Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The World is Four, but I am Five (4DJ class)

In Phlox’s new Gloghack, Four Divine Judgements, the setting and game design enter into a unique harmony. Everything fits together perfectly, and everything is built around the number four. Enter the Pentarch, a class designed to subvert not only the game’s setting, but also it’s design and designer.

Pentarch, a 4DJ class to profane the setting and core game design.

Starts with a weapon bred from two of the sixteen breeds of weapon at random, a pentacle necklace, voluminous robes.

1 (Acolyte) Profanity

2 (Journeyman) Hypocrisy

3 (Parson) Organs, Heart

4 (Heresiarch) Fifth Judgement

5 (Supplicant Complete) No new abilities

If everyone in the party is a Pentarch, it is a Recession. Whenever a player rolls a multiple of 5, add two to the result.

Profanity: when traveling, any party with a Pentarch rolls a d6-1 for each judgement rather than a d4 (giving a result from 0 to 5). Pentarchs are proficient with none of the sixteen breeds of weapon and are not affected by default ideologies, however they are proficient in all new weapon breeds and are affected as normal by newly breed ideologies. You may change which judgement you are resistant to with a one hour ritual.

Hypocrisy: you gain a fifth stat called Hypocrisy, starting at five. You may roll Hypocrisy whenever performing a fateful or treacherous action. Whenever you lie pointlessly to an authority or goad an ally or neutral against you, increase your Hypocrisy by 1. 

At 10 Hypocrisy, grow a second tongue.

At 15, your hands become clawlike and pointed.

At 20, your skin becomes cracked and bright red.

Organs: gain one hit point, lose one inventory slot, and you are nourished by poison. 

Heart: on a successful Hypocrisy roll you may learn the secret heart of anyone who trusts you. On a failure, they learn your secret heart.

Fifth Judgement: whenever you roll a multiple of four, you may spend one Hypocrisy to reroll (spent Hypocrisy returns after a five hour ritual)

Hopefully, by the end of the Pentarch’s journey they will have as few multiples of four on their sheet as possible. They will have caused random chaos and devastation. They will be excellent liars with clear signs that they aren’t to be trusted. They will have seen the order of the world and bent it to their will. And the poet will weep.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

The Arm of the Law

 Born Better and Knows It

You are the lowest rung of nobility, the core of the warrior caste. You maintain your position by being willing to serve in your lord’s army and by spending more than you make. Part of chivalry's zealous cult, you are sworn to uphold justice and defend the meek, although most knights rarely do.

Knight    (Tank, Warrior, Cavalier, Noble Psion, Herald)

Starting Equipment     A sword, shield, lance, and a sidearm of your choice. Pick one the following: a horse, a manor, heavy armor. You have that option and it operates perfectly. Otherwise you have a starving nag, a dilapidated manor, and medium armor. You are in debt for 30 gold pieces to someone more powerful than you. 15 silver pieces.

Class Ability: Standing    For each level in knight, your veneer of respectability deepens and your prestige grows. People are more likely to recognize you and to see your actions in an honorable light, to grant you safe passage, shelter, and other favors. You and your retinue are exempt from road tolls.

1: Parry 1/encounter. Double damage when charging with a lance, 2 in 6 chance the lance will break.

2: Duty You can usually take things from common folk if you promise to repay them. They probably don’t like this.

3: Chevalier When you charge someone while you are on horseback or in heavy armor, they must make a morale check or else break. Gain a trusty squire.

4: Quest If a religious authority blesses your quest, up to 20 devout hirelings gain +2 to morale when aiding you in that quest. You may challenge a single foe per day to personal combat, giving you +1 Attack that must be used against them.

5: Parry 2/encounter, +1 Attack, you always know which legitimate authorities nearby might be willing to help you.

6: Ascension Your trusty squire becomes a trusty fellow knight deeply indebted to you. You and anyone who accompanies you gets +2 to reaction rolls at high-class social functions.

7: Quell The minimum taxation in any province you administer increases by 1.

8: Grandmaster You either found or take over a chapter of a knightly order. Gain 10 knightly followers who follow your martial code. They are zealous, strong boned, and energetic.


Goals for classes in my To Be Chained to the Earth Campaign include that they are:

  • Players have one major choice of starting equipment
  • The class should integrate the character into their place in society. 
  • Each class should feel distinct   

    The knight has my favorite choice of any class for starting equipment. Knights will eventually be well-equipped, ride the best mounts, and rule a small fief. But at game start you have to choose which is most important to you, a signal not soon forgotten.
    Knights imply service to a lord, a ripe area for adventure. Starting in debt is thematically appropriate and gives an important first step to why you might enter your first dungeon.
    Tolls for taking the roads are exceedingly common. Most parties without a knight have to make a choice of whether to rough it far from the road or if they want to mostly travel on the roads and try to dodge the reeve when the tax collector comes a'calling. Instead, parties with knights are constantly reminded of their societal role. "My arm is my tax".

