The upcoming Edom Files, yet another part of the I-can-justifiably-use-the-word-epic-at-this-point epic Dracula Dossier series, is an anthology of eight missions, ranging from 1877’s Stoker: First Blood to the present-day Harker Intrusion . These missions can be used as one-shots with or without reference to the larger Dossier series, or as Flashbacks within a regular Dossier campaign, or – for the truly heroic – as part of a century-spanning Unto the Fourth Generation or Fields of Edom game.
One of the nice things about having an anthology of historical scenarios in a game about immortal monsters is that you can play with horrors in the past and reasonably expect them to survive into the present, making those historical missions more than just backstory. If Edom fails to kill Carmilla in 1948, during The Carmilla Sanction, then she’s still around in 2016 to menace your Agents. That hellish mountain lair in First Blood is still there in the present day. For each scenario, we’ve included an encounter – a person, place, object, node or ravening monster – that might survive into a contemporary campaign.
In fact, due to a slight miscommunication, we nearly included two for the Carmilla Sanction. Ken’s NPC works better in the book for sinister plot purposes, so here, rescued from the cutting room floor, is another encounter tied to that mission.
Object: The Vordenburg Diary
Appearance: A handwritten manuscript from the late 17th century, written in a mix of Latin and German, that describes the occult research of a Baron Vordenburg, who was troubled by vampires when living in Moravia (present-day eastern Czech republic).
Supposed History: Baron Vordenburg – the younger baron, the one who shows up in Carmilla – described how his ancestor was a lover of Countess Karnstein, and when she became a vampire, he studied the curse and resolved to leave notes on how to find her tomb and destroy her when she rose again. The Baron’s notes may have been part of the bundle of papers in the possession of Le Fanu when he wrote his novel; Carmilla may have removed them to her new fortress, where they fell into the hands of Edom or the occupying Russian forces.
Major Item: The book contains detailed observations on vampire physiology by Vordenburg – observations that can only be the result of extensive experimentation on captured subjects. It discusses methods of dispatch, feeding cycles, the relationship between the vampire and its tomb, and lists several vampiric creatures destroyed by the Baron. For good measure, the Baron has also transcribed key sections of other texts (like Le Dragon Noir, DH p. 273, and reading it gives a 6-point pool that can be spent on Vampirology, Diagnosis or Occult Studies – or on general ability tests when fighting a vampire. Close reading with History also turns up links to other vampire hunters (possibly the Vatican, the Hospital of St. Joseph & Ste. Mary, DH p. 230, or the Fortified Monastery of St. Peter, DH p. 144).
One small downside – the book was written after Carmilla implanted post-hypnotic suggestions in the Baron’s mind and blood, and reading the original diary (but not a copy or scan) exposes the reader to the vampire’s influence. Call for a Difficulty 6 Stability test on reading the book; failing doesn’t cost the reader any Stability, but opens up a psychic connection. Cue dreams, nocturnal visitations, and an obsession with anagrams. If Carmilla’s still active, then she starts targeting the reader as her next victim. If she was destroyed, then she possesses the reader (if female and of a suitable age) or someone close at hand (a Solace, maybe), slowly conditioning her victim to seek out another vampire and return Carmilla to un-death in a new body. Diagnosis spots the signs of possession.
Minor Item: As above, but the Baron’s notes aren’t half so comprehensive, and there’s a lot more extraneous material about lesbianism. A cruel Director might make the notes on vampirism actively misleading or dangerous – maybe Carmilla deliberately had Vordenburg write the diary as misinformation, and it points towards some location or relic that Carmilla desires. A Vampirology spend spots the errors; if the players don’t make a spend, then give them a clue pointing to a trap laid by Carmilla.
Fraudulent: It’s a fake, written by Carmilla herself in the 1930s. The book contains no useful information, but it’s still got the hypnotic curse. She wrote it as a trap for Edom; optionally, it might be the key to the 1977 mole hunt, and the mole is some woman possessed by the spirit of Carmilla. Check out the library file on the book with Research to find out who read it last, and hence determine who’s secretly Carmilla – maybe the Balkans Specialist (DH p. 91) or the Sculptor (DH p. 100) or Lucy Blythe (DH p. 41). Perhaps there are several psychic doubles of Carmilla running around.
