Sunday, March 14, 2021

YAGH one-shot: Crypt of the Cowboy Spider

On Saturday, I ran a Yet Another GLoGhack! one-shot for three players, two of whose characters were the best burglars on the planet, and yet they didn’t have a good thief among them. It was a blast, the system is really great, and here’s the adventure I ran for them, with some session report stuff sprinkled in. At the bottom I have attached a picture of the prep I’d done for the session, because seeing GM notes is nice. I also use the Monster AI stuff I’ve talked about before on some monsters here, so you can see how it sort of works. I hope this post is useful to someone.


SIMPLE YAGH! MONSTERS

Choose their LEVEL. Use it as their bonus to every roll/TARGET they’re actively good at, and a penalty to any roll/TARGET they’re actively bad at, and just use the flat dice/10 for anything they’re neutral towards. They should have health equal to five times their LEVEL. It takes a minimum of a LEVEL 3 creature with multi-attack capabilities to prove a real challenge to a LEVEL 1 party (in my very limited estimation), so you have permission to really go to town when assigning LEVELS.


INTRO: DID YOU HEAR THE ONE ABOUT THE KID NAPPING?

The party is approached by two poor farmers, Boris and Anir. Their daughter, Melody, was recently kidnapped by a woman named Anthelia de’Cloven, and taken to the de’Cloven family crypts. They remember seeing a strange necklace around Anthelia’s neck, a spider with some strange wide-brimmed hat on… They will give the characters their life savings, 100 silver shillings, if they can get Melody back safely.


(At the table, my shortsighted brain didn’t plan these NPCs, so they got names after the game had begun. Anir was Annie… damn heteronormative improvisation. They took the bait.)


THE DE’CLOVEN CRYPT

Built into a hill, this family crypt has recently seen foot traffic from 3 entities (Mork, Klarg, and Anthelia). The only dilapidated, ivy-choked door inwards leads into ROOM 1. The inside is marked by maggots and roots tumbling out the holes in the ancient masonry- bricks can easily be pulled free from the walls. (A fact my players exploited no less than 7 times.)


ROOM 1: MERCENARIES BY THE FOUNTAIN

In this room, a Goblin with low self-esteem named Mork (LEVEL 2) and a skeptical Orc named Karg (LEVEL 2) are playing cards. Klarg is slated to win when the heroes enter. The two are poorly-paid and not terribly bright mercenaries hired by Anthelia as guards. If too much noise happens, Anthelia comes to investigate. Against the far side of the room is a stagnant fountain, filled with…

1 Deceptively water-like acid

2 Scummy water, a de’Cloven ghost asks the heroes to get her necklace back

3 Flammable yet drinkable liquid

4 Healing potion

Passages lead away to ROOMS 2 and 3. The passage to ROOM 2 contains a pit trap that all inhabitants save Melody know about, so they hug the wall when passing by.


(I gave Mork a New York accent and Klarg a deep cockney. The party snuck in and one pretended to be a wizard, taking on Mork as an “apprentice”. They then used the flammable liquid in the fountain to light Klarg on fire while alive.)


ROOM 2: ANTHELIA’S ABODE

Piles of old de’Cloven bones lie scattered around this room. In the middle, a circle of runes bearing an eye motif surrounds a candle-laden lectern bearing Anthelia’s grimoire. The grimoire contains a Ritual of Communion with the Cowboy Spider (granting a Level in Spider for every sacrifice performed) and a scroll of...

1 Super Fucked Up Brain Hemorrhage

2 Bones to Paste

3 Doorway to Hell

        4 Diminution (irreversible shrinking to mouse size)

Anyone crossing the rune circle is blasted backwards unless they close their eyes or look away as they pass into the circle. Anthelia (LEVEL 4) is here at the start of the adventure, reading her grimoire. Each round, she…

1-2 Fires a bolt of eldritch lightning (d10) at the nearest character

3 Emits an Arcane Scream (MND or d8) to hurt all close to her

4 Attempts to flee as quickly as possible

5-6 Revives the nearest corpse into a Zombie (LEVEL 1)

Corridors in the room lead back to ROOM 1, which still has the pit trap in the hall, and ROOM 4.


