Saturday, 8 May 2021

[GLOG] The Hound of the HIGHEST

Evil smells bad. Everyone knows this - from putrid corpse-scent to the heady reek of pestilence (which is, of course, spread by corrupted air), the works of Him Below leave a foul miasma on the world that offends the senses and disquiets the soul.

What some don't realise is that it's not merely the products of wickedness that leave clues in the air. Sin itself has a smell. The five Mortal Transgressions each leave their own distinctive marks upon the air, too subtle and insidious for the untrained nose. With practice, though, they are all too easy to sniff out.

The Hounds of the HIGHEST are a loosely-knit holy order separate from the three great churches. Their senses of smell are finely attuned to the evils of the world, and, to hone it, they must spend time bathing themselves in that same wickedness, thus their high attrition rate for new recruits and their terrible reputation among more conventional clergy. Still, those who can brave the Transgressions and come out with their faith intact are investigators without compare. Tannists, Venerables, and Absancts alike spurn the Hounds in public, but every bishop worth her salt knows when to call for their aid.

Some grow tired of serving the churches, though, and decide their talents would be better used elsewhere, in the dark, forgotten places of the world.

These are their stories.

Demi-Class: Hound of the HIGHEST

Starting equipment: Plain steel censer (as flail) with 2d4 phials of holy incense (burn for an hour each), notebook, pencil, Edicts of the Heights (Wodelyn translation, heavily defaced), pewter badge with bloodhound sigil.
Starting skill: Roll 1d3 - 1) Apothecary, 2) Hunter, 3) Perfumier.

For each Hound of the HIGHEST template you possess, you gain +1 Initiative as long as you have a functional sense of smell and your enemies have a scent, however slight.

A: Heaven Scent, Lingering Stink
B: Whiff of Suspicion, Burn Out the Stench

Several of the Hound's abilities rely on smell. These abilities are not magic and can't be dispelled or blocked by antimagic effects, but they can be foiled by strong mundane smells like perfume or dung.

A: Heaven Scent
You have a nose for the five Mortal Transgressions: Violence, Theft, Witchcraft, Oathbreaking, and Sedition. You can detect people and things associated with them, known as Transgressive Objects, by smell alone. By spending one round within arm's reach of such a thing - you needn't take any particular action - you detect the scent and learn which of the five Transgressions is most applicable and whether the subject is a Transgressor (one who's committed a Transgression), a Product (a direct result of a Transgression), or an Accessory (something associated with the commission of a Transgression). Victims have no particular scent unless they also fall into another category.

  • Violence: Weapons are Accessories, corpses and major long-term wounds are Products.
  • Theft: Stolen goods are Accessories, and anything stolen goods have been directly traded for is a Product.
  • Witchcraft: Magic (not priestcraft) used in unsanctioned or wicked ways. Spellbooks and other paraphernalia are Accessories, summoned creatures and ongoing magical effects are Products.
  • Oathbreaking or Sedition: Use your best judgement - these are too wide for a full list.

You can trace scents up to a week old, and discern when they're more than a day old.

A: Lingering Stink
Even successful Hounds have a hard time getting through training without falling into a few bad habits. When you gain this ability, roll 1d6 for a bad habit - 1) binge drinking, 2) narcotics, 3) gambling, 4) meaningless sex, 5) petty theft, 6) brawling. If you've indulged your bad habit in the last week, for no reason other than feeling the buzz, you gain a +2 bonus to all saves and heal 1 extra hit point with lunch. If you haven't, invert these bonuses.
This habit also gives you a constant miasma of low-level vice. It doesn't interfere with your abilities, but it does mask any greater Transgressions you might have committed, such that other Hounds and similarly trained people can never detect them.

B: Whiff of Suspicion
You can now trace scents up to a month old, and discern when they're more than a week old.
You can spend a round adjacent to a Transgressive Object to commit it to memory. Note down its nature and Transgression, such as "Darius the blacksmith - Witchcraft" or "the Eleventh Legion's lost pay chest - Theft". When you smell something connected to the same acts of Transgression, you will recognise the link; you'll know, for example, that Darius' familiar is linked to him (beyond simply being an Accessory to Witchcraft), or that the bandit camp on the Caul Road is associated with that stolen pay. You can retain only three memories at a time this way, and may drop them at any time.