Connections: Doubtless Van Helsing (DH p. 31) and the Hungarian’s grandfather (DH p. 94) were contacts of one Vordenberg or another. The Former Gehlen Org (DH p. 82) might know what became of any Vordenberg Legacies that are still alive.
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.
In this month’s See Page XX, pre-order The Forgotten Monk, pick up PDFs of Accretion Disk and The Strangling Sea, and find out what’s new with the Dracula Dossier.
It’s all in See Page XX!
Production is steaming along on the Dracula Dossier. Backers have just got “The Draculas Dossier”, Robin’s Esoterrorist campaign frame, and both the Edom Field Manual and the Edom Files are nearing final text completion. Plus, the deck of NPC cards in layout (ask your retailer to pre-order if you want a set!), and Ken is kicking off 31 DAYS OF DRACTOBER today, as he works his way through the good, the bad, and the ugly vampire films in preparation for writing The Thrill of Dracula.
And new this month, we’ve got September edition of KWAS, Hideous Creatures: Hunting Horror, now available in the webstore, as is the September edition of 13th Age Monthly, Kroma Draconics. KWAS Vol. 3 subscribers now have the October edition, MAJESTIC Overwatch on their order receipt pages – this will be available to non-subscribers at the end of October.
See Page XX Poll
The Curse of Dracula has slowed up the Dracula Dossier Kickstarter, but at least Dracula Unredacted and the Director’s Handbook are off the presses. It will be while before it gets to the UK and then out to the rest of the world, but we’ll keep you posted – now’s a good time to pre-order the two books. Talking of Kickstarters, next week backers will receive the first draft simple PDF of TimeWatch – 300K words of history-spanning pulp action. And also on Kickstarter – the Fall of Delta Green; but more on that below.
The Fall of Delta Green
Our friends at Arc Dream Publishing have launched a new version of Delta Green on this Kickstarter, which has already steamed past its goal. As an add-on, you can get The Fall of Delta Green – a stand-alone GUMSHOE game to be written by Kenneth Hite. After the Kickstarter, it will also be available on pre-order from Pelgrane Press.
DELTA GREEN is an authorized operation of the United States national security establishment. Its mission: Hunt and destroy the Cthulhu Mythos at home and abroad.
The United States is at secret war around the globe while its social fabric tears asunder.
The stars are coming right.
It is 1968.
This sourcebook adapts the DELTA GREEN RPG to the award-winning GUMSHOE system, while opening the files on a lost decade of anti-Mythos operations both foreign and domestic. Players take on the role of DELTA GREEN operatives, assets, and friendlies, in deadly one-shot adventures or a campaign spanning the years from hope to madness. Hunt Deep Ones beneath the Atlantic, shut down dangerous artists in New York, and delve into the heart of Vietnam’s darkness.
I’ve just finished a mammoth weekend of 13th Age play – the annual ThawCon – so I am full of 13th Age enthusiasm. It was very exciting therefore to come back to see the final art for the forthcoming GM Screen. After last month’s poll, we’ve decided to include a folded map of the Dragon Empire, too. The first Battle Scenes book High Magic and Low Cunning is festooned with maps, and we have four cartographers working on them. Here is an example by Ralf Schemmann from the Champion Tier Orc Lord adventure. Take and hold Tenrock Pass at any cost!
The 13 True Ways limited edition follows on from 13th Age and the Bestiary, and includes a limited edition print of this amazing Dragon Rider from the front cover of the first 13th Age Monthly. It will be available to buy in October.
If that wasn’t enough Gareth is working on a book on Demonology featuring new class … wait for it … the Demonologist.
The Forgotten Monk
We’ve released a 13th Age novel by renowned fantasy writer and Delta Green co-author Greg Stolze. It was the result of a successful Kickstarter. We gave Greg the freedom to make the Dragon Empire his playground, and The Forgotten Monk is the result.
Read the first chapter here, and get the book on pre-order from the store.
