Friday, January 31, 2020

GLOG Fighter Disciplines: Bravo, Legionnaire, Swashbuckler

Just a couple days ago, I wrote up some thoughts of mine about how structures help to lower the barrier to creating content and guide towards consistent design. I pointed out that GLOG Wizards were heavily varied and everybody had their own school precisely because the structure was simple and easy to build on. Meanwhile, fighter types were much less varied, and I hadn't even seen a rework of the thief.

I was quickly sent several rather interesting reworks of the thief, for which I am grateful. But this post apparently got gears a'turning in the head of Phlox over at Whose Measure, and they wrote up a whole guide for making GLOG Fighter disciplines, just like Wizard Schools. Consider my words eaten.

Image result for saracen warrior illustration"
Maybe easier to design than expected.

Of course, I am nothing if not an opportunist, so let's give the fighter a little love. First, let's look at Phlox's template.

Fighter Discipline Template 
Starting equipment: might be average, might define the discipline.
Starting skill: should be something weirder than the usual farmer/soldier/sailor
A: defensive ability, offensive ability
B: noncombat specialization and/or niche combat ability.
C: ability that widens options in combat
D: a “capstone”— this proves you are a master.

This is a clear generalization of the standard Many Rats GLOG Fighter. Their defensive ability is parry, their offensive ability is an unconditional extra attack. They get a sort-of niche combat in the form of Notches, that allows them to enhance their fighting abilities and personalize their fighting style over time. Their combat options widen at Template C, now becoming proficient with a new weapon much faster than other characters, on top of getting a flat bonus to attack. Finally they get their capstone, Impress, that lets them leverage their power in social situations, and Cleave, which turns them into a lawnmower against low-HP crowds.

Phlox's Disciplines are very specific, looking at fighters from a particular mystic sect, or with a particular weapon specialization. I'm looking for something just a hint more generic, which can be dropped into a variety of games without worrying too much about tone or lore.

Something else missing from Phlox's disciplines is the per-level gain. Most GLOG classes also get some small bonus each level, like a Stealth increase for Thieves and a bit more HP for Fighters. Phlox didn't make a replacement for this, so I assume their disciplines get the extra HP like a standard fighter. However, this need not be the case.

Multiclassing Fighter Disciplines

But first! What happens if you want to take multiple fighter disciplines? Is it even possible?

This is a bit tricky. It's easy to multiclass in Wizard, since every template in any school would grant you your next MD. The benefits of multiple schools are a wide range of possible spells, at the cost of less specialization. This doesn't work for fighter disciplines as written. So, unless another blogger comes around to make me eat my words (again!) I'll say that you can't take different fighter disciplines. These disciplines are general styles of fighting, influenced by where you grew up, how you trained and how you view fighting.


Starting equipment: [armor], [signature weapon], [small item]
Starting skill:
A: [defensive ability], [offensive ability]
B: [noncombat specialization] and/or [niche combat ability]
C: [ability that widens options in combat]
D: [a capstone]

Image result for bravi"
The priest sees that the men waiting for him on the bridge are bravos.
From Manzoni's The Betrothed

Desperados, thugs, coarse soldiery and hired assassins. Bullies and blackmailers in the service of minor feudal lords, the bravo is that race of man of whom nothing is known but wounds, murders, robberies and every other crime. They reave about both countryside and city with knife and pistol, defying the law and scorning their own life at the hour of death.

You gain +1 HP for each Bravo template you possess.
Starting equipment: leather doublet, long knife, double pistols, 5*d6 GP in bounties on yourself.
Starting skill(1d3): 1. Disguise 2. Spy 3. Firearms
A: Pistolero, +1 attack per round
B: Bully
C: Bushwhacker
D: Scorn

Pistolero(A): You may reload a gun in 1 less round. You may also use one of your extra attacks as a reload.
Bully(B): People round these parts know the look of a bravo. You can intimidate peasants, priests and other unarmed folks with ease. You can do the same to armed opponents with a Charisma check. If this fails, expect them to escalate.
Bushwhacker(C): You know the signs of ambushes, and the look in the eyes of desperate men. You can always act in a surprise round.
Scorn(D): Did you really think we were friends? When you're about to die, you may sacrifice an adjacent ally to escape. This ally must Save vs Death.

