Saturday, July 24, 2021

Cairn in Nehwon


1. Northman

You have a distinctive feature: Purple Eyes, White Hair, Black Teeth, Massive Scar
  1. Named Massive Weapon (d10, Bulky) 
  2. Fur/Felt/Leather Cloak, coloured
  3. An instrument
  4. Snakefur belt.
  5. A crude statue of a jug with a figure half in it.

2. Scoundrel

You bear a psychological or physical scar from a previous life (An aversion to magic, Burnt Hands, Melancholic Love, An obsession with gaudy wealth)
  1. Named Smallish Weapon (d6)
  2. Tightfitting Silk/Velvet/Leather Clothes
  3. Random Spell
  4. An Amulet belonging to a Noble
  5. A pack of cards

3. Arcanist

You were cast out of a College  (I sold the last Scroll of Tsepatus the Wise, I provided a Familiar pet to an adored noblewomen, I entered one of the old temples.)

  1. A bizarre familiar/homunculus (+1 Fatigue) (1hp)
  2. Alchemy equipment
  3. A flowing dark-hued robe.
  4. Fatigue
  5. 3 Spells

4. Sorceress

 You left your homeland being pursued by your sisters.
  1. A Spell, dealing ranged damage of a particular element or damage type.  
  2. 2 Rituals
  3. A purse full of trinkets, used as currency in your land
  4. A Blade, of curious design (d6)
  5. A debilitating Scar (uses a slot)

5. Mercenary

Your previous band all died besides you.
  1. A stolen sword
  2. A shield, previously decorating a wall somewhere. 
  3. Ill-fitting armour
  4. A map of an area not far from here.
  5. d10+2 assorted types of currency (each type is more or less enough for an ale)

6. Noble

 Are you even of nobility?
  1. A black toga
  2. d4+5 bejeweled rings, d6 are hollow and filled with various poisons
  3. A jar of your favorite perfume
  4. d4 bathing oils
  5. An obsequious servant (3 hp, d4 Held Fan)


This was a fun little creative exercise, mostly for myself. Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser are excellent stories; I had to riff. If you wish to truly see an Into the Odd hack of Sword & Sorcery stories, see Weird North by Classless Kobolds and for more backgrounds see d66 Starting Loadouts for Cairn, also by Classless Kobolds

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Vigilantes of Bastion

You are all part of the local boroughs street-level crime-fighting unit. Previously a long defunct local joke, but a bureaucratic debt has allowed it to jump back to life. You are named the (d3)... 

  1. The [grouping] against [vice
  2. The [grouping] of [virtue
  3. The [virtue][grouping]


  1. Team
  2. League
  3. Society
  4. Squad
  5. Allies
  6. Union
  7. Force
  8. Friends 


  1. Evil 
  2. Vice
  3. Crime 
  4. Sin 
  5. Villainy 
  6. Trouble 
  7. Heresy 
  8. Corruption


  1. Order
  2. Good
  3. Godliness
  4. Truth
  5. Peace 
  6. Moral 
  7. Justice
  8. Temperance

You all get: an ill fitting suit, a dagger (d6) OR pistol (d6), a Secret Identity, a stuffy mask.

The Protector

You get; A smelly, troublesome van 

You rely on your...

  1. Shield - Emblazoned with the team logo. +1 Armour, Bulky
  2. Vicious Pet - It has claws, it has teeth, it is loyal. (3HP, bite d6)
  3. Experimental Taser - Bulky, does d8 damage to Dex.
  4. Body Armour - Lovingly Homemade. Armour 2
  5. Noble Hunting Rifle with Scope - In a velvet case. Shoots at long range. Bulky, d10 Damage. Jams on a 1, requiring a Rest to fix.
  6. Sawn-off Shotgun - Greased. Blast, d8 Damage.

You are protecting...

  1. Home - You have a small family home in a truly run-down part of the borough.
  2. Family - Take a family with d4 grandparents, d6 siblings and 2d6 assorted children, nieces and nephews.
  3. Inheritance - You are flush with cash, but withdrawing takes a very long time.
  4. Reputation - You are the last member of the previous team, respected.
  5. Belief - You have full access to a sturdy temple. Its flock is small and the place in disrepair.
  6. Love - They are all you have. You can't bear them being hurt.

