The GUMSHOE Preparedness ability, which lets you test to see if you happen to already have the crucial bit of equipment you want, lets you skip the aggravation of equipment shopping with an on-the-spot moment of creativity in play.

Although the book definitions of Preparedness refer specifically to gear, GMs may find it plot-forwarding to expand it cover in-the-moment revelations of other prior planning.

Do the investigators need a car to pick you up in a desolate spot in the woods? A player can make this happen by a) supplying a credible retroactive explanation of how she arranged it, and b) scoring a Preparedness success.

Other examples:

  • “Naturally I tampered with the elevator as we stepped out of it.”
  • “Might I have set the sick bay diagnostic bot to sedate anyone with transferant DNA?”
  • “I had time to put flowerpots on the fire escape, right?”

You might combine ordinary Preparedness (having a piece of gear) with the planning to have it in the right place, already doing its job.

“Well, of course I brought along a webcam and set it up by the door to catch video of anyone leaving after we came in.”

If Preparedness as planning seems to give a greater advantage than simply having a particular item on hand, increase the Difficulty above the baseline of 4. If it substitutes an anti-climactic moment for an exciting one, make it exorbitantly expensive. Or better yet, let the players have their moment of coolness and competence and find another, unrelated crisis to throw at them soon afterwards.

If not, don’t make it cost more just for abstract world logic reasons. As always, GUMSHOE cares more about emulation than simulation.

Night’s Black Agents GMs might rule that instances of Preparedness as planning involving the intercession of a GM character also require the expenditure of at least 1 Network point. Or maybe you charge the Network point only if the agents try to squeeze an additional benefit from having the character on the scene.

For example, the driver of the car costs 0 Network if you only have him take you out of the woods, as per the original framing of the Preparedness use. But if you then ask him to accompany you into the motel, to make sure you don’t get jumped by a pack of Renfields on the way in, you have to fork over some Network points to mark his transition from passive background character to source of active, ongoing, risky assistance.

 


Night’s Black Agents by Kenneth Hite puts you in the role of a skilled intelligence operative fighting a shadow war against vampires in post-Cold War Europe. Play a dangerous human weapon, a sly charmer, an unstoppable transporter, a precise demolitions expert, or whatever fictional spy you’ve always dreamed of being — and start putting those bloodsuckers in the ground where they belong. Purchase Night’s Black Agents in the Pelgrane Shop.


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There’s big excitement this month with the release of the pre-order of 13 True Ways for 13th Age. The phone has never rang so much here in the office! After a long wait, the PDF is now available to pre-orderers on their order link, and it’s off to the printers, too. We’ve released a few 13th Age Core Rules Limited Editions. Read more here.

KWAS subscribers are in for a treat with two new giant editions on their order page, GUMSHOE Zoom Voodoo 2: The Invisibles, and also next month’s edition, Hideous Creatures: Serpent Folk. This means that they’re now getting their subscription a month in advance – starting in July, subscribers will get the next month’s edition on the last working day of the previous month.

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This will be a short Pelgrane’s Nest – the fledgings are demanding fresh freelancer flesh (say that three times quickly!).

The 13th Age work flow is now established, with the Bestiary printed, 13 True Ways on preorder, and two others in layout. Ken Hite has written much more than we expected for  his latest KWAS Voodoo 2 and done the same with Hideous Creatures: Serpent Folk, so the subcription becomes even better value. The collection of Ken’s first 13 KWAS issues is available as a single download from the store.

More Content for Pelgrane Press – Project Shakespeare Monkeys

With magical PR chap Wade Rockett’s help, we’ve devised a social media calendar. We’ve been sticking to this schedule for a solid month now and it’s going well – from your perspective, is simply means regular articles from Robin, Ken, Gareth and the Fire Opalites which we then wrap up into Page XX for our monthly visitors. In particular, it means extra snippets of content from Robin to spice up your games, including the lines of ours which need more love such as Mutant City Blues and The Dying Earth.

