Thursday, 24 September 2015

Into the Odd Reprint

If you're looking to buy Into the Odd, you'll see that print is currently sold out.

I can reassure you that another printing is on its way!

Further news to follow as I get it.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

ODDPOCALYPSE

OH YEAH IT'S INTO THE ODD PLUS MAD MAX LET'S GO ALL CAAAAAAAPS



As Into the Odd Free Edition with the following changes. 

Creating a Character
Roll 3d6 for STR, DEX, MAD, and 1d6hp as a normal Into the Odd character but use the starter packages below. 

MADness is how well they've adapted to life in this new world.

Top axis is your HP. Side is your highest Ability Score. 



1-2hp
3-4hp
5-6hp
3-9
Axe (d6)
Revolver (d6)
Hidden Blade (d6)
Armour (1)
Danger Sense
Chopper (d6hp, 1 Seat, Light, Fast)
Hunter Rifle (d8)
Machete (d6)
Flashbomb
Smell Petrol
Muscle Car (2d6hp, 4 Seats, Middleweight, Mid-Speed)
Assault Rifle (d8)
Club (d6)
Immunity to Extreme Weather.
Jeep (2d6hp, Armour 1, 5 Seats, Middleweight, Slow) 
Sack of dead rats. 
10-11
Long Rifle (d8)
Kitchen Knife (d6)
Pet Panther (5hp, d8 Bite)
Slugger (d6), Wrench (d6) 
Bus (3d6hp, 20 Seats, Heavy, Slow)
Baseball bat (d6), 3 Firebombs, 
Big Rig (3d6hp, 4 Seats, Super-Heavy, Slow)
12-13
Techno-Eyes,
Chainsaw (d10),
Sports Armour (1)
Dead Snake Scarf
Portable Siren
Paired Pistols (d8)
Exotic Sword (d6)
Sportscar (2d6hp, 2 Seats, Mid-weight, Super-Fast)
Spear (d6), 3 Bombs, 
ATV (d6hp, 1 Seat, Light, Mid-Speed)
Tame Vulture (2hp)
Poncho
14-15
Bike Chain (d6), Hog Trike (d6hp, 2 Seats, Mid-Weight, Mid-Speed) 
Road-Mine (d10)
Iron Knuckles (d6)
Skull-Mask
Pickup (3d6hp, 6 Seats, Mid-weight, Slow)
Crossbow (d6)
Fake Map to Paradise
Bomb Vest (d12 blast on death)
Poisoned Beer
16-17
SMG (d6), Badass Helmet. 
Dirtbike (d6hp, 1 Seat, Light, Fast)
Circular Saw (d8)
Throwing Knives (d6)
Fake Bomb
Fake Shotgun
Big Hammer (d8)
Filed-Sharp-Teeth
Mutt (3hp, d6 Bite)
Horns
18
Lizard skin (Armour 1)
Bite (d6)
Tattered Rags
Prehensile Tail
Metal Body (Armour 2), Energy Beam (d8) The only robot in the wastes. 
Shotgun (d8), Liqor bottle. No Legs, Power-Wheels (Slow)
Warning Flare

If none of you have a ride, you get a Scrub Buggy (Light, Slow, 2 Seats, d4hp) to share. 
All vehicles start with Low Fuel. 

Vehicles
Muscle-powered attacks cannot harm vehicles, unless the attacker is some sort of super-strong monster. 
Firearms and power tools can damage a vehicle, but cannot take it below 1hp.
Explosive and high impact weapons are required to deal a wrecking blow. 

When vehicles run out of HP they're Wrecked. The driver must pass a MAD Save to crash safely, or else it rolls/blows up and all on board take d6 damage. 

Repairing HP requires a Short Rest, but repair from being Wrecked requires a Full Rest. 

Ramming and Overrunning causes damage depending on the vehicle's weight or speed, whichever is better. Light/Slow (d6), Mid-Weight/Speed (d8), Heavy/Fast (d10) or Super-Heavy/Fast (d12). 
If one vehicle is heavier than the other, damage against it is Impaired. Vehicles take no damage for running over soft targets like people. 

