Simplifying One D&D's Bastions

People have praised the bastion rules from the One D&D playtest materials for massively simplifying the complexity of building and running strongholds or other establishments (especially compared to previous D&D versions, including the 2014 version of 5e). It's definitely abstract and not a spreadsheet. Just also seems like a pain.

Here's my complaints and a rework.

As Written (Ew)

Here's a summary of the bastion rules:

  • 1 bastion turn occurs every 7 days by default, though they can also occur at longer intervals.
  • You can spend 1 bastion turn to order 1 bastion action.
  • Each bastion action triggers a special effect and generates bastion points (via die roll).
  • A few bastion points are also generated if no bastion action is taken on a turn.
  • The number and types of bastion actions available to you depends on your class and level.
  • You need to construct facilities to unlock bastion actions, if they are available to you.
  • You can spend bastion points to:
    • Receive magic items (the primary use, costs from 20 to 700 BP).
    • Respawn at your bastion (costs 100 BP).
    • Roll with advantage on charisma checks within 50 miles of your bastion for 1 week.

My first problem with this is that you're constantly, and passively, increasing a number for effects that don't really make sense to me. Receiving magic items is neat, but why is that just a passive effect of accumulating bastion points rather than an active effort partaken by the bastion? I like respawning a lot, except that I don't like the overarching mechanic. And rolling with advantage on charisma checks feels both too broad (impacting all charisma checks) and too specific (why is this one of three possible options? who asked for this?).

My second problem is that the turn duration and procedure isn't really helpful. I appreciate the variability of duration, which I think many OSR people would freak out about because it's informal, but it being treated formally anyway is strange. What's important isn't that 1 turn lasts 7 days, implying you should execute this procedure literally every 7 in-game days, but that (1) most actions last 7 days and (2) you can't use a facility while an action is ongoing. In other words, this procedure is better described as one you can perform on-demand rather than one that occurs automatically; however, since accumulation is central to the overall system, we need the loop to run automatically so players still accumulate BP even if they aren't actively running the bastion.

Basically, the whole bastion system is a plate of spaghetti rules that justifies itself through its own mess.


Something I think would work more straightforwardly:

  • You have bastion points equal to your level.
  • You spend bastion points to perform bastion actions, and restore them when an action concludes.
  • The number and types of bastion actions available to you depends on your class and level (fine).
  • You need to construct facilities to unlock bastion actions, if they are available to you (whatever).

Let's say you're level 5, and own 2 bastion facilities: a garden and a library. As written, these both have a duration of 7 days and generate D4 bastion points when used; instead, we'll say they cost D4 bastion points to use (I think the die roll is kind of annoying, but put a pin in that), and at the end of 7 days those points return to be used again.

Making the procedure on-demand means that we don't need to keep track of overarching weeks, and by extension we don't need a sub-procedure for when your character is not actively using the bastion. Instead you just use the bastion when you want, and you can't use it again until you have BP to spend and a non-active facility. This also makes BP act more like a budget than a revenue stream.

I would use constant costs instead of variable costs. There's something to be said for the random element, as if we can only approximate how much effort goes into something, but then we would need to decide what happens if you go over your BP limit. Do you lose money? Or do you need to wait some amount of time (1 week??) to reroll and hope you can budget this time? I think these questions are confusing and un-interesting, resulting from the need to justify a rule.

Finally, for a lower range of possible character levels, I would use a different range of bastion point costs; instead of from ~2 (D4) to ~5 (D10), maybe just from 1 to 3 depending on the action's complexity.


  1. How about fixed bastion point (BP) costs but variable 'downtime' (time to complete action and return the invested points): 2d6 days. Would add another element to add texture to decisions about how far/long to journey between trips back to base (in games with per-day calendar tracking), especially as multiple players will have different timers. Avoids the issue as you state of rolling more BP than you have to spend.
    The most streamlined organization/stronghold rules that I know of are the enterprise rules from Into the Odd, and I'm more inclined to start with that and add a little detail on top. For example, adding a special facility/structure trades -1 die step for a special ability (akin to immobile Major or Legendary Arcana).
    I got introduced to the hobby from buying the D&D 3.0 Stronghold Builder's Guide, so I do have a lot of time for this sort of player-investiture into world/setting!

    1. i think that works extremely well! i thought it was interesting how some downtime activities in the current DMG have variable times like that (in the amount of 2D6, 4D6, 6D6)---would be really neat, either as something you can handwave in a rush or something that puts time pressure on your immediate adventures :)

      honestly not familiar w the ITO enterprise rules, will need to check out!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Plagiarism in Unconquered (2022)

OSR Rules Families

Bite-Sized Dungeons