13th Age

The 13 True Ways print version is available for preorder – get the PDF download now. Kickstarter backers have their PDF already, and we’ll get you an update on the other Kickstarter goodies soon. I am particularly excited about the six new classes, and can’t wait to play the Occulist – unique in that if you play it – you are actually the only one in the entire world. I’ve scratched together some pages to create a sampler you can download here.

The 13th Age Bestiary is en route to our shipping points – those lucky Fire Opalites already have their copies. We’ve sent out the address change request to Bestiary customers, and I hope the Bestiaries will be shipping on Friday. Limited editions won’t be out for a while.

Chris Huth has moved from 13 True Ways layout to Shadows of Eldolan, and then The Book of Loot (you can see a sample of Loot here). We hope to have both of these at GenCon.

The Eyes of the Stone Thief is progressing – here is a sample of Herwin Wielink’s cartography.

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Trail of Cthulhu

Soldiers of Pen and Ink now has cover art in the style of Spanish Civil War posters. It will be a 72-page mini-campaign available in print format.

Dulce et Decorum Est, our Great War collection has been printed and will ship to pre-orderers at the end of July.

Mythos Expeditions has been copy edited, and is waiting on layout.. Here is a double-page spread.

mythosspread

Ken Writes About Stuff Subscription

Ken has been rather over-excited in the past two or three months and has written much more more than he was supposed to for Voodoo 1, Voodoo 2 and Serpent Folk – the lastest releases of KWAS. For this reason, we have increased the cost of those individual episodes. However, the cost of the subscription will remain the same, at least for now – so it’s exceptional value. The more subscribers we have, the more all subscribers benefit with extra content at no extra charge – it’s like a Kickstarter in that respect. This month, subscribers are getting both Voodoo 2 and Hideous Creatures: Serpent Folk on their order links so that they will now have a month in hand.

For those of you who missed out, the first year’s subscription is available as a single volume from the store.

The Rest

Gar has mainly been working with Rob on polishing up The Book of Loot; he’s also produced a list of suggestions for Fear Itself 2nd Edition which will change it so it better suits the specific genres for which it is designed, with campaign frames for different styles of horror game.

The Gaean Reach and The Gaean Reach Gazetteer have been printed and will ship to pre-orderers at the end of July.

Better Know a Freelancer – Robin D Laws

Robin D Laws wrote The Dying Earth, the GUMSHOE system, the Gaean Reach and DramaSystem. He created The Birds comic strip writes fiction and critical analyis and has access to Canadian ice wine.

Robin D Laws. Say that name, savour it, then read on. Don’t say it three times while looking in a mirror though, unless you want a mildly irritated Canadian in your bathroom. (This also works for Rob Ford, but you have to use a horizontal mirror lined with white powder). Robin D Laws is a game design powerhouse. To use a coding reference, if Ken writes source code for GUMSHOE, then Robin wrote the GUMSHOE compiler – he’s that badass. He annoys a few people with his game design innovations, and “transforms the way I game” with a bunch of others. Eventually though, it’s like “I was doing that stuff all along.”

Who, though, is the fool? The game designer who annoys people, or the publisher who pays him to annoy them? (This probably sounds better in Latin).

Aside from the quality of his work, my experience working with him on The Dying Earth gave me falsely high expectations of professionalism in the industry. Well, thank you for that. As a Canadian, he is ideally suited to his role of official translator between American English and English.

We didn’t quite burn him out with Hillfolk, but he needed some time to refersh with other projects and publishers, though he still produced a 13th Age adventure and monthly Page XX columns for us. He did all of this whilst knocking out a second edition of Feng Shui with all the latest gaming technology and produces half of a droll and award-winning podcast Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff, which is released on time with terrifying efficiency – all the more extraordinary considering his co-host.