(They barely went through this room, and no one bit at the Ritual of Communion. Gotta try harder next time!)


ROOM 3: THE COFFIN CENTRIFUGE

This room is composed of a small ledge (about 4-5 inches wide) around a ten-foot pit, the bottom of which is packed dirt instead of crumbling masonry. On the opposite side from the entrance is a stone “door” with a green devil face, mouth agape, on it. This is actually just a piece of stone set into the wall- reach into the devil’s mouth and there’s a switch that opens the secret door right next to the “door”, leading to ROOM 4.

When someone hits the dirt, ancient machinery starts to rumble, and the entire floor of the room (including the ledge, but not the walls above the ledge) begins to rotate faster and faster, like a centrifuge. Each round, the TARGET of all checks increases by the number of rounds the centrifuge has been active (i.e. round 1: TN 11, round 2: TN 12, ect.). If the centrifuge can be stopped, a difficult task as all the machinery is hidden, this effect ends.

Finally, and perhaps most fiendishly, the walls of the pit are made of large 10-foot stone panels with carvings of people in repose, presumably old de’Clovens. They are not secure, and if they are pulled out of the way, perhaps as an attempt to climb out of the pit, they fall away, and d4 Skeletons (LEVEL 1) emerge. One of the skeletons, at random, carries a random Spell Scroll. Roll on the Anthelia’s grimoire table to determine what it is.


(When I ran this, I forgot it was a centrifuge! Silly me… could have really ruined the hero's days with that one. Well, not gonna lose too much sleep over it.)


ROOM 4: SANCTUM OF THE COWBOY SPIDER

This large natural chamber is dominated by a titanic jet black-and-red arachnid, a chitinous structure atop its head resembling a cowboy hat (LEVEL 5). Piles of rusty and dusty loot lies about for the taking, to DM discretion. In front of it is a sacrificial altar, upon which is tied a terrified Melody. Passages lead away to ROOM 2 and ROOM 3. The spider is currently in a state of slumber. If it wakes up, every round, it…

1-2 Six-shooters

3 Poison bite

4 Web

5-6 Chow down! Say goodbye to whatever’s on the altar.


(The heroes substituted Mork for Melody in a deal with Anthelia. Then they ambushed Anthelia and left without disturbing the spider.)


*notes incoming here*

Thanks for reading, and happy gaming.

Friday, March 12, 2021

GLoG reviews 5

    Here's the first post, as normal. I'm a little more critical in this one, so I want to reiterate that if I'm reviewing your hack, that means I found it cool enough to read through and offer advice on, and I always mean to give pointers and ways to improve, not tear down the work of others. After all, I'm no voice of Game Design On High, I'm just some dude writing his own hack who wants to learn more about the craft just as much as you do!

--

GLoG, DEADLY DUNGEON EDITION, by Elanfanboy

OVERVIEW This is a pretty orthodox GLoGhack that has a really "I made this because I have a game in 5 minutes" feel, which is always great to see.

FLAVOR 1. Very much vanilla, the only implications there are about magic and a generally grittier, darker feel, making this game quite adaptable.

PLAYABILITY 2. I would play the system if I were terribly intrigued by the adventure, but there's not enough of unique meat here for me to want to play it for its own sake. Part of what turns me off is that most of the class abilities are mechanically-based instead of narrative- there's more bonuses to damage than there are interesting tools for players to creatively.

COMPREHENSIBILITY Unfortunately, 2. The big problem with this is the ordering of ideas. There seems to be very little rhyme or reason as to in what order the information is presented. Weapons are put in the middle of the classes, a number of pages away from the equipment rules. Spells and wizards have a great gulf of pages between them. Consider taking each section, then copy-pasting it into a separate doc into a better order- link concepts, go from character creation to base mechanics to day-level mechanics for travel and such, just figure out something better than what's here and it'll easily kick this up a number or two.

