Friday, 18 August 2017

From Foreign Stars

One theory is that Bastion's growing number of radio towers and neon lights combined to act as a beacon to all beings, from Foreign Stars. They came for the signal, stayed for the music and culture.

Visitors are welcome, of course. There can be no greater crime than depriving another being of the opportunity to live in Bastion. The fact that they've come all this way shows they've got good taste. 

The trade opportunities alone are worth putting up with the occasional cosmic monstrosity for. 

  • They are more advanced than us, but in a very specific way.
  • They bring something with them, and seek to take something home.
  • It’s unclear where their bodies end and their technology begins.

  • There are always barriers to integration.
  • They always have a means of communication, however ineffective.
  • Their desires are relatable, but through an alien lens.

  • Some rule as Gods.
  • Some have established isolated communities.
  • Some have become monsters of legend.


Soft One - Slimy Pink Person
STR 5, DEX 10, CHA 13, 5hp. Organic Plate Armour 1, Goo-Pistol (d6, melt on Critical Damage).
  • Devour as many different foods as possible.
  • Touch as many things as possible.
  • Excrete pearls (£1 per pile excreted) and flee as a defence technique.Image result for barlowe hell

Stone Lion - Intelligent Quadruped
STR 15, DEX 10, CHA 15, 10hp, Powered Armoured Body 2. Trample (d10). 
  • Speak calmly about the beauties of his 
  • Beckon humans to travel to his homeland as willing slaves, but won't force them.
  • Translate for other Foreigners.

Chain-Servant - Metallic Giants
STR 18, DEX 15, CHA 15, 13hp. Metal Body 3, Smash (d10) or Chain Explosion (d8 Blast)
  • Tend to worshipers maternaly.
  • Ensure that worshipers are getting fair treatment.
  • Become a living weapon.


SPARKS (Roll 2d20 and Combine)

  • They follow different rules.
  • There is always something to be exploited.
  • There is always danger.

  • The Underground must be traveled deeper than you would like. 
  • Ships must pass through mists that break reality. 
  • Somebody is always trying a new way to travel there.

  • They often resemble a paradise, a hell, or a combination thereof.
  • All beings show signs of humanity.
  • The rules that make this place different are rigorously enforced.


  • They are bound by the rules of their home.
  • You are expected to follow the rules.
  • For every glimmer of humanity, they display their foreignness too.
Related image


RANDOM SPARKS (Roll 2d20 and Combine)

Spark One 
Spark Two 

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Automachines in the Underground


Maybe they grew from the Underground's impossible dimensions, maybe they fell into there from our own future creation, or maybe they were planted by Foreign engineers beyond our own.

  • They are one with the Underground, or at least their part of it.
  • They instigate change and monitor the results.
  • They want to teach you a lesson.


  • They are machines, but always have a way to communicate.
  • They are more suited to create than destroy.
  • Their bond to the Underground is often physical.

  • They follow logic, often to the extreme.
  • They are always willing to explain.
  • They want to see you tested and altered, and care little about you beyond that.


  • They manufacture creations from the Underground itself.
  • Once something is created, they do nothing to control it.
  • The solution to everything is either Creation or Observation.


Helpy-Bug - Crawling Automachine
STR 10, DEX 5, 7hp. Armour 3, d4 Mandibles
  • Follow you around, squeaking.
  • Create tiny, useful things if it would drive you closer to danger.
  • Pass through danger without harm, showing how safe it is down here.

Dream-Genie- Holographic Projector

STR 10, 7hp, Armour 3.
  • Project an angelic holographic form.
  • Conjure visions of what might happen if you delay.
  • Encourage you to be reckless.

Happy-Vendor - Wall-Mounted Automachine
STR 15, 7hp. Armour 3. d8 Repulsion Spike.
  • Offer just the thing you need, in a can, for free, but with a chaotic twist.
  • Tell you about all the things it has seen.
  • Tell you how to get exactly what you need to go further. 

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Electric Bastionland's Open Door Policy

Bastion: The only city that matters. The Electric Hub of Mankind.

