Wednesday 27 September 2023

The State of Mythic Bastionland

I'm still toiling away on the pre-Kickstarter Quickstart version of Mythic Bastionland, which is taking slightly longer than expected. In short, I want this version to be as close to the final rules as I can manage at this point, and I want to get as much of Alec's artwork in there as possible. At the moment I'd put the ETA in early October. 

In previous versions of the game the changes have lurched back and forth between various levels of abstraction. 

Abstraction is useful, perhaps crucial, in how I like my games to work. I like players to have the information to make meaningful decisions, and abstraction really helps with this.

If I say "your sword arm feels tired, and the impact of that hammer took your breath away, but you're still up on your feet" it's not entirely clear how much serious harm you took or how close you are to dying.

If I add "your Guard is reduced to 0 and you lost 4 Vigour, so you're down to Vigour 6" then you know 3 damage will deal a Mortal Wound and 6 will Slay you. 

So I guess I like to have it both ways. Abstraction to represent a fair and visible set of consequences for player actions, but avoiding going so far down that path that we lose track of the narrative situation or feel like we're playing a numbers game. 

The upcoming Quickstart release feels like a nice balance between the two. 

Here are some of the changes you can expect.

These were probably too abstract for my tastes, with each type of Landmark simply causing loss or recovery of a specific Virtue when encountered. The hex crawling procedure is going to feel a touch more abstract than the dungeon-crawling of Into the Odd just because of the distances and timescales involved, but I wanted to pull it back from the precipice of feeling like a boardgame mechanic. 

For example, Dwellings previously restored Vigour, but now they're simply noted as a place you might be able to find hospitality, which is the standard means of recovering Vigour. The effect is the same, Dwellings are good for recovering Vigour, but the presentation is focused on what a Dwelling actually is, rather than being the hex you land on to recover Vigour. 

Sanctums work in the same way, each now housing a Seer, who have been mostly booted out of standard Holdings. Sanctums previously restored Clarity, but getting guidance from a Seer is the main way to restore Clarity, so the Sanctum's benefit is now tied to a specific concrete action (which you might not get if you piss off the Seer) instead of being an innate effect of the hex. 

The negative Landmarks have also been changed, and still carry risks, but present the Knights with some sort of choice or problem instead of just whacking them with the consequences. 

Here's an example of a mechanic where I've actually added more abstraction. 

Previously I wanted to avoid a limit on how many Remedies that can be carried, but I've yielded to reason and said that each Remedy represents a large package of stuff and so a character or beast of burden can generally just carry one.

Yeah this is literally the only piece of equipment in the game with a hard rule limiting how many can be carried. Rules as written you can carry a billion shields but I don't feel like that needs abstracting because it's not that likely to come up and I think most referees would work it out just fine. 

If the Knights want to load up a cart with Sustenance ahead of a big fight then go for it, but I'd imagine that comes with its own complications. 

What is Glory worth?

There was a point where I thought about stealing point 4 from this blogpost and having Glory simply go up by one point every session you play, then you can roll against your Glory to see if somebody has heard of you.

But the actual point of Glory is to have the game feel different after 3 sessions, and even more different after 12 sessions, so I linked it to the idea of Worthiness. More Glory means your knight will naturally stumble into opportunities to take a place in court, and eventually rule their own domain. 

And, of course, maybe go and Find the City.

The specific ways of earning Glory have changed throughout past versions, but right now when a Myth is resolved (one way or another) every Knight involved gets 1 Glory. Are you in the story they'll tell about this Myth? Take your Glory. That's it.

Oh and you passively gain a Glory when you advance to a new Age. When we come back after a time skip things should feel a bit different, right?

It's an abstraction, because one point of Glory doesn't really mean anything to a Knight, but there are real titles and opportunities to be gained as you grow in Glory, so it's more rooted in the reality of the world than something like XP or Level. 

And no, you don't get Glory for "protecting the realm" or "honouring the seers". You'll probably do those things anyway for one or more of these reasons:

  • You took an oath!
  • You want to protect (most of) the people you meet
  • Seers are useful to keep on your side even if they're annoying
  • The realm might eventually become your realm and you'd like it to be intact

And if you don't want to do those things then what do I care? It's your Knight. 

If you want to be first to grab the preview doc when it's released then go and follow the Kickstarter now


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 20 September 2023

Mythic Sparks

In Mythic Bastionland I have a bunch of prompts across the bottom of each of the 72 Knight/Myth spreads, meaning you can roll a d6 and a d12 to get a random entry for Person, Name, Characteristic, Object, Beast, State, Theme, Dwelling, Sanctum, Monument, Hazard, Curse, Ruin. 

