Friday 24 August 2018

A Player's Handbook

A brief player's strategy guide for Into the Odd, specifically Electric Bastionland.

Welcome to Electric Bastionland.

Your Character
Ability scores are secondary to your choices. A good player with an awful character will succeed more often than a poor player with a great character.

Your character will have certain things to work with. They might not even appear as obvious strengths, but they're your tools to make the most of. If you rolled a character with a knack for impersonations and a bucket of glue, start thinking of how you can put them to use.

While exploring a dangerous environment, the most important tool you have is Asking Questions. Using this tool well is the key to survival and finding Treasure.

When the Referee describes something to you, it's safe to assume that there is more useful information waiting to be found. Ask specific questions to try and get to information you need.

Sooner or later you'll hit an obstacle that stands between you and the Treasure you crave.

If it's an option, talking your way through an obstacle is usually the safest option. Use the conversation as a means to mine the non-player character for information, find out how you can help each other, and potentially identify weaknesses for if things turn sour.

If you can't talk your way past, sneaking or other ways of bypassing the obstacle are a good second choice. You might need to distract watching eyes, steal a key, or come back later, but you might not have to even draw your sword if you plan things correctly.

Combat is always a choice, and if you want to survive it will usually be your last-choice.

If you have the choice whether or not to initiate combat, consider whether the reward outweighs the the risk. Even if the combat was thrust upon you, there is rarely a necessity to fight to the death.

If you're determined to go through with a combat, you can make sure it's on your terms by:

  • Gathering as much information on your opponent as possible, ensuring you aren't underestimating them.
  • Gain the numerical advantage by isolating a target, or dividing large groups, while ensuring you have as many allies as possible.
  • Seize the initiative by striking first or from a position where the opponent cannot easily fight back.
  • Focus on the actual objective of the combat. Are you just trying to drive a target away, steal something from them, or do they absolutely have to die? Once that objective is complete, you might be best off withdrawing.

Understanding the different weapons at your disposal will help you weigh up your chances of victory.

Don't underestimate the difference between d6 and d8 damage. Stepping up the die by one size is roughly equivalent to getting +1 to your roll. If you add in multiple allies attacking the same target over multiple rounds then the difference is even more significant.

Ranged Weapons are ideal if you can keep your target at a distance, but you can find yourself in trouble if your opponent engages you in melee and all you have is a rifle.

Blast weapons are incredibly potent, able to take out multiple opponents in a way that normal weapons simply cannot. It's expensive to get a Blast weapon you can use regularly, but Bombs are useful to keep for the times you really need them. Use them as often as you can and watch out for opponents using them.

The best weapon you can use is one that bypasses the combat entirely. Poison their water, set fires, or trap them in cave-ins.

Wearing Armour 1 is roughly equivalent to reducing your attacker's damage by one die type (ie d8 to d6). There's very little argument against wearing Armour if you can afford it!

Risk vs Reward
The Treasure you're currently looking for isn't the only Treasure in the world. Is it really worth this level of risk? Remember, heading in a different direction is always an option. Or maybe you can just try an entirely different approach. Get a loan and hire some help? Come at the Treasure from another direction? Create a forgery?

The Core of the Game
Remember that there is a three-part sequence at the heart of the game.

INFORMATION: Gather as much of it as you can. Always be asking questions.

CHOICE: Remember there are always more options than are immediately apparrent.

CONSEQUENCES: After you've made your choice, make the most of the consequences.

Good luck!


  1. This looks awesome! I cannot wait for EB!

  2. This is one of the most useful player instruction I've ever read.

  3. Yeh, you should be a teacher.

  4. This is an excellent distillation of what I love about this game and the kind of play it encourages.

  5. I’ll second Arnold K’s comment. I also think this is great advice for a *lot* of games, not just ItO & Bastionland. And it is by implication a guide for the person running the game, as well as those playing.

  6. OMG I'm so hype for Bastionland to come out! This is excellent stuff, as always!

  7. Well well well, this is so good. Sometimes I think i should glue some of your blog posts together into a small booklet. It would already amke a great game book.

  8. Do you have this but for GMs?