Why I like Into the Odd

Native Americans climb a double ladder down into an underground cave to collect water. They fill ceramic jars which they carry to the surface on their backs. One man holds a torch.
“Well of Bolonchen”, Catherwood 1844

Jason Tocci recently wrote a post about why he keeps going back to the Odd and I thought I’d riff on it a bit. To be clear: +1 to basically everything he said there.

For my tastes, Into the Odd consists of D&D boiled down to the most essential mechanical bits: roll a d20 for saving throws to avoid bad outcomes (at least when they’re avoidable), HP (albeit somewhat different), and try to find magical items (arcana) for cool effects and abilities. Levels still exist, although they reflect reputation rather than numeric labels. Class & race have more to do with the setting than with the core mechanics, so ItO gets rid of those.

In case you want to change up the setting, ItO is easy to hack. Unlike the followup Electric Bastionland, all you need is a table of starting equipment, potentially with a few unusual abilities mixed in. Those backgrounds in EB are harder to write than they look, since they each have two d6 tables.

Most important to me, though, both games together (ItO and EB) have the BEST GM advice I’ve seen. Much, or maybe even all, of it can be found on Chris’s blog Bastionland. I just find the material in a book more easily when I inevitably ask myself, “WWCMD?” EB gets most of the attention here, and with good reason, but ItO has the core of it all: Information, Choice, Impact.

My own supplement for ItO, Those Who Came Before, generally updates the setting to more of a Dying Earth with a few basic changes to starting backgrounds, equipment and such. (It also has a crafting mechanic that I think is neat!) It isn’t a full new game, because the core already does everything so well. It didn’t quite meet its Itchfunding goals, but that’s okay: people seemed to enjoy it okay, and it’s raised over $300 already – which, per my policy, will be matched and donated to charity. That’s a decent enough outcome for my love letter to Into the Odd and Numenera.

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