Everything beneath our sun is Bastionland; the furthest reaches of Deep Country, the long shadow of our past, the simpletons and obsolete gods.

From beneath other Stars, Foreigners are here.

In The Underground, masked Fallacies seek to undermine reality.

You have a failed career and a colossal Debt. Treasure is your only hope.

Writing continues, playtests are happening, and the setting continues to spiral out of control.

But forget what I've been up to. Bastion has been busy getting electricity, worse ways to kill people, and opening up to the gates to Foreigners.

And not just Deep Country yokels. Things from Foreign Stars. It'll never work out. 

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Religion of Bastionland

I've been giving some thought to Religion in Bastionland. Though I've got other ideas up on the wall, here's one take on it.

Religion doesn't have to involve supernatural beings, but it's a good draw for new members.
  • Those seeking structure and direction gaze to the Star Lands.
  • Those desiring freedom and revolution idolise the Underground.
  • Those rejecting modernity look to Deep Country.
Just as the Underground, Deep Country, and the Star Lands are real places you can go, Spirits are real beings that you can find and interact with, as well as the oddities they leave in their wake.

Distant, incomprehensible beings are overrated, I prefer gods that you can at least fire a bullet at, for whatever good it'll do. 

  • They embody an ideal in an inorganic form.
  • They enforce the rules of their ideal with the help of human followers.
  • Their rules supersede any other ideas of goodness.

From Left, clockwise: Remembrance Spirit, Motherhood Spirit, Conquest Spirit, Hygiene Spirit.

Astral Faiths tend to:
  • Have complex structures.
  • Enforce lots of rules.
  • Make lots of promises for the future.

  • They embody a man-made thing in a deathly or masked form.
  • They seek to bring about change and new creations.
  • They find destruction distasteful.

From Top Left, clockwise: Duel Spirit, Funeral Spirit, Porcelain Spirits, Smog Spirit.

New Faiths tend to:
  • Offer ways to break the rules.
  • Focus on the individual. 
  • Promise a Revolution. 

  • The embody something natural in a beastly form.
  • They oppose change and modernity.
  • They have animals and people take on demonic forms to serve them.

From Top, clockwise: Mountain Spirit, Elephant Spirit, Host of Death Spirits, Tsunami Spirit.

Old Faiths tend to:

  • Promise to keep things the same or move backwards. 
  • Focus on blood ties and physical rituals. 
  • Emphasise places and history. 

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Bastion is People

If you frequent a big city, you'll know that all the buildings and cars and pigeons are nothing in comparison to all the bloody people.

Now imagine it on Bastion's scale.

The Law of People

  • There are all sorts, and they're everywhere.
  • Everything you find and everything you want is tied to some person in some way.
  • Mastery of People is Mastery of Bastion.

There are all sorts, and they're everywhere

Picture a person. They'd fit somewhere in Bastion. Give them some stupid gimmick, don't worry they still fit somewhere.

If planning a dungeon is all about drawing maps and rooms and making monsters, planning a borough of Bastion is all about making People. 

Even when you're creating exciting city locations, someone will have wandered over there. They can't be stopped. What sort of person would even want to be here?

People you talk to are NPCs, everyone else is scenery. They're the trees in the forest slowing you down. They're the boggy ground drowning your horse. They're the sheer cliff face between you and the treasure. They're the wolves waiting to eat your corpse.

Some will tell you to give everyone in your game a name, but in Bastion the vast majority of people you see will remain nameless. You won't even hear most of them speak, but they're acting out their own plans and urges and getting swept up with everybody else.

If you're going to give details, either give none at all or more than they can handle.

If you notice a guy with a huge mustache, you also notice the bridal party and the child leading a baby elephant and the student sports team and the singing drunks.

If you go faceless, give them the mood of the crowd, the overall sound, smells, movement.  

Don't ever let the players ever feel like they're on their own.

Everything you find, everything you want is tied to some person in some way

An avalanche, a new weapon, a priceless treasure. Each of those things can be replaced with people. Get your paintbrush, dip it into the tin marked PEOPLE, and cover as much as you can.