Driving uses MAD Saves for risky situations, or may simply incur damage to the vehicle. 

Vehicles list a number of seats. An indefinite number of extra riders can hang on, but whenever the vehicle takes damage, they take the same amount.

Fuel is crucial, so any significant length of travel leaves you on Low Fuel. Another significant length of travel leaves you Empty. 

Upgrades do all sorts of crazy things but generally open up new options rather than simply improving your vehicle. Turbo might let you go fast but use all your fuel in one go. There's no currency so barter or steal.



How I Run Into the Odd

Someone asked how I prepare for a game of Into the Odd, so it's time for some rapid fire tips on how to run a game exactly like I do (which you won't want to do).

DISCLAIMER
I mostly run one-shots or short campaigns using Hangouts or with around a table with friends I'm already super comfortable with. My priorities are a brisk pace, meaningful choices with big impacts, and keeping the focus on the situation rather than the mechanics.



PREPPING

Get a Map
Draw one, or steal one from Dyson. Number up the sections and think of a concept for the place. Make a random encounter table using this format.

Work out a Good Start
You really want to avoid a weak start where nothing interesting is happening and the group don't really know what they're doing. Give them something to deal with right away.
If it's a dungeon it's easy, you just throw them right into it.
If you're in a city or wilderness, have something chasing them or some big crisis kicking off right in front of them.

Bait Hooks
Link that initial situation with the place you've prepped for the game to take place. Don't railroad them into a specific place, but if you want them to stay around a particular borough or head to some distant location, give them a really good reason.

Bait more Hooks, Seriously
The worst feeling I get as a player is when you're sort of passive and not particularly inspired to follow any of the directions. Bait up a couple of alternative hooks that might draw people in.
If you're using treasure as you're main hook to get an expedition going, throw in some side-hooks of mystery and power too.
Most of all, don't start the game off somewhere you don't want the group to stay. If you've prepped a dungeon off in the Far Lands and you're starting in Bastion, be prepared for the game to never leave the city.

Make the Main-Thing the Main-Thing
If you've prepared for the group to take an expedition to the Far Lands, have rival expeditions heading out, kids reading about explorers that went there and came back, market traders selling exotic things that have been brought back. If it's about a monster-of-the-week terrorising some Deep Country village than have give every villager a strong opinion on the monster and cover all angles. If you want to play in an industrial borough of Bastion then have everyone live in workhouses and make a table of nasty smog effects.



Get out your Specialist Tools
Okay so this game will probably feature a giant gorilla, so I'll make sure I have the Detachment rules to hand and I've got a load of ideas for things it can smash. I've prepared a ruling for the likely eventuality of it climbing something tall while being shot at.

I've also made sure to give the big guy some means to attack the whole group at once, and he's seriously tough. No anti-climactic gang-up-and-stab kills here.

I want these creepy number-chanter guys to be fun to deal with, so I've given them a mechanic where they pick a number and do something crazy when that number is rolled. It's meta-gaming but this group will enjoy a dash of it.

Get your tables that help when the group go off somewhere you don't have prepared. The Oddpendium tables like What's This Street Like and What's In the Darkness work well for this.

Don't Make Soft Monsters 
Into the Odd monsters shouldn't have abilities like this:

Whirlwind Flail: All surrounding the beast must pass a DEX Save or take d12 damage. 
Brain Sap: Pass a WIL Save or lose d4 WIL. 
Transformer-Needle: Pass a DEX Save to avoid the attack, or else you start a quiver. Attempt a STR Save at the start of each turn from now on. On the first fail you start to shift into a fishlike-humanoid. On the second fail you have full on scaly skin and hideous fish mouth. On a third fail you're a fish. On a pass, you shake off the effect for good.
(Yes I've done this myself in the past)

Just do the thing you want it to do. Into the Odd is designed around the idea that attacks do bad things every single time. Just because you might roll a 1 with your Musket and barely scratch your enemy doesn't mean monsters can't do horrible things every turn.

Knock it off with multiple saves, Saves against damage (NEVER use Save against Damage), Saves against Ability Score loss can work but it makes your monsters soft and unreliable. You want something meaninfgul to happen every time the players get in a position when a monster can attack them.

