Wednesday 30 March 2016

More of Bastion

Ecky Burgh - Home of the Original Green Smoke

Pudding Deck
- Try the tiny but obcenely priced (1g for an assiette) desserts.
- Enjoy the only spot of clean air in the borough, with great views of others choking below.
- Hear the haunting voice of the wailing-waiter, an avant-garde performer in his second job.

- Buy an air-bag from one of the sickly urchins roaming the board-walks. Prices range from a penny to ten shillings depending on how desperate for air you look.
- Call into one of the tiny breather-bars that pump in clean(er) ambience and sell disgusting spirits to disappointed travellers.
- Hope the Green Smoke doesn't descend today (1-in-6 chance each morning/afternoon, d6 corrosive damage each turn just for being in it).

- Go under the greenish water and enjoy clean air from a rubber tube sticking out of the wall. Dozens of patrons sit around sucking on these, conversing in whatever gestures they can manage.
- Eat specially bred jellyfish live from the water as they swim by (the poolkeeper will swim by and charge 50p a jelly)
- At the top of each hour two prisoners are dropped from above in weighted shoes, each with a trident. If one manages to kill the other, the poolkeeper will (usually) release them from their boots.


Piling District- Where Things Go to get Broken

The Smashery
- Pay 20s to get anything you like smashed by the finest industrial machinery.
- Pay an extra 10s to push the button yourself.
- Pay an extra 1g to get to try one of the new prototype methods. They're very secretive unless you pay, but they involve an annihilation beam.

Discharge Docks
- Here the debris from the smashery is loaded onto huge barges and taken around the rest of the city. Great place to catch a cheap lift.
- For 10s you can have an hour sifting amongst the debris to try and find something useful (you probably won't).
- Throwing a penny down the Bottomless Well is considered lucky, but don't fall in because it really is bottomless as far as anyone can tell.

Breaker Quays
- Witness some of the most ground-breaking street art in Bastion, made by the Smashers on their days off
- Hear street poetry on the nature of smashing things by day and creating by night
- See the jagged sculpture of the Silver Man, a giant astral being rumoured to have visited the district and helped to build the smashery. 


Neptile Quarter - Adults must be accompanied by a child.

The Walkaways
- Avoid the pale children that legally own the district.
- Find the occasional creepy-heirloom discarded on the tiles.
- Peek into luxurious chambers kept pristine and locked away from childrens' hands.

Foggy Lane
- Visit the kindershops, selling the crap that kids are able to make without adult supervision.
- Take in a drousy cocktail of naptime-oil in one of the many sleepeasies
- Fall foul of some playground-level rule that you didn't realise, or that some kid is making up, and get banished from the district after paying a hefty fine.

The Crystalory
- Take an ornate canal ride through a maze of glowing, chiming crystals repeating the same stupid song over and over.
- Enjoy the narration of how the children came to inherit the quarter from Granny Neptile.
- Buy overpriced, useless crystals in the gift shop.

Monday 21 March 2016

Investigation Oddule

I'm planning a one-player Investigation Game using Into the Odd, because why use anything else?

OSR games are all about modular rules. If you need to chop bits off, or Frankenstein a new limb onto your game, then you just do it. The fewer moving parts the game has, generally the easier it is to add new bits. The less the moving parts interact with each other, the easier it is to chop bits away. 

So Into the Odd is fantastically suited to modification.

A truly Oddular system.

Now investigating is a common activity already. Usually there are lots of mysterious things around, and some players will go out of their way to seek the truth. But the fact is that it's still a game about exploring. You're going into weird places, looking around, taking what's useful to you, and getting the hell out.

This game is going to be all about uncovering the truth.

Things that don't need changing:
- Core Mechanics
- Core setting of post-industrial, pre-electric Bastion/Deep Country

Things that need considering
- Make starting packages more mundane and less martial.
- Put the Odder parts of the world, especially Underground and Far Lands, behind more of a veil
- A system for specialities and knowledge
- Tighter time management
- Team generation
- Even-more-deadly combat

Starting Packages
The main character looks up their starting package as normal but makes the following adjustments:
- In place of the normal exploration gear, you get a lantern. 
- Remove any Arcana, Weapons larger than a pistol or dagger (including bombs), and supernatural abilities. 
- For each item removed, the character adds an extra Partner to their team:

You're the head of a small team, starting as you and one Partner, but more may be added as detailed above. 

