Wednesday 27 April 2022


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

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


ITO and EB have three types of defence. Pretty bloated system, right?

I wanted to talk briefly about how to use them both alone and in combination with each other.

Hit Protection (HP)
A guaranteed buffer of "safe" damage that can be taken before getting wounded. Easy to recover once the fight is over. It's the most abstract of the defences, but usually represents a general sense of skill and stamina. 

Strength (STR)
Raw physical endurance. Both the mass to soak up hits and the vigour to keep on fighting when wounded. More debilitating and difficult to recover, losing STR is always painful in comparison to losing HP. 

Armour (A)
Anything that lessens the effect of an attack against you and give a chance to shrug it off altogether. 

Now things get more interesting when you use them together. What does that look like?

For these examples, assume that the defences not mentioned are unremarkable. 

High HP, High STR: If you want to make something tough, this is probably the safest way to go. They're going to stick around, but gradually get worn down. I'd use this for most typical scary monsters that you want to pose a real threat and not be easily taken down. 

High HP, High A: I've seen discussions around whether something fast and small should use Armour to represent their ability to dodge. In general, I'd save that sort of thing for another category, but I can see the temptation to put them here. Instead, I'd use this category for the skilled, armoured opponent that frustrates the characters until they can land one decisive blow on them.

High STR, High A: The classic big monster profile here. In general terms, before considering actual armour-like protection, I give +1 armour to big stuff, and +2 to REALLY BIG stuff (maintaining the maximum of 3). Just be aware that this profile is vulnerable to a lucky one-shot if the players roll high and you roll badly. 

High HP, Low STR: THIS is the fast, small monster profile. They can duck and dodge safely until you land that blow which will likely take them straight down to instant death at STR 0. 

Low HP, High STR: Just a dumb brute. Good for your orc-likes. 

Low HP, High A: I've used this for both untrained-armoured-grunts and automaton-like monsters. It's interesting in that it can feel a little more like the classic D&D combat with lots of swinging and missing, with one or two decisive blows. It has a use, but I wouldn't make this the standard. 

Low STR, High A: I like this for skeletons and the like. Fragile enemies that can be shattered with a good hit but are surprisingly difficult to land a good blow on.

High Everything: Use with caution! I mean, you can use it, but just make sure it's something that you're prepared to have stick around for a long time. In particular, make sure it has interesting things to do while it's out there surviving for so long. 

Thursday 21 April 2022


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

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


I was reminded that this coming Friday and Monday are Bank Holidays here in the UK, so I should take a few days off work.

Well I care deeply about the wellbeing of every member of the Bastionland Press corporate empire, so in addition to taking next week off work, I decided to give myself a free day to work on a project that probably wasn't going to go anywhere, and you know what that means...

The dreaded return of Project 10!

I've written about it before, but I'm very aware that it lies outside of the interests of many people that read this patreon/blog, so I've tried to keep it in the background. Well, today is the exception, so let's get on with what I've been doing with this little wargame.

The whole point of this game is that I wanted something I could use with big bases of small-scale miniatures. This week I painted a block of foot knights and a commander.


Bringing my 10mm collection to a still-tiny 4 (and a bit) units. 

Not quite the dozen units I'd need to actually test this game on the tabletop yet, not to mention my delayed aspirations to create a modular 1x1m battlefield. TTS is fine, but I want to get a proper feel for this. 

Who needs miniatures when you have blank cards?


Very much drawing on the aesthetic of 90s White Dwarf Battle Reports, which were a huge catalyst for this project. Note the very first example of artisan, homemade, oversized Combat Dice™

It's no substitute for seeing a miniature army laid out, but it works as a stopgap and might even spur me on to paint more quickly. 

Taking my luxurious variety of units for the Empire of Steel, Guild under the Mountain, Guardians of the Wood, Raiders of the Shadowrealm, Red Sun Horde, and the Army of the Dead, I had a morning of playtesting, an afternoon of making changes, then repeated it all again the next day. 

So what's changed and why?


Look... if you're actually following the progress of Project 10 then my biggest piece of advice is not to get attached to any of the traits. Treat them like a pet hamster. Enjoy the time you have with them, but know that they are unlikely to join you in your retirement. 

As these are the core of what makes units (and by extension, armies) interesting in this game, I'm always changing them and trying new versions, sometimes reverting to the original. I'm aware that any specific changes I talk about here are just as likely to change again before you read this, or snap back to a previous ruling, but I'll live dangerously and highlight a few. 

