Cat Tobin is off back to Ireland in a few days, so in the meantime we’ve been planning how Pelgrane Press will level-up under its new management, with improved marketing, better organised play and (my favourite) spending more time playing games and attending conventions. Mark Fulford of sister company ProFantasy Software has been working on the back end Pelgrane Press store and John Clayton is looking at the website, which is currently creaking under the weight of its content. Expect to see visible change in May.
This month, the vast weight of The Eyes of the Stone Thief has been flattening doormats everywhere, 13th Age Monthly offers a bizarre collection of magic items, the surrealist Dreamhounds of Paris and Book of Ants are available as PDFs, and Ken Writes About Stuff begins its third year.
Trail of Cthulhu
Ken Writes About Stuff Volumes 2 and 3: To date, Kenneth Hite has created 24 supplements, one a month, covering the nazi occult, hideous Mythos creatures and new GUMSHOE rules and settings. These supplements are now collected in Ken Writes About Stuff volumes One and Two. This year completes its run with Tombhounds of Egypt – everything you need to run a pulp archaeology campaign set in the 1930s.
This month sees the release of volume 3, which kicks off with the poisonous Tcho-tcho. We’ve sent subscribers a voucher to renew your subscription – visit Customer Service if you haven’t had yours.
Eternal Lies: Eternal Lies now has an alternative ending for Keepers to spring on blasé players who have been peeking between the covers. Download the new ending from your order page. Read more here.
Dreamhounds of Paris and the Book of the Ants: It seems appropriate that Dreamhounds and the Book of Ants are being released in the ephemeral form of PDFs – there is a TimeWatch adventure somewhere in transporting the surrealists to the modern age to see what they’d do with the internet.
If you are still undecided by the release of the more modestly priced elestronic version, consider this review:
“…this is a fascinating, challenging campaign that pays homage to Lovecraft’s ‘canon’ Dreamlands, but, since it simultaneously upends and mutates them, might be just as well suited to people who *hate* the Dreamlands (shame on you). If I had one wish, I could have used more of everything…”
I had the pleasure of playing in the first vignette of The Poison Tree – On a Wild and Savage Hillside – written and run by Scott Dorward at the ConcreteCow convention. It opens with a birth, and features an extended family of Welsh farmers. It follows Matthew Sanderson’s model of creating a set of pregenerated characters with strong reasons to interact – this takes a lot of work from the Keeper and encourages great roleplaying. Scott introduces a particularly nasty GUMSHOE variation for this vignette, a roll of a one is always a fail, which suits the setting very well.
New Trail adventures from Bill White and Ruth Tillman are in playtest, and Paula and Steve Dempsey are working on Fearful Symmetries.
The Eyes of The Stone Thief, our great white whale of of a dungeon, is out now. It’s generated excitement and confusion as you can see over on this rpg.net thread. “…I am leaning much harder to the side of “its gonna be AMAZING!” than the “… wow, what were they smoking when they thought that up…?””
This last tweet reveals that a few pages of the Stone Thief were laid out in a different style to the rest, and as Easter is nearly upon us, I’ll let you in the background to that, as its caused confusion particularly amongst younger gamers.
I ran my first ever game using B1, the introductory D&D adventure, when it was released, and I have great affection for the old TSR modules. In more recent years, Wizards released a Tomb of Horrors box set with a replica of the original in it, which sowed a seed. (Tomb of Horrors was also the inspiration for another Pelgrane release, but I don’t want to be direct about that.) Also, in my youth, the UK had a substantial games industry focused on D&D which produced quirky and very British supplements, including Fiend Folio, with illustrations by Russ Nicholson. So I wanted the very oldest section of the dungeon – one much older even than the Stone Thief itself – recreated in this original style. We bought the font, and Chris Huth pulled out the stops to give the old-school impression – not exactly a facsimile, but how we remembered it. To have Russ illustrate it with a full-page monochrome piece of the Stone Thief was spectacular.
