Sunday, November 29, 2020


Some people are content with playing as a single musician; a bard, a chanter, a vielleur, &c. Not you, however. You're an entire band.

Idea shamelessly stolen from deus ex parabola and Walfalcon, mechanics mostly from Skerples' Many Goblins, Lexi's Bard, and Xenophon's Chanter.

By Leonid Afremov

You get +2 HP for each Jazz Ensemble template you have.

Start with: far too many trumpets, saxophones, pianos, trombones, clarinets, banjos, and basses, sharp suits for every band member, at least one drum set

Skills: street smarts, musical history, freestyle performing

A: Shared Totals, Musical Talent, +1 MD
B: Magic of Music, +1 Soloist, +1 MD
C: +1 Song, +1 Soloist, +1 MD
D: +1 Song, +1 Soloist, +1 MD

Shared Totals: The Jazz Ensemble share HP, as though a single character. Every point of damage causes a single band member to die in a background sort of way, likely with a musical goodbye. Area-of-effect attacks, abilities, and traps only affect them once. Save-or-Die effects instead cause a loss of 1 HP. Most single-target spells (as well as mutations) instead effect all band members. Together, you only consume the ration of one person.

If the Ensemble gets brought to 0 HP, they lie about, wounded, moaning, and unwilling to do anything until healed. If hit below 0 HP, they all die, save soloists.

The Ensemble has 5 total inventory slots. They can carry more, but only temporarily. Instruments and armour do not occupy inventory slots. If you need to determine just how many members the Ensemble currently has, roll 1d12+6. This number can change across rounds, turns, or encounters. Whenever possible, they occupy 20' square, spreading themselves as needed. They're rarely keen to do work, but count as 10 workers for the first hour of labour, 5 beyond that, and stop after the third.

Musical Talent: You're a very good bunch of performers. Songs you play are likely to catch people's attention, with a [templates]-in-6 chance of a group forming around you in a crowded space. The Ensemble has a pool of Music Dice, equal to [templates] plus one. You can spend one  while playing a mundane song to evoke a powerful but nonspecific emotion in your listeners — amorous, but not towards specific people; very sad, but not suicidal.

Magic of Music: You can cast spells by spending MD and performing music, as the Chanter's Spellcasting feature and a character of one level lower. Most of them take place over a duration, and you can only maintain one Song at a time. You learn spells and suffer Mishaps the same way.

Soloists: Some members have made a name for themselves. Once each encounter, for one round, they can do something different from the rest of the Ensemble. At the end of that round, they rejoin the rest. Give them a name and a snappy description. If the Ensemble dies, each Soloist becomes a level 1 character with 2 HP and the A template of another musical class of your choosing. If they come across more musicians they could potentially convince to join their band, they form a new level 2 Ensemble. Only one Soloist survives the process.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Zapgun On Your Shoulder (Zouave Expansion Pack: Space)

Inspired by some discussion had on the OSR discord, I decided to write some stuff for deus ex parabola's Zouave, expanding it into a sci-fi setting. Many thanks (and apolgies) to the folks of #glog-spillway, especially Vayra & deus. Features 12 Tall Tales, skills and starting equipment, and a fitting version of Respect. Not a full class, view the original Zouave post for the other important bits. Feedback is very much appreciated.

By Diego Gisbert Llorens

You are a SPACE-ZOUAVE, a light infantry soldier specialising in ambush, scouting and long periods in the field. You aren't a rich entrepreneur, but you're no earther either. You offered yourself up to join the Legion and protect your homeworld, to fight back. You used hand-me-down gear, trained in strategy, made our way through the military, became a veteran fighter, overcame the odds with just your zapgun and a knife; and then the war ended, and all was well.

Skills (1d3): xenobotany, field surgery, engineering

Start with: a pompous and outdated uniform (as leather), a vibroknife (as a dagger), a laser-rifle (2d6 damage, minute to reload, fires with disadvantage if you moved last turn, -1 to-hit for every 10 feet between you and the target), old gravity boots, a quality knapsack

Astronomical Exploits:

Some setting-appropriate mostly-true things you say did before you became an adventurer. Roll 1d12 to pick one at random; if you get the same result twice, go for the one above or below it, or re-roll.
1. Captured by a Tlal’ek, Escaped. Once, you were caught in the grasp of a ferocious beast. It trapped you in its lair (or so you claim) and left you there — likely its next meal. As it slept, you fled — getting away with your life, though without your favourite boots.
If someone grappling you is distracted, even just for a moment, you can slip free. You have a 4-in-6 chance of escaping mundane bindings like ropes, chains or trapped limbs, and a 2-in-6 chance for more advanced ones such as space manacles or an aetheric chokehold.
2. Been Everywhere Around. At various points in your life, you've visited each and every back-water planet in the galaxy — and been chased off of more than your fair share of them too. They tend not to like it when you insult the local delicacies or their big hats; you know from experience.
You can read signs and decipher maps in any language, and always know how to ask for directions.
3. Traversed the Frozen Wastes. You crossed the barren ice sheets of one of the coldest planets known to space-zouave, nearly dying several times — crevasses, dehydration, you name it — but you managed to hold out, surviving a snowstorm in the carcass of a whale-worm. Other members of your troop were not so lucky. 
You never suffer the ill effects of the cold, and can always find shelter from extreme weather given 5 minutes. 
4. Through the Endless Asteroid Field and Out the Other Side. Ambushed and with old enemies hot on your tail, you decided to try and shortcut through an asteroid belt. Old Bertha (a freighter you’ve since gambled away, and miss terribly) got you through with a few dents, though some of your comrades weren’t so lucky. 
You, your party, and your ship can travel impassable terrain as though it was rough. 
5. Made the Atbanraat Run in 24 Parsecs. You made it from one end of the galaxy's most important shipping (and most infamous smuggling) route in record time, faster than any other pilot before you. It involved a slingshot and some less-than-legal fuel , but you wear the badge with pride. 
If you wish, you can get to any destination in half the time, but your ship or vehicle will always need 1d100*10 credit's repairs before it can be driven, rode, or flown again. 
6. Smuggled a Saquab Squid. You managed to sneak a large, endangered animal through an imperial blockade of a rebel planet. Even after a thorough search, the guardsmen walked right past it. You received quite a handsome reward for that one. 
If you or your vehicle are searched, you can choose something to not be found, regardless of its size or actual hiding capability. 
7. Took Out a Dreadnought. In an attack on an imperial battleship, your entire company was killed by a batch of unexpected reinforcements, save you. In a valiant last stand, you managed to fire at just the right spot — surprisingly easy, really. Your compatriots didn’t survive to tell the tale, but they surely live on in your memories. 
If you make a successful attack roll, you can choose exactly where your blow hits. 
8. Rode Too Close to a Black Hole. While travelling through the vacuum of space, you got yourself stuck somewhere near a black hole, the ultra-dense corpse of a once-bright star. You were dragged into orbit for what felt like decades — at least 1d6*10 years off your life. 
People will always assume things you tell them are true, unless given a compelling reason otherwise. 
9. Stared at the Sun From 100 Feet Away. You were out doing some regular maintenance on your ship after colliding with some space junk, but turned out to be much closer to a certain star than you first thought. Your visor helped a small bit, but could hardly do anything to really stop its rays. You haven't been quite the same since.  
You can sense heat, even through walls. 
10. Illicit Experimentation. You were the subject of a series of dubiously successful tests run by a very keen and very unlicensed military scientist in an attempt to create a new strain of mutagenic material. 
You have advantage on saves against poisons, mind-altering drugs, all forms of chemical concoction, and anything that might reasonably have been tried on you. 
11. One-Wing Wonder. You were flying away at top speed from some enemies of the Legion when your pursuers took out an engine of yours. Not one to let that stop you, you handed things over to your co-pilot Steve, got out there, repaired it yourself, and lived to tell the tale. 
You can fix anything, given ten minutes, duct tape and a bottle of liquor. It has a 1-in-6 chance of blowing up every ten minutes of use until properly repaired. 
12. Fell Through a Wormhole. You came here from somewhere else, a world far beyond the known. You might refuse to share quite how you got here, but your home world or timeline left its mark.

Due to your altered relationship with reality, you can sometimes perceive things before they happen, or at least get a good idea of potential futures. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation with no easy way out, you can ask the DM a single sentence question about a potential plan you or the party make. They must give a (truthful) single sentence answer, albeit with a 1-in-6 chance they answer randomly instead. This goes up by 1 each time you use the feature, resetting each day.


You aren't just another soldier. The title of Zouave means something, and some people are starting to remember that. Militias and similar low-"ranked" warriors will look up to you. Sometimes officials or enterprisers will take notice if you make some noise, though it doesn't mean they'll act on it (save perhaps a punishment). As well as this, NPCs take challenges from you just that bit more seriously. Their response is determined by a d6 and depends on their social level:

1: Disbelief and derision
2-6: Intimidation and apology

1: Loud mockery. Expect their friends to try and beat you up
2-5: They accept. Expect a fistfight or, at best, a choice of two sturdy clubs
6: Intimidation and awkward verbal submission

Capitalist (shitty):
1-2: Taser-beating
3-6: They accept. Name your terms.