Now Robin D Laws, with his “Robin’s Laws of Gaming” hat on has written Getting Started with Tabletop Roleplaying Games. Read a sample here.  He is knee deep in the outer black at work on his Esoterrorists campaign which will be shattering your brain towards the end of the year. As I mentioned above you may also have also have noticed more articles on our website by Robin D Laws – each one a polished stone of inspiration your GUMSHOE games.

“Robin D Laws, Robin D Laws, Robin D Laws. Ah, there you are. You have my ice wine, I hope?”

 

Voodoo_2_The_Invisibles cover_350The 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 2 – The Invisibles is the third installment of the second Ken Writes About Stuff subscription (if you are a previous subscriber, you will need to buy a new subscription to see this), or it’s available as a stand-alone from the store.

If you have subscribed to the second KWAS subscription, GUMSHOE Zoom: Voodoo 2 – The Invisibles 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 #: PELH17D Author: Kenneth Hite
Artist: Melissa Gay Pages: 16pg PDF

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Here is a pot pourri of previews from current projects.

The Book of Loot

Gareth’s tome of magical treasures with a 13th Age spin. Somewhere there is a forum where all these magic items are posting their opinionated diatribes and whining about their owners.

I once knew this barbarian. Eight feet tall he was, and nearly as broad across the shoulders, eyes like smoldering coals. He comes out of the north, as barbarians do, and does all the things you’d expect a barbarian of that sort to do. He loots dungeons, slays monsters, sacks cities, seduces princes. The Emperor gives him a castle to keep him quiet, and a noble title to go with it. So, now that he’s a respectable noble, our barbarian goes and gets himself a suit of magic plate armor, and a magic shield to go with it.

The shield-maker asks him what the heraldic symbol of his house is, and the barbarian doesn’t know. He thinks about it, and picks the most impressive beast he’s ever seen.

KORU! he says, in this deep booming voice like an earthquake.

So the shield-maker paints a behemoth on the magic shield.

Next time a demon shows up, the barbarian girds his loins, and the rest of him too, and rides out to meet it in battle. He invokes the power of his shield and calls on his heraldic spirit…

You can still see the crater. It’s in the shape of a behemoth footprint. Squished him and the demon flat as two pancakes.

That’s why, if they ever make me a baron, I’m going to rule under the sigil of something small and very safe. I’m thinking goldfish. You?

-          Stormcrow Jacen, “Merchant”

Weapon

Glorious Gladiator’s Blade (standard action – recharge 16+): This weapon is a trophy of the arenas of Axis, handed down from champion to champion. To activate it, the escalation die must be 3+ and you must spend a round showboating for the crowd (even if you don’t have an audience.) While showboating, you may not attack and take a -2 penalty to all Defenses. Furthermore, the other players (and anyone else in the room) must chant your character’s name.

The first attack you make in the round after showboating is enhanced by the sword – you may double the to-hit bonus from the escalation die, and add the value of the escalation die to your crit range. So, if the escalation die is 4, you get a +8 bonus to hit and have your crit range increased by +4. Quirk: Craves the adulation of the crowd.

The Eyes of the Stone Thief

Amazing cartography from Herwin Wielink for Gareth’s epic 13th Age campaign.

“…the Maw is a churning pit of stones that swallows whole buildings. Any adventurer taking the quick route through the Maw by jumping into the pit is unlikely to survive. The safer route is to enter the warren of caves and small chambers that wind around the pit. The Maw is infamously treacherous and unstable. Earthquakes, cave-ins and rockfalls can cut an expedition off before they reach the dungeon itself. Most of the Maw’s denizens are scavengers, parasites and sewer monsters who ride along in the Stone Thief’s jaws, hoping to catch some scraps for themselves.”

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Getting Started With Tabletop Roleplaying Games

An excerpt from a new book by Robin D Laws.

Roleplaying games more resemble movies or fiction in that different audience members gain different subjective pleasures from them. You might like a movie for its performances and pacing, where friend A liked all the references to an established continuity, and friend B wants to rave about its themes and nods to cinema history. You maybe responded to all of those elements as well, but you wouldn’t rank them as more noteworthy than the ones you singled out.