Missile: Previously this was split into Short and Long, with each having slightly different restrictions for when they can fire. Putting them together makes it easy, as units with this trait now just follow the standard rules for shooting. You can't shoot after your second pivot. Done. Artillery still has its "no moving and firing" restriction but it feels more intuitive there. Again I'm dipping into Neil Thomas' wisdom here, as he often gives an extended range to slings, javelins, and other short ranged weapons favoured by skirmishers, representing a more abstract sense of that unit's area of control, rather than a strict range based on their static position on the board. 

Tough: This trait has changed names a few times, but represents units that are better able to withstand damage throughout the battle, be it through armour, discipline, or physical resilience. Formerly reactive (essentially having Damage Reduction of 1 point), it always felt slightly at odds with the other traits, which largely occur on the unit's own turn. It also increased the instances of "I roll... nothing happens" which wasn't desirable. So instead it's now tied to Rallying, allowing a unit to more readily recover after taking damage. The idea that damage represents both casualties and failing morale is key to this, and I'll talk about it a little more further down. 

Loose: Look, I hate this Trait. I need it, as I want to allow for units that are primarily made of skirmishers or other loose form infantry, but it's probably changed more than any other rule. Dip into your wargame of choice and find the section on skirmishers. It's rarely a succinct little ruling, and commonly involves at least three special effects that apply to this unit. Maybe they can move and shoot, or move through rough terrain, or move through other units, or move after shooting, or move and shoot in any direction, oh and they should be weaker in melee, but harder to hit with missile fire, and less able to reform, and and... You get the idea. So currently I've got a ruling I don't really like, but I wanted to at least point it out and shame it in public. One day there will be a great rule here, but today is not that day. 


Rolls of 1-3 are now called Hits, and 4-6 Misses. This might seem small but it's one of those many tiny things that makes other rules easier to understand, and gradually improves the quality of life factor of a game as you bash away at it. 


I previously had a very clever set of terrain rules that involved a grid with two axis. One was "affects movement" and the other "affects shooting" and it resulted in 9 sub-categories of terrain that had examples and made me feel like I was doing great work.

Well, something I've learned is that if you look at a piece of your writing and think "oh yes, very clever" then maybe you should stop patting yourself on the back and look again with a more pragmatic set of eyes.

This very clever system was actually just a clunkier way of describing 5 common types of terrain (open, rough, blocks movement, blocks vision, blocks everything) and then 4 weird edge cases that didn't really need a common rule.

And for similar reasons to my changes to the Tough trait, I've taken a more hardline approach to cover. No more damage reduction for being around some bushes. Either get in the woods (blocks vision) or deal with getting shot at.

Flanking and Supporting

The rule that "flank and rear attacks roll double" felt like a core part of the game. Almost too core. Out of curiosity, I tried a version of the game with no bonus for hitting the flank or rear. 

I actually, mostly, preferred it. 

The previous bonus was so impactful that most games would come down to "who can flank most effectively" and while I knew this was going to be a "rank and flank" game, I didn't want it to be the only way. 

I'd previously tried a version of the game where flank and rear attacks got +1CD, instead of doubling the damage, but I landed somewhere slightly different (see the next section).

Supporting had always slightly annoyed me, as having these big block units in two ranks always looked a bit wrong, not to mention the strange situations that occur when you have a supported unit pivoting, or getting flanked and everything descending into a huge central scrum. So that's gone for now as well, and I've been enjoying battles that more readily use the width of the board. 

But you can't just remove the two most significant ways of causing big damage in the game! Surely everything just grinds to a halt and turns into the sort of attritional warfare I wanted to avoid, right?

So let's inject another one of those deliciously divisive chaotic elements. 


Gasp! A new rule! 

I didn't include separate morale rules in this game as (like in One Hour Wargames) I saw that all as being abstracted within the damaging and eventual breaking of the unit. Likewise, any attacking reluctance by a unit is modelled in the existence of the three "miss" results on the Combat Dice. But I wanted to try something out, so I first tested the idea that units would take 1CD of damage whenever they were charged on the flank/rear, when they became Shaken, or when an ally within 1 measure was Broken.