OVERALL 2.5. Though throughout there are little nuggets of gold, generally speaking, not terribly much thought or editing has gone into this product, and even an hour's work of polishing would do this doc a world of good, especially in the order of information presentation. (And some typo check would be nice too, the Base Adventurer table has a lot of little discrepancies, for example.)

THINGS TO STEAL Title and loot based leveling (ya love to see it, folks), Vancian/GLoG hybrid casting rules, in-depth hexcrawl rules, advice on structuring random tables

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FINDERS KEEPERS, also by Spwack

OVERVIEW An exercise in minimalism and speed- a bunch of really scaled back rules so there's a lot of space for oddity to exist around them. I've reviewed a number of Spwack's rules already and generally have a favorable opinion of them, so I'm excited to see how this one holds up.

FLAVOR 2. Unfortunately, the picture inspirations at the end don't really work together terribly well, and there's so few of them that I can't ascertain an overall aesthetic. I find myself going back to the rules to see if I can figure it out, but they're so light I have a hard time there too. There's a bunch of interesting snippets, but altogether not enough for me to put together the puzzle.

PLAYABILITY 3.5. You've piqued my interest, and if there was a fun adventure with it, I wouldn't hesitate giving it a shot.

COMPREHENSIBILITY 3. There's a lot more ambiguity here, and not in a good way. For example, the first line of equipment says: "Gain Useful, Odd, Memento, Weirdness". What distinguishes Odd from Weirdness? How do I make sure the Memento isn't encroaching on any other categories? If that weren't enough, right below it are optional rules to pick equipment, so is that blurb even useful at all? Do you get those things on top of the optional systems? I can't make heads or tails of what the designer wants me to do, which means it's bad ambiguity.

OVERALL 3.5. I liked it quite a bit, but it feels incomplete as-is. I'd love to see more flesh given to the world and a little bit of playtesting for it to coagulate into a solid 4.

THINGS TO STEAL Random character generator (ya love to see it, folks), multiple sets of rule options so you can customize easier ('yeah, we're doing FK with Equipment 2 and Inventory 1'), "oh crap my hat!" is just a really fun rule overall

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CRAWL INTO A HOLE AND FUCKING DIE, by FilthPig

OVERVIEW Name kind of says it all. Very flavorful, punchy hack, with a dark fantasy sensibility and a lot of DNA from some classics like BONES (but not bereft of a healthy dose of novelty). I've written so many of these little blurbs, I'm just gonna dive right in instead.

FLAVOR As it stands, a solid 1.5. I know some more flavorful classes are coming down the pipeline, but as it stands, it's a pretty good generic engine for more grim games marketed to 5e players (as that's where I see a lot of the classes coming from).

PLAYABILITY 2. I trust FilthPig to make these rules sing and run a unique, cool adventure with them, but as these rules stand I wouldn't trust them in anyone else's hands.

COMPREHENSIBILITY 3. There's some strange combat mechanics that probably make a lot of sense to people with brain cells, but otherwise, there's a lot of very familiar mechanics here. Perhaps an effort at mechanical consistency and consolidation would come in handy, but it's not too glaring an issue.

OVERALL 3. Very solid, and I'm excited to see where it goes as it develops into its own. I like FilthPig's work, so I'm sure that over time, this will mutate into something truly spectacular and grotesque.

THINGS TO STEAL Robots on the ancestry list, simple exhaustion rules, language rules (finally! I've been looking for good unique ones, and these are some of the most novel I've seen recently), some good half-GLoG half-5e classes.

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AMULETS AND ECLIPSES, by L. Barber

OVERVIEW Strangely enough, this isn't a complete game engine. Rather, think of it as a sort of splat book for your favorite mechanics, set in a magical medieval Britain. It's a strange and wonderful little game indeed.

FLAVOR 5. The lush graphic design immediately helps convey the tone from the cover page, and the game explicitly spells out where and when it's set, going into great detail as to how it differs from history, and even goes as far as to provide graphics to demonstrate what the weapons look at. Easily worth a 5.

