Esoterrorists 2 cover_reduced

A stand-alone roleplaying game by Robin D Laws

You are elite investigators combating the plots of the Esoterrorists, a loose affiliation of occult terrorists intent on tearing the fabric of the world. The Esoterrorists introduces the GUMSHOE rules system, which revolutionizes investigative scenarios by ensuring that players are never deprived of the crucial clues they need to move the story forward.

Upgrades, Improvements and New Content for the 2nd Edition.

This new edition of The Esoterrorists is 4 times longer and allows you to:

  • Equip your characters with fine-grained investigative abilities, ranging from Interrogation and Data Retrieval to the ever-popular Forensic Entomology and always useful Bullshit Detector.
  • Round them out with 13 crucial action abilities, which help you fight, run away, and retain your mental stability when the horrors come knocking.
  • Absorb the latest, in-depth intelligence data on the terrifying world of the Esoterrorists.
  • Learn the never-before-revealed inner workings of the Ordo Veritatis, the secret international agency that sends you out to smash the foe.
  • Recoil at raw reports detailing all-new creatures of unremitting horror.
  • Root yourself in a site of small town menace with the new Station Duty campaign frame and scenario.
  • Confront fever dreams of the apocalypse in a brand new introductory scenario, OPERATION: PROPHET BUNCO!

Also included, for gamemasters:

  • Data on the terrifying world of the Esoterrorists, and the Ordo Veritatis, the benevolent global conspiracy that fights them
  • Creatures of unremitting horror.
  • Detailed instructions on structuring investigative scenarios for the innovative GUMSHOE system
  • Advice on bringing those scenarios to life in play
  • Operation Slaughterhouse, an advanced example scenario of geopolitical horror

The Esoterrorists is easy to learn, easy to play and replayable by design.

Incorporating years of advice, actual play experience, and design evolution, The Esoterrorists Enhanced Edition includes all the rules you need to play the game that revolutionized investigative roleplaying. Dripping with ichor and jammed with content, this is the heftier, meatier, definitive tome gamers have been crying out for ever since they laid their paws on the original.

Reviews of The Esoterrorists:

… the game does deliver on its promise. You could easily explain the rules to someone in 15 minutes enough so that they could play. You can also learn them enough to run the game in about an hour.

I was apprehensive about the system but I was wrong – it worked really well for me.

The rules are incredible – I honestly think this is the best investigation-based RPG ever printed.

Related Material

Stock #: PELG012 Author: Robin D. Laws with Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan
Artist: Phil Reeves, Kyle Strahm Pages: 160 page perfect bound

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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.’

Mutant_City_Blues_Cover01Continuing Ken’s theme of looting 13th Age for GUMSHOE twists, let’s talk about monsters. In 13th Age, monsters have a sort of rudimentary AI – instead of the GM deciding to use their special abilities in advance, they’re triggered by the result of the attack roll. So, for example, if a ghoul gets a natural even hit, it gets to make its target vulnerable. If a frost giant rolls a 16 or higher when attacking, it also gets to freeze its foe.

For example, here’s a basic human thug:

13th Age Human Thug 

1st Level troop [Humanoid]

Initiative: +3

Heavy Mace +5 vs AC – 4 damage

Natural even hit or miss: The thug deals +6 damage with its next attack this battle. (GM, be sure to let the PCs know this is coming; it’s not a secret.)

AC17

PD14    HP 27

MD12

Automating monsters like that makes the GM’s life easier. Instead of having to make decisions before rolling the dice, the GM can just attack and let the triggered abilities make the fight more interesting and complex. The thugs, for example, encourage the player characters to focus their fire or dodge away from the ones who have extra damage lined up for next round. Some of the work of making the monster cool gets shifted from the actual play part of the game to pre-game preparation, leaving the GM free to concentrate on evocative descriptions. tactics and other immediate concerns. (Triggered powers can also surprise the GM, which is always fun.)

GUMSHOE monsters and foes have a limited number of points to spend on their attacks, possibly mediated by an attack pattern. While the attack pattern does take some of the heavy lifting away, the GM still has to make decisions about when to spend the bad guy’s ability pools. Let’s try taking away as much resource management as possible from the GM. For general abilities, for every 4 points a creature has in its pool, give it a +1 bonus, to a maximum of +3, and modelling special abilities as special-case rules or powers triggered by a dice roll instead of the GM having to make a choice. Health, obviously, is unchanged.

