Friday, July 17, 2020

Charcuterie Board: A Community GLOG Zine

Hello, past, present, and future readers! This post is an official announcement for Charcuterie Board, a collection of content by various GLOGgers. This collection will showcase what GLOG can be, not what GLOG is, because we believe that GLOG is a decentralized philosophy. 

Our unofficial mascot

That does make it hard to explain to newcomers, however, so we're bringing material to feast your eyes upon. If you're interested in contributing GLOG content under a Creative Commons NonCommercial license, please fill out the form below! 

Please note that page space is likely limited to the first 25 people who respond, but we're always open to editors, proofreaders, and artists. The deadline for signing up is 7/24 CST at midnight, a bit over a week from now.

Sign Up Here!


If you're confused as to what the GLOG is, please check out the following links:

1. http://goblinpunch.blogspot.com/2016/05/the-glog.html
The original ruleset. Where it all started.

The updated ruleset. Very recent.

3. https://madqueenscourt.blogspot.com/2020/07/glog-for-gretchlings-or-notes-towards.html
Reasons on why to write GLOG, and many, many links to the rest of the GLOGosphere.

Who we are as of March 2019. Much has changed since then. Link 3 is the most recent summary.

Please head on over to #charcuterie-board in the OSR Discord if you want to talk to us about this, or just drop by the #glog-ghetto if you're curious about what GLOGgers are like in their natural habitat.

We're looking forwards to seeing you!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Kerosene Refiner

I'm helping to playtest SquigBoss's Seas of Sand campaign setting, which is vaguely North African, so I made an oil refiner like the boys rolled with in the Islamic Golden Age to wreak some havoc.

Kerosene Refiner
Start with an alembic, fireproof gloves, a bellows-powered spray nozzle, two flasks of crude oil, and some leathery scars.
A: Distiller, Smoke Squint
B: Appeasement, Soot Lungs
C: Alchemy, Smouldering Scars
D: Chug, Inferno Gate

(A) Distiller: You can distill crude oil into kerosene or petroleum jelly, and spray liquids around using your nozzle.
It takes a night or a day to distill [template]+1 flasks of oil or jelly, provided you have an equivalent amount of crude.
Your nozzle is two-handed, holds one flask of oil, and has a range of 30 feet. It gains +10 feet in range for every other template you take in this class, and at Template C it holds another flask of oil. It takes one action to spray your nozzle and one turn to reload it.

(A) Smoke Squint: You can see through fire and smoke like clear water.

(B) Appeasement: You can convince a fire to stop provided you throw something valuable into it immediately. A gold piece/dash of water for a campfire, fistfuls of bling/food animals/barrel of water for a bonfire, and literal crowns/people/shipload of water/artifacts for a city block eating inferno.

(B) Soot Lungs: You can breathe in smoke normally.

(C) Alchemy: You can refine most liquids into a flammable substance.

(C) Smouldering Scars: If you mortify a body part in fire, like a hand or calf or face, you can carry fire on that skin without burning. Lose 1 HP permanently for every part you mortify.

(D) Chug: You can drink a pitcher of something flammable without any ill effects and spray it up to a day later.

(D) Inferno Gate: Step through fires you set like doorways.

Short and sweet. This is perhaps one of my favorite GLOG classes I've ever made.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the GLOG

This is another essay on the nature of the GLOG. I'm not going to talk about what the GLOG is for everyone, rather, what it is to me. My take shares similarities with many others. 

5 people have already defined the entire GLOG better than I. These four links are the closest us gretchlings (a term for GLOGgers) have to an elucidation of our philosophy. 

Arnold originated the GLOG. Here is the creator's vision. Includes an intro funnel dungeon that I personally playtested and can vouch for. 

Skerples picked up the GLOG and sprinted with it. Take a look at Many Rats on Sticks; it's the most realized GLOG hack for now.

Anne writes up our history as of March 2019 over here. The intro paragraphs do an excellent job of describing us.

A post by a veteran GLOGger, Lexi, who summarizes GLOG very concisely.

