Wednesday 14 February 2024

Dealing with the Council

What happens when a player Knight in Mythic Bastionland actually gets to rule their own Holding?

First you have a bunch of entitled jerks to deal with.


Ref: Okay, Tal, now that you’re the rightful ruler of Raider’s Gate you’ll want to assemble a Council. 

Ref outlines the positions of Steward, Marshall, Sheriff, and Envoy.

Tal: Okay, Moss, are you up for being the Marshall? Getting the soldiers into shape?

Moss: Yeah, of course.

Ref: Yeah that works. Now even though you proved the previous ruler, the Chain Knight, as an enemy of the Realm, the Steward that served under him is still here. She’s Medryn, very formal and professional. You can kick her out of her seat or keep her on.

Tal: Let’s keep her on for now, but we’ll keep a close eye on her. I’ll go and talk to her properly a little later.

Ref: Well security is also part of the Sheriff’s job, watching for threats inside and outside your walls. Who are you appointing there?

Tal: Needs to be somebody we trust. 

Moss: I don’t think I trust anybody around here anymore.

Tal: Okay… can we leave the seat vacant just for now while we decide?

Ref: Well we can talk about it some more, but I definitely wouldn't leave you Realm without a Sheriff unless you want to invite trouble!

Tal: Argh, okay. Hey, what about that guy who was guarding the tower we found?

Moss: Yeah, he helped us out.

Tal: Okay, he was over here, right?

Tal points at a landmark a few Hexes away.

Tal: Can I like… send a rider out to summon  him or something?

Ref: Of course, you’re the ruler now!


Like so many other parts of the game, ruling a Holding is at its best when the players have enough information to prompt difficult decisions with impactful consequences. 

Assembling the Council is a good opportunity for this. As we see here it’s a chance to introduce new characters or elevate previously encountered people into a more prominent role.

Focusing Holding management on the Council has a few beneficial effects. Firstly it keeps the spotlight on interactions with characters rather than the fine details of economics and infrastructure. You can decide that you want to collect more taxes, or change the armament of your warbands, but doing so requires going through your Steward or Marshall respectively, keeping those relationships at the forefront. 

This is most effective when a ruler’s Council and Court are both populated by a dynamic cast of characters. Here a Referee can create a messy web of ambitions and quarrels for the ruler to attempt to keep in order. A combination of Spark Tables and Luck Rolls can give some useful prompts for this. 

If one of the Knights ends up ruling a Seat of Power, then the rulers of each Holding become an additional layer of relationships to manage on top of this. 

Still, I like to ensure that the ruler still gets a chance to go out and be a Knight, letting their Council manage things in their absence. This can be encouraged by reassuring the player that Knights are expected to delegate rule to their Steward in order to continue fulfilling their Oath. If a Knight gets too bogged down in politicking from their castle then word begins to spread that they’ve grown soft or renounced their Oath to “seek the Myths”. That should give them a nudge toward adventure. 


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Wednesday 7 February 2024

Unwelcome Omens

Mythic Bastionland pre-orders are now open for late backers!

Backers will receive their survey within the next few days, so far I've just sent out a test to a lucky 5%.

Now onto the post. 

What do you do when an Omen doesn't quite fit your current location?


The Company are travelling through a barren tundra during winter, facing dire weather at every turn. Ref makes a Wilderness Roll and gets a 1, rolling for a random Myth from elsewhere in the Realm. They roll the Forest, which the Company have already encountered the first five Omens from. This means they’ll encounter the sixth and Omen.

Ref: Okay… hm…

Ref fumbles slightly, as the previous omens had all been encountered in areas with plenty of trees, an easy fit for the Forest.

Ref: A bitter mist rolls over the tundra again, chilling your faces. Through the mist you can see shapes. It looks like a forest.

Moss: I thought this whole area was a sort of frozen wasteland?

Ref: Yeah, it was. 

Tal: Oh, I bet this is something to do with the Forest, right?