Obviously, GUMSHOE’s smaller range of random results means that you’ll have to be a little more restrained when it comes to special powers – there’s a big difference between a power that triggers on a natural 20 in 13th Age and a natural 6 in GUMSHOE. Possible triggers for powers include:

  • Natural even or odd rolls – good for alternate attacks or special effects
  • Natural 1s or 6s
  • 5s & 6s – generically ‘good rolls’, useful for foes that have a chance of doing extra damage or inflicting some special condition, like stunning or knocking prone
  • Health reaches a certain threshold – perfect for countdown mechanics, where the fie gets nastier towards the end of the fight
  • The attacking player character has no points left in a pool – if you’re out of Shooting, the alien monster breaks from cover and rushes towards yo

You can also have a power be limited to a certain number of uses – a ghoul in Night’s Black Agents might get an extra attack on the first three times it rolls a natural 6, but no more.

All these rules are just for monsters and NPCs – player characters still get to juggle points and manage their resources as per the standard GUMSHOE rules.

 

Esoterrorist Security Guard

General Abilities: Scuffling +1, Shooting +2,

Health 4

Hit Threshold: 3

Alertness Modifier: +1

Stealth Modifier: +0

Damage Modifier: +0 (Pistol), -1 (nightstick)

Freeze!: +2 bonus to Shooting in the first round of combat if the security guard isn’t surprised.

Natural 1: The guard calls for backup. If help’s available, it’ll arrive in the next few minutes. The guard misses his next attack. Treat further natural 1s as simple misses.

 

Night’s Black Agents Thug (pg. 70)

General abilities: Athletics +2, Driving +1, Hand to Hand +2, Shooting +1, Weapons +2

Health 6

Hit Threshold: 3

Alertness Modifier: +0

Stealth Modifier: -1

Damage Modifier: -2 (fist), +0 (club), +1 (9mm pistol)

Wall of Fire: If three or more thugs shoot at the same target, the last thug gets +1 Shooting

Gang Assault: If three or more thugs attack the same target with Hand to Hand or Weapons, they all get +1 damage.

 

Night’s Black Agents Bodyguard (pg. 69)

General abilities: Athletics +3, Driving +2, Hand to Hand +3, Medic +1, Shooting +2, Weapons +2

Health 8

Hit Threshold: 3

Alertness Modifier: +2

Stealth Modifier: -0

Damage Modifier: -2 (fist), -1 (flexible baton), +1 (9mm pistol)

Armor: -1 vs bullets

Protect the Principal: On a natural 5 or 6 when making an Athletics, Driving or Shooting test, the Hit Threshold of whoever the bodyguard’s guarding increases by +2 for the rest of the round.

Stunning Blow: On a natural 6 when making a Hand to Hand attack, the target loses their next action unless they spend 3 Health or Athletics.

 

Ashen Stars All-Shredder Klorn

General abilities: Athletics +3, Scuffling +3

Health 30

Hit Threshold: 3

Alertness Modifier: +2

Stealth Modifier: -3

Damage Modifier: +6

Armor: -3

Natural Even Roll: +2 bonus to Scuffling

Natural Odd Roll: Smash! The klorn destroys some obstacle or object nearby – it breaks through a wall, kicks over a computer console, smashes its spiked tail through the engine coolant tanks, knocks over a nearby ground car or something equally cinematic.

Natural 6: The klorn’s target is impaled on its spear-teeth; +4 bonus damage

Frenzy: When the klorn’s reduced to 10 or less Health, it immediately makes a free Scuffling attack on the nearest foe.

Special: Refreshes health pool when struck by non-lethal disruption fire

 

 

 

The skulking Outer Dark Entity known as the sulp crosses the membrane into places where humans keep the possessions they do not need but cannot quite bear to get rid of. Sulps can appear in warehouses, attics, derelict buildings or the squalid homes of hoarders. They most often manifest in self-storage facilities. The name sulp in fact is an Ordo Veritatis term deriving from the acronym SLP, or storage locker prowler. Mostly they seem to be able to push through the membrane into objects connected with murder or trauma. Your classic storage locker full of mementos squirreled away by a serial killer suits them to a T.

At rest, the sulp looks like a cube of pale-skinned human flesh, about the size of a piece of carry-on baggage, with bulbous eyes, moist, thick-lipped mouth and patchy hair follicles. When on the move it transforms itself into an obscene, loosely fleshy pseudo-humanoid.

The sulp latches onto the identities of particular targets by fondling and licking their former or stored possessions. Through this practice it forms a gradual psychic bond, eventually granting it the ability to track the people who most often handled its appropriated fetish objects. From this link sulps glean crucial facts about their targets’ lives, enabling them to stalk them. Like most Outer Dark Entities, sulps play with their food. They prefer to torment and emotionally molest their victims before finally leaping upon them and literally eviscerating them. Sulps dismember their kills, taking key portions of their skeletons back to their storage locker hideouts. These they form into a distressing sculpture. Ordo researches have yet to determine whether this construction fulfills a purely ornamental function, or has some practical use to the sulp, perhaps as a psychic antenna allowing it to locate more distant victims.

