13 articles were published here last month. Whew!
So what’s fun about Electric Bastionland is the built-in group premise: You have a Debt to pay off with Treasure. Great, love it.
I would like to make it bigger. Give it a more dramatic context that can incorporate lots of people instead of a handful of adventurers. Let’s make it an open table game.
Read this article if you want to see how I structure open table games conceptually. It won’t be hard to catch up either way. It’s pretty straightforward. Here are the four questions:
- Team goal: why does the group work together?
- What’s the rush: what puts the group on a time-limit each session?
- Reason they can’t stick around: why does the group need to return to the “party stable”?
- Impending doom: what pushes the campaign towards a climax and conclusion?
Electric Bastionland as an open table game
Team goal: The whole group works for a patron of a large company. For this example, I’ll be calling the patron Mr. Maloney of Maloney Enterprises. Insert your eccentric millionaire of choice. Turns out the whole “money” thing was a bit of a sham. Imagine if Scrooge was a ruse his whole life. It’s that scandalous. Upon his death, you as a group, have inherited all of his assets: £100k of Debt. Maloney Enterprises has been demolished and all of his belongings have been eaten up by his greedy children, who wormed their way out of coming into all of that Debt.
Use a d100 to roll up the four entities that you now owe money to:
- £40k to the first
- £30k to the second
- £20k to the third
- £10k to the fourth
You might have to finagle the effects of being in debt to that particular entity. It might not always work for a larger group.
What’s the rush & the reason they can’t stick around: Each session begins in the dilapidated basement of Maloney Enterprises, which has been functioning as a safe house for a time. Surprisingly, none of the people you owe money to seem to remember where Maloney Enterprises was before it was smashed to pieces by a giant electric crane. The fact that there have been countless bars and garages built on top makes it even more difficult to find…
The dangers of Bastionland are ever-present. The instant you step out of your hidey-hole, the thugs start coming. They might not be visible all the time, but they’re watching for you. If you aren’t back in the safe, dusty confines of that basement after two hours of real time, one of the entities you owe money to finds you and decides to teach you a lesson. You’re gonna get the tar beaten out of ya and/or be picked of your belongings. You know, making a “coerced short-term deposit.” Kneecaps will be broken. £10k all the way to to £40k is not chump change and these people are VERY active in pursuing their money.
Same rules as other open table games with regards to the “real-time timer”: if you’re out of danger or out of combat and the group decides “we go back,” you’re safe unless I roll a random encounter. Then you have to resolve that before you get back to base. You can never truly be “100% safe.”
It keeps the pressure up on the players to get the Treasure each session if there’s a Rival or set of mooks from another gang or mercenaries hired by one of the entities to get their money back. The tempo is set, and it’s set high.
Impending Doom: One sly spy guy finds your base. They tell their boss. That boss tells another boss. They keep talking with each other for weeks until every last person you owe money to comes knocking on your door for the big battle. How on earth will you get out of this one? How many favors will you have to call in to fight off the intruders?
Impending Doom Alternative #1: The entity you owe the most money to has had enough. They declare a total turf war. Weeks of battle will only leave one standing. Who sides with you? Who sees an opportunity to loot your corpse in the aftermath?
Impending Doom Alternative #2: Absurdist ending. Aliens invade. The weight above Maloney Enterprises collapses and crushes the basement. The apocalypse happens. BOOM! Some way, somehow, everyone forgets you were ever connected to that Maloney character. Now that you’ve been in the Treasure hunting business for so long, what are you going to do with the rest of your life?
Ever since my open table game of Blades in the Dark died, I’ve been itching for more industrial fantasy that can comfortable seat four (or more!) players from a pool of a dozen or participants. Electric Bastionland probably even does larger player groups better too! Someday, I’ll give this puppy a whirl!