If I’d had my way completely, we’d have had a blue dungeon map, hand-out illustrations, scribbled out hit points and TPK in the margin.
Night’s Black Agents – The Dracula Dossier
In the spy/vampire world no news is good news, but we realise tradecraft sometimes has to stand aside for intel.
First, it’s not too late to jump aboard the steamship to Draculatown. You can see the list of available pledge levels and add-ons here. New backers can still pledge at any available level, and get add-ons via paypal. Email us with details of the pledge you want, an we’ll let you know what to do.
There is a full update for backers here.
Cat’s managed our most ambitious project to date with stern efficiency tempared with kindness. We are still on target, but targets can slip for projects as complex as this.
Ken and Gareth are doing little but immerse themselves in Stoker’s manuscript to create the agents’ annotations, which will then lead to changes in the original novel. We are trying to work out the best way to lay out Dracula Unreactied – it’s a tough decision, balancing utility with authenticity.
We’ve had first drafts of adventure stretch goals: Blood Coda from Ruth Tillman, John Adamus’ Slayer Elite, Moldavian Candidate from Emma Marlow and Stoker First Blood by Bill White. Dean of Cthulhu Reborn website has been creating excellent facsimile documents for the Hakwins Papers stretch goal.
James Semple has written and delivered the music for each Edom era. I’ve enjoyed listening the original music for the Cabinet of Dr Caligari, Stockhausen and the evocative tones of the cimbalom. We’ve stretched the budget with some live violin for the 1890 theme, and all four provide a stirring bookend for any DD game.
TimeWatch has dropped behind its projected schedule. I am sorry about this. I don’t have a clear estimate of the release date, but we’ll provide one when we have better information. Writer and TimeWatch creator Kevin Kulp is making solid progress, though, with what is a much bigger manuscript than we originally imagined. Word count on the core rules stands at 121,210 words. Third-party contributors to the main rules have delivered their first drafts, including Chris Lackey’s Mythos tie-in and Jeff Yaus’ adventure hooks. Behind Enemy Times has a solid outline for writers to fill, and most of the Book of Changing Years individual contributions are in. More on this when we have it.
As December approaches our thoughts turn to the Dragonmeet convention here in London and the gathering of the Pelgranistas. We will be discussing next year’s releases, International PelgraneCon 2015 and celebrating the outcome of the Dracula Dossier Kickstarter. Money will change hands—whose hands give and take depend on the outcome. There will be tears, laughter, drunkeness and stupor, and that’s just Ken. Rob Heinsoo will be running the legendary Friday night game – thie time allegedly a mash up of Feng Shui and Day After Ragnarok.
This month sees the release of Eyes of the Stone Thief for 13th Age in glorious full colour and PDF releasees of Mythos Expeditions for Trail of Cthulhu, The Gaean Reach and The Gaean Reach Gazetteer together with the latest Ken Writes About Stuff. Hideous Creatures: Byakhee.
Night’s Black Agents
The Dracula Dossier Kickstarter, as of the writing, sits at £60K, with a host of stretch goals still left. Thank you backers! I’ve seen others (including Dracula Unredacted in colour, Trail and Eso tie-ins and others I am not permitted to mention) which I’d love to see, but I do not know if we’ll get there. But that’s the excitement of Kickstarter!
But the 13th Age has not been forgotten – on the contrary – welcome to Eyes of the Stone Thief! Welcome to the vastest colour book we have ever done. Delve deep into the Living Dungeon, come back to the surface barely alive and delve again, until you or your indomitable foe sucks in their last breath.
- Three issues of the 13th Age Subscription have been approved by Rob Heinsoo for layout.
- Cal Moore has delivered a polished first draft of Battle Scenes – a huge collection of loosely linked adventures and encounters to plug into your 13th Age game. We’ll set the scene, you add the story. It’s available for playtesting here. I’ve played it myself.
- James Semple’s amazing music for 13th Age has been mastered, and there will be a world premiere video in the Pelgrane seminar at Dragonmeet.
- Gareth has began work on Demonology, which includes a new class of his devising.
