Wednesday, 5 March 2014

[Review] Into The Odd

Into The Odd is survival horror roleplaying game a by SoogaGames. The author is +Chris McDowall. If you got interested in this RPG you can get it from SoogaGames website. The website is also full of Into The Odd resources. Go check it out.

Presentation

Into The Odd is a well laid out in two columns with clear formatting. Very easy to read and digest. The pictures are old now free arts what fit the game really well. It feels like the pictures are chosen, not randomly taken. What I find really well done is the page breaks. No a couple of rows of the last chapter extending to next page.

I printed Into The Odd PDF as a booklet. As the layout is not meant for booklet format the font is a little smaller to a standard. But I can read it well. And you don't need the rules too much after your first read-through anyways.


The game is only 24 pages long but it has lots of meat in it. All the rules you need, Arcana to loot and use and even an adventure dungeon with micro-hex-crawl surroundings. This is a ready to play packet. And it is free too! If you want more material SoogaGames website provides it for you.

Odd World

The setting of Into The Odd is not too odd. It is similar to industrial age. The biggest place in the world is a city called Bastion, a huge metropolis. Beyond that there are settlements but most of the people have moved into cities.

Beyond civilization are places unknown full of treasures and weird places. And the most valuable items in the world, Arcana.

There are also different kinds of monsters and entities who have left traces of their now forgotten civilizations. Alas not all are forgotten.

Those are the places adventures travel to find Arcana to keep for personal power or to sell for great riches.

But don't forget that Bastion, perfect for citycrawls and it also has The Underground to explore...

Rules Are Minimal

Character creation is simple. 3d6 in a row for three Ability scores, 1d6 hitpoints and random starting gear based on the previous values. And if your Willpower is high enough you start with Arcana.

Arcana are like magic items. They possess a power. The game lists three power categories for Arcana for a total of over 50. And it is easy to invent your own. Just decide how it works. No particular rules.

The rules itself are really easy. In combat you automatically hit, so no to-hit rolls. Only damage. The decision is what enemy you damage in your range. The damage is subtracted from HP and when HP reaches 0 it's a critical. Some monsters have different effects for critical, like swallowing you whole.

The game assumes that what ever you try to do you automatically success if you have time and it is not too dangerous. Naturally there might be narrative impacts like how much noise you make while tinkering.

You only roll against your Ability score if there is a serious consequence for failing.

What I like a lot is that healing is much faster than in normal games. Basically you heal after each encounter but that balances the vulnerability and automatic damage of the game. More serious damage still needs time to heal.

The rules are extremely easy to learn and to use. The rules make game dangerous but don't sacrifice the focus on exploring and surviving. The system is so simple, it is almost beer & pretzels material. Still I can see the OSR roots of the rules. (ODD pun for O D&D maybe? As I understand this started with rules lite fantasy game anyways).

Character experience is innovative. It is not only about how much you kill and loot but also about achievements and influence you gain. The characters don't grow into super heroes at any point. Which suits this genre more than perfectly. No matter how many expeditions you have survived, the next most likely is your last.

Monsters!

Monsters are cool. As the rules are lite the monster stats are lite and it is easy to make up your own or convert from other games. The most important information are what they are, do, and what are their special skills. The book gives spread worth of monsters to use.

Also An Adventure

In the end of the game you get an adventure dungeon to run in a strange location. The adventure dungeon is short but interesting and really well made. I have the previous version and what I am looking at right now is updated adventure. The map is different (I liked the previous one better but maybe because I read it first) but the room explanations are more clearly presented. This kind of approach I would like to see more. You get the information like monster stats (kinda) instead of a wall of text you need to dig the needed information.

There's also a micro-hex-crawl around the dungeon. This is also updated into previous form but in hex-crawl I like the more traditional form of locations! Go figure... This is a little dull reading compared to the older version.

Why I Recommend This

It should be obvious at this point that I love this game. Haven't played it but I think I have enough experience of different kinds of rules that I can play the game in my mind. And I am going to use this most definitely. But my recommendations are:


  • This is extremely rules lite and easy to learn and teach. Some of your players missed the weekly campaign? Play this instead. You want to run a game for a beginner? Run this. You want something lite what still feels familiar? You got it right here!
  • Odd and horror mixed into loot hunt? I'm in!
  • The author (at the moment at least) expands Into The Odd in his website quite regularly with new material.
  • It is easy to make material of your own for this game. And to convert from other games to use.
  • It is free, though I'd gladly pay for this!
  • It is easy to hack for other genres, if horror and weird is not your cup of absinthe.
So go check out SoogaGames site, grab the game and tell what you think! There's Into The Odd community at Google+ too.
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Disclaimer: I have nothing to do with Into The Odd. I just love that shit!