Let's Learn GLAIVE

In this thread, I’m going to go through the following steps to see if I can make sure I understand the basics of GLAIVE:

Feel free to follow along or ask questions along the way.

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Character Creation

So let’s make a character in GLAIVE. Before anything else, let’s decide on a basic concept for this character. I like wizards, so I want to make some sort of wizard adventurer. Let’s see how we do that.

Going to page 3 of GLAIVE’s book, I see that there are five steps. Let’s go through these steps one at a time.

Step 1: Choose or roll your PC’s traits, motivation for adventuring, and their bonds to other PCs using the random tables on page 4.

Well, I already decided on a wizard, so let’s look at the tables and see if can’t pick some wizardly options. At the end of these choices, I have these traits:

  • Gender: Maculine
  • Hair: Cropped
  • Skin: Pale
  • Looks: Sharp
  • Speech: Precise
  • Bonds: We’ll skip this one for now, since we’re not going to playing this character with anyone else.
  • Personality: Stoic
  • Starting Rations: 1 week (this one I did roll)
  • Starting Gold: None. Broke. (same here)
  • Motivation: To escape a series of poor decisions.

Looks wizardly enough (for certain definitions of wizardly). Let’s move on to…

Step 2: Player Characters (PCs) have four abilities: Strength (STR), Dexterity (DEX), Wisdom (WIS), and Willpower (WIL). Each ability has a bonus value. Distribute the following bonuses however you like: +3, +2, +1, +0

Since we want a wizard, and peeking ahead to see a lot of the wizardly talents revolve about Wisdom and Willpower, we’ll put our +3 into WIS and our +2 into WIL. Then we’ll put our +1 into STR and our +0 into DEX.

That’s it for Step 2.

Step 3: Select your Ancestry and Talents beginning on page 14.

I don’t really want anything special, so I’m going to pick Human, which lets me begin play with 2 talents of my choice. Going through the talent list, I pick Familiar and The Manifold Cerebrum from the Magic User list, because they look fun.

Familiar gives me a small companion with My Level + 5 HP (so 6 right now) and can hold one of my spells. Excellent.

The Manifold Cerebrum lets me make a WIS save when I cast a spell to try and recover it. Seems useful given how spells work in this game.

With those selected, we’re going to move on to…

Step 4: Note your starting Hit Points (HP) and armor class (AC) value.

My HP is 11 (10 + STR) and my AC is 10 (10 + DEX). Ouch.

Step 5: PCs start with a random assortment of gear and one weapon of choice. See the tables on page 5 for gear.

I pull out some dice and go to Page 5. There is a table called During the War that it doesn’t tell me to roll on, but I’m going to because why else would it be there when nothing else in the book tells me to roll on it?

During the War: Played both sides: Item of Choice (we’ll pick this later)

And now we move once (ones?) on each of the rest of the tables:

Dungeoneering Gear: Candles, 5

Dungeoneering Gear: Caltrops, 20

Dungeonerring Gear: Incense

I also get a weapon of my choice, which I’ll pick a Sword.

Looking back on page 3, I have 11 item slots (10 + STR) to put gear before my character is encumbered, so let’s look at the tables on pages 6 and 7 and see what my item slots look like.

  • Candles, 5
  • Caltrops, 10
  • Caltrops, 10
  • Incense
  • Sword
  • Rations, 2
  • Rations, 2
  • Rations, 2
  • Ration
  • 2 free slots
  • Free magic slot (Familar)

For my Item of Choice, I’ll take a Spellbook of Magic Missile and slot that into my Familiar’s free item slot. In hindsight, I probably could have swapped DEX and STR because the extra item slot and 1 HP isn’t doing me a lot of good, but that’s fine. We’ll make due.

We look to be done, but don’t have a name for our character yet. I’ll call them Rowan Greenhanded.

In total, this took about 20 minutes, including the time to write this all up. Let’s see what our character sheet looks like:

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Our First Encounter

Let’s build a simple encounter for Rowan. Since Rowan’s Motivation for adventuring is To Escape a Series of Poor Decisions, it makes sense that the consequences of those poor decisions will catch up with him. We’ll say a debt collector for Rowan’s wizard student loans has showed up at the tavern Rowan is drinking at and demanding Rowan repay immediately. Unfortunately, Rowan is broke, so he’ll need to try and convince the debt collector to come back later (preferable when Rowan is two towns over).

Looking over the Playing the Game section (pg. 8), it looks like to convince the debt collector, we’ll need to roll a Saving Throw. Looking at the Abilities, Wisdom seems the most likely to be associated with quick wits, so we’ll need to make a WIS Saving Throw with a difficulty of 13 (the default difficulty for saves, since this is a fairly standard problem). Rowan rolls a d20 and adds his WIS to get a result of 15. The debt collector is swayed for now, but he’ll be back in two days. Rowan therefore needs to not be anywhere near here.

Before Rowan leaves town though, he needs to collect a magic tome from the local wizard. For reasons. So Rowan heads over to the wizard’s tower. Going through the front door would draw the wrong sort of attention, so Rowan is going to scale the outside to reach the top level’s window. We make a DEX saving throw (since Dexterity is associated with moving silently and poise, and Rowan gets a 6. While scaling the tower, one of the bricks come loose in Rowan’s hand and sends him falling to the ground.

Looks like Rowan is not going to get that tome easily…

Well, that is the problem with dump stats.

Ultimately, that’s a lot of characters’ Motivations.

And the poor decisions just keep on coming …

So, so far, so goodish. The chargen seems pretty straightforward and lean, with the ability to quickly generate a nice trope to play with. I worry a bit (from this and from my brief read-through) that the mechanics might be too simple (yes, I know, wait until we get to the next review), turning everything into simple rolls that don’t even have the charm of FATE descriptors.

I think, given the sleek mechanics, a lot will depend on the scenario to add color and interest.

This is my second biggest concern with GLAIVE.

We’ll get to my biggest concern when I do my write up for my sample combat. I’ll give you a hint: re-read the section on foes, monsters, and making opposition for the PCs and you should quickly see the issue I ran into.

Our First Encounter

Yeah, no dancing around this one: GLAIVE neither includes sample foes or advice on how to make opposition. I could break out some Monster Manuals for D&D and try to make something that works within GLAIVE’s framework, but that is not the sort of game I’m looking for right now.

This definitely puts GLAIVE into the non-starter category for Games I Am Excited to Run.

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Yeah, that makes sense (both in how the game is built, and in not wanting to figure out what bad guys look like and work like in the rules, let alone balancing for it). In a way that’s the opposite of “Hey, let’s do something mechanical because it’s less stress.”