Thursday, October 21, 2021

TOR 2e Treasure Hoard Generator

     With the forthcoming release of The One Ring 2nd edition, I have been making my way through the early access PDFs. One thing that strikes me is how well they leverage the existing Middle-Earth lore by importing as much of it as possible into their rulebooks and trying to make it gameable. That being said, I have always liked the mood and atmosphere of Middle Earth more than the canonical history and locations. In order to facilitate what I personally want to get out of the game, I'm planning on using Spwack's excellent HTML generator to make automatic tables for rumors/quest hooks. To help get me back into the swing of it, here is an automatic treasure hoard generator. I chose to leave the form of the wondrous objects ambiguous so unusual combinations of blessings can be resolved on the fly. Based on the advice of the rulebook that finding Famous Arms and Armor should be game-changing, I have also chosen to leave those generic as well. Let me know if anyone else finds this helpful, or if you notice any issues with the table.

What have we found?

Saturday, July 31, 2021

The Card and Calendar of Gentry

A Class That Appreciates the Finer Things In Life

   My great-grandfather was a conqueror, my grandfather was a ruler, my father was a steward. But nowadays, we have people for all of that. Besides, that's really Albie's horse and pony, he is firstborn after all. And besides, Cousin Willie always had a better head for numbers. And that Danish Prince, what a stud! Absolutely capital! So wonderful to have so many, so wonderful, friends. 

    Enter the dandy, purveyor of foppish fashions, who knows that nothing is so urgent that it is not worth doing while looking one's best. Well aware that their position proximate the source of power is the only thing separating their well-manicured hands from actually having to work for a living, Dandies have learned that the best skill to learn is how to make friends you can rely on to help you out.

    In many ways "The Scarlet Pimpernel" in class form, the Dandy focuses on social skills amongst high society, with abilities that give access to information and encourage dirty tricks in combat.

Dandy (fop, gentleman, rake, fraud, charlatan)
Starting Equipment: A fine light weapon (1 slot), a weapon disguised as grooming equipment (1 slot), a fine cloak to keep out the chill (0 slots), a surprisingly compact makeup kit including a bottle of spray perfume with an intense fragrance(1 slot), 30 silver pennies or a well-trained pet.
Class Ability: See Past the Facade. For every level in Dandy, 1/day you may quick read a character, detecting an insecurity or major clue about something they would rather keep hidden. This ability works against anyone who hasn’t spent a decade or more learning to maintain a steely or false facade.
(Examples: You notice the butler is agitated. He quickly asks you to leave. Quick reading the butler using See Past the Facade might reveal: 
                -The butler is trying to hide something in his hands. That's why he keeps putting them behind his back!
                -The butler is concerned for your safety. That's why he's nearly in tears!
                -The butler is trying to clear the room for a romantic encounter. That's why he's so flushed!
                -This isn't the butler, he's been replaced. That's why his eyes are always looking at two different people!

1:    Prominence: You may choose to be the most or least prominent person in a group
       Attractive: +1 to reaction rolls to those attracted to your gender,
2:    Rumormonger: You know all the gossip of your home and whenever rumormongering you either gain an extra rumor or a bonus on encouraging otherwise recalcitrant targets to gab. 
       Sleight of Hand: If you make a powerful distraction, you are particularly adept at making a break for it without anyone noticing right away. Against any but the most perceptive individuals, doing something flashy with one hand will totally distract from what the other hand is doing.
3:    Extravagance: You know how to impractically expend wealth better than anyone else. You instantly make friends with fops in other cities
4:    Trendsetter: A quirk of your fashion begins to catch on. 
       Quick Disguises: All that work switching outfits between courses at dinner has paid off. You can complete simple disguises in ten seconds, or complex disguises in a minute.
5:     Spot the Fault: You may use your Sleight of Hand ability in combat to perform otherwise ineffectual combat maneuvers.
6:     Arch-Gentleman: So long as you do not maintain a useful occupation, you may expend uses of your See Past the Facade ability to produce beautiful artistic performances, lead a state, or perform tasks traditionally associated with the landed gentry.