B: Burn Out the Stench
You gain an extra attack per round which you can only use against creatures you've identified as Transgressors or Accessories.

Design Notes

The inspiration for this class comes from all over the place, but the trigger was an episode of Leverage, of all things, the one where they fake a miracle to save a church from being shut down. There's a minor plot point about the Vatican sending investigators to verify the miracle as legit, and the second thing this made me think of was whether it'd be cool to play one of those guys. (The first thing was the Monty Python "Church Police" skit.) The first version of this class was based around being able to discern whether magic was real or fake, but I realised pretty quickly that it would be very limiting, and had a think about what else church investigators might do. The other inspiration point was the running theme in many GLOG denominations of wizards being able to taste magic. What if priests had a similar sense, one more aligned with their identity? What if they could smell sin?

The Hound of the HIGHEST was originally going to be a full class, but my attempts to extend it to C and D templates felt like a stretch somehow, like I was overextending an already pretty limited idea. That said, I think I like it as a half-class. I figure the Hounds probably aren't close-knit enough to have all that much consistency between them, and we should have more half-classes regardless, since ease and simplicity of multiclassing is one of the GLOG's biggest strengths. Fill out your other two levels with some sort of thief if you want to stress the "holy scoundrel" angle, a different flavour of priest for some actual miracles, or a fighter class for a scent-based Punisher type.

I really need to write up more about the assumed theology behind my classes at some point.

Saturday, 24 April 2021

[OLOG] Virtue Signalling

Last time on Orc Rehab, I wrote about virtues. This time, I'm taking another swing.

After some discussions on Discord, I realised that, while I still think a system with virtues as its only core stats has legs, my first attempt hewed perhaps too close to the old ability score structure. If each character has just a few virtues from a list of many, the system needs to be built with that in mind rather than trying to make it resemble the ability scores of old.

So, no more numbers. Here's take two.

Orc Laws of Glory: Virtues (and Basic Mechanics)

 

There are more orc virtues than may be counted. A virtue is defined as follows:

  • A name, which is a single noun.
  • A type, which is either (A)ttack, (S)ave, or (C)heck.
  • A short phrase detailing when the virtue is primary.

Some examples of virtues:

  • Daring (A): Attack an enemy larger than you.
  • Acuity (A): Attack from a height advantage or with surprise.
  • Self-Will (S): Save against the works of the gods.
  • Diligence (C): Check to complete a task whose main challenge is duration or tedium.

Virtues are binary. You either have a virtue or you don't.

A virtue grants a stackable +1 bonus to all rolls of its type. Each (A) virtue grants +1 to Attacks, each (S) virtue +1 to Saves, and each (C) virtue +1 to Checks.

  • An Attack is a roll to directly affect or defeat an enemy in a conflict - hitting them with a weapon counts, as do most "combat manoeuvres", but a chess match and a foot race wil also call for Attacks.
  • A Save is a roll to avoid or mitigate the effects of a hazard.
  • Any other type of action roll (i.e. not damage rolls or rolls on random tables) is a Check.

This will lead to some virtues providing boosts to types of roll that seem odd, like Finesse in a chess match or Diligence while trying to defuse a bomb. This is fine. Orcs interpret their virtues broadly.

When an orc attempts a roll for which they have a primary virtue of the right type, they may also add their level. This bonus doesn't stack. The primary criteria of virtues should be interpreted quite broadly. Daring might apply in social combat, for example, to attacks against a more famous enemy, and Self-Will should apply to saves against the special attacks of divine beings like angels.

Example: Izec is a level 2 orc with the four example virtues listed above. Passively, she gets +2 to Attacks, +1 to Saves, and +1 to Checks. If she makes an attack against a larger enemy, or with height advantage or surprise, she gets an additional +2 bonus thanks to her level, for a total attack bonus of +4. If she attacks a larger enemy and has a height advantage, her attack bonus is still only +4 - she doesn't get to add her level twice.

