on that on a case-by-case basis, and probably impose some penalties to Saves, but it's too fun to patch out. Where's your wand of fireball now, wizard?

I have variable damage for one/two handed medium weapons. In my head, that just means you're using a rapier with one hand and keeping the other one empty (and not holding a lantern, a shield, or a hostage), and can therefore deal more damage on a hit.

Danger Sense could be "always act in surprise rounds", but I've found that PCs with that ability tend to wander into danger without worry, confident in their ability to recover, and that groups with such a PC in them tend to follow. It never ends well. It is originally from Arnold's Goblin Guts Barbarian. Impress is from Arnold's Goblin Guts Fighter.

Scars of Worth is a new ability. I'm not normally a fan of gaining power from injuries (i.e. by failing). A good plan, one that doesn't result in horrible wounds, should be encouraged. Still, it fits the genre and is unlikely to dominate a PC's career. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but what does kill you makes you dead.

Envigorated is an interesting ability. I don't usually include alternative healing methods. It may need more testing, but the idea of a PC healing through combat seems sensible (and a trap).

Flynn still lets a PC move, try a combat maneuver, or do anything else feasible that isn't an attack roll. It's good classic sword-waving nonsense, but it fits the genre. In testing, I might adjust it to "a number of enemies equal to your HD" if it seems weak. It has to activate at the start of the Initiative round instead of on the PC's turn or enemies could easily slice them to ribbons before they get a chance to act. I'd generously interpret "currently fighting" as well; if a few more low-level enemies wade into the fight, the damage immunity should still protect the PC.

Source Unknown

Thief

Starting Equipment: lockpicks, dagger (light weapon).
Starting Skills: Lockpick, Pickpocket.

A:
Always Prepared, Evaluate, Wall Crawler
B: Lucky, Quick Draw
C: Backstab
D: Great Escape, You Mean...This?
You gain +1 Stealth for each Thief template you possess.

A: Always Prepared
You may spend any amount of money to buy an Unlabelled Package. When the package is unwrapped, you declare what it contains, as long as the contents comprise the appropriate number of Inventory Slots, don’t cost more than you originally paid, and could feasibly be purchased. You can put multiple items inside a large Unlabelled Package, including smaller Unlabelled Packages. You can have up to two Unlabelled Packages at a time.

A: Evaluate
You automatically know the worth of mundane items. Unique items may require you to roll under  Intelligence.

A: Wall Crawler
You can climb as well without climbing gear as most people can with climbing gear. Simple climbs do not require a test. You can attempt impossible climbs.  

B: Lucky
You may reroll 1 d20 roll per day.

B: Quick Draw
Gain an additional 3 Quick Draw Slots.

C: Backstab
Whenever you have a situational bonus to an Attack roll, attacks that hit deal +1d6 damage.

D: Great Escape
Once per day,  you can automatically escape from something that is restraining you and that you could plausibly escape from. This includes grapples, lynchings, pit traps, and awkward social situations, but not sealed coffins.

D: You Mean...This?
Once per session, you can remove one non-obvious item from a person that mostly trusts you and has spent at least 5 minutes near you in the past hour. Not their sword or their hat, but a key, a trinket, or a letter, or half the wealth they carry. Before the hour is up, you need to tell them that you've taken it. Basically, you retroactively steal a thing..

Mechanical Notes on the Thief
My standard version of the GLOG thief (via Arnold's), but with the capstone ability from my Smooth Talker class. You're still a backstabbing scoundrel, but you're also the only one who remembered to pack crucial equipment.

I considered adding an "you always have a dagger on your person" ability, but in practice Thieves tend to pick up and conceal spare daggers anyway, and I don't want to include too many metafictional abilities.

Mead Schaeffer

Dandy

Starting Equipment: fine clothing worth 10gp.
Starting Skill: Gambling.

A: Composed
B: Fast Talk, Flighty
C: Prominence, Gambler’s Soul
D: Never Forget A Face
You gain +2 to Save against Fear and Mind-Altering Effects for each Dandy template you possess.

A: Composed
You can spend 6 rounds to become Composed. While Composed, you look as good as it is possible to look under the circumstances. Even dressed in rags and coated in slime, you look as though you are making a daring fashion statement. As long as you are at full HP and are Composed, intelligent creatures must Save to target you.