Moss: Yeah, shall we go in?

Tal: I think we should! We’re meant to be “seeking the Myths” after all.

Moss: Okay, let’s carefully go in.

Ref: As you enter the mist begins to clear. The air even feels warmer. Looking around, you feel like you’re in the middle of a deep forest, despite having only walked a few paces into the trees. 

Moss: At least it’s warm.

Ref: A towering figure stands boldly between the trees. Their body is thick, writhing wood, knotted and gnarled. Their hands are like great clawed roots. The imposing creature looms over you. What do you do?


Remember that Myths operate under their own rules, and they don’t need to follow the usual laws of reality.

This means situations like this one, where a Myth’s Omen feels an odd fit for the current situation, can easily be woven into the ongoing story. 

It helps that, in general, the players want to find Omens and resolve Myths, as this is the main way that they gain Glory. Besides, the nature of Omens is that they’re all going to happen eventually, so being caught off-guard by one isn’t a huge problem.

I like that Ref doesn’t try to contradict their previous description of the area. The wasteland was just as frozen and inhospitable as they had previously described, and now it’s miraculously transformed into a thick forest. 

One of the reasons that Knights tend not to have magical-feeling abilities is that I want the world to feel more magical than the people within it. 

You’ll be exploring a mystical land, and while you’ll sometimes benefit or suffer at the hands of its magic, you’ll never quite understand or control it yourself. 

This is perfect for handling these moments, but should never be done at the cost of the previously established fiction of the game.

When they enter the woods, Ref jumps straight into the encounter with the Fearmonger in their true form. This is fine, but there was also an opportunity to have the players explore this strange place a little before the Fearmonger shows themselves. It would give a little more weight to the fact that the Forest manifested so suddenly, allowing the players to take that in for a moment before thrusting them into a high-stakes situation. 


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 31 January 2024


Knowledge is power in Mythic Bastionland.

What does the Oddpocrypha have to say about that?


The Company are staying in the Holding of a friendly ruler. After dinner they are left to their own devices for a while. They have already encountered one Omen of the Child.

Ref: Okay, what are you both doing?

Tal: The ruler here seems friendly enough, but I’ll see if anybody else looks keen to talk.

Moss: I’ll ask around to see what people know about the Child.

Ref: Okay, Tal, as you’re moving around the hall a Knight strides over. You’ve not met them before, they’re…

Ref rolls on some Spark Tables to get an idea of their appearance.

Ref: He looks sort of soft-bodied for a Knight, a tattered cloak over his patchwork mail. He speaks to in a whispered tone.

Ref rolls a random Myth of the Realm for this Knight to know about, getting the Shadow.

Ref: “Greetings, Knight. Have you come from the north?”

Tal: Erm… (she checks the map) no, we’ve ridden in from to the east.

Ref: “Well, take my word for it, if you’re heading north then don’t look too closely into the shadows. A sorrowful presence lurks there. My brother-in-arms has already been taken by its melancholy.”

Tal: Is this something to do with the Child?

Ref: He doesn’t seem to know anything about the Child. He explains that he’s recently arrived in the Realm. He also describes the location of a monument he passed on the way, the mausoleum of a nameless Knight.

Ref points to the monument’s location on the map, a few Hexes north of the Holding.

Tal: Great, that’s useful.

Moss: Yeah, do I have any luck?


Non-player characters can be useful in different ways. They can offer hospitality, equipment, remedies, military aid, new positions in a council, or even a Holding to rule. Whoever they are, most people are also able to offer the resource of knowledge, as detailed in the Folklore section of the rules.

We can see the importance of this here, with Moss actively seeking information and Tal being more passive. I like that Ref gives Tal this useful information even though she didn’t explicitly ask for it. When it comes to Myths I like to ensure they’re worked into the conversations happening all across the Realm, even if the character is a new arrival.