The avalanche is a riot. The weapon is a mercenary. The treasure is a hostage. 

Armour is lackies. Skills are specialists. Knowledge is librarians. 

And those things that are just straight-up things? Somebody owns that. Somebody else wants it. Somebody else thinks that nobody should be allowed to have it.

Got a plan? There are three people in the way of getting what you want.

Mastery of People is Mastery of Bastion

With all the weird powers you might pick up on your travels, you're nothing on your own in Bastion. Great Fighters don't make a difference here, but an Army can. Unions are everywhere, because people are the most significant currency out there.

It's great for those on top, but those underneath sometimes feel valued by the whole arrangement. Sometimes. 

Getting killed is awful. Losing an ally not so bad. 

The worst adversary you can have isn't a brute with a big gun, it's the brute's boss. 

Does it matter if your Ability Scores are all below 10 when you've got a Bodyguard, a Personal Thief, and a Public Relations Assistant following you around? Does your 2hp matter when you're never the one on the front line?

Even Great People are never great at everything, so start building your contacts list now.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Bastionland First Playtest Packet

If you want to playtest BASTIONLAND, you can download the Playtest Packet containing:

  • A more radically altered set of the Into the Odd rules than will probably make it into the final book.
  • Six pre-generated characters from the new set of Backgrounds.
  • "Running the Game" section.
  • A good chunk of the "Understanding Bastion" and "Running Bastion" sections.
  • Keep Out of Brokenborough, a new sample expedition site within Bastion.

If you get it to the table, please send any and all feedback through to the email in my sidebar, contact me on G+, or comment underneath this post.

Have fun!

Monday, 22 May 2017

People of the Foreign Stars








Whatever the academics are calling them this week, there are places beyond Deep Country. We know that the Underground connects all things, so whether these places exist in a distant space, time, or possibility, is the subject of debate.

There are signs in the Stars.

If looking into Deep Country is like looking at the shadows of our embarrassing past, the Star Lands are glimpses of what could be.

There is always a glimmer of humanity.

While the True Bastion is a heap of chaos beneath a veil of order, these places are bound by rules, in spite of their alien exterior. Rules themselves can be a physical presence. The abstract is concrete, and the symbolic is literal.

Volo Beauties
STR 8, DEX 18, CHA 6, 5hp. Silk Dresses, Soft Bodies, Metal Frog Mouths (d6).
- Avert their eyes from the hideous appearance of any non-volo beings.
- Want to collect things they consider most ugly, for their own amusement. Commonly includes birds, which they also enjoy eating live.
- If they encounter somebody that reminds them of themselves, but less beautiful, they consider them an insult and obsess over killing them.
Their Bastion: All decadence and statues, but nobody has enough food and the trains don't run on time.

STR 14, DEX 5, CHA 5, 8hp. Crooked Back, One Giant Eye, Mining Tools (d8, bulky) and Measuring Devices.
- Want to turn everything into flat surfaces and correct angles.
- Go berserk if somebody messes with something they've carved into the correct shape.
- Love their ferret-like pets, which are ultra-violent towards other animals.
Their Bastion: A colossal red pyramid dotted with hollowed-out meeting cubes.

STR 5, DEX 5, CHA 7, 3hp. Rotting bodies, rusty guns (d8), damp black wigs.
- Can only speak truth, but are ashamed of everything they reveal.
- Because of this, they fear gaining any knowledge at all and lash out at those that would educate them.
- Will do anything to forget the things they know.
Their Bastion: Piles of pitiful beings, covering their ears, while their city decays.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Decisive Combat

There's lots of talk of deadly combat, tactical combat, cinematic combat.

The goal with Into the Odd is for combat to be Decisive. I wanted the potential for deadliness, without the wild swings of d20vsAC systems, and I wanted it all to run ultra-fast.

The idea is that combat should have three main stages.

1. Instigation (Strategic Choice)

Should we fight this thing?

Deciding to fight is a real choice you make, not an assumption of the game. No monster exists purely to fight you, so if things have come to blows, let it be on your head.

