KWAS logo_300_whiteAncient artifacts, saucer conspiracies, mutant spies and hideous creatures — Kenneth Hite is back with another thrilling series of KWAS!

Each month in ENnie-award winning Ken Writes About Stuff, Kenneth Hite turns his considerable writing talents and encyclopedic knowledge of game design, history, the occult and all things Mythos to bear on new topic. From hideous creatures to GUMSHOE innovations, from Moon Dust Men to martial arts, Ken illuminates the dark corners of the genre with 4000-word supplements.

Singles: $2.95 or a little more each

Monthly subscription: $24.95 — a generous 30% discount PLUS a subscribers-only extra at the end of the year, special offers and additional surprises!

The subscription runs from April to March. Order at any time to get all the issues of the current KWAS to date. The latest edition will be added to your order receipt page when it is released — just click the link in your order email. (If you can’t find your receipt email, you can get another one sent to you by entering your email address here).

Paul Baldowski at GeekNative says:

“I consider this series a wake-up call to the lacklustre, to remind them tales of the Mythos, using whatever system, should instil uneasiness, upset and fear. Grasp the potential of the unearthly and inhuman, and make sure next time the investigator’s meet a Shoggoth they have have a truly memorable encounter.”

Installments KWAS 3

Coming soon, to a KWAS subscription near you! Here’s what the third annual subscription brings:

  • April 2015: Hideous Creatures: Tcho-Tcho“The nastiest people who ever lived … and whatever it is they were doing, they weren’t going to let a stranger in on it.” Do you really want to know what the Tcho-Tcho know? Too late.
  • May 2015: The Spear of Destiny. Is it the Spear that pierced Christ’s side, or the Spear of Odin? Does it grant true kingship or invincibility? Who has borne it through the millennia, and who seeks its true whereabouts now? This issue pierces the legend to reach the truth — and then makes the legend invincible. Plus, a look at the Spear for NIGHT’S BLACK AGENTS, THE ESOTERRORISTS, TRAIL OF CTHULHU, and TIMEWATCH.
  • June 2015: Hideous Creatures: Great Race of Yith. “As mental barriers wore down, I beheld great masses of thin vapour in various parts of the building and in the streets below. These steadily grew more solid and distinct, till at last I could trace their monstrous outlines with uncomfortable ease.” From unguessable aliens to cone-shaped librarians to beetle-conquerors, the Great Race of Yith takes many forms. Learn to recognize them, before they take yours!
  • July 2015: Mutant City Spies. Ten years after the ghost flu hit, the world is changed — but the secret world stays the same. Enemies of your country still plot, terrorists still scheme — but now they might have superpowers. An espionage-specops frame for Mutant City Blues takes the super fights into the shadows.
  • August 2015: Hideous Creatures: Wendigo. ” In spite of his exceeding mental perturbation, Simpson struggled hard to detect its nature, and define it …” Cannibal spirit or arctic ogre? Wind-walking demigod or folie a faim? Hunt the Wendigo down — or up into the skies, where mad auroras roll.
  • September 2015: Hideous Creatures: Hunting Horror. “I see it—coming here—hell-wind—titan blur—black wings—Yog-Sothoth save me—the three-lobed burning eye. . . .” Avatar or servitor, this winged and coiling horror haunts the dark and hunts those who seek it out. Shine a little light on this most shadowy of creatures!
  • October 2015: Moon Dust Men: MAJESTIC Overwatch. The Moon Dust Men are the tip of the spear. MAJESTIC-12 aims it. Manage the global war against the aliens with this new GUMSHOE subsystem. Do you build retro-engineered Aurora craft, or bioroids to fight on the Moon? Do you launch satellite screens or dig in anti-saucer lasers? You decide where the black budget goes — and who it goes after.
  • November 2015: Moon Dust Men: Galileo Uplift. To fight aliens, one must use the alien. Take it apart, reverse-engineer it, rebuild it, turn it into armor and sensors and weapons and aircraft good enough to win a war against an enemy from the stars. Tech and gear for your high-powered MOON DUST MEN game, powered by a new GUMSHOE “tech tree” subystem for bootstrapping invention and development.
  • Five more issues of Ken’s erudite wisdom to be announced in due course. Do post in the comments with suggestions!