B: Fast Talk

You are an expert blatherer, liar, and wit. You can persuade any number of people of that whatever you are saying is true for 1d6 minutes, provided it is not obviously untrue. Sober, angry, and intelligent people get a Save to negate. When the effect ends, they realize whatever you've been saying is utter nonsense. Depending on your lies and their consequences, they may be very angry with you and immune to any future use of your Fast Talk ability, or they might treat it as a sublime jest.

B: Flighty
If you choose not to attack in a round, your Defense is 16. This only applies if you can see your enemies.

C: Prominence
Once per round, you can choose to be the most prominent person in a group or the least prominent person in a group (except for the Monarch, MIR pg. 55). This does not give you any bonuses to Stealth.

C: Gambler’s Soul
If you roll a critical failure, you can reroll the result by dropping to 0 HP. If you were at negative HP, you instead heal to 0 HP. This ability cannot remove Fatal Wounds.

D: Never Forget A Face
You have a perfect memory for names and faces. If you meet someone new, you have a 50% chance to know their name. If they are Middle Class or Upper Class, you may also know their profession and details about their family. This applies to named monsters and other implausible situations.


Mechanical Notes on the Dandy
You are the living embodiment of The Correct Thing. Every passion in your life is subsumed to the ideal of Composure. You are not an air-headed fop or twittering socialite, but a collection of careful choices.

A mix of the Smooth Talker and Goliard,  the Dandy is another peculiar class. Weaponized poise and social class, toughness without any significant damage-dealing abilities. I thought about adding some sort of "cutting remark" psychic damage ability, and I might still add it after tests, but it might not be necessary. Sometimes words hurt more than HP loss.

Side Note: many years ago, in a game based on 3.5E (I think), three things were true. First, a PC had a Feat or something that let them roll to "know the name and details of any titled nobility". Second, the true names of creatures held power. And third, the PC had just met a Duke of Hell. "Old friend of the family", they sheepishly said.


2021/04/13

OSR: The Monster Overhaul Update - 85% Done

The Monster Overhaul has reached another milestone. 17/20 chapters are complete and 10/20 chapters have art completed or in progress.

Iguanamouth

What is the Monster Overhaul? It's a ludicrously ambitious 200-entry bestiary designed for at-the-table utility. Every entry is unique, with extra useful tools like generic dungeons, name tables, detailed random encounter tables, interesting twists, or variant forms. You can read more about it here:

The 3 chapters in orange are still in progress. Entries may change (and will almost certainly be renamed). The Summer chapter is almost finished and will be up on Patreon in a few days.

The current pagecount, including a few WIP pages, is 250. I'm expecting it to easily cross the 300 mark by the time the appendices and indices and other miscellaneous tools are done.

Robin Carpenter

What's next?

  • Finish all 200 entries.
  • Do an editing pass, focusing on numerical consistency. Some of the values (particularly treasure values) are placeholders.
  • Sort out the Phylogenetic Tree (the HD(NA) bit), the tactics section, and the alternative sorting methods.
  • More editing and testing.
  • Even more editing and testing.
  • [???]
  • Crowdfunding?

Art is going fairly well. I still need to get ahold of a few more artists, but I'm please to announce that Iguanamouth is now on board and working away. Scott Wegener may also do a map or two, to complement the maps by Dyson Logos. Stay tuned.

All completed chapters are available on Patreon. I sometimes post WIP tables and tools on twitter, mostly to instantly locate spelling errors. It's funny how hitting the "publish" button does that.

Questions? Worried I've missed your favouirte monster? Ask away.


People Sci-Fi Dungeon Dragon Primeval

Lucas Roussel Frenden Robin Carpenter

Logan
1 Adventurer Alien Invader Giant Spider Kobold Flying Lizard
2 Barbarian Alien Visitor Goblin Wyvern Herd Lizard
3 Cultist Alpha Brain Lich Young Dragon Swift Lizard
4 Knight Doppleganger Mimic Ancient Dragon Thunder Lizard
5 Mercenary Giant Insect Monstrous Vermin Zombie Dragon Tyrant Lizard
6 Peasant Perfect Predator Mummy Pseudodragon Cave People
7 Pilgrim Robot Hound Myconid Beithir Colossal Ape
8 Merchant Robot Servant Ooze   Ground Sloth
9 Townsfolk Robot Titan Orc   Predatory Plant
10 Wizard Veggie-Mite Skeleton   Troglodyte













