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Pelgrane Press Ltd
Publishers of the GUMSHOE RPG system, 13th Age RPG, and the Dying Earth RPG
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Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff: Profit Motive and a Fast Boat

Fri, 10/06/2017 - 13:37

In the latest episode of their coastally fortified podcast, Ken and Robin talk Toronto film fest, D&D resurgence, Byronic vampires, and Barbary Pirates.

Categories: Company News

Night’s Black Agents: SOLO

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 15:58

No backup.

No allies.

You’re all alone in the darkness. Just you… and them.

Night’s Black Agents: SOLO

ALONE AGAINST THE UN-DEAD

Written by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan (The Dracula Dossier, The Zalozhniy Quartet) Night’s Black Agents: SOLO is a stand-alone RPG which applies the GUMSHOE One-2-One rules to the award-winning Night’s Black Agents setting of spies vs. vampires.

One GM, one player – an explosive mix for a high-octane combat, or a cold-blooded chess game between a lone hero and the forces of darkness. Together, you plunge into an occult thriller that pits the gadgets and skills of a clandestine operative against the ancient horror of the vampires.

  • Can’t find an entire game group who can play when you can?
  • Want an intense head-to-head gaming experience?
  • Looking for a game to play online which fits superbly with virtual tabletops?

NBA: SOLO adds stunts, Mastery Edges, Shadow Problems and more to the One-2-One system.

Create your own Agent, or play as Leyla Khan – ex-MI6, ex-thrall of the vampires, now committed to hunting down and destroying her former masters before they recapture her. Sift through the ashes of Khan’s former life to find the clues you need to map the vampire conspiracy, then hunt down and slay the Undead.

Three explosive operations:

  • NEVER SAY DEAD
  • NO GRAVE FOR TRAITORS
  • CURRENTLY UNNAMED BUT IT’S GOING TO BE SOMETHING COOL
Status: In development

Categories: Company News

New See Page XX out now!

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 00:59

The latest edition of See Page XX is out now! Featuring Fire and Faiththe last Battle Scenes collection for 13th Age; One For the Money, the first Langston Wright PDF adventure for Cthulhu Confidential, Ravensrodd horrors, choosing 5th ed vs 13th Age, plus drone playtesting.

It’s all in this month’s See Page XX!

Categories: Company News

See Page XX – September 2017

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 00:45

Page XX logo (2015_04_01 16_53_09 UTC)

In big news this month, our Production Assistant Alex Roberts is leaving Pelgrane to focus on applying to grad school, as well as the sundry other plates she magnificently keeps spinning. It’s been wonderful having her around, and we’ll miss her! We’re currently recruiting for an Administrative Assistant to replace her, and we’ve had a fantastic response, with more than 50 applications so far. Applications are open until October 11th, and all the details are here.

In other big news, Steven Hammond from Northland Creative is taking on the task of revamping our Black Book character generator. We use this a lot for our convention adventure and one-shot PCs, and we’re very excited about the improvements he’s got planned. But first, he needs your help to understand how you use our character sheets – check out his article for more details, and the chance to win a $15 voucher for our webstore.

With all the excitement, our production line has slowed down slightly. Fire and Faith, the final volume in the Battle Scenes series, is out on pre-order this month; pre-order it with the accompanying Map Folio as a bundle, and we’ll add the text file to your bookshelves on Wednesday, October 4th. The latest PDF for Cthulhu Confidential, the Langston Wright adventure One For the Money, is also available now, with the final PDF also being available on your bookshelves on Wednesday.

New Releases

Articles

13th Age See Page XX Poll Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

Categories: Company News

5e or 13th Age: Which Is Right For Your Group?

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 00:44

We were as surprised as anyone that our announcement of 13th Age—a new d20-rolling fantasy RPG by the lead designers of 3rd edition and 4th edition—happened right when Wizards of the Coast announced that 5th edition was on the way. Though part of the same tradition, the games had fundamental differences in approach, and provide very different experiences of the same genre.

So, which one is right for your group? We’ve linked to some forum threads and blog posts on that very topic below!

Fifth Edition D&D versus 13th Age (the good, the bad and the damned)

5e D&D tries to keep some “classic” D&D features, while 13A has more experimentation and innovation. As far as quality goes, I think both options are equally valid.

From “What are the ‘use cases’ for using DnD5e over 13th Age?”

M. Weasel: I chose to use 5e for my current campaign (a player-driven hex crawl), and had a great time using 13th Age for my previous D&D-type game (investigation/big-damn-heroes action in Eberron). The biggest reason for me was that 5e feels more down-to-earth and traditional, while 13th Age feels like it has that big-damn-heroes style baked into it. That comes from a mix of what powers characters get, how hard characters are to kill, how magic items are designed and capped in each system, etc. Based on that, the feel of 5e was a better match for what I was aiming for with my game (relatively traditional D&D world, little fish in a big pond). Beyond that, I changed groups since my 13th Age campaign – some of my current players are not fond of Backgrounds (which is a pity, since I personally love them), and one of them loves the ol’ D&D-Puzzle-Wizard thing, which 5e does better than 13th Age. That said, I do miss many parts of 13th Age, especially in terms of monster design – it just has so many brilliant monsters.

Lemurion: I want to essentially replicate the AD&D 1e play style with a more modern rule set.  From everything I’ve seen, 5E is better at reproducing that kind of gaming experience than 13th Age. …5E is a good compromise for those who prefer modern rules to the Gygaxian prose of 1e, but still want to play in a similar style.

From Google+

Michael Kailus: In practice, 5E works much better for games where the players roleplaying creativity goes more towards “playing an adventurer” vs. “telling a fun action story.” 5E answers the question “how would I get past the trolls if I was Bilbo Baggins” and 13th Age answers the question “what is the sickest shield kickflip I could do if I was Orlando Bloom Legolas?” …As a GM, this has an interesting effect. GMing 5E is largely about prepping a story and situation and then seeing what the characters do. In 13th Age, meanwhile, you pretty much plan out a series of combat encounters (the actual action) but develop the story behind them collaboratively with the players. You know they’re going to fight five level three monsters before the “third act” of the adventure, but you might not know who hired those monsters or why the players need to stop them. By contrast, in 5E I’d plan out a group of monsters and their leader and the players might not fight them at all.

Martin Killmann: I have a very short explanation for you: The DC cinematic universe runs on 5E, but the Marvel cinematic universe runs on 13th Age. DCU is trying to be serious about conserving the legacy of iconic characters like Superman and Batman, whereas Marvel is like, “here’s a talking raccoon.”

From “13th Age vs. 5e?”

padgettish: 5e added a lot of stuff to up the presence of your character’s character in the mechanics of the game. When it comes down to it, backgrounds and inspiration don’t really stack up against a one true thing and icons. 13th Age will always do a better job at weaving the players into the narrative and empowering them to make their characters narratively important. 5e’s skill system is much less abstracted, though, and its mundane elements feel a lot more grounded in a living setting. If you’re running your typical fantasy story, 13th Age will be a lot better, but 5e will edge it out if you’re playing something like “all the characters are running a guild/merchant cartel” or a sandbox game where touches of minutia and simulation are important.

13th Age‘s combat is much tighter within a single encounter, and there’s a bit more of a game to it. At present, 5e’s design seems built more around one or two characters dropping a spell or ability to drastically change the circumstances of an encounter (at level one Sleep or Dragon Breath can easily wipe out a group of equal level monsters) and tactically mopping up the survivors. In 13th Age I feel you can really stress out the players without relying on tapping out their p/day resources, while thus far 5e seems to focus more on budgeting your resources from one encounter to the next. My group’s been playing through Tyranny of Dragons Rules as Written to get a feel for the “intended game,” and it even goes so far as structuring the story so taking short rests is something you have to budget and can’t just do after every encounter.

