Friday 24 April 2020

Collaborative Bastionland

Getting a group in the same room isn't as easy as it used to be.

There's nothing stopping you playing Electric Bastionland one-on-one, but how about an alternative for if you want to play with two people sat on the same side of the table?

Traditional one-on-one gaming. 

Ohh yeah, now we're talking. Let's do this!

Collaborative Bastionland

This game uses the same rules as Electric Bastionland with the following additions.

The Companion

Both players create their own character as normal. A third character is created: the Companion. They are part of the group, but are controlled by whichever player currently holds the Baton.

The Baton

Pick an object that is otherwise useless at the table to be the Baton, ideally some sort of stick. If you have a real Conductor's Baton then you're playing at maximum effectiveness.

Whichever player has the Baton acts as the Conductor. They describe the world, answer questions, call for rolls, and act on behalf of any non-player characters, including the Companion.

The Baton is passed between the players at intervals that feel right. As a rough guide pass the Baton when you think "hm, should I pass the Baton?" and in general don't refuse the Baton being passed to you.

You can still have your character act while you hold the Baton, but if you're taking the lead on an action then it's a good idea to pass the Baton.

I won't make hard rules for this, just do what feels right and discuss it between yourselves if it feels wrong.


In addition to normal character creation, each player has two Agendas. It's important that these are secret, and that both players have different Agendas, so write them out on cards or scraps of paper before randomly assigning two to each player.

  1. Laugh at Danger.
  2. Get Answers.
  3. Build a Reputation. 
  4. Indulge your Senses. 
  5. Change the World.
  6. Establish Order.

The player keeps one Agenda next to their character and places the other next to the Companion's sheet. The player will be aiming to fulfil these Agendas for their character or the Companion respectively.

Remember these must both be kept secret and players should resist asking the other player about their Agenda or talking about their own. If you just tell each other then you're robbing yourselves of the fun.

At the end of the session each player reveals their agendas. Argue over who achieved theirs the best, that player gets MVP. If it feels like a tie then surely you can agree that one of the Companion's Agendas was more fully achieved, right? Think of that like the tie breaker. That player gets MVP. 

So yeah, you can kinda win at this. It's cooperative, but there's a silly little competition happening alongside the game to give things a little edge.

Laying the Foundations

Go to the Mapping Bastion (p252) section of the book (or Deep Country or the Underground if you prefer) and work through the process together to create a Borough on a big sheet of paper. Pass the Baton between each of the steps.

Keep it broad here, just names and loose ideas to be fleshed out once you start proper play. Make good use of the Spark Tables and don't go above two words for any single element of the world.

Go to "Random Game Inspiration" (p241) and roll on the Spark Tables. Use this as inspiration for a piece of Treasure and its current location/holder and the time-pressure that applies.

Put the Treasure at one end of the map and yourselves at the furthest possible point.

Describing the World

The world is discovered as the player with the Baton answers questions or makes new declarations. Make good use of the content in the "Understanding Bastion" and "Conducting Bastion" sections, especially the Spark Tables and Touchstones.

Add details to your map as they are discovered.

Combat and Danger

This should all work fine as normal. Remember the principles in the Conducting the Game section (p242). Be honest, fair, and confident. If your character is the only one in mortal danger then it's a good idea to pass the Baton.

So this replaces the Conductor right? Why not use this all the time?

The type of game this method produces is definitely going to be different than a traditional game with a full table and single Conductor. The challenge element is probably going to feel lower, as you don't have a fully neutral arbiter, or even a neutral uncaring world to go up against. It's pushing up more against those collaborative worldbuilding games, and I think it's only going to work if you play with somebody you trust.

Think of it as a different way to explore the same Bastionland.


  1. I would recommend adding an oracle! Having a truly neutral (i.e. random) arbiter when you'd rather not make the call yourself makes me a lot more confident in the decisions I *do* end up making

    1. I can recommend The Oracle by Ray Otus. Very simple and it's free on

  2. This is great Chris. Hopefully I can my wife playing.