Failings

Failings are simply virtues inverted. Any virtue may also be a failing, in which case it is a quality in which an orc is notably lacking. Finesse as a failing, for example, would mean a clumsy, bumbling orc.

Failings do not impose a penalty. Rather, if an orc attempts a task for which their Failing is primary, they can't claim any numerical bonuses on their roll. Neither the general bonus from type nor any specific bonus from primary virtues applies, and any class-based bonus also doesn't work.

Example: Yaruv, like Izec, is a level 2 orc with the virtues of Daring and Acuity, but he also has the failing of Vigour (A), whose primary criterion is "Attack for the first time in a conflict". Yaruv encounters an ogre in the badlands and charges it. Normally, Yaruv's attack bonus would be +4 - +2 from his two (A) virtues, and +2 because he's attacking a larger enemy, which is the primary criterion for Daring. However, because he has Vigour as a failing, these bonuses are cancelled, and his first attack against the ogre is made at a +0 bonus.

Design Notes

The details of my still-hypothetical-but-slowly-becoming-more-concrete orc-focused GLOG hack are starting to come together.

The part of my previous post I was least happy with was the fairly constrained virtue list. The whole point of orcish virtues, from a worldbuilding angle, is that they're a huge, wildly diverse set of tools by which orcs define themselves. Having too many virtues in the old system, though, would have been a mess and risked too much overlap and fuzziness about when to use one virtue versus another. I think this version is a bit more defined, a bit more lightweight, and feels more specialised rather than aping ability scores purely for tradition's sake.

One thing notably absent from this post is how you choose virtues and failings, and how you gain them as you advance. I think I'd like it to be a bit more structured than completely random rolling, maybe even a light lifepath character generation system a la Beyond the Wall. In terms of advancement, I don't want characters to pick up too many virtues - their power already increases through the scaling primary bonus. Gaining new virtues might well require swapping out old ones.

How do we feel about this compared to the first post? I'm curious to find out what people prefer.

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

[OLOG] Orc Virtues

A glance at my URL will tell you this, but, just so we're abundantly clear, I love orcs.

For a good couple of years now, I've been building up a cumulative concept in my head of what an orc is in my home setting. This post isn't going to be about that - I'll save it for another time - but, to summarise, orcs are masters of engineering, stubbornly atheistic, and struggling to reconcile a millennia-old clan structure with the rise of realpolitik.

I've been toying with the idea of a GLOGhack (take a shot) that focuses on orcs. I don't know much about it yet - level of crunch, what the classes will look like, whether there'll be classes at all, etcetera - but one thing I do know is that it'd give me an opportunity to play with stats a little.

Orcs define themselves by virtues, various personal qualities they strive for and aspire to. There's a near-infinite variation in the virtues to which one might swear allegiance, but orcs are realists. They acknowledge that pursuing all virtue is overambitious at best, counterproductive at worst. Instead, most orcs will choose personal portfolios of virtues to uphold and pursue. The degree to which this is a formal part of society varies - some clans and enclaves hold elaborate ceremonies where young orcs swear to uphold their chosen virtues, while for others virtues are a quiet, personal matter and interrogating someone else's is considered rude.

This idea of choosing just a few strengths to focus on struck me as an interesting approach for a game. What if characters varied not just in the values of their stats, but in which stats they did and didn't possess, right from the outset?

So, here are the beginnings of a framework for just that.

Orc Laws of Glory: Ability Virtue Scores

Character Generation

There are ten potential virtues. Here is a very rough table. Many of these have both physical and mental / emotional components. There is overlap - that's kind of the point.

