D&D (2024) Bonus Unearthed Arcana Reveals The Bastion System

A 'bonus' Unearthed Arcana playtest document has appeared, and it shows off D&D's upcoming Bastion System.

This October, we’re bringing you a special treat. While we’re continuing to develop and revise public playtesting material for the 2024 Player’s Handbook, we’d thought you’d enjoy an early look at what we’re cooking up for the 2024 Dungeon Master’s Guide.

The coming Dungeon Master’s Guide will be the biggest of its kind in decades and contain an assortment of new tools for DMs and their tables. In Bastions and Cantrips, we’re showcasing one of these tools, the Bastions subsystem. Dungeon Masters and their parties can use this subsystem to build a home, base of operations, or other significant structure for their characters.

And if you’re raring to test out more character options, we’re also including revisions for 10 cantrips in this playtest packet.


 
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Yaarel

He Mage
As a time unit, everything for the Bastion and for Downtime generally, can be measured in "weeks". (FR might want to redefine a "week" as a ten-day week.) Micromeasurments − like 20 days versus 18 or 15 days become an accountant-math game, rather than an adventure game.

Help players easily control and furnish the shape of a Bastion. Rigid system can interfere. For example, being forced to choose two out of three facilities − washroom, kitchen, OR bedroom − is weird.

Maybe organize options into Home, Business, or Fortress, where some Bastions like a Wizard School are all three.

Some benefits can be abstracted, such as an activity in any facility be able to generate a certain amount of gp, or any special facility produce a pertinent magic item that is Common, Uncommon, or Rare, depending on tier. Let players decide what the facility looks like, and what it does.
 
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Help players easily control and furnish the shape of a Bastion. Rigid system can interfere. For example, being forced to choose two out of three facilities − washroom, kitchen, OR bedroom − is weird.

PCs aren't limited on basic facilities, they can have as many as they can afford. The UA would give you one Roomy (400sf) and one Cramped (100sf) basic facility for free at 5th level. Additional Basics cost 500gp/1,000gp/3,000gp based on size.

Basic facilities don't have a level limit I can find, so PCs could own homes or taverns or pubs built out of Basics at 1st level.

I feel there should be some base cost for the structure/property. Like they should be building extra Basic spaces they intend to convert into Bastion Facilities at the right level, with the expectation that during those times they are collecting items, trophies, books, etc to turn a storage room into a Reliquary or whatever.

Maybe organize options into Home, Business, or Fortress, where some Bastions like a Wizard School are all three.

Some benefits can be abstracted, such as an activity in any facility be able to generate a certain amount of gp, or any special facility produce a pertinent magic item that is Common, Uncommon, or Rare, depending on tier. Let players decide what the facility looks like, and what it does.

I don't dislike that, though some are both Fortress and Business IMO. (I.e. Greenhouse, with free Lesser Restorations and potion/poison creation)

Maybe the benefits should be less tied together, although that does simplify balancing. This is my 3e preferences showing, but setting the benefits up like a Feat tree seems appropriate. Trade and basic lore are "lesser" feats that are pre-req for the more powerful feat. (I.e. Storehouse is essentially taking Trade feat with "Future earning potential" as the advanced feat, Arcane Study is Trade (books/foci) and Identify as the advanced feat, Greenhouse has Trade (potions) and Lesser Restoration as the advanced)
 

PC privilege. And I mean that literally. PCs are different from NPCs both narratively and mechanically. While the DM can stat a rival or mentor with a PC class, most NPCs have NPC stat blocks and not full fledged classes.

It's not like the recent crop of game-lit fantasy anime where everyone in the world has a custom tailored class. It's not even like 3e where there were NPC classes. Class levels represent the rare and exceptional sorts, and just because their hirelings have some similar tricks doesn't mean they get the whole package.

I am good* with that if it gets explicitly explained. This "the dm can figure it all out" crap means no two tables are even using the same base state to deviate from. My assumption is that GMs tweak their rules for their setting but with no default, there's no way to describe those customizations.

*My favorite system is Earthdawn, where everyone has magic. Common NPCs get half magic, which is a kind of catch-all not totally dissimilar to ADD2e Professions, with some extra thrown in. farmer half-magic lets them know when to plant/harvest, recognize disease and talk to plants so they grow faster. Smith half magic lets them craft itmes keeps the fire hot without touching bellows, chef half magic can make croissants without butter using an oven made out of six large rocks, etc.

Heroes can't get NPC half magic because they have their own half-magic which is tied to their full magic. (5e Proficiency bonuses are kind of like half-magic) A warrior's half magic lets them know how to use any melee weapon instantly, Archers get the same for ranged weapons, spellcasters use half magic for enchanting, etc, etc.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
PCs aren't limited on basic facilities, they can have as many as they can afford. The UA would give you one Roomy (400sf) and one Cramped (100sf) basic facility for free at 5th level. Additional Basics cost 500gp/1,000gp/3,000gp based on size.