Elemental Spring Summer Fall Winter


Ashlyn Rudolph 
  Luka Rejec

1 Elemental Centaur Chaos Frog
Dark Fair Biscuit Golem
2 Elemental Spirit Druid Firebird
Dullahan Blizard Eel
3 Elemental Tyrant Flower Nymph Froghemoth
Harvest Avatar Grey Horse
4 Firebat Hatchling Mandrake
Iron Fulmination Ice Hag
5 Gargoyle Hateful Goose Pyromancer
Leafling Kamaitachi
6 Grue Raincloud Raijū Murderous Crows Nuckelavee
7 Living Gem Satyr Skeeter
Polevik Remorhaz
8 Sandwalker Shambling Mound Sun Dog
Scarecrow Snow Fungus
9 Spitling Sigbin Thriae
Shofar Ram Snow Golem
10 Will-o-the-Wisp Wicker Walker Tunnel Hulk
Tempest Hag Tortoise Tsar













Hot Plains Hostile Forests Mysterious Mountains Thinking Beasts Heraldic Beasts

Logan Nadhir
Lucas Roussel
Iguanamouth
1 Baboon Bear Alicanto Harpy Basilisk
2 Crocodile Boar Alpine Specter Kappa Catoblepas
3 Elephant Dryad Ape Lamia Chimera
4 Flightless Bird Fairy Couatl Lammasu Cockatrice
5 Hive Insects Giant Snake Giant Manticore Griffon
6 Hippopotamus Tiger Noble Giant Medusa Hydra
7 Hyena Treeant Kirin Minotaur Owlbear
8 Jinn Troll Panther Naga Questing Beast
9 Lion Unicorn Roperite Peryton Strong Toad
10 Rhinoceros Wolf Telluric Goat Sphinx Wurm












  Dark and Malign A Wizard Did It Water Strange Water Divine
    Robin Carpenter    
1 Ghost Aboleth Giant Crab Tardigrade Angel
2 Ghoul Animated Item Kraken Rotifer Beast of Creation
3 Hag Elsewhere Creature Merfolk  Not Another Phylum Cherub
4 Ogre Eye Tyrant Pirate Trilobite Demigod
5 Vampire Golem Remora   Devil
6 Werewolf Homunculus Sea Hag   Dybuk
7 Wight Mind Eater Sea Serpent   Hell Hound
8 Zombie Mutant Seal   Imp
9 Banshee Rust Monster Shark   Scapegoat
10 Mothman Shivered Beast Whale   Visionary

2021/04/06

40k: Crassus Command, Sentinel Powerlifters, and Other Assorted Tanks

The Moribundan 1st Armoured Regiment, despite its cabinet-straining bulk, has a few gaps in its roster. Well no longer!

Crassus Command Vehicle


As originally discussed in this post, the Crassus Command Vehicle has a fully detailed and totally useless interior diorama.

The end result is fairly close to what I'd originally planned. Fitting all the models into the space was tricky, but they're all in there and in appropriate medieval tableaux poses.

Here's a WIP shot with the models still in test positions. Plenty of detail, greebling, and grime.

Sentinel Powerlifters


After a long search, I finally found 3 Sentinel Powerlifters in decent enough condition to refurbish (casting new bits where I had to). They've been out of production for years.

Side Note: 40k Physics
Forgueworld had 2 in-house Sentinel Powerlifter models. One, used for most photos, the official sketch, and the instructions, had the rear counterweight attached to the chassis:
The second model had the weight attached to the cab.
Now, if the weight is on the cab, the waist joint acts as a pivot point. The weight of anything held in the lifter arm is balanced across it. But if the weight is attached to the cab, the waist joint is subject to terrific opposed forces.

If the counterweight is on the cab, the sentinel can't pivot from side to side as much, but that seems fairly sensible given its role as a walking forklift.


The Malcador Castigator



The Malcador Castigator carries a hull-mounted Castigator Boltcannon. The Macharius Vulcan carries only 20 seconds of ammo. The Malcador Castigator carries considerably more, thanks to its dedicated ammo trailer, and can be reloaded in the heat of battle. Unfortunately, its main weapon has a very limited field of fire, and the crew tend to be "thoroughly agitated" after a few seconds of firing. Like the Malcador Primus, the Malcador Castigator is an unpopular and often overlooked vehicle.
 