Vayra has compiled reasons to move away from 5e and towards the GLOG as well as other essays like this one. If you want the most comprehensive overview, with links to immediately usable material, and more musings on GLOG, go here. This link is the first gretchling-created intro to GLOG.

Before we begin, the answers are not here. They are inside you: what game do you want to run? Where? With who? These questions will have the strongest influence on your GLOG.

Racecars and GLOG Design

As someone who came strictly from 5e, I'll start by talking about the transition. 5e is an ornate, well-tuned, much-played game engine. The published adventures offer an easy pipeline to enjoyable gaming provided you read the owner's manual. 

Every roll has a place. Every part slots into the chassis. It's soothing how many decisions are made for 5e users. Slip behind the wheel, fasten your seatbelt, take off. There is nothing wrong with this gaming provided you're comfortable playing the same kind of game every time. The same ride, the same laps, the same Indy 500. 5e can give that to you. What can GLOG give?

Fuck owner's manuals.

GLOG is not a delicious Ferrari. GLOG is a jury-rigged piece of shit that eats replacement parts and tools, squats in your garage like a toad, and discharges cloying, acrid smoke with alarming glee.

But it's yours. 

Rather than trying to modify a product that does exactly what the manufacturer intended, you can stoop and build your own up with well-worn tools. 

Scaffolding and Constitution(s)

To me, games are both math and art. Math demands answers, art merely offers questions. Therefore, RPG's are a never-ending cycle of change. This is good. It also means a couple things for GLOG.

Any GLOGhack is encrusted with scaffolding aplenty. Scaffolding serves to support your structure, not to define or enclose it. All GLOG mechanics are scaffolding.

Us gamers hold many mechanics to be self-evident. HP, XP, levels, ConDexStrWisChaInt. These are all well and good provided they're what you want. If you don't want them, get rid of them. Laws are laws until they aren't. Please don't feel like you have to keep a part of your game around if you don't use it. 

You don't have to design every possible interaction your players might have. Mechanics, as concrete things to latch onto, lead to gameplay, so design interfaces for the interactions you want your players to have. Everything else can be decided by a yes, no, quick definition, or a roll. 

As an example: I am currently running a game in the Mesoamerican underworld, XIBALBA. I want my players to be able to alter their world through commonly known religious rituals (spells) and drugs, and for my players to struggle against disease. Therefore, I have scaffolding for rituals, drug use/addiction, and disease. Climbing is not particularly interesting to me, so any climbing challenges will be resolved by my players describing what they'll do or a roll.

Combat is a system lots of us struggle to define. Do you want your game to be focused on combat? If not, why make it a complex system? It might seem shocking to decide combat with a single roll, but don't create a pathway for engagement if you have no interest in using it. 

That said, don't burn or shred any mechanic that doesn't work. Keep it around. You may find a use for it later. If you build up enough discarded bits and bobs in a compost of sorts, coherent ideas may begin to emerge. 

Gretchlings Steal

It's a lot of work to knock together a ruleset. Why reinvent the wheel when you can take it from others? All the rules in my GLOGhack that I deemed important but didn't want to write I copied from Many Rats on Sticks by Skerples. Some classes were lifted straight from blogs and other GLOGhacks. If someone made a pretty shiny thing I liked, I took it. 

The majority of XIBALBA has been cribbed from Veins of the Earth and a hexcrawl Skerples wrote for VotE. 

Us GLOGers maintain an Excel spreadsheet with all the GLOG classes and rulesets ever written. As of writing, there are 474 unique classes and 28 distinct GLOG hacks. There is much to steal from here, and we share gladly.

This makes attribution important. Cite your sources. Yes, that's not theft, but GLOG contains many contradictions. 

Symmetry

Symmetry makes design easier to understand. Part of it is reuse, part of it is the partitioning humans apply to all things. If your system is roll-under, low values should probably be desirable in many categories. Attack rolls, saves, initiative rolls, etc. 

One gene commonly cited as a GLOG identifier is the magic system. The power of a spell is determined using d6's. You can add more d6's to power up a spell, but if you roll doubles or triples, Mishaps and Dooms happen. This mechanic has spawned 73 wizard schools. 