In a roleplaying game, you are creating the experience just as much as you are enjoying it. Your preferences come through in the choices you make.

Let’s call these the various facets of roleplaying.

Every player gravitates more to certain of these than to others. On any given evening, you might emphasize one cool sliver of the roleplaying experience over others. One session you might dig into a sense of triumph over the bad guys, and the next the exploration of the imaginary world. But overall, as the other players and GM get used to having you at the table, they’ll start to see that you care about some facets more than others. These might change over time as you grow more familiar with the hobby, or become clearer versions of what you liked from the very first.

By noting the facets of play that you respond to, your GM can tailor what she presents you with to bring these to the forefront.

Ken Hite’s Introduction to the forthcoming Russian version of Trail of Cthulhu

About This Game

Trail of Cthulhu is a roleplaying game using the GUMSHOE engine, in which you investigate and explore occult mysteries in the horrific world of H.P. Lovecraft. With the GUMSHOE engine, you never fail to uncover a clue; you always move forward deeper into the story. In Lovecraft’s world, all the clues you uncover point to mankind’s inevitable destruction and the story you enter is a tale of madness and horror.

GUMSHOE divides your abilities into two groups: Investigative abilities and General abilities. Your Investigative abilities never fail. You never roll the dice for them. Just like the heroes of mystery fiction and procedural TV series, if you have the right ability and the clue exists, you will find enough information to move into the next scene and look for the next clue. Discovering what the clues mean, however, recognizing the hideous portrait they slowly paint – that’s still up to you. You can spend Investigative points to get even more information: some new data will add color or background details to the portrait, some extra clues will get you to the horror faster or more confidently – and some of each might save your life.

Whether or not you deduce what cosmic horror or human insanity lies behind the mystery, you will find it – and it will find you. That’s when your General abilities come into play. You can spend points from them to boost your die rolls – if you have enough, you can even guarantee success! But make sure you really need it that time, because your General ability pools won’t last forever, down there in the dark.

Who Is My Character?

Your character is an Investigator of occult mysteries, a seeker after horror in the dark decade of the 1930s. You might be:

  • A professor uncovering ancient secrets — at the obscure Miskatonic University in Massachusetts, or the prestigious Moscow State University.
  • A journalist looking behind the story – for Time or for TASS.
  • A police detective solving horrific crimes – for the Chicago Police or the Leningrad Militsiya.
  • A painter or author dreaming of inhuman worlds – in Paris or Sokol.
  • An archaeologist digging up primordial ruins – in Yucatan or the Ukraine.
  • A parapsychologist exploring things nobody believes – for the Society for Psychical Research in London, or the Institute for Brain Research in Leningrad.
  • A doctor tracking unseen dangers – in Florida or in Georgia.
  • A scientist exploring the fringes of understanding – in Los Angeles or Novosibirsk.

What Do We Do?

Whoever your character is, you have stumbled onto the fringes of a horrible truth: the Cthulhu Mythos. The world is older than humanity, and we are not the first species to explore it. Those ancient species are not all dead, and those who will come after are beginning to arrive.

Above them all loom the figures of mighty beings whose very existence violate natural law and threaten to overwhelm our understanding of science. These are the beings whispered of in forbidden grimoires and desolate swamps: Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep, Azathoth, Shub-Niggurath. They might as well be gods, and there are living cults who worship Them as such, and try to restore Their reign now, when the stars have almost come right.

You and your fellow Investigators discover traces of Mythos activity in your own lives or the lives of your associates. You track down rumors of Mythos manifestations in newspapers and antiquarian journals. You might:

  • Investigate a haunted house once owned by a possible cultist.
  • Try to find the last copy of a forbidden grimoire before it can be used to summon one of the Old Ones.
  • Fight it out with a race of horrifying alien beings lurking beneath an innocent town.
  • Be drawn into a film that drives its viewers insane, and try to trace its unknown director.
  • Battle a globe-spanning cult by picking up tiny clues to its activities all over the world.