Malcador With Battle Cannon


A standard tank without any significant conversion work, other than the track guards.

Engineering Chimera



A support vehicle similar to a Trojan Support Vehicle, this modified Chimera can be used to transport 2 Cyclops Demolition Vehicles, a mobile field hospital, or a Techpriest Enginseer. The magnetized top mount can support a crane or a searchlight.

Final Notes

Just a handful of vehicles remain! Soon, all the red boxes in this post will be filled. I've obtained, but have yet to paint, 2 Medusa Siege Tanks, 3 Solar Auxilia Basilisks, and 1 Minotaur Artillery Tank. And then it's done! Hooray!


EDIT 2020/10/04

Rather than create a new post (and split several dozen views over 2 approximately equally useful posts), here are the final images from the project.


All 3 Solar Auxilia Basilisks are complete, with magnetized weapon options. Basilisk cannon on the right, M
edusa mortar on the right, and a Neutron Laser (for shooting at... very tall things? Aircraft?) in the middle.
 
Side Note: eyeball math time. If the minimum elevation on the Neutron Laser is 22.5 degrees and the maximum elevation is 45 degrees, and the average Titan has some useful bits about 30m off the ground, then the tank has to drive between 30m and 60m to land a hit. In 40k-scale, that's not too bad, but it is a bit silly in real-world scale. Maybe they bounce the laser off aircraft-mounted mirrors...
 

The Final Cabinet


(Left to right, front to back)
Shelf 1: Malcador Battle Tank, Stormhammer Battleship, Crassus Command Tank, RT-era Land Raider (hidden), 3x Hydra Flak Tanks, 3x Hellhounds, 4x Sentinels with Lascannons, 4x Sentinel Powerlifters, 4x RT-era Eggy Scout Sentinels.

Shelf 2: Malcador Castigator, Stormhammer Land Battleship, 3x Dracosan Transports, Infantry Squads + Command Squad + Psyker Squad, 3x Chimera Transports.

Shelf 3: Malcador Primus, Shadowsword, 2x Cyclops Demolition Vehicles, Ratling Squad, Valdor Tank Hunter, DOOMBLADE, Infantry Squads, Land Speeder, 2x Destroyer Tank Hunters, Power Generator Trailer, Fuel Tank Trailer.

Shelf 4: Commissar Command Leman Russ, 2x Centaur Tractors, Baneblade, Command Car, Macharius, Macharius Omega, 3x Leman Russ (Vanquisher turrets), 3x Leman Russ (Exterminator turrets), 3x Leman Russ (Demolisher turrets).

Shelf 5: Converted Chimera Recovery Vehicle, Atlas Recovery Vehicle, 2x Trojan Support Vehicles, 3x Minotaurs, 3x Solar Auxilia Basilisks (Neutron Lasers equipped), 3x Medusas, Solar Auxilia Carnodon, Chimera Engineering Vehicle, Salamander Scout Tank.

Huzzah! No idea what the total points value is.

2021/03/30

Podcast Notes: OMGWTFBIBLE

This is a bit of an unusual post for this blog. Regularly scheduled content will resume at some point.

I'm a sucker for ambitious projects. OMGWTFBIBLE is as ambitious as it gets.

In a monthly (hah!) podcast, David Tuchman translates the Torah into modern English and makes jokes about it. You might think people would be upset, but it turns out no, it seems to be fine. The translation might be irreverent, but it's also respectful... and respectable scholarship.

And now it's over (for now). The last episode was posted on March 14th. Here's an interview from 2013, for additional context.

It's a huge amount of effort for a fairly obscure project. It's a hard sell. "Want to listen to the whole Bible?" "No." "Fair enough."

There's also a potential level of awkwardness. "Is it OK to laugh at this? Is this for me?" All I can say is give it a listen and find out.
If you find it heinously controversial, leave me out of it. Go directly to the source.
 

Pseudosocial Relationships

One basic podcast formula (among many) is the Sage and the Muddler (the analyst and the colour commentator), who are Friends. If the podcast is interview-focused, the Muddler is the host and the Sage is the guest. In a recurring podcast, the Muddler and the Sage have ongoing explanatory banter.

