Deliver Us From Evil belongs to a cinematic category well-known to roleplayers: the movie that doesn’t really pay off, but serves as a strong mood and tone reference for a game. Specifically, it comes as close as anything in the DVD racks to conveying the feel of The Esoterrorists. In this entry in the based-on-supposedly-real-life-story horror sub-genre Eric Bana plays NYPD police detective Ralph Sarchie. With a gung ho partner played by Community’s Joel McHale, he investigates a series of crimes connected by symptoms of demonic possession. He finds a connection between the cases in the uncovering of an ancient evil by US soldiers in Iraq. For much of its runtime, through Scott Derrickson’s direction, it presents a compelling fusion of the hard-boiled modern cop drama with supernatural horror. Along the way the story picks up a third player character role model, a hipster priest with a dark past played by Edgar Ramirez.

Like many mash-ups the film falters in the stretch, when it has to decide which genre it will maintain its loyalty to and jumps back into the conventional. Deliver Us From Evil sticks to its supposedly real roots by concluding with a not terribly fresh or exciting exorcism sequence, distinguished only by the fact that it takes place in a police interrogation room. If you’ve seen one cinematic exorcism, you seen this one too. However, since the direction, particularly its fusion of creepy mood with cop drama elements, far outclasses the material, you can select choice snippets and sequences to inspire your Esoterrorists players. The entering the creepy basement with guns and flashlights drawn sequence would serve particularly well in this respect. Also useful for this purpose are squad room scenes in which the cops scour security footage and find signs of the uncanny. Swap in Outer Dark Entities for the 70s paperback demons and you’ll be cooking with gas.

For an actually fully recommendable Derrickson movie, check out Sinister with Ethan Hawke and a supernatural enemy very much like an ODE. Derrickson is now in development on the Marvel Dr. Strange movie. The many Steve Ditko frames he’s posting on social media are raising my hopes for his take on psychedelic occultism. In the meantime, if you spot Deliver Us From Evil on disc at a bargain price, snap it to excerpt it as tone fodder for your next Esoterrorists run.



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.

Page XX

A Column about Roleplaying

by Robin D. Laws

When we of the Pelgrane-Industrial Complex write and test GUMSHOE scenarios, we take care to avoid short circuits—moments that, early in play, could conceivably allow the investigators to abruptly move to the end of the story. The dissatisfactions of short-circuiting are various. The players miss out on all the fun interactions, problems, and thrills set out for them to explore, leading to a feeling of anti-climax. You never want to end a scenario with the players wondering, aloud or implicitly, “Is that all there is?” Nor do you want to end a play session after an hour when the group expected at least their standard three to four hours.

Less well considered than the problem of short-circuiting is its opposite number, the need to hot-wire. Hot-wiring, a term I just made up*, refers to the process of cutting material from a scenario to fit a rapidly diminishing time window. You may need to hot-wire because:

  • you have too much adventure left for one session, but not enough for two.
  • one or more key players won’t be able to make it next time.
  • you’re running a one-shot, perhaps at a convention.
  • a key player has to bail early on this session.

The less linkage between scenes in an RPG scenario, the easier they are to hot-wire. In an F20 game like 13th Age, you can drop a couple of the fights. Where the connective tissue between battles seems too hardy to dispense with entirely, you can even elide your way to the climax with a few lines of description: “After several days fighting your way through the orc lands, you finally find yourselves standing at the foot of the Crusader’s grim tower.” Hillfolk’s scenes are so modular that you can stop at any time. Additionally, the narrative driving remains as much up to the players as the GM. And of course in The Dying Earth the picaresque characters continually skate on the edge of comeuppance, with a closing explosion of chaos to rain down on them never further away than the nearest Pelgrane nest.

GUMSHOE, however runs on way scenes connect to one another. Ripping out those circuits means finding the quickest route between where the characters currently are and a climax that makes sense and feels right. GUMSHOE is an investigative game, meaning that players want to come away feeling that they investigated something. Finding clues is the core activity, so you can’t elide that away from them. It would be like skipping not only the connecting fights but the epic final throwdown in a 13th Age run.

