Feb 19 2018
When the cold war sputtered to a close, Esoterrorists let the stoking of nuclear anxiety recede into the background in favor of newer and fresher means of increasing ambient panic. These days Esoterror operatives, eagerly scanning the news for fresh inspiration, suffer from a glut of possibility. So many causes of psychic disequilibrium, so little time to fully exploit them!
The recent terrifying false alarm in Hawaii has them dusting off playbooks pioneered by their 80s predecessors. Even more tantalizing than the initial stories was a less-seen follow-up report laying blame for the false alarm on more than a badly designed user interface. The issuer of the alarm turns out to have been a confused employee, already considered a liability by co-workers, who thought that an attack really was underway. State authorities waited a while to let that detail get out, after the always-accelerating news cycle had already moved on.
Somewhere in America, an Esoterrorist group is already researching other states whose alert protocols match the laxity of Hawaii’s. They’ll find an employee vulnerable to Outer Dark influence. They could recruit this person as a knowing conspirator. More likely, they’ll summon an ODE capable of altering human perceptions. A microscopic Outer Dark parasite might do the trick. While the infected worker is on duty, the entity triggers a hallucination of an actual attack underway and voila.
When the alert goes out, public panic eats away at the Membrane, creating gaps through which another crop of more powerful demons from beyond can crawl.
That’s where your player characters come in. Alerted by Ordo Veritatis analysts to the likelihood of an Esoterror copycat event, Mr. Verity scrambles the team to the affected state to investigate, disperse any summoned entities, then track and neutralize the human Esoterrorists behind the plot.
When they conduct their Veil-Out, they may well decide to put out a story similar to the first version circulated by Hawaii officials. This time it really was a poorly designed interface that led to the false alarm. Gosh, this sure does underscore the need to update those old programs, doesn’t it?
Yep, that’s all it was. Simple human error.
Nothing to worry about.
Won’t happen again.
The Esoterrorists are occult terrorists intent on tearing the fabric of the world – and you play elite investigators out to stop them. This is the game that revolutionized investigative RPGs by ensuring that players are never deprived of the crucial clues they need to move the story forward. Purchase The Esoterrorists in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.
Feb 16 2018
A novel by Robin D. Laws
Imperial America has fallen.
Emperor Castaigne, who ruled the nation with secret police and even more secret sorcery, has fled. The portals that connected him to his rumored source of power, the alien realm of Carcosa, have been destroyed.
After a century of tyranny, democracy has returned to the USA—if those who fought for it have what it takes to keep it.
Along with his loyal crew, the man they called the Technician helped win the struggle. Now he seeks a return to civilian life.
Specifically, he wants to eliminate his job. He repairs the suicide machines known as the Government Lethal Chambers.
His determination to decommission these instruments of death brings him to the People’s Hall. There a generation of political pioneers works to jumpstart a disarrayed provisional administration into a fairly and freely elected government.
But when the body of a murder victim shows up in flagship Lethal Chamber in Washington Square, the Technician sees that the skill set of his crew hasn’t quite gone out of fashion.
The ensuing investigation takes him on a journey through the secrets of the old regime, with fugitive war criminals, haunted hide-outs, urban firefights and dread parageometrical rituals along the way.
Read The Missing and the Lost as a thrilling, thought-provoking mystery of a dread-drenched alternate reality.
Or use it as a model for your sessions of The Yellow King Roleplaying game when you play in its mind-bending Aftermath setting.
Cover reveal pending.
Feb 16 2018
The Handout to End All Handouts
The City Guide That Shatters Reality
At the end of the 19th century, an American art student went to Paris, read a play, and lost his grip on reality.
The play was called The King in Yellow.
Having read it, head reeling from absinthe, bedeviled by unseen adversaries, he realized that the alien world it described, Carcosa, had sunk its traces throughout the City of Lights.
As he explored Paris in search of its decadent influence, he created a scrapbook. A guide for himself, and for those who would come after him.
