2018/06/03

OSR: How To Design GLOG Wizards

Before we start:
The GLOG is Arnold K's fantasy heartbreaker homebrew. You can find bits of it scattered around his blog. I've combined some of it into a homebrew document here.

GLOG wizards are a lot of fun and level-less spells solve so many problems. Here are my notes on designing your own Wizard school. I wrote my wizard schools before writing these guidelines, so I've probably broken my own rules.
Yujin Kim

Perks

Each school gets a perk or two. Ideally, Perks should be:
     Passive (you don't need to "cast" them like a spell or a cantrip)
     Good for keeping a level 1 wizard alive.
     Mechanically static (either providing a permanent bonus or a bonus most of the time).
Perks can be items as well. If a perk gives a wizard a weapon, the wizard is proficient with that weapon.



Drawbacks

Each school also has a drawback. Drawbacks are important! They should be:
     Inconvenient in a specific, targeted way.

     Possible to work around.
     Mechanically static (either providing a permanent penalty or a penalty most of the time).

If a school has powerful cantrips and early spells, its Perk should be minor and its Drawback should be significant. If a school has relatively low-powered spells, its Perk should be better.

Cantrips

Since wizards can cast cantrips at will, always anticipate that they will cast them all the time. You may want to add a restrictive condition to a cantrip, like requiring it to be cast on a corpse, having it only affect the caster, or giving it a cooldown.

Make sure a cantrip doesn't break an economy: the light economy, the food economy, the health economy. etc.

Level 3 Molluscomancer by MoaWallin
I have yet to stat up the Molluscomancer

Spells

I use the following scheme for gaining spells:
     Wizards have 12 spells on their school spell list.
     At level 1, wizards roll 1d6 twice, and get the 2 spells listed.

     At level 2, wizards roll 1d8 and get the 1 spell listed.
     At level 3, wizards roll 1d10 and get the 1 spell listed.
     At level 4, wizards can choose up to 6 spells from their list.
     The 11th and 12th spell are "emblem" spells. They are the classic spells of a school. Arnold's original wizards can't get them by leveling. They have to get them as treasure. I let my wizards get them at level 4, if they want to.

When organizing spells:
     Spells 1-6 should contain at least one damage-dealing spell, even if it's weak and obscure.
     Spells 1-6 should also be decent tools for level 1 wizards.
     Each spell should have at leat two uses that you can think of. Your players will find more.

     No later spell on the list should utterly outclass a previous spell or occupy the same design space.
          E.g. Spell #1 is "Magic Missile, deal [sum]+[dice] damage to one target. Spell #8 is "Improved Magic Missile, deal [sum]+[dice]x2 to a target." Bleeeeeh.     
     Emblem Spells (#11 and #12) should be really impressive and rewarding. Reaching level 4, as a squishy wizard with limited tools, is very exciting.    

When designing spells:

     Steal from other people as much as possible. There are plenty of spell lists in the Index.
     Adapt, reflavour, or modify an existing spell if you can.

     Use consistent phrasing for effects.
     Whenever possible, use [dice] and [sum] instead of specifying damage.
          E.g. Fireball doesn't do [dice]xd6 damage, it does [sum] damage.
     Use the following spells to calibrate your effects: Magic Missile, Fireball, Knock, Sleep. Damage-dealing spells shouldn't be significantly better than Fireball or Magic Missile. They can be a bit better, but consider adding a restriction.

     Use [dice] and [sum] vs HD to balance spell effects.
     Use [dice] and [sum] for range only if range really matters. [dice]x100' range is a minor variable. Most of the time, stuff will be within 100'.
     Shorter is better. If you have a class with a long spell, make the rest of the spells short.


Mishaps and Dooms

The first 3 Mishaps don't usually vary school to school. The next 3 should be minor inconvenient effects. A Mishap shouldn't kill the wizard, but it could get them killed. For Dooms, go all out.

Both Mishaps and Dooms are surprisingly rare, in my experience.

Cory Trego-Erdner

Wizard Class Review

Time to cast some stones. Your mileage may vary, etc.