From “13th Age and 5ed”

wheloc: A lot of groups like to have freeform exploration but tight and tactical combat, and this is what 13th Age offers in spades. The exploration rules, like backgrounds and icons, are very loose and mostly amount to “do whatever seems fun”. Combat is more robust, with specific rules to do combat-stuff, and classes mostly consisting of bundles of combat abilities. It does encourage combat “set-pieces” and “everything looks like a nail” use of combat abilities, but for groups that enjoy this sort of thing this is a feature rather than a bug.

For groups that want more specific exploration rules, and maybe less specific combat rules (or at least different specific combat rules), D&D 5th edition might be a better choice. The classes and backgrounds (at least some of them) are a mix of combat and exploration abilities. Combat isn’t exactly freeform, but there’s more of a broad pool of combat options to draw from, and less of a restrictive list of combat abilities for each class.

From “[5E or 13th Age] Which is easier to run? Which is easier to play?”

Dionysos: In my opinion, as somebody currently running campaigns in both systems, 5th edition is far simpler to play and to run. The rules are easy and straightforward. 13th Age, while much simpler than 3e or 4e, is a strange fusion of traditional adventure game and artsy storygame, and so it will naturally be a little tougher to get your head around. Having said that, 13th Age is the more interesting of the two.

Lesp: For a brand-new, no-experience group, I’d probably say that, while there are pros and cons to each in terms of accessibility, 13th Age is probably a hair easier. 5e has a little more counterintuitive baggage sitting at its core than 13th Age does. However – and this is important – the 5e Core Rulebook is more clearly written. The 13th Age rulebook isn’t bad or anything, but there are definitely places where referring to the FAQ will save you a huge amount of time in trying to understand things, because there are rules that are in very odd places. …Both systems are top notch in terms of ease of play compared to most other D&D-alikes, and I don’t think you can really go wrong with either choice. 13th Age is arguably more demanding on DMs when it comes to thinking on your feet (it has significant improvisation vectors built in on both sides of the screen), while 5e is more demanding of DMs in terms of managing mechanical references and requires more work to produce satisfying combat encounters, but neither game is super demanding in any of those regards.

Extrakun: I believe whether you like 13th Age “background checks” depends on your play-style and the kind of game you like. From my reading of the rules, the game is supposed to be a constant back and forth between GM and players—this is even the style of the organized play scenarios. The GM will outright ask players questions such as, “All right, Jen, you used to run with the Thief’s Guild at Drakkenhall, but were chased out. Why?” …In 13th Age, the authors see “skill checks” as more of a narrative experience than a gameplay one.

neowolf: For running I think they’re about on par. 5e is a little more mechanically complex, 13th Age is a little more improv demanding. So this could depend on what your strengths and weaknesses are as a GM, but overall I don’t think either is much worse than the other to run. For playing, I don’t think either stands out either, however I do think that 13th Age has the advantage and disadvantage of being written in a fairly conversational tone, that assumes this isn’t your first rodeo. A lot of terms go unexplained and there’s no sitting down to explain to you what a roleplaying game is. For an experienced player, I think this is great. It helps it to be a more enjoyable read. For a completely new player, I think it can be a little confusing. Though I think this is mitigated pretty much entirely if you’ve got a group showing you the ropes as well.

Want to see 13th Age in action? Check out this actual play video from Saving Throw:

Categories: Company News

September playtesting

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 00:44
Dice imageIf you are interested in playtesting any of these games, please email us with the adventure you wish to playtest in the subject line.

 

 

Title: Drone

System: Standalone

Author: Gareth Ryder-Hanarhan

Deadline: 13th November 2017

Number of sessions: 2-4

Description:

In drone, one player plays the drone – a cybernetically reanimated corpse, memory erased, designed for the mission at hand.

Three other players are the operators – remote console jockeys, there to guide the drone through its assignment, and keep it under control. Both sets of players draw their actions from the same pool of dice, forcing them to work together – and as the game progresses, the dice pool gets tighter and the hostile Gamemaster gets more firepower to throw at them.  It’s a collaborative cyberpunk dystopian psychodrama – with lots of guns.

 

Categories: Company News

The Sinful Elect

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 00:44

I’m working on the (somewhat delayed) first draft of Night’s Black Agents One2One, provisionally titled SOLO. These vampires nearly featured as the villains, but for various reasons, they got cut. Here’s the salvaged text, plus their standard NBA stats.

The Conspiracy

They are the Sinful Elect, damned to immortality through sin. Each of them committed some terrible transgression in life, and were transformed into vampires as reward or punishment. Their numbers are limited; there are only a hundred or so of them at any time, and while they can create lesser vampires by feeding their blood to mortals, they cannot create more creatures like them. Until one of the immortal Elect perishes by violence, another cannot be created.

So, a hundred immortals; a hundred damned monsters, a hundred unchanging faces in the flowing tide of mortality. They band together for protection against mortals, and for company against the loneliness of immortality. Each vampire has its own domain, its own networks of servants and agents; there is no overarching conspiracy, just a network of largely independent cells. At times, the vampires even war with one another, but that risks exposure to the mortal world, and so they have fallen into an uneasy peace.

Hunger and the desire to escape damnation unite them all. These vampires must feed on blood to survive, and to prolong their unnatural lives. And as every one of them has transgressed in some way, they all have reason to fear damnation.

Type

The Sinful Elect think of themselves as Damned vampires, but really they’re closer to Supernatural or Alien monsters.

There is something out there, beyond our reality. Think of them as demons if you wish, or higher-dimensional aliens. Their dimension intersects obliquely with ours. They can only sense humanity as an undifferentiated psychic mass, a nigh-uniform spiritual sea. The demons extend – they are outside time as we know it, so the present tense is the only one that can apply to them – tendrils towards us, searching for purchase. They can only catch hold and take root when they find some soul that is different enough from the rest to stand out.

That is why, historically, vampires are associated with monstrous tyrants and mass murderers. Killing lots of people is enough to put a spiritual mark on one’s soul, a psychic abscess that the demons can detect and colonise. Other forms of transgression – or, more accurately, other ways that people might differentiate themselves from the rest of humanity – can also work. A genius artist, an iconoclast, a sailor drifting alone in the ocean, hundreds of miles from another living soul might equally draw the attention of these demons.  You don’t have to be a mass-murdering monster to make inadvertent psychic contact with an alien psychic monster from another dimension, but it helps.

Only a hundred or so tendrils connect the demons to our dimension, one tendril per vampire. When a vampire is destroyed, the tendril recoils, then fumbles for another distinct mind to latch onto. Killing a vampire, therefore, condemns someone else nearby to demonic immortality. Over the course of a few days, this new anchor for the demons sickens and seems to die, as the psychic poison transforms them.

Most vampires are unaware of their demonic nature; only a few have ever discovered the truth about their condition, although more have glimpsed something of it in ecstatic visions or bloody portents.

Play the Elect as “regular” vampires for the most part – the demonic element is a plot device to break the vampire Conspiracy into bite-sized cells suitable for an episodic game.

The Demon Connection

It’s up to you how much the demonic aspect of vampires plays into your game. You can ignore it almost entirely, and play the Elect as “traditional” vampires with a religious gloss. You can use it as flavour, dropping in the occasional psychic episode or glimpse of strange, terrible creatures reaching in from another dimension. You can use it as an ironic mirroring of the clandestine worlds – just as a spy is alone in a foreign city, serving the mysterious goals of an unseen agency with many other connections and agents, so are the vampires servants of mysterious forces beyond human comprehension.

Later in the campaign, you can use the demonic connection as a way for the player to strike at the root cause of vampirism.