1d10 Orcish Virtues

  1. ACU, Acumen - practical intelligence, manual dexterity and fine-motor skills
  2. DIL, Diligence - caution, perception, concentration
  3. FOR, Fortitude - toughness both physical and mental
  4. GRA, Grace - agility, full-body coordination
  5. MIG, Might - physical brawn and leverage, not just how strong you are but how you use it
  6. PAS, Passion - inner fire, drive, raw charisma
  7. PRE, Presence - "passive" social skills, poise, and general impact
  8. RES, Resolve - emotional and psychic endurance, commitment, willpower
  9. SAG, Sagacity - abstract intelligence, learning, memory
  10. WIT, Wit - quick thinking, "active" social skills

To generate a new orc, start by rolling five times on the virtue table, noting each result as it comes, including duplicates.

For each unique virtue, roll 3d6, plus an additional d6 for each copy of it you have beyond the first, and take the three highest results. Sum those dice and check the sum against the following table for your virtue modifier.

  • 3-5: -3
  • 6-7: -2
  • 8-10: -1
  • 11-13: +1
  • 14-16: +2
  • 17-18: +3

Erase one virtue of your choice. (This is mandatory.) You're done.

Let's roll up an example character now to demonstrate. We'll give her a good, traditional orc name, like Izec. I roll 6d10 on the table and get Acumen, Grace, Passion, Wit, and Wit again. For each of Acumen, Grace, and Passion, I roll 3d6, and get 8, 11, and 9, respectively. For Wit, I instead roll 4d6 and keep the three highest, and get 14. Then I must choose a virtue to erase - I decide to cut Passion.

Izec's final virtue modifiers are ACU -1, GRA +1, WIT +2 - she's quick of body and mind, but bad at applying her considerable intellect in a structured, practical way. She does not have any of the other virtues on the list. They're just not things that stick out about her.

If your total negative modifiers exceed your total positive modifiers, you may reroll your character.

Virtues in Play

Almost everything in the OLOG that's tied to your stats gives you a choice of two or more virtues to use. Here's how it works.

  • If you don't have either listed virtue, you don't apply a modifier.
  • If you have one of the listed virtues, you must use its virtue modifier.
  • If you have more than one listed virtue, use the best modifier.

Derived stats, like attack bonuses and save values, each have prescribed sets of virtues that can apply to them. For other types of check, it's probably best to adjudicate on the fly whether or not a particular virtue is applicable (though ideally it should be consistent - thinking about keeping lists of where you've used a virtue in the past, might be too much bookkeeping).

For raw stat checks, each virtue has a derived virtue value of 10 plus twice its modifier - this is the equivalent of a raw ability score in other systems. If you make a virtue check with no applicable virtues, the target defaults to 10.

***

This is all very unformed and early-stage at the moment, and could definitely use refinement, but I think there's potential. More to come, probably.

Friday, 16 April 2021

[GLOG] The Apocryphal

In Apocryphal doctrine, while the HIGHEST retains HER throne above, the ordinary folk SHE favours are worthy of veneration too. Indeed, it is by far more sensible and respectful to honour HER through an intermediary. Every Apocryphal chooses a saint as their patron, and these saints have all sorts of weird, divergent portfolios and dogmas that leads to widespread suspicion of Apocryphals in general.

I want my players to be able to play these pious misfits, and the various iterations I've seen of a conventional cleric class just didn't seem to fit. I want Apocryphals to be smart and resourceful, to live by their wits as much as their divine mission, to wield their strange powers as they would a crowbar or a bludgeon. These are not the ways of a priest.

No, these are the ways of a scoundrel. A knave. If you will... a thief.

Class: Apocryphal

based on the Guild Thief by Lexi

Starting equipment and skills are determined by your Order.

For each Apocryphal template you possess, you get a cumulative, additive 10% discount on hireling upkeep costs (round to the nearest copper piece), through personal charisma, payment in small miracles, creative accounting, or some combination of the three.

Each Order has six abilities, each with three sequential ranks. Each time you gain an Apocryphal template, you gain and/or upgrade some of these abilities:

A: Choose an Order. Choose two abilities at rank 1.
B: Rank up an ability you have, then choose a new ability at rank 1.
C: Rank up two abilities you have.
D: Rank up two abilities you have, then gain all abilities you don't have at rank 1.

