Is the GLOG really OSR?I have no idea; don't particularly care either. It meets the 10 OSR Commandments. If you want to be charitable, it's broadly compatible with most OSR products. If you want to be uncharitable, it's equally incompatible with all of them.
I can run just about any dungeon or module with the GLOG rules I've got, adapting stuff on the fly. Some might need bit of prep work but that'll always be the case. At the table, I use AD&D monster manuals and add on GLOG bits as needed.
Everyone seems to be writing GLOG classes these days. There are probably at least 100 floating around out there in the blogosphere. Here are 50 (!!) wizards. It's leading to the impression that GLOG games are class focused, whereas, in play, class features and abilities don't actually come up as often as you'd think. I've written a bit more about this in the section below. It'd be a mistake to think of the GLOG as character-focused in the same way as D&D 3.5 or 5E just because all you see on the blogosphere are GLOG classes.
The GLOG isn't a unified system so much as a series of really nifty subsystems bolted on to each other. If you're running a game, consider popping off a subsystem and bolting it on to your system. If you like some bits of the GLOG but not others, remove the bits you don't like and write replacements.
Attack and DefensePCs have an Attack stat. Some classes (Fighter and Knight come to mind) grant a bonus to Attack, but most classes have the same Attack. It starts at 11 and goes as high as 15. PCs need to roll equal to or under Attack to hit an enemy, with a penalty equal to the opponent's Defense.
Defense is equal to 10+Dex bonus or 10+Armour. +2 for Leather, +4 for Chain, +6 for Plate, +1 for having a shield.
Really, all you need to remember is the armour an enemy is wearing. Orcs in leather? Ask the PC to make an "Attack -2" roll. Risen undead legionaries with plate and shields? "Attack -7". Conversely, if you remember than Attack 11 is a low-level PC and Attack 15 is a max-level PC, you can easily calibrate for any monster.
I like both systems, though I've fiddled with the Attack per Level table a few times.
Roll-Under StatsThis is a bit controversial. 3d6 down-the-line stat generation creates a lot of variance in starting PCs. Asking for a roll-under test can be seen as an unfair penalty.
1. Only ask for rolls if both success and failure are interesting. If it's trivial, the PC just succeeds. If it's impossible, the just fail.
2. Ask for rolls sparingly.
3. Use roll-under Move, Defense, or even current HP to help normalize results.
4. Rolls should not replace player skill. Rolls are risk. A good plan means less risk and fewer rolls. A lousy plan can involve lots and lots of risky rolls.
+4 is close enough to a "reroll and take the better result", -4 is close enough to "reroll and take the worse result". I use +/- instead of rerolls to save time and to let multiple types of bonuses or penalties stack.
Rolls I've Called For:
Strength: bend an iron bar, toss a fully loaded PC across a chasm
Dexterity: run along a collapsing wooden bridge, leap away from an exploding fireball
Constitution: eat rotten meat, hold perfectly still
Intelligence: recall some highly obscure fact, remember the path back
Wisdom: rolled under each round for Initative. If equal to or under, the PC acts before the monsters. If over, acts after.
Charisma: recall some bit of protocol, turn a phrase, carouseThe GLOG also has a generic Save value for any luck- or supernatural-based rolls. It's 5+Charisma bonus and goes up with level. If you need to pick a Save for a creature, use 5 for most animals, 10 for sufficiently magical creatures, and 15 for truly frightening things.
InventoryGLOG inventory is great. I can't remember where all the refinements below came from, but they're in the version I use now.
PCs have Inventory Slots equal to their Strength. This assumes they've got backpacks, pockets, hammerspace, etc, etc. I don't want to bother tracking it. The first 3 slots are quick access. Anything in them can be drawn and used immediately. Anything in other slots takes 1 round to remove.
A slot can contain: 3 small items (torches, rations, scrolls, potions, oil flasks), 1 large item (sword, shield, etc), or 0.5 really big items (hammers, etc). Leather armour takes up no slots, Chain takes up 2, Plate takes up 4. Coins and gems don't take up inventory unless you have 1,000 of them.
Every slot you fill over your Strength counts as a point of Encumbrance and applies a penalty to your Attack, Move, Stealth, and any other rolls that require you to be quick on their feet. Being over-encumbered sucks. Don't do it unless you have to.