The nature of the instigation is also of critical importance. The two most reliable ways to defeat an opponent in combat are to outnumber them, and get the drop on them, ideally both.

This is an exit point, as you can usually make the decision not to fight at all.

2. Execution (Tactical Choice)

How's the fight going?

You've probably dealt some damage, taken some, and might now be more aware of what you're up against. Make a decision about whether you want to take this fight to the bitter end, or change up your approach.

This is an exit point, as fleeing/surrender are usually an option.

3. Conclusion (Consequences)

Well, that was a good/bad idea.

Fighting has stopped, and hopefully the other side is defeated. Either way, something major has changed.

Most games follow this to various degrees, but the key with Into the Odd is that I want as little time as possible between each point.

Turn 1: You've decided to fight (Instigation), you cause some damage, and take some back.
Turn 2: Based on how well it's going to decide to carry on, or change your plan. (Execution) If you carry on, somebody is probably getting taken out.
Turn 3: By now one side has probably won, or both sides are so close to death that it's going to end one way or another. (Conclusion)

So while your combat moves are limited, the choices you're making on each turn are extremely important. It's a combat of two or three major decisions, rather than a dozen minor ones. It's key that each stage also presents an exit point from the combat, so nothing is inevitable.

Mechanical Support
Into the Odd supports this by:

  • Auto Damage (attacks always cause at least a little damage, with Armour being the exception, but HP is restored easily enough that you can consider it an Encounter Resource. It's astronomically rare for a turn to go by without anybody taking some damage). 
  • Low HP (d6hp for starting characters, cap at 18hp and that's mostly for monsters)
  • Low Armour (if you're human-sized the best you can really hope for is Armour 1, Armour 3 for the biggest monsters).
  • Relatively High Damage (it's quite easy to get a d8 weapon, which is likely to take out a 7hp opponent in two attacks. Even a STR 16, 12hp Armour 2 monster is probably go down after two rounds of attacks from four characters with d8 muskets)
  • Critical Damage means you're much more likely to be taken out of action before you die. A dying comrade presents a more interesting tactical choice than a dead one.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Route Mapping Bastion

The exact geography of Bastion’s streets is less important than the route between key points. As such, Bastion is best mapped like a Rail Network.

Draw two or more circuits or lines denoting different Transport Routes, ensuring they cross over. These can be walkways, tramways, canals, boulevards, or others. Give each circuit at least one branch that leads to a dead-end.

Plan a Complication that comes with using each Route.

Dot a node at each point where routes cross, each corner, and each dead-end. Name each node after a Feature such as a significant building, park, or monument. List a couple of additional locations found around each Feature. More facilities can be added as you or the players need them, so flavour is more important here.

If the group want to get between two nodes by a different route, there is always a dark alleyway or inconvenient short-cut. The same applies for attempts to explore further than your map currently extends.

Nobody has a city map of Bastion, but smaller sections of the city often have maps or signs to help citizens get their bearings. As such, you can show players the map you have prepared, but only reveal the details through their own investigation.

Treasures found in Bastion are either:
  • Lost in an abandoned or dangerous Borough.
  • Owned by somebody powerful, and held securely.
  • Left in plain sight by somebody unaware of what they possess.