You can see the installments from Volume #1 here.

You can see the installments from Volume #2 here.

Let us know in the comments what other installments you’d like to see!

Stock #: PELH27D Author: Kenneth Hite
Artist: Various Pages: 10pg PDF per edition

Buy

 

 

HC_Hunting Horror_350“I see it—coming here—hell-wind—titan blur—black wings—Yog-Sothoth save me—the three-lobed burning eye. . . .” Avatar or servitor, this winged and coiling horror haunts the dark and hunts those who seek it out. Shine a little light on this most shadowy of creatures!

Hideous Creatures: Hunting Horror is the sixth installment of the third Ken Writes About Stuff subscription and is now available to subscribers – it will be available to buy in the webstore in September. If you have subscribed to the third KWAS subscription, Hideous Creatures: Hunting Horror is now on your order receipt page, so all you have to do is click on the new link in your order email. (If you can’t find your receipt email, you can get another one sent to you by entering your email address here).

Stock #: PELH33D Author: Kenneth Hite
Artist: Ethan Black
Pages: 10pg PDF

HC_Wendigo_350“In spite of his exceeding mental perturbation, Simpson struggled hard to detect its nature, and define it …” Cannibal spirit or arctic ogre? Wind-walking demigod or folie a faim? Hunt the Wendigo down — or up into the skies, where mad auroras roll.

Hideous Creatures: Wendigo is the fifth installment of the third Ken Writes About Stuff subscription and is now available to subscribers – it will be available to buy in the webstore in August. If you have subscribed to the third KWAS subscription, Hideous Creatures: Wendigo is now on your order receipt page, so all you have to do is click on the new link in your order email. (If you can’t find your receipt email, you can get another one sent to you by entering your email address here).

Stock #: PELH32D Author: Kenneth Hite
Artist: Amanda Makepeace
Pages: 11pg PDF

Ten years after the ghost flu hit, the world is changed — but the secret world stays the same. Enemies of your country still plot, terrorists still scheme — but now they might have superpowers. An espionage-specops frame for Mutant City Blues takes the super fights into the shadows.

Mutant City Spies is the fourth installment of the third Ken Writes About Stuff subscription and is now available to subscribers – it will be available to buy in the webstore in July. If you have subscribed to the third KWAS subscription, Mutant City Spies is now on your order receipt page, so all you have to do is click on the new link in your order email. (If you can’t find your receipt email, you can get another one sent to you by entering your email address here).

Stock #: PELH31D Author: Kenneth Hite
Artist: Marc Steinmann, Jérôme Huguenin
Pages: 14pg PDF
Great Race of Yith cover

Great Race of Yith cover

“As mental barriers wore down, I beheld great masses of thin vapour in various parts of the building and in the streets below. These steadily grew more solid and distinct, till at last I could trace their monstrous outlines with uncomfortable ease.” From unguessable aliens to cone-shaped librarians to beetle-conquerors, the Great Race of Yith takes many forms. Learn to recognize them, before they take yours!

Hideous Creatures: Great Race of Yith is the third installment of the third Ken Writes About Stuff subscription and is now available to subscribers – it will be available to buy in the webstore in June. If you have subscribed to the third KWAS subscription, Hideous Creatures: Great Race of Yith is now on your order receipt page, so all you have to do is click on the new link in your order email. (If you can’t find your receipt email, you can get another one sent to you by entering your email address here).

Stock #: PELH30D Author: Kenneth Hite
Artist: Melissa Gay
Pages: 11pg PDF

Is it the Spear that pierced Christ’s side, or the Spear of Odin? Does it grant true kingship or invincibility? Who has borne it through the millennia, and who seeks its true whereabouts now? This issue pierces the legend to reach the truth — and then makes the legend invincible. Plus, a look at the Spear for Night’s Black Agents, The Esoterrorists, Trail of Cthulhu, and TimeWatch.

The Spear of Destiny is the second installment of the third Ken Writes About Stuff subscription and is now available to subscribers – it will be available to buy in the webstore in May. If you have subscribed to the third KWAS subscription, The Spear of Destiny is now on your order receipt page, so all you have to do is click on the new link in your order email. (If you can’t find your receipt email, you can get another one sent to you by entering your email address here).