5th Edition inventory is ridiculously difficult to track! This system is clear, elegant, and helpful. The list of stuff on your character sheet also tells you how much you can carry. Exhaustion can take up inventory slots! It's all so simple. I just put a numbered list, 1-18, on the back of the character sheet, with a line below the 3.
LightingGood torches and lanterns illuminate 30' clearly and an additional 30' of shadows and vague outlines. Candles illuminate 10' clearly and an additional 10' of shadows.
Torches and candles last 1 hour, but are they are cheap. Candles can be extinguished and re-used. Torches, not so much. A flask of lantern oil lasts for 3 hours. It's not napalm, so you can't use it to light your enemies on fire, but you can grease things or make improvised lanterns (as candles).
As a GM, I call for the group to "mark off 3 hours of light" or more, depending on what they're doing. They can mark off 3 torches or 1 flask of lamp oil and move on. If they can't, they're in the dark and are very likely to be eaten by a Grue.
Character CreationI use a Table of Races. Players roll on it, then either pick or roll for a class, then roll stats (3d6, rerolling one from their race), a background from their class, etc. It's a very quick and painless. Rolling up a new character takes about 3 minutes, and most of that is writing down numbers.
The random element (from race, stats, and potentially class) keeps character generation very interesting. I think only one player, once, had a really firm idea of what they wanted to "try next". Most of the time it's easy-come easy-go. I also don't usually let players read through classes before picking them. I just give a name and a brief description.
Writing a GLOG class is easy. It meets what I'd call the "minimum creativity threshold". To write a wizard you just need about 20 decent ideas. To write any other kind of class you need between 4 and 10. It's not difficult to make a class based on any random idea you've ever had. It's also a lot easier to think of elements of a class than it is to, say, a fill in a d100 table or write a dungeon.
By default, GLOG classes have 4 Templates (A, B, C, and D). You can only have 4 templates (from any class, but multi-classing without in-character actions to back it up is difficult, min-maxing is next to impossible).
A really good Template gives the class a few interesting abilities without giving them a "push to win" button. There are a few classes with quite powerful abilities, but there's usually some drawback or limitation. Templates are very rarely about mechanical bonuses. Instead, they're convenient, if a little odd, tools to solve problems, some directly and some laterally.
Player enjoyment seems to come mostly from the weird interactions between treasure, abilities, enemies, factions, and traps, not from any one ability a class has.
I also want all classes to fit onto 1 side of a sheet of A4 paper, unless they've got spells, etc. If you're going to do worldbuilding, either subtly build it into the class abilities or put it in separate paragraphs.
Going forward, I'm going to more clearly separate classes into "Core", "Extra", and "Novelty" classes. Core classes should work. Extra classes sometimes work. Novelty classes, who knows? Use them at your own risk.
Core ClassesThe core trinity of Fighter - Thief - Wizard should feel right. Sadly, it doesn't quite. Not yet. All numbers below are made up.
- Fighters have an 80% chance to solve a fight-based problem and a 20% chance to do nothing.
- Thieves have an 80% chance to go around the problem completely and a 20% chance to find a new and exciting problem.
- Wizards have a 60% chance to solve the problem, a 10% chance of turning into a toad, and a 30% chance of making the problem worse.
Lungfungus has a much more sensible and sober take on core classes, if you're interested.
This class works fairly well. I'm going to rewrite the "Tricky" ability in template C. A lot of the time in D&D you're fighting something that can't easily be tripped, shoved, or grappled. Combat Maneuvers are significantly less useful than just smacking someone. Fighters are likely to survive low levels, get a few magic items, and end up as solid centerposts of a party.
I've never quite got Thieves to work the way I wanted to them to. I think I'll need to re-write the entire class. Fundamentally, a GLOG base adventurer can do everything a Thief can do almost as well as a Thief can do it. I probably under-use locked doors and chests in my games, but the players usually bash through them somehow. Traps are disabled with common sense, rope, or foolishness.
I thought "the Heist" ability would provide an interseting incentive to Thief PCs. It ended up not being used. I've gone off bonus XP in general, except for frivolous spending. "Lucky" and "Very Lucky" are quite good.
