Learning new skills in Into the Odd

I was thinking about a character learning new skills in an Into the Odd game, rulings not rules and the way OSR bloggers have been tossing around the words procedure and mechanics lately. So, here’s a procedure or a ruling, clearly inspired by Apocalypse World, filtered through Traveller and now here for some Odd use, capped off with a quote about learning to read from my favorite book.

When your character wants to learn a vocation or skillset new to the character, have them describe exactly what they want to learn and what they want to do with it in the game.
Then the Referee will tell you 1 to 4 of the following:
[ ] It is going to take X weeks/months/years of consistent training.
[ ] First, you will have to hire a tutor through [an in-game faction].
[ ] You will need X to help you with it.
[ ] It is going to cost a fortune.
[ ] There is a lost Arcanum that is said to offer this training.
[ ] There is a known teacher in a district of Bastion or a faraway province of the Deep Country or lost in the depths of the Underground. Perhaps this teacher is even in a more alien and distant land.
[ ] Those who safeguard these training methods are rigid in their orthodoxy and will guard them dearly but there are always rebels and heretics at the fringes…
[ ] There are none who can do that in this world.
Once your training is complete you can do the thing. Note it on your sheet somewhere. If you want to work with the Referee on a skill system, knock yourself out but it isn’t needed. Before this training the character couldn’t do this thing; now they can.

“It was hard and unnatural at first, but the process began to come more easily. He reread the book constantly, more and more quickly, not interested by the story, but ravenous for the unprecedented sensation of meaning coming up at him from the page, from behind the letters like an escapee. It almost made him queasy, almost made him feel like spewing, it was so intense and unnerving. He turned the technique to other words.
	He was surrounded by them: signs visible on the commercial street beyond the windows, signs throughout the library and across the city and on brass plaques in his hometown, in New Crobuzon, a silent clamor, and he knew that there was no way he could ever be deaf to all those words again.
	Shekel finished The Courageous Egg and was full of rage. How come I wasn’t told? he thought, searing. What fucker was it kept this from me?”
 - China Miéville, The Scar

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4 thoughts on “Learning new skills in Into the Odd

  1. This is great, Judd. I’m looking at running Cairn as a hopefully long running campaign and leaning hard into diegetic “experience” and training. I love that you mention Traveller here; there’s some seriously classic DNA in this take on skills and experience in general.

    • Thank you. I was playing a Traveller-ish game a few months ago and read over how training in that game worked and along with AW, it inspired this.

      In the ItO I’m running, I’im still using the experience system but if folks want to learn something, I’ll use this. I almost put the word, diegetic, in the opening paragraph but didn’t want to push my luck with jargon.

      🙂

  2. I think swerving the jargon was a good call. I’m sort of using it for myself these days as a mental bookmark, but maybe in-play, in-world, in-fiction are all better and less likely to be an obstacle to good communication.

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