Wednesday 28 December 2022

2023 Plans

As I threatened last week, it's time to look ahead to 2023 and talk about some plans. Let's go one project at a time.

The Doomed

This one isn't far off! Last I heard we're probably looking at April, and as previously mentioned it'll be published by Osprey and has some very exciting artwork and miniature photography attached. Hoping more of those will be shared soon.

Mythic Bastionland

This is the big one for next year. Without making any promises I'd love to be doing my 2023 review and see this as a mostly finished thing. I'm being coy, but I'm quietly hopeful and at the very least I'm very excited to keep working on this next year. 

Blog & Newsletter

It's been an interesting one for the blog this year. Views are at al all-time high, but after just a few months the newsletter has already overtaken it in terms of people reading it. I definitely want to keep this site going but the newsletter is certainly going to sit alongside that. 

Only managed one season of the podcast this year, but I've got a few ideas brewing for a series next year. For video stuff I think that's still going to be a side-project to the blog rather than a main focus. I enjoy both of these, but I definitely want to avoid the content churn of making either one just for the sake of it, so they'll remain slightly infrequent but hopefully enjoyable when they do drop. 

Project 10

I technically did some work on this in 2022! The biggest obstacle is I've been distracted painting other things, so my 10mm stuff is languishing in grey. I still see this as just a fun side project rather than anything that would ever be properly published, but I'd like to try and get to a point where I can close this off and call it done.  

MAC Attack

Much like Project 10, this is something I've really enjoyed working on but not sure how much appeal it has beyond myself! I've got a 6mm miniature project lined up for January so maybe doing that will give me more options to play with for this system. I think it's pretty fun as it is, but definitely something I'll revisit next year. 

Into the Odd/Electric Bastionland

These things are done! While I'd never want to set this in stone, I've got no plans to do straight-up supplements for either of these right now. I'd rather do self-contained games that can compliment each other, much like the relationship between these two games. Whatever happens with Mythic Bastionland I'd like it to fit into this family so that all three books have something to contribute to the others.


Annoyingly, I feel like I could probably stick a fork in this game if I could just get a few more playtests in and finish writing up the last few spreads I want in there, but it's always sat just behind some other project right now. It's not dead, but I'm not anticipating a sudden return to this while I've got so many other things on. 

Ask the Stars

Here's something I'd like to come back too at some point. I still really like the idea of the Sign/Position system as a sort of oracle for improvisation, so maybe that's something that will make its way into another project, or perhaps I'll get back onto these little booklets. 

Thanks for reading this year, and I hope you've found something I've written useful or fun! I'll do the customary gesture toward my Patreon link below and say that's a wrap for 2022.


Art by Midjourney

This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 21 December 2022

The Year in Brief

I'm not too humble for an end of year roundup, so let's do it. 

Let the old year burn that the new might thrive.

JANUARY saw me dipping into Classic Traveller for the first time and becoming especially enamoured with the 2400 games. This marriage is probably responsible for my Ask the Stars project. Despite sitting in touched for nearly a year I'm hoping to come back to this idea one day. 

FEBRUARY might have seen the post that really got the ball rolling on Mythic Bastionland, talking about how "The Wyvern" is can be more interesting than "A Wyvern".

MARCH took things further and now we actually see The Wyvern in full. Behind the scenes I was working on the Mythic (née Primeval) Bastionland document and trying to get it into a playable state. Lots of pieces still weren't in place, though. 

APRIL had me thinking about the complexities of having an emergent world that still feels coherent, fair, and real. After reading about the Blorb Principles I wrote about the concept of Patching.

MAY saw me digging into Journeys as a focus of Mythic Bastionland, including a stripped down mapping system that would ultimately be replaced with a more traditional hex map system. 

JUNE was tidying up the Mythic Bastionland draft so that I could release it as a playtest. This included generating a lot of AI art to use as placeholders for this version. Looking back at this post is interesting, if only to see how far Midjourney has come in the past six months. Interested/Horrified to see where it's at this time next year. 

JULY expanded on my earlier deliberations around running a somewhat-liquid setting, rather than something with a strong canon. I called it Liquid Flesh on an Iron Skeleton and wrote about some of the difficulties and opportunities.

AUGUST was broken up by a trip away, but I did some more thinking about the place of System in RPGs, landing on a desire for surprising elements that exist outside of the players and GM. 

SEPTEMBER was the first of several months spent taking a break from Mythic Bastionland. Those past few months were very intense development, so it was nice to let it mull for a while. Of course, I couldn't stop talking about hexes entirely, so wrote my Universal Hex Profile post.

OCTOBER was when Battletech got me. It hooked me very strongly, and I've only recently escaped. I guess we got MAC ATTACK out of it though, and here's where I first talked about it.

NOVEMBER had my post about Breaking Rules, where I talk through the process of designing factions for MAC ATTACK and how this might apply to RPGs. 

DECEMBER is here and next week's post will likely be the last of the year, as I'm taking a semi-break over Christmas. Expect some speculation on what to look forward to next year.

None of 2022 may remain.


Art by Midjourney

This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 14 December 2022

100 ways to write 100 things

There's a strong appeal to writing 100 of something, and I say this as somebody that doesn't really like the way it feels to roll d100.

Electric Bastionland required me to write 100 Failed Careers (plus a few extra). Now each career had around 12 "things" your character might get, plus a debtholder and some sample names, so it's really much more than 100 things. 

Some tips.

