For running games on Outschool, I was told by a good friend that an adventure hub would go a long way in building the world out. An adventure hub being a place that grounds the adventures that take place. It’s a place to rest, buy things, settle down. It helps a lot with the pacing either on the front or back end (or both) of an adventure and keeps things a little more consistent for players, revisiting the same spot for some good repetition.
That’s not to say my current method of “y’all pretty much wake up at the adventure site with no recollection of how you got here” doesn’t work, it could just use some improvement.
And I started pondering “what makes a good adventure hub?”
We’ll answer that question at the end.
I got to thinking about Electric Bastionland again. I get bitten every couple of weeks. Some recognition of genius bubbles to the surface. “Oh THAT’S why it’s that way… That solves the perpetual X, Y, Z problem…”
And here’s one problem with DND Fantasyland: It’s hard to both conceptualize the space without a proper map and there’s no guarantee that there will be something interesting there.
Bastion solves this by A) removing maps and B) having the minimum number of places prepped for a fully-realized Bastionland is three (unless you count the Living Stars).
Wherever you go, there shall adventure be.
Bastion is your center of urban living. This is the hub itself where players can find hooks, eat up, and spend money. Any heist or gang trouble can be placed here.
Deep Country is the wilderness. Not “a” wilderness, “THE” wilderness. All climates, all geographical features, you name it. It’s here. Or rather, there. Out there somewhere. Get on a boat, wagon, or even a train. Just get out there.
The Underground is the underworld. It connects everything and is the perfect explanation to the source of the strange goings-on anywhere in Bastionland. Set your dungeons here with ease. Feel there’s no enough space? Make it bigger. The caverns expand, the seas weather the rocks, there’s an artificial sun. Just keep diggin’ lower.
And those who are familiar with Maze Rats, the back spreads of tables are broken down into: City, Wild, Maze. Electric Bastionland is the same with its Bastion, the Underground, and Deep Country (respectively)
So how I’m running Bastion with kids
I’ve decided that everything has been Bastionland all along in my current “amnesia adventures.”
Now here’s something fun about Bastion: it’s weird. Or gonzo. Or bizarre. Or otherworldly. Or something.
We over at the NSR Discord can’t decide what words mean (and I say that totally tongue-in-cheek).
Anyway, Yochai Gal said a thing that I’m going to repurpose here: “In weird settings, the PCs are tourists.” They’re outsiders. Observers. Wanderers and wonderers. The PCs, despite being in and around Bastion a lot, will still be generated from a starting package. They won’t see the Electric Bastionland rulebook at all.
“But won’t you be missing out on those 200 pages of failed careers?! That’s one of the biggest selling points of Electric Bastionland!!”
Ah, you mean my rogue’s gallery of 110+ NPCs with items and NAMES? See, people who choke on the centerpiece that is the failed careers always miss the second purpose of character creation: flesh out the world. Make the setting come alive through its inhabitants. All to be interacted with by the players.
So now, I have a city worth revisting.
Filled with weird and interesting citizens.
Connected to every adventure site I can muster.
That’s what makes a good adventure hub.
That same friend mentioned above listed all the adventures he’s set in his world with an adventure hub. Let’s see if you can place each adventure into either Bastion, Deep Country, or the Underground (Living Stars too if you’re feelin’ especially wild):
Dolmenwood, Winter’s Daughter, A Hole In The Oak, The Incandescent Grottoes, The Weird That Befell Drigbolton, Castle Xyntillan, Deep Carbon Observatory, Veins of the Earth, Sky Stone River Place, Tomb of the Serpent Kings, Kidnap the Archpriest, Magical Murder Mansion, The Mysterious Menagerie of Doctor Orville Boros, Rotblack Sludge, Sailors of the Starless Sea, Ragged Hollow Nightmare, The Obsidian Keep, Halls of the Blood King, The Isle of the Plangent Mage, Bone Marshes, Fever Swamp, Barrowmaze, Highfell, Arachaia, Anomalous Subsurface Environment, Operation Unfathomable, Sky Blind Spire, Waking of Willowby Hall, Sacrebleu!, Isle of Barzon, Gardens of Ynn, The Stygian Library, Prison of the Hated Pretender, Witchburner, No Rest for the Wicked
Pretty comprehensive. And everything has a place.