It’s a rollocking first-person ride featuring Cipher the monk: a master of the Deadly Arts, able to dismantle enemies using his bare hands. He is immune to lies, and can see volumes of information in the smallest detail. Unfortunately, that’s all he knows. His real name, his history – all stolen by an unknown foe.
Cipher can only follow his instinct to find bad people, and hit them until they stop doing bad things. Joining a crime-fighting cavalry unit in a remote corner of the Dragon Empire, he finds himself allied with a singing orc, an indecisive elf, and a flying carpet that doesn’t like heights. Together they’ll take on a crazy halfling death cultist, a love-maddened alchemist, a charming drunkard dog-thief, a blinded arch-demon in chains, and the bizarre Mantischorgoth.
Trail of Cthulhu
This month, two new adventures for the Out of the Woods collection are available for playtesting. Apply here.
- The Silence Mill In a small village in Brittany close on the Arthurian forest of Brocéliande, a friend of the Investigators stands accused of serial murder, cannibalism and even lycanthropy. Can they ascertain the truth, or will the truth find them?
- Dreaming of a Better Tomorrow for 30 Dollars a Month Amongst crowded green precipices and muttering forest streams of Vermont, labourers from one of Roosevelt’s integrated Civilian Conservation Corps camps disappear. In an atmosphere fraught with political intrigue and Jim Crow laws, can a mixed bag of Investigators find the primordial peril which threatens more than just one camp, or even one State?
- The Coldest Walk. Deep in Wisconsin’s northern woods lies the town of Four Pines – a quiet, almost forgettable community. However, whenever the aurora flashes in the sky the inhabitants have a terrible choice to make. Can the Investigators stop the inevitable, or must they take the Walk for themselves?
Also in the pipeline is The Investigator’s Handbook, to be written by Steve Long.
If you are interested any of these games, please email me with the game you wish to playtest in the subject line.
The Silence Mill – Out of the Woods
System: Trail of Cthulhu
Author: Adam Gauntlett
Deadline: 31st October
Description: In a small village in Brittany close on the Arthurian forest of Brocéliande, a friend of the Investigators stands accused of serial murder, cannibalism and even lycanthropy. Can they ascertain the truth, or will the truth find them?
Dreaming of a Better Tomorrow for 30 Dollars a Month – Out of the Woods
System: Trail of Cthulhu
Author: Chris Spivey
Deadline: 31st October
Description: Amongst crowded green precipices and muttering forest streams of Vermont, labourers from one of Roosevelt’s integrated Civilian Conservation Corps camps disappear. In an atmosphere fraught with political intrigue and Jim Crow laws, can a mixed bag of Investigators find the primordial peril which threatens more than just one camp, or even one State?
The Coldest Walk – Out of the Woods
System: Trail of Cthulhu
Author: Lauren Wood
Deadline: 31st October
Description: Deep in Wisconsin’s northern woods lies the town of Four Pines – a quiet, almost forgettable community. However, whenever the aurora flashes in the sky the inhabitants have a terrible choice to make. Can the Investigators stop the inevitable, or must they take the Walk for themselves?
The macro level of a Dracula Dossier campaign emerges from the Conspyramid and Vampyramid charts, as well as the instructions in the opening section, How To Use This Book. Those charts are the framework for your story – as in any Night’s Black Agents game, the aim is to shoot your way up that Conspyramid, level by level, while dodging the antagonist reactions dictated by the matching level on the Vampyramid. Each conspiracy node points to another, and another, until everything closes in on Dracula. So, the players identify a Conspiracy node, or NPC, or location. That gets slotted into the Director’s Conspyramid on an empty slot at an appropriate Level (either the lowest available slot, or one connected to the previous node that gave the clue pointing to this one). They investigate that node, beat it up until another clue falls out, and follow that clue to the next node. Drop in an available Vampyramid response whenever the Conspiracy gets annoyed, and repeat until Dracula drops dead. Again.
Individual scenes require a little more improvisation. The first step – once the players have decided what clue they’re following up on, either from Dracula Unredacted or a previous scene – is to flip to the appropriate writeup in the Director’s Handbook and decide which variant to use. Is this NPC an Innocent, a spy agency Asset, or a Minion of Dracula? Is this location Hot or Cold?