  1. Ask yourself why this should be a list of 100 things. Some valid reasons are:
  2. It's a table you'll be rolling on frequently and want to have lots of different results.
  3. It's a list of things you want a reader to be able to browse through and get a sense of the variety that exists within the category.
  4. Mine your previous writing for content. A lot of d100 Oddities made it into the EB Failed Careers.
  5. Collaborate, like I did with Arnold on d100 Horses.
  6. Lay out all your numbers from 1 to 100 first, putting a little x in there to taunt you, gradually extinguishing their laughter with each new entry.
  7. x
  8. Make sure you go back and check you've actually done 100 and not left an x in there. 
  9. Put an interesting name into each slot, then later go back through and work out what each entry actually is. This is how a lot of d100 Chess Scenarios was populated.
  10. Don't despair when you realise you're only at number 10. This always takes a while. 
  11. Break things down into categories, so maybe it's more like 10 different categories each with 10 items in there. Shuffle them up at the end and nobody will know.
  12. Find a list of mundane things that you can turn into interesting things. I browsed a lot of boring hardware and tool websites to create specialist gear for the Failed Careers. 
  13. Invert something. I needed 100 emotions recently, and once I had 50 I went through and added the opposite of each, making sure I didn't have any duplicates.
  14. The tip above works for less obvious things too. Like what's the opposite of a Chimera? The opposite of a gold coin?
  15. I cannot write 100 things in a single sitting, so go and take a break or do something else. 
  16. Stay authentic. This has two parts:
  17. If you think something is exciting then run with it.
  18. Don't worry too much about what other people will think. 
  19. Sometimes you can break something into two or more parts, like I did just then. 
  20. Obviously don't steal text from other writers, but absolutely dig through their lists for inspiration.  
  21. Filler items can work for certain lists, like it doesn't matter if one of those horses is just a horse, as you're generally rolling a few at once and it's a funny contrast against the weird stuff.
  22. Give yourself an arbitrary restriction for some or all of the entries, like maybe they all have to be two-word entries. 
  23. Ask Somebody
  24. Read Blogs
  25. Look Outside
  26. Know when an arbitrary restriction is useful and when it's hindering more than helping.
  27. Base each entry on a tarot card, or other large collection of things. 
  28. Put the letters of the alphabet in your entries, then go back and write something using those as the first letter. 
  29. Ask Somebody
  30. Be aware that you will write duplicates that just straight up need changing. 
  31. Consider the wider range of alternatives. d66 and d100 are common, but what if you want something with more than 36 but fewer than 100 results? I'm playing with something where you roll a d6 and a d12 to get 72 potential results. 
  32. Don't worry if some entries are kind of similar. Things can be alike but still have that one unique thing that makes them worthwhile. 
  33. Embrace patterns in your work. Notice your animal list is like 50% reptiles? It could be made into a reptile table, but also this mix makes the list unique to you. 
  34. Formulate a realistic schedule, like you're going to write 20 entries each weekday and have 100 by Friday. 
  35. Go back through your list and give it a quick second pass even if it's just for a blogpost or something, polishing up here and tightening there. 
  36. Hold the list somewhere you can come back to it. Some of it might be useful for a future project. 
  37. If something isn't really working for you then try something else. 
  38. Delete entries that just aren't good anymore. 
  40. Ask an AI, then steal and rewrite their work
  41. Reach the point of desperation where you start looking around your desk and adding things like "stapler" to the list. We can always go back and fix them later. 
  42. Stapler.
  43. Lamp.
  44. Go and make yourself bored. Actually bored. Don't get your phone out when you're queueing at the post office. When my brain gets bored it starts making stuff up. 
  45. Lean into your voice. It should really start to shine through after a few dozen entries. 
  46. If you look back over the entries and realise the list has morphed into something unexpected then don't be afraid to go back and change the title. 
  47. Don't think about whether anybody will read this far. You're writing this for you, not anybody else. 
  48. Don't get complacent near the end. If you feel you aren't writing well then come back and make sure you finish on a high.
  49. But also remember that you'll be coming back to review all of these, so don't get too hung up on any one entry. 
  50. Or, if you get halfway through and realise you're genuinely out of ideas then be kind to yourself and accept that sometimes d50 is enough, like d50 birds, or even d66 or d20.


Art by Midjourney

This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 7 December 2022

Action-Intent Duality

In Mythic Bastionland I refer to a six step process for adjudicating player action.

  1. INTENT - What are you trying to do?
  2. LEVERAGE - What makes it possible?
  3. COST - Would it use a resource, grant a Burden, or have a negative side-effect?
  4. STAKES - What's at risk? No risk, no roll.
  5. ROLL - Make a Save or a Luck Roll.
  6. IMPACT - Show the consequences, honour the Stakes, and move forward.

I used something similar in Ask the Stars.

And it's all there because I've found myself torn between two subtly different questions as my go-to catchphrase when running a game.

"What are you doing?"
"What are you trying to do?"

When really it's useful to understand both.

What are you doing?

The one you ask when the players are dawdling around in indecision. A prompt to spur them to make a decision and take action.

But also it begs more detail. The classic example is:

Player: I check the door for traps

GM: Ah, but what exactly are you doing?

I've talked before about how this very question is the secret sauce of RPGs, and I stand by that, but it's easy to see how some players might see an exchange like this and groan.

The trap example is perhaps a bit disingenuous for me to use, as I've made my stance on traps pretty clear, so this situation just wouldn't arise at my table. However, I use it here to show how in some games the need to describe exactly what you're doing can feel like a bit of a chore. Here the answer is obvious. The player describes how they very carefully look at the hinges, handle, under and over the door being very careful not to touch it. It's sort of a non-decision at that point, and the player is just hoping they haven't misspoken. This can have a fun tension in the right situation, but I wouldn't particularly seek it out.

