Tuesday 28 June 2022


Burdens are one of the more significant additions I'm playing with in Primeval Bastionland. They're inspired by Fatigues from Mausritter, which in turn made their way into Cairn and Runecairn (which you can click to see in my glowing readthrough earlier this week). 

It's a lovely feeling having so many brilliant designers tinkering with the Into the Odd chassis, but it's really useful when I can steal their innovations back. 

But to be fair to myself, I've not quite lifted things wholesale. In short, your knight picks up Burdens throughout their journeys, from a wide range of sources. They go onto your character sheet, separate to your inventory, and if you ever have three or more than you're Exposed, essentially being treated as if you have 0hp. 

Each Burden comes with a specific requirement for you to relieve it, or you can take the generic solution of "spend a season of reflection or indulgence", supposedly either praying or drinking a lot. 

Of course, in my first draft of this idea I went bonkers and tried to write as many as I could. Could I do 100? I mean, this game already has so many lists of 100 things, it would be a nice bit of symmetry. I could give each of the 100 Knights their own specific type of Burden that gets triggered when they act in a certain way. That way your Knight feels cool and unique, like some of the better PBTA playbooks!

Since then I've regained my focus, and most of all remembered the sheer joy that comes with deleting words from the page. Aaah. 

So we now have 7 Burdens (ignoring Scars, now a special type of Burden but otherwise very close to how they work in Electric) and I'm pretty happy with them. They'll definitely get changed around a lot, but it feels like a solid foundation. 

  • Ache: Get a hot meal and restful sleep.
  • Glory: Protect your legacy.
  • Oath: Prove your word to be true.
  • Shame: Perform an act of mercy or sacrifice.
  • Vanity: Ensure your deeds are known.
  • Woe: Spend a full day in reflection or indulgence. 
  • Wrath: Achieve a worthy victory of arms.

At first I was annoyed at myself for writing that big sloppy initial list. After all, this refined approach makes sense for a number of reasons:

  • The GM can learn the list more easily, giving them greater confidence to select the appropriate Burden for a Knight when needed.
  • The players will be less confused between a huge list of slightly different ailments. Eventually they'll just internalise what it means to have an Ache, not having to remember the difference between Hungry, Exhausted, Deprived, and Frigid. 
  • It's more accessible to anybody reading the book as a core list of things that Knights are likely to get hung up on. Helps get that theme across more succinctly. 

And there's no point beating myself up over it. After all, you can't have a refined thing without the process of refinement. It has to start with a crude material. 

The approach of "thrown down the block of clay and find the statue inside" has served me well for a while now, but I have to remember not to resent that initial raw heap. The statue was always in there. 


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