A Really Good Wizard: Dan D's Adipomancer
This is a really solid class. The spells are good but not too good. The perk and drawback interact with GLOG spell dice in a unique and interesting way. Every part of the class combines to suggest a thematic and interesting playstyle. You don't need a background section. The class tells you what it is.

An Adipomancer is a solid fighter. I'm completely fine with this. Fighting is dangerous. Giving a class a reason to fight is really giving it a reason to die.

A Possibly Problematic Wizard: Lawful Neutral's Snake Wizard
The spell list is great and extremely well balanced. The perk and drawback are both good. I'm a little worried about cantrip 2 though; the Snake Wizard could constantly summon snakes. They will never starve. They can spend 10 rounds, collect a bundle of 10 snakes, and throw them at someone or toss them down a hallway to check for traps. Adjust this cantrip and the class is perfect.


A Not Very Good Wizard: Chris Wilson's Farrier
This class has far too many tools. The first cantrip alone is better than the abilities of most casting classes. It's just too strong. The spells start off good and only get better, and they don't tell me anything about the class. I don't feel like the class will produce "psychic monk ninja spies". I feel like it will produce problem-solving monsters.

GLOG Wizard Index

Animist Wizards
Biomancers

Drowned Wizards

Elementalist Wizards

Elf Wizards

Garden   Wizards

Illusionist Wizards

Necromancers

Orthodox Wizards

Spider Wizards

Speleomage


Designing Non-Caster Classes

Go bother Lungfungus. I don't know what his method is, but he's got it 100% locked down.

15 comments:

  1. Thanks for the pointers! I'm glad my Farrier will go down as an example of what not to do when designing GLOG wizards, that is until version 2.0 comes out. :P

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  2. Do you want me to post(do you think it would be helpful for others) about how I make GLOG classes?

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    1. Also do you want the B/X spells converted into GLOG format?

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    2. Absolutely! I started working on the B/X spells, but if you've got them, I'd definitely be interested.

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    3. I like both of these ideas.

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    4. Yes please write about how you do classes.

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    5. I really want those spells.

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  3. Also I was wondering if you had any advice on playing with the Wizard template itself? Most of the "wizards" I make end up being variants rather than schools. What do you find to be core to Wizard templates? Why would I want to remove or replace certain Wizard templates? What would the effect be on wizards overall if I did?

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    1. I wouldn't fiddle with the core Wizard templates too much. It's nice to have a stable reference point and introduce variation via the schools. "Spell Breeding" and "Friendly Spell" are both optional and could be swapped out, altered, or changed. "Book Casting" is fairly mandatory (although how you adjudicate its effects in game might vary).

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    2. I've been messing around with my own version of GLOG, and have Warlocks and Sorcerers based off http://goblinpunch.blogspot.com/2016/06/caster-differentiation-and-spellcasting.html , specifically Safety/Power/Natural casting. The other main differentiation is how they get spells: Wizards can/have to buy them, Warlocks get introduced to them by their patron and have to make another deal, Sorcerers are the only ones that get them for "free" as the spell-festation in their brain grows and swells.

      Drinking the blood of intensely magical creatures and intentionally failing your save against spells you want are NOT advisable ways to learn new ones. All my players do both those things anyway.

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  4. Thanks for the advice Skerples! Also me being featured on this blog (even as a sample problem wizard) makes my heart leap for joy! Thank you!

    Perhaps if I made the snake either an automatic familiar or a one a day thing. Another alternative idea I had was to simply have a 1d6 bite, but a deep part of me had wanted a reason to say, "There's a snake in my boot!"

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    1. Here are some ideas:
      1. Summon a snake once per hour
      2. Summon one snake, but it's the same snake. If you get it killed it will remember and sulk.
      3. Summon any number of snakes, but each one costs 1 HP.
      4. Summon any number of snakes, but each one fills up an inventory slot with Snake Madness. Snake Madness is in your inventory because you forget how to use your arms to carry stuff.

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    2. I consulted the original Snake Wizard (my wife) and we went with option 2. You live forever in our hearts, Maurice the Viper.

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