Wherever the clues lead, you seek out those monstrous beings and their cults and you try to stop them in time. You may travel to strange far places or dig deep into the mysteries of your own home city: the Mythos is everywhere.

You’ve heard its call, and now you must follow its Trail or see the world end in madness and frenzy.

trailofcthulhu300wideIn all GUMSHOE games, there’s a benefit for having 8 rating points in Athletics – your Hit Threshold rises by 1. Night’s Black Agents expanded this to all General Abilities – if you invest eight of your precious build points in a particular ability, you get a cherry, a special ability that shows off your mastery in that field.

So, for your high-octane Pulp games, here’s a bunch of Cthulhuoid cherries that don’t overlap with the various occupation special abilities.

Conceal: Trap Sense

You may spend Conceal when making a Sense Trouble test if the potential threat is a concealed trap or other hidden environmental peril, like an overgrown pit or impending cave-in.

Disguise: Alternate Identity

You’ve established a whole other life for yourself, complete with friends, possessions, documentation – possibly even a home and family. This alternate persona must have a lower Credit Rating than your main identity (unless you’ve been masquerading as someone else since the start of the campaign). A Disguise rating of 8+ gets you one alternate identity; you can purchase more for 4 experience points each).

Driving: Drive-By Shootout

You’re adept at lining up shots for your passengers when they’re shooting out the window. (We won’t ask which mob outfit you were working for when you learned that trick). You may transfer up to 4 Driving points to your passenger’s Firearms pools at the start of a car chase. Unspent points are lost when the chase ends.

Electrical Repair: Alien Insight

Your intuitive understanding of electricity and magnetism gives you an insight into devices far beyond the paltry technology of humanity. You may spend 4 Electrical Repair to activate an alien device, like a Mi-Go brain cylinder or Yithian lightning gun. You only guess at how to turn the thing on, not what it does or how to properly control it.

Explosives: One Last Stick

You can spend Explosive points on Preparedness tests to obtain dynamite or similar explosives.

Filch: Here’s One I Stole Earlier

With a Filch rating of 8+, once per investigation, you may declare you stole something retroactively from a previous scene. You need to get into the mansion’s boathouse to flee the rampaging shoggoth? Well, it just so happens that you picked the groundkeeper’s pockets earlier on, and here’s the very key you need. You still need to make a Filch test to actually acquire whatever you want to unexpectedly produce.

Firearms: Nerves of Steel

Difficulty numbers for your Firearms tests aren’t affected by being Shaken.

First Aid: Sawbones

A First Aid Rating of 8 or more gives 1 free point in either Medicine or Pharmacy, player’s choice.

Fleeing: Blackout

Once per adventure, when you fail a Fleeing test or are about to be consumed by some other horror, you may declare that you black out. When you wake up, you’re somewhere safe. You have no idea how you escaped or where you are now, and may have dropped items or abandoned fellow investigators to some horrible fate. But you’re alive, and that’s something.

Hypnosis: Mesmerize

You may attempt to use hypnotism on subjects who aren’t actively willing to be hypnotized. Your subject must still be somewhat open to your influence – you could hypnotize someone that you’re in conversation with, or the doorman at a club, but you couldn’t hypnotize the mugger who’s about to rob you, or the cultist who’s intent on sacrificing you to some alien god. Increase the Difficulty of any hypnotism tests using this ability by +2 (so, putting someone into a trance without their co-operation is Difficulty 5; planting false memories is Difficulty 7).

Mechanical Repair: Give It A Kick

Once per adventure, you may make a Mechanical Repair roll instantly. You could kick a plane’s engine back to life as it falls from the sky, or unjam a machine gun with one solid whack.