PLAYABILITY 3.5. This concept isn't the most interesting to me (I like to stay nice and distant from history), but if someone ran it, I would certainly take notice and want to hear a little more about the adventure.

COMPREHENSIBILITY 4.5. Again, given how this bolts onto the game engine of choice, and how much thought is put into introducing the setting, everything is really accessible and easy to grokk.

OVERALL 4.5. Really solid, and I like the idea of creating a splat book of classes and setting data to be layered onto an existing system... more people should adapt that format.

THINGS TO STEAL You don't have to build your game around a system! This is a great way to release setting information and classes without locking into specific mechanics, which often take a lot of effort to explain well. Also, the techniques used to make the setting accessible and intriguing are top notch, so steal liberally. Sample adventure is always a plus!

--

I've got one more list of reviews to do, then something special. Get ready for the first ever GLOGGIES...

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Jojiro's Orthodoxies of Narration

I don´t have to explain what´s happening here. You´re not the boss of me.

Some noise is coming from a building.

-A tired Game Master somewhere, probably
  1. Rewrite this, still as a single sentence. You want to convey that the structure is not sound. You hear the sound of rotting timbers wetly creaking from inside a poorly-mortared stone hovel beside you.
  2. Rewrite this, still as a single sentence. You want players to picture a safe haven, a feeling of comfort that we get with freshly baked cookies at grandma’s house. But do it implicitly – “Grandma’s baking noise is coming from the safe haven” is not the point of the exercise, here. The sound of gently hissing fire meets your ears from the abode beside you, a familiar crackle.
  3. Rewrite this, still as a single sentence. You want to convey that this location is mildly dangerous. As you hear the sound of gentle scurrying and scratching coming from the building beside you, you get the nagging feeling that you're being watched.
  4. Rewrite this, no sentence limit. You want to convey that this location is lethally dangerous – try to suggest a different type of danger than what you used for exercise #3. As you hurry past, a sickening noise causes you to stop in your tracks- a scream caught in a throat, before the wet sound of steel cleaving flesh and meeting bone. A deep, infernal laugh rises from an inhuman throat as the unseen blade is forcibly removed from the victim, then as the chuckling subsides, the sound of rusted blade on grindstone. Something terribly unpleasant is happening.

5. The dungeon entrance is kinda big even to the humans in the party, but it positively looms over the halflings, like a bloated elephant. There’s even trumpeting and general cacophany to match! It’s a right circus in there. There seems to be an emphasis on the feeling of grandeur and an attempt to create a lighthearted tone, though I need a lot more context to make sense of how a dungeon could be circus-like; is it some form of literal funhouse?

6. As you round the bend, Martha, you hear the crackling of flame and popping of glass. The upstairs window that you spent much of your childhood daydreaming from bulges outward and shatters with a resounding crash, and the stoop where your mother always stood in the evening to greet your father groans as it folds in on itself. Mercerian levels of backstory are being engaged here, with an attempt in eliciting an emotional reaction from a single character. Fairy-tale nostalgia weaponized, to what could potentially be a very powerful effect at the table.

7. The floorboards creak and groan despite the party’s best efforts to stay stealthy. The incessant scuttling sound continues too. First in the wall. Then in the ceiling. Then down another wall, and finally to the floor beneath your feet. Cackling follows the scuttling, half a beat delayed. Dread, suspense, a folkloric horror. Scuttling is associated with natural creatures, particularly insects, and when melded with cackling definitely implies witchery. Plus the party is already being stealthy, so the strong implication is trying to stay out of the sight of a powerful witch, and failing.

A person hits a person.”

