Sunday, August 30, 2020

The Undying Bank (pt. 1)

A squat stone edifice, pillars like bony forearms holding up a roof of black slate tiles. Above the heavy iron doors a simple etching, half worn by the elements. A robed skeleton holding clutching an hourglass and scales.

This is the Undying Bank.

Coronavirus: Bank of England holds rates at 0.1% and predicts 'very sharp'  fall in economic growth
This but scarier

An ancient institute, its founders a hazy memory. It has no living employees. Not anymore. The bank's accounting is impeccable, and it guards the assets of many wealthy bastiards. 

Two odd factors make the bank stand out however.

First, the Undying Bank is not scrupulous with its loans. There is only one collateral and condition it requires. You must put up a body. It needn't be yours but if you cannot provide it might be yours.

Secondly, its employees are all skeletons. 

No one is quite sure how the skeletal clerks are created or animated but several dubiously legal expeditions have been mounted into the labyrinth of empty offices, hallways, and vaults that lie within the bank in attempts to find out. None have succeed. Few have returned.

For now the residents of Bastion have accepted the bank as, more or less, normal. But it is still unsettling for many.


Skeleton Clerk
4hp, Str 13, Choking Grasp (d6), Slashing & Piercing is Impaired
A human skeleton with a a strange, typewriter contraption wedded to its chest and stranger mechanical contraptions within its ribcage and skull. To communicate, it types out a message which is displayed upon an extruded piece of paper.
    - Will accost and forcibly remove or kill anyone not in the entrance hall or accompanied by a clerk
    - Mechanically follow preordained routines
    - Communicates with its fellows through unknown but quick and far reaching means


The Expeditioneers
The current expedition into the bank is lead by the enterprising Professor Emily Scribble of the borough university. Her entourage consists of assorted credit hungry students, down on their luck faculty, odd job porters, and a one Mr. Stew, sole survivor of the previous expedition, who mostly spends his time miserably prophesying doom.

They have set up base camp in several disused offices along the upper story and sneak supplies in thorugh a skylight.

As of yet they have only explored some of the already mapped upper levels but Prof. Scribble is eagerly making plans for further excursion. 


Professor Emily Scribble
3hp, Journals & Notebooks, Surprisingly Sharp Pencils (d6)
Wears a waistcoat bedecked in bulging pockets.
    - Very enthusiastic but capable of bouts of intense seriousness
    - Talks your ear off about her theories
    - Keeps a journal full of documents from previous expeditions

Mr. Stew
5hp, Dex 13, Cha 7, Hidden Pistol (d6)
Ragged, torn up suit, nervously grips his flatcap. 
    - Really, really, does not want to be here
    - Forced to guide the Professor or stay destitute
    - Jumpy and pessimistic

Assorted Entourage
3hp, Miscellaneous Implements (d6)
The clothes that suit them.
    - Some are enthusiastic, others... less so
    - All are desperately hoping for credit, wealth, or fame
    - Prone to panic and clumsiness


What dangers lurk in the dusty offices and halls of this place? We'll find out whenever I post part two this!

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

The Dead Shore

Cetacean stranding - Wikipedia

Betwixt Deep Country and Deep Water lies the Dead Shore. A long coastal region of mudflats and wide beaches, it is littered and piled with the decaying corpses of huge whales, strange squid, and all manner of sea creatures. 


People to meet while traveling along the Dead Shore.

Excited Zoologists (1d6)

3hp, Assorted Sample Jars, Sketchbooks, Nets (d4, entangles)

Scientifically minded Bastiards out studying the sea life.

    - Enthusiastically cluster around new organisms

    - Will pay for creatures they haven't seen before

Herd Of Crabs

2hp, DEX 12, Armour 1, Pincers (d6, blast)

Crustaceans searching for a meal.

    - Won't bother you unless threatening or particularly tasty

    - Will take at least an hour for them all to pass

Lord Canard's Men (1d10+1 soldiers)

4hp, STR 13, Expensive Rifles (d8)

Thugs out on orders, looking for a particular oddity. 

    - Will confiscate anything particularly weird or interesting looking

    - Don't really want fight but need something to give to their boss

Bone Pickers (1d4)

3hp, Blubber Cutting Knives (d6)

Collecting fish and meaty bits.

    - Might try to haggle with the party for supplies

    - Know the area well

Clever Carcasse Squid

2hp, DEX 17, Sharp Nip (d4)

Actually a small blue-brown octopus.

    - Will steal shiny items and run off

    - Very smart and pretty friendly if mischievous

Flock Of Territorial Seagulls

6hp, Bitey (d6, blast)

Will harass you and steal food.

    - Fly out of the way of attacks

    - Confusing, chaotic, and loud

Carrion Town

Built around the carcass of a truly titanic whale which has been carved out to become the towns pub, market, and local meeting hall. Shanty huts and tents sprawl out to surround it. The bone pickers and gut collectors who roam the Dead Shore meet here to trade their goods.

The town is noted for its fermented whale meat. A delicacy in Bastion and a hated meal here.

The players as newcomers to the town are likely to be accosted by Micky Putt, a child around twelve years of age, who will offer to take them to the Wreck of the Psychi for salvaging purposes.

The Whale's Stomach Pub

Literally a whale's stomach. The most prominent and only pub on the Dead Shore. The bartender is a loud old fellow by the name of Punch Up Prester who lacks a leg but possesses a nasty right hook. The place smells of rot and strong spirits.

Punch Up Prester

5hp, DEX 8, Nasty Right Hook & Cane (d6)

Missing a leg, walks with a cane/thumping stick.

    - Cannot speak quietly no matter how hard he tries

    - Instantly won over by anyone who can prove themselves in a fight

Ms. Lilly's Soap Manufactory

A squat building constructed of cut timber dragged down from higher up the shore. Ms. Lilly and her employees spend their time rending down fish, seal, and whale fat into a foul smelling soap that they sell in Bastion for a pretty penny.

Lord Canard & His Men

A once wealthy Bastiard pursuing rumors of a powerful oddity. He and his gang of thugs have been harassing the residents of Carrion Town for months. They are currently encamped outside town.

Lord Canard

4hp, CHA 14, Dueling Pistols (d8+d8)

Dressed in a winged top hat.

    - In reality, he is unable to pay his thugs in full

    - Prefers false promises and betrayals as tactics

Big Nhi

6hp, STR 15, CHA 12, Gnarled Club (d6)

Wears sturdy trousers with her suspenders.

    - Oher thugs defer to her as unofficial leader

    - Quite cunning and well spoken

Convincing Chocolate Coins

An oddity possessed by Lord Canard. A CHA save is required of anyone within hearing range of the person eating one of these coins. If failed any lies about promised wealth and reward spoken by the eater will be believed. There are 3 coins left.

Blubber Ridge

A particular quirk of the currents and the coast's topography piles the carcasses in great numbers here. So many whales, seals, sharks, squid, and fish are deposited here as to form a foul-smelling landscape of rotting meat. Valleys and ridges and even caves are formed by the decaying masses. 

On occasion the area is rocked by violent explosions caused by the buildup of gases from decomposition. 

In addition to scavenging crabs, carcass squid, and bone pickers a massive elephant seal called Mean Arnold has made its home here. Travellers best be wary or be faced with an territorially 9000 lb seal spoiling for a fight.

Mean Arnold

8hp, STR 15, Armour 2, Body Slam (d8)

Massive scar across the chest.

    - Will fight anything and everything in sight

    - Has a sweet tooth for fermented whale meat

Last of the famous whaling fleet Wanderer wrecked off Cuttyhunk ...

Wreck Of The Psychi

An ancient whaling schooner; run aground for several years. Only a few hours walk from Carrion Town but locals have been avoiding it as of late for it is reputed to be haunted. They are not entirely wrong. 

The Psychi was once captained by Emily Winder, a familiar name to any Bastiard. Indicted in a voice-stealing scandal, she fled Bastion aboard the schooner after an exciting series of events that resulted in at least two large explosions and one tram crash.

The Voice Stealing Phonograph

Center of the whole affair. If a victim's voice is recorded, turned into a disc and played, they lose their speech. Until a new disc is played the phonograph will reproduce any words whispered to it in that victim's exact voice and vernacular. It does not come with recording equipment.

Currently hidden in the captain's cabin next to Winder's corpse.

The culprit behind the reported hauntings is Micky Putt, an orphan who has hashed out a deal with the pod of Clever Carcass Squid living in the wreck. Micky hangs around Carrion Town looking for newcomers, then offers to lead them to the wreck for salvaging.

Upon arrival they promptly disappear and use the phonograph to scare the would be salvagers while the octopuses steal their valuables.

Micky Putt

2hp, STR 6, Stolen Knife (d6)

Surprisingly tidy and new clothes.

    - Acts as innocent and charmingly childish as possible

    - Can be fairly reasonable however, and willing to adapt

The Driftwood Tower

More of a pile than a tower, really. A tall, teetering edifice of old grey driftwood built above the tide on a rocky point. One can just barely make it out on the horizon from Carrion Town, a good day's journey away. 

Within, the tower is hollow all the way through but at the base a staircase winds down into the rock. Beneath is a small labyrinth of tunnels inhabited by a dying Machine held together by a patchwork of bone and seal leather.

The Machine will put intruders through traps and tribulations in a desperate attempt to drive them away. At the center of the labyrinth lies this oddity.

The Narwhal Horn (d8)

If broken, summons a Polyhorn Narwhal to the breaker's aid. They will demand tribute when done. If you pay it they will give you a new horn in return.

Thanks to Yochai Gal for helping edit the content!

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

More Wonderful Art!

Several NPCs for Electric Bastionland written by me and generously illustrated by the talented Roque Romero!

You can find their instagram here, their website here, and the Clay Shelf, a deep country adventure locale written by Yochai Gal and illustrated by Roque Romero, here.

Use these bastiards as you will but please credit me and defiantly Roque Romero.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Art For Sky Whalers Of Jupiter!

The wonderful Bordercholly over on the Bastionland Discord made this beautiful piece of art for my Sky Whalers Of Jupiter! hack. If you haven't checked out their submission to the Bastionjam yet I'd highly recommend doing so.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Exhausting Magic

Matthieu Cousin | Character design inspiration, Character art, Illustration  character design
Matthieu Cousin

Ruminations over on the Bastionland Discord got me thinking about a potential magic system to use with Electric Bastionland and Into the Odd. 

One of the things (in a list of many) that EB does really well is mechanically express exhaustion. The cycle of rest, full hp, lose hp, rest again. With added modifiers like becoming Deprived and not healing. 

Thusly from this formed the nucleus of an idea. Expend all your hp to do a magic, then regain the hp after a rest. Basically expending yourself to exhaustion when doing magic.

No need for spell slots, or once a day casting, it naturally balances itself out and fits neatly into the existing play cycle. It forces players to plan, makes wizards "squishy" without weird class restrictions, and is flexible enough to allow for player (and GM) creativity.

Without further ado here it is...

Core Rules

  • Sacrifice all HP to cast a spell.
  • Cannot (safely) cast again until HP is recovered.
  • Unlimited spells per day.
  • As long as you have HP to sacrifice you can cast.

Optional Rules

Casting Without HP
  • Possible but dangerous and costly
  • For each spell cast while not having HP do one die of damage.
  • Increase the die size for each spell cast without HP; d4 -> d6 -> d8 -> etc...
  • Example: Merdoc is out of HP but casts anyway, they have 12 Cha/Wil and roll a 3 on a d4. Reducing their Cha/Wil to 9. They cast again rolling 5 dmg on a d6. Now at Cha/Wil of 3.
Banking Spells
  • Same as casting, sacrifice full HP to invest an object with a spell.
  • Items imbued with magic must be durable or will burn up/melt when the spell is cast.
  • If banking spells is done during downtime it is recommend that a limit or cost be set.
  • For Example: While camping in a dungeon Emily banks several spells at the cost of getting a good nights rest. So the next morning she is at full HP but Deprived until she sleeps.
Magical Items
  • Similar to banking spells, magical items can contain a single spell recharged by sacrificing HP.
  • This is the most iffy mechanic to be honest. But a potentially workable one.
Layman's Magic
  • Anyone can do magic if they learn or are taught the secrets.
  • However people with a background/failed career/what-have-you in magic will get a 'cantrip' or permanent ability to use without spending HP.

Thats about it all really. Lots of room for modification and hacking though!

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Worldbuilding Queerness #2

Byzantine Government - Ancient History Encyclopedia

In the multiethnic Velosi Empire it is held that anyone who is willing, irregardless of background, may offer themselves forth and have their identity and personhood stripped away in order to join the ranks of the identity-less Bureaucrat-Soldiers who administer and wage the empire's wars.

To become a Bureaucrat-Soldier is to abandon all vestiges of the former self. No personal items may be kept. Hair is shaved, genitals castrated, tattoos and birthmarks removed with ointments. Lastly the name is ritually written on a note of paper and burned. 

From then on the Bureaucrat-Soldier is known by their rank and number.

Upon completing their twenty year service a Bureaucrat-Soldier is given the choice of either remain onto death or to reentering a civilian life with a small pension and due accolades.

While not officially endorsed, it is a commonly held fact that upon taking up the mantle of gender and identity once more you are not bound to that of your past and may take what gender and life you will.

Viking longhouse | Viking house, Tolkien illustration, Tolkien

Contrary to popular belief, the Lodge Dwellers of the western coasts do not, in fact, ritually consume their spouses after conception. This being a misunderstood and greatly exaggerated version of a traditional marriage ritual wherein which two partners both bloodlet then consume the opposite numbers blood.

Faulty translations and bigotry on the part of early visitors is generally blame for the spread of such nonsense. 

Another such cultural practice greatly misunderstood by foreigners is that of Second Marriage. Among the Lodge Dwellers it is expected that a woman marry a man (and vice versa) and have a child firstly in life, but afterwards may marry and lay as they choose.

It is not required that the previous marriage is terminated in order to proceed with the second however, thusly creating large extended familial relations. 

Saturday, August 8, 2020

The House Which Walks (an art)

An art! By me!

The House Which Walks - 6hp, Armour 2

A strange steam powered contraption that strides across the wastes.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

The Herald Of Chaos

The spaceborn peoples know well the dangers of the void. It is a world that does not take kindly to mistakes.

The Herald of Chaos is the sister aspect to Dame-Vide, the Lady of Luck and Mischance. When the Lady's dice roll and you lose, it is the Herald which watches hungrily. Its creeping fingers seeking to spin your world out of control and to utter destruction.

When your habitat leaks, when a solar flare arises to spew radiation across the void, the Herald is there, eagerly awaiting the moment when you truly began to lose tour grip.

It is a god of mistakes and split second decisions and cascade effects.

The Herald of Chaos is rarely depicted in artwork. There are no shrines (no public shrines at least) to it. It is a thing of radiation, solar flares, cancerous growths, and escaping air. In the murals and paintings surrounding icon niches it is only eluded to as dark shadow following the Dame-Vide.

No one but the most utterly desperate and hateful invoke the Herald's will. It's chaos knows no distinctions and once loosed there is little one can do to stop it. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Epat-Der, God Of Obstacles, Obstruction, And Boredom

(credit for this idea goes to Ossie over on the Basstionland Discord, here's a link to their account)

Art by me

Among the spaceborn cultures there are few gods so universally despised, save perhaps the Herald of Chaos itself, as Epat-Der the god of obstacles, obstruction, and boredom.

Epat-Der is not a neglected god however. Shrines to him may be found on almost every civilized stations and you will hear his name spoken in abundance. For it is Epat-Der who the frustrated curse and blame when an otherwise simple task drags on. 

It is traditional to leave offerings of stationary at his shrines in hopes of appeasing him and staving off his bothersome influence. As well, leaving the signature of someone you despise is supposed to bring obstruction and obstacles to their endeavors. 

Shrines for Epat-Der usually depict him as a multi-armed man in older style suit. Paper chains bind him and he carries an assortment of stamps and forms poised to descend onto some poor soul.

Interestingly despite nominally having his domain extend over boredom, Epat-Der is usually not accredited with the all to common monotony of spaceflight, rather being tied to the boredom of repetitive and meaningless tasks. Whereas the former belongs to the Quiet Black, godling of solitude and the vast of the void.

Update- Ossie wrote an amazing followup to this on the Quiet Black over on their blog, go check it out 

Monday, August 3, 2020

Glory To the Deprived Tag!

Electric Bastionland is a fantastik game for so many reasons. Today we're not going to talk about any of them and instead talk about the Deprived tag.

I love the Deprived tag. I love this tag more than I love existence itself. It is pure elegance in design. The pinnacle of anything Chris McDowall has written. It does not get better than this my friends!

Within this single word a myriad of circumstance and situation are open to you!

You're Deprived if you don't wear this tiny hat.
You're Deprived if you don't take this drug.
You're Deprived if you get lonely.

Somehow this tag condenses down what might have been a positive grab-bag of official and house rules that go on for paragraphs into a... single... word...

So Glory To The Deprived Tag! Finest Mechanic To Grace The Pages Of Any RPG!

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Worldbuilding Queerness: Examples

Follow up to this post. Some examples of how to go about it.

High up in the tall mountains where the air is bitter and thin and the snows do not melt there live the Root-Folk who farm the starchy tubers and herd the great hairy yaks. The Root-Folk organize themselves into clans based around their stepped farmlands, essentially being large familial units.

Roles are gendered and split. Men do the work of farming the tubers, repairing structures, and crafting wood. Women do the work of herding the yaks, weaving the wool, and raising children. Both men and women do battle against the other clans. 

Traditionally there are two sorts of marriage, that for the purposes of conceiving and raising a child, which lasts as long as the two parties agree to raise said child together. And that for the purposes of inter clan alliances, which lasts as long as the good graces of the two clans does.

However in both cases partners are allowed, and indeed expected, to keep lovers of either gender. Both forms of marriage are more akin to mutual agreements towards a goal (the first being raising a child, the second being an alliance) with other relationships freely permissible. 

Ancient Mesopotamian Civilization - Sada El balad

Among the Kulnites of the great river cities when a parent is pregnant they will preform a specific ritual to ensure the preferred gender of the baby they give birth too. Of course the result is not always exactly what the parent desired. 

When this happens it is assumed (even to the parents disappointment) that the gods intervened for their own obscure purposes. Such a child is deemed God-Touched and now has two options in life. When they reach the traditional age of adulthood, being fifteen among the Kulnites, they must choose between joining the priesthood and following their parents craft.

Joining the priesthood offers potentially great wealth and influence but comes at the cost of cutting all ties with their family. A difficult choice to make.

Regardless of their choice, all God-Touched are raised to the expectations of their own unique gender. Not quite woman or man, something all of its own. While either man's or woman's work are open for pursuit, they are expected to walk a fine line between not favoring one or other for fear of angering the gods. 

While the priesthood may not sire children without divine permission (granted by the Arch-Priest), God-Touched may lay with those who they please. A freedom not granted to the other genders.

Of course, both of these examples are rather tame and do not even take into account magic and other potential speculative aspects. But they're good examples of how this kind of thing should go. 

If you would like this to be regular thing, creating examples of worldbuilding queerness, please leave a comment!