The audience is invited to be a silent Friend, sitting on the couch nearby, laughing at the witty remarks without having to perform any social obligations. They are drawn into a warm, happy space where their friendship is secure and does not need to be actively maintained.

Podcasts often give their followers a special name. The PeanutPals. The Bearcubs. The Ahistorical Legion. Listeners are invited to an inner ring, a secret club, a collective fandom. It's not evil or wrong, it's just really common.

OMGWTFBIBLE doesn't do any of that. The audience is kept at arms length. Guest readers are sometimes scholars who run rings around Tuchman, sometimes muddlers of the highest order who, faced with an unexpected biblical name, pause, grin, and try their best.

It's refreshing. The parasocial relationship, and the podcast itself, is secondary to The Work.
 

The Work

Translation is difficult. Translating the bible is proverbially difficult. Some people... don't try to do their best. This list of issues with the NIV translation is well worth reading. Anyone saying "this is what the Bible actually says" should be treated with suspicion. That's a degree of confidence bordering on insanity. Literalism is impossible. The text is a mess. Footnotes and parentheticals are pretty much mandatory.
 
Tuchman insists his version is a "loose translation" and it definitely is... in a sense. Sure, Tuchman plays with word order and punctuation, and deliberately substitutes synonyms where it be funny, but the substitutions and changes are revealing. They highlight the ambiguous bits and the weird edges of stitched narratives. They're scholarship. It's presented as humour, but it's not lazy humour.

There's beauty. There's truth. There's personal growth. And there's a lot of really weird stuff.

In the final episode, Rabbi Sam Reinstein says "I just love that you made this your own. We're not trained to do this [...] to own the texts, not to just learn it as something somebody else wrote or was given to you."
 

In interviews and in the translation itself, Tuchman charges straight at the Big Capital Letter Issues... and sometimes rebounds off with a chorus of shrugs and sighs, but hey, an attempt was made. Conversations with guests are often deeply personal. The interview style isn't polished or pablum. The questions mean something because the host is genuinely interested in the answers; the guests offer unpolished answers. It's never confrontational. There are no "gotcha" interview questions, but there are questions that make the guests think.

Sometimes there are stories of extraordinary adventures and good works. Sometimes its just people being people, thinking about their lives, trying to make sense of the world.
 

Selected Episodes

Listening to the podcast in order (or just the Bible bits) is probably the best plan, but if you feel like listening to a sample episode before committing:


Chapter and Verse

The Bible can feel like a series of disconnected statements. Numbering verses doesn't help. How many other books do you read where every line is punctuated with a number, and every story split into arbitrary chapters after it was written? Reading Bibles are handy. These days, with word processors and free texts, you can make your own at home.

OMGWTFBIBLE is an unabridged translation. Tuchman had to translate, and someone had to read, the whole thing. A lot of Bible-related works rely on greatest hits, selected sections, or summaries. This doesn't, and it's what originally drew me to the podcast. It doesn't take the easy road.

The Future

Tuchman says he's taking a break from translation for an indefinite period, and I can't blame him.

But if there's more OMGWTFBIBLE, I'd love to see Mordecai Lebowitz read Jonah. Or anyone, really. Jonah is great. So overdramatic.

I'd love to see Tuchman's translation of Ezekiel, the swearingest prophet who ever cursed a curse. Seriously, a potential translation of Ezekiel would turn the air blue and make Tarantino say "that's a bit much".

Side Note: Ezekiel bread. It's a thing you can buy. It's deliberately framed as a biblical health food... drawn from the prophetic performance art of Ezekiel. People who sell the bread mention Ezekiel 4:9. They don't mention Ezekiel 4:12, where God says to use human excrement as fuel. As Tuchman says, "Oh God, you are a nut." These days, the instructions would be "make a mash of all the old mouldy vegetables at the bottom of the fridge and cook it over a diesel fire." It's deliberately bad, weird, performance-art-as-shameful-prophecy food. Not health food. The opposite of health food. This is why context is important.

Or Ezra. That'll be an interesting ride, particularly if Tuchman goes straight into Malachi, and explores the antagonistic relationship between the two books. Or Job... in general.

Side Note: The canonical order(s) of the books in the Bible isn't nessesarily the only reading order. Starting in the garden and ending in Revelations is a sensible plan, but reading them in publication order (for lack of a better term) is interesting too. You get a sense of ideas developing and chronology shifting. I don't think Tuchman needs to stick to a strict book-by-book order for the future of this project (if there is one), especially for disconnected stories.