To find a sulp that has been terrorizing an area in the radius of it’s storage locker, agents must triangulate its location and track it to its lair. Sulps have been known to use items they discover in their home storage areas as weapons. So be prepared to face guns, knives, antique swords and the occasional bandsaw.

Sulps speak in low, mournful voices and have been recorded as expressing the opinion that all of humanity is but a dump heap of delights for them to sort through.


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.

 


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.’

In the latest episode of their submersible podcast, Ken and Robin talk sunken Dunwich, Gulina Karimova, professionalism, and saving Anne Boleyn.

New creature for The Esoterrorists or Fear Itself

A hole opens up in the road outside your house. You pay no attention to this. Guarded by construction fence, it shows every sign of being regular repair work. Maybe they’re fixing the water mains. Or resurfacing the pavement. But then it gradually dawns that you never see anyone working on it during the day. It couldn’t possibly have opened up during the night, could it? You’d have heard them, and been disturbed by the noise. What construction projects get done in the darkness?

Projects by the workmen do. These beings from the Outer Dark materialize beneath busy urban areas. Drawn to neighborhoods in flux, they absorb and reflect anxieties of homeowners and renters alike. The nature of the change matters not. They show up where foreclosures are rampant, and where rising rents threaten to price out longterm residents. Anyone who gazes down into their holes becomes a psychic power battery. Once empowered they sneak from their tunnels, unlock your doors, and to stand over your bed at night, drinking your essence. As you start to die, your symptoms mimic those of hazardous chemical exposure. Doctors may try to find the source of the contamination, but no matter how many soil tests they perform they never turn up the real truth.

To end an infestation you have to descend into their tunnels. Once underground one finds a labyrinthine dig defying ordinary geometry. Stopping them means finding the original gateway to the Outer Dark. The workmen, with their helmet-like heads, glowing eyes and skulking bodies, individually pose no greater threat than an ordinary person. But there are so, so many of them. And if they take you out in their subterranean home ground, you join their ranks, slaving eternally for more scraps of emotional residue…

Abilities: Athletics 6, Health 6, Scuffling 6

Hit Threshold: 3

Weapon: +1 (pick-axe or shovel)

Alertness Modifier: +1

Stealth Modifier: +2


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.’

Esoterrorists 2 cover_reducedOver at RPGNet, Kafka has been working through our new releases, and has posted a great review of The Esoterrorists 2nd Edition, giving it 5/5 for Style and Substance.

Kafta notes that the second edition contains “both an update of the basic rules (GUMSHOE), hence edition change but also add-ons that make it more the game (possibly) more enjoyable”, and then concludes by saying that “it is a significant improvement over 1.0 by addressing all the shortcomings that slim volume had. It is not only twice the value for the buck – but very careful attention is paid to explaining the workings of the GUMSHOE system – so if that still eludes you – this book is worth its weight in gold (and it is a heavy book).”

You can read the full review on RPGNet here.

Factbook_cover On the UK Roleplayers forum, Ragr has given the Esoterror Factbook a great 8/10. Ragr says the Factbook “…expands the background wonderfully and provides great advice for developing characters and helping the players to visualise exactly what their job as OV investigators is all about.”

Ragr concludes by saying:

“For me this book was a palpable hit and highly recommended, if not essential, if you’re plunging into the world of Esoterror and want to maximise the experience.”

You can read the full review of the Esoterror Factbook on the UK Roleplayers forum here.

 

Sixty Winters Cover_reduced

Worm of Sixty Winters is a full-length campaign for The Esoterrorists. It works as a stand alone adventure, or as the conclusion of Albion’s Ransom: Little Girl Lost.

An Esoterrorist weather control ritual has brought sudden blizzards and extreme temperatures to an unsuspecting England. This they hope will be the first stage of the Fimbulvetr of Norse mythology – a dreadful winter that lasts three full years and heralds Ragnarok, the Viking apocalypse.

You are the American team – brought in as experts in your field – that failed to stop that ritual.

Now only you can prevent the Esoterrorists from causing irreparable damage to the Membrane. In a hazardous chase across a snow-covered Britain, facing sinister cultists, terrifying bikers and ordinary people taking desperate measures to survive the extraordinary circumstances, you must use all your resourcefulness just to carry on.

Featuring additional adventure seeds by Matthew Sanderson which focus on individual tales of horror to personalise the impact of Britain under snow, Worms of Sixty Winters allows your players to fully experience the breakdown of society in the Esoterrorists’ greatest threat to the Membrane.

Given one final chance to make things right, can you prevent the Esoterrorist plot to unleash Fimbulvetr?

Stock #: PELG013 Author: Ian Sturrock with Matthew Sanderson
Artist: Claude Bernier-Tremblay & Jérôme Huguenin Pages: 80pg Perfect Bound

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