  • When it's running, it's deadly fast and costs 1s per person for any complete journey.
  • Grants a great view of the streets below.
  • It breaks down all the time so every time you make a journey, one of you makes a CHA Save. On a fail, it breaks down halfway between the first two nodes, and you have to climb down a ladder into the middle of nowhere. 
  • The Oil-Dumo-Scrap route is always very congested, moving at a crawl.
  • The open waters of the north-west quarter of the loop are scenic but swarming with mugging-parties.
  • There are free boats, but they're slow and awful. Fancy private boats charge 10s per journey, increasing if you look fancy or desperate. 
  • Primarily a water well, but also a courtyard surrounded by eateries.
  • Restaurants will buy exotic ingredients for a good price.
  • Some meet here to socialise, but it's a known criminal hotspot too.
  • The top floor has a Day Spa frequented by Bastion's elite.
  • When the wind is high, panes of glass often fall down onto passers-by.
  • The surroundings are quite desolate, but builders are working on new projects.
  • Rows of shops that never seem to have any customers.
  • They only sell worthless things and give awful tattoos.
  • Has a swampy park overrun with lizards.
  • A museum of elephants through time.
  • In the dockyards around here, elephants are still used out of tradition as beasts of burden.
  • The housing around here is cheap, because of the elephant smell, so very popular with students, who know a back-alley route to their university.
  • Here rubbish is dumped from massive cable-cars above.
  • The canal goes underground to the processing plant.
  • There is a huge workhouse here, housing thousands of workers with no better prospects.
  • There was a crushing sports defeat here years ago, so a stadium lies abandoned in mourning.
  • The locals here are rough, and mentioning The Defeat is punishable by specific beatings, depending on the circumstances.
  • There's a collectibles market here, buying and selling useless but interesting things.
  • Fancy upmarket housing, with tasteful faux-graffiti on the walls.
  • Boutique shops selling hair oil, tonics, and soap.
  • Has an open air theatre known for political opera. 
  • A market selling things salvaged from the Dump, staffed entirely by Mock Animals due to some bylaw.
  • Mockeries give each other a generous discount and try to rip-off humans.
  • The scrap is kept extremely neat, and the mockeries harshly punish litering the spotless streets around here.
  • An aristocratic hall turned into day-out for the whole family, with slides and overpriced cake.
  • The grounds are well-kept, with forests and lakes that almost make you forget you're in the city, until you come across squatters in tents.
  • The Library Wing is still owned by the a member of the aristocratic family, carrying out lonely study.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Imprints: Foreground Growth in Context

Foreground Growth is a simple concept; It can be broken down into three principles.

Foreground Growth
  1. Your character grows more interesting, not necessarily more powerful. 
  2. Every piece of growth is tied to a specific experience. 
  3. There are growth opportunities everywhere. 
Scars and Oddities are easy to throw in there, but having a characters' adventures directly affect their growth is more tricky.

I've explained it in the context of the original Into the Odd samples monsters.

For my own game prep, I'm referring to these character-altering abilities as Imprints. Think of them as a simplified take on the Odd Marks that I experimented with in the past.

  • Imprints function in the same way as Oddities, but are part of a character’s physical being.
  • When creating an Odd Being, ensure it has at least one way of leaving an Imprint on a character through the being's action or players' exploitation.
  • Imprints generally affect a single character, and always manifest physically, overriding previous Imprints to that body part. 

It's nothing new really, just a new take on Oddities, but it won't make much sense without examples, so let's hit up the classic D&D Monster Manual and see how I'd implement Implants there.

Remember that not every Imprint is going to happen to every group that encounter that monster, but there's at least the possibility there.

Skeleton Guard
STR 10, DEX 15, CHA 1, 5HP. Ancient Sword (d6) and Shield Armour (1).

  • Piercing attacks are Impaired.
  • Intrigued and Confused by modern technology.
  • Breaking the Shield of a Skeleton Guard Imprints the breaker's forehead with the shield's symbol. They can command any Skeleton Guards bearing this symbol.

STR 15, DEX 10, CHA 5, 12HP, Thick Hide (2), Angry Jaws (d10). Death-Ray (d10, Permanently Petrified on Critical), Telekenesis Ray (STR Save to avoid being thrown).
  • Hates everything that is different to itself.
  • Swearing servitude to the Beholder requires a CHA Save. On a fail, the Beholder executes the character, on a Success it Implants them with a Merged Eye capable of rudimentary telekinesis.
  • The Beholder's central eye renders any technology, Oddities, or Implants useless as long as the gaze remains.
Colossal Red Dragon
STR 19, DEX 10, CHA 14, 18HP. Huge and Scaly (3), Jaws (d12) or Tail (d10 Sweep).
  • Wants to hoard precious things and avenge thieves.
  • Breathe Fire (d10 blast, Recharges with a Rest).
  • Burning a dragon's heart requires extreme heat, but consuming the ash Imprints that character with bright red hair, and allows them to breathe fire as the dragon could in life, once per day.
Ice Devil
STR 15, DEX 17, CHA 2, 11HP, Carapace (1), Ice Fork (d10, Freezed Solid on Critical)
  • Seeking a single target, to be frozen and taken back to Ice Hell.
  • Anyone that survived being Frozen by the Devil's fork now has ice-blue eyes Imprinted, and can recover lost STR by bathing themselves in ice water.
  • If killed, summons d6 Ice Devils to avenge them (these cannot Summon any more).