    I'm quite pleased with this class, and look forward to seeing how the Dandy in my weekly game develops. They are already waiting impatiently for their level four ability to make men's house coats the new rage throughout Deseret

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

In-Universe Books to Keep


    I love books. Other than magic swords, they are my favorite kind of loot, probably because the best treasure is the kind that permanently changes your character. What better way to change than by learning! I have made an effort to make books and reading more central to character advancement in my Deseret Hexcrawl, and I realized that the only way to make that viable was to have an easy way to make lots and lots of books for characters to find while crawling through ancient temples, vaults, and castles. This HTML generator, using the tool created by Spwack, is my attempt to produce a GM-facing tool that will help make that happen.

Monday, February 22, 2021

The People of Deseret

     Deseret was once a gleaming theocracy, the spiritual center of a world religion. Now it lies betrayed and broken, and people say they have killed the Gods. New heralds of new gods walk the land, preaching new ways. All bonds are broken, and even the priesthood rob from the poor. Will no one act to save those that are chained to the earth?

     Deseret being a balkanized, defined region makes it perfect for a hexcrawl. I hope to return to this list later to prune and alter details to emphasize this as I get a better idea of how I want to use it. Most likely to be shed at this point are elves and dwarves. (Dwarves are being replaced with an infertile society of people with dwarfism who pay humans for their dwarf children). They are classics for sure, but having such a comfortable mold discourages players from feeling like they have to learn about their place in the setting. For sure a missed opportunity for character creation. Most popular choice so far is Padfoot by a significant margin, and I find my players will bunch up into rat piles simply for the joy of forming a spiky rat pile.

Cultures of Deseret

All are irrevocably marked by the culture that produced them. Culture is not destiny, but shapes what attributes are given the greatest chance to grow and which are more likely to be neglected.








To Know and Not Know


Any One


To Be Elf and Man




To Burn to Keep Warm,




To Be In and As Stone




To Be Fey and Man




To Have Blood As A Drum




To Labor for Labor




To Dream Only of Pies




To Suffer the Mother’s Sins




To Be Without Limit




To Be Traitors to Gods




To See Cities Without Man

Arameans are an agreeable folk who strongly hold to traditions of hospitality, and love nothing more than a good story well told. Shrewd bargainers and hard workers, they are simple people with a great love of their nation. The reason their country is so united lies in the fact that it is in an unannounced state of eternal war with the horrors that spill from the places the moon does not touch each night.

-To Know and Not Know: Initiation into the Dreaming skill takes two tries, but once you are initiated you gain a +4 bonus. You are well rested even with only 4 hours of sleep. You do not have to practice the Bureaucracy skill to increase it as long as your wisdom is less than 10. You are an excellent story teller and could probably go all day if uninterrupted. You have advantage on will saves. If one of this will saves would succeed and the other fail, you compartmentalize the mental trauma to a subconscious part of your mind.

Changelings are the progeny of one of the mundane races with one of the Fair Folk or Elves. Not quite fitting in either world, they are unsettling to both humans and elves. If raised amongst elves, a Changeling would speak their tongue.

-To Be Elf and Man: Your keen sense allow you to see things twice as far away as a human reasonably could. You always act in surprise rounds if possible. Start play with a folk arcana. You are initiated into Dreaming, Cartography, or Faerie Lore. You may have fey-inspired insights afflicting you. If your mother was an elf (or other fey of similar proportions), flip a coin. On a tails, you killed your mother being born.

Desereti are a scattered and confused people, heirs to the mantle of a great empire. They have been betrayed and will not forget it. The dream their prophecies will come true, that a Pious Prince will unite the divided country and kick out the invaders. For now, they dream only.

-To Burn to Keep Warm: You have a cultural hatred of invaders. +1 to hit and damage against intelligent humanoids working for a government or project that involves invading your homeland. When you are wounded, you may make a free attack against any enemy within range. Shalmic Priests will grant you blessings, restoring vitality and granting boons. You may use Dogma (Shalmic) to influence crowds of Deseretis.

Dwarves are ancient, skilled, and small-minded. They weigh as much as the stone they famously carve through, and produce the finest quality metal and gems in the world. Dwarves speak dwarven and are automatically literate. You know what you’re getting with a dwarf.

-To Be In and Of Stone: Your base speed is 20 ft instead of 20 ft, but is not reduced for wearing heavy armor. You weigh as much as stone and definitely can’t swim. You are so old you have a nugget of ancient lore and are initiated into one esoteric skill of your choice, as well as dowsing. You have advantage on fortitude saves and will never bleed out. +2 to all craft rolls and ruin lore. Being somewhat xenophobic, you get a -20 to literacy checks made to learn new languages, can never initiate folkways or dogma.

Elves are the cousins of the fey, more beautiful and elegant than any of the other races of the earth. Timeless and unaging, they have seen the coming and passing of the Gods. Elves speak elven and one dead language of your choice.