Trail of Cthulhu
- Until the physical releases, Dreamhounds of Paris, a campaign of the Parisian surrealists’ adventures in the Dreamlands, and its diaristic companion volume The Book of Ants, are available as a bundle – a choice almost every purchaser to date has quite sensibly made.
- Explore the globe and go mad with Mythos Expeditions – now available as a PDF.
- Gareth Hanrahan has delivered the extra material for the Cthulhu Apocalypse print collection – existing purchasers of the PDFs will get a discount. I expect to see it out in February.
Esoterrorists and Fear Itself
- It’s the Esoterrorists turn to get a campaign, with the first draft of the horrifying Worldbreaker ready for playetesting. It’s not for the fainthearted or coulrophobics.
- We play tested Matthew Sanderson’s follow up to Seventh Circle for Fear Itself at IndieCon, featuring his usual highly developed characters, props and solid research. I’m looking forward to the manuscript.
Our best intentions lay in ruins as we scramble, once again, to get all the books out for GenCon Indy. But our pain is your unalloyed pleasure, as we provide you with a slew of preorders and new releases for 13th Age, Trail and others. In addition, we have been nominated for a host of ENnie awards. Hideous Creatures: Serpent Folk is out now, and KWAS subscribers get Xeno-Archeology.
The ENnie Awards are an annual celebration of RPGs. Pelgrane has been nominated for a record 15 in all – and we would really appreciate you considering us in your rankings. Eternal Lies, 13th Age, Hillfolk Pelgrane Press, music and Owl Hoot Trail have all been nominated – a full list is here, along with a sampler.
The voting booth is here. You can rank as many or as few products as you like. Search for “Pelgrane” on the voting page to find all the noms.
ENnie awards mean so much more to publishers and creators than they do to customers. The recognition by carefully selected judges in the form of nominations against such a strong field is gratifying, and there are few greater pleasures than seeing shiney-faced writers and artists clutching their well deserved awards in their clammy hands. However, the journey from critical recogntion is tough, because it is a popularity contest, and this year the competition is partcularly strong – the armies of FATE and Numenara compete with Hillfolk and 13th Age, for example. We are honoured to be in their company.
Skip this if you aren’t going to GenCon.
This will be our biggest GenCon ever in terms of events, with more than 80 games booked in and more to follow, a big 13th Age announcement, seminars and at least nine new releases. Gareth Hanrahan and Steve Dempsey have written convention adventures and we’ll have a constellation of guests including Robin D Laws, Ken Hite, Gareth Hanrahan and Rob Heinsoo.
We are emailing all Shadows and Book of Loot pre-orderers to offer GenCon collection.
Scheduled Games and Games on Demand
You can see a list of scheduled games and seminars at GenCon here. New ones are being added all the time, but they fill up quickly.
If you are a GM it would be great if you could sign up for Games on Demand – a fantastic and growing initiative which allows people to sample a wide variety of RPGs for the first time. If you want to run Pelgrane games, then you can contact us to get convention scenarios for GUMSHOE, or ASH LAW for 13th Age games. Games on Demand encourage diversity (both in games and people), so it’s best if you are able to run a variety of games – if you only submit one game system you are liable to be rejected. If you are accepted, please let us know.
Printer willing, 13 True Ways will be shipping out in early August. All US Kickstarter backer books and pre-orderers will be shipped before GenCon and we think most of them will arrive before GenCon. Kickstarter Backers and pre-orderers will be given the chance to collect at GenCon. Kickstarter backers will hear through the Kickstarter interface, preorderers will get an email.
Rest of the World backers and pre-orderers will be shipped across the Atlantic to be on shipped from the UK. To make up for the fact that some GenCon attendees will get copies before Rest of World backers, Rob Heinsoo is putting a little something exclusive together for Kickstarter.
I thought you might also like to see the cover for the forthcoming The Eyes of the Stone Thief by Ben Wootten.
The Gaean Reach
The Gaean Reach and Gaean Reach Gazeteer are set in Jack Vance’s sprawling, idiosyncractic SF milieu, and feature Vengeance In Space!