GLOG is fueled by simple engines like this. I took these Magic Dice (MD) and applied them to Berzerkers (barbarians) and Warlocks. Some people like that take. 

The paradox here is that the simplest ideas are often the most effective. When designing GLOG, try not to create mechanics that solve problems. Try to write tools that alleviate problems, dodge problems, or convert challenges into new problems. 

Who Solves Problems?

One of the central conceits of GLOG (and the entire OSR) is that players actively solve problems. They do this by engaging with the shared, imagined world, not by asking the DM what kind of skill they need to roll to solve the issue. Try to write mechanics that encourage ways to tackle a problem but don't do the work for a player. 

One GLOG saying about mechanics is that they should be like daggers: light, easily adaptable to different problems, and something can be used to kill you. Thanks, Spwack.

Another saying: When mechanics are lackluster, the players are simple and honest. When mechanics are scrutinizing, the players are shrewd and crafty. (Thanks, Vayra). Both types have a place.

Let players discover ways to solve problems. Paths of action should not be binary. 

Where Do I Start?

I believe Phlox said this better than me, so I'll link to that article. To summarize: interesting setting -> interesting system -> interesting PC's. Decide where you want to play a game, create mechanics that you want players to engage with, and then write classes for them to use. If you don't know how to write a GLOG class, welcome! I don't know either. I do know some that look good, though. 

Some tips for classes:
 - Look at the list of 474 classes. Steal.
 - It's generally accepted that 4 templates (levels in a class) are enough features to create an interesting class. Try giving classes one cool thing per template, with the most interesting things in the first template.
 - Don't define everything. Use common sense at the table if necessary.
 - Anyone that's never played an RPG before should be able to grok it in a minute. Maybe 2 if it's a spellcasting class.

As for interesting settings and mechanics: that's work you have to put in. I can't make your settings interesting. 

What Are Your Qualifications Anyway?

I wrote a GLOGhack so that gives me just as much authority as a farting dog. You can find it here, in a perpetual state of disarray. I hope there's something worth stealing.

Conclusions

Let there be no conclusions, because endings are false and I am a consummate liar. I hope this essay has been valuable. Trawl the other submissions to this GLOG challenge over at link #5 at the top.

If you still have questions, feel free to drop us gretchlings a line on our blogs or over in the #glog-ghetto channel in the OSR Discord. Good luck!

Monday, May 18, 2020

On Discord

In the diaspora following the twilight ages of Google+, my escape has been to Discord. I've tried MeWe, Reddit, but ultimately returned to Chris McDowall's little hub of RPG activity.

In short, MeWe was too sparsely populated when I was on there and everything on Reddit has a half-life. I like Discord - more than I liked G+, but I didn't engage on G+ much as I should've. Too young.

G+ was more suited to RPG discussions because of its largely sedate pace, comment chains, ease of community creation, and the social media framework that let you repost and +1 material, spreading it further across the OSR scene than posting in the #blogroll channel, hoping someone might bring it up in #links and discussion, and posting a link in the OSR subreddit.

Discord is a chat platform. It serves quite well as an incubator for new ideas and communities (assuming you check it regularly). RPG's are part math, which provides clarity and lends itself to answers, and part art, which provides as many or as few answers as you desire. Any platform that discusses RPG's has to accommodate terse back-and-forth and long conceptual discussions. Discord does the former with ease, but you have to work at a longer conversation.

These conversations fall into several rough patterns. All of this is apocryphal.

When a new take is posted (because nothing is original), two tragedies, one good thing, and one great thing happen.
  1. People comment and riff and the discussion eventually spirals off or dies out.
  2. Somebody else brings up a similar idea they had.
  3. People praise the new take.
  4. Somebody actually offers critical feedback. This is rare.
I have cherry-picked data to support my conclusions below. All these comments are, more or less, responses to the GLOG hack I had just posted in this channel 10 days ago.





Why do I care about these tragedies?

RPG's are, in my mind, closest to Art than anything else. This means they grow through critique. In Discord, two things hamper the unfolding of this critique. 

