2017/03/08

OSR: the GLOG Review

Fantasy Hearbreakers Galore

I decided to run my OSR game using Arnold K's fantasy heartbreaker, There are a few things that recommend it initially.
  • It's free
  • It's short
  • The author clearly put a great deal of thought into it
  • It's compatible* with other stuff on Goblin Punch
  • *provided you are willing to spend hours compiling and editing it
  • It feels like something a normal human wrote, rather than a divinely inspired game designer from planet Esoteric Brilliance.

Plus, like most OSR systems, you can bolt other things onto it as needed.



Scary Demon Armor, Alex Brock


The Rules

Things I Appreciate:

  • The classic 6 stats, and the way at least one Major Thing is tied to each stat.
  • The template system that emphasizes the first 4 levels, and then flattens afterwards.
  • The skill system. It's a fairly weird one (to me). Each skill has a rank (1 to 6). You roll 1d12-1d12 and take absolute value. If it's less than or equal to your skill rank, your succeed. You start off with about a 25% chance and end up with an 80% chance at rank 6. Skills are basically "careers" or "hobbies". They're wildly unbalanced, but that's fine. I like it because it forces the players to hunt around for the damn d12s, which makes them less likely to roll skills like "History" for everything they see.
  • Checks are "Roll under your Stat" 
  • The inventory system is extremely easy and satisfying to explain to new players.


Oddities:

  • The core mechanic is strange. It's [Your Stat] - ( 10 - [Your Opponent's Stat]. Want to wrestle an Owlbear? Well, the statblocks don't say what an Owlbear's Strength is, but it seems like 16 is reasonable. Your Strength is 8. You need to roll a... let me see. 8 - (10-16) = 2 or under. After one session it becomes completely natural, but it's still slightly inelegant. It's a compromise, to allow the Stat checks and Defense values to work.
  • Natural 1s are critical hits. Natural 20s are critical failures. This is the only problem with using this system for novices. TV says it's the opposite. The issue vanishes after a few satisfying crits.
  • A bunch of rules are missing. Reaction rolls. Travel rules. Consistent terminology. Useful, minor definitions and explanations that would make the whole thing easier to use.


Magic:

  • Fuck yes. Wizard Level (up to 4) = spell slots = magic dice. Use magic dice to cast spells. More dice = more power and more chance of mishaps and disasters.
  • It takes 30 seconds to convert a spell from ANY system to the GLOG system, and it usually makes the spell more interesting and versatile.
  •  Wizards are weird. Paladins are weirder. Elves are special. 
  • Wizards can do a lot of things, but they have a fuse on their lives. They introduce excellent weirdness
  • The Wizard Schools are neat. It's trivial to make your own.

Other Notes:

 
HP regenerates quickly, but the numbers are low. You heal at lunchtime as well as overnight. The system explicitly encourages lunches and comfortable campsites.




Eyes in the Dark, Ariel Perez

It's fun. It's fun because it's quick to teach. It's fun because it has a bare minimum of rules. You can chuck out whole sections if they aren't to your taste. I dropped the Conviction section, and while I enjoy the Durability section, I forgot to implement it.


The roll-under system also makes sense. You have a 20 sided dice. You have a Stat that goes from 3 to 18 at character creation. These two things should be directly related. It feels intuitive to new players, although mine kept adding their Stat "bonuses" to all sorts of rolls.

The Skill system is weird, but it works, and considering it's a very minor part of the game I'm inclined to leave it. It has few dependencies, so if you don't like it, you can swap it out for any other system.

Defense (the AC replacement) is good, but it's never explicitly stated what your base Defense is. I've assumed 10. I also disagree with armour and Dexterity both adding to Defense at the same time. Low Dexterity is already penalized by Stealth, Move, and various Dex-based checks like leaping or avoiding some traps. Armour is amazing all on its own. Also, there's nothing to prevent wizards and spellcasters from wearing the heaviest armour they can find, which is fine by me. When your spells are spirit-ferrets, your spellbook is ferret jail, and your mind is a canon, it seems strange to make bathrobes mandatory. Sorcerer Kings are a thing. They should look suitably impressive.



Untitled, Rebecca Yanovskaya

The formatting, spelling, and "print and play" ability of this system... aren't excellent, but that's part of the fun. It's written in a very stream-of-consciousness style, as if the author just wanted it done and on the page so he could go off and do more interesting things. If you want to use it, you're going to need to put in a bit of legwork.

The version I wrote is called Spiked Goblin Punch, and it steals ideas from all over the place. I might eventually put it up as a PDF.

5 comments:

  1. I plan on trying out this system soon! I'd love to hear about some of your experiences using it. :)

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    1. It's a lot of fun! I have the sessions written up under the "Tomb of the Serpent Kings" tag. Not sure what else I can add from a GMing point of view that's not listed, but 5 sessions and 2 groups in, it's still working just fine. If you've got any specific questions let me know.

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  2. I've been playing with this system for roughly 9 months now and I've found it a very fun and easily tinkered system. The simplicity but general chunkiness of the systems are nice, though I admit to completely ignoring skills, saves, forgetting how to do opposed rolls 100% of the time, and having used a completely different magic system, though only because I preferred the spells and not the core mechanics of spell dice, which I love.

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  3. Trying to work out how to use this system because I love the Class Templates, minimalism and magic system. But I'm unsure how to write up stats for monsters or just generally how to run combat in this system.

    Also I don't understand Saves. The GLOG says charisma determines your Save which involves resisting magical effects and getting lucky. But it also says you roll under Constitution to save against poisons and disease. So clearly Save isn't used for everything. It seems weird using Charisma to determine whether you get hit by a trap, so should you roll under Dex for things involving reflexes instead? How are you determining this kind of thing in your game?

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    Replies
    1. Arnold has a bestiary somewhere on his blog. It's all symbols though.

      Luckily, like pretty much all OSR games, the GLOG is massively cross-compatible. Hit Dice are the same. Defense just needs to be slightly recalibrated. Use plate/chain/leather to eyeball it. Attack = 8 for horrible things, 10 for mediocre things, 11 for semi-competent things, 15 for very competent things, and 18 for oh jeeze run things.

      Running combat is easy. All players roll. Anyone rolling = or under their Wisdom gets to go before the enemies. Quick enemies might impose a penalty here or get to act twice. Then, starting with the person who rolled lowest, figure out who is doing what. Roll attacks, etc. Then the enemies go. Then the players who didn't roll under their wisdom go. End of round. Repeat.

      Saves. I use 2 types of Saves. Most are roll-under the relevant Stat. Save vs Constitution to avoid poison, Save vs Dexterity to dodge, etc. If I can't decide which Stat is relevant, or if the outcome is based on luck alone - not skill, just luck - it's the general Save value.

      Some things, like Save vs Fear or Save vs Petrification or just Save are also rolled against this value.

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