Saturday 31 December 2016

The State of Bastionland

Bastionland isn't really a state. It's a way of thinking that generally shares a few ideas:

  1. Bastion is important enough that even those outside it must surely accept that they live in Bastionland.
  2. Anyone that doesn't think Bastion is important clearly isn't intelligent enough to form their own state, so they're included too.
  3. The theory is that all Far Lands have a Bastion of their own, so of course they're included, even if they're Enemies of Bastionland. 

Nobody owns the Bastionland idea, the Mouse Queen is just one person that supposedly threw the word around, and I don't think she's even real.

Don't even start a discussion about flags and constitutions.

But this is a double-meaning post. So I also wanted to give an update on the state of the Into the Odd Toolkit that shares the codename of Bastionland.

It's a worldbook where all fluff is tied to a part of the actual game. Baked-in setting description taken to the next level.

Tentatively, the table of contents will look like this.

Creating your Character
Playing the Game
100 Character Backgrounds
For Referees
Planning the Places
Planning the Danger
Planning the People
Running the Game
Running Bastion
Running the Underground
Running Deep Country
Running the Far Lands

Each of those sections (excluding the character backgrounds) will fit on a 2 page spread, so you open the book to that part and have everything you need.

The Running the Game sections are intended to work like a sort of GM Screen for that specific place, giving you everything you need on hand to make that part of the world feel right. And as Into the Odd isn't big on reference charts and formulas, that content is going to be distilled Referee direction on running that place in the most evocative and effective way.

Playing the Game is almost entirely unchanged from the core game, besides cleaning things up and maybe one rule change regarding how Rests work. This isn't a new edition of the rules.

Meanwhile, the new character Backgrounds replace Starter Packages, but function very similarly.

You compare your Highest and Lowest Ability Scores on a chart to find your starter Package number between 1 and 100. You go to that page to get something like this.

Or maybe this.

More meat than the old starter packages, but still fits nicely onto an index card when you pull out your results.

Not pictured is a small section at the bottom of each Background that also gives you a Contact in the world and a couple of other pieces of information that may or may not make the final cut of the book.

These character backgrounds are the window into the world. There are no timelines or maps of Bastion. They're for players, but the Referee can flick open to any one of them and pull out chunks of the world. If 100 Backgrounds seems excessive, that's the reason.

Dare to dream of Bastionland in 2017.

Friday 18 November 2016


I love interesting mechanics, but Into the Odd has like three mechanics total.

And none of them are very interesting.

But that ultra-light core is the game. Rather than limiting the mechanics you can use, the low number of moving parts frees you up to add in whatever you want.

Original creations, or things stolen from other games and blogs, can just be mixed in without messing up the core all that much.

So if a mechanic is interesting or fun, but too specific, fiddly, or hard to remember to become a full-on house rule, then bolt it onto an Oddity and call it a day. And remember, Oddities don't have to be just objects.

If, like me, you like your mechanics to have some sort of concrete attachment to the game world, this also helps with that drive.

So let's break the game.

STR 10, DEX 15, WIL 16, 10hp, Immaterial.
- Claim to be from Bastion's Tomorrow.
- Have a single Hack, and offer a single use to anyone they think might further their agenda.
- Know all about you.

Roll d6 to find this Witch's Agenda

  1. Destroy Bastion so that a new Bastion can arise
  2. Protect Bastion from other interlopers
  3. Ensure nobody holds back technological advancement
  4. Ensure mankind does not advance technologically
  5. See you rise to power
  6. See you powerless

Roll d6 to find this Witch's Hack. Each has one use, and when you use it, any material part of it vanishes. A Witch can give out as many as she likes.

  1. The Mercury Bullet: Immediately and flawlessly kills one being you fire it at, but their closest loved one gets the bullet next. 
  2. The Black Card: Throw down the card and the last significant event did not happen, and all consequences are undone. 
  3. The Guardian Mite: Pixie-like thing that floats behind you and annoys people, but you can never die unless you send it away. 
  4. The Curse Drive: Make up a curse, and the a way to remove it (must be possible, even if near impossible). It happens to your target. 
  5. The Bond Token: Give to a willing, sapient being. The player now has total control over them as if they were their own character. 
  6. The Oracle Chip: Insert into the mouth of a recently dead being to inherit all of their knowledge and memories.

Monday 14 November 2016

Messy Characters

I run mostly one-shots and short-form campaigns, so it's no surprise that I like my character growth quick and messy. 

Slowly increasing scores and damage output over months of play just doesn't mesh with how I use the game, so that's how you end up with my current home-variant of Into the Odd: Quick and Messy. 

Three Established PCs

The messiness starts from the very birth of a character, with the goal of making characters equally interesting, if not equally powerful. 

I'll let you in on how I'm currently generating new characters. 

So as you know, you roll 3d6 each for STR, DEX, WIL, and d6 for HP. You can swap two scores if you want, but I dare you not to. 