Partners are rolled in the same way as your main character, but don't get a starting package. Instead their equipment is based on common sense based on their Speciality. 

Their name, capability, and manner can be rolled on the Bastion's Cast of Thousands table in the Oddpendium at the back of the game book. 

Resources are tight so at any time you can only take one of your team out with you. Any others are sent off to other duties unless you delegate something to them. 

I said Into the Odd would never have a Skill System, and I stand by that. These aren't things that are going to give you bonuses. Instead they're exceptional bits of knowledge that you wouldn't ordinarily expect a character to possess, and their function is to give even more information, rather than modify what actions you can and cannot take.

When your Speciality applies to the current situation, the Referee goes over and above with the information you get. You can ask detailed follow up questions and get incredible insight related to your speciality. 

The speciality also opens up a number of contacts you're likely to have within peers of that speciality. 

The main character rolls 1d10 on each column for their two Specialities. Partners get one speciality each, rolling on the first column. If the roll is a duplicate, move to the second column or re-roll as appropriate. 

d10 First Roll Second Roll
1    History  Chemistry
2    Geography  Architecture and Civil Geography
3    Religion and Occult  Military Equipment and Protocol
4    Bureaucracy  Art and Culture
5    Natural Science  Academia and Research
6    Fashion and Society  Engineering
7    The Criminal Community  Drink and Carousing
8    Crime Scene Forensics  Conspiracy Theories
9    Medicine  Business
10    Psychiatry and Psychology  Astronomy and Places Beyond

Is Combat Deadly Enough?
If you want to make combat a truly last-ditch thing, then your issue is going to be with how HP is handled, as that's the buffer between safe combat and deadly combat. 

You could remove HP entirely. All damage comes straight off STR and you could die to the first bullet fired at you at any time.

You could make HP recover more slowly.

I'm going to go a third way and say that we don't actually need any mechanical changes here. The goal is to make combat undesirable, not to add more immediate death. 

We can do that by making HP more precious, something you really don't want to lose. 

And we do this through...

The Monster of Time
In investigations, time is the worst enemy of all. With unlimited time any mystery can be solved, so we want to apply a sense of urgency.

Those timelines of future events never really clicked for me. I appreciate something looser.

So replace the Resting sections of the game with Downtime.

Downtime is a sit down, a drink, some time to compose yourself, recovering all HP. This can be considered roughly an hour, but all that matters is that it's long enough that opposing forces stand a 50% chance to move ahead with their agenda, using their Actions as a guide. 

Major Downtime is a dedicated period of rest, recovery, and medical or emotional care over a number of days, recovering all Ability Scores. In your absence all opposing forces will significantly advance their agenda, using their Actions as a guide. 

Other Things to Remember
- Acting on information is more fun than searching for information. Give them the info and let them play with it. 
- The Partners are not pawns. Have them act on their own desires and fears. 
- Bastion has Everything. 

Next Time: Actually planning the investigation game. 

Wednesday 16 March 2016

A Borough, a District, and a Quarter

Nobody agrees on how best to divide up Bastion.

Mayors, Lords, Grand Officials, and Master Judges bicker over blocks when the going is good, and claim no responsibility for them during hard times.

Boundaries shift and overlap.

Whether a piece of the city is a borough, district, quarter, or town is completely unrelated to its size or significance, and the reasons are buried in paperwork from back when it was named.

Each region has a number of Points of Interest, which present variable opportunities.


High Borough of Mouse-and-Key - Testing-Slum for the newest engineering prototypes.

The Hyperwire
- Take an incredibly slow, crowded car up to the highest point for miles and get a good view of the surrounding boroughs.
- Try not to fall to a messy death down in the lower slums.
- Try not to hit a snag and hang helplessly for hours until a trained mock-monkey swings along to fix the mechanism.

Siren Mast
- Broadcast and receive messages from the handful of other prototype radio masts in the city. Mostly engineering nerd chatter.
- Join the techno-pilgrims that come here to view the wonder of engineering.
- Avoid the Rad-Warriors, overly groomed thugs that think the tower's emissions are bound to attract hostile extradimensional beings.

- Hear lectures from some of the great engineering thinkers, with some of the worst ideas in history.
- Visit the Office of Collateral Damage to process paperwork you might have incurred through less civilian-aware activities, attending a self-improvement seminar to avoid future problems.
- Join the waiting list for an audience with Dieter Volt, the bespectacled genius behind the borough's new purpose.