What Do The Demons Want? This may become a key question later in your campaign. Is there a single demon-thing out there, or several? Is the creature sentient in a way we can understand? Are vampires an accidental side effect of the demon’s fumbling psychic contact with humans, or a deliberate malign creation? Is the demon really a fallen angel, or an alien entity?

Spread

The Conspiracy is primarily a European phenomenon – whoever vampire zero was, whoever first made contact with the demons, it was someone in Eastern Europe, and the curse spreads by proximity. When one vampire dies, another is chosen from the people nearby. In recent centuries, though, the vampires have spread out across the world, and the Conspiracy is global in reach.

Numbers

There are around one hundred true vampires – 144 is believed to be the upper limit of the vampiric population, although the Conspiracy proper usually has only 80 or so active members, with the remainder either cut off from the organisation or unwilling to work with their ‘siblings’.

A vampire can create lesser progeny by feeding its blood to mortal victims. These “half-vampires” have a lesser suite of vampiric powers. Progeny decrease the power of the parent vampire – in effect, the progeny share the same supernatural connection to the extradimensional demon as their parent, splitting the creature’s unholy blessing between them. Lesser vampires can’t create progeny of their own, and they perish instantly if their ‘parent’ is killed. Progeny aren’t seen as true vampires and aren’t included in the numbers listed above. Only a few vampires bother to create offspring, and even fewer keep them around for long.

Variations & Divisions

There are several sub factions within the Elect. These factions ebb and flow depending on which vampires are in ascendancy, and the names used to refer to them change over time, but presently the following have currency. These are loose groupings, and a vampire might belong to two or more factions at a time, or drift between them.

  • The Chamber: Vampires of the Chamber manage the Conspiracy. They believe that vampires need to stay hidden from humanity to avoid hunters and extermination, and the best way to do this is to work together and exert as much control over mortal governments and institutions as possible. The Chamber has huge financial and logistical resources, but spends most of its efforts cleaning up after the excesses of other vampires instead of advancing some larger agenda. The other vampires often dismiss the Chamber as a cabal of dull bankers and bureaucrats, always fussing about trivial matters.
  • The Dominionists: These vampires claim that they have the right to do whatever they please to humans. Just as Adam was granted dominion over all the beasts of the field by God, they believe that the Elect have been given authority over all mortals. The Dominionist vampires are monsters by any measure, perpetrating all manner of atrocities. Most of their members committed mass murder in some form before becoming a vampire.
  • The Eremites: Eremite vampires while away the centuries with their own private obsessions and projects. Some Eremites prefer to keep a low profile, living out one pseudo-mortal life after another, and only dealing with other vampires when the Chamber calls on them. Others have embarked on some century-long scheme to achieve a cherished goal – to safeguard the borders of their old kingdom, to destroy some religious group they despise, or to discover some occult secret.
  • The Seers: The vampire Seers seek the truth about their condition. They are aware that some supernatural force animates and connects them, and that this force can be invoked or commanded through occult means. Unlike the lone Eremites, the Seers work together, pooling their knowledge and resources. The two main lines of inquiry for the Seers are mental disciplines to establish contact with the demons through meditation and psychic training – and alchemy, to create mind-expanding drugs that make it easier to perceive the demon world. They refer to their demonic masters/higher selves as secret kings, guardian angels or immanations.
Life & Death

A new vampire is created when an existing vampire is killed, opening up a place among the Elect – and leaving a tendril of demonic influence that isn’t latched on to a human host. This tendril attaches itself to a suitable candidate within a few hours, grabbing someone who is in some way spiritually distinct from those nearby. The demon’s otherworldly senses seem most attuned to those who believe themselves to be already damned; murder, in particular, leaves a distinct patina on the soul. However, there are no restrictions on who the demon might choose to invade, and one might equally pick a child, a saint, or an ordinary person who happened to think an unusual thought in the instant the psychic tendril brushed over their mind.

Once infested by the demon, the victim dies of apparently natural causes within a few days, and then rises from the dead as a vampire. To survive, the vampire must feed on human blood regularly. The appetite of a vampire varies from specimen to specimen, but few can go more than a month without feeding. Initially, the vampire appears human – it retains physiological traits like a heartbeat, warm skin, respiration, the ability to eat food and so on, but the passage of time strips these away. It’s the vampire’s psychic connection to the demon that sustains it, and that connection exists in the brain, so the brain is all that really needs to survive. Unless the vampire takes steps to maintain itself – drinking more blood and exercising its physical prowess – the human body withers, leaving only the monstrous brain in a grotesquely mutated shell, a leech-thing that can only suck blood and slither.

Killing a vampire requires the destruction of the brain – hence cutting off the head being the traditional method of destroying the creatures. Younger vampires perish if they cannot feed; the stake through the heart cuts off the blood supply to the brain, while placing a stone in the creature’s mouth prevents it from eating, both of which starve the brain of blood. Older vampires, though, are so ravenous for blood that it overcomes mere anatomy, and can grow new hearts or new mouths in order to indulge their thirsts.

Cure

Theoretically, it’s possible to cure a victim of vampirism by severing the psychic connection to the extra-dimensional demon before the victim dies. The only known way to do this is to present a more attractive candidate within a few hours of initial contact, before the demon has attached itself firmly to its new host. (That’s attractive according to the lights of alien demon horrors with a very warped perspective on humanity, of course; a demon might prefer the mind of serial killer to that of an ordinary bystander).

Powers

All vampires are preternaturally resilient, and hard to destroy through injury. Most also have some form of psychic ability – some can control the minds of others, or hypnotise with a glance, or become invisible by blanking the perceptions of those around them. The vampire’s powers grow with age.

Weaknesses

Only older vampires are afflicted by sunlight, although strong light does attenuate the vampire’s connection to the demon and blocks the use of some powers.

General Abilities: Aberrance 10, Hand to Hand 8, Health 10, Shooting 8, Weapons 4

Hit Threshold: 4

Alertness Modifier: +1

Stealth Modifier: +2

Damage Modifier: +1 (bite), +0 (fist or kick) or +1 (firearm)

Armour: -1 (tough skin). Vampires who have lost their human form and degenerated into monsters are Rubbery.

Free Powers: Infravision, No Reflection, Spider Climb, Vampiric Strength, Regeneration (regains 1 Health per round, but must spend Aberrance at a one-for-one exchange range to ensure its regenerated flesh appears human-like)

Other Powers: Mental Attack (psychic blast), Magic, Vampiric Speed

Banes: Fire, Garlic, Sunlight, Silver

Blocks: Garlic, Hawthorn

Dreads: Fire

Requirements: Feed

 

Categories: Company News

Designing a New GUMSHOE Online Character Generation Tool, and How You Can Help

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 00:43

by Steven Hammond

Back in 2011, Pelgrane ran its first crowdfunding campaign and the Black Book, a GUMSHOE character creation tool, was born. Since its release the original code has been maintained on a voluntary basis by the very busy Pelgrane webmaster John Clayton. The Black Book has done its job, but it’s now time for a new implementation, which incorporates innovations such as Shock and Injury cards, which are begging for a digital implementation to really shine.

I am excited to announce that Northland Creative Wonders has reached an agreement with Pelgrane Press to take over the Black Book character tool, modernize it and turn it into a product that can sustain its own ongoing maintenance and development. All of the current Black Book features will continue to be freely available to all, with a new look and better support for phones and other small screens. More advanced features, like GM character matrices and Shock and Injury cards, will be available with a nominally priced subscription.

I will talk about some of those advanced features in a future post; right now, I want to talk about our design process and how you can help.

