Thursday 20 May 2021

Bastionland Editorial #11 - Essence

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Two of the Methods of the Bastionland Manifesto are Distillation and Filtration.

Clearly these are in reference to spirit production, and the examples given in that post suggest a focus on mechanics, but I've found myself using the same methods for setting design.
Bastionland saw the sister states of Rosevine and Starfall crushed to dust, leaving Bastion as THE City.
And of course we have THE Underground. An infinity-below made up of the very Essence of Underground-ness.
Of course the Planescape inspiration is there, and as I work away on Intergalactic Bastionland I find myself tapping into this idea of essences even more. I've always said that the Living Stars aren't really Space as we know it. Of course there are stars, and ships that fly between them, but it's really a place of ideas. A galaxy of Essences. The Infinity-Above.
Places that start with The. Places vast, but distilled. A single word spun out into infinity.
We've seen it in the Signs, so that philosophy could easily carry over to the fundamental cosmology of the Living Stars.
Can there be a river in the Living Stars? Not a river, but The River and everything that concept represents. A one-way route, from a humble source to a sprawling delta. Water babbling over rocks, sometimes tiny, sometimes the size of mountains. A temperamental force of nature that bursts its banks to flood those that cling to it for life. 
Wanderhome touches on this, where an Island might be a literal island, or any "place kept secret and separate", and I'm eager to explore further.
Not even places, really, but forces that weave between the stars. Each a single tone on the cosmic palette that can be mixed, splashed, or spread. Illuminated by the light or twisted in the darkness.
Through The Forest. Weathering The Storm. Into The Void.
Bye for now,

1 comment:

  1. This is fantastic. I tinkered with this approach before (including an infinite river) but I wasn't sure it would make sense until I read Electric Bastionland, which demonstrates how well it works. Here's what I like about essential places as you've described them:

    • They're easier for everyone at the table to remember. Instead of having to remember /which/ river you are talking about, you can just describe a specific region with something meaningful or distinct about it, e.g.: "that part of The River where there are a bunch of rafts lashed together where people sell nets and strange tea."
    • They allow for more variety in the random tables and more efficient descriptions. Anything can happen on The River, and everybody already knows what The River is.
    • They have a mythical feel and create a sense of continuity/interconnection. Folks out in Deep Country can talk to a Bastionaire about the same river, although their experiences with it vary wildly. The Thames and the Mississippi River are very distinct, but they share the same essence and are therefore connected.