STR 16, DEX 4, CHA 19, 9HP. Big and Blubbery (2), Tentacle Lash (d8), d6 Smelly Grey Slaves (2HP, d6 Spear)
  • Always plotting for revenge against another Aboleth that may be off in a distant time or place.
  • Gurgles a command, which the target must obey or lose d6 CHA. Always starts with "Bow to Me". 
  • Anyone bowing to the Aboleth, or driven to 0 CHA in their presence, gets covered in slime and Imprinted with grey skin. They now smell so bad that others around them are Deprived unless they move to a safe distance.

Gelatinous Cube
STR 13, DEX 3, CHA 0, 1HP.
  • Ignore any physical attacks besides explosives, electricity, or extreme temperatures, and drift towards the nearest source of body-heat, or away from extreme temperatures.
  • Pass over anything in their way, forcing a DEX Save to avoid being enveloped. Enveloped characters cannot break free themselves and lose d6 STR each turn through corrosion. Anyone 
  • A small Central-Gland is found at the top of the cube. Eating this turns Imprints the character by turning their tongue transparent and allowing them to melt any organic matter in their mouth.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Faces in the Crowd

People are everywhere in Bastion. Frankly, there are too many altogether.

Everyone hates the crowds, but nobody wants to move to a Failed City or, worse yet, some Deep Country backwater.

If the players take a closer look at the crowds around them, Roll d12 to see who stands out.

They hate being part of a crowd as much as you do, so have the NPC make a CHA Save when you encounter them.

If they fail, they're lose their cool and are lashing out at somebody else. If they pass, they're having a positive interaction with somebody else (either way, roll another d12).

1: Juveline Chain-Gang: STR 15, 5HP, Hidden Lockpicks and Daggers (d6).
- Cry pathetically as a diversion so that one of the four can escape.
- Shout about being wrongfully imprisoned.
- Do anything in exchange for gum.

2: Mock Badger Academic: STR 16, 3HP. Badger Head, Big Club (d8, 2h).
- Explain his theory for having a cull of 50% of the human population of Bastion.
- If you use a fallacy, he'll calmly explain what you did wrong.
- If you use a second fallacy, he clubs and tears at you.

3: Wormgirls: CHA 15, 4HP. Filthy Rags, Perfect Hair and Makeup.
- Take turns pretending to lie in state, while the others weep our eulogies.
- Apply more make-up to appear corpse-like, but still conventionally attractive.
- Swoon at any stories involving corpses.

4: Giant Bagman: STR 18, 2HP. Huge Bags.
- Offer to carry anything that will fit in his sack for a Shilling per turn on the journey.
- Offer to sell the contents of a bag he forgot the destination of. 
- Offer to bag up somebody you hate and kick them about (but not to death) for 30s.

5: Rad-Rat Preacher: CHA 15, 3HP. Tie-Dyed Suit, Glowing Rod.
- Bellow about a Glowing Rat Swarm that's coming soon to sweep over Bastion.
- If questioned, explain that he knows it's not true but he's preparing for a play.
- If questioned about the play, explain that it really is true after all. Repeat as necessary.

6: Fox Team for Hire: CHA 4, 6HP. Snub-Muskets (d6, 2h), Black Uniforms and Masks.
- Offer to carry out legal security work for 50s a night, but they will keep on haggling for more benefits and more money until you lose patience with them.
- If you leave they finally cave and go back to the last agreed offer.
- If you try to leave without making a deal they'll hunt you down tonight.