Piloting: There’s Always A Plane

Once per adventure, you may ask the Keeper to introduce an aircraft of some description that you can fly with this ability. Maybe it’s your own plane, and you’ve flew out or had it shipped out. Maybe it’s someone else’s aircraft you can borrow, or a crashed plane that’s repairable. Maybe the cultists have a zeppelin-temple. In any event, there’s always a plane nearby that you can use/borrow/steal over the course of the adventure.

Preparedness: Expedition Planning

If you have time to prepare and pack for any sort of expedition, then you bring enough for everyone. When you succeed at a Preparedness test to obtain an item, you may spend one extra point to have one of those items for everyone in the group. For example, if you use Preparedness to declare you’ve got an electric lamp, then you can spend an extra point to give everyone else a similar lamp too.

Psychoanalysis: Insight

A Psychoanalysis Rating of 8 or more gives one free point in Reassurance or Assess Honesty (player’s choice).

Riding: Ride the Flying Polyp

You can ride anything, including Mythos mounts like shantaks. Even better, if a creature is introduced to you as a mount and you only use it for riding, then any Stablility losses for seeing the creature are reduced by 2.

Scuffling: The Old One Two

You may make an extra Scuffling attack per round, as long as you hit with your first attack. Your extra attack costs a number of Scuffling points equal to the result of the damage die (so, if you roll a 2, that’s 2 Scuffling points for another swing).

Sense Trouble: Quick Reflexes

If you overspend on a successful Sense Trouble test, you get those points back as a pool that can only be spent on Athletics, Fleeing, Firearms, Scuffling or Weapons tests in the first round of combat or in tests immediately related to the trouble you sensed. The maximum size of this pool is equal to the number of Sense Trouble points spent. For example, say the Difficulty to sense a lurking Deep One is 5. You spend 3 Sense Trouble and roll a 4, for a total of 7, beating the Difficulty by 2. You get 2 points back that you must spend immediately on attacking or escaping the monster.

If you’d rolled a 6, you’d have beaten the Difficulty by 4, but you’d still only get 3 points back.

Shadowing: In Over Your Head

Whenever you have to make a Sense Trouble roll while shadowing someone, you gain 2 points in a pool that can be spent on Evidence Collection, Locksmith, Disguise, Filch or Stealth. You lose any unspent points in this pool when you stop shadowing the target and turn back, or are discovered.

Stealth: Stay Here

As long as someone follows your explicit instructions, they can piggyback (as per the rules on page 57) on your Stealth tests even when you’re not present. So, if you tell a fellow investigator to hide in the undergrowth and keep crawling until they reach the road, they can piggyback on your Stealth tests if they do exactly what you told them to do.

Weapons: Favorite Weapon

Pick your favorite melee weapon. You draw strength and courage from its familiar heft in your hand. Once per adventure, you may gain 4 Stability from drawing or brandishing your weapon. With this sword by your side, there’s nothing you can’t handle.

Trail of Cthulhu is an award-winning 1930s horror roleplaying game by Kenneth Hite, produced under license from Chaosium. Whether you’re playing in two-fisted Pulp mode or sanity-shredding Purist mode, its GUMSHOE system enables taut, thrilling investigative adventures where the challenge is in interpreting clues, not finding them. Purchase Trail of Cthulhu and its many supplements and adventures in the Pelgrane Shop.

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You may have noticed additional activity on the website this month, with more regular columns from Robin D. Laws, Kenneth Hite and Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan, as well as a monthly update on what’s happening over at the Stone Skin Press site – currently pairing tasty beverages to short stories. We’ve rounded up the month’s articles below in case you missed any, and included Simon’s latest View from the Pelgrane’s Nest.

As well as adding new content to the website, we’ve been pulling together some great new products. With the centenary of World War 1 nearly upon us, Dulce et Decorum Est: Great War Trail of Cthulhu is now available for pre-order. Containing three adventures as well as an extensive campaign frame for running Trail of Cthulhu during the Great War, it’s a fantastic resource for any World War 1 game. We’ve also got the whopping great first installment of Kenneth Hite’s latest KWAS, GUMSHOE Zoom: Voodoo 1 – Magic, with new rules for introducing voodoo magic into your GUMSHOE game. And we’ve got the latest Series Pitch of the Month – Robin D. Laws’ Art and Murder – available through the Series Pitch of the Month subscription.