Understanding Users

In order to make good software to solve a problem, you need to understand how users solve that same problem without your software. Asking users how they solve that problem often doesn’t provide the information you need; sometimes users aren’t aware of all of the steps in some activity, they might accidentally exaggerate or deprecate the extent of an issue, and they tend to ask for specific solutions rather than identify problems. And those solutions are frequently limited by the user’s current process or their understanding of what is possible.

So what does a designer do? Certainly not ignore users and assume you know better. Instead, you look for evidence of what they actually do and scour that evidence for ways you can make things better.

If you have the resources you can do focus groups and user testing. With fewer resources, you can do user interviews. But even then, you are hoping to see demonstrations or artifacts, anything to give you more insight than the user can verbalize.

How You Can Help

Fortunately in gaming we have a ready artifact to study — character sheets. We want to see your GUMSHOE character sheets. What we want most to see is pictures or scans of used paper sheets; with all of your marks, erasures, and doodles. We think we can learn the most from those. We also want to see your digital sheets, and your custom sheet designs.

To share these with us you will want to go to https://shammond42.typeform.com/to/gQ3L7s. That form will ask for your e-mail address, any comments you have on the sheet you are submitting and a button to upload the sheet. E-mail address is optional, we will only use it if we have questions about your sheet, send you a prize (see below) or to send you an invite to the new app when it is ready.

Once we have reviewed the sheet submissions, we will contact people with the most interesting sheets to discuss them further.

What’s in it for You

We have a pair of $15 gift vouchers to the Pelgrane Press online store. Every sheet uploaded with an email address will be an entry in the draw. You have to provide your email address to enter – otherwise, we can’t contact you if you win.

The upload site will stay open until October 15, 2017.

What Happens Next?

We will go through all of those sheets and user discussions to see what we can learn. That learning will lead into the design of the new character sheet in the Black Book. We will also share the sheets and our findings with Pelgrane as they think about redesigning their print character sheets.

From there, we will begin the process of building the rest of the app. It is too early to talk specific schedules now, but I hope to be sharing more progress and insight with you as this project moves forward.

Categories: Company News

See Page XX: Occultists of the Belle Epoque

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 00:43

A column about roleplaying

By Robin D. Laws

Work on the Yellow King Roleplaying Game has been chugging along since the Kickstarter closed in July. A master document containing the elements of Absinthe in Carcosa is now in the hands of hand-out artist extraordinaire Dean Engelhardt. In the months ahead he’ll be transforming them into a unique and stunning presentation of the setting sourcebook format. Art direction is well underway for the four books that comprise the core game.

The first playtest round, focused on Paris, is now in progress, with actual play reports beginning to filter out into places like the GUMSHOE Facebook community.

With Absinthe turned over to Dean, I’ve turned my attention back to completing the core game. This task entails both the three remaining introductory scenarios and the many stretch goals crowdfunded by you (or gamers like you.)

Here’s a taste of the latter—a few of the GMC profiles from the Occultists of the Belle Epoque stretch goal.

Did you miss the Kickstarter? The Yellow King Roleplaying Game Pre-Order exists just for you.

Camille Flammarion

Astronomer and Science Fiction Writer

53, 1842-1925

The polymathic Camille Flammarion crosses not only the streams of science and spiritism, but throws the arts in for good measure. He believes both in evolution and the transmigration of souls, continually improving as they find new incarnations throughout the universe. His science fiction titles, such as Lumen and Imaginary Worlds, envision alien life from a naturalist’s perspective. Like Albert de Rochas he applies the scientific method to parapsychological research. Since souls go to other planets after death, he reasons, manifestations at séances must emanate from the extra-sensory powers of the mediums who conjure them. Always ready to write a foreword or appear at an occult talk, he might be found in the corners of any event held by any other figure in this chapter.

Physically his mane of white hair, incisively cocked eyebrows and flowing Van Dyke underline his grand old man persona.

As a Patron: Flammarion might recruit the heroes to round up copies of the book, drawing on his contacts in the scientific and occult communities.

Alexandre Saint-Yves

Synarchist

53, 1842-1909

Joseph Alexandre Saint-Yves, the Marquis d’Alveydre, invented the term synarchy to refer to the secret rule of mankind by occult masters. He believes that Abraham and the Hindu deity Ram are really the same figure, a primordial lawmaker and father of all peoples. Though the surface world has lost touch with the truth, millions dwell in Agarttha, a subterranean realm benevolently overseen by a trinity of rulers: a Brahatmah (God-soul), Mahatma (Great Soul) and Mahanga (Great Path.) It relocated underground, far below the plateaus of Tibet, during the Hindu dark age three thousand years ago, protecting its people and advanced technology from encroaching disaster. He knows this because he communicates with Agartthan officials telepathically.

The Marquis claims the power of astral travel. When characters ask about it, he proves notably stingy with the details.

He writes the popular Mission series of books in which various groups are issued instructions for bringing about the synarchy on the surface world: Mission to the Sovereigns, Mission to the Jews, and so on. When not occupied with synarchy he studies possible commercial applications for seaweed.

Saint-Yves became independently wealthy through marriage and was granted his title fifteen years ago by the Republic of San Marino. Describe him as a dour-looking man with a thick, pensive mustache.

Charles Richet

Physiologist and Parapsychologist

45, 1850-1930

A gaunt man with searching eyes, the physiologist Charles Richet studies a range of medical subjects and is destined to win the Nobel Prize for his work on anaphylaxis. His interests range from aviation to theatrical writing. The investigators however will care most about his role as a scientific psychic investigator. Last year he coined the term “ectoplasm” to describe the strange material mediums produce during séances. He believes that paranormal powers exist but will all be rationally explained through scientific inquiry, without the need to invoke spirits or an afterlife. In our reality, he falls for, and in at least one case helps to cover up, hoaxes perpetrated by mediums. In the universe of the Yellow King, he might instead fail to see the supernatural causes behind their effects.

Richet dedicates himself to pacifism, eugenics and hardcore racism, especially against blacks. Calibrate the way you deal with these last two according to your group’s desired level of unsavory social realism.

Léo Taxil (Gabriel Jogand-Pagès)

Conspiracy-Promulgating Con Artist

41, 1854-1907

Setting a pattern unknown to our own innocent age, pundit Léo Taxil (real name Gabriel Jogand-Pagès) masterminds a convoluted series of hoaxes, in which he appears to ricochet between extreme ideologies, selling books and calling attention to himself all along the way. He started as an anti-clerical rabble-rouser, writing books that mock Biblical inconsistencies or depict Catholic ecclesiastics engaged in Sadean debauchery. He infiltrated occult circles, convincing Jules Doinel (above) and others that he was one of them.

Ten years ago he staged a public conversion to Catholicism, tarring Freemasonry with similar sensational slanders. Taxil is the one who took Levi’s famous image of Baphomet and forever associated it with Satanism. He described a global conspiracy, the Palladium, led by a Masonic worthy of Charleston, South Carolina named Albert Pike. Three years ago he published the best-selling The Devil in the 19th Century, introducing to the world the reformed Satanist arch-priestess Diana Vaughan. Anecdotes include her encounters with incarnate demons, including a crocodilian specimen that plays the piano. He is now writing her first-person book of prayers and confessions.

Two years from now he will announce a press conference with Vaughan, at which he instead reveals that it was all a hoax. Reverting to his original persona, he says he has been showing the stupidity of the Church’s fear of Freemasonry.

But that’s the historical timeline. Might the ambient madness of Carcosa cause thoughtforms of the demons described in Taxil’s books to realize themselves?