-That same tired Game Master, probably
  1. Rewrite this, no sentence limit. The focus should be on a specific body part, the texture is meant to be visceral. You’re drawing out a moment and making the hit meaty and with impact. His fist soars, almost slow motion, down through the air. You watch as it collides with your lower abdomen, an instant ache blooming through your solar plexus. You stagger backwards, the wind knocked out of you for half a second as you struggle to regain breath and composure. He cracks his knuckles after such a direct hit, a sadistic grin exploding across his face.
  2. Rewrite this, no sentence limit. The focus is on the person who hits, not the person who is being hit. The texture is something personal to the person who hits – you’re framing this as an important moment for them as a character. Your knuckles white, you take a steadying breath as you stare into those steel blue eyes that have haunted you for so long. In one instant, your body uncurls and springs into action, like a spring being released, and you strike forward with lightning precision and a well of determination. Your fist soars, colliding with his temple. You barely register the force of the impact as adrenaline courses through your body, and as he reels back from the blow, you take a moment to shake the pain out of your hand. You´ve been wanting to hurt him back like that for a while, and damn does it feel good.
  3. Rewrite this, no sentence limit. The focus is on the scenery, and the texture is one of bleakness. Whatever combat is happening is ultimately pointless, and you’re trying to make sure the party knows it. Zoom out, make the fight less personalized, less meaningful. Distance your description. As your fists rain down blow after blow, pummeling her into the dirt, her dazed and empty smile directed almost past you, though you, mocks you. Dead silence fills your ears as you continue your senseless assault, your sinews losing their adrenaline and screaming in protest. (This one was tough for me, and I don´t think I did a great job, because I need more context.)
  4. Rewrite this, no sentence limit. The focus is on conveying facts. There should be as little texture as possible. It’s the end of the session, everyone is tired, and while making this accurate is important, making it anything more would be a waste of time. You can see one of your players is already half-asleep. You may want to rush this and call it a night. Your blow connects solidly, and they grunt in pain. Alrighty, who´s next?
  5. Rewrite this, no sentence limit. You are trying to focus on a pathetic target of the hit, but not like, an assault victim or anything serious. Tonally you’re aiming for a slapstick character who is the butt of jokes, bad timing, and who keeps getting beat on. This blow, which for most people would be considered but a light tap, sends this guy on his ass. As he goes to stand back up, you try and help him to his feet, but he slips out of your grasp and falls back the other way. You can´t help but suppress a chuckle.
I think the most significant thing I got out of this round is how much description relies on context. You build off of ideas you´ve previously presented, you frame descriptions in the same sorts of metaphors and highlight the same sorts of details, you slowly give sensory information over time instead of loading it all in at once. There´s a strange sort of poetry you can weave that you can´t convey with a three-sentence chunk of narration.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Black Pudding SPELLS

 If you haven’t checked out the Black Pudding zines, you’re really missing out on some fabulous art and very inspiring classes, spells, and monsters. I highly recommend it, and the PDFs are PWYW, although if I were you I would splurge on the Heavy Helping in print. Anyways, based off of this magic system here, I converted some spells. Here ya go!


d10 SPELLS:

MIRROR HEART (G): Touch someone to implant their aorta with liquid glass. If the caster or the target is inflicted WOUNDS, the caster chooses who takes them. (A heart dipped in silver)

SHIMMERWEB (G): 20 feet of razor-sharp silvery wire springs shoots FAR from you. It can’t be damaged by mundane weapons and lasts for a TURN. (A Drider tooth)

MERCURY TENDONS (R): You can move FAR in a ROUND, and can walk on liquids and up walls, for d4 ROUNDS. (A vial of quicksilver)

SILVER SALVE (M): Patch one SCAR for a TURN. (An angel’s wing)

TONGUE TIED (R): A target in FAR range can’t make noise for d4 ROUNDS. (Knot in an esophagus)

DEATH AUGUR (M): Learn d6 random facts about a corpse you touch. (Diamond skull ring)

DEATH DENIAL (A): Suffer no penalties from overfull CON for a TURN. (A scrap of a phsychopomp’s robe)

MENTAL FORTRESS (M): Suffer no penalties from an overfull WIS for a TURN. (A brick from someone’s mind palace)

PLAY DEAD (R): Die, and specify a time frame. There’s a TURNS-down-in-6 chance you’ll be permanently dead, otherwise, you come back to life when you specify. (Porcupine)

SINEWS (A): You have ADVANTAGE on STR and CON rolls, but everyone dislikes you, even your allies. (A 3-WOUND weapon)

Friday, March 5, 2021

MARROW Magic II: Electric Boogaloo

 MARROW MAGIC


For a long time I’ve been struggling with how to handle magic in MARROW. I’ve never found or developed a system where I was satisfied with the depth, flexibility, and consistency of a spellcasting system and how it fit into the rest of MARROW. Here’s my first draft at something coherent and usable.