It feels like the Gaean Reach has been travelling at sublight speeds across interstellar distances, but it has finally arrived. Both books are available on pre-order.
Trail of Cthulhu and Fear Itself
Dulce et Decorum Est, adventures set in the Great War is out now and Soldiers of Pen and Ink and Mythos Expeditions will be on sale next month.
Dreamhounds is in art direction.
Seventh Circle, Matthew Sanderson’s creepy haunted house adventure for Fear Itself will on pre-order next month. It’s compatible with Trail of Cthulhu, too.
Esoterrorists, Ashen Stars and Night’s Black Agents
- Robin Laws has started work on Worldbreaker, a globe-trotting set of linked Esoterrorists adventures. It has a very gruesome and disturbing prologue and gets worse from there.
- Accretion Disk for Ashen Starts is being illustrated.
- Ken and Gar are working on Dracula Dossier and Unredacted Dracula for Night’s Black Agents for a Kickstarter later in the year. Ken discusses it here.
- John Adamus has submitted a Night’s Black Agents adventure, The Dubai Reckoning for playtesting.
- Steve Dempsey and Gareth Hanrahan have written convention adventures for all our GUMSHOE settings.
This will be a short Pelgrane’s Nest – the fledgings are demanding fresh freelancer flesh (say that three times quickly!).
The 13th Age work flow is now established, with the Bestiary printed, 13 True Ways on preorder, and two others in layout. Ken Hite has written much more than we expected for his latest KWAS Voodoo 2 and done the same with Hideous Creatures: Serpent Folk, so the subcription becomes even better value. The collection of Ken’s first 13 KWAS issues is available as a single download from the store.
More Content for Pelgrane Press – Project Shakespeare Monkeys
With magical PR chap Wade Rockett’s help, we’ve devised a social media calendar. We’ve been sticking to this schedule for a solid month now and it’s going well – from your perspective, is simply means regular articles from Robin, Ken, Gareth and the Fire Opalites which we then wrap up into Page XX for our monthly visitors. In particular, it means extra snippets of content from Robin to spice up your games, including the lines of ours which need more love such as Mutant City Blues and The Dying Earth.
The 13 True Ways print version is available for preorder – get the PDF download now. Kickstarter backers have their PDF already, and we’ll get you an update on the other Kickstarter goodies soon. I am particularly excited about the six new classes, and can’t wait to play the Occulist – unique in that if you play it – you are actually the only one in the entire world. I’ve scratched together some pages to create a sampler you can download here.
The 13th Age Bestiary is en route to our shipping points – those lucky Fire Opalites already have their copies. We’ve sent out the address change request to Bestiary customers, and I hope the Bestiaries will be shipping on Friday. Limited editions won’t be out for a while.
Chris Huth has moved from 13 True Ways layout to Shadows of Eldolan, and then The Book of Loot (you can see a sample of Loot here). We hope to have both of these at GenCon.
The Eyes of the Stone Thief is progressing – here is a sample of Herwin Wielink’s cartography.
Trail of Cthulhu
Soldiers of Pen and Ink now has cover art in the style of Spanish Civil War posters. It will be a 72-page mini-campaign available in print format.
Dulce et Decorum Est, our Great War collection has been printed and will ship to pre-orderers at the end of July.
Mythos Expeditions has been copy edited, and is waiting on layout.. Here is a double-page spread.
Ken Writes About Stuff Subscription
Ken has been rather over-excited in the past two or three months and has written much more more than he was supposed to for Voodoo 1, Voodoo 2 and Serpent Folk – the lastest releases of KWAS. For this reason, we have increased the cost of those individual episodes. However, the cost of the subscription will remain the same, at least for now – so it’s exceptional value. The more subscribers we have, the more all subscribers benefit with extra content at no extra charge – it’s like a Kickstarter in that respect. This month, subscribers are getting both Voodoo 2 and Hideous Creatures: Serpent Folk on their order links so that they will now have a month in hand.