Go straight to the Ability Score loss. Go straight to the big d12 damage and don't be afraid to target multiple characters if it's a lone monster. Have Save vs something terrible happening. Put nasty effects on Critical Damage, because at that stage anything goes. If it's as bad as a Save or Die then forecast the hell out of it (see Danger in Plain Sight).

The abilities above should be like this:
Whirlwind Flail: d12 damage to everything surrounding the beast.
Brain Sap: Lose d6 WIL. Turn into a mindless Slave at WIL 0. 
Transformer Needle: Lose d6 STR and gain a fish-like trait. At STR 0 turn into a fish. 



Include Toys
The Starter Package section is full of toys. Little things that operate in that sweet spot between fluff and hard rules. Pots of grease, mirrors, razorwire. Things that the players can use to solve problems creatively.

Into the Odd characters tend not to have innate toyness like D&D classes do, so put extra stuff in your games to balance that.

Go full-crazy with the toys in your crazy places because players want to get a slug-mount and a moralistic-hammer to play with. Think of things that can be used creatively, rather than things that are innately powerful. They don't have to be equipment, but think of trick rooms, factions that can be manipulated, enemies that can be turned to allies. Everything that you can bend to your will to solve problems in game.

Things that just make you better at doing stuff are not toys and aren't even in the same league as this stuff.

RUNNING

Reward Questions with Good Information
Generally don't roll in response to questions. Rolls are for action or generating content you haven't prepared. Usually you can just give them more information.

Can I hear anything through the door? Sure, sounds like machinery but it's faint enough that you'll have to stick your ear right up against it to hear.

Do we know anything this guy wants that we can use to bargain? He hasn't let anything slip but you could ask him, or maybe ask some of his colleagues.

Any traps on this door? Nothing to suggest there is. You know I'm not a jerk with traps, so you'd know right away if it was.

What's in those woods to the south? The locals think the woods are haunted, but the watch say it's just kids messing around.

Danger in Plain Sight
I told you to make monsters dangerous, but the more dangerous something is, the more obvious it has to be.

Snotlings can be sneaky little bastards because they're just throwing itchy fungus at you from the shadows. A medusa isn't going to come out of nowhere and hit you with a Save or Stone.

I announce the presence of traps, because trying to get around a trap is the fun part. Spotting the tripwire isn't fun. The exception is if you're bolting blindly through darkness, at which point I'll say "You know you'll just run into anything down there, right? Sure you want to run away from the monster in that direction?"

Death Traps are big whirring devices, lots of hanging blades and ominous holes in the walls. You want to get through? Deal with it.

So you won't get killed in the night by a skilled assassin, or impaled on a well-hidden spear trap out of nowhere. I think we're all fine with that.

Force Choices
You stop to patch up your wounds? 
Are you doing it down here out in the open or going to look for somewhere more hidden?

You fail to kick the door in? 
The noise echos through the Underground and you hear sudden heavy breathing from the other side. What do you do?

You're going to hang around this pub and get drunk? 
Looks like the drinkers are split into two gangs in silly uniforms. Do you try to socialise with one or stick to yourselves?

In short: You do a thing that doesn't immediately push things forward? Make a choice that will move things for you. 

I like the rulings mantra "If in doubt, look for the interesting choice".

Deep Impact
Everything the group do has a massive impact on the world. You killed that stray dog? The street urchin gang that look after him are coming for you. You donated a bunch of money to this cult? They bounce between treating you like royalty and trying to sponge more money from you. You offended the guy on the toll-booth? He's told all his colleagues to give you an extra hard time.

Amplify People
Nobody will remember your NPCs if they're all nuanced realistic individuals. Give each of them some weird quirk that comes out when you interact with them. Silly voices are great, but hammer home their personality and desires as much as you can. If this boring shop-keeper wants to be mayor of the borough, make him never shut up about it and give him really clear political stances. If this dog is stupid and gluttonous have him eat every gross thing you come across in the dungeon.