CASTING A SPELL

To cast a SPELL, roll...

INT: If you’re using an object, like a spellbook or wand, to cast

WIS: If you’re calling upon another entity to use your magic

CHA: If the magic was inside you all along…


If you CRIT, you cast the SPELL successfully without USE. If you succeed, you cast the SPELL, but USE it. If you fail, the SPELL fizzles, but you don’t USE it. If you FUMBLE, the SPELL flops, you USE it, and things usually go sideways.


PUSH

Once you’ve cast a SPELL, you can voluntarily take STRESS to PUSH it. There’s no limit to the STRESS you can take, but be careful- PUSH yourself too hard and things might get out of hand fast! There are three axes upon which you can PUSH yourself: Duration, Versatility, and Intensity.


1 STRESS

2 STRESS

3 STRESS

DURATION

+d4 TURNS/ROUNDS

+d4 days

Eternal

VERSATILITY

Tiny bend in use

Reasonable enough use

Vaguely similar at best

INTENSITY

Perceptible boost

Significant boost

Mighty power!

(Extra damage)

+1

+2

+4

(Decreased casting time)

Halved

Quartered

Instantaneous


You can also PUSH yourself to the limit, casting epic magics that define eras. Nothing is outside of your grasp, from time reversal to deicide to mass resurrection. However, when you do so, you die with no hope of return, or suffer a worse fate. There is no escape from the scales of death.


USE

Depending on the form your SPELL takes, USE looks different. Here’s some examples:

STR: Wands, staves, orbs, rods, scrolls, spellbooks, and all sorts of eldritch bric-a-brac can contain SPELLS in STR slots. Most of the time, they have one SPELL apiece, with as many as 3 or 4 in a more powerful object, like an archmage’s book. They also contain a set pool of USE upon finding (d20, if you’re in a pinch). You can also use that USE as STRESS in the case of PUSHING SPELLS the object casts. These objects FUMBLE like anything else!

DEX: Magical tattoos, hereditary witchery, and parasites from other dimensions all might be sources of SPELLS that occupy DEX slots. Whenever you take USE from a SPELL cast in this way, take 1 FATIGUE instead. If you FUMBLE, instead take d6 FATIGUE, or induce an arcane catastrophe.

WIS: Most SPELLS as people know them, memorized bundles of arcane energy, are stored in WIS slots. If an ABILITY grants SPELLS, this is the form they take. When a SPELL takes USE, it instead is destroyed, no longer occupying a SLOT- you have forgotten the ancient rune-words you need for your invocation.

CHA: Most of the time, SPELLS themselves won’t occupy CHA slots, but instead, many ABILITIES grant SPELLS in various forms. However, a SPELL so mighty that attaches itself to the magician’s identity, something as world-shattering as Wish or Apocalypse...


TOKENS

Every SPELL on Aeros has an associated TOKEN. It might be a common item (a penny with two “heads” faces, a cat’s whiskers), or something unique and magical (a cockatrice egg, the Apocrypha Orb). If you have the appropriate TOKEN while you cast a SPELL, make your casting roll with ADVANTAGE.

D10 random TOKENS:

1 A spool of silver

2 A dream about the ocean in a bottle

3 A Nemidian rune-rock

4 A red mole’s molehill

5 The sword of Khar Vendis

6 A green glass eye

7 A staff carved from the world’s oldest tree

8 An angel’s toenail

9 A child’s favorite marble

10 A lightning bolt


PROCEDURE

  • Roll to cast the SPELL

    • If you have a TOKEN, roll with ADVANTAGE

    • Allies can roll INT to assist, if they succeed, you roll with ADVANTAGE

  • Expend USE as needed

    • If you failed your roll, stop after this step!