Well, the impact was huge! I rolled some unlikely results, but I saw a chain reaction rip through an army, with 4 units Breaking as a result of a single attack. The devil in me liked it, but really it just made me want to keep my units further apart from each other, which didn't feel right. 

So Shock now exists in a tempered form with just the first two triggers: Flank/Rear charge and becoming Shaken. It can cause small chain reactions, and lets me explore a new  design space with the Fearsome and Dauntless traits, but the jury isn't quite out on it yet.


In reaction to a number of the changes above, Rallying is now slightly easier to do than before. You can basically do it in place of attacking, so a melee-based unit that's marching through fire is probably going to rally every turn. It's another Chaos element, so perhaps we're reaching critical mass, but I'd always rather test something that's about to explode rather than something that bores me to tears. 

So I'm granting myself a little more P10 testing this week before my break, then we'll return to the world of the primeval.

Thursday 14 April 2022


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

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


Calendars aren't my strong suit, but if this is Editorial #52 then I make that a (nearly) full year of doing these things (just conveniently ignoring those weeks that I skipped). I was initially hesitant about having my regular content on a delayed release for non-patrons, but it seems to have worked quite well. The only downside is that I change my mind so quickly that often the ideas I'm sharing are out of date by the time they hit the public blog. 

So let's see if I can make it to 100. 

Ben Milton's Glatisant Newsletter got me onto reading about Blorb Principles for running an RPG. Whether or not this particular style of play suits you, this principle-setting is a useful tool for focusing in on what elements you really want to keep in mind when running or playing a game. Better still, a shared set of principles for the table avoids those issues where the game drastically misses the expectations of one or more players. 

So, yes. Set principles. I think it's worth doing.

But what about this Blorb thing? I'm not going to repeat everything that's been written already, but it largely fits with my own style of play. In particular there's one section that nicely distills something I've never quite managed to put into words before. 

Quoted here (but you should absolutely go and read the full post): 

Three Tiers of Truth

The DM is asked a question like, for example: what’s in the office?

a. Look in the prep. Maybe this room is in there and the text says what is canonically in there, and you’re all set.

b. Otherwise, maybe you have a rule (“default offices have a stapler, a typewriter, a visitor’s chair” etc) or mechanic (such as a random room content table). Use that.

c. If you don’t have that either, make something up. Try to make it something that won’t help or harm the players too much. It can be evocative and build mood, but shouldn’t be 20 angry beholders (or 20 free healing potions). Don’t feel bad: allowing DMs to start small is how we get new DMs. But, patch the hole, or this category of holes, for future sessions. Then over time your DMing will get more and more solid.

Always work in that order, top to bottom, only falling to a lower tier of truth when you have to.

A campaign that’s built on all T2 and T3 truths isn’t as engaging as one that has some solid T1 framework in there (in a cloud, bones of steel), but as you patch holes (as T3 instructs you to) feel free to patch them with mechanics and general solutions (i.e. T2 truths). That’s you building a DM’s toolbox.

Yeah, of course I like the bit that essentially fits into a 3-bullet procedure. I've lingered around the idea of the "impartial GM" before, but never really committed too hard to it. This feels like a good, practical structure to put that idea into practice. 

But of course I need to make some initialism or acronym in order to wedge this into my brain, so I'm remembering the three tiers of truth as:

1: Prep
2: Procedure
3: Patch

The first two should be pretty self-explanatory. 

1: If it's written in your notes then don't change it because of stuff the players have done ahead of encountering it. This goes back to the quantum ogre and beyond, so not much for me to add here. 

2: If it's not in your notes and you have a rule or roll somewhere that's fit for purpose then use that to generate a new truth. All part of the appeal of encounter rolls, reaction rolls, morale checks. The stuff that makes the world feel dynamic and real even outside of the GM's notes. I'll stress here that there's a huge difference between "making a world feel real" and "making a realistic world" but that's one for another day. 

3: This is the one that I want to give more thought to. That essential GMing skill of making shit up when the players do something you weren't prepared for. I've joked before that this is the most important skill to cultivate, but here it's presented in a slightly more specific way.

You're patching a hole. You're here because you didn't prep for it and you don't have a procedure for it. Now that's not innately bad but on reflection I agree with the Blorb principles that if a game has too much of this I start to lose interest. The curtain starts to fall and the world feels a little less like a living place to explore.

The original principles suggest that you change up your prep to that next time a similar situation arises you can draw on one of the higher tiers of truth, but I'm more interested in the immediate patching that occurs in the gameplay.