As a rule of thumb, go for more innocents and red herrings early in the campaign, go for more Assets in England or when they’re closing in on Edom, and go for more Minions in the latter stages of the campaign or when in Romania. You could even mechanise if you were so inclined.
+1 if the PCs are following a strong lead
+1 if it’s the middle of the campaign/+2 if its the endgame
Each writeup lists one or more abilities that gets a clue, and that clue points to another NPC/Node/Object/Location. Use that structure as the spine, around which you improvise a scene.
For example, if the PCs are investigating the MI5 Deputy (DH p. 95). The Director decides that the Deputy is still an active Edom Asset; the listed abilities there are Diagnosis and Tradecraft (as well as Notice and Research, but those are for going the other way, pointing the players towards appropriate entries in Dracula Unredacted). Diagnosis sounds fun – maybe the Agents have to sneak into a hospital and question the Deputy while he’s undergoing an MRI scan. A fight scene around a giant magnet could be interesting if, say, a Conspiracy minion shows up…
If inspiration hasn’t struck, consider the following prompts for complications or intrigue:
For Innocent NPCs
- How do the Agents approach the NPC? (How would you react to half-a-dozen suspicious criminal types showing up on your doorstep?)
- Do the Agents meet the NPC at home, or work, or some other location? What’s the place like?
- What are the Agents interrupting when they arrive?
- Does the NPC have a reason to hide what he or she knows? Does the NPC know the value of the information?
- When did the NPC last talk about this topic? With whom?
- Do the players actually need to talk to the NPC, or is this a heist more than an interrogation?
- Have the NPC treat the PCs as heavily armed genies – what would you do if a bunch of heavily armed criminals offered you a favour in exchange for information?
- Who else is nearby? Who’s watching? What about animals?
- Does this scene need to be complicated? Is it better to just give the players the clue and zoom onto a more exciting encounter?
- Why hasn’t the NPC acted on the information? Why are they still innocent?
- How can I get this NPC into a fight with the Agents? A chase?
- What motifs or images can I work into this scene? Blood? Death, disease and decay? Immortality or unnatural youth? The burden of history? Terrorism and the surveillance state? Volcanoes and the secrets of the earth? Sunset or sunrise? Dreams? Diaries and letters? Brides? Bats?
- Is Dracula nearby?
For Asset NPCs
As above, plus…
- What’s the NPCs’ escape route from this situation?
- Public places make for safer meeting places. Pick an Establishing Shot location (p. 254) and have the PCs meet the NPC there. Look at that writeup for ideas.
- What usual item or precaution has the NPC got hidden around his or her home?
- Was the Asset briefed on how to deal with people asking about the Dracula Dossier? If so, what’s their standard operating procedure? Stall? Point the PCs to a trap? Turn the tables on them, and pump them for information? Lie and sell the PCs on a false story?
- What does the intelligence agency want from the PCs, if anything? Does the Asset NPC share that desire?
- Is the Asset recording the conversation? Is the location bugged?
- Who wants the Asset dead?
- How often is the NPC in contact with his or her intelligence agency? How do they communicate?
- How long will it take the Asset to report this contact with the player characters?
- What would it take to flip the Asset? Does the Asset want to be bought out?
For Minion NPCs
As above, plus…
- Is this Minion aware of the true nature of the Conspiracy, or do they think they’re working for something more mundanely malignant? Or is the NPC a lone madman, caught up in the psychic turbulence of the Count?
- Is the Minion planning on luring the PCs into a trap, in which case he or she meets them somewhere private or dangerous, or trying to deflect them away, in which case a public meeting place is more appropriate?
- Is this an action scene, where the PCs are threatened? Or is the goal to disturb or confuse them? (Am I planning on eating bugs, or eating them?)
- How will the NPC use the Agents to advance the Conspiracy’s goals, or curry favour with the Conspiracy?
- What’s the worst thing the NPC has done for Dracula?
- What omen or weirdness telegraphs the NPC’s corruption? Is the corruption physical or spiritual?