Basic facilities don't have a level limit I can find, so PCs could own homes or taverns or pubs built out of Basics at 1st level.

I feel there should be some base cost for the structure/property. Like they should be building extra Basic spaces they intend to convert into Bastion Facilities at the right level, with the expectation that during those times they are collecting items, trophies, books, etc to turn a storage room into a Reliquary or whatever.
I feel spending gp on floor space is a good idea. But how that floor space gets furnished − such as washroom, kitchen, livingroom − should be completely up to player imagination.

Many benefits can depend on skill and tool checks, such as business-running, gardening, brewing, metal-smithing, hospitality, library research, etcetera.

"Special facilities" are a separate category, of course.

I don't dislike that, though some are both Fortress and Business IMO. (I.e. Greenhouse, with free Lesser Restorations and potion/poison creation)

Maybe the benefits should be less tied together, although that does simplify balancing. This is my 3e preferences showing, but setting the benefits up like a Feat tree seems appropriate. Trade and basic lore are "lesser" feats that are pre-req for the more powerful feat. (I.e. Storehouse is essentially taking Trade feat with "Future earning potential" as the advanced feat, Arcane Study is Trade (books/foci) and Identify as the advanced feat, Greenhouse has Trade (potions) and Lesser Restoration as the advanced)
Along with gp profitability, magic-item production, a free spell per week of a certain slot level is easy to abstract rules for any facility.

In my eyes, the Identify spell is worthless. Any player can spend a Short Rest to identify and use any magic item. The Playtest has been using the Identify spell to translate the idiosyncrasies or each spellcasters spellbook, but that is new and not part of the 2014 description. And when a mage can refresh spells per Long Rest (and perform rituals freely), gaining a slot-1 spell per week seems trivial.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
I am good* with that if it gets explicitly explained. This "the dm can figure it all out" crap means no two tables are even using the same base state to deviate from. My assumption is that GMs tweak their rules for their setting but with no default, there's no way to describe those customizations.

*My favorite system is Earthdawn, where everyone has magic. Common NPCs get half magic, which is a kind of catch-all not totally dissimilar to ADD2e Professions, with some extra thrown in. farmer half-magic lets them know when to plant/harvest, recognize disease and talk to plants so they grow faster. Smith half magic lets them craft itmes keeps the fire hot without touching bellows, chef half magic can make croissants without butter using an oven made out of six large rocks, etc.

Heroes can't get NPC half magic because they have their own half-magic which is tied to their full magic. (5e Proficiency bonuses are kind of like half-magic) A warrior's half magic lets them know how to use any melee weapon instantly, Archers get the same for ranged weapons, spellcasters use half magic for enchanting, etc, etc.
The "half magic", namely noncombat narrative powers, is something a background can grant.

Even a Bastion can grant "half magic" features similar to a background.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Using the Bastion Storehouse to run a pub or other business was obvious to me.

But I am still unsure how best to build a Wizard School as a Bastion.

Something like, the Barracks are instead a dormitory, with students and faculty who are various spellcaster classes at various levels.

Maybe start as a Master of several Apprentices at level 9, then at 13 and 17 expand to an important university.
The barracks are a barracks to protect the students from assault and leave them to study their precious magic. Guards are useful to wizards. :)
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Another thing is the bastion turn duration. In the article it says 7 days (i. e. One week) but weeks in the Forgotten Realms are called Tendays and have 10 days (no pun intended). This also makes math easier because each month is equal to 3 turns. After each 30 days month there is a holyday (which we could consider a non working day). The only problem would be the building times. They don't exactly check with 10 days bastion turns...
A few things. First, they say 7 days or whatever the hell the DM feels like and then give their expected number of Bastion Turns per level. I'm just going to decide how many turns per level I'm going to implement and then have the timing be flexible since bastions really wouldn't work on 7 day clockwork precision for everything. Second, even in the FR you can still give turns every 7 days if you want. 7 days doesn't have to be called a week. :)
 


Yaarel

He Mage
A few things. First, they say 7 days or whatever the hell the DM feels like and then give their expected number of Bastion Turns per level. I'm just going to decide how many turns per level I'm going to implement and then have the timing be flexible since bastions really wouldn't work on 7 day clockwork precision for everything. Second, even in the FR you can still give turns every 7 days if you want. 7 days doesn't have to be called a week. :)
Actually, measure everything in "weeks". Instead of 20 days, call it "3 weeks". Instead of 15 days, call it "2 weeks".

Then let the amount of time a "week" actually is be squishy and stretchy.
 


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