Or whatever the heck is going on with Shamgar the Last Action Hero.

Final Notes

OMGWTFBIBLE is, as far as I can tell, delightfully non-monetized. There are no ads, no patreon, no tiered subscriber list. Sponsorship of a long-form Bible translation podcast would be... tricky. "If Nadab and Abihu had used SkillShare, they would  have known not to offer a sacrifice with strange fire. Use the code MOLOCH for 15% off." Or maybe instead of Raid: Shadow Legends, it could be sponsored by Smite?

Yeah. I don't think that would work.

There was a crowdfunding campaign back in 2014 that raised $2,432. Split over 61 episodes and 9 years of work that's... not enough money.

There are vague hints of a potential dead tree form of the translation, so keep an eye out for that.

Otherwise, I don't know. The hardest part of any ambitious project is getting anyone to care.

Edit: 2021/04/09
"
I don’t really make OMGWTFBIBLE for anyone, it’s really just so that it exists in the world. So it’s incredible when someone out there totally gets what you’re doing." -David Tuchman

"
To elicit perfect comprehension is perhaps to be expected only once." -Barbara W. Tuchman, Preface to The Guns of August

2021/03/19

OSR: Magical Industrial Revolution - Loxdon College Pt. 3: Testing Magic

 

Sean Andrew Murray

Training in Magic

Loxdon College is like a coral reef of magic. Spells flit from brain to brain. Magical education is a perilous and poorly understood affair. Loxdon College works on the principle of magical osmosis, where knowledge (stored in books and lecturers) will gradually seep into students. After approximately four years of passing classes, students are expected to have a competent grasp of their field, even if no explicit magical education has taken place.

In a highly magical environment, cantrips naturally stick to a wizard's soul. They're like barnacles. Proper spells, stored in the brain and cast with considerably more magical energy, require effort and training. Since most spells can only be cast once per day, supervised practice demands a special type of safe, rapidly reusable, low-effort spells. A few "Returning Spells" have been developed, used by Halls and Academies to assist their charges, Clubs to improve their members, or (rarely) by lecturers with an interest in practical tutorials.

Returning Spells are difficult to breed. Some offspring require too much magical energy; some fail to return quickly. They are valuable but not coveted. Use one openly and wizards will assume you've stolen it from a school of some sort; it's like covering your house with chalkboards.
 

1d6 Returning Spells

Returning Spells can be cast any number of times per day, with a 5 minute gap between casts. They still occupy a spell slot. Each cast over a wizard's Impact Factor Level inflicts 1 nonlethal damage and the spell's Side Effect.
 
1. Feeble Hand
Minor telekinesis for 10 minutes. 50' range. Used to practice spell control at a distance. In skill hands, can roll an apple, lift a coin, or turn a page. In unskilled hands, can squish and apple, lose a coin, and slap ineffectually at a book.
Side Effect: earwax dribbles for 30 minutes. A slow trickle of warm hairy wax.
 
2. Elemental Selector

Create a fist-sized puff of the chosen element. Used to practice modal spell selection and precise targeting. In skilled hands, creates a neat heap of stones, a temporary puff of fire, or a hovering teardrop of water. In unskilled hands, sprays the room with sand, sets the caster's hair on fire, and creates a fine mist.
Side Effect: limb numbness for 5 minutes. All tingly. Limb is mostly useless.
 
3. Chest Scrying
Look inside an object within 30'. Generates a small amount of light. Used to practice scrying. In skilled hands, provides a view inside a locked chest, revealing the edifying motto written by the tutor. In unskilled hands, provides a distressing view of the caster's own brain or internal organs, the inside of a stone, or the outside of the College.
Side Effect: vertigo and wobbliness for 10 minutes. Move at 1/4 speed.
 
4. Minor Teleport
An apple-sized object within 10' is teleported up to 30'. Used to practice teleportation magic (always tricky). In skilled hands, the target arrives neatly and without wobbling. In unskilled hands, the target cooks, freezes, is flung across the room, or remains in place while one of the caster's hands makes the journey.

Side Effect: Wizard Vision glimpses for 10 minutes. Startling for the untrained.
 