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There has a lot of work on big projects this month – art and maps – and the first layout samples for 13 True Ways, which looks amazing.

New Releases: As Ken Writes About Stuff enters its second year with a double dose of Voodoo, we release KWAS Volume 1 – the first 13 episodes – as a stand-alone product. In this, the centenary of the Great War, we release Dulce et Decorum Est, a collection of Mythos-themed scenarios set in the skies, sea and in the trenches of those terrible years. The Series Pitch of the Month for DramaSystem is Art and Murder by Mr DramaSystem himself Robin D Laws.

A few copies of the Bestiary signed and numbered faux leather limited edition are available for preorder from the special order page. It includes a colour print of the Baby Owlbear and Bronze golem picture.

13th Age

Unaviodable delays mean it’s touch and go if 13 True Ways will make GenCon but we are pulling out all the stops, and Chris Huth is laying out as final text comes in, chapter-by-chapter rather than waiting for the whole thing. I’d not seen much more than backers have of this project, so when I got the layout draft  I was very happy that the wait was worthwhile. And the new character classes are eye-opening – in particular Jonathan Tweet’s twisted vision of a metamagical manipulator means that if you play the Occultist, you are the only one in the entire world.

We’ll put in on pre-order the moment we see the laid out final version.

13TrueWaysThe 13th Age Bestiary is ready to ship from the printers to mail order locations, and the Bestiary limited edition  is available from the special order page. We are using a new printer for the Bestiary, so I was nervous when I received the proof, but the paper stock is just as shiny, and the colours are as rich and vibrant as I’d hoped. If you haven’t bought it, you’ll get the fully laid out final now, and the print version in a month or so.

Shadows of Eldolan

I featured art direction on this project here.  Par Lindstrom is a cartographer who works with Campaign Cartographer 3 and PhotoShop, and he has used Mike Schley’s symbols from the ProFantasy symbol set The Dungeons of Schley to create maps for the Shadows of Eldolan such as this:

Eldolan

Eyes of the Stone Thief is in art direction, with Gar putting together sketch maps for Herwin Wielink the cartographer. The Book of Loot and Shards of the Broken Sky await Rob’s eyes, and Cal Moore has submitted an example for an icon themed encounter book code named dungeon delve.

Conventions

Cat Tobin has been developing our convention presence, along side ASH LAW, and we have a physical presence at a much wider selection of conventions, both running games and selling books. Cat will be at Games Expo and Origins and ASH was at MisCon last weekend along with Pelgrane regular artist David Lewis Johnson. All the Gen Con Pelgrane games are booked out, and we are booking in more. We are looking for more GMs to run games at Gen Con and Pax Prime – email Cat if you are available.  Gar has now written convention / organised play scenarios for all our GUMSHOE games, and theylre available for playtesting this month.

Trail of Cthulhu

Adam Gauntlett’s Dulce et Decorum Est is a Great War campaign frame for Trail of Cthuhlu which features one of his current adventures (Sisters of Sorrow) and two new ones. Sisters of Sorrow customers have been sent a voucher for this.

We are making long term plans for a second edition of Trail of Cthulhu, which we will kickstart, but I can’t see this happening this year.

Soldiers of Pen and Ink is currently being laid out.

Mythos Expeditions is waiting on editing and some maps.

Dreamhounds of Paris is in art direction. Dreamhounds of Paris was conceived by Robin D. Laws as a Dreamlands setting I would actually enjoy (I’m not a great fan of the Dreamlands), where you play actual, historical surrealists in Paris, who use their art to interact with the dreamscape. I’d love to play this, but it’s on a long list of other games the group wants to try. I am hoping to get to try it IndieCon – any volunteers to run it?