The Slicer

You get; a contact, an Armourer 

Your signature weapons are...

  1. Knives - Take d6+2 ornate butterfly knives (d6)
  2. A Sword - Take an engraved katana (d8)
  3. Darts - Take 2d6 darts (d4) OR 2d6 shurikens (d4)
  4. A Chakram - A throwing frisbee of sharpened steel, glows blue (d6)
  5. Shingle-Bow & Arrows - For Urban fighting. Bulky, d6 Damage.
  6. Polearm - You know what it's actually called. Bulky, d8 Damage.

Your outlook on life is...

  1. Pessimistic - your suit is garishly coloured
  2. Optimistic - your suit is dark-toned
  3. Supercilious - your suit is stylish
  4. Entirely delusional - your suit lacks pants or shirt.
  5. Paranoid - your suit covers you entirely
  6. Non-committal - your suit is instantly forgettable.

The Gizmologist


You get; a small attic filled with your stuff.

Your specialty is in...

  1. Drugs - You get three vials, one Deprives you, one Enhances your attacks, one heals you d8 damage.
  2. Explosives - d6+1 Cobble-Bombs (d8 Blast).
  3. Fire - a Flamethrower (Bulky, d8 Blast).
  4. Surveillance - a small screen and d6+1 clockwork cameras.
  5. Acids - d6 vials of acid (d6).
  6. Movement - a loud Jetpack (Bulky), OR sticky gloves and shoes, OR Turbo-Skates.

You have a hobby

  1. Music - take a couple pages of scribbled experimental sheet music.
  2. Writing - take a set of notebooks and a chewed pencil nib.
  3. Clothes - take a self-tailored dinner outfit.
  4. Cooking - take a platinum diners club card, granting you a table at any restaurant.
  5. Gaming - take a deck of peculiar cards OR crumbling polyhedral dice.
  6. Art - take a set of well-used painting supplies.

The Mastermind

Read Injection

You get; a radio which randomly skips across channels

You know almost everything about...

  1. Crime - Those nasty criminal goings on in the Borough.
  2. Trade - Major ports, major faces, major routes.
  3. Oddities - Those publicly known. Most are incredibly well protected.
  4. Electricity - Its effects and uses.
  5. Politics - Those mustache-twirling political factions and faces in the Borough.
  6. The City - You know all the in-ways and alleys around the Borough.

You know so much because...

  1. Books - Take a library card.
  2. Formal education - A ragged degree.
  3. Obsession - A stuffed notebook.
  4. Survival - A tattoo.
  5. An alien - A spoon/tuning fork.
  6. Job - An official stamp with your name.

The Strongman

You get; Nothing, you're strong aintcha?

Your loved weapon is a...

  1. Gym Club Anniversary Club - 25th if you must know. d6 Damage.
  2. Fists - Your bare fists count as d6 Damage.
  3. Random Items - You have learnt how to wield crude weapons. They count as d8 Damage in your hands.
  4. Knuckledusters - Simple, effective. d6 Damage.
  5. Legacy Weapon - It's big, it's spiky, it's heavy. You're sure you're holding the right end. (Bulky, d8)
  6. Alien Sledgehammer - Used to knock down walls. Or heads. Or knees. (Bulky, d8)

You were..

  1. An Urban Soldier - You have a friend in every area. Also an enemy.
  2. A Strongman - Your face is well known, and people will ask for your autograph.
  3. A Tradesman Bodyguard - Personal friends with a big CEO.
  4. A Shingle Lacrosse Jock - Your team is having a bad season. People support you, in secret.
  5. A Farmer - Smells don't phase you.
  6. A Father - You are Deprived if you haven't visited their graves once a day.

The Warped

"Your dastardly plans are no more Homo Chiroptera!"

You get; a set of ragged clothes

Your power is...

  1. Linguistic Telekinesis - When hearing a certain language, you can move most items (not bulky) with your mind.
  2. Olfactory Memory ESP - When you concentrate on your favorite smell, you can hear thoughts.
  3. Invisibility - Constantly. Take some paint OR powder OR bandages
  4. Hyper-sense - Smell, Taste, Touch, Hearing or Sight, choose which.
  5. Squishy Body - somehow your body can squeeze through keyholes
  6. Strong Skin - You have 2 Armour.

You were changed by...