One final point – in any improvised campaign, especially a stupendously huge and complex one like the Dracula Dossier, it’s inevitable that you’re going to make mistakes. You’ll let the wrong information slip, or you’ll forget some telling detail. (It’s especially likely that you’ll contradict the Annotations at some point, as the players can cross-check those at their leisure after the game session). If you do make a mistake, you’ve got a get-out-of-jail free card you can use to solve almost any error: mind control.
The error that the players picked up on wasn’t a screw-up – it was a subtle clue to Dracula’s involvement, so you can congratulate them on picking up on it. Of course, now that they’ve seen through Dracula’s attempts to cover his tracks, you’re obliged to hit them with another antagonist reaction from the Vampyramid…
I’ve got some catching up to do. GenCon, plus some website issues stopped us publishing the previous episode of Page XX, but this double issue should more than compensate.
First and foremost – The Director’s Handbook and Dracula Unredacted are on pre-order, the product of a full time work from Kenneth Hite, Gareth Hanrahan and Cat Tobin for pretty much the entire year. Get both books in a bundle at 10% off – the first 200 bundle pre-orderers get a colour 8.5″ x 11″ print of Dracula’s Castle with their books. The scope, quality and ambition of the project is way beyond what I envisaged. The PDFs are available now as part of a print pre-order – to be shipped by November. Dracula Dossier Kickstarter backers should read today’s update for details of the Hawkins Papers, and their current shipping schedule.
This month in KWAS the Wendigo stalks the subarctic tundra to feast on the lives and souls of unsuspecting travellers, and for subscribers, The Hunting Horror screeches and swoops through the dimensions. In July’s 13th Age Monthly, we offered the Sharpe Initiative: Earthgouger – a perfectly formed 3-4th level adventure which works as a stand-alone, or follows on from The Strangling Sea. This month it’s Jonathan Tweets take on the Icons for his home campaign – 7 icons instead of 13 in the 7 Icons Campaign.
Books on Preorder
Books Out Now
- The Eternal Lies limited edition: collect a piece of history with this signed, limited edition
- Strangling Sea: A rip-roaring salt-encrusted sea adventure for the 13th Age
- Accretion Disk: Ship deckplans, new species, kits and options for Ashen Stars
Without a multitude of huge headline releases this year, our sales were a little lower, but still very good. We sold a disproportionate number of GUMSHOE Core Books, and think a lot of this is down to the vast number of games our GMs ran – over 734 seats filled, beaten only by Catalyst, D&D and Paizo. We came back with three ENnies, for Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff, Ken Writes About Stuff and The Archmage’s Orrery, and in a new found spirit of efficiency had meetings with just about everyone. This ate into our Pelgrane-y chinwagging and informal idea making time, which we will compensate for at Dragonmeet.
The big news is the start new season of the Organized Play. In short, the first year’s 13 adventures are free and will remain free, as are the next three. The other nine adventures will be available as part of the 13th Age Monthly. Read more here.
The 13th Age GM’s Screen is a go! We hope to have it out by the end of the year. Written by Cal Moore and Wade Rockett, it will feature art of the original 13th Age pair: Lee Moyer and Aaron McConnell.
Battle Scenes is being broken into manageable, icon-featured chunks, starting with High Magic & Low Cunning: Battle Scenes for Five Icons which will feature Archmage, High Druid, Orc Lord, Prince of Shadows, The Three.
We’ve commisioned a book of followers for these five icons, Magic Circles and Dread Massacres.
We are also working the first book of class expansions which incorporate a Bestiary-like take on each class, a sprinkling of icon involvement, suggested builds, working well with others, tactics and multiclass mash-ups. We suggest organisations they could be part of, class-specific items and new talents, feats and spells.
Trail of Cthulhu
The Out of the Woods collection, our follow up to Out of Space and Out of Time is well under way. Ruth Tillman, Lauren Roy, Adam Gauntlett, Aaron Vanek and Chris Spivey have written pitches which feature a stolen tome, mysterious deaths in the frozen wastes and the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Paula Dempsey has submitted the first draft of the Book of Albion, a prequel to the Book of the Smoke, which stands as a companion volume to Steve Dempsey’s Fearful Symmetries, which is in outline, due for playtesting at the end of September.