Yoked together from existing travelogues, newspapers, and the disquieting ephemera of the occult tradition, it laid out a skewed portrait of a haunted city:
- Art student life, from hazing rituals to fabulous bacchanals at the Moulin Rouge
- Hangouts and nightspots, from everyday beaneries to ghoulish cabarets
- Neighborhoods and attractions, with useful maps
- Sources of knowledge, from museums to institutes of technology
- Operations of the justice system, from the city’s police to its prisons
- Rites of death, from funeral fees to the notorious, bone-stacked catacombs
- Details of everyday life, including currency, communications, and essential phrases
- A timeline of recent historical events
In the margins appear the increasingly fervid scrawls of the anonymous compiler. Through them determined investigators of the Yellow Sign mystery will learn:
- Who to seek aid from
- Where madness lurks
- And to never waver in their distrust of clowns
Absinthe in Carcosa is an indispensable city guide for The Yellow King Roleplaying Game and a stunning, full-color visual artifact in its own right.
Give it to your players and let them find the mysteries of Paris.
Or let them buy their own deuced copies and keep their snack-festooned fingers off of your pristine edition.
Brought to you by document blandisher extraordinaire Dean Engelhardt and feverish scribbler supreme Robin D. Laws.
Feb 16 2018
In another all-request episode of their garum-basted podcast, Ken and Robin talk sandbox time travel, Apicius, place as story and the Belluminati.
Feb 14 2018
Articles and Interviews
- All The Yellow King RPG articles
- Shannon Appelcline speaks to Robin D. Laws on RPG.net
- Brie Sheldon speaks to Robin D. Laws on their blog
- Ben Riggs looks at The Yellow King RPG on Geek & Sundry
- The Yellow King RPG Kickstarter teaser video
Feb 14 2018
GUMSHOE is a system for designing and playing investigative roleplaying games and adventures, emulating stories where investigators uncover a series of clues, and interpret them to solve a mystery.
In a GUMSHOE game, the player characters discover something which triggers their investigation, and then the Game Moderator (GM) narrates them through a number of scenes, during which they use their Investigative Abilities to gather the core clues they need to move the narrative forward. They must then put the clues together to uncover the secrets behind the mystery.
This is a new iteration of GUMSHOE, designed for one player, and one GM. You can find out more about it here.
GUMSHOE links and resources
- A summary of the GUMSHOE system rules
- What’s Your GUMSHOE Size? – How to choose the GUMSHOE game that best suits you
- GUMSHOE 101 for players – A one-page cheat sheet for new players, by Kevin Kulp
- GUMSHOE 101 for GMs – A one-page cheat sheet on how to run GUMSHOE, for new GMs, by Kevin Kulp
- GUMSHOE 102 for GMs – A two-pager on how to design adventures in GUMSHOE, by Kevin Kulp
- Monster Squad Control – A two-page GUMSHOE game designed for online play, by Tom McGrenery
- The GUMSHOE System Reference Document – The nuts and bolts of the system, for professional game designers who want to create their own GUMSHOE settings
- The Pelgrane Press Community Use Policy – The official policy for fan-created works
- All articles about GUMSHOE
Any RPG which uses the GUMSHOE system redefines it for that setting, and so there is no “GUMSHOE book”. Each of the RPGs below contains the full GUMSHOE rules for creating characters and playing in that world, as well as guidance on designing your own investigations for that particular setting.
Follow the links below to find out about our GUMSHOE games:
- Ashen Stars
- The Esoterrorists
- Fall of Delta Green (coming soon!)
- Fear Itself
- The Gaean Reach
- Mutant City Blues
- Night’s Black Agents
- Trail of Cthulhu
- The Yellow King (coming soon!)
Feb 14 2018
GUMSHOE One-2-One retunes, rebuilds and reenvisions the acclaimed GUMSHOE investigative rules set, as seen in such hit roleplaying games as Trail of Cthulhu and Night’s Black Agents, for one player and one GM. The animating principle behind GUMSHOE states that failing to get key information is never interesting. If you have the right ability and you look in the right place for clues you need to solve the mystery, you will always find the information you seek.
In GUMSHOE One-2-One, you play a protagonist character, who is usually described as part of the setting. Your character attempts actions in the storyline by using abilities, which come in two main types: Investigative and General.
Investigative Abilities allow you to gather information. If you lack the relevant Investigative Ability, your character can talk to a friendly Source – one of your key contacts, who will also provide guidance and assurance as needed.
- In some situations, you can spend a resource called a Push to gain an additional benefit. This might be information you don’t absolutely need to solve the case; more often it consists of advantages that clear the character’s path through the story, such as favors from witnesses, knowledge that keeps the character safe, or prior relationships to central figures.