  • PUSH yourself, if you dare

  • The effect takes hold


VULGAR ARCANA

This is the equivalent of your basic SPELL list. Roll a d4 (for one of the four types of rune magic) and a d8 to determine a random SPELL. SPELLS are described as follows:


Spell Name. Spell description, in terse terms. (TOKEN here)


1 RAVEN

1 Swarm. A scratching mass of claws and craws deals 2 WOUNDS and causes a lot of havoc before scattering to the wind once more. (Stillborn animal with a conjoined twin)

2 Feather Cloak. This cloak woven from the blackness between the stars clads you for a TURN; while wearing it, you’re only perceptible by magical entities. (Broken humerus)

3 Word of Murder. Call out in blasphemous tones and point at someone. A feather tattoo appears on their body. It will kill them in 13 days. (The skull of a Demon Lord)

4 Bird Soul. Animate an object with the spirit of a dead bird for a TURN. Good luck getting it to do anything useful. (A tea kettle filled with boiling blood)

5 Crowsflesh. You take a half-avian form for a TURN, your toes morphing into claws and your arms into atavistic wings of jet. (A statuette carved from a petrified tree)

6 Warp. The flesh of your target blooms and calcifies under your touch, inducing a random MUTATION. (A Moon Orchid)

7 Cry. Your mournful laments are understood by all who hear, so long as they are utterly pessimistic. Choose one living creature, you two can converse for a TURN. (Tears)

8 Psychopomp. Kill someone. You can pull the soul of a FRIEND dead for no more than a day into that body. That body can never heal through natural means. (A golden scythe)

OTHER POSSIBLE SPELLS: Wardenship of the Flock, Bird Familiar, Beast Command, Growth


2 MOON

1 Terraform. Everything FAR from you becomes a lunar biome: salt spires, crater-valley, fungal pit, sulphur sea, sugar-hive, the Moon Monarch’s Manor, or another. (Moon rock)

2 Crown of the Lunar Queen. A halo of glowing moon rock appears above a touched target’s head; they obey your commands for d4 ROUNDS. (Crown of a dead ruler)

3 Moon’s Nimbus. Moonlight shines around you for a TURN. It acts as natural sunlight, and no creature can enter the light without your permission. (Blue flame)

4 Regality of Moths. For a TURN, people assume you’re important, and you can levitate a handspan off the floor. (A living moth the size of your head)

5 Bind Moon-Beast. 50% this is some wildlife, like a Trilobite or a Stone Flower. 40% this is an intelligent member of the Moon Court, like the Bubble Wizards of t’Keem. 10% this is the Moon Monarch herself, who can grant wishes or bestow knighthoods. (Mithril bell)

6 Phase Change. The moon immediately changes to your choice of phase, or if it’s during the day, a solar eclipse occurs, lasting a TURN. Don’t overthink it. (A silver blade)

7 Melancholy Melody of the Moon Monarch. For a TURN, the minds of all who hear you sing are filled with thoughts of the worst outcomes of their actions. (Musical instrument)

8 Lunar Lock. Spend d4 ROUNDS carving zodiac symbols on a doorway or entrance to make it impassable for a TURN. (A key made for no door)

OTHER POSSIBLE SPELLS: Lycanthropy, Meteor, Zodiac Invocation, Solar Wrath, Read Stars


3 GLASS

1 Lacerating Carapace. You get +1 DEF for d4 ROUNDS as your skin sprouts broken flesh-shards. When something CLOSE hits you, it takes 1 WOUND. (Trilobite shell)

2 Prism. Create a monochromatic illusion your size or smaller for d4 ROUNDS. (Prism)

3 Sanguine Signatory. Take a WOUND to write a command in blood. As long as it’s wet (usually a TURN), all who read it must follow it. (A Devil’s quill pen)