Categories: Company News

September 2017: View from the Pelgrane’s Nest

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 00:42

September ended with ThawCon, my annual 13th Age fest, so this is a 13th-Age-heavy issue. I’ve also been playtesting GUMTHEWS, Kevin Kulp and Emily Dresner’s GUMSHOE fantasy game, and an indie game we are publishing (more on that another time). This month, we release the second adventure for Langston Wright, the veteran investigator first featured in Cthulhu Confidential, and two TimeWatch releases are available in PDF form.

ThawCon X and the 13th Age

I’ve just returned from ThawCon X, my annual game with my original group of 38 years. We switched from AD&D to 13th Age four years ago, and we’ve not looked back. We start on the Friday afternoon and the game runs until 1:00, with a long break to eat and catch up. After a full day on Saturday, we feasted on roast pork and fine wine, then returned to the game table. While some of the game was an urban adventure, most of it was set in the Stone Thief, the vindictive living dungeon which Gareth created. It bursts with ideas, sparkling copy and malicious encounters, it made my job very easy.  Some highlights of the game:

  • A smithy which features golems which create swords of slaying during combat to use against the PCs
  • Orcs in coracles with bill hooks, traversing a lake of magma
  • A slave rebellions led by gladiators against their orcish captives
  • A derro ambush amongst the ruins featuring trained bullettes
  • A medusa in a maze of force walls with arrows which ignore said force walls
  • An ice ape bridge guardian which threw one PC at another, damaging both

I’d like to shout out to :

  • Our necromancer, who lit up the well of the Maddening Stairs by ordering his skeletal minion Renwick to immolate himself then jump into the void
  • Our paladin/barbarian who is ever so polite until the rage kicks in
  • Our commander player who roleplayed a high intelligence rather than high charisma character with just the right degree of pedantry and disapproval
  • Our magic user who evoked a reckless fireball – fireball then ask forgiveness
  • Our thief whose absolute insistence he was only looting the corpse rather examining it meant they missed an intellect devourer
  • Our fighter who rolled a natural 1 and two natural 20s, but not fighting, repointing walls!
The Bestiary 2: Lions and Tigers and Owlbears

ThawCon was also an opportunity to put the Bestiary 2 through its paces.  It was the last weekend for our youngest player, a keen 13th Age GM playing the commander, before he went to university. Just before he and his father left, he asked for a combat featuring a creature which pushes the rules to the limit, and had a decent chance of killing his character (takes all sorts). So I threw and Eidolon at him – a creature which represents a concept, can switch PCs into parallel realities, and swap them both temporally (changing their initiative) and physically (changing their positions). It also dishes out vast quantities of damage. The eidolon swapped the commander out to its own timeline, while the other PCs flipped in and out each round, facing other foes, until the combat was done. They also met, and were intimidated by the briar elves, creatures of thorn and sorcery, which took out three members of the party before finally succumbing.

Battle Scenes: Fire and Faith

ThawCon has featured encounters from the Battle Scenes series throughout. This year I had only one battle scene of a suitable level left – a drow ambush in the woods. Next year, I’ll be able to use some of the higher level encounters. The final Battle Scenes book Fire and Faith is nearing completion. The art and text are done and I’m just putting the finishing touches to the maps.

The Book of Ages, Shards of the Broken Sky and The Book of Demons are in development.

Everything Else
  • Now that the text of The Fall of Delta Green has been approved we’ve been working on cover treatments for approval by the Arc Dream Team – “Team” likes its capital letter there.
  • We are adding new content to Hideous Creatures, our Trail of Cthulhu Bestiary.
  • #Feminism purchasers now get additional exclusive games not in the first edition. Existing purchasers have received an email, new purchasers get them automatically.
  • The Persephone Extraction for Night’s Black Agents is being illustrated, and Night’s Black Agents One-2-One is still in development.

 

Categories: Company News

One For the Money

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 00:42

Spine-Tingling Washington, D.C. Mythos Noir from the Casefiles of Langston Wright

You are Langston Wright: a scholarly WW2 veteran, fighting for room to breathe in wartime Washington under the shadow of the Jim Crow laws. Equipped with your smarts, your test tubes, and your determination to help people, your job is to scour the streets of the District and fix its toughest problems.

Rhino Jones is one tough cookie, and he makes it impossible to turn down his demand to find out who stole from him and killed his crew. This leads Langston into a blurred otherworld of corrupt businessmen and Nazi spies, and the deadly weapon prototype that they’re all trying to get hold of.

“One For the Money” is the third adventure for Cthulhu Confidential™. This one-GM, one-player RPG drops your hero into a noir nightscape where, beneath the merely human corruption, an eternal evil lurks: the malign, cosmic indifference of HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos!

 

 

 

Stock #: PELGOC04D Author: Chris Spivey Artist: Christian Knutsson Type: 41-page PDF

Buy now

Categories: Company News

Drone

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 17:45
Two forms of warfare dominated the battlefields in the early years of the 21st century. Drones – remotely piloted vehicles – commoditized the battlefield. Guided by operators hundreds or even thousands of kilometers away, these drones removed the risk of death from battle, while still accomplishing the objectives set by their military – or, later, corporate – superiors. Insurgents – small bands of irregular but highly trained fighters – could blend into the civilian population, using cities as cover, vanishing into the crowds. With limited numbers and firepower, insurgencies quickly learned to do whatever was necessary to win an asymmetric war – including sacrificing themselves in suicide attacks.  By the middle of the century, a synthesis of these two forms emerged. Human drones. Corpses, reanimated and augmented by cybernetic implants, and guided by elite teams of remote operators. Anyone could be killed and turned into the perfect weapon, a bespoke killing machine optimized for a particular situation, a particular target. Ideal, disposable weapons for the shadowy corporate conflicts and geopolitical chaos of the mid-21st century. The operators of these drones reminded themselves that however human their tools seemed, they were just meat machines. Drones. In drone, one player plays the drone – a cybernetically reanimated corpse, memory erased, designed for the mission at hand. Three other players are the operators – remote console jockeys, there to guide the drone through its assignment, and keep it under control. Both sets of players draw their actions from the same pool of dice, forcing them to work together – and as the game progresses, the dice pool gets tighter and the hostile Gamemaster gets more firepower to throw at them.  It’s a collaborative cyberpunk dystopian psychodrama – with lots of guns.

Categories: Company News

Call of Chicago: The Ravensrodd Horror

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 11:53

A land that is thirstier than ruin
A sea that is hungrier than death
Heaped hills that a tree never grew in
Wide sands where the wave draws breath.

— Algernon Swinburne, “By the North Sea” (1880)

At some point around 1230 (perhaps during the “St. Luke’s Storm” of 1228 when the people of London saw “dragons and wykked Spyrites” in the storm wind) the action of the North Sea against the shallows on the southeast coast of Yorkshire threw up “stones and sand” to make an island probably to the east of a long sandbank at the mouth of the Humber Estuary. That sandbank is now “the Spurn” but the Vikings called it Ravenser (“raven’s tongue”) and a port of the same name appears on and off in history at the northern end of “the Neck” which connects the Spurn to the mainland such as it is of Yorkshire. Fishermen dried their nets there, then they stashed their boats there, then they traded without a lot of pesky taxation there, and by 1240 the Count of Aumale built a fortification on the island, which by that time was a “borough” named Ravenser Odd (an “odd” being Norse or Danish for a spit or point of land), or Ravenserodd, or Ravensrodd, or just Lod.

Map of the Humber mouth, 1595

In 1251, the Count obtained a charter for an official (taxed) market and fair, adding a (taxable) quay in 1297 and another in 1310. At its height, 100 ships called there per year (officially), and the town had 300 buildings, among them windmills, a tannery, a court, a prison (and gallows), and a chapel of Our Lady. Ravensrodd gained a royal charter in 1299, which came in very handy during its neighbors’ incessant lawsuits against it for piracy. In fact, another version of the town’s history says it began with a shipwreck, and was founded by the captain of that ship, one Peter-at-Sea (or Peter de la Mare), who began “convincing” other ships to land at Ravensrodd (“by fear and force”) instead of continuing on to Grimsby or Hull.