General Abilities determine whether you succeed or fail when trying to take actions other than gathering information, usually in an event called a test.
The most important kind of test is the Challenge. At the end of the Challenge, your die roll total may match or exceed that of an Advance (the best result), or a Hold (an okay or middling result). If not, your Outcome is a Setback, which means that something bad happens.
- On an Advance you will probably gain an Edge: an advantage you can use later in the scenario. As a reminder, you gain an Edge card. The card’s text will tell you how it works. Often, you must discard the card to gain the advantage. If you reached the Advance threshold without rolling all of the dice you were entitled to, you also gain a Push.
- On a Setback, you often gain a Problem, representing a dilemma that might cause trouble for you later. Again, you receive a card to remember it by — a Problem card. Certain cards might lead to a terrible end for your detective should you fail to get rid of them before the scenario concludes.
Every so often you’ll make a simple roll, called a Quick Test, to see if you succeed or fail, without the possibility of Advances, Edges, Setbacks, or Problems.
Feb 14 2018
Face Madness and Corruption… Alone!
Langston Wright is an African-American war veteran and scholar in WW2-era Washington, DC. Vivian Sinclair is The New York Herald’s most determined scoop-hound in 1930s NYC. And Dex Raymond is a hard-boiled private detective with a nose for trouble in 1930s Los Angeles.
Each is a lone investigator, equipped with smarts, fists, and just maybe a code of honor, uncovering their town’s secret truths. But what happens when you scratch the veneer of human malfeasance to reveal an eternal evil—the malign, cosmic indifference of HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos?
You get the GUMSHOE One-2-One game, Cthulhu Confidential.
One Game Master, One Player
GUMSHOE One-2-One retunes, rebuilds and reenvisions the acclaimed GUMSHOE investigative rules set, as seen in such hit roleplaying games as Trail of Cthulhu and Night’s Black Agents, for one player and one GM.
Together you create a story that evokes the classic solo protagonist mystery format.
- Can’t find an entire game group who can play when you can?
- Want an intense head-to-head gaming experience?
- Looking for a game to play online which fits superbly with virtual tabletops?
Cthulhu Confidential includes all the rules you need to play GUMSHOE One-2-One, plus a detailed approach to building your own mysteries.
Horror Goes Hardboiled
Cthulhu ConfidentialTM drops your hero into the noir nightscape of hardboiled-era Los Angeles, New York or Washington DC. Meet powerbrokers and politicians, rub shoulders with Hollywood studio bosses and fiery evangelists. Face narrow-eyed G-Men, bent cops and dangerous crime lords. But beneath it all, under the scrim of all this human endeavour, lives corruption so old and inhuman you’ll need all your courage and resourcefulness to face it.
Cthulhu Confidential features three protagonists each in their own setting, with three fully-featured adventure, which serve as a complete model for further mysteries of your creation.
The Fathomless Sleep
How did fast-living society girl Helen Deakin come down with a case of catatonia? Her sultry sister pays you to find out. As Dex Raymond, you’ll explore a web of blackmail, dirty money, and weird mysticism in the city of fallen angels.
In the offices of the New York Herald, Sadie Cane seeks reporter Vivian Sinclair‘s help. Sadie’s fiancé, George Preston, disappeared three days after a murder in his apartment block. Can Viv uncover the truth about George, and will Sadie like what she finds?
Lynette Miller was a riveter. A few weeks ago, she got a new job: hush-hush, and highly paid. She’s a clever and resourceful young woman, and now she’s missing, and her father is heartbroken. Can Langston Wright unweave a web of deceit, face down racist cops, and uncover the deeper conspiracy which endangers the war effort?
|Stock #: PELGOC01||Authors: Robin D. Laws, Chris Spivey, Ruth Tillman|
|Artists: Stephanie Brown, Jérôme Huguenin, Christian Knutsson, Anthony Moravian, Leonard O’Grady||Pages: 328 pages, casebound book|
Already got your book, and have a question about page 8? Check out this post.
Feb 14 2018
by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan
Love is eternal… if you’re an alien monstrosity from beyond all sane conceptions of space and time, an undying horror that seethes and defies our pitiful understandings of entropy and existence. For the rest of us, love’s a brief candle, a momentary delusion to distract us from the horror of existence, our cells blindly pushing towards pointless self-replication, perpetuating the cosmic torture upon a million future generations until humanity is mercifully extinguished and there’s nothing left upon the Earth but dust and coleopterans.