So here I must be advocating for a different approach, right?

What are you trying to do?

You might have had conversations like this:

Player: I have that steel wire, right? So I want to tie it into a loop. 

GM: Sure.

Player: Is the floor slippery at all? 

GM: Not especially.

Player: How about the light in here, what's it like?

GM: Just your torchlight.

Player: And then is there somewhere I can hook this wire loop onto?

GM: Like on the wall? Ceiling?

Player: High on the wall, but not so high that I wouldn't be able to get leverage with...


 Sometimes you just need to cut to the player telling you that they're trying to set up a tripwire.

Yeah, this is the opposite of the previous situation. Sometimes you need more clarity of action, sometimes more clarity of intent. In general it's best if the GM understands both.

So I'm calling this:

Action-Intent Duality

When the players declare an action, make sure you understand their intent.
When they declare an intent, make sure you understand their action.

Now a principle is all well and good, but does my process at the top of this post actually adhere to this?

There's no step for "action", but that's because this whole process is only ever kicked off by a player declaring their action, so any clarification should be covered by the Leverage, Cost, and Stakes discussion. So it might go like this:

Player: I break down the door.
GM: Okay! So I'd say your intent is pretty obvious. Leverage is fine, this door isn't that tough. In terms of Cost I think it would make a lot of noise.
Player: Yeah, good point. How about I try to break off the hinges instead?

So in most cases you don't need to get your players to describe their action in complete detail until those details start to affect the Leverage, Cost, and Stakes steps of the process.

As with so many of these processes, I'd hope that after using this one for a while some of the details start to come naturally and the scaffolding can be lifted away. 


Art by Midjourney

This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 30 November 2022

Imperfect Examples

Some will be pleased to hear that I've been dipping back into Mythic Bastionland. No updates to the doc just yet, as I'm going back in with a more deliberate approach now, getting the core polished up before I start working away on the Knights and Myths.

Top of the to-do list for a while has been writing an Example of Play.

I've been hanging on until I felt the mechanics were more stable, as I didn't want to have to rewrite the thing with every rules change. That's still a concern, but I feel like "demonstration of rules mechanics" is just half of what Examples of Play are for.

They also set the tone of the world, establish the expectations of play, and hopefully demystify the whole process by framing it as a conversation rather than a clockwork masterpiece.

It's easy to laugh or cringe at those old examples of play written like an amateur play script or... worse.

The GM grins and grabs the d12. The players watch it in terror.

GM: Aha! Now the real danger begins.

There's a glimmer in the GM's eye. Everybody applauds. 

Yeah I hate them too BUT I think a little informality goes a long way. Dare I say we should have examples of play where the GM makes mistakes? There are few GM skills more useful than knowing how to recover from a blunder or improvise your way out of a dead end. 

I haven't gone too far into that idea yet, but this is just a first pass. 

Here's what I have so far: 

A group of three are playing. Ash is the Referee and the characters are Margan the Moss Knight and Tanza the Talon Knight.


Ash: You see light flickering from within the cave. It’s maybe 30ft away through the trees. 

Margan: Any signs of life around the cave? 

Ash: It’s pretty dark here other than the light from the cave. I assume you put your torches out before you started sneaking up here?

Margan: Yeah, makes sense.

Ash: Well even under the moonlight you can make out shadows of movement. Looks like someone is moving around inside the cave. You also spot a silhouette standing guard, outside, a solid looking figure.

Tanza: Wait, I have a plan. Are they carrying a weapon? I could send my Raven to steal it if it’s on the ground. She specialises in Stealing, after all.  

Ash: They’re definitely armed, but let’s do a Luck Roll to see if they’re carrying it. We’ll call it straight 50/50.

Rolls a d6, scoring 2. This means fortune does not favour the characters. 

Ash: You can see a mace hung on their belt. Your Raven could still go for it, but would need a Save to avoid the guard’s anger.

Tanza: Let’s do it. FIN Save for the Raven, yeah?

Ash: Go for it.

Tanza rolls a 19, failing the Save.

Ash: Your Raven swoops down on the unsuspecting guard, grasping at his mace with her talons. The guard grabs onto the haft, wrenching it free from her grip and winding up to strike. What’s she doing? 

Tanza: Get her out of there! Actually, she can fly off in the other direction, away from us. Might cause a distraction.

Ash: Let’s see if he falls for it…


Ash: Right, so it’s the dawn of a new day.

Ash points to the pawn on the player’s map showing their location.

Ash: To recap, you’re here. Other than the elevated camping spot you found it’s rather unpleasant bog as far as the eye can see. The air feels damp and mushroomy. 

Both players look at the map and start to point at other hexes. 

Margan: We don’t have a route, so we’ll likely be hiking. We could make it to this Shire hex by nightfall. Get ourselves a proper  meal and actually speak to some locals?

Tanza: Yeah but we know these woods over here are where the Goblin was last seen. Can we see the woods from here?

Ash: Not from your camp, but they’re so far away that you’d only get a distant view anyway. Like you’d see there are woods, but couldn’t spot a person there.

Tanza: Okay let’s hike toward that Shire instead and do some information gathering. As we’re travelling can I search for any other travellers we could speak to? I can see through my Raven’s eyes remember.

Ash: Yeah that’ll help for sure. No real risk here so we’ll just make it a Luck Roll. With your Raven you’ll certainly find somebody, but this is more about how far away they are.

Tanza rolls a d6, scoring 5. 

Ash: Sure, there’s somebody travelling not far from here, let me see who we’ve got.

Ash decides to roll a random Prompt for a Person, scoring 1 and 11. They’ll also use the State prompt from the same page. The result is “Lost Knight” and “Nurturing”. 