Capitalist (even shittier):
1: Guards! Guards!
2-5: Taser-beating, followed by a second, more brutal taser-beating
6: Rad-pistols at dawn

Wednesday, November 18, 2020


You are a PRIEST OF THE BLADE; a disciplined and pious fighter. You are devoted to honing your skills and your sword, the latter acting like an extension of your self.

By Saranit Klinklaykun

Start with: a sword (give it a name), robes (as leather), an unadorned shield, holy vows you must uphold (come up with three, write them down), a tattered prayer book, oil and a whetstone

Skills (1d3): religion, history, smithing

A: Divine Violence, Way of Steel
B: Miracles of Might, Parry
C: Aura of Might
D: Sword-Saint

Divine Violence: Whenever you kill something that opposes you, your god, or your vows, you gain a Violence Die, expiring when you next rest. You can hold VD equal to your Priest level, and spend any amount of them when you hit with an attack to deal an extra [sum] damage (credit to Vayra for VD).

Way of Steel: You get +1 HP and +1 to-hit for each Priest template you have.

Miracles of Might: You can expend VD to call on minor favours from your god. Choose one manifestation of divinity now, and another reach time you take a Priest template or encounter a holy relic.
* Heal someone for [dice], or [sum] outside of combat.
* Call forth light, blinding enemies for [dice] rounds.
* When you slay an enemy, inflict [sum] damage to another adjacent one.
* Your allies deal an extra [dice] damage for the next [dice] rounds.
* Cut through a spell cast with fewer than [dice] dice.
* Reduce an incoming attack's damage by [sum], or full if you sunder your shield.

Spiritual Sustenance: Lunch restores an extra 1 HP to you and all members of your party, provided you spend an extra 10 minutes in prayer or solemn contemplation.

Aura of Might: Allies can make saves against fear and magic using your stats rather than their own.

Sword-Saint: You are revered by other followers of the Way, bearing the title of Blessed. You may make an extra attack each round, and take 1 less damage from all physical sources. When you die, another may take on your Blade and title, gaining the benefits of a 1st level Priest.

Sunday, November 15, 2020


You are a SERVANT OF THE SEAS, a warlock of the ocean, bound by pacts to It That Lurks In The Depths. You are your patron's herald and agent in the dry world, even if it might not know you exist.

Warning: my first proper caster class. Pulls from WotC's Lurker in the Deep Unearthed Arcana, Skerples' Drowned Wizard and Orthodox Spell List, u/imminentchurchengine's d200 level-less spell list, and probably some other places I'm forgetting.

By Antonio J. Manzanedo

Start with: tattered robes, an incomplete map, an arcane focus, a stave, accursed knowledge, a dagger

Skills (1d3): Religion, Sailing, History

A: Gifts of the Abyss, Pact Magic, +1 MD
B: Old Tongues, +1MD 
C: Fathomless Form, +1MD
D: Depth Perception, +1MD

Gifts of the Abyss: You can communicate with creatures of the deep as though fluent and move through marshes and bogs at regular speed.

Pact Magic: You can cast spells using MADNESS DICE (MD), beginning with a single cantrip (listed below) and two spells from the first 6 on your list. You gain an additional spell each time you take another template as a Servant, and can learn spells from other magic-users by killing them and eating their brains.

Old Tongues: You can speak to stone, ancient plants, bodies of water, and the souls of the dead.

Fathomless Form: You can drink all water as though it were clean and your clothes will never get wet. You may pass through gaps as though you were made of water, but every time you do this beyond the first each day causes you to suffer a Mishap.

Depth Perception: You can sense when anything you can communicate with using your Gifts or the Old Tongues is within 100 yards of you, and are now able to swim at the same pace you walk.

Distance is as the Black Hack or ICRPG.

Cantrip: Grasping Tentacle: 30ft. or so long, a spectral limb appears around your hand. You can use it to open lids, move objects in or out of containers, manipulate NEAR items, &c.; it can’t attack, channel magic, or carry anything heavier than a single slot.