Ref gives some very vague knowledge of the Shadow here. They could have had the Knight outright explain an encounter with the Shadow, or one of its omens, but the key is that they wouldn’t know the inner workings of the Myth. That level of knowledge is restricted to Seers, and is the basis for their powerful position within the society of the Realm.

Ref could have gone further here, and had the Knight who Tal meets actually be the Knight described in the Myth itself. One Omen describes a sorrowful Knight, lashing out at passers-by, and they could have presented this character to the Company, appearing before their miserable fate.

They could go in another direction, changing the Myth so that this new Knight is the one present in the Omen.

Instead, Ref takes the slightly safer option of having the Knight who Tal meets simply having a connection to the Knight that will appear in a later Omen. Still effective, but it’s always good to consider other options.


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Wednesday 24 January 2024


How does hospitality work in Mythic Bastionland?


The Company encounter an Omen of the Pack, describing a shepherd having lost his flock. The Knights do their best to help, but the Shepherd is heartbroken.

Moss: Wait, where does this shepherd live? We’re nowhere near a Holding or Dwelling.

Ref: Do you want to ask him?

Moss: Yeah, okay.

Ref: He gestures in the direction of his home, a simple hut hidden away within this Hex. He also has a second hut in the neighbouring Hex, where he sometimes moves his flock. 

Tal: We should rest up here before we start our journey back to the Seat of Power. 

Ref: Yeah, proper hospitality restores your VIG, remember? You’ve both got some wounds that would benefit from it. 

Moss: Okay, I ask the shepherd if he can provide a warm place to sleep for tonight.

Ref: I mean he’s despairing about his flock being torn apart by his own dogs, so I wouldn’t expect too much of a warm welcome. He offers you a place for the night, as is the custom, but you get the sense he’d rather you weren’t there. 

Ref pauses for a moment.

Ref: Actually, one of you can give me a SPI Save to see what his response is like.

Tal rolls an 18, failing the Save.

Ref: Yeah, he takes you in and cooks you some food, rolls out some simple, bedding, but the conversation is clearly focused on when you’re both going to leave tomorrow.

Moss: Rude.

Tal: I mean I guess he’s got bigger problems to deal with right now. Okay, let’s work out what we’re doing the next morning. 

Ref: Sure, and you can both restore VIG. 


Knights can expect hospitality from most of the people they encounter on their travels, but this can still create some interesting conflicts. Commonly these are based around how much the Company are willing to upset their host by outstaying their welcome, or whether the host is bold enough to ask for something in return. 

This section of play starts with a good example of how the Realm can be moulded by both the actions of the Knights and the Myths as they unfold. In an area with no mention of inhabitants, a Myth describes a shepherd. This suggests that the shepherd must have a dwelling nearby, even if it was not previously noted on the map, and so it becomes reality. 

I’d encourage Ref to note this down on the map as a new Dwelling. 

Of course, if the Company were in a Hex utterly unsuitable for a shepherd to live in, then the Referee might find a reason for them to be so far from home. Perhaps they’re in the middle of a long journey or pilgrimage.

Ref also indulges in asking for a Spirit Save to gauge the shepherd’s reaction to the Knights’ request for hospitality. This feels like a very low stakes roll, as even with a failure the shepherd allows the knights to stay. 

Normally I look to the mantra of “no risk, no roll” but I still think there’s a place for Saves like this in the quieter moments of play. For example, if Tal had passed the Save then perhaps the shepherd might encourage them to stay even longer, becoming reliant upon the Knights for a feeling of security after their ordeal. 


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 17 January 2024

The Quieter Moments

An RPG session probably shouldn't be non-stop action. Those quiet moments can sometimes be overlooked by GM advice sections, so I wanted to touch on them when discussing landmarks in the Oddpocrypha chapter of Mythic Bastionland. 


The Company is in a tower, overlooking the surrounding Hexes. Ref gestures to each Hex as they describe the terrain in broad terms.

Ref: The forest continues all across the west. The south looks more marshy, and there are rough hills to the east.