  1. A Mad Mockery - Raygun Gothic, lightning electricity, crazy hair; the works. You get a Raygun (d6).
  2. Magisterial Experimentation - You get a skeleton key which works for any government building.
  3. Star-Stuff - a strange rock, if you give it, and then take it back, people are Deprived for the day.
  4. Your Heritage - a Pitchfork (d6) and family tale.
  5. A Mistake - Something spilled on you. You can drink anything.
  6. Underground Games - A map of a local underground.

Sunday, March 28, 2021


Blood Pact

For [DICE] turns, the HP of [SUM] mice is a pool. When this ends, the individuals with the lowest HP have theirs drained fully first.
Recharge: Submerge in the blood of three mice, dead or alive. 


For [DICE] hours, your hands become wings. Lose your hand slots.
Recharge: Do a favour for a flying creature, no charge.


For [SUM] turns, you are overcome with a debilitating nausea.
Recharge: Serve a revolting meal on the tablet. The individual must hate it & eat it of their own free will.


[DICE] creatures slots are now filled with a sticky, stinking mud. They are encumbered. Takes a full turn to clean enough to carry items, and a long rest to clean fully.
Recharge: Travel in muddy terrain for a full watch. The tablet must be held uncovered in both hands and not be dirtied. 

Iron Tooth

For [SUM] turns, your teeth and jaw become indestructible, able to bite or chew through anything.
Recharge: Open a locked metal chest/box with the spell inside.

forget everything you know and play a game.

I feel swamped. I have so much to read, to play, to analyse, to steal from, to collate, to collect, to admire, to critique. 


Let's be clear. The best games have been played with nothing but a crappy rulebook, half-understood principles, and some dice. A match was lit in the dark room of Pen & Paper Roleplaying and revealed majesties you still struggle to comprehend. 

All you love was borne from stumbling in the half dark - until, slowly, you began to understand a shape of things. And now you are bored, glutted with syrups and processed mulch. 

Forget all of it. The assumptions, loves, stories and hates. Throw it all away. 

Pick up a book, get some friends, a place, paper, pencils, some dice

and play.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Δv musings

So I've been working on my Knave hack for a quick, Pick-up-&-play type of SF system. Mostly just for fun, but also just an expression of how I think about the OSR and my own style of play. Namely: modular, diegetic based, referee plays world and (I know, shocking for an OSR type) dice are fun to roll. Also Ben made Knave to be hacked, and although it has been, not nearly to the extent I expected such a solid, open and modular system like it is should be. So I wanna.

I'm gonna add some pictures from some of the stories by H. Beam Piper available on Project Gutenberg. I love the aesthetic of them so damn much.

Little Fuzzy


So it is very much supposed to mimic Knave, and make judicious use of the "use whatever advantage you want" advice in the designer's notes. The base system is rock-solid, and I'm just adding to that. That being said, I gave a whole bunch of mechanics which can be used to emulate certain liked styles of play. Otherwise, the game is just as is.  

Character creation is made to be lightning fast. Yet, I have tried to preserve some of the fun mini-game that many modern rpgs have in their character creation system. You roll 3d6 and HP as per normal, but the Inventory slot system is used for abilities as well, called Stamina Slots. The Constitution Defense plus your highest bonus based score slots gives a mechanical backing to what you as a person could weather in your past (allowing you to permanently use slots for abilities), and allows for the other backing of making your character instantly customizable via items. This is unlike other games like html, and other Knave slot hacks, which I find bloats the instant you add extra slots using different ability scores. One might ask why would you mash your history, abilities and items into one set of limited slots, and just how could items then be useful if you have basically no slots if you decide to have a long and storied character? Well, that is the character creation tradeoff - you are modular or you are set. Also, items in SF games usually have a large number of uses. This forces you to immediately consider what you can carry, and whether it is useful. Also good for heist games. This system is simple, forces difficult choices, is play-orientated, and totally able to just be left to dice. 

I have yet to be proven disastrously wrong with unintended and unforseen design holes.

Exploring Ancient Mars in Omnilingual


God this is one of those things isn't it. Every SF game needs vehicle mechanics. I have a love/hate relationship with that. So, I have made it that technically you could use whatever system suits your fancy. But I have also been fiddling with a weird system for ships which uses assumed advantage as its mechanic, which was made for the system, but I now realise is so modular as to simply be a type of ship wargame on its own. It has actually made me consider making a caravanserai type SF game, with customizable, simple characters in each ship.