Everyone wants to play a wizard. I don't think I can get away from that. I could make wizards less interesting (boo!) or make the other classes more wizardy (why?), but instead I'm just going to give Wizards fewer options and a bit more squishiness. Players tend to alternate between spellcasting classes and non-spellcasting classes.
My players never really used "Spell Breeding". They tend to neglect downtime in favour of more risky exploring. "Book Casting" also rarely gets used, mostly because of player skill (or the lack of it). I'm not going to drop either one, but I'm going to try and get more use out of them.
Wizards currently gain 2 spells at template A, 1 at B, 1 at C, and 6 at D. I'm going to drop that to 2/1/1/ and 2. Arnold had it so that you could only gain Emblem spells as treasure. I never bothered with that; I prefer generalized randomized treasure rather than crafting PC-specific stuff. Anyway, I'm going to limit it to choosing one of two Emblem spells with Template D. Individual wizard schools will need to be adjusted in accordance with these principles. I'll also sort them into Core/Extra/Novelty schools at the same time.
Extra ClassesThese classes do something a Core class does (but differently), or solve a rare type of problem, or compliment a Core class.
They work really well. Every ability harmonizes.
Knights also work well, especially in generic medieval games where nobility and estates are important. The "Challenge" ability is under-utilized and may need to be replaced, though this might just be player skill.
Paladin of the Word
The main downside to the class is the inability to speak. It's a very difficult thing for a player to manage and can lead to frustration in a voluble person. I may tweak some of the secondary abilities slightly.
I need to adjust the Mishaps table slightly. Some of the Doubles effects are underwhelming and a Sorcerer with lots of HP can cruise through them with ease. A Sorcerer can solve lots and lots of problems... but only temporarily, and with a dire risk of exploding. High-powered creatures get better Saves, meaning the Sorcerer gets less effective against powerful monsters.
The Sorcerer class tends to outright solve between one and three problems a session. After that, it's either ineffective or actively dangerous. It's a bit of a shock, as a GM, to see the group breeze through a challenge with a literal hand-wave, but it's very satisfying to have it all come crashing down through poorly thought-out sorcery, bad planning, or reliance on the sorcerer's "get-out-of-jail-free" card.
This class works fairly well, but I'd reduce the total number number of summons from 6 to 5. 5 is plenty. I also need to adjust a few of the Summons to be more clear and concise.
Novelty ClassesI think it's completely acceptable (and a lot of fun!) to come up with a few dumb and unbalanced classes from time to time. They're a fun way to test out a new idea or a new mode of play. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. It's a fun project for an afternoon but if it's all you do, you may want to channel your time more productively.
Lots of damage but you've got to haul a great heavy cannon around. Tends to end in fire, landslides, and all the wandering monsters turning up at once.
Exorcist (Bell, Book, Sword)
Bell Exorcists need a substantial rewrite. They're just too fiddly. Fun, but fiddly. Book Exorcists work much better in a medieval game, but not so well in a pure dungeon or cave crawl. Sword Exorcists haven't seen enough play to form a solid basis for comparison yet.
The ghoul class hasn't seen enough play to edit yet.
The Goblin class is hilarious and works as intended. Goblins are ludicrously squishy but they're an endless source of chaos.
The Goliard and Monk classes are the "Tourists" of my games; high-challenge low-impact classes with some vaguely useful abilities, but nothing like as useful as a Thief. Pick them if you want to really have to work to succeed. The "Fortune's Wheel" ability the Goliard has is less neat than I'd anticipated. It just feels disappointing in play; knowing what's coming down the line feels flat and dull.
A surprisingly decent class at low levels. It's a slightly different flavour of Summoner, but it does require an active and invested player.
Hilarious but needs constant adjudication. Also tends towards ludicrous farce.
This class is a novelty because it only applies to gnomes, but it's still fairly solid. No adjustments needed.
Underground Cannibal Gourmet
This class hasn't seen enough play to edit yet.
Didn't work as well as I thought it would. The novelty of playing a low-level goat is short-lived. I may rework it or just abandon it completely.
SpellcastingGLOG spellcasting is great. I've got my condensed version here.
Level-less spells make balancing everything so much easier. Using Magic Dice as Charges for magic items is very convenient. The entire system makes improvising trivial.