Thursday 21 March 2013

Why Don't I Get Better At Fighting?

For the mundane Into the Odd character, not interested in Arcana, you hit a peak of offensive ability quite early on.

Get yourself a set of Modern Armour and a Field Weapon. Congratulations, you're dishing out 1d6+1 damage and ignoring a point of damage against you from each attack. That's about as good as things get. No, you don't get an attack bonus as you level. No, your high STR doesn't give you a damage bonus. No, you don't gain feats and powers.

Sucks, right?

What advancement really does is give you the opportunity to fight smarter. There are a few ways this works. 

- You have more hitpoints, letting you stay in the fight for longer. You can't fight if you're dead.
- Your Ability Scores will increase a little. This lets you pass Saves to avoid nasty monster effects and makes risky combat manoeuvres more viable.
- If you're on a battlefield, and of any real importance, you should be on a horse. The armour and damage bonus here is quite a big deal.
- You've been gathering riches this whole time. Even if you don't carry your cannon everywhere, you might have a small army or a galleon that can fire broadsides at your more persistent enemies. At the very least you should know when to take your elephant gun, fire oil and bombs with you on expeditions.
- Even if you aren't using Arcana to cast Spells, you'll have gathered a bunch of weird stuff along the way. You have a potion that turns you into the Hulk, a thermal detonator and a glass jar containing some sort of intelligent lightning bolt. When things get tough, each one of these could save you. 

These are all very deliberate design decisions. One of the main goals of Into the Odd is to take the focus away from the character sheet. There really isn't much on there. Three Ability Scores that you only use for Saves, your hitpoints, and a bunch of gear. 

But you want to be Legolas with Flintlock Pistols, blasting away dozens of foes each turn. I'm not saying you can't make your mark on the battlefield, but it isn't all about damage output.

Legolas was only able to fight like that because he had five times the hitpoints of Joe Averagelf and rolled well on his STR and DEX scores. Joe can stab an orc with twin daggers just as easily, but gets an axe buried in his back on the next turn. Legolas has the luxury of surviving long enough to look cool before shield-surfing to safety. He's grabbing a short rest off-camera while his hp recover.

Shooting guys with his bow while he shield-surfs? Good job he has such a high DEX, or he'd have found himself plummeting into the orc horde for trying something so stupid.

Advancement in Into the Odd doesn't give you huge damage output and cinematic combat abilities. It gives you the survivability that you need to be able to act heroically.

Just remember, you're still going to fail Saves. Is climbing on top of the elephant really worth what will happen if you fall down into the beast's path?

Tuesday 19 March 2013

But Wait, There's More!

When you roll a duplicate item on the previous table, roll on the table below to see what special item Frank has in stock. Duplicates are discarded.

1: Flip Bolts (30s): Three powder-charged arrows that can be modified to fire from any bow or crossbow. Causes d10 damage and can damage structures as a siege engine.

2: Willow's New Revised Starmap (50s): An elaborate tome of charts and coordinates. Is actually an Arcanum containing the Spell Black Tentacles (Power 4).

3: Scrub-Hook (15s): A man-catcher polearm. Target must pass a STR Save or be snagged. They can try to break free with another STR Save, but failing this causes them d12 damage as they choke themselves.

4: Rosy Dram (5s bottle): A deceptively strong, pink liquor. A single measure leaves a man feeling drunk, requiring a STR Save to avoid passing out for 1d6 hours. A second measure will topple anyone without requiring save.

5: Devil Togs (1g): A heavy, ornate suit of armour (armour 1). Features a demonic mask that even makes your voice sound terrifying.

6: Jumbull (5g): STR 18, DEX 5, WIL 3, 8hp, Armour 2, d12 Gore. A woolly, elephant-like, beast of burden or war. Has an ill temperament and little to no training.

Monday 18 March 2013

Bastion's Favourite Arms Dealer

Frank Regal - Expert Entrepreneur
STR 14, DEX 8, WIL 14, 11hp, Duelling Pistol (d8), Officer's Cane (1d6), 1d6g.

A travelling salesman of great repute. Wears a faded naval uniform and wears an eyepatch for purely cosmetic effect.

Claims he's giving you a 10% discount for whatever reason he can think of. Discount is included in the prices below.

To see which items he has in stock, roll 5d6. For each duplicate, roll once on the Special Item Table.

1: Red Fred (10s): Military-grade musket (d8, two hands). Fixed with bayonet (1d6+1, two hands). Legendary resilience, still firing through monsoons, sandstorms, and polar freezes.

2: Capper's Lugporker (10s): A hooked halberd (d8, two hands) once used by city watchmen. Can force riders to pass a STR Save or be pulled from their steed.

3: Stower Sticks (10s): A brace of small pistols (d8, two hands) with a harness that can be easily concealed.

