Wednesday 1 April 2020

The Bastionland Manifesto


Break the barriers between your imagination and your game.

When you learn about a new game your mind races with what could be possible. The reality is often a compromise. I want to remove everything that stands in the way between how you imagine a game could be and how it plays at the table.


Design for Tables
The games are meant to be played, not read like a novel. Books should be useful for having on the table during your game.

Break Barriers
The games ask for as little as possible from the players. Learning is easy, you don’t have to wait for the good stuff, and everybody is welcome.

See Rules as False Idols
Use dice mechanics and technical terminology as little as possible. Numbers are not the answer, and wherever possible plain speech is preferred.


  • Replace multiple rolls with one roll
  • Replace boring rolls with interesting decisions
  • Replace modifiers with dice variation
  • Replace mechanical effects with diegetic effects
  • Replace rules requiring referencing with principles to internalise
  • Somebody reading the book should be hit with flavour even if they aren't going to play
  • Flavour should be infused directly into the rules wherever possible
  • Anything that could be forgettable can be infused with extra flavour
  • If everything you need to use at once doesn't fit on a two-page spread then it's too complicated.
  • If a concept can't be expressed as a short set of bullet points then it's too unfocused.
  • If an idea would exclude people from the game then it can be replaced with something that doesn't.

What is this For?

This is meant to keep me on track. It is not a universal treatise on game design. The games I write aren't meant to replace D&D, Call of Cthulhu, or Traveller. They occupy a specific place on the spectrum of game design, and this manifesto is written to keep my focus there and let you know what to expect from me. 


  1. Asking genuinely, not criticizing, how do you balance designing for the table and making it fit on a two page spread with infusing flavor?

    1. I find they sort of compliment each other. I only try to put down flavour that the GM might be able to grab at the table in a moment of need. If the players take an unexpected turn you often don't have time to read a full paragraph, but you can probably glance over three bullet-points and run with it.

      That's not to say fitting everything on a spread is easy.

  2. Very inspiring. Even your manifesto is short and to the point.

  3. Is it too late to change the name to flavourtowne?

    1. Electric Flavaville can be the deluxe release in five years' time.