5. Floating Saucer
A plate-sized disc of force appears within 10'. Used to practice force-generating spells. In skilled hands, the saucer should be level, slightly concave (to hold water), fully transparent, and able to resist a light blow with a hammer. Tutors love this one; it makes evaluation easy. In unskilled hands, spikes of force, cloudy grey blobs, warped lines, bottles, or bubbles.
Side Effect: Wizard Thumbs. They stick straight up for 10 minutes. Other fingers can be moved, but they limit hand rotation.

6. Dye Hair
The caster's hair colour changes for 3 hours. Used to practice minor alteration. In skilled hands, can select the colour (based on a colour sample provided by the tutor). In unskilled hands, produces shocking tones, patterns, or sudden hair loss. Can also dye skin or eyes. 
Side Effect: Wizard Frizz. Hair sticks straight out in all directions for 1 hour. If hair was already doing this, it becomes wavy and tangled.

Quentin Regnes

The Apprentice Test

In the their first Season at Loxdon College, on the first Saturday in the month of Malbrogia, students are called for the Apprentice Test. The tradition predates the College, tracing its roots to the ancient relationship between a solitary master wizard and their prospective apprentice. By ancient tradition, no lecturer explains the nature of the Apprentice Test. New students are informed by senior students, with varying degrees of exaggeration, misinformation, and theatricality.

At eight in the morning, as the last peals of the Bell Obdurate fade, the Proctor Senior stands before the gates of the Second Gathering Hall and calls students by name. The order is theoretically alphabetical, but late enrollments and accidents tend to shuffle the list. Students proceed, one by one, into the hall, from the east.

The hall is almost completely empty. Tables and stools are cleared away, and it is lit only by sunlight. The eight Judges of Puissance sit on two rows of comfortable chairs on the north and south walls. On the east wall, the old benches rest, with eight scorched silhouettes still visib
le; a gentle reminder not to get too ambitious. In the centre of the hall, between the Judges and clearly illuminated, is an unlit candle on an iron stand.

The Judges of Puissance are, in theory, anonymous members of the faculty. They were identical black linen robes and black silk masks. In practice, the distinctive silver hair of Prof. Revelston, the long foul-smelling pipe of Prof. Glass, and Prof. Turnspit's booming demands for "more beer and pastries" makes the identity of the panel less secret than the ritual's framers may have wished. Still, it is an eerie sight, calculated to unnerve young and uncertain students.

The Apprentice Test is simple. In the ancient formula read by one of the Judges, the "Apprentice to Majik" must "light yon taper by majik" without touching it. If the student succeeds, they are treated a few polite claps and ushered from the room by exasperated servants. The next student is called, and the ritual repeats.

Students are allowed to use any magical method to light the candle. The Judges of Puissance, under their black robes, are festooned with rings and amulets of protection. They are also (especially the day progresses) mildly tipsy. 
All eight Judges must be in unanimous agreement. Some students maintain that, by ancient tradition, two Judges must be asleep, two must be arguing, two must be playing chess, and two must be paying attention.   

A student who passes the Apprentice Test is allowed to call themselves a wizard and wear a pointy hat. Hat fashions vary by Hall, but every student relishes the day they can join the ranks of student-wizards... and fears the price of failure.

A student who fails the Apprentice Test is expelled. No exceptions and no refunds. If, after months of study, a student can't light a candle under optimal conditions, they're not cut out to study wizardry, and should take up another profession.

One final recourse exists. In a shadowed corner of the hall, the Idol of Krog sits, surrounded by a circle of salt. It is wheeled out of storage once each year, only for this ritual, and returned hastily to its crypt before the sun sets. The idol is a grey stone head, chipped not carved, with indistinct but menacing features.

Any student who fails the test can touch the Idol of Krog and cry "Again, or death!". They can make one more attempt to light the candle. If they fail a second time, they die. The method of death, and its horrible details, have been explained with grisly delight and wild variation by generations of students. The ritual has not been invoked in decades; even the most ambitious student, faced with the prospect of a truly hideous death, might reconsider their commitment to this particular college and field of study.

Some insightful students speculate that the Idol is mere theater; anyone willing to wager their life to join Loxdon College must be a worthy student. This isn't true, but it's a nice thought.