4: Buff Pup (50s): A heavy blunderbuss (d10, two hands) with a complex and lengthy loading process. Can only be fired once per combat, but roll d6 to see how many nearby targets can be caught in the blast.

5: Lagger's Dag (50s): A man-portable cannon (d8, 2 hands, move or fire) that can damage ships as a siege weapon.

6: Rum-Tilter (30s, one hand): A highly decorated, basked-hilted sword (d8), with real silver details.

Monday 11 March 2013

FLAILSNAILS Characters and Into the Odd

This is your one-stop-shop for bringing a FLAILSNAILS character from D&D to Into the Odd.

1 - Convert your D&D Level to the appropriate Experience Level, rolling your new HP.
Level 1: Novice (1d6hp)
Levels 2-3: Proven (2d6hp)
Levels 4-6: Expert (3d6hp)
Levels 7-9: Veteran (4d6hp)
Levels 10+: Master (5d6hp)

2 - Note down your STR and DEX. Your WIL score is chosen from your mental Ability Scores. Characters that use a different Ability Score for magic stuff typically use that number for WIL.

3 - Spellcasters choose one known spell from each spell level. These are now powers bound to your Spellbook, Holy Symbol or other suitable item. Individual spells will behave differently in Into the Odd, but retain their general purpose. Magic Items will also behave differently within their general purpose.

4 - If you consider yourself effectively armoured, you have Armour 1. Generally this will be medieval-style armour with a shield, or modern breastplate and helm. Light, leather armour without a shield gets you nothing  but shot in this world.

5 - Basic one-handed weapons and shortbows do d6 damage. Two-handers or high-quality one-handers do d8 damage. Big guns do d10 and are move-or-fire. No need to track ammunition.

6 - If you come from a Gold Standard world, your gold pieces turn into Silver Shillings.

7 - Any other information (skills, feats, special bonuses) isn't required.

Example (thanks to Harald Wagener)

Kelonius - Expert Specialist
STR 6, DEX 13, WIL 10, 14hp. 

Crossbow (d8), Short Sword (d6), Octopus Tentacle Whip (d6), Shortbow (d6) Curved Obsidian Dagger (d6), Fake Hook Hand (d6).  
Crowbar, 2 Spikes, Specialist Toolkit (blood spattered), Net.
Pompous Garb, Finned Puffy Hat, Broken Dwarven Glasses, Rations for two weeks, Piss Bucket, Fancy Hinged Box, Rope 50’, Pirate Hat, Pony. 
10g25s, Jewels worth 3g35s. 

Thursday 7 March 2013

In Favour of Static Saves

You might notice a big change in the current edition of Into the Odd.

- Saves are now "roll equal or under the appropriate stat". Nothing modifies this roll.

Here's my reasoning.

I want players to be fully informed of the risks they take.

A character with DEX 7 now knows that they'll have to roll 7 or less on a d20 to pass a DEX Save. No matter what. They won't be asking you what number they'd have to Save against when considering their actions. All the data they need to make an informed choice is on their own character sheet.

The game advises Referees to warn players when their actions will lead to a Save. Saves occur as a result of a choice or action.

These factors should combine to make the DEX 7 player do whatever they can to avoid DEX Saves. No leaping across that pit unless it's a safe jump. Better yet, let's find a way to bridge the gap or go in another direction.

The changes should also eliminate the unpleasant surprise a Save can bring. Imagine this.

A STR 12 character is fighting a corrupt guard. They take a big hit, run out of HP and find out their opponent has STR 17.

The Referee said the guy looked burly, but STR 17?

Using the old system, the player must now roll 15 or more to avoid being incapacitated and possible killed. I love deadly combat, but this could come out of nowhere.

I don't want players to be thinking about the STR score of their opponents or working out probabilities during combat. Having static Saves greatly reduces the amount of numeric data you're factoring into the decision and lets you focus on the situation.

D&D was pretty close to having static saves all the way up to third edition, and that seemed to work just fine. Of course, saves were often modified for tougher circumstances, which I won't be doing.

So, let's get this straight. A STR 10 character has a 50% chance to avoid Critical Damage from both a stick-waving street urchin and a Timeless Horror from Beyond?


The Urchin is beating his stick for d4 damage. He has a handful of hp and you can knock him down without much thought.

The Astral Horror is lashing out for d12 damage, warps your form into a tortured abomination with each hit and constantly barrages you with mind control effects. Your swords and bullets glean off its shadowy hide, turning your weapons ice cold. Even if you find something that can hurt it, it has dozens of hp and is going to make a few Saves before you can bring it down.

I'm not worried about the Astral Horror not being scary.

Anyone that can help to playtest these rules earns a universal re-roll token.