Ash: Through your Raven’s eyes you see an armoured figure riding on horseback, a smaller figure on a pony trailing behind them. Looks like a Knight and their squire. You’ve got enough warning to skirt around them, or are you going to move closer?


Ash: The boar is huge, like a hay bale. Its eyes dead and black like a shark. It stands taut, as if it could charge any minute.

Margan: This pig is definitely up for a fight. 

Tanza: Fine!

Margan and Tanza discuss a plan briefly.

Tanza: Okay, can I climb up into a tree? Are there any nearby?

Ash: Sure, we’re in a forest. You scramble up without any trouble. 

Margan: I’ll get under the tree and try to bait the boar into charging me, then Tanza will dive down onto it when it gets close.

Ash: Hm, I think moving to the tree and climbing it is already an action for this turn. If you bait the boar over then it’ll get to charge you before you can respond.

Margan: Fine, let’s go ahead with that. I hoist up my shield. 

Ash: The boar charges at Margan and…

Rolls d10 for damage, scoring 9. This is reduced to 8 because of Margan’s shield. 

Ash: Eight damage! So the boar…

Margan: Woah, hang on. I’ll use the Endure Feat on that, trying to take the brunt of the charge on my shield. 

Ash: Okay, you use Endure, in that case meaning no damage. Take a Wrath though.

Margan: Got it. Our turn? Spring the trap! I attack with my cudgel and…

Tanza: I leap down with my hookhammer, which gets +d6 when leaping down.

Ash: Okay, who’s leading the attack? 

Margan: Me! I want revenge on this pig. 

Tanza gives their 2d6 to Margan, who adds d6 from their own weapon and rolls all three, scoring 2, 2, 6. The highest single die is 6. 

Margan: Six damage!

Ash: And it’s an Onslaught because you rolled the highest number on your die! You’re going to hit this pig, but what else do you want to happen?


Margan: Yeah this was fun! 

Ash: Wait, we have one more thing to do before we go. It’s the end of a session so you have to decide how many parts of your oath you fulfilled.

The table look over the three parts of the oath and discuss their actions. 

Tanza: Yeah I think on balance we didn’t really Honour the Seers, but I’m glad we ignored him anyway, he was a weirdo. 

Ash: So you’ll both gain 2 Glory. Tanza you’re on 5, Margan 7. 

Margan: So I’m a Knight Exemplar now?

Ash: Yeah, so you’re considered worthy of a place in court. Not much use out here in the bog but if you go to a holding you might be able to get a position of influence.

Tanza: Did we say about doing a time skip?

Ash: Oh yeah, that was the plan. We said we’d move onto the next Season. Are you happy with that?

Margan: I mean we have some loose threads but I think it’d be fun to move things along.

Tanza: Yeah let’s do it.

Ash: So next game we’ll move into Winter. What are you both focusing on between the seasons?

Ash shows them both the list of options.

Tanza: Oh I can just relieve a Burden? I’ll get rid of that Dread I picked up.

Ash: That’s Indulgence, right? What are you doing? 

Tanza: How about spending some time riding out alone, my raven on my arm. Hm, I dunno, would that work?

Ash: Yeah that’s a cool image. A bit of a recluse period. 

Margan: Can I do the court focus? I know we’re in the swamp.

Ash: No it’s fine, we assume you both travel about a bit and then reconvene next time.

Margan: Great, well I’ll see if I can get some influence at the Seat of Power with my new worthiness.

Ash: Nice. We’ll come back to that at the start of the next game. Okay, we’re done!

Wednesday 23 November 2022

Speaking in Parlance

As you might expect, Bastion doesn't have an official language.

Scoffin at yer nonknowin that Handydown is OFFICIALLY recorded as prime in a number of...

Who let the Mock Linguists in here?

Well yeah everybody can muddle through conversation through pointing and pantomime. That system of exaggerated gestures is as close to a common tongue as you'll get here. 

So basically everybody can co-communicate a bit even if they're from distant boroughs or just got off the Deep Country Express. 

Lookear lad it nay that simple
Yes it is!

Sure, there are regional dialects. People revel in their local slang, lilts, and drawls. I reckon some ham it up to let you know where they're from. If the roof sweeper speaks like they grew up on the Slatefield then you might grant them the assumption of sure-footing and pay them a bit extra. 

But now we're getting into Parlance

It's actually more complex than that.
We're talking about Cants. This is solved.

No! This isn't like Cants or Codes. Those conceal a message. 

Parlances enhance the message and maybe add a little extra. 

Here are six of them. They can be learned, but those in the know will recognise a chancer from the real deal. 

Some will be keen to point out that Bastion is full of aliens, all of whom face some sort of barrier to communication. Parababble emerged from communities of Bastiards who found themselves dealing regularly with Aliens. Lots of familiar words, but pronounced at a strange pace, emphasising unexpected syllables and inserting hums between particularly long words. 

Although it doesn't really aid in Bastio-Cosmo communication, it demonstrates to other people that you are the sort of person that roams in such circles. Maybe you're a little bit above all this human nonsense. You know, from the stars Bastion looks so small.

Actually that's not true, but that's a topic for another day. 

A sort of branch of legalese with some bureaucratish and politican mixed in. Allows to very carefully, very precisely, say something truly reprehensible in a reversible manner. 

You can quite plainly proclaim something that you'd never say out loud under normal circumstances and look around to see if anybody agrees with you. If somebody looks shocked or offended the whole meaning can be shifted with the addition of a word of two.

This started as a joke. A load of fake, sarcastic technical terminology that you'd throw out when you didn't really understand what you were talking about.