However it began, it ended just about as rapidly. The great storm of 1334 drowned “two parts” of the town and eroded the island badly; by 1351 the chapel and cemetery had drowned and looters carried off the chapel’s gold and silver ornaments. In 1360 the island was abandoned, the property owners feebly attempting to get writs against fishermen salvaging wooden beams from drowned buildings. In 1400 the walls of Ravensrodd could still be seen at low tide, but not long after that even the location of Ravensrodd was forgotten.

Trail of Cthulhu: The Shadow Over Ravensrodd

“… that town of Ravenserodd … was an exceedingly famous borough devoted to merchandise, as well as many fisheries, most abundantly furnished with ships …. But yet, with all inferior places, and chiefly by wrong-doing on the sea, by its wicked works and piracies, it provoked the wrath of God against its self beyond measure.”

— Thomas de Burton, Chronicle of Meaux Abbey (1396)

A mysterious island rises from the waves, becomes immensely profitable in gold and fish, then “by its wicked works” it drowns again. One hardly has to stretch to cast Ravensrodd as a medieval Innsmouth, destroyed by God rather than by J. Edgar Hoover. The Ravensrodd versions of the Marshes and Gilmans include family names such as: Barell, Selby, Brune, Cotes or Cokes or Coas, Rottenherring (meaning “red herring”), Keeling, Ferby, and perhaps most excitingly de la Pole, who married into not only the royal House of York but the poetic Chaucer family.

These families mostly removed to Hull in Yorkshire after Ravensrodd went down, or in some cases well before, buying up choice properties and investing in towns as far north as Whitby. So a Keeper looking for weird connections in Hull might begin with the mysterious (dream-driven?) suicide on December 6, 1924 of housebreaker Edward “Fanlight Jimmy” McMahon. McMahon apparently hanged himself in gaol despite having no motive to do so, after breaking into a house on Chariot Street. What did he see there that he couldn’t forget, or that Something wanted him to keep silent about?

Fall of DELTA GREEN Handlers might also want to look into the murders in Hull of prostitutes Margaret Lowson (1966) and Evelyn Edwards (1967). One Samuel Stephenson (a stereotypical serial killer, down to the letters to Scotland Yard) confessed to Lowson’s murder and was convicted of it, but Edwards’ remains officially unsolved. The other Deep One spoor that decade is the Hull triple trawler tragedy: three trawlers out of Hull sank in January 1968, one of them only a day out of port.

NIght’s Black Agents: The Ravensrodd Inheritance

“… the inundations of the sea and of the Humber had destroyed to the foundations the chapel of Ravensrodd, built in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so that the corpses and bones of the dead there horribly appeared …”

— Thomas de Burton, Chronicle of Meaux Abbey (1396)

As I mentioned, the port of Old Ravenser goes back to Viking times or before, beginning as a monastic hermitage in 600 or so, a Danish invasion port in the centuries that follow, and reduced to only one manor house by 1400. At some point perhaps the monks drove something out into the sea, something that raised its own island and spread its own foul influence, trying to supplant the Counts of Aumale (all six of the Countess of Aumale’s children predeceased her; the line became extinct in 1274) and lurking in the manor house until the chapel drowned.

That something is the Danish vampiric spirit called the nikke (mentioned as the neck or nykr in the Director’s Handbook, p. 233). It might appear as a horse or as a bearded man or as a beautiful woman or youth. (In human form it has a slit ear, or a dripping wet garment.) Its “true appearance” may be that of a worm with blood-sucking tendrils. It surfaces every so often to work its wiles or slake its thirst in Hull: William Bolton kills Jane Allen in her flat in Andrew Marvell Terrace on October 17, 1902, stabbing her three times and himself once in the neck “in his sleep.” Six years later Thomas Siddle deprives himself of food, cuts his wife’s throat with a razor on June 9, 1908, stands stunned at the crime scene, remains insensible in prison, claims “something came over me; I only realised what I had done when blood was on my hand” …

Nikke

General Abilities: Aberrance 16, Hand-to-Hand 8, Health 10

Hit Threshold: 4 (above water), 6 (under water)

Alertness Modifier: +1 (at edge of water), +2 (on the water), +3 (under water)

Stealth Modifier: +2 (when not singing)

Damage Modifier: +0 (grasp; damage first to Athletics then to Health)

Armor: -1 (subcutaneous scales) or Corpse

Free Powers: Drain (drains air and blood from lungs, as Heat Drain), Regeneration (2 Health per round in water; all damage by next high tide), Strangling Grasp (as Lamia; NBA, p. 151)

Other Powers: Musical Enthrallment and Musical Madness (both as Mental Attacks; NBA, p. 131), Turn to Creature (Horse, Snake); Apportation (to its lair or to anywhere touched by its waters), Clairvoyance (everywhere touched by its waters), Dominate, Howl (when in the presence of a future drowning victim), Magic (Call Storms, Multiply Fish), Mesmerism, Necromancy

Banes: saying its name

Compulsions: sell magic to those who pay for it with “three drops of blood,” accept a coin dropped in water in lieu of a life

Blocks: iron knife or a steel fire-striker

Requirements: drown or drain humans, remain in or near its waters by day

Categories: Company News

13th Sage: Return of the Nigh-Dead Lancer

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 02:06

by Rob Heinsoo

I’ve known editors who agonize over the placement of a comma in a card game rulebook ten years after the game released . . . and other editors who nodded knowingly when I told the stories as what I thought was an example of caring way too much! My own nibbling regrets, years after a book is published, often have something to do with the way I wasn’t able to make final text live up to the art.

Unlike my comma-troubled editor friends, I’m able to follow-up! So today’s column has monster stats meant to capture the spirit of the nasty centaur lancer devoted to the Lich King pictured on page 36 of the first 13th Age Bestiary. That’s him below, in war paint blessed by necromancers.

When I commissioned this art from Rich Longmore, I intended to have a number of centaur champions devoted to different icons in the centaur entry. The lancer with the Lich King’s symbol on his shield was going to be one of four or five icon-focused warriors. But then the story and the mechanical design went in a different direction. I used text about devotion to nasty icons to account for Rich’s illustration, but I had the lingering feeling that I’d let the art down by providing generic stats.

Well no longer. The nigh-dead lancer that follows counts as an elite monster, half-again as tough as a normal monster (see page 7 in Bestiary 2 for a discussion of elite creatures and page 303 for a Building Battles table that accounts for them.)

About these elite stats: If you look carefully at the lancer’s stats, it won’t look tougher than most other 5th level monsters. It counts as elite because when it dies, the Lich King’s power transforms it into another undead creature, ready to fight on against the enemies that ended its life.

The math here is interesting. Both the living and undead versions are normal-strength monsters. They shouldn’t count as double-strength because you only fight one at a time. They also shouldn’t count as only a single monster because you’ll have to fight two, one after the other. I’m guessing that splitting the difference is right, hence the designation as elite.

Level choice: I put the new creature at 5th level instead of 4th for a few reasons. First, I wanted to team the nigh-dead lancer up with 5th level wraiths (13th Age core book, page 250). Second, I figured I might as well give you a centaur one level higher than the existing lancer instead of duplicating stats. So I rewrote several mechanics. If you want to use it as a regular 5th level creature instead of elite, just skip the death unmasked ability. Likewise you can use both the zombie centaur and the wraith lancer as standard 5th level monsters.

Punishing option: If your game table is anything like mine, you may want to pronounce this creature’s name as ‘neigh-dead’ lancer. It’s neigh-dead. Until it is.