Temple District of Veztm - Ten tourists to every local.

Schism Point
- Just try to see any of the temple architecture through the sea of obnoxious tourists and pilgrims.
- Avoid upsetting the actual residents of the region, each from one of a hundred sects, each with a thousand senseless protocols.
- Buy terrible merchandise.

The Splendid Honeymoon
- Meet travellers from across Bastion at the nightly Buffet. Each night is a different bizarre cuisine.
- Visit the cellar-garden to buy an overpriced bottle of wine or marvel at the domesticated subterranean creatures.
- Take advantage of the overpriced rock-spa that will offer any treatment with discrete service.

Black Fountain
- Finally find a place with a tolerable amount of tourists.
- Drip some of your blood into the black water and walk down one of the eight alleyways to go on a spirit journey.
- Drip another's blood into the black water and you get a vision of their current whereabouts, and future desire.


Dead Quarter of Luon - Broken pre-industrial luxury.

Princee Castle
- Enjoy the lavishly welcome foyer and entrance hall.
- Break through any of the locked doors to feel the wrath of the paranoid, trap-obsessed Princee long after his death.
- Find the dead Princee to rob his jewels.

The Last Smithy
- Meet Rab, an actor pretending to be hundreds of years old, acting as a medieval smith.
- Get charged obscene prices for "ancient methods" that really have nothing on modern metalwork.
- Hear Rab complain about how technology is the wrong direction for Bastion.

The Sour Oyster
- Reel at the stench of long-rotten shellfish and old beer.
- Carefully approach an unexploded siege-bomb lying in the middle of the tavern (d12 damage to all in the block).
- Discover the socialist commune of Mock-Rats living underneath the floorboards quite happily.

Sunday 13 March 2016

Reaction Rolls in Into the Odd

So I talked about Reactions Rolls before, but David McGrogan has written something I want to steal.

As discussed, Into the Odd handles reaction rolls with the line:

Garnering a good first reaction requires a WIL Save for the group leader. 

Fast and loose as you'd expect from the game, but it would benefit from a little more guidance.

I previously wrote about using WIL Saves to see if the NPC or Monster acts intelligently, but that still leaves a lot down to the Referee. Here's one way you could codify it a bit more.

I already give NPCs and Monsters a set of three go-to actions, so why can't this be tied in with the reaction roll?

Each NPC now gets three actions, preceded by a symbol. They always have at least one = action,
= Something they will do regardless of reaction.
+ Something they do on a positive reaction.
- Something they do on a negative reaction.

This needn't clash with the standard "roll to see what they're doing" encounter table I use, but I'd probably either use one method or the other depending on best fit.

Example Encounters in the Noname-deepdark-lostwoods. 

Deep Countries towns are already unbearable for those used to city life. What passes for roads are worse. If you stray from that, well, you should have expected the worst.

Barkeater - Feral King.
STR 17, DEX 15, WIL 14, 6p, Weather Battered Hide (1), Feral Jaws (d8), Crown of Twigs.
= Repeatedly proclaim that you are in Barkeater's Domain and he is King of Wood.
+ Offer to fight you naked in return for his blessing and safe passage (win or lose, but if he beats you he must pass a WIL Save to avoid going too far and killing you).
- Declare you as trespassers and run off into the woods to set up traps and ambushes.

Grussmuck - Spirit of Mud.
STR 8, DEX 15, WIL 4, 14hp. Wooden Spike (d6).
= On death, or when bored and done with this life, explode in a cloud of mud that can only be washed out by the deepest water.
+ Offer a trade of Mudapples (incredibly tasty potatoes drawn from the mud-realm) for the promise they'll help him cover something clean and beautiful in mud.
- Pick the most beautiful, cleanest person or thing in the group, and do anything to cover it in mud.

Milkynewt - Subservient Little Lizard.
STR 3, DEX 15, WIL 2, Tongue (d6 damage to bugs only).
= Immediately bow to you in an offer to serve, welcoming any violence you dish out onto it.
+ Serve you honestly and loyally, no matter how dangerous or demeaning the work.
- Betray you at the first opportunity for a new master.

Friday 4 March 2016

You Meet in an Augmentarium

You Meet in a Tavern isn't lame because it's overplayed. It's a crappy place to throw the group into together. It does nothing to spur the group onto adventure, there's lots of shiny distractions that might split the party, and it's the place you spend treasure, rather than seek it. 