7: Bonehead (and Acoloytes): CHA 16, 5HP. Skull for a Head, Sharp Suit. Acolytes (1dp) have painted skull faces and less impressive suits.
- Perform skull-throwing tricks to try and lure in more acoyltes, promising to make them into Boneheads too.
- Regrow from any physical harm, as long as the skull remains. 
- Deliberately antagonise people and then play the victim.

8: Lighter Cats: DEX 17, 3HP. Grapples and Ropes, Flare Gun (d6), Luxurious Moustaches.
- Perform actobatic tricks as they swing from one gaslamp to another, firing flares to light them.
- Put out a bucket to collect money since their funding was cut.
- Fire Flareguns at any Mockeries they see, who they inexplicably hate.

9: Investigative Crone: CHA 16, 2HP. Portable Tea Set, Magnifying Glass.
- Calmly describe a horrible murder to you.
- Keep asking you questions that might implicate you in the murder.
- With a shred of perceived proof, she'll run to the authorities.

10: Mockodile: STR 18, 10HP. Jaws (d10), Metal Hide (Armour 2).
- Peer out from manhole covers, singing the Snap-Snap Song.
- Try to eat any children that come nearby.
- Has no objection to adults, and will guide you through the Underground if you lure a child to him.

11: Iron Sally Fanatics: CHA 5, 2HP. Iron Sally Doll and Accessories. Waistcoats with Iron Sally designs.
- Discuss why the original Iron Sally doll was the best design.
- Discuss why the new Iron Sally doll is the best design.
- Discuss why their families just don't understand Iron Sally.

12: Country Dogburglar: DEX 7, 7HP. Crowbar (d6), Loot Sack, Head-Covering Sack with one eye hole.
- Loudly announce himself as a burglar.
- Try to kill any nearby cats, as they're bad luck for dogburglars.
- Kick in a door and try to rob a place loudly.

Monday, 16 January 2017

A Procedure for Play

Bastionland is going to distill a lot of GM guidance into very clear procedures. Each of the four sections of the world will have their own procedure, but the core procedure for running the game is something like this:

When you're Refereeing Into the Odd and the players do something, look at the list below.

Work from top to bottom, and when you find a solution to what you're trying to resolve, don't go any further down.
  1. Can you make this into a Dilemma? If so, do it.
  2. Does it make sense for it to just happen? If so, go right to the Consequences.
  3. Is it still uncertain? If so, call for a Save.
  4. I guess it was impossible, give the players more Information to help them come up with reasonable action. 

Further Guidance

Dilemma: Give a clear choice between two desirable outcomes. The players pick one or try to come up with a way to get both, usually by expending a resource or taking a risk.  
Consequences: Make their action matter in the world and push things forwards. Give them information about the new situation they find themselves in. If the consequences can ripple out to effect the world, all the better. 
Save: Saves always carry a risk, so explain what's at stake before the players commit to their action. 
Information: If in doubt, give the players more information and ask them frankly what they're actually trying to achieve with their actions. Don't be a distant referee, get down in the mud with them and discuss the situation. 

Saturday, 14 January 2017

This Charming Mammoth (and Social/Mental Mechanics)

I've talked about my reasoning behind trying Charm in place of Willpower.

Essentially it strengthens the idea that Ability Scores generally have two uses in Into the Odd.

  1. Rolled against when you make a Save due to a risky situation.
  2. Whittled away as a resource when you take serious harm in that area.

(At some point I need to write about how point 2 fits in with DEX. It's not a problem, but it has some interesting implications)

1a. Charm Saves for Players

So my previous post talked a little about point 1, how you roll against your CHA. The key word to remember there is Risk. I'm not necessarily having players roll CHA as soon as they encounter another being, but if you attempt an uncertain interaction, that's when you roll. This could range from:

  • Asking a favour of someone who's friendly.
  • Calming down somebody who's hostile.
  • Trying to get somebody to spill some information without feeling strong-armed.
  • Convince somebody you're telling the truth.
And as with all Saves, smart play and obvious situations can bypass the need for a roll. 

