Sunday, 13 August 2017

Automachines in the Underground

AUTOMACHINES

Maybe they grew from the Underground's impossible dimensions, maybe they fell into there from our own future creation, or maybe they were planted by Foreign engineers beyond our own.




KEY PRINCIPLES
  • They are one with the Underground, or at least their part of it.
  • They instigate change and monitor the results.
  • They want to teach you a lesson.


FORMS

  • They are machines, but always have a way to communicate.
  • They are more suited to create than destroy.
  • Their bond to the Underground is often physical.


BEHAVIOUR
  • They follow logic, often to the extreme.
  • They are always willing to explain.
  • They want to see you tested and altered, and care little about you beyond that.


CREATIONS

  • They manufacture creations from the Underground itself.
  • Once something is created, they do nothing to control it.
  • The solution to everything is either Creation or Observation.

SAMPLE AUTOMACHINES

Helpy-Bug - Crawling Automachine
STR 10, DEX 5, 7hp. Armour 3, d4 Mandibles
  • Follow you around, squeaking.
  • Create tiny, useful things if it would drive you closer to danger.
  • Pass through danger without harm, showing how safe it is down here.

Dream-Genie- Holographic Projector

STR 10, 7hp, Armour 3.
  • Project an angelic holographic form.
  • Conjure visions of what might happen if you delay.
  • Encourage you to be reckless.

Happy-Vendor - Wall-Mounted Automachine
STR 15, 7hp. Armour 3. d8 Repulsion Spike.
  • Offer just the thing you need, in a can, for free, but with a chaotic twist.
  • Tell you about all the things it has seen.
  • Tell you how to get exactly what you need to go further. 

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Electric Bastionland's Open Door Policy

Bastion: The only city that matters. The Electric Hub of Mankind.

Everything beneath our sun is Bastionland; the furthest reaches of Deep Country, the long shadow of our past, the simpletons and obsolete gods.

From beneath other Stars, Foreigners are here.

In The Underground, masked Fallacies seek to undermine reality.

You have a failed career and a colossal Debt. Treasure is your only hope.



Writing continues, playtests are happening, and the setting continues to spiral out of control.

But forget what I've been up to. Bastion has been busy getting electricity, worse ways to kill people, and opening up to the gates to Foreigners.

And not just Deep Country yokels. Things from Foreign Stars. It'll never work out. 








Saturday, 15 July 2017

Religion of Bastionland

I've been giving some thought to Religion in Bastionland. Though I've got other ideas up on the wall, here's one take on it.

Religion doesn't have to involve supernatural beings, but it's a good draw for new members.
  • Those seeking structure and direction gaze to the Star Lands.
  • Those desiring freedom and revolution idolise the Underground.
  • Those rejecting modernity look to Deep Country.
Just as the Underground, Deep Country, and the Star Lands are real places you can go, Spirits are real beings that you can find and interact with, as well as the oddities they leave in their wake.

Distant, incomprehensible beings are overrated, I prefer gods that you can at least fire a bullet at, for whatever good it'll do. 


ASTRAL SPIRITS
  • They embody an ideal in an inorganic form.
  • They enforce the rules of their ideal with the help of human followers.
  • Their rules supersede any other ideas of goodness.

From Left, clockwise: Remembrance Spirit, Motherhood Spirit, Conquest Spirit, Hygiene Spirit.

Astral Faiths tend to:
  • Have complex structures.
  • Enforce lots of rules.
  • Make lots of promises for the future.

UNDERGROUND SPIRITS
  • They embody a man-made thing in a deathly or masked form.
  • They seek to bring about change and new creations.
  • They find destruction distasteful.


From Top Left, clockwise: Duel Spirit, Funeral Spirit, Porcelain Spirits, Smog Spirit.

New Faiths tend to:
  • Offer ways to break the rules.
  • Focus on the individual. 
  • Promise a Revolution. 

OLD SPIRITS
  • The embody something natural in a beastly form.
  • They oppose change and modernity.
  • They have animals and people take on demonic forms to serve them.


From Top, clockwise: Mountain Spirit, Elephant Spirit, Host of Death Spirits, Tsunami Spirit.