Then some joker actually gave a load of those terms real meaning with a heavy dependency on context.

Now speaking Yargon means you absolutely do know what you're talking about... unless you're doing it in the old fashioned way... or in the newly-emerging ironic way.

Best to just let them get on with the job and see how it turns out. 

The ur-tongue of Bastion. So prestigious! You can see its influence in just about every dialect in the city and beyond. Words used in a bygone time, the legacy of our ancestors.

But it's just made up, really. You take some modern words and mess them around a bit. Make sure you stick your chest out when you speak. 

Makes you sound educated and fancy to people who don't know better, but you'll embarrass yourself in front of anybody switched onto such things. 

There's way of talking as if you're tough. That might work on some people.

But Punchbunk is specifically a way of using slang and innuendo to describe how you're going to hurt somebody with such poetry that the words cause physical pain. They say it started in prisons, where inmates would shout such vivid descriptions between cells that they'd wake up bruised. 

I don't know about all that, but there's certainly an art to the wounding word. 

A way of speaking that involves dropping as many references as possible to books, songs, esoteric history, just about any piece of trivia that you might hope somebody else recognises.

But there's no point if everybody recognises it. The dream result is that the other person recognises you've made a reference without fully understanding how it's relevant to what you're saying.

It puts them on the backfoot. They smile and laugh like they understand. Now you're winning the conversation!

As well as that y...

Um. Ahum. Excuse me. Yes. Excuse me. You weren't listening so I'll start again.

I was talking because this is my thing! This isn't your classroom.

Juslookathat! Very rude. Goto the dean all-at-once.

I'm not even a student here! 

Wait, when did we get here?


Wait, the Dean? Is that the one I saw in

Well I'm afraid you're in real trouble now.



Art by Midjourney

This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 16 November 2022

Reasonable Cruelty

For this challenge I'm going to revisit a selection of monster abilities that often scare GMs away, and can feel like unfair relics from the era of killer GMs.

These include:
  • Equipment Destruction
  • Maiming limbs
  • Finishing-off downed PCs
  • Instant Death
  • Level-drain (with a twist where ITO/Bastionland has no levels)
  • Petrification
  • Mind Control
And the final twist, none of the above effects will grant a Save to avoid them. There might be another way, but not from rolling well. 

The only way this will work is ultra-clear information for the players. They need to know that the scorpion's sting is instantly fatal FOR REAL THIS IS NOT FLUFF. If that touches you, you die. 

We can only give them information, let's see what they do with it!

Reasonably Cruel Monsters


STR 6, DEX 9, CHA 3, 1hp
Muck Gun (d6, leaves splat of muck as well as damage)
  • Hides under its tortoise-like shell as an instant reaction if anybody gets close, or if threatened from afar. The shell is utterly unbreakable by anything short of a bomb, and forms a tight seal to the ground.
  • Surrenders pitifully if they are unable to retract into their shell. They weep and cry but will turn hostile at the first opportunity.
  • Live only to serve the Green Beast, and would happily die for him. 
Notes: These things are annoying, but not much trouble on their own. They exist to accompany the more interesting monsters and make them even more annoying. 


STR 9, DEX 6, CHA 3, 2hp
Claws (d6)
  • Resembles a Gun-Runt, but has a mass of tangled fur and tendrils in place of its shell.
  • Anything touching its shell is grabbed by a waxy adhesive, only released by a Runt's saliva.
  • Their saliva also melts through any material, which they gleefully use to destroy captured items. 
Note: Equipment destruction

Collector Beetle

STR 10, DEX 10, CHA 3, 5hp
Jaws (d8) Shell (Armour 2)
  • On an attack roll of 7+ the Beetle tears a limb from the target. It favours arms, especially those carrying impressive weapons. 
  • Torn limbs are attached to the Beetle's hide, animating to grant an extra attack as appropriate.
  • If the Beetle is killed then limbs can be reattached, but require a skilled surgeon. 
Note: Maiming limbs

White Vulture

STR 12, DEX 15, CHA 3, 3hp
Rend (d8)
  • Has no appetite for combat, but watches on and swoops down onto any helpless victims.
  • Before feasting the Vulture spends a whole turn displaying, turning blood red and ruffling its feathers.
  • On the next turn the feast is gruesome and quick. The Vulture is back in the air before the last drops hit the ground. 
Note: Downed opponents

Crushing Spirit

STR 10, DEX 15, CHA 13, 6hp
Crush (d10), part-bone part-shadow (ignore normal attacks, takes d4 to d12 damage from light depending on intensity)
  • Its touch is unavoidable, freezing the victim in the place. On their next turn the spirit crushes the victim to dust, extracting their soul.
  • Even lamplight repels the spirit.
  • It's always plotting a way to plunge a victim into darkness. They don't much care who the specific victim is, but they must feed. 
Note: Instant death

Bloody Tearer
STR 7, DEX 6, CHA 5, 10hp
Black Gauntlet (d8, melee or ranged), Bloody Armour (Armour 2)
  • Bears trophies from infinite wars on impossible worlds, now a reluctant killer for hire.
  • They warn that each death now carries a greater cost.
  • If the Tearer causes or takes Melee Critical Damage, a red orb emerges and drains the life from any combatants. They all reroll their Ability Scores on 3d6, keeping any that are lower than their current score. 
Note: "Level drain"

Cloud Rider

STR 15, DEX 18, CHA 10, 11hp
Wind Blast (d6 Blast)
  • Extremely fast, lives to spread terror. 
  • Their body is fleshy, but always masked by cloud.
  • Instead of moving, the Rider can fill a room-sized area with glowing petrification gas. There's enough time to flee the area, but anybody that stays and breathes even a little of the gas becomes permanently petrified.
Note: Petrification
The Green Beast

STR 16, DEX 7, CHA 18, 10hp
Smash (d10 or d6 Blast), Stony Body (Armour 2)
  • Wants to amass more servants and punish those who rejected him.
  • Uses material bribes before resorting to his mind control. 
  • Anybody killed by the Beast, or one of his sworn servants, finds themselves on the threshold of death, faced by his true form, soft and verdant. The Beast offers life in return for an hour of service. If they agree, the victim returns to life but is under the Beast's control for the next hour.
Notes: Mind control

Art by Midjourney


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Thursday 10 November 2022

Making MACs

My mechs have are now referred to by a silly TLA because it's the law.