CHEAT LIST

- Make things fun to interact with and combine to interesting effect.
- No soft monsters, weak consequences, or subtle characters.
- The more dangerous something is, the more obvious it is.
- Reward questions with good information.
- In in doubt look for an Interesting Choice.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Beneath Time and Space (Using the Underground)


It has become increasingly apparent that the network of sewers, vaults, prisons, and transit tunnels beneath our great Bastion reaches further than we thought in every direction. Indeed, the subterranean distances and directions, and the time spent travelling them, appear to behave independently of the surface. 

An hour along the same raging river could put you in the middle of the city, or weeks into Deep Country, depending on a single turn. A week-long slog through twisting caves might bring you out just a few streets away from your origin, mere seconds after you left. 



Quite where the boundaries lie between our own sub-architecture, that of our ancestors, the natural geological caves, and the imaginary horrors of the traumatised is open for much debate.

Of great interest are the rumoured connections to the Far Lands. While ships sail for months to reach those distant shores, those-in-the-know can crawl there in a few hours. It is supposed that this method could also be used by bizarre entities in the other direction. 


The prevailing danger and complication of these routes makes them appealing only to the impatient or terminally thrill-seeking. The more useful an Underground passage is, the more deathtraps and diversions exist along its way. Many obstacles are so specific and sadistic that they must be serving as amusement for some unseen observer.



As we know, any person or creature that makes its home in the Underground is certain to be twisted beyond redemption. . 



Using the Underground

If you've designed a dungeon, you've designed part of the Underground. But it needs a few special considerations to place it in the Odd World. Consider the Key Principles of the Underground

1. It connects everything.
2. It's slightly outside reality.
3. Everything is a challenge. 


And let's use them to better fit an existing dungeon into the Underground. Designing the dungeon was the hard part, so now we just need to check each of the key principles are represented.

1. Connect Everything
I'm assuming that the dungeon entrance is in Bastion, so this bit of the city should feel connected to the dungeon. The Long Stair is actually found at the top of a crumbling old tower, with its own logistical problems when it comes to access. Upon heading down the long stair, from the tiny top-floor, it's clear that you're entering a space that shouldn't be there.
Now let's say that the chute in Room 8 now leads to the Far Land of Scrapheap. Perhaps this is where the Rusty Man emerged from.
I'd also have another exit off to the greater Underground, perhaps connecting to a part of Deep Country. Perfect opportunity to create a new location connected with the purpose of the Rusted Vault. An abandoned fort with clues of experiments on creating metal-soldiers.



2. Shift Slightly Away from Reality
There are plenty of weird things down here, so I think we're safe with this. As a rule of thumb, imagine a weirdness scale with Bastion at the less extreme end and the Far Lands at the other. The Underground sits somewhere in the middle. Think of the alien influence of the Far Lands twisting the human element and familiarity of Bastion.



3. Add Challenge
There are lots of nasty things down here to stop it being an easy ride, but the connection to Scrapheap in Room 8 now feels a little convenient. Let's say that it really leads to a rusted labyrinth where the Rusty Man keeps a few human prisoners. He's the only one that can let you in or out this way, but
somewhere in the maze there's a metal-being that will try to lure you to Scrap Heap as her prisoner.


Monday, 7 September 2015

Beyond Cosmic Waters (and Creating Far Lands)

Beyond the light of Bastion, the ocean itself becomes alien. Salty spray and queasy bobbing turn to black-mirror water, singing wind, and surging currents propelling you like a runaway train. All the while the distant stars grow into glaring suns, and the night sky a rainbow of cosmic light.



Seasoned travellers can glance at their surroundings and have no doubt as to how far they are from home. Those wanting to get to Bastion need only turn their backs to this light and sail back to normality. Others hold their nerve and head on to the Far Lands.

Snuff-nosed writers in Bastion's coffee houses decree that their city is "Chaos under a Veil of Order".

Those that see beyond the madness of the Far Lands see irrefutable signs of order and design. Every pillar of fire hides a core of ice. Alien cities house bizarre beings that all know their place and act as one. Great stone arches allow wind, light, and time to pass through in altered ways.