You also get d6x10p in pocket-change. Forget shopping; Pennies are lunch-money at best, but at least you'll be able to afford a drink. 

-           Match your Highest Ability Score against your HP to get your first Starter Pack.
-           Match your Lowest Ability Score against your starting money for your second. 
-           Characters that receive an Oddity roll d100 here
-           A weapon states its damage, and perhaps a detail. For unusual weapons, the Referee clarifies questions about its use and limitations. Weapons causing d6 damage use one hand, and d8 two hands. 
-           If a player rolls the same starter pack as another, they take the next pack instead (right, then next row).

Highest Ability and Hitpoints

9 or less
Spike-Gun (d8)
Musket (d8)
Pump-Gun (d8)
Alleygun (d8)
Funnelgun (d8)
Hatchet (d6)
Rifle (d8)
Carbine (d8)
Claymore (d8)
Bladdergun (d8)
Pistol brace (d8)
Halberd (d8)
Grappling Hook
Shotgun (d8)
Club (d6)
Speargun (d8)
Long-Pistol (d6)
Maul (d8)
Longaxe (d8)
Hammer (d8)
Pocketknife (d6)
Mace (d6)
Flamethrower (d8 cone), Rum
Truncheon (d6)
Duckpistol (d6)
Handcannon (d6), Oddity
Sports Bat (d6)
Pole-Club (d8)
Harpoon (d6)
Cleaver (d6)
Bonesaw (d6)
Pole-Axe (d8)
Pick-Axe (d8)
Chain (d6)
Nail-Plank (d6)
Barbed Wire
Crossbow (d8)
Bolt Cutters
Knife (d6)
Mallet (d6)
Scalpel (d6)
Shovel (d8)
Rapier (d6)
Smoke Bomb
Pitchfork (d8)
Holy Book
Polehook (d6)
Beast Repellent
Cane (d6)
Bow (d6)
Crowbar (d6)
Machete (d6)
Fake Pistol
Cutlass (d6)
Sabre (d6)
Sledgehammer (d8), Drill
Staff (d8)
Whip (d6)
Pistol (d6)
Bug Book
Dirk (d6)
Garotte (d6)
Sap (d6)
Fork (d6)
Gum Collection
Spear (d6)
Axe (d6)
Poker (d6)
Wig Collection
Tiny Pistol (d6)
Exquisite Pie

Lowest Ability and Pennies

Minor Fame,
Fake Jewellery
Pet Eagle
Frilly Shirt
Perfect Memory
Fur Cloak
Pet Hound
Fine Jacket
Pet Parrot
Long Scarf
Gifted Singer,
Puffy Hat
Pet Mutt with Mind Link
Pet Canary
Always Dirty
Bodyguard (5hp, d8 Halberd)
Pet Pigeon
Heavy Boots
Society Connections
Idiot Twin (d6 club), Cape
Pet Kestrel
Scruffy Hair
Book Smart
Floppy Cap
Language Skills
Rat Hat
Especially Small
Rope Belt
Peg Leg
Animal Expert
Gifted Engineer
Fox Hat
Wooden Body
Mock Life
Glorious Hair,
Missing Finger
Pet Cat
Fine Gloves
Bloody Clothes
Cold Blooded,
Wide Hat
Pet Donkey
Perfect Memory
Pet Ferret
Naval Tattoo
Iron Hand
Old Uniform
Magic Trick
Fancy Shirt
Slave Brand,
Cool Pipe
Acute Scent,
Feather Hat
Pet Goat
Crazy Tattoos
Appraisal Skills,
Old Suit
Political Connections
Stolen Gear
Raised in Wilderness
Toothless, Shoeless
Never Sleep, Mad Stare
Loved by Beasts
Puffy Shirt
Hook Hand
Burnt Clothes
Formal Wear,
Gifted Dancer
Gifted Cook
Gaudy Clothes
2g Bounty
Visibly Diseased (benign)
Cult Believer
Pet Rat
Bad Reputation
Studded Jacket
Loud Whistle
Barely Literate,
Filthy Clothes
Needs Glasses
Hated by Beasts 
Unusually Large
Thick Accent
12 or more
1g Debt
Bloody Eye
Cannot Swim,
Wonky Face
Eats Raw Meat Only
Lice Infested
Patchy Hair
No Nose
Small Clothes
Alcohol Allergy
Burnt Face

Characters Growth happens in a number of ways, most notably through a refinement of my previous Scars system


When you are taken to exactly 0hp, you get a Scar.
-           Your first Scar adds d6hp to your Maximum.
-           Scars only occur in deadly situations, not training.
-           When Non-humans take a Scar, the Referee may forgo the table for their own creativity.
-           Specialists overcome negative effects for a price, but a mark always remains.  