Order of St Eliodoro, the Burning Renewal

art by Arsonist H

The holy arsonist St Eliodoro died in one of his own fires, torching the camp of an army that had brought ruin and misery to the surrounding villages; they say the crops have grown fuller and healthier in that field ever since. Apocryphals of St Eliodoro are scary, volatile rabble-rousers, some fuelled by class consciousness and proto-socialist thought, others by raw, unfiltered hatred.

Being on fire deals 1d6! (1d6, exploding on a 6) damage at the end of the combat round, and is very distracting, preventing you from using magic or concentrating on complex actions. To extinguish it, Save at the start of your turn. You can spend the round stopping, dropping and rolling to make the Save with advantage. Having an adjacent ally pour water over you also works.

Starting equipment: Pitchfork, pocket knife, 3 flasks of lamp oil, stack of cheaply-produced polemic pamphlets, brand of St Eliodoro on the back of your non-dominant hand.
Starting skills: Gain Vandalism, also roll 1d6 - 1) Farmer, 2) Cook, 3) Blacksmith, 4) Forester, 5) Lamplighter, 6) Lighthouse Keeper.

1) Danger Illustrated

Rank 1: You gain an extra attack per round which you can only use against inanimate objects. It always deals maximum damage.
Rank 2: You gain an extra attack per round which you can only use to throw things.
Rank 3: Your attacks against inanimate objects deal double damage, and your attacks with thrown weapons are made with advantage.

2) Fear Addicted

Rank 1: Against any creature that's failed a Morale roll against your side, is trying to flee from you, or is otherwise afraid of you, your attacks deal minimum damage even if they miss.
Rank 2: Once per day, when you win a battle through morale or intimidation, you heal as though you'd just eaten lunch.
Rank 3: You can heal from morale victories twice per day. Once per battle, you can take an action to set yourself on fire (with all the usual effects) to strike fear into your enemies' hearts, forcing a Morale roll from the opposing side.

3) Pain You Tasted

Rank 1: If you have a heat source, you can take an action to deal a willing, adjacent subject 1 fire damage and cauterise their wounds instantly. This stops any bleed damage they might have taken and focuses their mind, granting them a Morale reroll (if they use Morale) and a +2 bonus to their next attack roll.
Rank 2: If you have a heat source, you can take an action to deal a willing, adjacent subject 1d6 fire damage and grant them a new Save against an ongoing malady they're suffering from. You can attempt this once per person per day.
Rank 3: If you have a heat source, you can take an action to deal a willing, adjacent subject 2d6 fire damage and fill them with agonised zeal. They gain advantage on all d20 rolls for a number of rounds equal to the damage dealt.

4) Punkin' Instigator

Rank 1: By spending a day in town doing nothing but rabble-rousing and tubthumping (booze helps), at a cost of 2d6 sp, you can acquire a posse of 1d3+(ability rank) converts. They will follow you around for zero regular pay as long as you keep them fed and ostensibly safe, promise them each a half share of any loot you find, and let them collectively set at least one precious thing on fire per week. If you have a hireling limit, they don't count towards it. They have 0 HD and a Failed Career each, and will not fight except in self-defence. You can't gather a new posse until you dismiss (or lose) your existing one.
Rank 2:
Whenever you gather a posse, you may decide that one convert has 1 HD and a single random ability from your Order at Rank 1 (except this one), and will fight for you. This member demands a full share of loot.
Rank 3:
You can give any number of your converts a Hit Die and a Rank 1 Order ability each, and they'll fight for you. They will demand full shares of loot.
Also, however much they might be distrusted and whatever they're rumoured to have done, your converts will be left alone by authorities unless they're caught in an illegal act.

5) Trouble Starter

Rank 1: Whenever you spend at least five minutes talking to a group, you learn the primary thing that's making them angry at the moment.
Rank 2: If you present yourself as vocally, violently opposed to the object of a group's anger, they will consider you relatively trustworthy, and will do safe, inexpensive favours for you, as long as they're convinced that you're generally helping their cause.
Rank 3: If you can present a case that some act of unsubtle violence or vandalism will somehow get back at the object of a group's anger, they'll do it for you, even if the case is very weak. They won't do anything suicidal or obviously dangerous, and, if it goes badly, they may blame you - the flimsier your case for doing it, the worse you'll look in the aftermath.

6) Twisted Firestarter

Rank 1: Unless you're stripped naked and divested of all your possessions, you always have the means to start a fire within a minute somewhere on your person. It could be flint and steel, a primitive lighter, or even just a couple of dry twigs to rub together.
Rank 2: Whenever you land a critical hit, or any hit for which you had advantage on the attack roll, you can set the target on fire.
Rank 3: Enemies set on fire by your Rank 2 ability have disadvantage on Saves to extinguish the fire, and it can even affect creatures that couldn't normally catch fire.

Order of St Gerta, the Lady in the Bottle


art by Luca Boni

The short-lived St Gerta was an innkeeper who earned her name by challenging a demon, some say Him Below himself, to a drinking contest. She drank him under the table, thus breaking his hold on her town, but gave herself fatal alcohol poisoning in the process. Her faithful are strong of heart, spirit, and liver, stumbling their way through life by equal parts low cunning and drunken insight.

You can handle one alcoholic drink plus your Constitution modifier with no ill effects, and each drink beyond that expands your critical fumble range by one. The first drink you have with a substantial meal doesn't count. Your drink tally decreases by one every two hours of rest or one hour of vigorous activity, or twice that if you drink water and make an effort to sober up.

Starting equipment: Huge kitchen knife, frying pan, 3 bottles of assorted hard spirits, copper kettle, brand of St Gerta just below your navel.
Starting skills: Gain Carousing, also roll 1d6 - 1) Brewer, 2) Confectioner, 3) Jester, 4) Courtesan, 5) Drifter, 6) Professional Slacker.

1) A Harmless Drunk

Rank 1: When you act drunk, anything from visibly tipsy to completely unconscious, it's indistinguishable from the real thing. As long as you maintain the act, people will treat you as inconspicuous, annoying at worst, unless they have good reason not to.
Rank 2: You can drink a measure of alcohol to fade into the background of a non-hostile setting for an hour or until you change locations. You're still visible, but won't be noticed unless someone draws attention to you. Anyone who was aware of you before you faded out is immune. You make attacks with advantage against anyone who doesn't know you're a threat.
Rank 3: Once per day, you can drink three measures of alcohol to appear anywhere you could physically reach within five minutes, wandering in in a confused stupor. Nobody can block your path, but, if you're stealthed with your Rank 2 ability, this breaks it.

2) Drinking Buddies

Rank 1: By spending a day in town doing nothing but carousing and drunken antics, at a cost of 2d6 sp, you can acquire a posse of 1d3+(ability rank) converts. They will follow you around for zero regular pay as long as you keep them fed and ostensibly safe, promise them each a half share of any loot you find, and give them each at least one alcoholic drink per day. If you have a hireling limit, they don't count towards it. They have 0 HD and a Failed Career each, and will not fight except in self-defence. You can't gather a new posse until you dismiss (or lose) your existing one.
Rank 2: Whenever you gather a posse, you may decide that one convert has 1 HD and a single random ability from your Order at Rank 1 (except this one), and will fight for you. This member demands a full share of loot.
Rank 3: You can give any number of your converts a Hit Die and a random Rank 1 Order ability each, and they'll fight for you. They will demand full shares of loot.
Also, when you visit a drinking establishment, there's always someone present who knows you - give them a Failed Career (actually a Successful Career, in their case) for flavour. Initially, there's a 9-in-10 chance they like you and are willing to buy you and your party a round of drinks and do small favours for you; every time you meet someone who likes you, reduce these odds by 1-in-10. They reset when you meet someone who doesn't like you. And they really don't like you.

3) Heavenly Host

Rank 1: You can spend an extra hour preparing a campsite to be as comfortable as possible for up to five people. If you do, everyone affected wakes up the next morning with 1d3 temporary hit points.
Rank 2: You can prepare a campsite for up to ten people. When you prepare a campsite, you and your companions can ignore uncomfortable heat and cold or lack of shelter (not both). You don't count as helpless while asleep, and wake up instantly if anyone tries to ambush your campsite.
Rank 3: You can prepare a campsite for up to twenty people. When you prepare a campsite, you and your companions ignore all effects that would stop you getting a good night's rest, short of actual damage. You could bed down unprotected in a snowstorm with a brass band playing in your ears, and not only would you get a full eight hours' rest, you'd be immune to potential hypothermia and deafness until you woke up.

4) In Vino Veritas

Rank 1: Once per day, you can ask someone drunk, or someone you've shared at least one alcoholic drink with today, a factual question, and they have a 4-in-6 chance of answering as truthfully as they can. You know whether this worked.
Rank 2: Your Rank 1 ability can be attempted three times per day, but not on the same person twice; targets also won't remember what they told you. Once per day, you can convince a single person who's not actively hostile or currently engaged in combat to sit down and share a drink with you.
Rank 3: Your Rank 1 ability can be attempted seven times per day, and you can use it more than once on the same person. You can convince a group to share a drink with you rather than an individual - the only size limit is how many drinks you have available.

5) Secret Spices

Rank 1: Gain four extra inventory slots that can only hold things that are normally ingested - food, drink, potions, poison, and so on.
Rank 2: If you prepare a mundane meal yourself from raw ingredients (i.e. rations don't count), it feeds twice as many people as it normally would. You can poison or drug food and drink such that it's undetectable until actually consumed (tasters don't work).
Rank 3: If you personally poison or drug food or drink, subjects Save against it with disadvantage, and all present will assume it's "just something they ate"; nobody will suspect foul play unless you give them reason to.

6) To Your Health

Rank 1: If you have an alcoholic drink with lunch, roll the healing die twice and take the better result. You can share this benefit with one other person who eats and drinks with you.
Rank 2: Once per day, you can share a toast to give you and one other person who drinks with you the benefit of a second lunch. (Don't roll this healing die twice.) This takes one minute. After each lunch or toast, you may choose a general type of hazard (fear, fire, disease, etcetera). You automatically pass the next Save you make against that hazard today.
Rank 3:
You can toast with as many people as you have drinks for, and, when you choose your automatic Save success, you can give one person toasting with you an automatic success of the same type.

Design Notes

This is something like my fifth attempt at making this super-class. It's been a collection of disparate classes, a set of wizard schools, a single baffling bard-cleric with usage die mechanics for their breath... nothing quite felt right until I realised that Apocryphals, while they're priests by calling, generally act more like thieves than they do like mages or traditional clerics.

The two Orders presented here are pretty different, and this is deliberate, as I'm testing the robustness of the concept. St Eliodoro makes for a dangerous and probably short-lived causer of problems (a punkin' instigator, if you will), but the abilities, like all the best arsonists, hopefully leave room for subtlety. St Gerta resolves into something a bit more like a traditional priest, but A Harmless Drunk and In Vino Veritas can make her followers pretty good social spies too.

I'm aiming for a sort of sliding scale of weirdness with the ability ranks, where Rank 1 is explicable as mundane, up to explicitly supernatural stuff at Rank 3. There's some bleed and not everything fits, but I'm pretty pleased with where it's at for the moment.

Thanks and apologies to Lexi for the elegance of the thief guild system and my mutilation of it.

Maybe I'll write more Orders. This was fun.

Monday, 15 March 2021

[GLOG] The Acrolyte

The HIGHEST made the people of the earth in HER image, and HER image was of heights. We were built to share the heavens with HER, but, in our folly and imperfection, we DESCENDED, and the earth became our lot and our inheritance.

Need it remain so?

The heavens are beyond our reach. Even birds and dragons and mages find their limits where the blue meets the dark. Yet, when we DESCENDED, we must have followed a path to the earth. Should we find it again, we might ASCEND, and reclaim our place alongside the HIGHEST.

