Into The Odd Review

into the odd review 23040704
into the odd review 23032703
Into The Odd
Editors Choice

There is a very good chance that you and all your tabletop RPG-playing buddies might be looking for a new system with which to roll your dice and act like a bunch of weirdos. The esteemed folks behind all of those dungeons and the dragons within them have made some controversial decisions lately, but I’m happy to tell you about all the freaky-deaky alternatives in the world. Perhaps the freakiest (though not the deakiest) is the remastered edition of 2014’s Into the Odd by Chris McDowell.

To give you the gist of it, Into the Odd is a rules-light, heavily themed game system that, as its title suggests, leans into its own weirdness. The world is too vast and undocumented to be truly known. The sewers and catacombs below your home are too deep to ever fully understand, but there exist great wonders beyond the fullness of your grasp that tempt you onward.

Wonders like a mysterious chain that can attached to a person’s very soul and reveal their deepest desires or webbed hands, because they can’t all be eldritch abominations. Into the Odd is a game about understanding a world that is impossibly unfathomable and finding safety where you can while struggling with the deep desire to uncover more and more secrets.

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Into the Odd isn’t a game about big numbers. Don’t expect to toss massive fistfuls of D6’s like in Shadowrun or every D10 you have ever seen in your entire life as in more World of Darkness campaigns. No, Into the Odd uses your standard array of polyhedral dice, and you’ll probably be throwing that D20 more than anything else anyway.

However, you’ll only have four stats that you will really need to track at any given time. You have your strength which works for all of your tough guy/gal type shenanigans, dexterity for graceful, athletic manoeuvres and any sort of reflex actions, willpower which absorbs most social skills as well as mental discipline, and Hit Protection which is generally your classic HP deal, but gets a little more nuance. 

“…you can see that Into the Odd rewards dangerous forays into the world with very little safety to keep the pressure up.”

You see, characters are going to start the game with between 1 and 6 hp, but it acts more like a shield than a traditional life gauge. In a stand-up fight, once a character’s hp is depleted they aren’t down, but further damage will be done to their strength stat, and they will have to roll to avoid critical damage, making a tough situation increasingly less winnable. Other stats can suffer damage, but they do not have anything like hp to hide behind. Hp refills with a short rest, but characters will need a full long rest before they can replenish their stat totals. 

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With those basic mechanics there, you can see that Into the Odd rewards dangerous forays into the world with very little safety to keep the pressure up. That being said, this game is not mechanically dense. Most obstacles will be handled through roleplay, skill checks, and ability saves. The book spends much of its time defining keywords, displaying some wonderful art, and loosely explaining its setting as cryptically as possible. In fact, a good half of the core rule book is devoted to an introductory adventure, taking players through the strange iron coral, plumbing its blasted levels and interacting with the nearby port town. It’s a pretty solid and tense adventure with thoroughly mapped dungeons and some fun surprises.

Now, we should definitely talk about this book. I’m a huge fan of digital rule books on principle. I’ve sat in enough session zeros where I spent half of my time waiting for a particular supplement to become free for a small rule clarification that doesn’t even get answered in that book to ever want to do that again. Being able to send a pdf to everyone’s phone makes things run so much smoother, and significantly cheaper to boot.

That being said, the hardcover for Into the Odd is fantastic. It feels nice to finger through, there’s a handy little ribbon for a bookmark, and the art is just fantastic. As a great touch, the different sections of the book, the rules explanation, the adventure module, and the litany of tables for randomization, are all coloured differently, visible when the book is shut. If those sorts of tactile details are something you enjoy then I urge you to consider grabbing the hardcover, otherwise a pdf will suit you just fine.

Final Thoughts

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