Igor Krstic

1d10 Methods of Lighting a Candle

 
1. A Flame-Conjuring Cantrip
The solid, sensible, reliable answer, available to most wizards who apply themselves.
 
2. A Flame-Conjuring Spell
Flame spurt
, sizzling bolt, etc. Memorizing and casting a full-scale fireball is beyond most first-year students, to the relief of the Judges.
 
3. An Illusionary Flame
Though the candle is not technically lit, if the illusion is reasonably convincing the Judges tend to allow it. Adding some false lighting effects might be wise.
 
4. Thaumic Charge
The soul is approximately the same shape as the body. By deliberately controlling thaumic flow, a wizard can create a charge differential across their hands, often igniting a candle (and their sleeves) without casting a spell.
Powerful wizards sometimes create thaumic differentials by accident. This method requires a certain degree of confidence; if your soul is timid or disturbed, you'll just stand their with your palms out like some sort of gibbering idiot.
  

5. Telekinesis
Lighting a match or strip of paper and levitating it towards the candle is perfectly acceptable.
 
6. A
Scroll
Casting a spell from a scroll is technically allowed, but is seen as an admission of incompetence or arrogance, and sticks to a student's reputation like glue. Tremulous students might enter the Test with a backup scroll, just in case.
 
7. Mind-Altering Effects
While casting charm-type spells in Endon is illegal, Loxdon College is allowed a certain degree of leeway, provided the spells are used for wholesome academic purposes. Charming a servant or fellow student to light the candle is perfectly legal. As far as student lore goes, no one has been foolish enough to try to charm all eight Judges.
 
8. Summoning
Raise a minor elemental or familiar spirit and have it light the candle. The Rule of Curwen states that anyone who raises a "thingge called or summoned" on campus must also "unsummone it", and the Judges will (as a matter of course) expect the summoned entity to obediently vanish at the caster's command. Fail to banish it, and you fail the test.

9. A Magic Item

Using a magic item or bound enchantment is not allowed, unless the student can show they crafted the item unaided. It's a line few students are willing to risk; the Judges have to evaluate a lot of students and tend to tire of long-winded explanations from a "mere initiate". Reading a scroll requires some talent (or at least knowing which side has the magic on it). Pressing the button on Philogloster's Marvelous Cigar Igniter does not.

10. Bluff
Potswilder Scubb, the famously absent-minded theoretical magician, arrived two hours late to her Apprentice Test. She wandered into the room, drew her spellbook, recited a simple conjure water spell, declared "candle extinguished", and left before anyone could inform her of the actual task. One legendary wizard (variously named by student storytellers, who never bother with minor details like names or dates or truthfulness) cast a mighty lightning bolt, vaporizing both the candle and candle-stick, and was passed on merit.
 

Cheating

The Apprentice Test starts at eight  in the morning and usually wraps up by early afternoon. Any student called by name who does not appear at the Second Hall by eight in the evening is counted as "missing when called", and cannot attempt the test until the next year. They are not expelled, but they are gently pitied or mocked by the student body. Missing two Tests results in expulsion.

It's considered bad form to ambush a rival, put them in a sack, and leave them in a disused cupboard for the duration of the Apprentice Test. It still happens, but someone usually comes along to let them out in time. Timid or insufficiently talented students are taunted by candles left on their pillows or slipped into their pockets, or by "gifts" of matchboxes. The Apprentice Test is as much a test of willpower and concentration as it is one of magical talent.

Actively sabotaging a rival by counter-enchanting the candle during the Test is technically allowed, but it's so difficult to pull off that it's best left to wild student tales or vague threats.

Very wealthy students can also bypass the test entirely (though studying magic without being able to cast a simple cantrip is unlikely to end well). The Faculty are all too busy, too rich, or too abstracted to deal with mere pecuniary matters, but the Proctor Senior is a graduate student, and therefore invariably broke. For a sizable bribe (at least 10gp), they will announce a student's name, then sneak them through side-passages and crypts and out the other side of the Second Hall, without the Judges inside ever noticing.

Any student with the means to bribe all eight Judges with magical items or ancient lore is probably capable of lighting a candle by magic.

After the Test


Students get drunk, set things on fire (including each other), hold bonfires on campus, and generally make merry. It's known as Cogfallow Night, though no one knows why. The newly inaugurated wizards sing traditional wizarding songs while holding up and waving their lit thumbs.