Roll 2d6 at A, 1d8 at B, 1d10 at C, choose 4 at D.
1. Control Water
2. Coldsnap
3. Gust
4. Summon Rain
5. Sleep
6. Lifedrink
7. Fog
8. Light
9. Mist of Invisibility
10. Compel
11. Devouring Maw
12. Unleash Twisted Depths

When MD result in a double, roll 1d6:
1. 1d6 damage
2. MD only return to your pool on 1-2 for 24 hours
3. Random depth-related mutation for 1d6 rounds. Permanent if fail a save with advantage.
4. Lungs temporarily fill with water for 1d6 rounds. Can't speak or cast spells.
5. Grow incredibly thirsty. Must consume a ration at next rest, and receive no healing from it.
6. Vomit 1d100 litres of seawater.

When MD result in a triple, advance down the Doom chart.
1. Body empties of moisture for 24 hours. Inventory filled with exhaustion, and can't cast spells.
2. As above, but for a week.
3. Tide rises where you stand. 1d20+5 assorted merfolk, water elementals, and bloated corpses appear to drag you out to sea. Fend them off or die.

Dooms can be reduced by discovering secrets unknown to anyone alive, eating the hearts of sea monsters, or by disguising your soul.

1. Control Water:
R: FAR T: a bucket's worth of liquid D: concentration
Command a small amount of water. At 1d, able to: (a) push a small boat, (b) move a small item along, (c) allow someone swim at twice speed, (d) halve someone's swimming speed, (e) splash something CLOSE to the water, (f) make something wet dry, (g) freeze the target throughout
Each extra [dice] increases the magnitude of effects.

2. Coldsnap R: FAR T: n/a D: 1 hour An area of diameter [dice] x 5’ (or NEAR, FAR at 3d+) experiences a sudden burst of frigid cold. Creatures in the area take [sum] cold damage, water freezes, & so on. Normal temperature will return over about an hour or so.

3. Gust R: DISTANT T: Up to [dice] objects or creatures D: n/a A strong winds picks up quickly. Target saves or is thrown back 10’ per [dice] (move one distance band away from you). All targets (if multiple) must be CLOSE to one another.

4. Summon Rain
R: FAR T: n/a D: [dice] rounds
Affects an area 5’x[dice] in diameter. A flurry of snow falls in the region for the duration, freezing everything within and making it impossible to see. Only works outside. At the end of the duration, the snow will be subject to the normal effects of temperature.

5. Sleep:
R: FAR T: [sum] HD of creatures D: 10 min / permanent
The target falls into a magical sleep, and won't be woken by anything less than a slap. Non-alert, unaware targets don't Save.  If [sum] is at least 4 times the creature's HD, the duration becomes permanent (until slapped) and the creature no longer needs to eat or drink while sleeping. If you also invested 3 [dice] or more into this spell, the duration becomes permanent, and you can set the only condition that will cause the creature to awake.

6. Lifedrink:
R: FAR T: creature D: n/a
A dark blast emanates from your hand (or other extremity), winding its way towards your target. They suffer [sum] damage, and you regain [dice] HP.

7. Fog:
R: n/a T: Self D: [dice] minutes, or until dismissed
For the duration, your breath becomes dense with water. All air within 30' of you (or NEAR) becomes as thick as pea soup, and just as difficult to see through.

8. Light:
R: touch T: object or creature D: [dice]x2 hours
Object illuminates as a torch, bathing all NEAR objects in light. Alternatively, you can make an Attack roll against a creature with eyes. If you succeed, the creature is blinded for [sum] rounds and takes [dice] damage.

9. Compel
R: touch T: creature D: [dice] days
The target saves with a [dice] penalty. If they fail, they regard you as a trusted friend for as long as the spell lasts. They aren’t aware that they’ve been charmed until it wears off.

10. Mist of Invisibility:
R: touch T: object, creature, or self D: [dice]*10 minutes
A thin layer of mist comes over the target, making it invisible for the duration. Each round it moves reduces the duration by 10 minutes. Invisible creatures can see other invisible objects.

11. Devouring Maw:
R: FAR T: up to [dice] objects and/or creatures D: [dice] hours
A giant spectral mouth appears for a moment, swallowing the target(s) whole. When the duration ends or when dismissed, the mouth reappears to spit them back out, having taken [dice] damage unless you wish them unharmed.

12. Unleash Twisted Depths:
R: FAR T: up to [dice] objects and/or creatures D: [dice] rounds
You call forth a manifestation of your patron from a point in range. Great tentacles pour forth, grabbing all targets in their slimy grip. They take [sum] damage and must save or be restrained until the spell ends.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020


You are an OCTOPUS KNIGHT, a petty noble, debatably skillful warrior, and one snooty cephalopod.