To hot-wire a GUMSHOE scenario, find the final scene you want to land on. Some scenarios present multiple climactic scenes based on player choices. Most converge the story into a single final scene, in which certain choices may be foreclosed, penalized or rewarded depending on what the protagonists have already done so far.

Given a choice of climaxes, pick the one that you think the players can work toward most efficiently without feeling that you shoved them onto a greased slide. The ideal hot-wire job doesn’t appear as such to the players. The way to achieve this is to still give them opportunities to be clever. The difference now is that the reward of that cleverness becomes a faster propulsion toward the finish line.

If given one final scene that can play out in various ways, quickly scan for the payoffs it provides to past decisions. See how many of them the players have already made, and how many still lie uncovered. If you can find a way to route them through some or all of those choices on the fast lane to the climax, great. Otherwise, them’s the breaks when you’re rewiring on the fly.

Your main task? Identify the shortest logical-seeming route from the current scene to the end point. Look at the section headers for the various Lead-Ins to that scene. Skip back to those scenes and locate the core clues that enable the investigations to reach it. You may find one or several.

Linear scenarios can be harder to hot-wire than ones that provide multiple routes to the conclusion. A journey investigation as found in Mythos Expeditions may have to use the narrative elision technique to get from the problem at point C in the wilderness to the final one at point J.

Where the climax boasts more than one lead-in, pick the core clue that you can most easily drop into the situation at hand. Or find a core clue that gets you to that penultimate scene, letting the players take it from there.

Let’s say you’re running a modern Trail of Cthulhu scenario** using abilities imported from The Esoterrorists. The climax occurs after hours at an aquarium theme park, where Deep Ones orgiastically empower themselves by tormenting killer whales. The investigators are partway through the scenario, having discovered the fatally slashed corpse of a rogue marine biologist in a gas station bathroom. As written, the corpse lacks ID and the investigators have to crack other scenes to learn who the victim was and then discover she was onto something fishy† at the aquarium. The investigators can discover the latter clue one of two ways: by tracking down and winning over her justifiably paranoid wife, or cracking her notes, as found in an off-site backup.

To hot-wire that scene to lead directly to the orca-torturing aquarium orgy, plant a clue to the off-site backup on the corpse. In the original, the murderers took her purse and car, to cover their tracks. After you hot-wire the scene, they were interrupted by a station employee while trying to steal the vehicle, and fled. This allows the team to find the victim’s tablet on the back seat of her car and use her Dropbox app to access her file. Present this so they have to, as would be usual, search the car for clues, and then figure out that her files might be accessible from a file storage interface app. That way they still get to feel like they’re doing the work of GUMSHOE investigators, feeling a sense of accomplishment as they screech toward their final assignation at that theme park.

*In its roleplaying context. Settle down, car theft enthusiasts.

**Warning: scenario does not yet exist. But GUMSHOE is OGL now, hint hint.

†Honestly extremely sorry about that. I am writing this the day before Gen Con, and it is also very, very hot.

Field assignments as Ordo Veritatis operatives tend toward the short-lived. Confrontations with the beings of the Outer Dark erode mental stability over time. The organization does its best to monitor the readiness of its agents before sending them out on missions. When possible it pulls members who are no longer fit for duty into support positions as analysts, administrators, or assigning officers. If your character gets out in one piece, he may become a Mr. Verity.

Sadly, not all agents adjust well to life after the Ordo. The organization can’t afford to expend resources carefully monitoring all former agents. It cannot enforce its request that ex-personnel periodically undergo psych evaluations and report any untoward findings. Those most in need of extra help tend to be the least prepared to ask for it.

As a result, it is not unknown for retired operatives to drift back toward the occult, or slip into general debility rendering them susceptible to Esoterror influence. To date, no former agent has gone completely rogue and joined an Esoterror cell. But some wind up on the streets, muttering of impending apocalypse. Certain ODEs have long memories and keep psychic tabs on their past enemies across the membrane between realities. Their hunger for pain makes them exquisite practitioners of revenge.

On occasion, then, it may fall to active members of the group to investigate the disappearances of their predecessors. Most of the time, the missing are quickly found, having gone off the grid in response to a brief, containable personal crisis. They are ushered into counselling programs. The team detailed to find them files an unremarkable report and goes home.