Stock #: PELH29D Author: Kenneth Hite
Artist: Jeff Porter
Pages: 8pg PDF

Tcho-Tcho cover “The nastiest people who ever lived … and whatever it is they were doing, they weren’t going to let a stranger in on it.” Do you really want to know what the Tcho-Tcho know? Too late.

Hideous Creatures: Tcho-Tcho is the first installment of the third Ken Writes About Stuff subscription and is now available to subscribers – it will be available to buy in the webstore in April. If you have subscribed to the third KWAS subscription, Hideous Creatures: Tcho-Tcho is now on your order receipt page, so all you have to do is click on the new link in your order email. (If you can’t find your receipt email, you can get another one sent to you by entering your email address here).

Stock #: PELH28D Author: Kenneth Hite
Artist: Jeff Porter
Pages: 11pg PDF

Ennies 2015_250 KWAS Cover_275Mythos creatures, occult conspiracies, xeno-archaeology and more! KWAS Vol. 2 collects 13 supplements by master Lovecraftian writer and GUMSHOE guru Kenneth Hite.

Each PDF includes a deep delve into some deeply weird topic, plus crunchy bits for your GUMSHOE game. If you’re a fan of Suppressed Transmissions, Trail of Cthulhu, Night’s Black Agents, The Nazi Occult or Day After Ragnarok, KWAS is a must-have.

Available from April in the webstore, KWAS Vol. 2 features:

  • BONUS ISSUE – Foul Congeries 2 once more opens the books on Lovecraftian monsters that have never taken stat-block form before in any game, including the Bat-Thing, the Black-Winged Ones, and Medusa! Coming in April 2015.
  • Tomb-Hounds of Egypt. “God! … If only I had not read so much Egyptology before coming to this land which is the fountain of all darkness and terror!” All you need to know to forge a Pulp archaeology campaign set in 1930s Egypt – for Trail of Cthulhu or just GUMSHOE Bullwhips & Baboon-Mummies!
  • GUMSHOE Zoom: Goëtia. Bifrons. Glasya-Labolas. Marchosias. Names to conjure with – literally! This GUMSHOE Zoom takes you inside the pentacle and introduces you to the hierarchy of Hell. Historical European demon-summoning magic  just got easier and more realistic. Um … yay?
  • Hideous Creatures: Rat-Things. “Witnesses said it had long hair and the shape of a rat, but that its sharp-toothed, bearded face was evilly human while its paws were like tiny human hands.” Witch become rat, or thing become hyper-physicist? Familiar-ize yourself with Lovecraft’s creepiest creation.
  •  Vendetta Run. You’ve done worse things, but you’ve never done anything as dangerous as angering the Earps. Because now they’re coming to kill you. And they can’t be killed. Not permanent, anyhow. A survival-horror frame for Fear Itself set in the worst and weirdest West.
  • Hideous Creatures: Byakhee. “Apart from the curiously repellent feeling of human flesh under my hands, and furred wings, I was not able to ascertain what these creatures were like.” Servants of Hastur or misperceived shantaks? Astral psychopomps or sidereal scavengers? Climb aboard the byakhee and find out!
  • The School of Night. “Black is the badge of Hell; the hue of dungeons and the School of Night.” Queen Elizabeth’s realm lies vulnerable, not just to the Spanish or the plague, but to occult forces perhaps more dangerous than either. You study those forces at the risk of torture — at the risk of your soul — but you must hold them at bay or see England destroyed. This GUMSHOE campaign frame sets the PCs on the stage with John Dee, Christopher Marlowe, and Sir Walter Raleigh … and perhaps with traitors in their ranks.
  • Hideous Creatures: Lloigor. “You make the usual mistake — of thinking of them as being like ourselves. They weren’t.” God or monster? Species or phenomenon? Dragon or disc — or discontinuity? Invisible, invulnerable, inexplicable — the vile vortices of the lloigor encompass all and care for nought.
  • Xeno-Archaeology! “No other ancient city on Mars had been laid out in that manner; and the strange, many-terraced buttresses of the thick walls, like the stairways of forgotten Anakim, were peculiar to the prehistoric race that had built Yoh-Vombis.” From the Face on Mars to Precursor artifacts orbiting dead quasars, the mysteries of space aren’t all astrophysical. For some answers, you have to dig. Ruins — of cities, starships, and planets — hold danger and horror, riches and knowledge. What a lost species or a cunning GM can build, bold exo-archaeologists and their players can uncover.
  • Hideous Creatures: Serpent Folk. “The features mingled and merged in a seemingly impossible manner. Then, like a fading mask of fog, the face suddenly vanished and in its stead gaped and leered a monstrous serpent’s head!” They built Valusia before the dinosaurs, and lurk behind half mankind’s darkest cults. Are they extra-dimensional, extra-terrestrial, or just extra venomous? You won’t fool the Children of Yig, in any skin they wear.
  • GUMSHOE Zoom: Voodoo 2: The Invisibles. The Invisibles, more than spirits and a little less than gods, can fit inside stones, trees, and their servitors’ heads — but not into just one issue of KWAS! Whether you call them Loa or Orisha, these mighty beings demand your attention and your sacrifice, but give you hidden knowledge and awaken your interior fires. This second issue of our two-issue Voodoo series gives you plenty of Invisibles to summon, battle, invoke, and ally with whether you’re hunting Dagon in Haiti or rogue programs on your starship.
  • GUMSHOE Zoom: Voodoo 1: Magic. The first of a new series of GUMSHOE Zooms looking at historical magic traditions — and giving you the tools and rules to evoke these puissant powers in your own game! This first issue in a two-issue series examines sympathetic magic and zombies, and Zooms in on the Afro-Caribbean magical-religious complex encompassing Vodoun, Candomble, Santeria, Obeah, and Palo Mayombe. The loa ride in May!
  • Hideous Creatures: Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath. “Worlds of sardonic actuality impinging on vortices of febrile dream – Iä! Shub-Niggurath! The Goat with a Thousand Young!” Are they nameless horrors or numbered servitors, Druidic nightmares or ab-natural abominations? Where do they grow, and on what loathsome food do they thrive? Follow them to Hell and Hydra, or to Mormo and Monsanto.