4 Oubliette. Open a portal to a random place in the cosmos; a target you touch is banished therein for d4 ROUNDS or until a countercharm is performed. (Gold manacles)

5 Invulnerability. Touch an object to make it impervious to damage or FUMBLES for d4 ROUNDS. If you touch a creature, they are petrified for the duration. (Adamant dust)

6 Mirror Walk. Shatter the fabric of space-time to teleport FAR or open a portal to a random part of the cosmos that persists for d4 ROUNDS. (A mirror containing a soul)

7 Ocular Pearl. Summon a small ball of glass. You can see auras while holding it, and can see through it remotely if it’s in the same HEX as you. (Diamond monocle)

8 Open Door. Millenia ago, before the Cataclysm, the Doors were a network of inter-cosmic portals. They probably still work fine. (Keystone of a wizard’s front door)

OTHER POSSIBLE SPELLS: Resonance, Eldritch Lenses, Reverse Time, Shatter Reality


4 ASH

1 Emberwind. Anyone caught in this cone of whirling cinders takes 2 WOUNDS, and anything flammable ignites. (Weeds from under the First Tree)

2 Blitzschreiben. Carve a rune of lightning into something. The next thing to touch it takes 2 WOUNDS and is deafened by a peal of thunder. (Lightning in a bottle)

3 Fever Dream. Touch someone to cure them of all their Addiction to a drug, or all of their WOUNDS, STRESS, or FATIGUE. They fall into a coma for 24 hours. (‘Shrooms)

4 Memento Ignius. Touch a fresh corpse and ask it a question; it must answer as truthfully as it can, though bodies know less than minds. (A 6-fingered cat’s paw)

5 Maelstrom. Control the weather for a TURN; you can make it as extreme or strange as you please. (The claws of a Wind Dragon)

6 Erode. Touch something inanimate; it crumbles, rusts, or otherwise decays. (Bone axe)

7 Creation’s Song. Spend d4 ROUNDS singing sacred, cosmically resonant tones to manifest a simple object made of one material that takes up one slot. (432Hz tuning fork)

8 Conduit. Your flesh invokes a long-forgotten primordial form; you become an Angel of Fire, Water, Wood, Metal, or Air for a TURN, taking 1 FATIGUE after. (Burned effigy)

OTHER POSSIBLE SPELLS: Summon Mephit, Deaden the Ley, Call Colossus, Homunculus


CREATING AND RESEARCHING SPELLS: SPELLS can be researched with LONG EXPENSIVE PROGRESS. At the end of that time, roll INT. If you succeed, you have made the SPELL, and whenever you roll for a SPELL, you can choose that SPELL instead. If you fail, you know how to obtain the SPELL, but it won’t be easy. It may be contained in a wand sequestered in a distant crypt or locked in the failing mind of the Archdruid in the Maze, for example. You can research the location of a TOKEN for any given SPELL with SHORT PROGRESS, though if the TOKEN is a ubiquitous object, it won’t be very fruitful.


MAKING A SPELL

  • There are no generic SPELLS. Every SPELL should have some unique dimension or bit of flavor beyond the lowest common denominator. For example, there’s no Magic Missile, but instead Screaming Skull, whose whispers of madness cause STRESS.

  • 2 WOUNDS, d4 ROUNDS, and a TURN are good starting points. You want each SPELL to be capable of being PUSHED, so err on the side of weak.

  • Chaos is your friend. SPELLS should shake things up when used, and be found randomly, with strange effects and narrow utility. What might the spell Hold Acorn do?

  • Implications are your friend. A SPELL shouldn’t go for more than 2 or 3 lines. Assume that ambiguity can be cleared up by PUSHING the SPELL to get it to do what you want.

  • As a rule, summoned creatures don’t have to like you by default. They behave as they normally would, which could create more problems than it solves.

YAGH one-shot: Crypt of the Cowboy Spider

On Saturday, I ran a Yet Another GLoGhack! one-shot for three players, two of whose characters were the best burglars on the planet, and ...