Underneath the veil of Chaos, these are deeply ordered lands.

Then comes the madness of asking who could put such things in order.



Creating a Far Land

Firstly remember the Key Principles of Far Lands:
1. They are enticing.
2. They follow their own rules.
3. Everything is part of a design. 

So in creating a Far Land to use in your game, they roughly translate to:
1. Make them want to go there.
2. Decide on a the rules of this place.
3. Give everything a purpose for being there, forget naturalism.



Now think about why this place isn't just some Deep Country backwater. If you want some inspiration then grab a couple of items from the list.

  1. Defined by breaking a core law of physics (Gravity, Time, Light, Scale)
  2. Defined by an exaggerated landscape (endless mountain, bottomless pit, orbiting bodies)
  3. Defined by an Alien Culture. (barely-humanoid, aberrant, eerily human)
  4. Defined by a classical/other element (fire, water, one of the silly para/quasi-elements)
  5. Defined by an emotion (anger, sadness, fear, attachment)
  6. Defined by a single powerful being (physical giant, godlike cloud, hive mind)
  7. Defined by an abstract concept (industry, decadence, physical strength, piety, greed)
  8. Defined by a specific purpose (factory, prison, nursery, trap, battlefield, landfill)
Now look beyond that. As with planar adventures in D&D, it's no fun to have the Plane of Water be literally endless water. There's a reason people think of the City of Brass straight away when discussing the Plane of Fire.


So let's run with that. Let's say this Far Land is dominated by a Water theme.

Because we'll need a way to distinguish this water-land from the ocean around it, let's use the "orbiting bodies" idea and make it into a floating sphere of water. Like a micro-waterworld floating in the sky. We'll call it Bauble for now.

How are the group going to get up there? Let them figure it out, but remember the laws of nature don't apply here. The seas underneath Bauble have mountain-like waves, so they could always try and ride one of those up there.



We need a Reason to Go There

Some players will just want to explore, but we need to put something on there that's going to draw them in. Let's say that, although it's a sphere of dark water, there's a blue light glowing from the core, and there's some sign of islands on the surface.

Now let's set the rules of this place. The sphere works like its own planet, but you can't break through the water no matter how hard you try. The islands are sort of a belt stretching around the globe, in fact they're more like a city.

A scary thing about the ocean is the sheer size of some of its inhabitants, so this equator-city is populated by towering eel-like humanoids. Now we need a way for them to further hammer home the concept of order, while somehow embodying our water element.

Let's tie them into the very existence of Bauble. They're one with the water, and have a sort of Hydrokinesis when they come together in pairs. Each pair is partly responsible for holding Bauble up above the rest of the ocean.



Why are they doing this? Something nasty held in the water, of course. So there's a sort of prison element too. Let's say the light shining from the middle of Bauble is some trapped super-being.

When it's time off from chanting to keep their world afloat, we want them to have some other alien-agendas. Let's say the pairs are working to a common goal, but have incredibly petty differences with each other. Some go so far that they're trying to sabotage the efforts of other pairs, risking their entire world just to make them look bad at their job.

So there we have Bauble.
- Floating globe of water, bound by a belt-like city around its equator.
- Dark water with a glowing blue light in the middle.
- Held aloft to keep a great evil from entering the greater ocean.
- Kept aloft by pairs of Colossal Hydrokinetic Eel-People.
- The pairs each support one part of the world, but try to sabotage each other over petty differences.


Friday, 4 September 2015

Mausolossus - A Far Land

Sail away from Bastion and Deep Country and things start to break down. You'll long for those homelands where the sun's touch was warm, and the rain was cool. Where the stars were still and sunrise came every day. Where things made sense.

The farthest-roaming sailors talk of Mausolossus as both a creature, an island, and a time. They say that every creature that dies adds to the mass of this entity, and when it grows large enough it will dive beneath the ocean to create a paradise for the dead.

From the distance it looks like a long island, a sawtooth mountain range cropping out of black foaming sea.



If you watch you'll see that it's dotted with iron walkways and domed structures, and it's moving very slowly like a half-submerged eel.

It has no head but there's a majestic prow, like some impossible galleon.