The first volume is available as a collection from the Pelgrane store.

The third volume is available for subscription from the Pelgrane store.

Well, it’s almost that time, the turning of the Ken Writes About Stuff volume year. If you’ve been a subscriber in the past, many thanks for your support. If you’re a subscriber in the future, future thanks — the first issue of KWAS Volume Three is Hideous Creatures: Tcho-Tchos, which you should get by April 1. (The “bonus content” for KWAS Volume Two subscribers, Foul Congeries 2, is coming after we get Dracula properly staked and in his coffin.) I didn’t have the word count in that issue to cover all the possible varietals of Tcho-Tcho, so here’s another shoot from that dubious vine.

In his 1931 novella “The Horror From the Hills,” Frank Belknap Long mentions a tribe of abominable (and amphibian) dwarves who worship Chaugnar Faugn on the hideous Plateau of Tsang in Tibet, implying their descent from the “Miri Nigri,” a black, stunted tribe of the Pyrenees dreamed up (literally!) by H.P. Lovecraft. I believe it was William Barton (in his Call of Cthulhu adventure “The Curse of Chaugnar Faugn”) who decided that Lovecraft and Long’s black, “squinty-eyed” tribe and Derleth’s Tcho-Tchos were one and the same people, at opposite ends of their migration, in a sort of conservation of cannibal pygmies principle.

If we take, for the time being, this insight as useful, what we need to go looking for is some indication of the Tcho-Tchos among the peoples of the Pyrenees. Millennia before Lovecraft’s beloved Indo-Europeans got to the western edge of Europe, those hills were home to the Basques, whose antiquity can be judged by the Basque saying: “God made man out of bones from a Basque graveyard.” And what do we find up in the Pyreneean hills, shunned by even those ancient folk, but an even more obscure people called the Cagots — a word multiply etymologized, often from gahets meaning “lepers,” although I like cas Got or “dogs of the Goths” best, as having that inhuman touch we need for our Tcho-Tchos. The Cagots were shunned and persecuted by their Basque and other neighbors for reasons nobody seemed to be able to articulate (although they were accused of being Cathars 300 years after the fact).

