Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The Seven Saints

 Siblings who were heroes in their time, each was dedicated to a holy pursuit and exemplified it to an incredible degree. It has been decades since then, and they are considered holy figures. Especially for adventurers or other outsiders to normal society, the saints are an excellent way to pursue faith, along with strong personal virtues and goals to align with.


A depiction of the saints can be identified most easily by a golden body part, differing depending on the saint in question. An image of a woman with chaotic golden lines along her skin however is blasphemy, and is often a sign of great evil.

Yashtas, Saint of Song

Weaver of the saints' many tales, throughout her life she struggled to spread her name without losing her sense of self, or becoming distorted in the minds of the public. Sometimes those who inherited her charge seek only personal fame to the exclusion of all else, and are warned by her teachings about the risks of such behavior. 

Body: tongue

Symbols: purple, crescent moon, snapdragon, quartz, peacock, rapier

Task: grow your reputation, leave memories

Boon: speak a message to any people you can see, which they will surely hear even if whispered amid a storm.


Priestess, by Mahealani Rodrigues

Ishrar, Saint of Roads 

Never satisfied in one place for long, Ishrar saw many lands and tried always to leave any place she visited better than she found it, a difficult feat at times. Her followers are almost all nomads, and oftentimes traders though she mainly lived on the land.

Body: feet

Symbols: orange, cooling wind, daisy, opal, deer, spear

Task: come to a place you’ve never been

Boon: your step is sure, and you will not tire until you next stop walking.

Amarin, Saint of Bloodshed

A mistress of weapons and all manner of fighting styles, she sought power but struggled with an inner rage that often drove her to unwarranted violence. It is thought that later in life she was able to find peace, but to this day many of her followers seek only might and care little for the restraint she tried to uphold.

Body: teeth

Symbols: red, black cloud, carnation, ruby, tiger, lance

Task: defeat a worthy foe in deadly combat

Boon: you can carry one weapon without encumbrance for a week.


The Last Step, by Ignis Bruno

Meshar, Saint of Gardens

By far the longest lived of the saints, some say she still lives even to this day, hidden away deep in a labyrinth of flowers and herbs. As her teachings emphasize survival and health above other virtues, some think her followers to be cowardly. In truth, among them one can find some of the toughest, hardiest people imagineable.

Body: heart

Symbols: brown, gentle rain, sunflower, obsidian, carp, halberd

Task: go a week without injury

Boon: gain immunity to disease as long as you remain unharmed.

Zaraf, Saint of Books

Studious and soft-spoken, Zaraf spent so much time learning that she sometimes failed to make use of the knowledge she gained, and tried to hand down teachings to help others with that very task. Her followers are intended to be just as studious, though there is more variety in how and what they may study.

Body: eyes

Symbols: blue, starlight, hydrangea, sapphire, owl, dagger

Task: read a sizeable book

Boon: understand and read all languages for the rest of the day.


Ritual, by Livia Radman

Sunesh, Saint of Marriage

Lascivious saint, partner and spouse to many, and with nearly as many manifestations. Sunesh was known as a generous and lively person, sometimes to a fault. Followers of Sunesh are expected to venerate them in whatever form is personally preferred, as that is how they shared love in life, and the saint's teachings emphasize consent and sensitivity to a partner's (or potential partner's) desires or needs.

Body: hands

Symbols: pink, full moon, rose, emerald, dove, whip

Task: spend a night or day with a lover

Boon: for the rest of the week, you can tell if love is true.

Niket, Saint of Home

Amarin would be the first to tell you that Niket was stronger by far. However, Niket struggled to keep up with her siblings and eventually learned to build, her creations eventually becoming the city of Il Kamiyar, the Great Bridge. Her followers congregate their, but can also be found striking out elsewhere, to spread that industrious spirit.

Body: shoulders

Symbols: green, warm sunlight, orchid, peridot, sparrow, axe

Task: sleep within a building you helped create

Boon: you can lift one object and carry it, so long as you could drag it.

 

Alexandria the Black Mage, by Maika Sozo

Tevresh, Saint of Blasphemy

Said to have betrayed her siblings, they cast her out and tried to erase her memory. However a memory cannot be so easily suppressed, and may only become more resilient with each attempt to exterminate it. Those scarce teachings that can be found from her time ecourage one to abandon their duties, reject any role or path set out for you and struggle alone if you must.

Body: scars

Symbols: black, new moon, windflower, howlite, moth, broken sword

Task: destroy a shrine, or kill a leader

Boon: the next time you could die, fate may be turned aside.


Notes

I've been trying to come up with ways to engage the player with the setting more, and a huge part of that is religion. Historically religion has always been a very important in life as well as fantasy, but it seems like a large portion of the gaming community (myself included), are atheistic, so that sense of worship and service to a higher power can be... off-putting. It creates a divide between the player and the average person in the game world, their analogue.

Thus I create instead aspirational figures, so that even the most power-gaming edgy anti-theist could start from a point of "oh yeah I want to be cool like that person," and then once the player is engaged with these figures I think it becomes easier for them to shift that engagement toward roleplaying something more spiritual or worshipful. I've been told that D&D also has demi-gods and high priests and what not, but that doesn't really address this rift between the player and the average character in the world, instead making it probably wider by suggesting that we roleplay worshipping something that isn't even a god? It feels strange.

