12 January 2023

Into the Unknown! (Goodbye WotC)

Given the astonishing mixture of avarice and malevolence manifested by WotC’s recent actions (here’s yet another summary, this time from the New Republic), I’ve decided to switch my ongoing Greyhawk campaign over to the Into the Unknown system.


I purchased Into the Unknown a few months ago upon discovering it in a thread at the RPG Pub (pretty much the only RPG forum I visit these days). I’ve been fond of it ever since I looked it over, and even considered transitioning to it before the current brouhaha. While I like 5e D&D overall, elements of it are quite fiddly, and I have found myself consulting the rules during play more often than I would like. Something compatible with the 5e material that I have and want to run – but simpler and faster – certainly was attractive.


However, at the time I decided against moving my campaign over to Into the Unknown as it adhered to a number of elements from the “Basic” and “Expert” versions of old school D&D (B/X D&D) that did not mesh well with the Greyhawk setting: in particular, ItU uses only three alignments (Chaotic, Neutral, Lawful) and “race-as-class” for non-human characters (Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling classes). In addition, my players had been using certain 5e options – e.g., the Arcane Trickster and Battle Master class specializations – that are not available in Into the Unknown. They (understandably) would not appreciate losing those elements from their characters.


On reflection, these weren’t great reasons to resist the switch. The alignment issue is easily fixed. I’ll keep the race-classes as unique options for non-human characters, but tweak the rules so that non-humans can be any of the standard classes as well. (I’ll also add a slight bonus to humans in order to “balance” things out.) And given that Into the Unknown is designed to be compatible with the core 5e rules, I’ll just “grandfather” in the 5e options that the characters already have into the game.


Another benefit of switching to Into the Unknown is that the rules are simple enough that I won’t need to consult them regularly during play. I had grown a bit dependent on Dungeons & Dragons Beyond to check things. But I’ll be abandoning my free DnD Beyond account (I never subscribed) once I can download my stuff (character sheets, maps, and the like).


One worry: Into the Unknown uses the OGL (1.0a). Given the uncertainty concerning the OGL, I recommend that any readers interested in the system pick it up as soon as possible at DrivethruRPG in case it disappears in the near future.


Fight On!



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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who lives primarily in Toronto but teaches in Milwaukee (sometimes in person, sometimes online).