Other Stuff

Ken continues with the Dracula Dossier and Dracula Unredacted. Gareth is working on a personal project which involves a semi-autonomous drone and its controllers. Kevin is working on the TimeWatch manuscript, while Rich Longmore delivers art. Accretion Disk for Ashen Stars should be in its final draft shortly. Gareth has begun work on Fear Itself 2nd Ed – we’ve been discussing potential campaign frames and custimisation. Robin has delivered his first draft of his introduction to gaming book, and has begun his world-spanning Esoterrorists campaign book. The Gaean Reach and the Gaean Reach Gazeteer appear to be cursed, with PDFs returned from the printer a couple of times, but we have resubmitted them and hope to have them printed in the next month or so.

 

Voodoo_1_Magic_350The 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!

GUMSHOE Zoom: Voodoo 1 – Magic is the second installment of the second Ken Writes About Stuff subscription (if you are a previous subscriber, you will need to buy a new subscription to see this), or it’s available as a stand-alone from the store.

If you have subscribed to the second KWAS subscription, GUMSHOE Zoom: Voodoo 1 – Magic 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 #: PELH16D Author: Kenneth Hite
Artist: Melissa Gay Pages: 16pg PDF

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VeveI have been “into” voodoo — the magical belief system, as distinct from Vodou, the religion — for decades now. I’ve got a shelf of books on voodoo that’s even long for one of my shelves. Macumba, obeah, palo, the whole shouting match. I’ve even got Michael Bertiaux’ Voudon Gnostic Workbook, which is even zanier than that title intimates. (It came out of a group of pre-Thelemite (and post-Crowleian) Golden Dawn-inspired voodoo theosophists right here in Hyde Park called the Monastery of the Seven Rays. My kind of town.) Of course, voodoo and Vodou (and Shango, and Santeria, and Candomble, and Umbanda, and 21 Divisiones, and …) are mighty intertwined, so onto that shelf go more books on the religion and its confreres from New Orleans to Rio de Janeiro. Plus On Stranger Tides is a hell of a novel.

I’ve run at least four separate campaigns featuring voodoo as a central theme. Yes, one of them was a straight ripoff of On Stranger Tides. Don’t judge me.

All of which is to say that I might have been a little ambitious, thinking I could fit all of that into one issue of Ken Writes About Stuff.

When last Simon and I chatted, I mentioned that I was about 8,000 words into this month’s issue of KWAS with no end in sight. A normal issue of KWAS is around 5,000 words. And then he uttered the words that only a bold and surefooted publisher who really wants to put this month’s issue of KWAS to bed can utter: “Is there a way to make this a two-issue series?”

The answer, my friends, was “Yes.”

Thanks to a fortuitous outline, the issue already split neatly between the magic system — which can be played “as is” with only your foggy memories of Live and Let Die and your lovingly dogeared copy of On Stranger Tides to guide you — and the Invisibles section, the writeups on the demigods themselves. That section, featuring lots of lovely loa just waiting to ride you and reveal things and give you superpowers and nightmares, can now expand to a better length, meaning more loa (or orisha, or orixa, or misterios, I’m not picky) for you. That issue can even stand on its own, if you just want to add flavor to another game with magic rules or thrust your Investigators into Haitian mythology or the New Orleans underworld (literally). But together, well, they do voodoo.

So what was the May 2014 issue of Ken Writes About Stuff, GUMSHOE Zoom: Voodoo, is now the May and June 2014 issues of Ken Writes About Stuff. Each one rather longer than an average single issue, to boot. Three issues in two! Specifically, and to wit:

  • May 2014: 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!
  • June 2014: 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.

All the other issues will stay the same, just pushed back an extra month. So now Hideous Creatures: Lloigor, for example, will be the September 2014 issue.

But lesson learned. The upcoming (early 2015?) GUMSHOE Zoom: Goëtia will be short, compact, and stay inside its pentacle. Just like medieval Christian demonology did. Maybe I should get some more books on the topic just to make sure.

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