However, where the ex-colleague has succumbed to psychosis and by intent or negligence has begun to abet the schemes of the Outer Dark, agents may need to not only bring the subject into permanent custody, but also take care that any evidence of supernatural activity be thoroughly scrubbed.

Unfortunately, an agent’s operational instincts may not deteriorate as rapidly as his grasp of reality. Paranoid, resourceful, often illicitly armed, your quarry may prove difficult to corner. And dangerous when you manage it. Especially if you’re racing extra-dimensional demons to get to him first.


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.

Albion's Ransom: Little Girl Lost coverkafka’s shining review of Albion’s Ransom: Little Girl Lost & Albion’s Ransom: Worm of Sixty Winters is available in full at

10/10: “this is British horror at its best.” 

“The Esoterrorists picks up where Cthulhu games sometimes leave off in creating a truly horrific experience without getting into gore and staying true to the cosmic horror that we are truly insignificant against the banal and malevolent forces that look at our speck of a dirt that we call the Earth as nothing. Yet, aptly keeps things local and contextualized it by bringing a local yet alien world in the form of the United Kingdom feeling the winds of a cozy catastrophe blow-in from the Outer Dark. Solid writing, art and editing will guarantee that this adventure will be enjoyed for many years.”

“It is the strength of the writing that the descriptions of the NPCs are so powerful that they might pass for fact. The adventure moves from a modern police procedural and descends/ascends to almost Fleming-Bond adventure without any of the silliness inspired by the films of that genre.”

Sixty-Winters-Cover_reduced1“It is a rollercoaster of an adventure that will really test adventures investigative abilities, in which, players will be thankful for the GUMSHOE rules that does not leave these things to chance. That said, players are no way conscripted into meeting their doom, say, in the way, that Return to the Tomb of Horrors. Rather, it is the grand tradition of the British Cozy Catastrophe. Whereby, the actions of the players do lead to the world going mad, but, they have every chance to set events back on track – preferably before the tea gets cold.”

“Solid writing, art and editing will guarantee that this adventure will be enjoyed for many years. Pelgrane Press continues to hit the ball out of the park with ease, nowhere is more evident than in the phenomenal adventures they produce – the extra features flesh out what dry rules cannot. This adventure is meaty enough that it will be enjoyed time and time again; and like the before mentioned, Return to the Tomb of Horrors creates a familiarity but also dread. So, if you are a Gamemaster, in need of an adventure that may or may not result in a TPK, but, provide lots of thought-provoking role-playing opportunities – you must check this one out!”

Thanks, kafka!



You are receiving this memo as an Ordo Veritatis field agent certified to perform the forensic duties of a medical examiner.

At your earliest convenience, please access, through the amended usual protocols, the research paper entitled “The Neurological Implications and Structural Alterations Associated with Outer Dark Entity Involvement” (Catalogue #90UODS9) by Dr. Sheldon Saperstein, [REDACTED] and [REDACTED]. In brief, the paper establishes that the mental traumas induced by contact with ODEs are frequently of neurological origin. Alarmingly, Saperstein et al posit that mere remote visual observation of these creatures on our plane of existence may induce structural alterations in the brain. These induce a variety of debilitating symptoms ranging from the commonplace (PTSD, temporal lobe epilepsy) to the exotic (Capgras syndrome, circumstantiality).

When autopsying victims in the field, please aid our research by examining their brains for structural anomalies. Follow this protocol regardless of apparent cause of death. Numerous instances occur where fresh brain traumas accompany fatal ODE attacks that do not directly target the brain. Instead the direct cause of death might be, to name but a few examples, asphyxiation, hypothermia or exsanguination.

It is the hope of the Forensic Anthropology Research Department to assemble over time a database correlating particular brain structure alterations to specific Outer Dark creatures. Whether such correspondences can be clearly established remains a question which can only be answered by thorough evidence gathering.

To this end you will find in your updated protocols package an organ donation form. We strongly request that all field agents explicitly consign their brains to the organization for thorough examination upon their demises, including natural ones. You may already exhibit neurological features of keen interest to the department .

On a related personal note, those of you in the greater New York area might wish to attend memorial services for Dr. Saperstein at the [REDACTED] Synagogue on [REDACTED] on [REDACTED]. His colleagues carry on, his work and sacrifice an inspiration to us all.