On their copy of the map, Ref notices there’s a Landmark in a neighbouring Hex, a Ruin. They rolled a prompt for this as part of their prep, noting that it relates to the Blade, a Myth not currently active in the Realm. The prompt for the Ruin was “crumbled bridge”.

Ref: You can spot a bridge in the distance out in this direction, but you can’t really see the details from this far away.

The players decide to head toward the bridge, arriving in the next Phase of the day.

Ref: Okay, so the bridge spans a mostly dried up stream and has collapsed, the centre now a heap of rubble.

Ref turns to the Blade myth to look for a hint to place here. They decide to use “Ilglamrent”, one of the names given for the Blade.

Ref: In amongst the rubble you can see a large block, previously part of the bridge. There’s something carved on it, covered in red moss.

Tal: I’ll carefully scrape it off with my dagger, trying to see the carving.

Ref: It’s faint but you can just make out the shape of a sword, the word “Ilglamrent” written down the length of its blade. 

Tal: Huh. 

Moss: I’ll look through the rubble. Maybe there’s a sword down here?

Ref: Yeah you dig through but there doesn’t seem to be anything of note.

Moss: Right. Hm. 

Ref: So where next?


Where Myths and Holdings generally act as the major features within the Realm, Landmarks tend to have a more understated place in the game.

Ruins in particular can feel almost out of place, offering a glimpse at a Myth that won’t actually be used in the Realm as it stands. The intent is to hint at a wider and older world, and as we see here it can create moments that border on downright anticlimactic.

I don’t think this is something to be feared. These moments of relative calm can be a welcome change of tempo, especially when used sparingly. I like that Ref allows the moment to play out before giving the players a gentle nudge to move on, asking them where they want to go next.

Ref did just about enough preparation here, rolling the Ruin’s Myth ahead of time and choosing a prompt for its general description. They could have gone further and worked out how the bridge tied in to the Blade, but they were able to improvise this just fine.

If they really found themselves stuck, unable to draw a connection between the Ruin and its Myth, then I’d encourage them to take a more relaxed approach. Maybe for now this bridge is just a bridge, no Myth connection at all. It still acts as a small point of interest in the world, a literal landmark to help with navigation. 

They could also place a person near to the Ruin, giving them knowledge of the related Myth. Perhaps here a wandering pilgrim is seeking the Blade, but so far nobody in this Realm has heard of it. Anything that helps the world feel large or old would work.


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 20 December 2023


Mythic Bastionland is largely a game about travelling. How does that work?


The Company are part way through a journey between two distant holdings. Ref points to their current Hex location on the map.

Ref: Okay, you wake up and clear away the camp. It’s…

Ref makes a few rolls on the Nature Spark Tables for Sky and Weather.

Ref: There’s a pale haze in the air, not enough to really hinder your view, but gives a slight fuzz to the forested mountains in the distance. There’s a dull humidity in the air, no breeze at all, a contrast to yesterday’s bitter storm!

Moss: Yeah, sounds better to me.

Tal: So we keep going, right? 

Tal gestures to their final destination on the map, then to the next Hex in that direction.

Tal: Head over there, I think. Wait, can we see anything around us?

Ref: Sure, you camped on a decent vantage point, so you got a good look at your surroundings. You can see this Hex is mostly rolling hills, a few patchy forests.

Ref points to the Hex Tal had indicated as their next destination.

Tal: In that direction it looks much the same, no sign of any real points of interest.

On their own map, Ref sees that a different adjacent Hex has a Monument landmark. In their notes this is an “Eternal Hearth”.

Ref: Over to the West you can see there’s some sort of structure in amongst the hills, a little smoke rising from it. 

Moss: Ah… we could go and get some proper rest over there. It’s kind of out of our way, though. 

Tal: Yeah… we’re in good condition, though. Maybe let’s just mark it on our map for now and check it out another time.

Moss: Okay, works for me.


Focusing on long distance travel calls for a sort of “zoomed out” approach that can be daunting in comparison to the more moment-by-moment play of exploration and combat. 

