Here is a pot pourri of previews from current projects.
The Book of Loot
Gareth’s tome of magical treasures with a 13th Age spin. Somewhere there is a forum where all these magic items are posting their opinionated diatribes and whining about their owners.
I once knew this barbarian. Eight feet tall he was, and nearly as broad across the shoulders, eyes like smoldering coals. He comes out of the north, as barbarians do, and does all the things you’d expect a barbarian of that sort to do. He loots dungeons, slays monsters, sacks cities, seduces princes. The Emperor gives him a castle to keep him quiet, and a noble title to go with it. So, now that he’s a respectable noble, our barbarian goes and gets himself a suit of magic plate armor, and a magic shield to go with it.
The shield-maker asks him what the heraldic symbol of his house is, and the barbarian doesn’t know. He thinks about it, and picks the most impressive beast he’s ever seen.
KORU! he says, in this deep booming voice like an earthquake.
So the shield-maker paints a behemoth on the magic shield.
Next time a demon shows up, the barbarian girds his loins, and the rest of him too, and rides out to meet it in battle. He invokes the power of his shield and calls on his heraldic spirit…
You can still see the crater. It’s in the shape of a behemoth footprint. Squished him and the demon flat as two pancakes.
That’s why, if they ever make me a baron, I’m going to rule under the sigil of something small and very safe. I’m thinking goldfish. You?
- Stormcrow Jacen, “Merchant”
Glorious Gladiator’s Blade (standard action – recharge 16+): This weapon is a trophy of the arenas of Axis, handed down from champion to champion. To activate it, the escalation die must be 3+ and you must spend a round showboating for the crowd (even if you don’t have an audience.) While showboating, you may not attack and take a -2 penalty to all Defenses. Furthermore, the other players (and anyone else in the room) must chant your character’s name.
The first attack you make in the round after showboating is enhanced by the sword – you may double the to-hit bonus from the escalation die, and add the value of the escalation die to your crit range. So, if the escalation die is 4, you get a +8 bonus to hit and have your crit range increased by +4. Quirk: Craves the adulation of the crowd.
The Eyes of the Stone Thief
Amazing cartography from Herwin Wielink for Gareth’s epic 13th Age campaign.
“…the Maw is a churning pit of stones that swallows whole buildings. Any adventurer taking the quick route through the Maw by jumping into the pit is unlikely to survive. The safer route is to enter the warren of caves and small chambers that wind around the pit. The Maw is infamously treacherous and unstable. Earthquakes, cave-ins and rockfalls can cut an expedition off before they reach the dungeon itself. Most of the Maw’s denizens are scavengers, parasites and sewer monsters who ride along in the Stone Thief’s jaws, hoping to catch some scraps for themselves.”
Getting Started With Tabletop Roleplaying Games
An excerpt from a new book by Robin D Laws.
Roleplaying games more resemble movies or fiction in that different audience members gain different subjective pleasures from them. You might like a movie for its performances and pacing, where friend A liked all the references to an established continuity, and friend B wants to rave about its themes and nods to cinema history. You maybe responded to all of those elements as well, but you wouldn’t rank them as more noteworthy than the ones you singled out.
In a roleplaying game, you are creating the experience just as much as you are enjoying it. Your preferences come through in the choices you make.
Let’s call these the various facets of roleplaying.
Every player gravitates more to certain of these than to others. On any given evening, you might emphasize one cool sliver of the roleplaying experience over others. One session you might dig into a sense of triumph over the bad guys, and the next the exploration of the imaginary world. But overall, as the other players and GM get used to having you at the table, they’ll start to see that you care about some facets more than others. These might change over time as you grow more familiar with the hobby, or become clearer versions of what you liked from the very first.
By noting the facets of play that you respond to, your GM can tailor what she presents you with to bring these to the forefront.
Ken Hite’s Introduction to the forthcoming Russian version of Trail of Cthulhu
About This Game
Trail of Cthulhu is a roleplaying game using the GUMSHOE engine, in which you investigate and explore occult mysteries in the horrific world of H.P. Lovecraft. With the GUMSHOE engine, you never fail to uncover a clue; you always move forward deeper into the story. In Lovecraft’s world, all the clues you uncover point to mankind’s inevitable destruction and the story you enter is a tale of madness and horror.
GUMSHOE divides your abilities into two groups: Investigative abilities and General abilities. Your Investigative abilities never fail. You never roll the dice for them. Just like the heroes of mystery fiction and procedural TV series, if you have the right ability and the clue exists, you will find enough information to move into the next scene and look for the next clue. Discovering what the clues mean, however, recognizing the hideous portrait they slowly paint – that’s still up to you. You can spend Investigative points to get even more information: some new data will add color or background details to the portrait, some extra clues will get you to the horror faster or more confidently – and some of each might save your life.
Whether or not you deduce what cosmic horror or human insanity lies behind the mystery, you will find it – and it will find you. That’s when your General abilities come into play. You can spend points from them to boost your die rolls – if you have enough, you can even guarantee success! But make sure you really need it that time, because your General ability pools won’t last forever, down there in the dark.
Who Is My Character?
Your character is an Investigator of occult mysteries, a seeker after horror in the dark decade of the 1930s. You might be:
- A professor uncovering ancient secrets — at the obscure Miskatonic University in Massachusetts, or the prestigious Moscow State University.
- A journalist looking behind the story – for Time or for TASS.
- A police detective solving horrific crimes – for the Chicago Police or the Leningrad Militsiya.
- A painter or author dreaming of inhuman worlds – in Paris or Sokol.
- An archaeologist digging up primordial ruins – in Yucatan or the Ukraine.
- A parapsychologist exploring things nobody believes – for the Society for Psychical Research in London, or the Institute for Brain Research in Leningrad.
- A doctor tracking unseen dangers – in Florida or in Georgia.
- A scientist exploring the fringes of understanding – in Los Angeles or Novosibirsk.
What Do We Do?
Whoever your character is, you have stumbled onto the fringes of a horrible truth: the Cthulhu Mythos. The world is older than humanity, and we are not the first species to explore it. Those ancient species are not all dead, and those who will come after are beginning to arrive.
Above them all loom the figures of mighty beings whose very existence violate natural law and threaten to overwhelm our understanding of science. These are the beings whispered of in forbidden grimoires and desolate swamps: Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep, Azathoth, Shub-Niggurath. They might as well be gods, and there are living cults who worship Them as such, and try to restore Their reign now, when the stars have almost come right.
You and your fellow Investigators discover traces of Mythos activity in your own lives or the lives of your associates. You track down rumors of Mythos manifestations in newspapers and antiquarian journals. You might:
- Investigate a haunted house once owned by a possible cultist.
- Try to find the last copy of a forbidden grimoire before it can be used to summon one of the Old Ones.
- Fight it out with a race of horrifying alien beings lurking beneath an innocent town.
- Be drawn into a film that drives its viewers insane, and try to trace its unknown director.
- Battle a globe-spanning cult by picking up tiny clues to its activities all over the world.
Wherever the clues lead, you seek out those monstrous beings and their cults and you try to stop them in time. You may travel to strange far places or dig deep into the mysteries of your own home city: the Mythos is everywhere.
You’ve heard its call, and now you must follow its Trail or see the world end in madness and frenzy.