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.

a column on roleplaying

by Robin D. Laws

Looking for a new way to spark ideas for your next player character? Consider stealing a dramatic pole from classic literature.

As Hillfolk players know, a dramatic pole is the essential opposition that defines a character tuned for, you guessed it, dramatic storytelling. It allows the character to be pulled in two directions through the course of the story, fueling inner conflict.

Is Huckleberry Finn innocent, or corrupt?

Is Don Draper real, or an advertising image for a created self?

Is Rick Blaine of Casablanca selfish or altruistic?

You can usually define any classic character in a couple of ways. How you nail this down reveals your perspective on the work and the character. What matters is that you identify a key opposition that spurs the character to pursue emotional goals. This pursuit becomes the action of the story.

Shakespeare serves as a deep mine of classic internal oppositions. As a dramatist, he has to get his characters moving and into collision with one another.

Is Hamlet a man of action, or a man of contemplation?

Is Lear a king or a fool?

Is Brutus an idealist or a betrayer?

Is Juliet a loyal daughter or a romantic lover?

Let’s take Caliban from The Tempest. You could define him in a couple of ways. Rebel vs. servant would work, for example.

For this article, let’s pick another: man or monster. This one reverberates down through the story tradition. We see it again with Frankenstein’s monster, The Wolfman, and “Dexter.” A huge swathe of Marvel comics heroes use the man or monster opposition: the Hulk, the Thing, the Beast, Nightcrawler, and many more.

(To digress for a moment, if you want to sum up the difference between the Marvel and DC heroes, Stan Lee’s creations tend to have dramatic poles, whereas the earlier DC characters don’t so much. Spider-Man’s hero vs loser opposition takes center stage. Superman’s divided nature doesn’t get much play until much later revisionist takes like Man of Steel. The inherent wrongness of that film suggests that the character wasn’t built to support an internal opposition and can’t stand having one bolted onto it retrospect.)

The list above shows us that Caliban’s man or monster opposition serves as a rugged chassis for genre characters.

Most but by no means all genre characters appear in procedural stories, which are mostly about the overcoming of external obstacles. Very often the character appears in a serial format, undergoing multiple distinct adventures. This is the pattern that all traditional roleplaying games emulate.

As the Marvel examples show, serial characters who star in procedural stories can still use dramatic oppositions to hold our interest. However, if they’re to continue their adventures, the opposition can never truly resolve itself. Should Bruce Banner get cured, he becomes 100% man and 0% monster, but that means no more Hulk stories. That’s why experienced comics readers know that a new cure for Banner’s condition will never last very long. It’s just a temporary way of finding a fresh angle on man versus monster theme.

If you start with the idea of playing a man or monster PC, the task of adapting it to various genres falls readily into place.

In a fantasy game, you can literally be a monstrous being, whether an orc or minotaur, who aspires to acceptance and a higher self. If you’re playing 13th Age, you could select icon relationships that heighten the opposition. A fraught relationship with the Lich King, Orc Lord, Diabolist or Three could represent your monster side, even as you aspire to a greater connection to the Emperor, Elf Queen, or Priestess.

Science fiction dramatic poles often center around the nature of humanity. Your monstrous side might be represented as a grotesque or brutish alien morphology, or as extensive cybernetic implants.

Some horror games might permit you to have a bit of monster in you already as you start play. In Trail of Cthulhu, give yourself the drive “In the Blood” and you’re off to the Innsmouth races.

To use the opposition in Mutant City Blues, select mutant powers that make you look freakish, and make sure your powers grant you a defect allowing the question of your slow mental or physical deterioration to drive personal subplots.

When a setting doesn’t allow for literal monstrosity, you can always go for the metaphorical kind. As a cursory glance at history tells us, the real monsters out there are all people. To go back to Shakepeare, his portrayal of Richard III could easily be classified as having a man/monster opposition. (Like pretty well all of the history plays you could also give him just ruler vs. tyrant, but since that fits them all it fails the specificity test of great storytelling choices.)

Your ultra-competent agent in The Esoterrorists could have passed Ordo Veritatis psych evaluation by cleverly hiding her psychopathic nature. She starts out as a sociopath for the forces of good, just like 007 in his classic conception. But what happens when her Stability starts to slide below 0?