The Investigator’s Handbook has been lined up, with Steve Long rooting through his archive to find wiki-proof 30s facts, and add a host of locations, NPCs and player options to Trail of Cthulhu.
We are pleased to announce that next year we’ll be kickstarting a Trail of Cthulhu Starter Set – a box for beginning roleplayers, but also anyone new to GUMSHOE.
Kevin Kulp is 95% of the way through editing the first draft of TimeWatch, and the supplementary books are well in hand. I don’t know for sure if we’ll get the core book out this year, but it’s our goal.
The Director’s Handbook and Dracula Unredacted are on the presses, but I am not in a position to speculate on delivery dates – Kickstarter backers should check for updates.
One reviewer, Karloff who has seen the PDFs said “I’d recommend a new Director buy this even if that Director never plays it as written. It’s a masterclass in how the game is constructed, and how it can be played.”
Robin Laws ran a session of the forthcoming GUMSHOE One2One with me. I played detective Dex Raymond in a 1937 LA, troubled by criminal gangs, red baiting and corruption – plus the Mythos. It was fascinating being on the receiving end of a pre-written GUMSHOE adventure and comparing the narrative it generated with the adventure as written. GUMSHOE adventure design when done properly really is a toolkit for the construction of a wide variety of narratives out of the same text, despite its formula. It makes the idea that it’s a railroad seem quite ridiculous.
I am very pleased and surprised it works so well on a virtual tabletop (we used roll20). The main disadvantage of virtual table tops to me is handling multiple players – and this simply isn’t a problem with two players. In the virtual arena a map, photos cards and the tokens help engage with the shared imaginary space. So we are considering a simultaneous release on that platform.
The new system is entirely player facing, with the character building up problems and offsetting them with edges, but only if those edges are used in play. The problems the character collects won’t kill that character during the adventure, but will be used to describe the denouement.
Cat is playtesting it this week, and it will go out for general playtest in October.
You may have noticed we didn’t quite get around to a July edition of See Page XX, largely due to our getting ready for an amazing Gen Con year – we ran more than 130 games (according to RPG Geeker Bruce’s listing back in May, fifth out of all companies at Gen Con). Roleplaying is our passion and focus, and we’re delighted we had so many GMs to help us show Gen Con attendees how important games are to us – thanks to everyone who ran games!
Last month’s loss is this month’s massive edition. Production of the two core Dracula Dossier books dominated last month, but we still found time for a big, new launch in the form of a beautiful new hardback collection of the relentlessly purist Cthulhu Apocalypse rules and adventures. One month on, we’ve also got the long-awaited Dracula Dossier books: The Director’s Handbook, and Dracula Unredacted available to pre-order, either individually, or as a bundle with a 10% discount – plus, the first 200 bundle pre-orderers get a colour 8.5″ x 11″ print of Dracula’s Castle with their books.
We’ve also got the August edition of KWAS, Hideous Creatures: Wendigo, now available in the webstore, as is the August edition of 13th Age Monthly, 7 Icons Campaign. KWAS Vol. 3 subscribers now have the September edition, Hideous Creatures: Hunting Horror on their order receipt pages – this will be available to non-subscribers at the end of September.