In the same way that "describing failure" is trickier and more important than "describing success", I'm starting to think that I want to give more thought to the specifics of how I patch those holes that exist outside of the prep and the procedures. The original post has some good advice (don't invent anything too helpful or too harmful) but how about treating it as an opportunity. Just because you're avoiding being especially impactful to the characters doesn't mean you can't have an impact on the players.

Each time I have to patch a hole mid-game I'm going to make something up that checks at least one of the following:

  • Evoke the flavour of the world - the intent being to further solidify their sense of the greater world they're exploring
  • Indulge their senses - shameless attempts at immersion, putting the players right in the minds, ears, and noses of the characters
  • Reinforce something that they've already learned about this place - I'm not 100% sold on this one, as there's a degree of quantum ogre about it, but I also feel like you can never give players too many reminders

So using the original example of the players searching an office that you hadn't planned for, we could patch in three different ways if we were running a game in Bastion:

  • Evoke: The office is a mess. Under the piles of paperwork you can just make out dozens of stacked in-trays and out-trays. The desk is littered with dried up rubber stamps and empty pill bottles. 
  • Indulge: You're hit with the heady smell of correction-fluid, a large bottle of the white chemical spilt on the faded carpet and paperwork scattered throughout. 
  • Reinforce: The office looks abandoned, furnishings thrown to the ground and hastily searched. Presumably whoever looted the other rooms also had a good rummage through here. 

Sure you can shoot for all three at once, but we don't need to apply that level of pressure here. Remember, it's just patching the hole. 


Wednesday 6 April 2022


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

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


Each Knight has a Shortsword (2d4), Mace (d6), or Axe (d6).

Riding horse (3hp), torches, rope, and dry travel rations.

Specific Knights also receive:

Holdings: The things they own and have access to.

Myths: The truths which are known.


The Moss Knight

The tree and stone did not need to be taught This one knew to study under them


  • Wooden Buckler (A1 in Melee)
  • Bag of assorted animal bones
  • Tattoos (see below)


  • Can speak with uncut stones, but they talk very slowly and are extremely literal
  • When spending the night under a tree it shares a useful vision through dreams, and grants restful sleep
  • After spending a night inside, take the Burden: Stifled: Spend the night in untamed nature.


1. Faded Black
2. Deep Blue
3. Raised Silver
4. Pale Green
5. Scarred Red
6. Burnt Copper

1. Branching Spirals
2. Tangled Thorns
3. Curved Stars
4. Horned Snakes
5. Twisted Bones
6. Flaming Rings

The Gilded Knight

A beacon of the brave and bold All cloaked and masked in shining gold


  • Gold-coloured armour with cloak and masked helm (A1, bulky, opponents who know the value of gold have their first ever attack against you Impaired)
  • Illuminator Globes (cast bright light for a few moments when broken, can be replenished at a secret source)
  • Take the Burden: Symbol: Pass your golden armour onto a worthy successor


  • When Wounded, all allies fighting alongside regain d6hp
  • When they gain financial wealth, take the Burden: Unworthy: Be rid of your financial wealth
  • When slain, the armour must be cast into darkness. A new Gilded Knight emerges when they are most needed

The Cost

How long has the armour been worn?
1. Days
2. Weeks
3. Months
4. Years
5. Decades
6. For all memory

What was left behind?
1. A Farm 
2. A Crown
3. Only Graves
4. A Student
5. A Teacher
6. A Castle

The Willow Knight

The senior knights fought the storm, falling as broken bones The youth was thrown about, but arose in the calm


  • Youthful energy (can be Shattered like a shield)
  • Replace Riding Horse with an Old Grey Charger (1hp, d6 trample)
  • Lyre (only knows sad songs)


  • As long as they are not wearing Armour any attack dice rolled against them are discarded if they show their highest possible result. Shields do not count as Armour for this purpose.
  • Elders won’t take them seriously at all until their worth is proven.
  • If not carrying any Bulky items they can choose to automatically pass any Save to avoid physical harm, taking the Burden: Unproven: Prove you are worthy being a Knight. 

Memories of Home

1. Riverside
2. Coast
3. Mountain
4. Pine Forest
5. Moor
6. Castle

1. Death
2. War
3. Famine
4. Plague
5. Fire
6. Flood