Old Faiths tend to:

  • Promise to keep things the same or move backwards. 
  • Focus on blood ties and physical rituals. 
  • Emphasise places and history. 

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Bastion is People

If you frequent a big city, you'll know that all the buildings and cars and pigeons are nothing in comparison to all the bloody people.

Now imagine it on Bastion's scale.



The Law of People

  • There are all sorts, and they're everywhere.
  • Everything you find and everything you want is tied to some person in some way.
  • Mastery of People is Mastery of Bastion.




There are all sorts, and they're everywhere

Picture a person. They'd fit somewhere in Bastion. Give them some stupid gimmick, don't worry they still fit somewhere.

If planning a dungeon is all about drawing maps and rooms and making monsters, planning a borough of Bastion is all about making People. 

Even when you're creating exciting city locations, someone will have wandered over there. They can't be stopped. What sort of person would even want to be here?

People you talk to are NPCs, everyone else is scenery. They're the trees in the forest slowing you down. They're the boggy ground drowning your horse. They're the sheer cliff face between you and the treasure. They're the wolves waiting to eat your corpse.

Some will tell you to give everyone in your game a name, but in Bastion the vast majority of people you see will remain nameless. You won't even hear most of them speak, but they're acting out their own plans and urges and getting swept up with everybody else.

If you're going to give details, either give none at all or more than they can handle.

If you notice a guy with a huge mustache, you also notice the bridal party and the child leading a baby elephant and the student sports team and the singing drunks.

If you go faceless, give them the mood of the crowd, the overall sound, smells, movement.  

Don't ever let the players ever feel like they're on their own.


Everything you find, everything you want is tied to some person in some way

An avalanche, a new weapon, a priceless treasure. Each of those things can be replaced with people. Get your paintbrush, dip it into the tin marked PEOPLE, and cover as much as you can.

The avalanche is a riot. The weapon is a mercenary. The treasure is a hostage. 

Armour is lackies. Skills are specialists. Knowledge is librarians. 

And those things that are just straight-up things? Somebody owns that. Somebody else wants it. Somebody else thinks that nobody should be allowed to have it.

Got a plan? There are three people in the way of getting what you want.


Mastery of People is Mastery of Bastion

With all the weird powers you might pick up on your travels, you're nothing on your own in Bastion. Great Fighters don't make a difference here, but an Army can. Unions are everywhere, because people are the most significant currency out there.

It's great for those on top, but those underneath sometimes feel valued by the whole arrangement. Sometimes. 

Getting killed is awful. Losing an ally not so bad. 

The worst adversary you can have isn't a brute with a big gun, it's the brute's boss. 

Does it matter if your Ability Scores are all below 10 when you've got a Bodyguard, a Personal Thief, and a Public Relations Assistant following you around? Does your 2hp matter when you're never the one on the front line?

Even Great People are never great at everything, so start building your contacts list now.






Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Bastionland First Playtest Packet

If you want to playtest BASTIONLAND, you can download the Playtest Packet containing:

  • A more radically altered set of the Into the Odd rules than will probably make it into the final book.
  • Six pre-generated characters from the new set of Backgrounds.
  • "Running the Game" section.
  • A good chunk of the "Understanding Bastion" and "Running Bastion" sections.
  • Keep Out of Brokenborough, a new sample expedition site within Bastion.

If you get it to the table, please send any and all feedback through to the email in my sidebar, contact me on G+, or comment underneath this post.

Have fun!


Monday, 22 May 2017

People of the Foreign Stars

THE GREAT COSMOS

THE GOLDEN LAND

THE FAR LANDS

THE ASTRAL PLANE

THE STAR LANDS

THE HEAVENS

THE FOREIGN STARS

Whatever the academics are calling them this week, there are places beyond Deep Country. We know that the Underground connects all things, so whether these places exist in a distant space, time, or possibility, is the subject of debate.

There are signs in the Stars.

If looking into Deep Country is like looking at the shadows of our embarrassing past, the Star Lands are glimpses of what could be.

There is always a glimmer of humanity.

While the True Bastion is a heap of chaos beneath a veil of order, these places are bound by rules, in spite of their alien exterior. Rules themselves can be a physical presence. The abstract is concrete, and the symbolic is literal.

Volo Beauties
STR 8, DEX 18, CHA 6, 5hp. Silk Dresses, Soft Bodies, Metal Frog Mouths (d6).
- Avert their eyes from the hideous appearance of any non-volo beings.
- Want to collect things they consider most ugly, for their own amusement. Commonly includes birds, which they also enjoy eating live.
- If they encounter somebody that reminds them of themselves, but less beautiful, they consider them an insult and obsess over killing them.
Their Bastion: All decadence and statues, but nobody has enough food and the trains don't run on time.

Gemcutters
STR 14, DEX 5, CHA 5, 8hp. Crooked Back, One Giant Eye, Mining Tools (d8, bulky) and Measuring Devices.
- Want to turn everything into flat surfaces and correct angles.
- Go berserk if somebody messes with something they've carved into the correct shape.
- Love their ferret-like pets, which are ultra-violent towards other animals.
Their Bastion: A colossal red pyramid dotted with hollowed-out meeting cubes.

Easy-Speakers
STR 5, DEX 5, CHA 7, 3hp. Rotting bodies, rusty guns (d8), damp black wigs.
- Can only speak truth, but are ashamed of everything they reveal.
- Because of this, they fear gaining any knowledge at all and lash out at those that would educate them.
- Will do anything to forget the things they know.
Their Bastion: Piles of pitiful beings, covering their ears, while their city decays.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Decisive Combat

There's lots of talk of deadly combat, tactical combat, cinematic combat.

The goal with Into the Odd is for combat to be Decisive. I wanted the potential for deadliness, without the wild swings of d20vsAC systems, and I wanted it all to run ultra-fast.

The idea is that combat should have three main stages.

1. Instigation (Strategic Choice)

Should we fight this thing?

Deciding to fight is a real choice you make, not an assumption of the game. No monster exists purely to fight you, so if things have come to blows, let it be on your head.

The nature of the instigation is also of critical importance. The two most reliable ways to defeat an opponent in combat are to outnumber them, and get the drop on them, ideally both.

This is an exit point, as you can usually make the decision not to fight at all.

2. Execution (Tactical Choice)

How's the fight going?

You've probably dealt some damage, taken some, and might now be more aware of what you're up against. Make a decision about whether you want to take this fight to the bitter end, or change up your approach.

This is an exit point, as fleeing/surrender are usually an option.

3. Conclusion (Consequences)

Well, that was a good/bad idea.

Fighting has stopped, and hopefully the other side is defeated. Either way, something major has changed.

Pacing
Most games follow this to various degrees, but the key with Into the Odd is that I want as little time as possible between each point.

Turn 1: You've decided to fight (Instigation), you cause some damage, and take some back.
Turn 2: Based on how well it's going to decide to carry on, or change your plan. (Execution) If you carry on, somebody is probably getting taken out.
Turn 3: By now one side has probably won, or both sides are so close to death that it's going to end one way or another. (Conclusion)

So while your combat moves are limited, the choices you're making on each turn are extremely important. It's a combat of two or three major decisions, rather than a dozen minor ones. It's key that each stage also presents an exit point from the combat, so nothing is inevitable.

Mechanical Support
Into the Odd supports this by:

  • Auto Damage (attacks always cause at least a little damage, with Armour being the exception, but HP is restored easily enough that you can consider it an Encounter Resource. It's astronomically rare for a turn to go by without anybody taking some damage). 
  • Low HP (d6hp for starting characters, cap at 18hp and that's mostly for monsters)
  • Low Armour (if you're human-sized the best you can really hope for is Armour 1, Armour 3 for the biggest monsters).
  • Relatively High Damage (it's quite easy to get a d8 weapon, which is likely to take out a 7hp opponent in two attacks. Even a STR 16, 12hp Armour 2 monster is probably go down after two rounds of attacks from four characters with d8 muskets)
  • Critical Damage means you're much more likely to be taken out of action before you die. A dying comrade presents a more interesting tactical choice than a dead one.