Wednesday 6 July 2022


(Note: This was written a week ago, before the current playtest release of Primeval Bastionland)

Like the dreamlike mists that cloak its landscape, Primeval Bastionland continues to slip through my fingers, but is always twisting around some part of my brain. 

In Electric Bastionland I wanted the Failed Careers to be evocative enough that you could open to a random spread and get some instant ideas for your version of Bastion. It works, but this isn't a world that's quite so people-centric. Myths are the character traits of the world itself. Stories made real, their endings unwritten. I knew I wanted to give them a full page of each spread, opposite each Knight. Together the two form a potential story. "The Moss Knight & the Wyvern" or "The Talon Knight & the Underworld".

As they stood, these Myth entries typically contained a creature or two, a 3-bullet entry covering the supernatural rules of the greater myth, and a mini spark table for a specific element of the myth. These were to be plonked down on your map in remote places, waiting for the Knights to ride in on their quest.

Later on, when prepping for a playtest, I found myself writing up some random encounter tables for the different areas of the map. It should draw on the Myths in the area, right? So if the Wyvern lives in that mountain, there should be a few Wyvern-related entries on that encounter table. Maybe you find the remains of a previous attack, or it flies past, or just straight up attacks you. 

Would be nice if each of these Myth pages actually did that work for me, right?

In fact, looking at the Myth pages I was struck with an all too familiar thought. 

This stuff is all very nice, but how do I actually use it at the table?

So I'm back on an old favourite of mine: seeing how much of a setting I can project entirely through game elements, in this case encounter tables. Well not quite, as these are Omen tables.

Each Domain (typically 12x12 hexes) has 6 Myths scattered in remote places. When you roll a random encounter, roll on the Omen table for the nearest Myth to your location. 

Check how far away you are from the Myth's hex:

  • In the Hex containing the Myth - Roll 2d6 and keep the highest.
  • In a neighbouring hex - Roll d6 only.
  • In any other Hex - Roll 2d6 and keep the lowest. 

If the rolled Omen has already been encountered, take the next result. 

So you encounter the lower results before the high. These tables go to 7, so you outright won't get that final result, typically something climactic, until you've at least had a warning. Even within those first 6 we can gradually raise the weirdness to give a nice slow unveiling of the area's myth. 

You get some weird effects, where if you just pass by near to a Myth enough times, then you will find it eventually upon you. I'm fine with this. Knights are a magnet for this sort of thing, you don't get to just ignore The Dryad forever. A lake might not move that much, but The Lake has a way of bringing you to it, or appearing in places it should not be. 

A Myth page is now just Omens, statblocks for the encounters, and a mini Spark Table. That piece of art and two lines of flavour prose has a lot of work to do eh?

Finally, an example. 


1: Six monks, appeasing the river with offerings of bread. 

2: Lost serf washed up on the riverbank. 

3: The river roars, a riverboat struggles against the current. 

4: Three monks seeking a blood offering for the river. They need an innocent animal or a sinful person. 

5: Pilgrims arguing with a Bridge Knight demanding a toll. The river crashes about the bridge. 

6: The river bursts into a new stream, rapidly encroaching into the land. If travelling, the route is cut off. 

7: A great flood, the river is released and claims the entire hex. 


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  1. I'm sorry that this question is unrelated to the current update but I was wondering roughly how much an Arcana in Into the Odd would be worth in cash.
    Of course it depends on how much somebody would be willing to pay, the greater arcana are pretty much impossible to price and you wont get anything if you get robbed, but what price range would be reasonable for arcana on the power level of the ones on the random table a PC could start with. 1-4G or 1-6G maybe?

    1. Bit of an impossible question I'm afraid! In general the intent of the starting Arcana is that the players don't sell them, at least not initially, but if it comes to that then I think you're in the right ballpark with 1-6G depending on how good a fit the buyer is.

  2. I’ve been obsessing over your primeval bastionland playtest material in preparation for a game i'll run on the weekend, and i found a resourse that, i find, perfectly fills a void i felt surrounding bastion, the city that fills the knights' dreams. It's a small novel by Italo Calvino called “Invisible cities”. I love resource based improvisation at the table and i find this book in particular perfectly matches the game’s evocative dream like nature. Keep it up!

    1. Invisible Cities is great! There's a spiritual sequel called Imaginary Cities that's also well worth a read.

  3. I wasn't aware of that one. Will definitely check it out.

  4. This is such a cool mechanic!

  5. Great mechanic. "Thematic" and "escalating" encounter table is such a good idea, and the way you've implemented it is golden. I particularly love how the d6 + 1-7 range + "if you roll the same encounter twice, take the next highest" quietly pushes encounters to slowly escalate and creates pacing, and the way using a d6 has a bit of the ItO Luck Dice feel. Brilliant.

    I guess if event "7" has occurred, you could still keep using the same encounter table, with lower results then being more about aftermath, eg "(2) lost serf washed up on river bank" works as an event both before and after "(7) great flood". That's a really nice feature.

    A few random thoughts.

    1. If I use the encounter tables as you describe, then if PCs are near a myth all their events will be related to that myth. If there's no mechanism for "unrelated" encounters to be triggered, eg no 2d6 Gnolls, then does that risk travel feeling like it lacks a bit of serendipity? In your last YT, you talked about using other myths to generate unrelated features / encounters etc., but how would you actually mix those in with myths that are formally in the game world?

    2. Similarly, is there any scope to engage with myths outside their location +2 hexes? eg could a knight on the other side of the map have dark dreams of a myth, or chance meet a broken knight that found some distant myth many years ago?

    3. Maybe it's just me, but I've never really understood how hex crawls fit into an RPG game. Like, I get how they work, and I get they are a way of implementing travel, but procedurally moving from hex-to-hex just never seems particularly engaging. To me, hex-crawling often ends up feeling like an overly complicated and time consuming mini-game in-between the "main game" of dungeon delving etc. Indeed, I think this has been part of the appeal of point-crawls, which kind of keep the random encounter + resource management elements of hex-crawls, but just expedite (or really, cut) the actual tracking through individual hexes. My question is, leaving aside the specific mechanics you're developing, what do you see as the point of adding hex-crawl to ItO? Or put another way, if I was going to run a hex-crawl then I could totally see myself using some of these brilliant mechanics you're developing; but if I wasn't otherwise going to run a hex-crawl, why would I want to? What does ItO envisage is going to be fun about doing that?

  6. The specifics of this mechanic have actually changed quite a bit since I wrote this!

    1. This is actually something that will be in the next version. You'll mostly encounter omens from your nearest Myth but will also less frequently encounter those from other Myths in the region.

    2. See above!

    3. I agree that sometimes hex crawling and dungeoncrawling can feel like two separate games, with a clear boundary between each during gameplay. I think the best examples find ways to combine the two effectively, but for Primeval Bastionland I see the hexcrawl as the definite focus of the game. There aren't really dungeoncrawls as such, I want the wilderness itself to take on the role of the dungeon or adventure site. You'll still "zoom in" to what's happening in a single hex, but my expectation is that every session will involve at least some travelling around with hexcrawl procedures.

    1. Thanks Chris. "I want the wilderness itself to take on the role of the dungeon or adventure site" sounds really exciting. Good luck!

  7. Big fan of "this D6 table goes up to 11" -- I've used similar stuff in my Mandelbrook adventure module for that part-seeded random