Happy Valentine’s Day. Here are three love-themed mythos seeds.
Roses are red/Violets are blue
(or so they are seeming)
In his house in Rlyeh/Great Cthulhu
A dilettante investigator from a wealthy or influential meets an alluring young woman. She’s charming, eerily beautiful, erudite, and apparently of considerable independent means. Also, she proves to be remarkably well-informed about the Mythos, and is ready to aid the investigators in their struggle against cosmic horrors. All she asks is that the investigator come home with her to Innsmouth to meet her family…
The investigator is in no danger; he’s welcome in Innsmouth. After all, the elders want him to be part of the family. He doesn’t have to stay – in fact, they encourage him to take his bride-to-be home with him. The elders of Dagon intend to establish a second enclave of Cthulhu-worshipping Deep One hybrids, and have chosen the investigator to be the human progenitor of a new line.
How can he refuse? Can the other investigators interrupt the wedding in time?
Roses are red/Violets are blue
Yithians in your time-stream want to date you.
One of the investigators suffers a mysterious period of amnesia, during which she acted in a bizarre fashion, travelling to various occult sites and trafficking with ghastly entities. Afterwards, the investigator discovers bizarre messages left for her across the aeons – an archaeological dig in Cyprus finds a statue that’s the image of her, her name crops up in the secret oaths of cults, there are prophecies about her recorded in cryptic passages of the Necronomicon. Eventually, she find a Yithian library buried under the sands of Australia, and there she discovers the truth. She was abducted by the Great Race, and while imprisoned in prehistory, she fell in love with a mighty sorcerer of Hyperborea. Her starcrossed lover swore that he would find his way back to her once they both returned to their home time periods – even though he lived thousands of years before the present day.
All the hints and clues in the various occult tradition suggest that the sorcerer still exists in some form. Maybe he’s travelling forward in time through arcane rituals, or prolonging his life through vampirism, or he’s reduced himself to his essential salts so he can be resurrected by the cult he founded in ancient days. In any case, he’s unlikely to be the cone she fell in love with fifty million years ago – what eldritch horror, sustained by mad obsession, now shambles towards the investigator out of the aeons?
Roses are red/Violets are blue
Yellow, though, is the unhealthiest of hues.
In a gallery in Paris, the investigators glimpse a painting of a young woman. In the image, she strolls by a strange, misty lake, glancing over her shoulder as if daring the viewer to follow her.
Over the course of the next few weeks, all the investigators are beset by memories or dreams of the woman. In each case, they remember having a torrid, passionate romance with her at some point in their pasts. Some details are common to all their recollections – in every case, her name was Camilla; in every case, she abruptly ended the affair and fled, saying only that she had to find “truth, not its phantom”. Other details vary – in some cases, she was a student the investigator met at university, or a shepherdess in the village where the investigator grew up, or an artist’s model, or a friend of a friend. She appears ageless – some investigators remember her from their distant youth, for others, they recall her so vividly that they can still smell her perfume in their rooms, but she is always the same, always young and beautiful.
The memories become more intense, more alluring – and more detailed as the investigators dwell on them. Spend time thinking about Camilla, and you’ll recall how you picnicked on the banks of the Seine, or how she led you up the steps of a crumbling Roman ruin in the woods, or how she taught you the secret speech of ghouls. Memories of Camilla are suffused with a warm yellowish glow, and it is far more pleasant to dwell in melancholic remembrances of lost love than it is to exist in the harsh light of the present day. Spend enough time with her in the past, and she reveals more hidden truths, even hinting that the investigator can find her again in the present if he or she ensures that their love is the only true one – by killing the other player characters…
Is Camilla a curse conjured by the mysterious artist who painted the portrait, hired by some rival to destroy the investigators? Is she some Carcosan phantom, a memetic horror that’s colonising their histories? Is she a creature of possibility, trying to fix her own ever-shifting history by attaching herself to the timeline of one of the investigators? Or is she an innocent who became trapped in Carcosa, and is now trying to escape as best she can?
Feb 9 2018
In the latest episode of their comfy cuppa of podcast, Ken and Robin talk RPGs as jazz, Dennis Detwiller, the Worst Genre, and zodiac cup tea reading.