Any opposition you can find in literature can work in DramaSystem. The settings described in the various series pitches merely dictate whether the monster side of you is literal or metaphorical.

So for the core Hillfolk setting, as well as other non-fantastical pitches like “Brigades”, “Maroons” and “The White Dog Runs at Night” reality as we know it restricts you to the limits of human deformity. You might give your character a curved spine, paralyzed hand or missing eye in order to underline the monstrous side of his dramatic pole. Or you might find the way it associates disability with monstrosity unnecessarily stigmatizing and decide to chuck this longstanding literary trope into the dustbin. In that case you’ll make your character monstrous by action but not by outward appearance.

Other DramaSystem series pitches draw on genre elements allowing literal monstrosity. Your “Alma Mater Magica” or “Under Hallowed Hills” character could be half human, half goblin. A mecha pilot from “Article 9” could be infected with an advanced case of ATI (anime tentacle ichor.) In “Against Hali” you could be emotionally warped by exposure to the banned play, The King in Yellow. “Transcend”, with its theme of extreme futuristic body modification, revolves around this opposition. If you’re the central character, you might not see yourself as part monster, but family members run by the other players might.

Likewise you can take any of the other oppositions mentioned here and use them as a springboard for your character. The intersection between pitch and opposition makes for a different character each time. Your choice of family vs. love leads you to create a quite different character in the Icelandic saga of “Blood on the Snow” than it would amid the smoky cross-cultural intrigue of “Shanghai 1930,” because the historical contexts are so different.


The Tearing of the Veil Is Nigh

An Appalling Summoning…
Demons of the Depths, Awakened…
Slaughter on Your Mapping App…
Ebola Insurgency…
…and, of Course, Murder Clowns

For decades, the Ordo Veritatis has fought the occult operations of the Esoterrorists, occult operatives bent on ripping apart the membrane between our reality and the demonic vortex of the Outer Dark.

Now that threat directly looms. A barbaric ritual in an underground club touches off a series of coordinated assaults designed to break our world forever.
In this world-spanning campaign of interlocking scenarios, your agents conduct the high-stakes investigations required to stop them.
Until now, Esoterror’s cosmic endgame has been described in background material but never taken center stage in adventures your agents can take part in.
They’ve read the training manuals. They’ve attended the briefings. Now it’s time to deploy their knowledge in the field, staking life, limb and mental stability against those who would destroy everything we know.
After a gore-spattered prologue, Worldbreaker gives your players the choice of four harrowing scenarios they can tackle in any order.
From caverns deep below Belize to an arm’s dealers warehouse in Transnistria, from Silicon Valley offices to haunted, rebel-held forests of Nigeria, your agents unravel the schemes of monsters both metaphorical and literal. Battle deconstructed animals, opportunistic demons, body-stealing parasites and otherworldly PR agents.
Put together the pieces leading to the climactic intervention against the conspiracy’s mastermind and the mightiest, most destructive Outer Dark Entity to ever squeeze through a hole between realms.
All adventures written by Robin D. Laws, creator of GUMSHOE and the Esoterror setting.
Can you keep the world unbroken? And how many agents will you lose along the way?

Status: In playtesting

A column on roleplaying

by Robin D. Laws


When we think of doing a haunted house horror scenario, we tend to look to The Haunting (1963, Robert Wise) and its cousin The Legend of Hell House (1973, John Hough.) This plot template pits a seasoned group of paranormal investigators against a home infested by supernatural menace.

You can follow it in The Esoterrorists or Trail of Cthulhu.

In the first case, prior urban legends surround the house. A famous hoax, like the one really at the core of the Amityville franchise, might have been staged there. An Esoterror cell now elects to use the ambient anxiety townsfolk feel about the place to summon Outer Dark Entities. The extra-planar monsters generate actual manifestations, attacking the Stability of the house’s current residents.

Maybe the original structure was razed years ago. So long as people remember where it was, the cell has enough psychic energy to work with to attract some suitable ODEs.

If the building still exists but lies abandoned, the entities go after occasional visitors, from meter readers to thrill-seeking amateur ghost hunters.