Starting items: a single piece of human plate armour, a somewhat rusty medium or large weapon, a small trinket scavenged from the sea, a craving for shrimp, crawfish, clams, lobsters, seagull, or snail

Skills (1d4):  formal etiquette, competitive eating, long-distance swimming, ocean lore

A: Octopus, Knight
B: Cleave, Ink Ejection
C: Super-Suckers
D: Weapon Mastery

Octopus: You are an octopus, with all that entails. You have eight limbs, slightly less dextrous than human ones, each covered in suckers. You can move about as fast as a person, and while you can't wear armour, you can use a shield (preferably a shell), and have base AC as medium. You can change colour at will, and with a bit of concentration blend in with your surroundings. You can't speak, but may communicate through gesture, colour, and interpretative dance.

Knight: You are a lowly noble of some far-away underwater kingdom, and a chivalrous man-at-arms. You get +1 to-hit for each Octopus Knight template you take, and other denizens of the sea or coasts (sailors included) have a 1-in-6 chance of recognising your title, increasing by 1-in-6 for each other Octopus Knight template you take.

Cleave: Whenever you take a foe to 0 HP, you may make another attack roll against another enemy within reach.

Ink Ejection: You can shoot ink from your sacs at will, temporarily stunning any CLOSE individuals or a single NEAR one. After being ink'd for the first time in an encounter, people are no longer stunned by it, though may be displeased. Defaults to black, but can be any colour you wish. Likely to leave stains.

Super-Suckers: The grip of your pores is so strong, it can defy gravity, allowing you climb up walls and along roofs.

Weapon Mastery: You've grown skilled with your armament of choice. You may make an extra attack each round to no penalty.

Thursday, November 5, 2020


Before all things, there stood the Grove, and in the Grove the Flame, and the Flame burned. The Flame fed itself on the Grove, and the Grove on the heat of the Flame, and neither was consumed, and by that the Grove continued to prosper and the Flame continued to blaze.

From the Flame came the light of life, and from the Grove came growth, and from both all worlds were born. Once, mankind heard the crackle of the Flame, and worshipped it,  and watered the Grove, and fed and nurtured them both. As they turned to other gods and masters, the Flame subsided and began to smoulder, and the Grove began to wither.

Once more, you hear the crackle of the Flame, and worship it, and water the Grove, and feed and nurture them both, and by this the Grove shall continue to prosper and the Flame shall continue to blaze, forever.

Art by Pizza Surgeon (DA)

You are a SPEAKER OF THE BURNING GROVE; a practitioner of ancient religion and wielder of the arcane arts. You worship the eternal Flame and everlasting Grove at the heart of the world, and see their presence in all things that live, as all mankind once could.

Start with: tattered and scorch-marked robes (as leather), a bag of seeds, a staff, religious symbol or icon, zealous fervor

Skills (1d4): gardening, bushcraft, arson, religious history

A: Ever-Burning, Mystic of the Thicket, +1 MD
B: Fireweaving, +1 MD
C: Thirsting Pyre, +1 MD
D: Ignition Augury, +1 MD

Ever-Burning: You wield the power of the Flame. Given time and fuel, you can start a fire under any conditions. You can summon a small flame (as that of a candle) with a snap of your fingers, and fluently speak the language of fire and all things that burn. You may communicate with plants by setting them on fire. Most answers will be somewhat cryptic or otherwise unhelpful. Regardless of size, they will always be consumed by flame after 1d6 minutes, at which point the conversation ends.

Mystic of the Thicket: You wield the might of the Grove. You may consume bark, garden plants, or the charred remains of either rather than a ration. You possess d6 Magic Dice, beginning with one and gaining another for each Speaker template you take. You can spend them to summon a flame anywhere within your vision, inflicting [dice] damage and lighting things on fire for [dice] rounds, or to heal a target you can touch for [sum] HP. Damage dealt upgrades to [sum] at D.

Fireweaving: You can will certain shapes or forms appear within a fire. Only those you choose will be able to see it. It takes a few seconds (or an action) to call up a new shape. You can command fires (without spending MD) to grow or shrink temporarily, or change colour.

Thirsting Pyre: You can restore expended MD by swallowing fires, drawing their heat into yourself.

Ignition Augury: You can spend MD to conjure visions of distant places in a fire.  Your target person, place, or object must be within approximately [dice] miles or one you know well, with the vision lasting [sum] minutes or until dismissed. You can choose whether or not others can see the vision.