 

Nigh-Dead Lancer

Your death or its, both work.

Elite 5th level troop [humanoid]

Initiative: +11

 

Terrible lance +11 vs. AC—17 damage, and the target pops free from the centaur

Hit ’em hard: The crit range of the attack expands by 2 and instead deals 22 damage on a hit if the centaur first moves before attacking an enemy it wasn’t engaged with at the start of its turn.

Natural 18+: The nigh-dead lancer gains the ability to make a single kick attack as a quick action later this battle; these uses can accumulate.

 

Kick +11 vs. PD—7 damage, and the target pops free from the nigh-dead lancer.

 

R: Horse bow +10 vs AC (1 nearby or faraway enemy)—14 damage

 

Death unmasked: When the nigh-dead lancer drops to 0 hit points, even if the PCs say they’re only trying to knock it unconscious, it dies. Roll a d6, add the escalation die, and replace the nigh-dead lancer with the indicated creature. 1-5: zombie centaur; 6+: wraith lancer. The new creature keeps the same initiative as the now-dead lancer.

Harnessed speed: The nigh-dead lancer gains a +4 AC bonus against opportunity attacks.

AC   21

PD    18                 HP 64

MD  17

 

Zombie Centaur

Faith isn’t always fully rewarded.

5th level wrecker [undead]

Initiative: +7 (but uses nigh-dead lancer’s initiative if that’s how it entered the battle)

Vulnerability: holy

 

Flailing hooves +10 vs. AC (2 attacks)—8 damage

Natural even hit or miss: Both the zombie centaur and its target take 2d6 damage!

 

Headshot: A critical hit against a zombie drops it to 0-hit points.

AC   18

PD    18                 HP 100

MD  14

 

Wraith Lancer

Destroy this creature utterly, or it’s bound for the marshalling grounds of the Necropolis.

5th level spoiler [undead]

Initiative: +11 (but uses nigh-dead lancer’s initiative if that’s how it entered the battle)

Vulnerability: holy

 

Wraith-lance +11 vs. PD—13 negative energy damage

Natural 2-5: Target is weakened until the end of its next turn.

 

C: Spiral charge +11 vs. PD (1d4 nearby enemies)—13 negative energy damage, and after the attack the wraith lancer teleports to and engages with one target it hit

Limited use: The wraith lancer can use spiral charge only when the escalation die is even.

 

Flight: The wraith lancer hovers, zooms, and stampedes mid-air.

Ghostly: This creature has resist damage 16+ to all damage except force damage, which damages it normally. It can move through solid objects, but it can’t ends its movement inside them.

AC   19

PD    15                 HP 70

MD  16

 

Categories: Company News

GUMSHOE Rules Summary

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 17:14

GUMSHOE is a system for designing investigative roleplaying games and adventures, emulating stories where investigators uncover a series of clues, and interpret them to solve a mystery. In GUMSHOE, the players always get the clues they need to move the narrative forward.

Character Creation

In a GUMSHOE game, you create player characters (PCs) by choosing your character concept – the sort of mystery-solving character you want to play – and then spending build points to buy ratings in Investigative Abilities and General Abilities.

Investigative Abilities allow you to find the core clues your character needs to move forward in a mystery-solving narrative, and give occasional additional benefits.
General Abilities help you survive while you’re gathering information and solving problems.

Mystery Structure

Every GUMSHOE scenario begins with a crime, conspiracy, or other act of disorder committed by a group of antagonists. The PCs must figure out who did it and why, and put a stop to their activities. Game Masters (GMs) design a GUMSHOE adventure by creating the following:

  • An investigation trigger. This is the event that attracts the attention of investigators.
  • A sinister conspiracy. This sets out who the antagonists are, what they’ve done so far, what they’re trying to do, and how the investigation trigger fits into the overall scheme.
  • A trail of clues. Working backwards from the sinister conspiracy and their plans, the GM designs a trail of clues leading from the investigation trigger to an understanding of the sinister plot and its players, sufficient for the players to get to work destroying it.
Game Mechanics

In a GUMSHOE game, the PCs progress from scene to scene, interviewing people and using their Investigative Abilities to find core clues, which advance the story and help the players solve the mystery. If a scene contains a core clue and a player character uses an Investigative Ability relating to that clue, the character will find it.

Investigative Ability ratings also function as pools, from which players can spend 1 to 3 points to get additional clues, providing more information or other benefits about the situation. Investigative Ability pool points are refreshed between scenarios.

General Abilities are used when the outcome of an ability use is in doubt, like at dramatically important points in the story, or for tasks of exceptional difficulty. For these tests, GUMSHOE uses a six-sided die, which is rolled against a Difficulty – usually 4, although it can be modified from 2 to 8 depending on how hard the GM thinks the task is. If the die roll is equal to or higher than the Difficulty, the PC has succeeded in her action.

A player can spend as much of their General Ability pool on a die roll as they want – each point spent adds 1 to the roll. General Abilities pools are refreshed between scenarios, and sometimes during play.

Categories: Company News

Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff: Them Doritos is Rigged!

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 13:23

In the latest episode of their absolutely above-board, honestly run, no dice-shaving podcast, Ken and Robin talk clipjoint towns, WWI spies, Nicole Lindroos and NASA bacteria balloons.

Categories: Company News

Fire & Faith: Battle Scenes for Four Icons Map Folio

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 08:13
Bring your battles to life!

The Fire and Faith Map Folio brings you 36 maps from Fire and Faith – Battle Scenes for Four Icons, in glorious full color by expert cartographers! This folio includes:

The Map Folio includes:

  • Player-facing maps for exciting battles in a hellhole, a diabolic circus, a dragon’s dreamscape, and more
  • GM-only versions of each map with the encounter title, Fire and Faith page references, monster positions, and hidden terrain features
  • A full index so you can easily cross-reference the maps with scenes in Fire and Faith

Why run a toe-to-toe when you can make the PCs avoid swinging acrobatic assassins, face ogre monks in a dojo, or jump from boulder to boulder on a cloud island ? Get the Fire and Faith Map Folio—and make your players, sadder, wiser, but way more awesome.

  Stock #: TBA Author: Cal Moore
Design and Layout: 
Developer: Rob Heinsoo
Cartographers: Gill Pearce. Ralf Schemmann, Christina Trani
Type: 36 double-sided maps

Release October 2017

Categories: Company News

Pelgrane Press Seeks Administrative Assistant

Wed, 09/27/2017 - 14:13

rainbow-pelgrane_150We’re currently recruiting for an Administrative Assistant to provide support to our customers and manage our channels to market.. The position is intended for a remote worker, and may involve travel to conventions, some overnight stays and weekend work where necessary.

Pelgrane Press is committed to building a culturally diverse company and strongly encourages applications from women and minority candidates.

Our Administrative Assistant will be responsible for ensuring a prompt, friendly and professional response to all queries from our customers, over email, on social media, and in person.

They will manage and develop our supply chain, monitoring and maintaining inventories of products in our mail order and distribution warehouses to maximize efficiency, liaise with key fulfilment and print partners to ensure high service levels and stock quality, and work with the Managing Directors on print quotes and print buying.

They will also assist the Managing Directors with ad-hoc administrative and marketing tasks where necessary.

This is an ideal opportunity for someone who is looking for a permanent position in publishing within the roleplaying industry. As a small, growing company, there will be opportunities in the future to expand the role for candidates with drive and initiative. Game writing and design work are not part of this position, nor will they be in the future.

The successful candidate will have a passion for roleplaying games, excellent organisational and communication skills, thoroughness and attention to detail, and the ability to set priorities under pressure. A solid grasp of Word and Excel are essential. Experience with stock management is useful, though not necessary.