-To Be Fey and Man: Being ancient, you have a nugget of ancient lore and may initiate one esoteric skill of your choice. Your keen sense allow you to see things twice as far away as a human reasonably could. You always act in surprise rounds if possible. You are immune to magical madness and confusion effects that others cast on you, though you may have to make a save or succumb to madness when someone you love is killed. You gain a +2 to skill checks for arcanas. You never suffer negative effects from aging.

Neash are tribal pillagers from Bakar in the east. Once it would have been unheard of to see them within the Kingdom proper, now they come and go as they please just as any of Deseret’s defilers do. They worship a God of Blood and Prophecy, Iotan. Their champions fight in berserk rages, and they don’t go down without a fight. Each tribe speaks one of several languages of which Majallnae, Karakor, Nelnae, and Shelkak are the most common.

-To Have Blood Like a Drum: Neash do not stop fighting when they are wounded. They are proficient with unarmed combat, and their cultural hatred gives them +2 damage against dwarves, drow, chimera, giants, and other Neash. Empathy and Meditation are practiced skills for Neash. Neash have disadvantage on attack rolls in direct sunlight.

Oxfolk are a range of bovine humanoids, covering everything from oxen to gazelle to bison to holstein. They are known for their industrious work ethic and tremendous strength. They are (unfairly) seen to be artistically dull, but most communities treasure any oxfolk settlers that come their way. An honorable people, Oxfolk have vowed never to make use of swords (except for knightly oxfolk). They speak the Oxish language.

-To Labor For Labor: You are legally and culturally barred from holding any title of importance higher than knight. You have vowed to forsake swords. Your hooved feet make it difficult to step with precision or caution on delicate terrain or over traps. If you say something is true, people will generally believe you believe it. You are unfairly patient.

Padfoots are a range of rodent humanoids, covering mice, rats, and chipmunks. Homebodies, there is nothing they like more than a soft chair, a good cup of tea, and a steaming hot meal. Padfoots that choose to leave home on an adventure are either driven by something desperate or some other peculiar force.

-To Dream Only of Pies: The Padfoot’s small size means their base speed is 20 ft and grants a +4 to stealth. They can easily bunch up with allies, occupying the same few feet without penalty. They gain +2 on empathy and profession checks. The provincial culture of the Padfoots mean they can never cast arcana, but they gain advantage on saves to resist magic effects.

Samaritans are the offspring of any race conceived out of wedlock, and unless legitimized postbirth suffer from decreased legal status (except amongst the Neash tribes). They have a hellish range of animalistic features, no two looking exactly alike.

-To Suffer the Mother’s Sins: Roll twice on the Sins of the Mother table. +20 to literacy checks to learn evil languages or to learn from evil books. You are initiated into Dreaming, Arcana, or Theology. You take half damage from fire and have no soul.

Sidhelians are descendants of a noble race that once held all righteous authority on earth. Blood now muddled with the mortal races, they are more excessive than they are pure. If elves are more graceful humans, Sidhelians are more forceful humans. They tower half a foot over their counterparts with strong limbs and stronger personalities. Most noble positions that have existed for a century or more are held by Sidhelians.

-To Be Without Limit: Fey treat you with more reverence than they would other mortals. Everyone expects you to be in charge of whatever group you’re with, you gain a bonus to attracting followers. You have disadvantage on saves against confusion or madness, and must make a save against madness whenever facing a major setback or personal tragedy. Failure begins an episode or rage, melancholia, or whatever other emotion would be appropriate but taken to an excessive proportion.

Ushtari are the descendants of a group of humans who once betrayed the gods. Everywhere they go they are second class citizens, except in Gregor where they are slaves. No one trusts the produce of Ushtari hands, so they are barred from producing goods.

-To Be Traitors to God: -4 to all craft rolls, -2 to Bureaucracy rolls, +3 to a skill related to your profession. You face strong prejudice and suspicion. Strong cultural traditions mean you can read and speak Pouck, and start play with a random folk arcana.

Vulpid are fox-featured humanoids drawing their heritage from a mythical race of shapeshifters. They were the first people to settle this region in ancient times, and they still know the old paths all others have forgotten. Their nomadic and clan-based society shuns cities, moving seasonally from den to den. The upheaval in Deseret has been very hard for them and their way of life.

-To See Cities With No Men: Overland travel goes faster when a Vulpid guides the way. You are never totally lost in mundane wilderness. You never feel rested when sleeping in a city, but can always find a comfortable place to sleep in rural areas. You begin the game illiterate, but are initiated into Cartography and can speak Tiki Tavi.

The World is Four, but I am Five (4DJ class)

In Phlox’s new Gloghack, Four Divine Judgements, the setting and game design enter into a unique harmony. Everything fits together perfectl...