Elizabeth Gaskell of all people wrote an essay on the Cagots, enthrallingly titled “An Accursed Race,” from which we learn wondrous facts like the Cagots’ reputation for sorcery and alarming body heat (even withering apples by their touch), their reputed cannibalism and tainted smell, and the near-universal prohibition on allowing the Cagots to drink from town water supplies or even use the same holy water fonts in the churches — which Cagots had to enter through special, lower doors. They also had to wear a red duck-foot symbol, or even the webbed foot of an actual duck. The laws in some towns forcing the Cagots to remain shod at all times likewise imply their webbed or inhuman feet, and perhaps more Deep One ancestry than Tcho-Tcho, although there’s no reason not to link Cthulhu and Zhar-Lloigor, for instance. As a point in our favor here, I’ll mention that the suggestive Basque word txoko means both “cuttlefish” and “angle,” which gets us not just Cthulhu but Lloigor, the Many-Angled One. Similarly, the Cagots’ cultural role as woodworkers and carpenters might tie them to Shub-Niggurath cultism.

The best thing about the Cagots, from a Tcho-Tcho adventure design utility standpoint anyhow, is that they can infiltrate Basque, Spanish, and French populations and from thence travel to America in the 15th century. (Basque sailors served with Columbus, and Basque fishermen almost certainly found Newfoundland’s Grand Banks by 1475 and just didn’t say anything about it. While I’m inside this parenthesis, Basque whalers traded with the Greenland Inuit in the 17th century, another possible Cthulhuvian cult connection.) You can thus put Cagot-Tcho-Tcho (Tchogot?) clans in Quebec, Boston, and Boise, Idaho (home to the largest Basque population in the U.S.). They’re also pretty unmistakably white (indeed sometimes described as pale compared to their Basque neighbors), which can take some of the sting off the Tcho-Tchos’ “yellow peril” origins.

True, the Cagots are sometimes described as taller than average — although those little doors might indicate otherwise — but I think we can let that pass. They’re also described as red-haired and bristly-haired, as sickly and as stocky, as dark and as grey-eyed, as thin-fingered and as thick-footed. This only shows the Tcho-Tcho tendency to blend in, or the truly amphibian nature of their Miri-Nigri DNA. The only true test of the Cagot (besides the tainted aura and the “invisible leprosy” they carry) is this: Their ears are “differently shaped from those of other people; being round and gristly, without the lobe of flesh into which the ear-ring is inserted.” The Comtes de Bleuville in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (born without earlobes, as Blofeld discovers) are thus exposed as ancestral Tcho-Tchos — and if Blofeld’s imposture bears even a hint of truth, perhaps the next Tcho-Tcho villain in your campaign can run a network of master criminals from a hidden modernist fortress while petting a white (Saturnian?) cat.

Tomb-Hounds of Egypt

“God! … If only I had not read so much Egyptology before coming to this land which is the fountain of all darkness and terror!” All you need to know to forge a Pulp archaeology campaign set in 1930s Egypt – for Trail of Cthulhu or just GUMSHOE Bullwhips & Baboon-Mummies!

The Depression has hit Egypt, too. Funding for major expeditions has dwindled; minor expeditions have almost dried up. Formerly, Egyptologists could look forward to recouping their costs by selling half their finds overseas, to museums or collectors. Now, however, the increasingly nationalistic Egyptian government pressures the Service of Antiquities to keep all such new-found ancient treasures in the country.

But the European and American market for Egyptian antiquities remains, stoked to ever-higher heat by Howard Carter’s discovery of Tutankhamen’s golden tomb in 1922. With fewer expeditions guarding and excavating the tomb sites, and fewer artifacts coming onto the legitimate market, real opportunities have opened up. Those who know enough Egyptology to know where to dig, and who know enough shady dealers to know how to sell what they dig up, can name their own price for a spectacular item. Of course, there’s always that little matter of a curse – but no true tomb-hound lets the possibility of a curse interfere with the certainty of a profit.

Wonderful things await — all you need is a map and a bullwhip.