I'm this close to renaming the whole game MAC ATTACK but I wonder if it's a step too far.

(does look pretty cool though...)

EDIT: Since I wrote this last week I went ahead and changed the name because it grew on me and it's a lot of fun to say out loud. 

But either way the game has warped and shifted as I've worked on it. While it's still drawing heavily on Battletech (in feel if not in actual mechanics) I'm now aiming to give it some of its own identity. 

This is a similar process to The Doomed, where I wanted to keep things broad enough that you could throw together a game using primarily GW (or in this case Battletech) miniatures, while allowing the game to have an identity beyond an alternative ruleset for somebody else's world.

So you can bring your Battlemechs, but they'll need translating into MACs. 

All of the sample MACs in the game started out as one of the Battletech miniatures on my shelf. As the factions emerged they took on new identities, so some are now less recognisable than others. 

But what if you just want to bring the miniatures from your Game of Armoured Combat starter box and play this game?

Easy, let's go. 

I'll go through the process of converting one of these Mechs to a MAC, then I'll just write up a few more as a starting point for anybody that wants to try this game out. 

SHD-2H Shadowhawk

This guy is kind of a Jack-of-all-Trades in the medium weight class. Though that cool looking shoulder cannon is actually a somewhat ineffective autocannon 5, and he's kind of slow compared to his peers. For this conversion process I'll be walking a fine line between trying to recreate the Mech as it exists in Battletech vs how I'd like it to exist based on its appearance and fluff. 

I certainly think trying to replicate the Mech 1:1 is futile when the systems are so different. Think of it as an opportunity to create your own version of the classic. 

Starting with the easy stuff, the four Battletech weight classes correspond to the four MAC classes here, so this is a Class 2 MAC. 

Class 2, Move 5"

We've got 8 modules to fill, minus 1 for the Reactor. Let's start with the essentials:

  • It has a somewhat stumpy jump, so we'll give it a single Jet.
  • That shoulder cannon could be the railgun-like Accelerator, replicating the long range fire role of the AC5 with a bit of extra punch. You could also make arguments for it being a Cannon or a Howitzer. As I want to keep it as a direct-fire Kinetic weapon we'll make it a Cannon. 
  • We could make the Cannon an XL version, as it's clearly modelled to be the primary weapon of this Mech, but let's keep it as standard for now as we've got more weapons to go.
  • I like that this Mech has a wide variety of weapons, so we'll replicate them as  best we can. Our laser, SRM, and LRM will be a Pulser, Frags, and Missiles respectively. 
  • We're down to our last two modules and with all these weapons we'll pick up an extra Heat Sink to keep things manageable. 
  • For the final module we could go for the safe route and give it a Plate for added protection, but looking at the Design Quirks of this Mech in Battletech I see it has Battlefists. While this is a relatively minor benefit in that  game I like the idea of giving this Mech an extra bit of punch (pun intended) so let's give it a CCW. 
  • The order of the Modules does matter. Modules higher than 7 are protected from initial damage, and certain modules like Plates and Turrets care a lot about which module they're adjacent to. Here we're going to focus on protecting that main cannon so we can keep firing it. 

Shadowhawk (16pts)
Class 2, Move 5"
1. Jets
2. Pulser (B) C1 S2
3. Heatsink
4. Frags (C) C1 S2
5. Missiles (C) L2 A1
6. CCW (K) C3
7. Cannon (K) S2 L1
8. Reactor

So we've got a MAC that can fight at all ranges, whether blasting missiles over the horizon or punching you in the face, but isn't anything special with regards to mobility or armour. Sounds about right for a Shadowhawk. 

You might prefer the idea of bumping up the Cannon to an XL-Cannon, or taking an XL-Accelerator instead to lean into the long-range firepower. Making it easy to swap out individual modules like this is key to what I'm trying to do with this game, so don't feel like your Shadowhawk needs to be the same as mine. 

Now, as promised, here are are few more:

Locust (12pts)
Class 1, Move 10"
1. Servo: Take 1 less Heat for Shifting or Rushing
2. Frame: +2" Move but this module is destroyed by any hit.
3. Flak (K): C1 S2
4. Pulser (B): C1 S2
5. Frame: +2" Move but this module is destroyed by any hit.
6. Heatsink
7. Reactor

Wolverine (16pts)
Class 2, Move 5"
1. Rockets (C): S2 L1
2. Jet
3. Cannon (K): S2 L1
4. Ioniser (B): S2 L1
5. Jet
6. Plate
7. Heatsink
8. Reactor

Thunderbolt (20pts)
Class 3, Move 4"
1. Pulser (B): C1 S2
2. Pulser (B): C1 S2
3. Ioniser (B): S2 L1
4. XL-Missiles (C): L3 A2
5. Frags (C): C1 S2
6. Plate
7. Heatsink
8. Heatsink
9. Reactor

Awesome (24pts)
Class 4, Move 3"
1. XL-Accelerator (B) S2 L3
2. Heatsink
3. XL-Accelerator (B) S2 L3
4. Heatsink
5. Pulser (B) C1 S2
6. Plate
7. Plate
8. Tracer: -1TN when firing at a target you have already attacked this turn
9. XL-Accelerator (B) S2 L3
10. Reactor


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Thursday 3 November 2022

Breaking the Rules

I've been trying to drill down to the identity of each of the factions in Intergalactic Bastionmechs (I really need to give this a proper name soon). Most of all I want them to each have a special rule that gives them a unique gameplay twist while implying something about their flavour. 