A Roman Centurion in ceremonial dress.
Survive long enough and you'll be him.

The greatest military force in the world was the Imperial Legion. The Empire is rotting and dead today, but you've not forgotten. Trained to march in lockstep, campaign for months, build your own fortifications and face down death with honor, the Legionnaire is a resourceful soldier on and off the battlefield.

You gain +1 HP and +1 Save vs Fear for each Legionnaire template you possess.
Starting equipment: ancestral chain armor, shovel, shield, javelin, dagger, bugle.
Starting skill(1d3): Medicine, Engineering, Foreign Parts
A: Formation, Close Quarters,
B: Combat Architecture, Marching Orders
C: Heave-Ho!
D: Centurion

Formation(A): You get +1 defense for each adjacent ally.
Close Quarters(A): An enemy who moves into melee range provokes a free attack.
Combat Architecture(B): You know how to build barricades, palisades, trenches and ramparts, even without specialized equipment. With the right materials, the party can build such structures quickly. Subject to GM negotiation.
Marching Orders(B): You are exceptionally well conditioned for marching in all sorts of terrain. Add fatigue for every two hexes traveled on foot, instead of each one.
Heave-Ho!(C): Your throwing hand is unmatched. You may hit any target in 30' with your javelin without a test.
Centurion(D): You've proven yourself on and off the field of battle, and you show it. You stand alone with the same dignity as if you had a legion behind you. Carve a staff on vinewood for yourself. It is your symbol of authority. Allies who can see and hear you can use your Save vs Fear instead of their own. This ability has no effect if you are currently afraid.

Image result for vikings beating their shields"

Far from its modern connotation of a lightly armored duelist, swashbuckler in old English meant to make a loud racket by beating on your shield. That's you. Boastful, loud, rash warriors for whom making as much noise as possible is both a battle tactic and a way of life. Whether raiding and pillaging or campaigning for a lord, you'll be heard before you're seen.

Gain +1 HP for each Swashbuckler template and +1 Save for every 2 Swashbuckler templates you possess.
Starting equipment: leather armor, longsword, shield, precious drinking horn.
Starting skill(1d3): Sailor, Mountaineer, Poetry
A: Battle Cry, +1 attack per round
B: Boast
C: Shield Bash
D: War Chant

Battle Cry(A): You inspire allies or terrify enemies with a vigorous shout. Once per combat, reroll an enemy or ally morale check and take your choice of the result.
Boast(B): If they haven't heard of you already, they will soon. Your boasts and tales attract attention anywhere. Spread rumors and stories across a town/city with a successful CHA check.
Shield Bash(C): That shield ain't just for taking hits. A shield bash briefly knocks an enemy off balance, and they have -2 DEF until their next turn.
Song of Swords(D): You're loud, but you're not some ruffian anymore. Your speeches resound with the music of the skalds. Once per day, allies who can hear you heal 1d4 HP. If they were at full HP, they instead gain +2 to their next Attack roll.

Final Thoughts

Some final thoughts on designing disciplines.

Most of Phlox's disciplines don't get the extra attack each round, instead getting either a situational bonus attack, another form of attack etc. I generally want to make these variant fighters appealing, and that means making them roughly equal to the vanilla fighter. In a combat system where you're going to be hitting enemies 40-60% of the time, that extra attack is really big. It's better than rolling with advantage, since you get to attack twice if you succeed twice. It's equivalent to a really massive to-hit bonus, on top of doing more damage.

The variant offensive forms need to be really appealing, or offset by other cool abilities to not be left on the wayside. The Legionnaire only gets a situational bonus attack, but their strength in numbers and fortification gives them a way to interact with battle besides, 'I swing my axe.' I've tried to avoid just having buttons you press to win here.

Giving the fighter something to do outside of combat helps add flavor, especially if it sets up better odds in the next fight. Remember, preparation is half the battle, and any good fighter should pay as much attention to the moments leading up to combat as to the combat itself.

With all that said, go forth and make some fighters!

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