The tail of the thing is cracked, blistered and oozing a pale blue lava, burning hot even without touch.

If you approach the isle you're drawn onto the rocks, narrow stairs leading up the grey rock to the cliff-side settlements.



The residents claim they are the first dead. The ancient souls that were first aboard Mausolossus. The rest are trapped within the rock.

Mad men seek out Mausolossus for this reason, hoping to find a lost loved one and take them back home.

They're gaunt, desiccated humans, not rotting corpses. They only inhale, and talk in screeches. They feed on salt that they can draw out of the ocean at will. They're mostly defeated, knowing that all life will die and return to Mausoloussus at some point anyway. In spite of this, they do have different attitudes.

Roll d6
1: Kill the living to feed our host.
2: Stay with us forever to serve as amusement.
3: In utter despair and too hopelessly broken to have any drive at all.
4: So desensitised they don't even react to you.
5: Take me with you so that I might kill more living things.
6: Get me off this thing and back to wherever you came from.

Physically they vary as much as humans, but they all do something unusual when they touch a living creature. Roll once for each little community of souls.

Roll d6
1: Draw the water from their bodies, for d6 STR loss.
2: Trap them in a timeless state. Both unaware of passage of time unless someone breaks them up.
3: Show them visions of a dead world after all life has perished.
4: Let them see with the "eyes" of Mausolossus, where everything is dark except a glow from living things. The glow fades if they're close to death.
5: They can't handle the surge of life, and lose d8 STR themselves, exploding in light on death.
6: Suck out enough life force to transform into a glowing murder-wraith for an hour (immune to physical attacks, STR 18, DEX 18, d10 Black-Helix-Ray, hostile until someone has died, other stats the same).

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Odd Trumps

These will soon be jetting off to some lucky Patreon supporter, but here they are for everyone's enjoyment.




Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Back to the Golden Lands

Due to their very nature, the two regions of the Odd World that I've written least about are the Golden Lands and the Polar Ocean

They're the place you go when you want to get really far from civilisation. When you have a place so weird you can't just put it in the Underground, or out in the furthest part of Deep Country. This place needs an ocean between it and the relative normality of Bastion. 

It would be impossible not to draw a parallel to our own world. I've been guilty of simplifying it to being the New World of this setting. But just as Bastion isn't London or Paris, the Golden Lands aren't the Americas or Africa. The name certainly doesn't help with that association, and in the supplement it might get a new name. The previous name of the Far Lands almost feels more suitable as I explore ideas. 

If you want a desert or jungle, you can put that in Deep Country. Same if you want to go down the route of having distant human cultures. Deep Country is big and the people at the far ends don't know about Bastion any more than you know about them.  

The Golden Lands are less like going to another continent, and more like going to another world. Maybe a dash of the magic of planar exploration. 

While I've previously spoken about them separately, the principles of the Golden Lands and Polar Ocean were always the same. 

Distant place where you throw whatever crazy thing you like. 

So the Polar Ocean is just a piece of the bigger canvas. Yes, there's an ocean where you sale into mist until everything gets weird, but all of the Golden Lands have an element of that. 

As you may have noticed I've been writing about other worlds a fair bit lately, so I don't know why I hadn't thought that some of these might have a better home the Golden Lands. 

With that in mind, here are the revised key principles.  

Key Principles of the Golden Lands
1. They draw you in.
2. They feel like an alien design.
3. The laws of nature don't apply. 

If you entered the Odd World and arrived in Bastion you'd think it was a crazy metropolis.
If you then went out to Deep Country you'd look back on Bastion fondly and say "At least they were sort of modern!"
If you then went to the Golden Lands you'd look back on Deep Country fondly and say "At least that felt like a real place!"


d12 Rumoured Golden Lands

1: The Breathing Marshes


2: The Desert Under The Low Sun

 3: The Blasted Giants

 4: The Hell of Emerald Lights

 5: The Poisoned Walk

 6: Parasite's Landing

 7: The Sealed Cities

 8: Diamond Range

9: Pillar of Injustice

 10: Incineration

 11: White Hole

12: Dropped-Space