Interesting Cairn/ItO Hacks

I want to go on a binge. I want to see different takes and small new rules from games that come from Cairn and ItO. I’m thinking of making my own game, so I need the inspiration. I’ll start with the one I have read: QZ.

QZ is an Electric Bastionland hack inspired by Roadside Picnic and Annihilation. I’m a fan of S.T.A.L.K.E.R., those eurojanky first person shooters based on Roadside Picnic, and thought something like Into the Odd would be a perfect fit to play something like that.

I haven’t read Electric Bastionland, so I don’t know how QZ’s character generation differs from Into the Odd’s, but I found it interesting that it has different character archetypes and lots of skillsets that characters could have. It’s still minimal but characters have more to go on.


It’s very different, much closer to Into The Odd than to Electric Bastionland, which uses Failed Careers (similar to Troika! Backgrounds).

I strongly recommend you read through Electric Bastionland as one of the hacks! I mean it isn’t really a hack per se but it is outstanding!


List of hacks.



Electric Bastionland is definitely on my wishlist, but not something on the priority buy list yet. Especially since I just bought a couple or ATTO and wormskin zines, and scarlet heroes to scratch the gaming itch by playing solo.

Oh, these are great!

These are more general Mark of the Odd hacks than specifically Cairn or ItO, but may still be interesting.

Always one to toot my own horn, Maximum Recursion Depth is inspired by Mark of the Odd, but takes elements from other games such as Tenra Bansho Zero to implement a Karma mechanic based on the Buddhist conception of Karma (as opposed to the more colloquial definition), but is otherwise more of an Absurdist Magical Realism setting.

I am also potentially working on a Mecha hack for MotO that I’m getting pretty excited about, currently called Get into the Machine, Shinji!, but I may change the name. I may also create a setting for it inspired by Saruri-Man: Midsummer Nights Adventures.

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I saw Maximum Recursion Depth from the lists Yochai Gal provided; didn’t know you made it! I’ve yet to read that one.

Question, what’s Mark of the Odd?

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ItO’s licensing thingy, explained here BASTIONLAND: Mark of the Odd Licence and SRD for when you want to make something that’s explicitly a hack of ItO (you can of course, borrow all the rules and make your own game since you can’t copyright rpg rules only presentation)


I had read that list but somehow missed that I was on it haha, but that’s nice, thanks Yochai Gal!

Mark of the Odd is what Chris started calling the general framework around Into the Odd and Electric Bastionland, but I think I’m the only other person who has been using that term lol…

I don’t think this is true. As an ItO old timer, I can tell you that the Mark of the Odd as an official thing is quite new. Games like World of Dungeons, Maze Rats etc (that all have ItO ingredients) are simply “hacks” in the general sense, they tend to attribute their basic mechanics to the original ItO. In my database of ItO hacks above, very few have Mark of the Odd DNA.

Weird North by Jim Parkin was the very first ItO/EB hack to be both completely CC-BY-SA and maintain 99.99% of the original EB rules (with some new stuff layered on top). In fact, that license was a prerequisite of my agreeing to edit WN (with secret hopes of using it for Cairn someday!).

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I think I mis-phrased what I had intended to say there, or was perhaps using the term Mark of the Odd in a more colloquial way than, as Cosmic Orrery said, it being specifically a licensing thing, so perhaps I need to be more careful with how I use that phrase and perhaps that’s why I don’t see more people using it 0.o…

EDIT: Deleted previous response, was the exact same text, but I accidentally did reply all rather than replying to the specific comment

I think that’s partly on Chris. There was a period of uncertainty with respect to the Mark of the Odd being a legit license (maybe Lost Pages ownership rights?). When it finally happened there were already 50 or so ItO hacks! So now “based on Into The Odd” is just a thing I guess.

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Maybe I’ll give up on referring to things as Mark of the Odd and just stick to that then if that’s what everyone else is doing. I’m not usually the type to just do what everyone else is doing lol, but if it’s potentially a legal gray area, then ya, I’ll start being more careful…

EDIT: omg again with the replying all vs. to a specific comment. I don’t know if there’s some weird discourse setting I have or if I’m just being dumb…

Oh I’m finally realizing, what I meant by that quote when I said “these are more general Mark of the Odd hacks…”, I was referring to what I was saying subsequently about my own games, not the preceding lists of games that had been mentioned lol. Or maybe that was also your interpretation? Either way, it’s clearer to me now that I was misunderstanding what Mark of the Odd is actually intended to mean anyway, so it’s good that we discussed it, but ya, just for the sake of clarification.

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I misunderstood you. I thought you meant that “most hacks of ItO use the mark of the odd” which was clearly incorrect.

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How is your binge working out?

What have you learned? Did you read Electric Bastionland yet? What else is out there?


I downloaded and read a bunch! I was mainly looking at character creation then. In that regard, I liked Weird North, QZ, and Van Jesus the most. Those three along with Cairn were what I used to figure out my own hack’s character creation. Sort of like guidelines.

I downloaded the free version of Electric Bastionland, but I forgot to read it. I’ll have to get back to it later when I’m not banging my head at a wall trying to think of spells.

On a related note, I got maze rats a long time ago and even have it printed, but I completely forgot it was based on Into the Odd until I saw it in the lists your provided hahaha

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