Those lines, that shuttle!
Graphic Design

Every part is written to facilitate writing on a physical, self-printed out copy of the document. The Mechanics added-on to Knave are simple enough to make more of them, or to remove them entirely. I did this with wide line spacing, wide margins, tables with clear space to add to (with simple enough examples of mechanics) the vague definition of Advantage (which can be used as Knave describes, or, I have suggested sets of mechanics for Dis/Advantaged rolls). 

I will add Play Principles for both GM and Player in due time.



Very SWN-esque, and deliberately. Your player could die at any point. If you are not so sold on character death, you could institute an "at 0 HP you're unconcious, but roll on this effects table." which one can just steal from Into the Odd. To that end, you could use it to play a fun Star Wars game too I guess.

Frigid, Dead Mars.

Archeologists on Mars

The Old King

you just know they're bastards don't ya

Hell yeah space knight. Or MC?

space sword!

Those dreams of mega-structures...

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Many Bubbling Pots

Plebs: Troika and EB


So I've been half working on a hack for Troika and Electric Bastionland (initially EB, but I figured I could just use Troika as well) called SPQR or Plebs. A humorous romp through the city of Ancient Imperial Rome. Supposed to be simultaneously anachronistic and also educational for the enterprising Referee and player. It will include two books, one for use with EB and the other for use with Troika. It'll include a simple pointcrawl map of Imperial Rome, with random tables to fill in black spaces on the map, as well as plot or hook tables. Thinking of making a Roman Bath adventure specifically tied to making connections, and getting jobs. Inspirations include; Monty Python The Life of Brian (Film), Horrible Histories - the Rotton Romans (Books) Blackadder (Series), Rome (Drama Series) and Plebs (Sitcom). 


from Omnilingual by H. Beam Piper

You might know that I'm working on a SpaceKnave hack called Δv. It's bubbling nicely along, but I've realised (after designing a whole subsystem completely separate from Knave) that there are so many Spaceship subsystems out there that you could just pick and choose and get on with it. Look at Stars Without Number or White Dwarf or just wing it, seriously. 

That being said, this spaceship subsystem is looking interesting to play as part of a caravanserai space trader game. Each player has his own ship and characters and they hop around looking for deals or danger. 

I'll probably publish the two together for a cost, and publish the spaceship rules separately as PWYW for exactly those groups who have a SF game but no spaceship rules.


I've been hanging out in the FKR discord, mostly lurking, and have found the "any book is your sourcebook" approach really, really fun. It's very obvious that FKR is a re-discovering of the joy of childlike make believe, as adults. Except it is far more structured and has a ton more game design philosophy behind it. I loved the Free Kriegspiel Revolution tag, and it made me immediately want to make something for a setting I've always wanted to play in - the Europe of Scott Westerfield's Leviathan. So I made it. Quickly sketched out a character creation process and put it up. Obviously I have no rights to the setting, but consider this a type of fanart. 

enter a biopunk, dieselpunk 1914...

Studies alongside Tabletop Adventure Games

Of course, among all of this I have my studies. It's long, a cross-country marathon at this point but ultimately worthwhile. Balancing my love of the Tabletop Adventure Game with work is one ongoing.

That odd Troika! collection. 

Some time ago I put together an odd collection of backgrounds for Troika! Daniel Sell's excellent re-imagining of Advanced Fighting Fantasy. As I have mentioned previously it is an absolute pleasure to knock out one or two backgrounds when you're bored, and recently I've done so again. Observe... 


Maybe I'll playtest them and publish them on my itch page, maybe I'll make a whole new set for my Basic Fantasy game tentatively referred to as Typewriter Fantasy


I've been playing a game of Mausritter, and although I had some drop-outs due to expectations of a heavier system, it has been rather fun! I have yet to get my head around mixing the Sword & Sorcery with...animals? It's a bit whimsical, but nonetheless I can certainly see the vast potential of it. 

I am resolved to make a list of creatures I like, and make them terrifying or interesting by just reading what they do. Tim Kask in his Curmudgeon in the Cellar series has pointed out how the tendency of creating new strange beasts for early TSR AD&D tended to make an unidentifiable slurry of same-feeling monsters. He points out that the animal world has tricks and tactics which are terrifying if used on those adventurers unfamiliar with them.

