Dusting Up Some Odd Soot
  • Dusting Up Some Odd Soot


    Get ready for a month of scary gaming in October, beginning with Odd Soot, the latest game from designer Clarence Redd of Frostbyte Books. Against the black & white backdrop of an alternate 1920s, players will dive headlong into the the mystery of a strange disease known only as “the Soot.”



    Per the core book, The Soot is a “parasitic disease affecting the body and mind of the infected” and nobody really knows what it is for certain. Dormant for over 200 years, it returned with a vengeance, generating chaos in its wake. We won’t spoil the details here, but this makes for a superb storytelling tool and intriguing concept for a game.

    In this alternate universe, humanity exists on the planet Eorthe. They’ve already found a way to travel through space using a combination of human ingenuity and the remains of spacecraft from an ancient civilization. That ancient civilization—the Luminarians—originally created a means of interstellar travel and fostered peace among four other alien races, before becoming afflicted with The Soot and disappearing. Humans were only evolving at this time. Eventually, interstellar travel ceased until humanity discovered and repurposed Luminarian rockets for interstellar travel during the 1800s. This opens up a little section of space called Comae Space, where Odd Soot takes place.

    The game has a detailed character creation process, similar to older Palladium titles like TMNT and RIFTS. Here, characters require a character concept, characteristics, the stand attributes and skills, a culture, a career, bonuses, equipment and circles. Most of this is standard RPG faire.

    Attributes are also typical with strength, dexterity, constitution, size, intelligence, power and charisma being rolled up with 3d6 and applying appropriate modifiers based on those numbers throughout the game. The twist here is modifiers are die rolls, for instance -1d8 or -1d6, rather than a single number. The game also uses an idea called luck points to help determine

    Culture is the type of background (academic, political, nomadic, etc) a character has, while careers each have a career package that outlines what skill modifiers, bonuses, etc…apply to the characters.

    Circles are an interesting storytelling tool, as they expand upon character background and serve an important function in the narrative. Throughout the game, character actions and interactions affect the party and surroundings based off this attribute. It’s not unlike other RPGs, but per Clarence, it made for some interesting character choices and details during playtesting.

    Mechanically, the game uses the Mythras Imperative role-playing system, a system I had not heard of prior to getting the book. After a test playthrough, I found I like the system, but it did take a while for me to get the hang of it.

    I felt standard combat was a bit clunky, but that may have been due to my unfamiliarity with the system. Thankfully, there's a simplified version of combat later in the chapter for shorter encounters. Healing and other status related items are listed in this chapter as well.

    The rules for using The Soot in-game are elegant and detailed, but left to interpretation. Overall, the game mechanics are tight. Even as someone unfamiliar with the system, I enjoyed playing a short game and plan to revisit Odd Soot when I have the time for an extended campaign.

    The rest of the book covers the different alien species, languages, maps, equipment and so much more. Throughout the book, fantastic original artwork aptly illustrates the world of Odd Soot.



    The book is a little over 200 pages and functioning as a player's handbook, game master guide and creature manual all-in-one. Equal parts alternate history, H.P. Lovecraft inspired settings, crazy characters and a serious science fiction vibe, this game is a blast and lends itself well to Halloween play

    With so many RPG options around, one may be hesitant to try out a new type of game. After playing it myself, I highly recommend Odd Soot for something different to add to your collective role-playing experience. But don’t take my word for it. Per Clarence:

    Rules and mechanics aside, the most important [reason for D&D or Pathfinder players to give it a try] is that you can tell stories you’ve never heard before. The 1920s are easy to get into, both for the GM and players. When you add weird and sci-fi elements to this recognisable environment, stories take fantastic new turns. The investigative play combined with vintage aliens have fascinated play testers. For those who like new mysteries and want to play deep, personal characters, Odd Soot is a good match.”

    Odd Soot is available Oct. 8, from FrostByte Books, with a free preview available now.

    This article was contributed by David J. Buck (Nostalgia Ward) as part of EN World's News Columnist (ENWC) program. We are always on the lookout for freelance columnists! If you have a pitch, please contact us!
    Comments 5 Comments
    1. R Karan's Avatar
      R Karan -
      I downloaded the preview and it looks quite cool. The artwork has a lovely quirkiness to it. An interstellar plague is the perfect storytelling device. I always enjoyed investigative games, so this is right up my alley. I hope there’s more material coming out for it.

      The review says the book is 200 pages but I read 270 somewhere else.
    1. clarence redd's Avatar
      clarence redd -
      Hi R Karan, you’re right about the page count. The final version is 270 pages.

      Clarence Redd, writer of Odd Soot
    1. Nostalgia Ward's Avatar
      Nostalgia Ward -
      My review copy only had around 200, because it didn't have the opening scenario in it. It's a great game!
    1. clarence redd's Avatar
      clarence redd -
      Sorry about the confusion. My fault. I kept working on the introduction scenario until the last minute.

      And thanks for a well-balanced review, Nostalgia Ward!
    1. R Karan's Avatar
      R Karan -
      Just a quick heads-up: The launch week discount for Odd Soot ends tonight.

      You get 15% off both the PDF and the print version. I can warmly recommend it to anyone interested in the Weird genre, HP Lovecraft and fans of steampunk.
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