Yet Spark Tables still call to me, so I've thrown in a page of them as well. 

This should be especially useful for getting quick descriptions for wilderness hexes and holdings, as that was a bit of a gap in the game previously.

Oh... and that frame looks pretty nice too, right?



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 13 September 2023


From the Oddpocrypha section of Mythic Bastionland, talking about Death. The keen-eyed among you will notice some terminology change from the current playtest document, but the new version will be released soon.


Tal has been spotted sneaking into a guarded tower. Their Spirit has already been depleted on the journey and from using Deflect, and now their Guard has been depleted by the first volley of arrows. Moss ducks out of sight of the enemies but Tal runs for the tower.

The sentries roll high on their attack dice and Tal has no choice but to take the damage reducing their VIG to 0, meaning they are Slain outright. 

Ref: Oh, wow. One of the arrows flies straight into Tal’s throat… they fall to the ground, a pool of blood forming. They’re slain.

Moss: What!?

Tal: Argh, I knew that was a dumb thing to do. Is there anything else I can do?

Ref: I mean you’re out of Guard, Spirit, and Vigour, so I think that’s it for Tal.

Tal sighs and folds up the character sheet.

Ref: Well we have less than an hour left tonight, so I’d recommend we sort your new character at the start of the next session, or you can do it at home. You can make a brand new Knight or you could take on a successor. You had that squire who was injured, maybe they could get Knighted for themselves.

Tal: Yeah. Urgh, I should have ran away.

Moss: Hey we’ve both been taking risks, this could have happened to me. Can I recover the body? Tal deserves a proper funeral after all.

Ref: Oh definitely, we’ll get to that. In the mean time I’ll get Tal a character for now. Moss, what’s your plan after recovering Tal?

Moss: Well I need to get to safety for the night. Oh, and I look for Tal’s Raven!

Ref: Sure. Tal, you okay?

Tal: Yeah, I guess I was just getting attached to this character. 

Ref sets up Tal with a character for the rest of the session, using a prompt to get a new character to meet Moss as quickly as possible. Between sessions Tal rolls a new Knight to join the company, the Riddle Knight. 


Death is tricky, but I believe a game based around Knights benefits from its presence. 

It’s usually considered a sort of “fail state” of the game, and Mythic Bastionland embraces the more unpredictable side of death instead of great sacrifices scripted ahead of time. If your Guard, Spirit, and Vigour are all getting low then it’s advisable to do everything you can to avoid taking further damage. 

Although it’s a failure of that character, who would surely rather be alive, it’s not a failure of the ongoing story of the game. All Knights die in the end. This is why they seek successors, heirs, squires. 

Many referees would be tempted to find a way to keep Tal alive. Dying to the arrow of a nameless sentry feels like an ignoble end for a protagonist, but we can see that Tal had opportunities to avoid this. As a Referee, if in doubt, make sure players understand this risk when they take such an action. 

Of course, it still feels bad. The player might feel embarrassed that they let it happen, or sad that they won’t get to continue using their character. It’s perfectly fine to take a moment to acknowledge these feelings, and make sure that the player doesn’t feel the death was somehow unfair or unwarranted. Here I prefer an impartial approach. If the rules say they’re slain, then they’re slain.

The Referee didn’t kill Tal, the arrows did. 

The feelings will remain, but the important thing is that the player is angry at the arrows, not the Referee.

Ref does the right thing here by getting Tal right back into the game with a new character, even if it’s just a temporary one for this session. Elevating an existing NPC to become Tal’s new character would be great, but sometimes none of the existing characters quite fit, so it makes sense to just introduce a new Knight. 

In most cases I’d default to starting the new Knight as a Young Petty Knight, but if the rest of the Company are quite established then it might make more sense to start them as an Exemplar. 


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

Wednesday 6 September 2023

My First Traveller Supplement

Note: As usual, this post is coming a week later than it was written for Patreon. I'm back in good health now!

So one of the boons of being self-employed is that you can just take a day off work whenever you want.

The reality is that you usually feel like you absolutely must not do that.

So today I'm not feeling great. Nothing too serious, but I might have phoned in sick in my previous job. 

Can you see where this is going?

While I've been working as normal today, my mind has crumbled at the task of writing a thoughtful post for the week, so instead you can look at some pictures from a book that came in the post for me.

It's a reprinting of the Usborne Book of the Future from 1979. A familiar sight, even though it predated my birth. Much has been said about the charm of the 1970s vision of the future, but this book in particular fills me with warm nostalgia. 

I even reckon this makes for the decent seeds of a Traveller supplement, or Ask the Stars if you're fancy. I especially love the page on "Ristos".

So enjoy, and I'll be back on top form next week.


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.