Tomb-Hounds of Egypt includes new occupations (Reis, Smuggler), drives, and abilities for Trail of Cthulhu. Additionally, full stats for God-Beasts and Monsters, write-ups of Necropolitan Egypt, and Egyptian Magic.

Praise for Ken Writes About Stuff,

The content of KWAS is top-notch, as one would expect from a RPG luminary like Kenneth Hite” –Daniel D.

brief injection of Hite-ian awesome … they’re just about the right length to digest in a single sitting, and full of amazing ideas that will make anyone’s game into a flavourful occult gumbo” – Bill Templeton

Tomb-Hounds of Egypt is the twelfth installment of the second Ken Writes About Stuff subscription and is now available to subscribers – it will be available to buy in the webstore in March. If you have subscribed to the second KWAS subscription, Tomb-Hounds of Egypt is now on your order receipt page, so all you have to do is click on the new link in your order email. (If you can’t find your receipt email, you can get another one sent to you by entering your email address here).

Stock #: PELH26D Author: Kenneth Hite
Artist: Melissa Gay
Pages: 14pg PDF

Goetia_cover

GUMSHOE Zoom: Goëtia

Bifrons. Glasya-Labolas. Marchosias. Names to conjure with – literally! This GUMSHOE Zoom takes you inside the pentacle and introduces you to the hierarchy of Hell. Historical European demon-summoning magic  just got easier and more realistic. Um … yay?

From the mid-13th century to the early 20th century, Western European magicians summoned, bound, and commanded demons using the Names of God, Jesus, and various angels. Some were black magicians seeking power and poison; others thought of themselves as white magicians investigating the laws of Nature and the deeds of Man.

Their art, goëtia, is the subject of this Zoom. In goëtic magic, there are no fireball spells. If you want to toss a fireball at someone, you have to summon a demon and command it to go toss a fireball at your foe. Same thing if you want to reconcile two enemies, or learn astronomy overnight. It’s demons all the way down.

Praise for Ken Writes About Stuff,

The content of KWAS is top-notch, as one would expect from a RPG luminary like Kenneth Hite” –Daniel D.

 

 brief injection of Hite-ian awesome … they’re just about the right length to digest in a single sitting, and full of amazing ideas that will make anyone’s game into a flavourful occult gumbo” –Bill Templeton

What is a GUMSHOE Zoom?

Not everything can support a game of its own, or even a big sourcebook. For those things, we present the GUMSHOE Zoom, a sort of supplement focused on a key game mechanic and its possible applications. In general, Zooms are interesting potential hacks, or intriguing adaptations of the main rules. Some apply to one specific topic or sub-sub-genre. Others cross all manner of GUMSHOE turf; you can slot them in and adapt them to tales of Cthulhuoid investigation, mean superpowered streets, or alien colonies alike.

Zooms are experimental. That does mean that they haven’t been playtested, necessarily. (If something in here is really really broken – and it’s not, as this ain’t our first rodeo – we’ll fix it in post.) But that also means we encourage you to experiment with them. Changing the cost, or prerequisites, or point effect, or other mechanical parameters of a given Zoom changes how often it shows up and how much drama it drives. The dials are in your hands.

Zooms will change the focus of your play if you use them. Putting a mechanic on the table puts it into your game. Adding a Zoom means more actions, possibly even more scenes, using those rules. Since the Zoom mechanics are intended to encourage specific actions or flavors, to force a card in your storytelling hand, they aren’t “balanced” against “normal” actions or rules. In general, if you don’t want to see more of it, don’t Zoom in on it.

Zooms are optional rules. You can and should ignore them if you don’t want them, or change them at will. After all, if a given Zoom turns out to be crucial to an upcoming GUMSHOE game, we’ll change it to fit that specific genre or form of storytelling.

GUMSHOE Zoom: Goëtia is the eleventh installment of the second Ken Writes About Stuff subscription available to subscribers now – it will be available to buy in the webstore in February. If you have subscribed to the second KWAS subscription, GUMSHOE Zoom: Goëtia is now on your order receipt page, so all you have to do is click on the new link in your order email. (If you can’t find your receipt email, you can get another one sent to you by entering your email address here).

Stock #: PELH25D Author: Kenneth Hite
Artist: Anna Rogers
Pages: 15pg PDF
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