Believers in literal ghosts, unaware that something much nastier is behind the knocks, door closings, and apparitions, don’t stand a chance in there. The ODEs toy with them, as they do with all mortals, breaking them over time. The agents must find the cell, learn what ritual element binds the entities to the house, and destroy it. The item most likely consists of a box containing artifacts associated with the original case, or the family presently occupying the house.

In Trail of Cthulhu, non-Euclidean space has intruded into the house, eating away at anyone unfortunate enough to come into contact with it. The planar disturbance might have been conjured by witchcraft, as in “Dreams of the Witch House”, or “From Beyond”-style scientific inquiry into Things That Must Not Be Known. Either way, the investigation probes the same question: what do we need to know to sever the connection between the house and this unfathomable other dimension?

If a witch caused this and is still present, investigators have to to figure out how to find her and how to banish her. Along the way they must avoid countermeasures taken by scuttling rat-being familiars—or some other less canonical secondary threat the players aren’t expecting.

If the gate to non-Euclidean space lingers as the remnant of an old summoning, the group must discover that, identify the nature of the entities now taking opportunistic advantage of it, and find a way to close the portal. Step three may require fighting the beings mentioned in step two.

When weird science has opened the portal, the team must reconstruct the mad experiment so they can then work out how to reverse it. The scientist, now transformed and probably running about waggling his pineal gland at any who dare enter, serves as main antagonist. Or maybe the victims of the manifestations all become possessed by Lovecraftian aliens.

A third option has the malleable reality of the Dreamlands bleeding into the house. For example, your Dreamhounds of Paris surrealists could discover that a rich patron’s chateau has been infected by their nocturnal activity. Now, it might be useful to have an easy way of entering the Dreamlands while awake, especially if you’ve annoyed Nicolas Flamel and his ghouls of the Paris Catacombs. Still, you also don’t want one of your few financial supporters to become forever lost in the vale of sleep. Your task then becomes to journey into the Dreamlands and use your shaping powers to erect a wall barring its denizens from entering the chateau. Your opposition consists of dream beings who enjoy entering our world and want to keep on doing it, no matter how many people of the Wakelands they drive insane.

Fear Itself suggests another possibility: you play the family in the house. Way more haunted house movies, in keeping with their themes of the family under threat and the anxieties of property, focus on a mom, dad and kids. Paranormal experts may show up to provide exposition and perhaps exorcism, but our attention stays with the distressed family unit. Examples include Poltergeist (1982, Tobe Hooper), Sinister (2012, Scott Derrickson), Insidious (2010, James Wan), and the alien variant Dark Skies (2013, Scott Stewart.)

Here you create new characters, all closely related: father, mother, and one to three kids. You can also throw in a live-in extended family member to fill out the group: a grandmother, uncle, or a nanny who has been with the family so long she’s treated like a blood relative. In place of the Worst Things the characters ever did, one random character gets designated as the Mistake Maker. The Mistake is the decision that started the family’s collision with the supernatural. The most common Mistake is buying the haunted house. If you go with this, both the mom and the dad can be the Mistake Maker. Or the one who pushed for the purchase over the objections of the other bears that burden alone. Other Mistakes:

  • finding that weird stuff in the attic
  • opening that tunnel under the house
  • messing around in the cemetery next door
  • playing with an Ouija board (or otherwise messing with the occult)
  • arousing the ire of someone with the power to bestow curses
  • (for a disturbed kid character) torturing those animals

The GM hands out Mistake cards, some of them blank, the others including red herring Mistakes. The Mistake Maker gets the card with the real answer on it. To end the haunting, the family must determine what the real Mistake was and then somehow undo it. As ever, simply leaving the house never works—the dark forces have awakened and will now infest whatever place you run to.

Admitting your Mistake to everyone else might cost Stability points, or require you to do something in the story to gain permission to reveal it. GMC paranormal investigators can help, but might also push you further into insanity when the entities destroy their minds or bodies. The GM might further pare the Fear Itself ability roster, making sure that those left to the group are the only ones needed to answer the scenario’s questions.

To take the most obvious choice, run the family-based haunted house scenario as a one-shot. It could on the other hand make an interesting way into an ongoing Fear Itself series where the family uses what it learns in this first scenario to go out and fight other occult dangers. Think “Supernatural” with an entire family unit instead of two brothers.