Roll d6 plus the damage caused by the attack.
2: Busted Foot - Reduced to a limp until fixed.
3: Lasting Pain - A nasty scar that causes intense pain if pressed on.
4: Busted Lung - Your breathing is loud and you cough up blood often. It’s gross.
5: Smashed Jaw - You lose a lot of teeth and get a speech impediment.
6: Bloody Mess - It needs lots of Stitches, and you don’t benefit from Resting until it’s done by a Specialist.
7: Shaken Nerves - You stammer, twitch, or shake, unless you use something to calm your nerves.
8: Disfigurement - The injury leaves your face totally disfigured.
9: Mind Splinter - A specific element of this injury is stuck in your psyche. Lose d6 WIL each time you're forced to confront it.
10: Gouged Eye - A random eye is gouged out.
11: Obsession - Do not benefit from rests until you achieve revenge.
12: Hewn Limb - One of your limbs (1: right arm, 2: left arm, 3: right leg, 4: left leg) is torn off or in need of amputation.
13: Terrible Fracture - A random limb (1: right arm, 2: left arm, 3: right leg, 4: left leg) is broken in the worst way. It can be set by a specialist, but until then you cannot use it, or benefit from Rests.
14: Lost Sense - One of your senses is lost (1: Sight, 2: Hearing, 3: Scent, 4: Taste).
15: Heart Damage - This vital organ is in critical state. If you suffer this Scar again, you die.
16: Shadow of Death – You feel a cold hand on your shoulder and have nightmares. Any time you sleep, pass a WIL Save or scream through the night.
17: Fractured Skull - You drool and slur. If you suffer this Affliction a second time your skull is utterly split open and you die.
18+: Doomed to Die - You shouldn't have survived that. You have nightmares of your own death. If you fail your next Save against Critical Damage you die horribly. If you pass, remove this effect.


When you achieve all the following criteria, you reach Prestige Status and add d6hp to your Maximum.
-           Bravery: You have at least one Scar.
-           Legacy: You have an apprentice and heir.
-           Prominence: You have sold at least one treasure worth 10g or more.
-           Eminence: You have been awarded a medal, title, or another honour.

Then, roll d12 for your Vice. When you indulge your Vice, re-roll your maximum HP on 3d6, keeping it if the result is higher.

Roll d12
1: Grandiosity – Spend at least 10g on something frivolous. 
2: Greed Take something worth 10g from its rightful owner.
3: Bloodlust – Kill ten sapient beings in one day.
4: Wanderlust – Visit a Far Land you have not visited before.
5: Vanity – Earn a medal or other honour from a figure of genuine respect.
6: Self-Preservation – Return from an expedition without having taken any Ability Score Damage.
7: Zeal – Find a cult that you like and convert a new member.
8: Nurturing – See your heir or apprentice reach Prestige Status.
9: Wrath – Utterly break somebody that has wronged you.
10: Hatred – Kill a specific rival or legendary creature.
11: Pride – Have somebody swear their life to you.
12: Malice – Aid in the collapse of an organisation or group that you dislike.


Scars and Vices are just one example of Foreground Growth, alongside the obvious changes that come with increased wealth. 

The inevitable consequences of boat ownership.

Now I try to give significant NPCs and Monsters a way to permanently alter the characters through interaction with them. Something direct, not giving the gift of EXP to be spent abstractly. 

Let's take three of the example monsters in the core book, which I'll give a quick update to my current methods. I've bolded the examples of Foreground Growth opportunities. 

Dust Hag
STR 8, DEX 13, WIL 11, 7hp. Claws (d6), Dust Staff (Spray dust, DEX Save or Blinded until the Hag is dead or lifts the curse). 
- Turn to dust at will, ignoring physical attacks (cannot do this if wet). 
- Direct one of her eyes to fly independently, but she can still see through it. If you help her, she will offer to pull one of your eyes out to give you the same gift. 
- Lives to manipulate others, and has no agenda besides stirring up trouble and gaining influence. 

Beckoning Shadow
STR 10, DEX 17, WIL 13, 6hp. Shadow Form (Immune to any attacks, but bright light repels it, and being trapped in light destroys it). 
- Moves across walls as a shadow, mimicking with mocking exaggeration. 
- Lures the unwary to touch hands, then grabs for d6 WIL loss each turn until they break free. At WIL 0 they are absorbed into the shadow. 
- If someone breaks free from the shadow, it flees, but the victim's shadow becomes a pit to nothingness until the shadow is destroyed. 

Strange Hunter
STR 13, DEX 13, WIL 12, 14hp, Glossy Body (Armour 1), Beam-Gun (d8, Disintegrates on Critical Damage), Alien-Blade (d8, one-handed). 
- Speaks an unfathomable language and phases from this place to his Far Land at will. 
- Looks at you with disgust but only wants to find big-prey to hunt. 
- Keeps a watch on you, and if it witnesses you kill some big-prey it grants you the Cosmic Mark on your forehead (if you allow it). Intelligent beings from other Far Lands will respect and fear this.