A Tabletop Fantasy Adventure Game

I truly have tried my best to plan some kind of OSR system for Tiroeth. It has so far been a little bit of a continual dipping of toes in water. I look at stripping down Scarlet Heroes and then step away. I look at Old School Essentials, then decide it's too janky for my liking. Overall, Tiroeth has soured it's a pity to say. I'm already looting its corpse for the ripe ideas I had then.

I'm settling on Knave at the moment (and honestly also Troika! but I feel bad stepping back from the acid fantasy it bathes in). I really admire Ben Milton's streamlined work, want to play more of it, and so have been having a wonderful time creating more Knacks for my Knaves. I just wonder which adventure I should start them off on; B2 Keep on the Borderlands? Gatehouse on Cormac's Crag? Castle Xyntillian? or maybe just Tomb of the Serpent Kings?

So many options...

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Mausritter lessons

I really do not like actual play reports. I get why people write them, but I'd rather have them be vague lessons for how this game ran and how it could apply to yours. 

Anyway, Mausritter is a dope-ass game with dope-ass mechanics. Not entirely suited for online play but what the hell. I posted an advert to (mostly) D&D groups in the country that I live - most people there enjoy 5e, so I got few responses. 

[alpha] It helps to be honest about the type of game (mechanically) that you're running.

I ran Honey in the Rafters - and it is incredibly good; great setting, treasure, encounters. I [beta] struggle with ratcheting tension in conversations, which was how my players decided to interact with the cultists. I guess playing the NPC as faithfully as possible helps, but humour and drama have their place (namely the sugar addicted cultists offered their sticky hands for the players to lick.)

[gamma] It was also difficult orchestrating first meetings. I have a tendency to jump on mechanics if they seem cool, but leave them when it would mean essentially instadeath. "What makes sense" doesn't always run, but "what is reasonable without good payoff" seems to run. I far prefer it when I let the dice fall where they may, which is why I enjoy OSR play. This happened with a tricky first encounter with Stig, where a Running save sorta made one character fall into his clutches. Only then did I roll a Morale.

Also, I really don't like online play because [delta] I am very easily distracted by things going on online. It has led to more than one mistakes when listening to players. I could still zone out, and then ask for a "caller" role to clarify exactly what was said. 

Finally, [epsilon] rulings are actually kinda hard. I had to backtrack on how caltrops work even after I had rolled quite a few damage dice. In retrospect, it was a good decision (d4 damage, or use action to sweep away), but still.

Lastly [zeta] I had a weird moment where I had to run large groups of characters against each other. I simply repurposed the Warband rules (although the rules are for far larger groups) to simulate the combat quickly. Up the damage dice here, lower the damage dice there, etc. 

When it comes to Rulings, I am reminded by the excellent OSR advice in Electric Bastionland. Especially just how one should make them. Using it on an Into the Odd inspired system just works.

Quibble with the Mausritter layout. I found myself flipping quite a bit when it came to character stuff/rest and overland travel. Minor, but still not as clean as I would have liked it. Will probably become better.  

Now for some beasts - easily portable into your Into the Odd game.

Tarentaal | 7 HP, Armour 1, STR 11, DEX 14, WIL 8, Beak (d6) or Talons (d8)
- A massive bipedal bird, red crested with speckled feathers. Four mice can ride it.
- Noted for its speed and ability to glide. Difficult to train alone.
- Makes all DEX saves with Advantage
- Wants: Safety in a flock and food.

Capybara | 10 HP, Armour 1 , STR 10 , DEX 15 , WIL 12 , Bite (d8) or Trample (d10), Warband Scale
- Gigantic semi-aquatic rodent. Agile on water and land.
- Their musk (if you can get it) is used in perfumes and potions. Rarely alone, very knowledgeable.
- Wants: Good conversation, gossip and some new leisure activity.

Capybara Families
1. The Ruda - Extremely close, work together
2. The Tupa - Traditional, take offense easily
3. The Hidra - Lazy, waterbound mostly
4. The Irasema - River traders, know many tidbits
5. The Caique - Ferrymen, can confirm/deny rumours
6. The Kauan - Warrior clan, you can hire them.