The position is permanent, with an initial three-month evaluation period. The position is 25 hours per week, and the salary is US$1500 per month. The position doesn’t include health insurance, so if your country of residence doesn’t have universal health care, you will need to have your own health care provision.

The full job spec is here.

To apply, please send a covering letter via email with your CV attached as a PDF to Cat Tobin before Wednesday, October 11th 2017. No agencies, please.

Categories: Company News

13th Age Character Builds: Phoenix-Fist Monk

Wed, 09/27/2017 - 08:30
THE MONK

By ASH LAW

In this series by ASH LAW, we feature two different builds for every 13th Age character class, at all levels. ASH suggests how the builds might be used, and offers tips on playing each character. Stats are based on the point-buy method, and the characters have no non-standard elements.

 

THE MONK

 

The mighty monk: never unarmed because their fists (and feet, and foreheads) are weapons. Wielding the power of ki, monks are by default also fighting with two weapons. Monks don’t make weapon attacks, nor unarmed attacks like other classes—instead they make special attacks known as Jab, Punch, and Kick attacks. You also use attack forms (opening, flow, finishing) that grant AC bonuses (+1, +2, +3). As the combat progresses you cycle through forms, dealing damage for Jabs, Punches, and Kicks.

As a monk expect to be very mobile on the battlefield, but be careful not to get too far ahead of the rest of the party. You should also expect to track ki, work out which forms to use and when, and to know when to activate your ki powers. This class has a lot of moving parts to track and isn’t for those who prefer a simpler combatant.

 

PHOENIX-FIST MONK

 

Download the Phoenix-Fist Monk character sheets here.

 

This monk is all about avoiding damage while dishing it out. Talents like flurry give extra attacks, and phoenix-touched and spinning willow style let us heal or avoid damage.

This monk build works well as a defender, soaking up attacks that would otherwise target your allies. You are that unusual class build—one that actively relishes being engaged with multiple tougher enemies.

 

Talents

 

Flurry

Make extra quick action attacks each round, provided the escalation die is high enough.

Phoenix-Touched

Use Charisma in place of Wisdom for monk class attacks, talents, features, etc. Plus heal yourself. Plus deal extra damage to engaged enemies.

Spinning Willow Style

Take half (or no) damage from certain attacks.

 

Race

Half orcs get a once-per-battle re-roll on attacks, very useful for this monk as it will be making a lot of attacks.

 

Attributes

For this build, Charisma replaces Wisdom as one of the most important attributes, but being a monk it’s still important to keep attributes balanced: Str 16 (+3) Con 14 (+2) Dex 16 (+3) Int 10 (0) Wis 10 (0) Cha 16 (+3).

1st level

Attributes: Str 16 (+3) Con 14 (+2) Dex 16 (+3) Int 10 (0) Wis 10 (0) Cha 16 (+3)

Racial Power: lethal

Talents: flurry, phoenix-touched, spinning willow style

Feats: toughness

Ki: 4

Ki Powers: a thousand palms, imperial phoenix flare, the willow bends

Attack Forms: dutiful guardian (one must be free, wind horse shakes mane, temple lion stands true), way of the metallic dragon (bronze thwarts an army, silver warrior advances, general slays the hordes)

 

2nd level

New feat (flurry), ki (5), ki powers (a thousand palms, imperial phoenix flare, the willow bends), attack forms (dutiful guardian (one must be free, wind horse shakes mane, temple lion stands true), way of the metallic dragon (bronze thwarts an army, silver warrior advances, general slays the hordes)).

 

3rd level

New feat (phoenix-touched), ki (5), ki powers (a thousand palms, imperial phoenix flare, the willow bends), attack forms (dutiful guardian (one must be free, wind horse shakes mane, temple lion stands true), way of the metallic dragon (bronze thwarts an army, silver warrior advances, general slays the hordes), dance of the mantis (springing mantis strike, the pincer whirls shut, precise mantis kick)).

 

4th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Charisma), new feat (spinning willow style), ki (5), ki powers (a thousand palms, imperial phoenix flare, the willow bends), attack forms (dutiful guardian (one must be free, wind horse shakes mane, temple lion stands true), way of the metallic dragon (bronze thwarts an army, silver warrior advances, general slays the hordes), dance of the mantis (springing mantis strike, the pincer whirls shut, precise mantis kick)).

 

5th level

New feat (flurry), ki (6), ki powers (a thousand palms, imperial phoenix flare, the willow bends), attack forms (dutiful guardian (one must be free, wind horse shakes mane, temple lion stands true), way of the metallic dragon (bronze thwarts an army, silver warrior advances, general slays the hordes), dance of the mantis (springing mantis strike, the pincer whirls shut, precise mantis kick), iron crusader form (no retreat, no mercy, no weakness)).

 

6th level

New feat (phoenix-touched), new talent (path of the perfect warrior), ki (6), ki powers (a thousand palms, imperial phoenix flare, the willow bends, perfect breath), attack forms (dutiful guardian (one must be free, wind horse shakes mane, temple lion stands true), way of the metallic dragon (bronze thwarts an army, silver warrior advances, general slays the hordes), dance of the mantis (springing mantis strike, the pincer whirls shut, precise mantis kick), iron crusader form (no retreat, no mercy, no weakness)).

 

7th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Charisma), new feat (spinning willow style), ki (7), ki powers (a thousand palms, imperial phoenix flare, the willow bends, perfect breath), attack forms (dutiful guardian (one must be free, wind horse shakes mane, temple lion stands true), way of the metallic dragon (bronze thwarts an army, silver warrior advances, general slays the hordes), iron crusader form (no retreat, no mercy, no weakness), tiger in storm (stalking tiger, tiger follows blood, striped lightning roars)).

 

8th level

New feat (flurry), ki (7), ki powers (a thousand palms, imperial phoenix flare, the willow bends, perfect breath), attack forms (dutiful guardian (one must be free, wind horse shakes mane, temple lion stands true), way of the metallic dragon (bronze thwarts an army, silver warrior advances, general slays the hordes), iron crusader form (no retreat, no mercy, no weakness), tiger in storm (stalking tiger, tiger follows blood, striped lightning roars), death’s quivering shadow (invoke the name, stunning fist, ghostwalk of the fallen king)).

 

9th level

New feat (phoenix-touched), new talent (champion of three worlds), ki (7), ki powers (a thousand palms, imperial phoenix flare, the willow bends, perfect breath), attack forms (dutiful guardian (one must be free, wind horse shakes mane, temple lion stands true), way of the metallic dragon (bronze thwarts an army, silver warrior advances, general slays the hordes), iron crusader form (no retreat, no mercy, no weakness), tiger in storm (stalking tiger, tiger follows blood, striped lightning roars), death’s quivering shadow (invoke the name, stunning fist, ghostwalk of the fallen king)).

 

10th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Charisma), new feat (spinning willow style), ki (7), ki powers (a thousand palms, imperial phoenix flare, the willow bends, perfect breath), attack forms (dutiful guardian (one must be free, wind horse shakes mane, temple lion stands true), way of the metallic dragon (bronze thwarts an army, silver warrior advances, general slays the hordes), iron crusader form (no retreat, no mercy, no weakness), tiger in storm (stalking tiger, tiger follows blood, striped lightning roars), death’s quivering shadow (invoke the name, stunning fist, ghostwalk of the fallen king), flagrant blossoms (the petals open, fist shows the path to wisdom, lotus dreams the world)).

Categories: Company News

Ken and Robin Live from Gen Con 2017

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 13:46

Climb into your time machines and set the dial to Indianapolis. It’s Ken and Robin Live from Gen Con 2017!

Categories: Company News

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