Playing Into the Odd with The Landshut rules: REDUX

1) Ability Scores
Roll 3d6 for each, Strength, Dexterity Willpower.
If an Ability is 5 or lower, write on your index card (“character sheet”): “low strength”, or “low dexterity” or “low willpower”, or “weak”, “clumsy” or “weak-willed”, or something similar.
If an Ability is 16 or higher, write the opposite, for instance “Strong” or “Dextrous/Agile” or “Mind Master”, or something similar.
Be sure to jot down the numbers you rolled. You won’t need them in the game, but you need them to determine your gear.

2) Use common in-world sense when you determine damage.
If it seems appropriate that a character should face grave consequences in combat or as a result of injury, the player makes an opposed 2d6 roll against the ref. If the player rolls higher, his character has avoided critical injury and can continue. If the player rolls lower, his character is now critically injured (when fighting monsters, this might even mean instant death).

The ref determines how long it will take to heal up.
3) Roll 1d6 and cross-index the result with your highest Ability score to determine your gear.

4) Combat:
Opposed 2d6 rolls. Ref might grant bonus if appropriate. 

Let’s create an Into the Odd character!

1) I roll 3d6 for STR, DEX and WILL:
STR 5, DEX 6, WILL 7.
On my index card, I write: “weak”

2) My gear: Pistol, Knife, Telepathy if target fails WIL save
Nice!

______________________________________________________________________
Genghis Klunk, the Telepath of Tripolis, Level 1

middle-aged man, balding, fat, weak
Pistol, Knife, Telepathy if target fails WIL save
______________________________________________________________________

Let’s say Genghis is duking it out with a nameless thug in an Octoberfest beer tent.
The ref says Genghis can surprise the thug with a sucker punch.

Genghis (rolls 2d6 and subtracts 1 because he’s weak): I’ma punch that guy in the face, like so (stands up and mimicks the punch), rolls 6

Thug: rolls 7

Referee: Genghis, you throw a mighty right hook from out of nowhere, but the thug somehow feels it and ducks, and right on time, he launches a counter-left straight that sends you a step back! You are not an experienced brawler, Genghis…

Genghis: laughs

Referee: …and that’s why the thug decided to close in on you, pretty low, very quickly.

Genghis: Shiiiiit… what’s he doing? Can I recognize what he’s doing?

Referee: No. You can’t. His so quick, and you are just not experienced enough. Roll 2d6-1, buddy.

Genghis: rolls 8

Thug: rolls 2!
Referee (facepalm)

Genghis: Ha-ha-haaaaaaaaaaa!

Referee: Wow! So he shoots for your legs, but slips somehow, and misses you by a mile. What do you do; Genghis?

Genghis: I whack him in the head with the… my stein! You want me to roll?

Referee: No, that guy slipped hard, really! You whack him in the head, and he crumples, as if someone had switched him off.

Into Landshut: Playing ItO games with the Landshut Rules

Chris McDowall is a pro. He writes games that are beautiful and reduced to their essence.
His best and most popular (rightfully so) game is Into the Odd (or its bigger brother, Electric Bastionland).

Into the Odd uses a peculiar mechanism: You don’t roll to hit, you go directly to rolling damage. This makes your narrative matter again. Your “fictional positioning” (“What do you do?”) is important because it might give you in-game advantages. Joe Banner has written a nice cheat sheet of Chris’s game, but PLEASE go ahead and buy it on Drivethru.

I’m a huge fan of Into the Odd. And I have every hack of that game. Every single one.

Still: I also happen to like opposed rolls a lot. Hence: Here’s how to play ItO with Landshut rules.

You can apply the following steps for all hacks of ItO, by the way. Let’s get started.

1) Ability Scores
Roll 3d6 for each, Strength, Dexterity Willpower.
If an Ability is 5 or lower, write on your index card (“character sheet”): “low strength”, or “low dexterity” or “low willpower”, or “weak”, “clumsy” or “weak-willed”, or something similar.
If an Ability is 16 or higher, write the opposite, for instance “Strong” or “Dextrous/Agile” or “Mind Master”, or something similar.
Be sure to jot down the numbers you rolled. You won’t need them in the game, but you need them to determine your gear.

2) Roll 1d6 for Hit Protection.
These are the number of hits you can take before damage gets critical.

3) Cross-index your Hit Protection and your highest Ability score to determine your gear.

4) Combat:
Roll 2d6 against the referee. Both sides add either +1 or +2 if their character have a noticeable advantage. Higher rolls wins and does damage. This is usually 1 hit, or 2 for really dangerous weapons.

If a character has lost all Hit Protection, any further damage might become critical: To avoid being critically injured (and unable to move, possibly dying), roll 2d6 vs the referee’s 2d6.The ref might grant you a bonus to the roll. If you roll higher, your character has avoided a critical injury: write down the damage, anyway. If you roll lower than the ref, your character is knocked down and is critically injured.  The ref determines how long it will take to heal up.

If your character ever reaches Level+4 negative Hit Protection, s/he dies.

Let’s create an Into the Odd character!