New creature for The Esoterrorists

The membrane between this world and the Outer Dark is everywhere. Even inside your computer. That’s where seepers break through. They sense the particular stink of paranoia and latent aggression stoked on the Internet’s blackest shoals. When you drink in conspiracy theory or wallow in mythologies of victimhood, they wriggle from the swirling chaos into your CPU, out through your motherboard, and into your keyboard cable. Using a wireless keyboard? A seeper is fine with that; it can transmit itself along your wi-fi connection. As you spiral down the rabbit hole of electronic disinformation, as you type your screeds against the government and You Know Which Ethnic Group, the seeper works its way under your fingernails and into your bloodstream. 9/11 was an inside job!

Once it infests you, the seeper doesn’t turn you into a rampaging maniac. Instead you become a vector for madness. You take that extra step from posting and commenting on conspiracy theories and start to network in person with fellow believers. When you meet an especially unstable hanger-on in the world of fringe politics, the seeper floods your brain with endorphins. Unconsciously seeking that biochemical reward, you befriend damaged, repellent people you’d normally shun. The seeper uses you as a broadcast beacon, intensifying the fragility of its secondary target. It might even require you to do things behind your new friend’s back to worsen his life and drive him further to the edge. Maybe you “accidentally” let his boss find out about his white supremacist views. Or you tell a story on him that gets him kicked out of his responsible gun club, or pushes him away from the one family member who still keeps tabs on him.

That way, when the secondary target embarks on his kill spree and shoots himself in the heart when cornered, or takes a sniper shot to the head, the seeper remains alive and in this world. You go on television to decry the way the media is exploiting this tragedy to score cheap political points. You mourn your friend and cultivate your sense of martyrdom.

Eventually the seeper impels you to move to another city, where it draws you to its next secondary victim. It teaches you to be careful, so no one ever puts it together, IDing you as the common factor connecting two, three or even four spree killers. Meanwhile, the seeper grows psychically fat on the grief and carnage it causes, sending its energy back through the membrane to grow offspring, which wait for their own chance to stoke the spree-kill epidemic.

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.’

As students of The Book of Unremitting Horror know, Sisterites are beings from the Outer Dark who prey on lonely and isolated men desperate for contact with the opposite sex. Case files from that volume include a transcript of an IRC chat between a Sisterite and its doomed target. In the years since the Ordo Veritatis came into possession of that intercept, the entities have adapted to changing social interaction technologies. First they infiltrated dating sites, from OKCupid to Christian Mingle. The latter has proven a particularly fruitful hunting ground, with a user base that might charitably be described as skewing toward the trusting, or lacking in street smarts.

More recently the Sisterites have taken to mobile apps, most notably Tinder. The ease of its mechanism, in which one swipes photos of prospective dates left, to dismiss them, or right, to indicate interest, allows the extradimensional demons to rapidly zero in on their preferred victims. What used to take weeks or months of chat exploration can now unfold in a matter of hours, from first approach to torture, evisceration, and consumption.

Through its SIGINT capabilities the Ordo has been able to study the mobile app activity of several Sisterites. Given a wider field of choice, Sisterites choose victims fitting the following profile:

  • Photo backgrounds show social isolation: messy apartments, low income, accouterments associated with solo hobbies.
  • Expressions of subjects in their photographs show apprehension or suppressed hostility.
  • Subjects display poor dress sense, bad haircuts, unsatisfactory hygiene.
  • Greeting text reveals status anxiety, overcompensation for fear of rejection, unrealistic expectations for sexual success, complaints about failure despite being a “nice guy”, resentment of men who achieve success with women.

In particular Sisterites eagerly initiate contact with men using catch-phrases of the men’s movement, pick-up artist community, and pick-up artist hater community. They leap on the term “friend zone” like catnip.

Given this information the Ordo has initiated sting operations in several major metropolitan centers, creating profiles that fit these criteria, in order to entrap, confront and destroy Sisterites.

Unfortunately the explosion in dating apps seems to correlate to an increase in the creatures’ numbers. Even if successful, this project may represent only a holding action against an increasing horde culling alienated, socially challenged males.


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