A good way to do this is to have them break one of the standard rules of the game. This is equally applicable to designing RPG abilities, so don't run away if you're sick of hearing about wargames!

I thought I could use this post as a live-fire exercise, working through some of the key rules of the game and looking at how a faction might be able to break that rule.

The Modules you install on your units should do this to a lesser extent, but I want the Faction abilities to feel more impactful.

These might end up being unsuitable once tested, but it's always good to get these ideas out in the open.

Rules excerpts in italics.

All Terrain falls into one of the following types
[followed by rules for Open, Rough, Cover, Obstructions, Water, Barriers, Buildings]

I'm always wary of including rules linked to a specific type of terrain, as I can't help but imagine situations where somebody brings their Wood Elf army to a desert-themed board and feels like they've invested points into wood-based abilities that are now wasted. Some games mitigate this by allowing those factions to bring pieces of their desired terrain along with them, but that doesn't appeal to me. 

In this game I think it's pretty fair to assume that the board will at the very least include some Rough and Cover alongside a lot of Open terrain, so I'll be looking at them for rules to break.

Open allows for Rushing movement.
Examples: Gentle slopes, light vegetation.

Rough cannot be Rushed through.
Bog, scrub, steep slopes in all directions

Cover can be shot into or out of, but not through. A unit touching an area of Cover is treated as being within that Cover. Firing into Cover is done so at +1TN.
Forests, ruins, smoke

Some obvious things come to mind like "ignore the downsides of Terrain Type X". My mind goes to "Improve the benefits of Terrain Type X" but that's not really breaking a rule, it's just another little benefit which is better tied to a regular piece of equipment.

How about:

Shadowdash: You can Rush through Cover.

So now that unit can vanish into the woods and reappear behind the enemy. 

It doesn't even have to thematically apply to the terrain itself. It could be something like this. 

Guardian Fields: Your units with 3" of an allied unit of a larger Class always count as being in Cover when attacked. 

Let's move onto the next section of rules.  

1 - Move Phase
: Moving
2 - Attack Phase: Attacking
3 - Meltdown Phase: Checking for Reactor failure
4 - Cooldown Phase: Losing Heat

Now I subconsciously skipped over the turn sequence, but perhaps there's something here we can break. Messing with the order could be fun. Perhaps something like:

Paradigm Shift: At the start of a Turn you may swap the position of any two phases.

Could have some interesting applications, and of course relies on only one player having this ability to really work. You could tone it down a bit and have it only apply to one side's actions s but I like that this implementation is simple, potentially very powerful, but also requiring careful planning. 

I mean, it's probably majorly broken, but let's enjoy this moment. Even if we break it in testing we can find a way for its spirit to live on.

Another take could be:

Burnout: Once per game you can use this ability at the start of the Meltdown Phase. to Skip both the Meltdown and Cooldown phases.

Giving you one big Hail Mary turn to pull out of the bag when you've had a few mechs lose their reactors. 

Assign each Mech and Formation a card and shuffle them into a deck. During the Move and Attack Phases shuffle the deck and draw to see which unit activates, repeating until all units have acted.

So in this game it's generally good to go later in the Move phase and earlier in the Attack phase. So we could do something like:

Overwatch: When any of your units activate in the Move phase you may have them perform no action. If they do, keep their initiative card aside. When shuffling the Initiative Deck for the Attack Phase shuffle these cards separately and place them on the top of the deck before drawing.

Again this one's probably completely busted, but it's another fun starting point.

You could alternatively break the rule in this way:

Tactical Fluidity: When you draw one of your cards from the initiative deck you may instead search the remaining deck for any one of your cards and draw that one instead. Return the original card to the deck and shuffle. 

So we've created 6 potentially interesting special abilities and we haven't even hit the Move Phase yet!

Hope this process has been useful to follow along with. If you're working on a game I can absolutely recommend trying it out for your own rules, making sure you don't skip sections like I almost did! 

Every rule has an interesting way to break it. Finding it is the tricky part. 


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Thursday 27 October 2022

Factions Louder than Words

I’ve been thinking about how Battletech handles factions.

I was speaking in a Discord about how there’s a lot I love about the larger setting, but it took me a long time to really grasp what most of the factions were about, and even then I still don’t feel especially drawn to any of them.

I contrasted this, obviously, to Warhammer/40k where I think I knew which team I was supporting after flipping through my very first White Dwarf. But I've praised the Battletech setting for its groundedness, so I don't think you need to go wacky with this.

A stronger example is one that always lingers in the back of my head - the factions of Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri.

I liked the PC game and played it a fair bit, but I really loved the seven factions (and most of the seven expansion factions). Each was helmed by a charismatic leader, centred on an ideology, and upon starting the game you were faced with each of their portraits and a quote read out in their voice. It's pretty easy to look at these and immediately get what each faction is about. It's not exactly subtle.

As you played through the game you'd still hear from the other faction leaders. Not just through diplomacy, but each new tech advance came with another quote, usually from one of the faction leaders. It's like they were always tempting you with which faction you wanted to try out on your next game.