For those of you who missed out, the first year’s subscription is available as a single volume from the store.
Gar has mainly been working with Rob on polishing up The Book of Loot; he’s also produced a list of suggestions for Fear Itself 2nd Edition which will change it so it better suits the specific genres for which it is designed, with campaign frames for different styles of horror game.
The Gaean Reach and The Gaean Reach Gazetteer have been printed and will ship to pre-orderers at the end of July.
Better Know a Freelancer – Robin D Laws
Robin D Laws wrote The Dying Earth, the GUMSHOE system, the Gaean Reach and DramaSystem. He created The Birds comic strip writes fiction and critical analyis and has access to Canadian ice wine.
Robin D Laws. Say that name, savour it, then read on. Don’t say it three times while looking in a mirror though, unless you want a mildly irritated Canadian in your bathroom. (This also works for Rob Ford, but you have to use a horizontal mirror lined with white powder). Robin D Laws is a game design powerhouse. To use a coding reference, if Ken writes source code for GUMSHOE, then Robin wrote the GUMSHOE compiler – he’s that badass. He annoys a few people with his game design innovations, and “transforms the way I game” with a bunch of others. Eventually though, it’s like “I was doing that stuff all along.”
Who, though, is the fool? The game designer who annoys people, or the publisher who pays him to annoy them? (This probably sounds better in Latin).
Aside from the quality of his work, my experience working with him on The Dying Earth gave me falsely high expectations of professionalism in the industry. Well, thank you for that. As a Canadian, he is ideally suited to his role of official translator between American English and English.
We didn’t quite burn him out with Hillfolk, but he needed some time to refersh with other projects and publishers, though he still produced a 13th Age adventure and monthly Page XX columns for us. He did all of this whilst knocking out a second edition of Feng Shui with all the latest gaming technology and produces half of a droll and award-winning podcast Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff, which is released on time with terrifying efficiency – all the more extraordinary considering his co-host.
Now Robin D Laws, with his “Robin’s Laws of Gaming” hat on has written Getting Started with Tabletop Roleplaying Games. Read a sample here. He is knee deep in the outer black at work on his Esoterrorists campaign which will be shattering your brain towards the end of the year. As I mentioned above you may also have also have noticed more articles on our website by Robin D Laws – each one a polished stone of inspiration your GUMSHOE games.
“Robin D Laws, Robin D Laws, Robin D Laws. Ah, there you are. You have my ice wine, I hope?”
The holiday season is sneaking up on us, and I picture our US readers slumping on the sofa (couch?) almost immobile; easy pickings for a hungry pelgrane. So, what new releases might consume you? We launch Dust and Mirrors, the Night’s Black Agents sound track album; the long-awaitied Esoterror Summoning, which is as dangerous as it sounds; the DramaSystem Pitch of the Month and the latest version of GUMSHOE Esoterrorists 2.0 in PDF form.
Here in the Pelgrane office we are making preparations for Dragonmeet and the arrival in London of the largest gathering of Pelgranistas current and honourary ever seen together. Robin Laws and Ken Hite, Rob Heinsoo, Gareth Hanrahan, Cat Tobin, and Ralf Schemmann, Paula and Steve Dempsey will all descend on the nest for feasting and mockery, and at Dragonmeet James Semple, Beth Lewis, Scott Dorward and Sasha Bilton will be joining us.
Poor old Cat is wearing an additional hat – that of Dragonmeet organiser – so I am keeping my squawking to a minimum so as not to disturb her.
The Bestiary is in layout, we have samples of The Naga over on ENWorld, and that old stalwart the Orc remade for 13th Age. I am very please with how the Bestiary has turned out, and we’d love to hear how your players have dealt with these clever, fearsome and quirky adversaries.
You have until the 6th December to get the Hatchling edition of the Bestiary – after that, it’s straightforward pre-order only.
The Monk and the Commander classes from 13 True Ways are available for playtest and download from your Bestiary and 13th Age RPG order pages.