Here I like that Ref takes a moment to set the scene beyond just the paper map in front of them. Even seemingly inconsequential weather and sky descriptions help to paint the scene of the Knights travelling across great distances and significant passages of time, and give some evocative sensory context in comparison to the relatively abstract Hex map. 

The Spark Tables are a great source for this, and I always keep them to hand when running the game.

Ref also ensures the players have the information needed to make interesting choices. In particular, telling them that they can see something in a neighbouring Hex, but not outright stating what it is. Now they face a choice between continuing to their destination or taking a detour to a potentially useful location. 

There’s also a good amount of generosity on display here. Ref states that there’s a haze in the air, but not enough to obscure the Knights view. They also assume that the Knights set up camp on a vantage point, allowing them to easily survey their surroundings. I’d always lean in this direction, but I absolutely wouldn’t hesitate to make the Knights’ lives difficult when the dice prompt it. 

For example, if the weather roll was “Solid Fog” then I think it’s entirely appropriate to say that the Knights can’t see into their neighbouring hexes, perhaps even needing to travel blind unless they have a way to maintain their course. 


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 6 December 2023

Which Virtue?

We're entering the final 24 hours for Mythic Bastionland!

Here's a little extract from the Oddpocrphya section of Mythic Bastionland.


After their character died last session, Tal has created a new character, the Riddle Knight. The Company are already worn down, having suffered CLA loss on their journey. They’re hunting a rogue knight who’s been harassing travellers.

Ref: So this is the hill where you heard the rogue knight was last spotted. What’s the plan from here?

Tal: How about we search for tracks. I can roll Clarity for that, right?

Ref: Erm… Hang on.

Ref looks at the Action Procedure and asks a few clarifying questions to Tal.

Ref: So the risk is that by scouring around these woods looking for tracks you might attract some unwanted attention.

Moss: Wait, if we’re just searching for something quickly could I use Vigour instead? That’s for like… athletic stuff, right?

Ref: Hm, no, I think that doesn’t really work here. Clarity is sharp senses and quick thinking, which is what’s being used here. 

Tal: Urgh, we’ve both got super low Clarity at the minute. I wish I’d thought of this before we came all the way out here.

Ref: Well there’s always another way. Instead of scouring for tracks you could try to find somebody to talk to, see if they’ve encountered the rogue knight.

Tal: Oh, and if we get “guidance from a Seer” then we recover our Clarity, right? I know it’s quite far, but we could travel over to this sanctum (points to the map) where we know there’s a Seer living.

Moss: Works for me, we might get some other good info while we’re there.

Ref: Great, so which way are you travelling?


With just three Virtues to choose from, it’s usually quite clear which Virtue should be used for a particular Save, or damaged by a particular harmful effect. Ref is pretty confident that Clarity is the Virtue to use for covertly tracking an enemy, and I’d agree with them here. 

In those cases where it’s not so clear I tend to err on the side of giving the players the final say, but I’d hope that these instances are rare. If they start occurring frequently then I’d perhaps take a moment to talk through the Virtues with the players, making sure everybody understands what each of them represents for their character. 

In this example we see that having low scores in a Virtue can create some interesting moments, here driving the players to seek out a Seer in the hope of both recovering their Clarity and getting the information they were looking for. 

If there wasn’t a Seer nearby then Ref could still have suggested some alternative directions for them to take, and speaking with the locals is usually a good direction to nudge players toward. 

If the players are desperate to restore a Virtue, and the most obvious means of doing so is too far away, then remind them that Remedies exist, suggesting where they might be found. Although they represent uncommon goods, a holding will usually at least be able to point them in the right direction. For Stimulant, which is used to restore Clarity, perhaps they’d be directed toward a local herbalist or alchemist in service of the ruler, remembering that these things are never given away for free.

If all else fails, remember that moving to a new Season or Age restores all Virtues, so sometimes an impromptu time skip can be the best way to move things forward. 


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon.