Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Six Weird North Archetypes for Bastionland

With BastionJam ongoing, I'm working on a full sword & sorcery hack of Into the Odd/Electric Bastionland. I'm calling it Weird North, and it is inspired by various pulpy picaresque tales, as well as my deep-diving into the monolith that is Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea (2nd Edition). As to the latter game, it's too crunchy for my taste (though I'd totally still run and play it!), but the flavor is on point. The gazetteer in the back, alone, is a goldmine. But, my preferences being what they are, it's Into the Odd or some close derivative just about every time, so that's the mechanical mold into which I'm pouring this atmospheric pulp novella goodness.

Armor, Odilon Redon
Jason Tocci and I discussed on the Bastionland Discord recently that we were both tinkering with soft classes/soft progression for Chris McDowall's games--not so hard that it forces some abstract compartmetalization of the game, but just enough to carrot-on-a-stick players in different directions through organic means. Then we both chuckled as Chris simply posted a more refined version of the same idea himself with Paralegal Bastionland. Kudos to Chris, as it's his game after all! Paralegal Bastionland affords a concise, actionable template for similar ideas, so I've decided to directly adapt it to Weird North.

Following typical character creation basics (3d6 for STR/DEX/WIL, grab some HP and coins, maybe a few related table trinkets), choose an archetype or roll 1d6 to determine one randomly:

1. Contender
2. Warden
3. Dirtfriend
4. Oraculary
5. Sepluchrite
6. Curator

Take the bonus gear listed, the base ability, and one prestige ability. Roll 1d6 to determine the special quirk related to your archetype.


Courage, but mostly swagger.

Bonus Gear:
- An impressive two-handed weapon (d10, bulky), or a solid shield (+1 armor) and a simple weapon (d6).
- A polished bone from the last animal you slew single-handedly.
- A curio from home of great personal value.

Can't Knock Me Down: For any STR save you make, make two. You must fail both to fail.

What taunt can’t you ignore?
1. Slandering your family
2. Slighting your wits
3. Mocking your style
4. Insulting your physique
5. Belittling your faith
6. Questioning your valor

Begin with one, gain another when you claim great wealth or overcome an infamous foe.

Outrider: You know how to ride any animal that can support your weight.
Ransacker: When you lead a raid on enemy territory, normal foes panic.
Janissary: You know a reliable sellsword in any major settlement.
Gladiator: You have +1 armor and 18 STR if you have an audience.
Jarl: Name two villages--they regard you as a hero while present.

Justice doesn't serve itself.

Bonus Gear:
- A sturdy hide shortbow (d6) or a balanced staff (d8).
- An animal trap.
- A pair of manacles.

Fact of the Matter: When someone tries to deceive you, you know their next move.

What cause must you vindicate at all opportunities?
1. Wounded innocents
2. Crooked dealings
3. Dereliction of duty
4. Corrupt leadership
5. Exploitation of the weak
6. Crimes against nature

Begin with one, gain another when you claim great wealth or restore order to chaos.

Houndmaster: You can speak with canines, and they always tell you the truth.
Woadreader: You know how to track your quarry in any environment.
Zealot: Critical damage you deal forces targets to expose their secrets.
Pacifier: In a difficult social situation, cool heads prevail unless you say otherwise.
Survivalist: Under duress, you always know where to hole up and get back on track.

Don't waste that, it's still good!

Bonus Gear:
- A silver sickle (d6) or a hempen sling (d6).
- An urn filled with salt (bulky).
- A pet bug.

Taste the Mana: Anything you consume reveals information about its source and power.

What won’t you eat under any circumstances?
1. Meat
2. Bakery
3. Cheese
4. Fruit
5. Fish
6. Vegetables

Begin with one, gain another when you claim great wealth or establish a new culinary trend.

Ratmaven: All rats are your friends, and perform simple tasks for you. Cats and dogs hate you.
Gourmagus: Lose d6 WIL to infuse a meal with energy capable of healing d6 HP or 2 to any stat.
Decompositor: Rot your target for d6 STR damage, then roll for fell sorcery.
Xiximant: You can craft potions and objects of minor power from salvaged monster parts.
Chloromancer: You can photosynthesize and do not require food. Herbivores pursue you.

The abyss stares back.

Bonus Gear:
- A ritual knife (d6).
- A bronze coin whose face you can call when flipped.
- Two solid rods of rowan wood.

Weal and Woe: At the start of a session, ask the referee two questions. One answer is true, the other false.

What is your method for second sight?
1. Staring into water
2. Casting lots
3. Reading stars
4. Inspecting entrails
5. Listening to wind
6. Deciphering tea leaves

Begin with one. Gain another when you claim great wealth or fulfill a prophecy.

Mythspeaker: You know the gist of every legend mentioned in your presence.
Starseeker: Gaze into the cosmos and learn a grave truth, then roll for fell sorcery.
Doomsayer: Pronounce anguish against a foe. If realized, learn a secret. If not, take full WIL damage.
Outsider: Your arms can morph into 20’ tentacles and each deal d8 damage. It’s terrifying.
Animist: Spend a day communing with the earth to reveal helpful related information.

Finders, keepers.

Bonus Gear:
- A blowgun (d6) or scimitar (d6).
- A convincing written edict from a fabricated ruler.
- Two smokebombs.

Bits & Bobs: You always have a curious trinket on hand, capable of distracting or enticing others.

What is your ideal take?
1. Religious relic
2. Cursed sword
3. Heraldic signet
4. Ancient machine
5. Daemonic rune
6. Enormous jewel

Begin with one, gain another when you claim great wealth or master a powerful artifact.

Bladewhisper: You always have two daggers (d6) at hand. Always.
Escapist: You can wriggle free from restraint even when it seems impossible, such as from a noose.
Helian: When you make a distracting ruckus, all attacks against you are impaired (d4).
Corpseweld: You can speak with the dead by spirit. If by more than a few words, roll for fell sorcery.
Fixer: You know a reliable underworld contact in any settlement.

The old made new.

Bonus Gear:
- A two-bladed relic katar (d8).
- A jeweler’s magnifier.
- An oversized waterskin (bulky).

Lost and Found: You have an uncanny grasp of the basics regarding time-lost structures and objects.

What drives you towards discovery?
1. Personal vendetta
2. Elite reputation
3. Ancient power
4. Cultural heritage
5. Impending apocalypse
6. Reckless innovation

Begin with one, gain another when you claim great wealth or activate a machine.

Artificer: You can craft tools and minor devices from salvaged materials.
Quartermaster: Your party can stretch food, water, and survival supplies by up to two days.
Appraiser: Merchants never gouge you and you can grift with ease when selling trinkets.
Professor: Your reputation precedes you, and you have an in with any upper classes you meet.
Delver: While underground, you always know which path leads to the surface.
Expeditionary: Hirelings will not flee, scatter, or betray you so long as you are standing.


  1. Oh I can't wait! I've been doing something similar (though not quite to the full classes extent with advancement you have) for my 'Journey to the Center of the Earth' inspired ItO permutation (for the BastionlandJam).
    Looking forward to yours!

    1. Journey to the Center of the Earth as translated to ItO sounds fantastic. That will be some great stuff!