I tend to just throw groups straight into the dungeon entrance.

But if you want to start somewhere quieter in Bastion, where you can get straight to meeting people and finding hooks, then roll d20 for the location and what's happening.

1-3: The Augmentarium
A maze of wrought-iron hedges, occasionally opening up to caged enclosures for grossly modified creatures. The gift shop has a wide variety of literature and stationery. 
1: The eight Piston Monkeys (8hp, Metal Bits (Armour 1), d8 Pneumatic Bite) have gotten out yet again, on the day the local orphanage are visiting. It's a bloody mess. 
2: Some Nature-Purists (3hp, d6 pistol, bush-clothes) have smuggled guns into the Augmentarium and are slaughtering the animals in their cages to put them out of their misery. 
3: The site is closed off to the general public, but you've gotten in to view the switching-on of the Meat-Titan (13hp, Meaty Hide (Armour 2), d8 stampede), a sort of elephant flesh-golem. Of course it goes on a rampage once its switched on, and security is very loose. 

4-6: A Smash-a-Richy Rally
Occasionally this pressure-group gather a mob to go rampaging into wealthy living areas. Lots of firebombs, sledgehammers, and bad poetry. 
4: This mob have gotten very literal, and are amassing people called Richard, or anything similar, to be slaughtered in the middle of a square. 
5: The mob has split into two halves, each claiming the other half are secret Richies. 
6: The mob has broken into a wealthy retirement home, and the residents are holding them off with some degree of success, like a geriatric Home Alone. 

7-9: A Sanctioned Looting
Sometimes it's easier to fill out the paperwork, claim your rebate from the council, and let the desperate descend on your bankrupted business or derelict home. Here it's an old museum full of antiquities that nobody cares about. 
7: One group of looters are badly disguised as ghosts in an attempt to scare the other looters away and clean up for themselves. 
8: Some joker started a fire, and it's spreading quickly. 
9: The previous owner isn't quite ready to let go, and has hired a mercenary brigade to shoot anyone exiting the property with items that he still wants for himself. 

10-12: A Fire-Giant Display
You get a big idiot (preferably from the Deep Country) and wrap him up in a mostly fireproof suit. Pop him up on stilts, cover him in straw and fireworks, and invite a load of viewers with torches. The Giant survives practically every time so it's not as inhumane as it sounds. Normally in a big open field, but here it's the courtyard of a university. 
10: The fire giant is out of control, and got into the university library!
11: The giant got wet in the rain and won't light. There's a Gilder reward for the first person to get him alight. 
12: The twist this time is that two fire giants will fight. However, they've teamed up to take on the fleeing crowds!

13-15: The Queuing Office
People spend so much time in here that they have little snack and drinks carts selling at inflated prices. This one has turned into a de-facto pub because of its fantastic selection of white spirits.  
13: The drinks cart has run out of Pear Liqueur, the secret ingredient to the house cocktail! There'll be riots unless somebody can get some more. 
14: The office is under new management, so no more drinks! Only bread and water. There's an ill feeling all round. 
15: The fish-balls used some fancy coloured thing the monger was selling off cheap, and now everybody is throwing up everywhere. 

16-18: The News Yard
Runners gather here and await news bulletins, brought in by prestigious gold-capped runners, before reporting back to their bosses. As hip-flasks get passed around it turns into a bit of a piss up, and the news becomes less reliable. 
16: The runners are on strike! Mass panic as nobody knows the latest news. 
17: A hoax is spreading that weirdos from the underground are launching a full-scale assault on the city!
18: A legitimate news story is spreading that weirdos from the underground are launching a full-scale assault on the city!

19-20: An Exhumauction
Some graveyards work on a contract that states once everyone who remembers you is dead, they can dig you up to make room for fresh bodies. Here sealed coffins of various ages are auctioned off to legitimized grave robbers. Sometimes the coffins have a priceless heirloom, but usually just bones. 
19: Two buyers tied for an ornately decorated casket, so are tearing into it and splitting the treasures within. They both harbor deep jealousy at the other for having to split, so would do anything to scam them out of their share. 
20: It's a mass-coffin auction! Easily over a hundred cult members buried together in this thing. Who knows what's inside? Nobody wants to bid out of superstition.