Oh hey, Skerples recently made a few blog posts about saints and gods and all that jazz. Hope they like this (or at least see it).

Friday, September 18, 2020

Villain generator and respectful necromancy

Some assembly required, but this generator will give you all the necessary touchstones to create a weird, non-problematic, memorable villain for your campaign.

Evil Knights, by Juan Pablo Roldan


Necromancy doesn't have to be evil and reviled. There are respectful ways to commune with the dead, with one's ancestors and forefathers. It's certainly possible to re-frame any necromancy spell in a way that's amicable and honoring to the dead, but these are some examples that are kind of inherently that way already.

Anito x Shaman
Anito x Shaman, by Tuntun Dizon

  1. Speak with dead: you recall the spirit of the dead and ask them questions. Sometimes this is posed as a torturous process, but there's no reason it has to be.
  2. Gentle repose: certainly protective, and infinitely less degrading than embalming. Seriously look into it, don't get embalmed.
  3. Spirit guardians: bring back the great warriors of the past to fight again! Especially if they aren't forced to fight for you, and will only join if you convince them to.
  4. Soothe souls: calm their anger, lessen their pain, allow them to communicate or pass on more easily.
  5. Medium possession: allow the dead to inhabit your body and control your actions for a time, giving them one chance to complete any unfinished business.
  6. Detect dead: especially if it can only sense the undead or those who have no received their proper final rites, to be laid to rest.

Obviously I would encourage other writers to design even undead in a way that's not exploitative or evil, such as making an agreement to benefit the souls of the dead, or giving them temporary life for their own use (such as the possession one). Any practice can be of particular virtue or vice, depending on the attitude it is approached with and the goals held in mind. In Tajira, illusionists are seen as evil, duplicitous, and cowardly for manipulating perception and invading dreams.

 

Many thanks to Kali, creator of Fight With Feelings for helping me out on the villain generator!

Friday, September 11, 2020

My favorite class, fun generators, and a new direction

The Soulknife was my favorite class concept when I only knew about the 3.x games. I emphasize concept there because the actual mechanics of the class were hot garbage. It was described by some as a straightjacket that would ruin any build (I know), it was purely combat based with poor stats for combat and a core ability that neither meshes well with any other class nor outperforms the magic equipment you should technically be getting as you level, according to RAW. So I redesigned it with GLOG sensibilities, then updated that design recently with more experience and insight into RPG design, then read the latest GLOG rules and updated it again to be as fully compatible as I could manage. I probably won't be posting much in the way of classes aside from this, since it's my favorite.

Soulknife

Each level of Soulknife gives you +1 to throwing attacks.

A    |mind blade

B    |steelmind, nightmare

C    |gravitation

D    |shatter

Mind Blade

Conjure a blade of mental energy in the form of a dagger or any weapon you've used in combat. It can also imprint the form of a tool, such as a rope or shovel. It takes an action to conjure and disappears if it leaves your hand for an hour.

Steelmind

Channel your mind blade energy through a physical weapon, increasing its attack by +2, but adding a damage marker every minute it remains channeled.

Nightmare

Steal the dreams of a sleeping person, leaving them with a restless night and allowing you to imbue one mind blade attack with an additional die of damage. Cannot imbue while channeling steelmind.

Gravitate

Your mind blade can pull you to its location as long as it is within view, at double the speed of someone running.

Shatter

Explode your ind blade on command as an action, or instantly if someone attempts to disarm or sunder it. This deals 2d6 damage to anyone within melee range excluding yourself, and you cannot summon it again until you retrieve it within your dreams.

The Beginning of the End by RAHDS


I'd also like to take a moment to outline my current philosophy when designing a GLOG class. It's pretty challenging and strict, but I think it works with the framework of 'constraint inspires creativity.' At template A you obviously have the core idea of the class, which I like to include with some level-independent progression if possible. Template B is great for multiclass synergy type abilities, so people can take 2/2 and get some cool combinations. Template C is kind of like a free space where you can flesh out or expand the core class idea, but it's unfortunately too late to really start with the progression ability. Then template D is good for the capstone ability, which I think should be cool and flashy but risky or costly to use. I've heard arguments against capstone abilities, but as long as you're good at designing the abilities leading up to it that shouldn't be a problem.

 

Generators

If you both really want to design wacky classes, but have managed to run out of ideas, this should give you some weird ones:


Fantasy tree generator. Some of the results are pretty wild, but most should be scaleable to either mundane rumors or arcane foliage of myth:


And here is a fashion trend generator. It won't give you a specific outfit, but should prompt enough broad traits to build a sense of style for a locality:


Faint Slumber by Pavel Kolomeyets


Priorities

Finally, I've decided to stop working on systems, or at least stop focusing on them, until I get some more experience running things at the table, and probably read more existing systems. The most useful things I find on other blogs are environments, characters, items, puzzles, and monsters (in descending order of usefulness), and then after that there are mechanical and philosophical considerations that can sometimes be interesting. I'll be using Arnold's most up to date GLOG rules as my basis for mechanics, but mostly using a fiction-first focus. Surely everyone is even more excited to read about this than I am to write it.