SHE has told us so. We dream of a mountain higher than any, of a thousand ropes stretching beyond the clouds. We dream of the path back to heaven - but our dreams are fraught with endeavour and peril. We must learn the use of the tools of earth, of piton and grapnel and sacred rope, if we are to ASCEND.

Trust in the HIGHEST. Trust in your line. And, above all, look not down.

 art by Lokhyr

Class: Acrolyte

Starting equipment: pickaxe, claw hammer, pocket knife, grapnel, 5 pitons, bosun's chair inscribed with a holy symbol.
Starting skill: 1: Steeplejack, 2: Mountaineer, 3: Cat Burglar.

A: Just Enough Rope, Climbing Lead, +6 RD
B: Gifts from Above, Drop Hazard, +2 RD
C: Rope Tricks, +2 RD
D: Height of Achievement, +2 RD

For each Acrolyte template you possess, you gain +1 Movement.

A: Just Enough Rope
You gain a stock of Rope Dice, or RD. These dice are d10s and represent rope, the HIGHEST's greatest gift unto mortalkind. As an Acrolyte, you have a special relationship with rope - it's a precious thing, and you must be judicious in its use, but your command of it is beyond compare. You regain 2 RD from a night's rest, and your RD refresh to full when you get a night's rest anywhere rope is readily available (almost any settlement will do). You are forbidden from buying or acquiring rope in any other way - if you do, you lose access to all your abilities from this class for as long as you carry it.
Whenever you spend RD, roll them. RD rolls of 1-5 return to your pool; rolls of 6-10 are expended. Items produced by spending RD always count as coming from a quickdraw slot.
You can spend any number of RD to produce a coil of rope [sum]' long. Once produced, the coil is completely ordinary rope, takes up inventory space, and can be cut, tied, set on fire, etc., as normal.

A: Climbing Lead
You can climb up or laterally on ropes as fast as you can run, and descend safely at twice that speed. If you set up the rope yourself, your party also gains these benefits.

B: Gifts from Above
The HIGHEST provides when spirits are low. You can spend any number of RD to produce an item of mundane climbing gear worth [dice]sp or less that could fit in a bag or container you're carrying - pitons (1 RD) and grappling hooks (3 RD) are fine, but no conjuring 10' ladders out of thin air.

B: Drop Hazard
Whenever you attack with at least 5' of height advantage and hit, you can spend a number of RD up to the number of damage dice you'd usually roll for your weapon, and roll those RD for damage instead.
Additionally, you're considered proficient in anything you throw or drop onto an enemy from a height. Such items usually count as light thrown weapons, but you can spend RD on them to increase their damage as usual.

C: Rope Tricks
You have learned to bend rope to your will. You can spend 1 RD to command a coil of rope, cord, or similar flexible material within arm's reach (you needn't actually touch it) to do any of the following:

  • Launch one end to a point you can see that's no further away than the rope's length - this can let you affix a grappling hook beyond your natural throwing reach.
  • Form or undo a loop around something within its reach.
  • Tighten or loosen a loop - anything it's tightened around is secured and possibly bound. Creatures can save to avoid this.
  • Tie or untie a knot at any point along its length.
  • Undo all knots and loops and form a neat coil at your feet.

If used in combat, you can perform one of these tricks per round for free, two if you forego moving or attacking, and three if you forego moving and attacking.

D: Height of Achievement
In your devotion to the HIGHEST, the rope has whispered its greatest secrets to you.

  • RD now return to your pool on a 1-6.
  • You are immune to altitude sickness.
  • You have perfect balance on tightropes and similar tethers, and can traverse them safely at normal speed.
  • You can use Rope Tricks reflexively to save yourself from peril - catching a grapnel on the edge of a bottomless pit, tying back a swinging blade that's about to bisect you, and so on.
  • Whenever you personally tie a knot (i.e. not using Rope Tricks), you can permanently invest one of your RD in it to fortify it. That knot and any ropes attached to it cannot be cut, broken, untied, or otherwise destroyed by any means, including magic, until you reclaim the RD (by touching the knot and speaking a brief prayer) or die.