#1: The Tragedy of Telephone
The first is due to the nature of the medium. There's a tendency among us Discord users to surf the conversational wave, riffing snappy remarks over whatever just got said. It's like a game of telephone: very entertaining, but the focus usually ends up being on the last witty remark rather than what prompted the conversation. This can be frustrating, especially if you're looking for some feedback or even just praise for a document you've spent weeks on.

#2: The Tragedy of Convergent Evolution
In all art forms, there is a very keen sense of heritage, and RPG's are no different. Whenever someone brings up an idea, I'm driven (especially as an artist) to post an idea someone else wrote similar to theirs or my take on the same concept as a way to help them. This is not a bad instinct but it hampers RPG brainstorming in several ways.

RPG brainstorming works best in the moment, when everyone involved is throwing out their ideas in a form of psychological flow. It's amazing when you throw yourself into it. Posting someone else's take interrupts that, because it encourages other people to read someone else's ideas for inspiration, breaking part of the group out of the creative flow. We made a 1000+ mech name generator once in a couple hours. It was wild, and nobody questioned it or posted inspiration posts.

Also, remember that sense of heritage? Well, everyone tends to remember whose take on a specific concept was the first one, especially if that writer is prolific. Skerples' Rat on a Stick/Many Rats on Many Sticks get thrown around as example GLOG hacks for that reason.

Before I draw my next conclusion, I want to say: this is a hobby. None of us (well, very few of us) are professional RPG producers. All of us excel at some other task, but this is our creative outlet, and it's very hard to avoid comparing our work to others or to avoid feeling inferior to those who write more frequently and better than we do.

Because of all of these factors, when someone posts a new take, and it contains an idea I've had but not written about publicly, I'll chime in "oh, I did that too" out of fear that if I ever write up my idea down the line someone else will say "didn't so-and-so do that?", which strips my post of any "freshness" and nonsensical "originality" I thought it had.

Basically, name-dropping makes my ideas feel less special, because I want to be original and cool like those other prolific writers. Gotta stop comparing myself.

I'm not proud of my behavior, but I understand it now. Also, because of the utter lack of context (body language/tone) every time I tag on to someone else's idea as my own, I seem like a narcissist because instead of responding to their take I make it about me.

It's about not wanting to be irrelevant.

So, now that I've established that I want to feel like a part of this community, how can I do that while still helping others to grow their ideas?

Well, two ways I've already mentioned.

#3: Praise the work of others
Making art is hard. That's generalizing bullshit, everything is hard to some degree, but putting our tender works out there to people whose names we don't know is kinda scary. Praise goes a long way towards alleviating our worry that nobody cares about what we write. I believe we do care about what other people make, we just don't always show that. Please don't forget to tag blogposts with emoji's in #blogroll if you like them and comment on the post. It means a lot to us.

#4: Offer critical feedback
Every time I write some RPG thing, it's never finished. As art forms, RPG's can't be static, but as math, they demand stability. This push-and-pull drives a huge urge to tinker and innovate, which is good, but also an insecurity that what we write is flawed, which is bad. 

Critical feedback is crucial to managing that nagging feeling. Fresh eyes telling us what they like, what they're confused about, and what they think needs more work is one of the greatest forms of validation any person can receive.

I know things are kinda loosey-goosey in Discord. We don't have much formal structure outside channels, but I think we need to set aside a bit of time to critique GLOG stuff and anything else someone asks for feedback on. It can be pretty mentally taxing, but I've seen an uptick in activity ever since quarantine began, and there's a lot of us looking for some good feelings. So, next time someone posts something, let's critique it. If we get in the habit, we'll go places.

Sidenote: critique is different from review. Review implies a finished product, and while those exist, not many exist in my little Discord corner. Here's one overview of GLOG stuff by Anne of DIY and Dragons,  two reviews by Archon's Court, and one review by Skerples.

While this is targeted to Discord, it can really apply to any platform we post content on.

I'm looking forwards to plenty of discussions with y'all!

Charcuterie Board: A Community GLOG Zine

Hello, past, present, and future readers! This post is an official announcement for Charcuterie Board , a collection of content by various G...