- View from the Pelgrane’s Nest – All sorts of new things, and what’s next by Simon Rogers
- See Page XX: The Gentle Art of Playtest Feedback Wrangling – Robin D. Laws explains how to pull together playtest feedback
- The Many Faces of Dracula – James Palmer looks at in-play options for the Man Himself
- Druggist Frank Warren: Sinister, Innocuous, or Stalwart? – Robin D. Laws goes through options for a Trail of Cthulhu GMC
- Call of Chicago: Icons for the Dracula Dossier – Kenneth Hite looks at the Dracula Dossier equivalent of the 13th Age Icons
- Too Many McGuffins – A scenario premise for Ashen Stars, by Robin D. Laws
- Hidden Treasures – Simon Rogers looks at some under-loved Pelgrane products, and wonders why
- Adjusting the Circuitry – Robin D. Laws invents new words for old problems (and then solves them)
- Call of Chicago: Who Lives at 66 College Street? – While in Providence, RI, Kenneth Hite looks up who lives at HPL’s old place
- Emerging Vituperations of the Gaean Reach – Robin D. Laws keeps you fresh with space-slang for The Gaean Reach
- The RPG Geek One Sheet GUMSHOE Contest 2015 – Read the winners of the RPG Geek One Sheet GUMSHOE contest, run by Yohann Delalande
- Gamer Film Reference Library: Deliver Us From Evil – Robin D. Laws recommends an Esoterrorists-flavoured film
- Dracula Dossier All Rolled Ups – The Story – Paul Baldowski reminisces on how we came to have All Rolled Ups in the Dracula Dossier Kickstarter
- The Old Centipede Trick – How players can use their scene narration to can keep the story dramatic in Hillfolk, by Robin D. Laws
- Eternal Lies Whisper From the Vault – Simon Rogers looks at what makes the Limited Edition of Eternal Lies so special
- God is Between the Frequencies – Robin D. Laws investigates Onandeteria, a nufaith for Ashen Stars
- Double Moon – a Fear Itself scenario seed by Robin D. Laws
See Page XX Poll
by Yohann Delalande
[Editor’s Note: Yohann ran the the One Sheet GUMSHOE competition
on rpggeek, which had an extraordinary 18 entries. Congratulations to all the entrants .You c
an download all the entries here
One of the recurring obstacles every GM has met at least once concerns time vs preparation work. After all, it is usually considered that a good session relies heavily on the amount of details they have gathered upstream in order to create an engaging plot.
However, one among many of the advantages the GUMSHOE system offers to any GMs lies on its flexibility and versatility. As we can see with sandboxy campaigns like The Armitage Files for Trail of Cthulhu and The Dracula Dossier for Night’s Black Agents, most of the investigative work is done in-game, by the players themselves, thus lifting some of the prep work off the GM’s shoulders.
So, what about reducing all that prep work to make an adventure that would be easy and ready to run in a 10-minute read, especially in configurations like pick-up games or con games?
This is actually the idea behind Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan’s adventure The Haunting and Robin Laws’ The Frosh Week.
So when Simon Rogers asked me if I’d be interested in running a new contest on RPG Geek, I immediately saw how useful a handful of new scenarios would be for GUMSHOE GMs like me.
However, it turned out that the handful I expected became a score of amazing submissions sent to the RPG Geek One Sheet GUMSHOE Contest 2015. The instructions were simple: write a two-page adventure for the GUMSHOE game of your choice and send it to the contest organizer. Then when the time comes, cast your vote.
And among our 18 submissions, three really stood out:
- Our 1st place winner: The Keepers of the Woods, written by Frederick Foulds, for Trail of Cthulhu. This murder mystery in a Devonshire village will lead the investigators to the discovery of a cult worshipping an ancient god.
- Our 2nd place winner: The Barreville Flap, written by Michael Grasso, for Moon Dust Men. In the town of Barreville, Montana, strange UFO sightings prompts agents of Project Moon Dust to collect intelligence and technologies, but also to disinform its inhabitants.
- Our 3rd place winner: Monster Squad Control, written by Tom McGrenery, for the GUMSHOE SRD. Monster Squad is an internet-based monster hunting start-up with control room administrators (the players) working from home while their agent (the GM), is on the field doing all the dirty work.
However, I would also like to highlight the fantastic quality of the other 15 submissions which truly deserve some praise – you can find the whole list s here (registration to RPG Geek is 100% free).
Obviously, we at RPG Geek, would all love to see you read, run, play, enjoy, and comment all the submissions that catch your interest. But most importantly, we really hope they will incite you to write your own One Sheet GUMSHOE adventure and share them with us.
Now it is your turn to amaze us and enthral us with your own trail of clues.
You can download all the entries here.
Many great nations and peoples have measured the passage of time through myriad methods, too numerous for me to list or spend the time trawling Wikipedia for information. I imagine few – if any – have ever ticked off the passage of time by gaming conventions. However, when you’re the wingman to a woman who has created a highly popular alternative to the common or garden dice bag, conventions become like the ominous ticking of a great clock.
