Into the Odd is one of the most unique and creative games I’ve played in the last years. It’s a weird mix between an ultra-light D&D clone and a unique, weird science meets fantasy setting. It is also a game focused on exploration and discovery – not combat. Combat is fast – and extremely lethal. I’ve run the “Iron Coral” adventure which comes with the game for various groups and everyone loved it.
Chris McDowall, the creator of Into The Odd, is currently raising money for Electric Bastionland, a standalone “sequel” to Into The Odd. The rules have been refined and expanded upon. A huge part of the book is devoted to 100 Failed Careers, which give your character their background and a reason for adventuring. Or do you think anyone with a proper career and a modicum of common sense would delve into the depths in search of treasures? I’ve followed the development of Electric Bastionland for a few years now, and I am extremely excited about it.
At the time of this writing the Kickstarter project has raised about 3600 € of a 13.926 € goal. The game itself is already written and even in layout, but Chris needs more money for artwork and eventually printed copies. So now’s your chance to contribute and help development of this exciting game along.
UPDATE: A September 2017 playtest package of Electric Bastionland is also still available here. The game has probably changed quite a lot since then, but it might at least give you an idea on how the final product may look like.
UPDATE #2: Chris just let me know that there’s actually a free preview available on itch.io. Check it out!
Today I read an interesting post on Kotaku, called Dungeons & Deceptions, about the role Dave Arneson had in the development of D&D. According to Rob Kuntz and others, the commonly told story that Gary Gygax was the main influence behind the roleplaying hobby is not the whole truth. In fact it has been Arneson who actually came up with what we now know as “role-playing”. The article gives a lot of interesting insights into the early days of the hobby and shines a light on some of the unsung heroes. The article also mentions the recently-released documentary “Secrets of Blackmoor” which tries to basically answer the same questions.
Dungeons & Deceptions is actually the third in a series of posts on Kotaku about the history of D&D. If you are interested in delving deeper into this mystery, you should check out these articles as well:
Aside from these articles I can also highly recommend checking out Shannon Applecline’s Designers & Dragons which is probably the most comprehensive picture on the RPG hobby from the 1970s to the 2000s. In my opinion it’s a must-have for everyone interested in learning more about the people and stories behind our favorite games.
Over the last decade or so, playing older editions of D&D or their modern simulacra has been pretty popular. Back in the day people wanted to play like in the old days, but since most older editions were out-of-print this was much harder than it is today. So eventually D&D fans started to make use the OGL in order to recreate their favorite editions of D&D.
Early examples where OSRIC, Labyrinth Lord and to a lesser extent Microlite20, which had an old-school variant called Microlite74. Over time the focus moved away from meticulously recreating old editions of D&D to creating something new. People put their own spin onto things, included house rules, or rebuilt the whole game from the ground up. Today I want to have a look at two less well-known OSR games worth your time.
The first game on my list is James Spahn’s “The Hero’s Journey”. It is based on Swords & Wizardry Whitebox, but deviates a lot from it. The first major change from regular D&D-based games is that it uses an additional attribute, Appearance, and changes Wisdom to Willpower. Armor doesn’t change one’s armor class (only shields do), but reduces damage caused. The game also uses variants on the standard classes, which helps to give it a different feel from most other D&D-based games. Last but not least “A Hero’s Journey” has an interesting mechanic to create magic items. Weapons and armors can get magical properties if used in heroic deeds! As a cherry on top “The Hero’s Journey” is an extremely well put together product with great art (including art pieces from Larry Elmore!).
A game I’ve actually mentioned before on this blog is Runehammer Games’ Index Card RPG. Even though my experiences with it were mixed, I still think it’s one of the most creative and interesting old-school-inspired titles out there. Check out my posts about the Index Card RPG here and here.
Both games are pretty inexpensive especially if you get the digital versions. Both games are also great examples on how you can take 40+ year-old concepts and still create something new with them. Both deviate from what people usually expect from a D&D-based game, but both do it in different ways. If you haven’t done so, you should definitely check out both games. I am pretty sure you won’t be disappointed.
A Roleplaying Games blog
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