Without a roll, but not without consequences. 
  • Throwing meat to alligators or paying a massive bribe? No roll, but you expend the resource and it's only a temporary fix.
  • Intimidating someone clearly weaker than you? They'll do what you want but now they're not going to avoid you, or maybe try to get you back.
  • Cashing in a favour from somebody you have a close relationship with? Fine, but they'll expect the same from you in future. 
1b Charm Saves for NPCs and Monsters

For allies, CHA can be used in a similar way to PCs. You send that lacky off to deal with a contact and they make a CHA Save to see if they get what they need without leaving a bad impression.

The most obvious use for opposing NPCs and monsters is for leaders trying to prevent a Morale failure amongst their troops. But while Charm is everything you project outwards, this in itself requires control over your subconscious. A lack of Charm reflects a focus on base needs, someone easily dominated by others and their own urges. 
So what about that individual monster with CHA 1. What does it matter that this Slime Thing is totally without Charm?

If the Slime Thing is hurt, and I know it's a mindless thing that will always fight to the death, I'm probably never going to roll its CHA. 

But consider the humanoid Slime Hybrids that lost half of their Charm as part of their transformation. The former humans might have CHA 5, which can be rolled against when there's a risk of their human side showing through (such as running from harm, or refusing to absorb those orphans). 

Or on the other side of the coin, a Cosmic Angel with CHA 17 might have a secret Vice that they must roll a CHA Save to avoid indulging in, given the opportunity. 

So rather than rolling WIL to see if the monster of NPC does the smart thing, I'd roll CHA to see if they have the composure to act against their base urges, which will vary based on the type of being they are. 

Can a Monster force you to roll a CHA Save to avoid some nasty effect? Absolutely! 

Can it roll against its own CHA to convince you of something? No, and I'm sure the reasons for that are obvious. It creates some asymmetry between PCs and NPCs but it's not a problem.

2. Charm Damage

Now what about Point 2. WIL Damage represented sanity-sapping stuff, but what does it mean to lose your Charm?

You become more detached. Those that depend on you for leadership become less sure of you. You turn inward more and more until at Charm 0 you can't interact with the outside world at all.

You Restore your Charm through psychiatric therapy, spiritual meditation, or heavy carousing.

Things that drain your Charm are sapping away at everything that makes you you.

Using CHA isn't as straightforward as using STR and DEX, but it's an opportunity to get creative with the behaviour of your monsters and NPCs. 

Conceptualising Charm

As an aside, I previously toyed with the names Modernity and Civility for the social/mental Ability Score. Thematic, but doesn't work so well in practice. Still, an element of that flavour remains. The big movers and shakers in Bastion usually have higher CHA scores, and animals usually have low scores. 

Charm and Oddities

In my own games, the reliance of Arcana/Oddities on WIL/CHA is gone. The fact that these are the only two names I've changed from the book probably shows my lingering dissatisfaction with that part of the game.

Now everyone can have Oddities. They're more likely to be disposable, or specific in use, though you might still find the occasional super-flexible item that becomes one of your go-to solutions, as long as there's an additional trade off to its use.

Less mentally bending the Oddity to do what you want. More using problem solving to create situations where your Oddities can help you. It puts more weight on your decisions than whether or not you can convince the Referee to let you make a WIL Save to have your Arcanum to solve the problem.

Might some Oddities still drain your CHA away as a trade off? Yes! But there's nothing stopping them draining away your other scores too.

This Charming Mammoth

That's a lot of theory. So let's finally get to the post title.

Mr Ears - Mock Mammoth Bartender
STR 18, DEX 5, CHA 18, 5hp, Massive Furry Body (Armour 3, bypassed by Fire), Wooden Tusks (d8), Threadbare Suit, Warm Fuzzy Voice.

  • Runs the bar at the Apocryphal Specimen Museum containing the remains of animals that probably didn't ever exist. 
  • Offers to cradle you in his trunk while you pour your heart out to him (two drink minimum). An hour of doing this restores your CHA but Mr Ears knows your secrets now. 
  • Knows every drink recipe but has a super clumsy trunk, so requires a DEX Save to avoid spilling even the most basic thing. Is utterly ashamed when he spills something.