So I'm shamelessly taking this idea for factions in Titanic Bastionmechs. Does this game need factions if I'm generally just using it to play with Battletech minis? No, but it's been a fun experiment so far.

Slap down a portrait, quote, special rule, and some signature modules and mechs onto a page and see what sticks.


Any familiarity to factions from existing games is surely just convergent evolution.

So the skeletons for 10 factions are in the doc now. Lots of gaps to fill in these factions, but aside from anything else they're helping me focus in on a tone for this game.


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Tuesday 25 October 2022

Into the Odd Adventure Site - The Droner House

You can now venture into The Droner House, perfect if you're looking for a spooky Into the Odd/Electric Bastionland adventure site this Halloween. 

And it's FREE!

You might recognise this from the actual play I did with TKG a couple of years ago, now just barely fit for public consumption. 

Basically a big creepy house where horrible things happened and continue to happen. 


Thursday 20 October 2022

Super Carrot World

One of my current notes for Mythic Bastionland is "more reasons to travel around the realm".

I mean there are already some in there.

Travel brings Omens, which lead toward the "Seek out the Myths" part of your oath.

Seers are scattered around the Realm, and are a prime source of information, so you're inclined to visit as many of them as you can. They'll often send you on an errand in return for this into.

And, of course, if the Realm is an interesting place then players will naturally want to explore it. Right?


That's what I've told myself, based on my own experiences playing videogames. I remember first playing Link to the Past and looking at the printed map. There's a place called "The Swamp Ruins", which I thought sounded pretty cool, so I decided to go and see what was there as soon as I was released into the open world. The journey took me past archers in the long grass and some annoying crows. The ruin itself isn't even a dungeon, just a room with a sliding block puzzle, then a lever room that lets you drain the surrounding lake, revealing a heart piece. All in all it's one of the least interesting parts of the world in that game.

But I remember the experience clearly 30 years later because I chose to go there and I found some interesting stuff on the way.

So maybe I don't want to add in too many artificial mechanisms to encourage the players to explore. Perhaps that attention should be going toward helping the GM make a world interesting enough that the players want to go and see what's on the other side of the map, rather than going there because a Seer told them to.

Don't put the carrot on the stick. Make your world out of carrots.

No, scrap that. Make the world the carrot.


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Thursday 13 October 2022


What am I looking for in a Mech game?

My wishlist was something like:

1. Field every type of unit from infantry squads up to huge mechs

2. Have unit and weapon types feel different without extra subsystems to learn

3. Have enough Mech detail that they feel like real multi-part machines to be built and destroyed piece by piece

4. Make heat and movement important factors to manage for your own Mechs and exploit in your opponent's Mechs

5. Have a simple, fast turn procedure and straightforward mechanics for each phase, with minimal rules reference needed

6. Allow for fast, intuitive calculation of your chances of success on a particular attack

Having tried a number of Mech games recently I've found a lot to like, but nothing that quite scratched every itch.

By my assessment Classic Battletech succeeds at 1, 3 and 4 but not the others. Of course there's the argument that it all becomes very simple when you're experienced with the system, but I can only speak to my own experiences and the viewpoint of somebody just entering into the game.

Meanwhile the streamlined Alpha Strike succeeds at 1 and partially some of the others. In parts it's way simpler than Classic Battletech but almost does the opposite of what I want. Units feel simple but some of the subsystems feel complex in an out-of-place way.

In short, for a Mech game I think I'd rather have somewhat complex mechs in a very clean system than simple mechs in a somewhat messy system.

So in the spirit of giving these things stupid names, I present TITANIC BASTIONMECHS.

(The name is really a test to see whether GW or Catalyst Game Labs will send me a cease and desist first).

As with any of my projects in this early stage I'm messing with this constantly, but the core seems to work well for now. Probably some explosive bugs in there I haven't found yet and naturally lots of gaps to be filled in later.


Mechs have a list of Modules including Weapons, Hardware, and Reactors. Hits are assigned randomly to modules. The first hit is cosmetic but the second destroys the module. If you end up without a working Reactor then you'll blow up in the Meltdown phase.

Bigger Mechs get more modules, and their higher numbered modules are protected at first, so you need to chip away at them to get to their juicy reactor.

When you move you place a Speed Die next to your Mech, showing 1 pip for each 4" travelled, rounding up. Moving faster means you'll be harder to hit, but also makes your attacks less accurate.

Rushing, jumping, and firing fancy weapons all generate Heat, tracked on a second d6, the Heat Die. If Heat would ever go above 6 you take a Hit instead, so make sure you manage your heat passively through packing enough Reactors or Heatsinks, or actively by Venting in place of moving or attacking.

When you attack you roll a number of dice based on your weapon, each excelling at a particular range category. The target number is your Speed Die plus the target's Speed Die, with a +1 if they're in cover. Each die meeting or beating the target number causes a hit. That's it!

There are 15 weapons across 5 types. Each type has a special rule so Basic weapons like cannons don't generate heat, Lasers can cut through modules in a single hit, and Explosives cause chain reactions with each module they destroy. The classic tactic of "open them up with lasers then blast them with missiles" carries over here.

Mechs are the focus here, so non-Mech units (Auxiliary Units/AUs) ignore a good chunk of their rules like heat and modules. They aren't quite relegated to tokens, but they're intended to operate in little squads. So for each Mech you can have a handful of tanks or a platoon of infantry. There's even a Protomech knockoff in there.

Things like Scenario Generation and Points Values are in there, but awaiting some proper attention from me at a later date.

Go and check out the full thing as it stands if this sounds interesting to you.



This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

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