In retrospect, I’ve struggled to pin down the exact moment that All Rolled Up got mixed up in Pelgrane Press’s highly successful Dracula Dossier Kickstarter. I have the feeling that it might have been somewhere in Milton Keynes at the thoroughly friendly twice-yearly event known as Concrete Cow. We have known Cat Tobin for a little while. It’s possible our acquaintance arose from my other reason for attending conventions – gamemastering. I’m pretty sure I’d offered to run games at one event or another, and then that led to Cat and Fil meeting. She was one of our earliest customers, at UK Games Expo in 2013 (and I wrote an article about where the idea came from published on this site in July 2013).
At Concrete Cow, in March 2014, All Rolled Up had been running for almost a year. We had sold hundreds and Fil was just getting into the swing of being her own boss, finding her way through the complexities of weekly quotas and taxes. Cat loved the product and I dare say we might have talked with her about doing something for one of Pelgrane Press’s games.
UK Games Expo swung around at the end of May. Expo that year felt a bit special as the All Rolled Up game roll was included in the event’s gaming awards as Best New Expansion or Accessory. I had the chance to meet Monte Cook and Shanna Germain, as well as Chris Barrie (AKA Arnold Rimmer from Red Dwarf) who presented our certificate when we won that award. There might have been some discussions at Expo, but I’m not sure. The event always has so much energy, so much going on.
Something must have happened at the Expo, because come November we were talking fabrics. Well, I wasn’t. I’m rarely trusted with making decisions about the finer details of mix and match textiles. I remember Fil having swatches upon which she and Cat talked at some length toward the end of the event. I think the Kickstarter had already started, but Cat was happy with the colours and the proposal of two different All Rolled Up – and soon after a bunch of new pledge levels appeared. And in fairly short order, those pledge levels sold out.
That took us by surprise.
We kept a keen watch on the Kickstarter throughout. Each day we’d count up the number of people pledging for levels with an All Rolled Up in. When they eventually sold out, it started to dawn how much work would be involved – not least the sourcing of such a large volume of fabric. Fil has prototypes ready for Dragonmeet – so Cat, Simon Rogers and Ken Hite could all have a look. I contributed the badge design for the outside – or at least the prototype version.
After the thrill of seeing the Kickstarter end so well and all the All Rolled Up claimed, the New Year meant we had to prepare and plan. The business has a regular supply of online orders, as well as necessary stocking up for big events. And fabric takes time from the suppliers.
By early Spring and the next Concrete Cow, we’d firmed up the supplies and I had a dozen alternate designs for the Dracula Dossier badge that would go with it. UK Games Expo in May absorbed all sewing efforts thereafter, so we didn’t get down to the nitty-gritty until summer.
In the following three months, Fil set to cutting, sorting, organizing and sewing the component parts of the two designs – with my assistance and our youngest son, David. Bit by bit they came together and I spent time finalising the badge design and getting it printed up. The time wasn’t without challenges, for when you rely upon machines they invariably let you down just to remind you how much you depend on them. However, as the pictures show, slowly and surely the game rolls came together.
BackerKit made life interesting. As the pledge levels didn’t commit to anything more than an All Rolled Up, we had to wait until completion of the BackerKit entries to discover the balance of black and red. We had early calls that provided a rough ratio – black winning over red – but only a couple of weeks back did we get the finalised figures. In addition, we had to make extra, because when you run a Kickstarter you need to allow for those unexpected eventualities.
Last weekend, we rooted through the garage and rooted out the biggest box. As it happens, with just enough padding, it holds all the All Rolled Up rather neatly. Once Fil completed the game rolls, I designed the labels for the packaging. Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan and I came up with the names – The Black Archive and The Red Room, respectively. It seemed appropriate to get one of the game designers involved!
Next week, secured in individual plastic bags, labelled and pressed, they’ll all travel cross-country to Pelgrane Press in preparation for the final release. We’ll have done our bit and we hope you’ll make great use of the All Rolled Up when you get them.
You’ll find the pocket in the far side of the pen and pencil tidy has more than enough room to hold your favourite, seasoned wooden stake.