The Eyes of the Stone Thief, our living dungeon supplement is now 100,000 words in, and is full of inventiveness. We’ll put out a request for some playtesting next month.
The latest version of GUMSHOE is included in Esoterrorists 2.0, out now in ebook form. As well as advice on running GUMSHOE and creating adventures, it includes an entire new scenario, and additional creature of horror. To top it all Gareth Hanrahan adds a small-town horror which combines crack OV operatives with local PCs in Station Duty. Take a look at this Eso 2.0 Sampler.
Gareth Hanrahan’s Esoterror Summoning Guide is out now.
Esoterrorists now has a Russian version by Studio 101 to join the many others It’s the latest version, and they’ve used this attractive format:
Night’s Black Agents
- James Semple and his team have created an entire sound track album Dust and Mirrors, to add atmosphere to your games. It lives up to the cinematic quality of James’ previous work for Ashen Stars and Esoterrorists. But hearing is believing.
- We’ve added a sampler for the music and The Double Tap Expansion book to Night’s Black Agents order download pages.
- Kenneth Hite is continuing to work on the Dracula Dossier frame ready for Gareth to get into the meat of it. I’m pretty certain we’ll be Kickstarting this along side Dracula Unredacted. There are so many opportunities for spy-themed goodies in rewards, as well as a limited edition Dracula Unredacted in a fascimile cover.
- Night’s Black Agents has really taken off in France, and 7eme cercle are creating a GM’s screen for it, and we will produce a British version.
With The Day of the Doctor behind us, what better time to discuss Master Game Master Kevin Kulp’s take on GUMSHOE, the TimeWatch RPG? It is nearing a Kickstarter; it features GUMSHOE innovations such as a token-based refresh economy and Chronal Stabilty to avoid paradox.
Ralf Schemmann, ProFantasy Master Mapper has been working on some sweet deckplans for the forthcoming Ashen Stars supplement – Accretion Disk. Here is the second:
The New World
New World, Bill White’s Narrative RPG of Freewheeling Mash-Up History has had another draft and is ready for more playtesting. The game now requires a native culture, a newcomer culture, and an outsider culture – which is more generalised than the original conception. The newcomers, for example, no longer need to be colonists, they could be migrants or even slaves.
It seems Kickstarter is the way of things, and this game positively demands a custom deck of cards and perhaps a dry-erase board. So we will probably do that.
Trail of Cthulhu
- I sensed an absence of frozen tundra in our Mythos Expeditions supplement, so the adorable Jeff Tidball (Eternal Lies) has stepped up and produced an sombre expedition Greenland which is in need of playtesting.
- The Book of the New Jerusalem (Paula Dempsey’s follow up to Occult Guide) has been delayed a little, but Steve Dempsey’s companion book of warring occult factions has now been playtested.
- Benoît Felten has been working on art for Dreamhounds of Paris
- We have a cover for Adam Guantletts’s Dulce e Decorum Est, a collection featuring adventures set in the Great War, and it’s awaiting layout and art.
- Cthulhu Apocalypse: Slaves of the Mother is being illustrated – we hope it will be out in February. Here is the cover. Can you recognise the location?
Gaean Reach is with Chris Huth, and in a reverse of our usual practice has been laid out before illustration, with Chris Huth, Rachel Kahn (DramaSystem) and Hilary Wade (Dying Earth. Skulduggery) creating the art. We hope to have it on pre-order in December.
DramaSystem and Hillfolk
This Page XX sees the first of the Series Pitch of the Month (the High Fantasy No Crowns by Sean Patrick Fannon on general release to which anyone can subscribe. The final pre-orders will go out next week, then Hillfolk and Blood on the Snow will be released.
We’ve emailed vouchers for your Series Pitch of the Month subscription. If not, email support.
Most of the rewards have gone out now, and most pre-orders and we are working on the ultra-limited editions hand-sewn covers. Wallpapers are still outstanding and we’ll get those out next month.
Thank you so much for making DramaSystem what it has become – way more than we expected.