Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Goblin Guts v2 + A Bit About Emergent Gameplay

It's been at least a year since I tore down my old ruleset and built a new one, so it makes sense that I'm feeling the itch again.  (TL;DR: here's a 22-page PDF.)

Going into this, I have the following design goals.

Diagetic Progression

In past incarnations of the GLOG, certain classes had diagetic abilities.  Fighters got bonuses based on how many things they had killed.  Thieves got bonuses based on the most expensive thing they had ever stolen.  

These weren't perfect, but at least they were (a) tied to in-game actions, such as heists, (b) a method of progression besides XP/Treasures, and (c) motivated class appropriate actions, such as heists.

These also fit pretty well alongside my idea for a character's Legendarium and should probably be integrated there.

Magic Dice For Everyone

Everyone seems to like the magic dice that wizards get.  I can probably extend it to other classes, too.

Will it be any good?  Fuck, maybe.

Centerra doesn't have a fine line of distinction between magical and non-magical things (citation).  So it follows that regular old vanilla fighters are able to do some things that are magical according to our Earthly eyes.  After all, magical shoes are made by regular cobblers, not wizards.

Mono-Class Parties

This is another idea that I've circled around for a while.  An all-thief party sounds as interesting as an all-wizard party.

First, because it invites a certain style of play.  Perhaps I should write more about to support those types of games?  For example, a mono-thief game might revolve around heists.  It makes sense to hammer out a few rules for the heist game.

Second, having a mono-class party fundamentally changes the assumptions of the game.  Lots of adventure writers will assume that the party will have access to certain magic spells by a certain level.  If everyone is a thief, that assumption will be incorrect.

That means that some parts of the adventure will be easier than intended, and some parts of the game will be more difficult (or impossible).  While a DM can flex the adventure a bit to accommodate a mono-class party, part of what makes this playstyle so interesting to me is the idea that, to a certain extent, mono-class players know and accept this

If we're going to write new rules for mono-class parties, we should realize that they are opportunities to fundamentally change the rules of the game, and we should embrace that.

This idea is so exciting to me that I'll create a new heading.

Emergent Gameplay and New Modes

Emergent gameplay is simply finding new ways to play the game outside of what the creators intended.

Have you heard of the Nuzlocke Challenge in pokemon?  It's a set of self-imposed restrictions that are designed to make the game more challenging, effectively twisting it into a new game.

Speedrunning is another form of emergent gameplay.  So is trying to get to maximum level on World of Warcraft without killing anything.  Same with any other videogame where players ignore the typical objectives and make their own.

Tabletop roleplaying already has a lot of emergent gameplay.  Players are already free to set their own goals and victory conditions (to an extent), but rarely do players have the option to bend the rules of the game.  The published Player's Guide and Adventure Paths present a singular interpretation of Correct Play (where both rules and goals are identical to the original publisher's). 

But it doesn't have to be that way.  

One example: I ran a one-player/one-DM Caverns of Thracia one-shot where the player was a level 20 wizard.  It was great!  Lots of exploring, lots of talking, and when a monster got uppity, they got disintegrated.  There was still some tension, though, because the dungeon had to be explored all in a single day, and each spell could only be cast once.  We weren't playing Caverns of Thracia the way that Gary and Jennell intended, but we found a new mode that worked great for us.

Another example: perhaps the group that is all dungeon hackers is able to automatically open every door they come across, potentially allowing for some major sequence breaking.

Another example: are there any groups out there that have completed pacifist runs of published modules?  That might work best if everyone is a divine concubine.

Anyway, mono-class parties seem like a crack in the Correct Playstyle Monolith that a lot of our peers worship at.  With a chisel, a hammer, and a pen, we can widen that crack.

from here


Anyway, I ended up writing it.  I was gonna write four more classes (Ranger, Knight, Scholar, and Wizard) but I think I'll save that for another day. 


Have a look, and please let me know what you think. 


  1. Oh shit! GLOG for the GLOG God indeed!

  2. Classic GLoG energy to say "People like wizards. Anyway, here's the rulebook and I'll put wizards in it someday."
    I like the legendarium.

    1. "This is a good idea and someone should write rules for it, maybe you." - Big GLoG Energy.

  3. Giving every class MD is great, both for establishing the world through mechanics and because everyone loves MD. Looking forward to the four other classes!

  4. These revisions and additions are great! And today's my birthday too...

    The modes of play and tables are so easy to read, and apply to my own games. For what it's worth: in my own hacked up system, I already gave every character 1d6 'Energy Dice,' inspired by the [dice] and [sum] limits. It's worked great for both the martial and magical so far :)

    1. Good morning! I don't have a blog, but I've read many. My hack is largely based on Spwack's 'Die Trying' and your GLOG, and many other blogs about general design. Pardon the mess and few spots of blatant copying...

      My player's Sheets:

  5. Honestly I don't understand the idea of mono-class parties. If you wanna run a game based around heists, then write a hack where the classes are Burglar, Acrobat, Assassin. if you wanna run a purely religious campaign, write a Cleric, Paladin, Zealot. making a single framework that's supposed to serve mixed-style play AND four or five different types of mono-class play seems like it's kinda putting the cart before the horse?

    1. I think the point is that you don't HAVE to write an adventure with mono class and mixed play, usually players are smart enough to find their way around issues which their class doesn't come with an automatic answer for. Plus, the idea of making a hack with different classes getting different bonuses and different drawbacks kind of defeats the fun of a single class party, at least in my mind, the point seems to be that everyone is on the same playing field and can do very similar (if not the same) things. The idea isn't for everyone of course, I certainly enjoy party diversity and when I play I make sure players know when they may or may not be entering the same niche (should that be something they care about), but an all thief party certainly scratches a different itch

  6. Looking good. I liked the look of Rangers in relation to "dungeon soup" you posted way back and a mono-party of hunters/explorers would fit them like a glove. Gotta say that a legendarium based on different kind of hexes explored sounds more appealing than "who killed the biggest monster" as a mirror to the thief's dungeon mastery via traps. Then again Rangers always have been all over the place where central themes are concerned and that idea only works if you're doing hexcrawl, big beasts are always abundant.

  7. > I was gonna write four more classes (Ranger, Knight, Scholar, and Wizard) but I think I'll save that for another day.

    Two years later, the people call for this content!