1) I roll 3d6 for STR, DEX and WILL:
STR 5, DEX 6, WILL 7.
On my index card, I write: “weak”

2) I roll my HP: 4.

3) My gear: Pistol, Knife, Telepathy if target fails WIL save
Nice!

______________________________________________________________________
Genghis Klunk, the Telepath of Tripolis, Level 1

middle-aged man, balding, fat, weak
Pistol, Knife, Telepathy if target fails WIL save
Hits: 4 (I die when I’m at -5 Hits)
______________________________________________________________________

Let’s say Genghis is duking it out with a nameless thug (3 hits).
The ref says Genghis can surprise the thug with a sucker punch.

Genghis (rolls 2d6 and subtracts 1 because he’s weak): I’ma punch that guy in the face, like so (stands up and mimicks the punch), rolls 6

Thug: rolls 7

Referee: Genghis, you throw a mighty right hook from out of nowhere, but the thug somehow feels it and ducks, and right on time, he launches a counter-left straight that sends you a step back!

Genghis: subtracts 1 from his hits; he now has 3.

Referee: You are not an experienced brawler, Genghis…

Genghis: laughs

Referee: …and that’s why the thug decided to close in on you, pretty low, very quickly.

Genghis: Shiiiiit… what’s he doing? Can I recognize what he’s doing?

Referee: No. You can’t. His so quick, and you are just not experienced enough. Roll 2d6-1, buddy.

Genghis: rolls 8

Thug: rolls 2!
Referee (facepalm)

Genghis: Ha-ha-haaaaaaaaaaa!

Referee: Wow! So he shoots for your legs, but slips somehow, and misses you by a mile. What do you do; Genghis?

Genghis: I whack him in the head with the… my stein! You want me to roll?

Referee: No, that guy slipped hard, really! You whack him in the head, and he crumples, as if someone had switched him off.

Quick and decisive combat with Into the Odd

We’re playtesting the Into the Odd/Electric Bastionland combat rules for a cinematic cyberpunk game… and they’re BEAUTIFUL. The last situation we tried was this here: a hired killer (STR8 DEX 13 CHA 11, 17 hp) with an assault rifle against 7 goons (4hp, daggers d6). Location: dark warehouse. They spot him, and start to run towards him. He gets one chance to spray them with bullets before they arrive. We’re using the “Into the Jungle” autofire rules. Player: rolls a d20 – he has to roll 18 or lower for the first burst, 15 or lower for the second, and 10 or lower for the third. He makes all three rolls, so he can now roll damage three times. After this attack, three goons were dead. Goons: Now they’ve reached his position, and we roll group initiative: The goons win. I roll damage: 4d6, highest die: a 6. The player character (killer) is down to 11 hp. Next round, player wins initiative. Player: There’s still four of them, shiiiiat! I let myself drop onto my back (a move we learned in Russian military combatives), and try to squeeze the trigger! (He’s the one most at risk, so I have him make a DEX save, with Disadvantage – and he aces it!) Again, the player goes for three bursts of fire; two of them are successful, then, he’s out of ammo. These shots kill another two gangsters. Two left. Now’s the goons’ turn. Goons: roll 2d6 for damage, and again, highest die is a 6. The player character is down to 5 hp. New round. The gangsters win initiative. Goons: roll 2d6 for damage, and ANOTHER 6 pops up. The player character is down to 0 hp, and STR 7. He makes a STR save to avoid critical damage, but misses. Holy SHIT, that was AWESOME!

The goodness that is Into the Odd

There’s a reason why I like Into the Odd. In the past, I compared it with early forms of roleplaying (like our homebrew system, the Landshut rules). And I came to the conclusion that, bottom line, ItO is the winner. The reason: Referees can bake the setting right into their classes, and that helps everyone at the table. And game prep is a snap, compared to what’s required to run a proto-rpg. In my words:

Bottom line: Even though Pre-School rpgs are the “ancient form of rpgs”, they require a lot of work and preparation from the referee, as well as a deep knowledge of the setting. Into the Odd takes DMs by the hand and guides them; DMs unfamiliar with the setting can still pull off a great session. If this was a contest, Into the Odd would be the winner.

Another reason why I keep coming back to ItO is that it’s mechanically interesting – even though a character only has three stats, an hp score and maaaaaaaaaybe a special ability. See, what’s so interesting about this is that the rules (especially in their Electric Bastionland incarnation) cover all the things you’d expect from a game that’s a lot more voluminous: group attacks, mass combat, vehicle combat, blast weapons, stunts (combat moves), morale. It’s all there, and here’s the kicker: it fits on two pages.

As opposed to proto-rpgs like the Landshut rules, players and referees have actual rules to refer to. This, at least in some circumstances, leads to more balanced referee decisions because no guesswork is involved.

It also means more work if you’re intending to convert a game or setting to Into the Odd – but after you’ve done it, you’ll have a robust framework you can work with.

And one more thing: ItO uses variable damage (you roll for damage), something that I still prefer (even though my Landshut rules don’t have it).

By the way, we’re up to 50 hacks of the game now.