View from the Pelgrane’s Nest – February 2011

Another missive so soon? Yes. The stately aerial progress of Pelgrane Press is now a purposeful flapping of leather wings, thanks to Beth who has been diligent in her efforts to accelerate production. Already, since September, we have released the Eternal Lies Suite, Graham’s Purist limited editions, The Dance in the Blood, and Not So Quiet, the Bookhounds of London pre-order and the new posters. Compared with my leisurely part time-effort in the first eight months of the year, this is outstanding. I was a little concerned about market saturation, but it seems that, just like pelgrane spawn, you have healthy appetite for GUMSHOE goodness. And Skulduggery.

So, this month, we’ve released a new Trail of Cthulhu adventure by Castle Bravo author Bill White – The Big Hoodoo and the first of Gareth Hanrahan’s regular freelance work,  Black Smoke and Pacific’s Six – two new settings for Skulduggery available from our webstore.

Trail of Cthulhu

The Big Hoodoo


This month sees the release of Bill White’s Lovecraft Noir PDF-only adventure The Big Hoodoo. The Big Hoodoo is Lovecraftian noir in 1950s California with a ripped-from-history plot centered on the explosive death of real-world rocket scientist, science fiction fan, and occultist Jack Parsons in a garage laboratory in 1952. It features Philip K Dick and Robert and Ginny Heinlen as PCs.

Bill says over on Story-Games:

It is good, I think. Now, to be sure, it is expansively rococo, with neither the simple yet erudite brutality of The Black Drop nor the ineffable and elegant menace of The Dance in the Blood, but it has its own louche charms, including an almost histrionic focus on character drama and a background rife with Cold War-era paranoia and secret society shenanigans–plus explosions, rockets, and black magic. God, I love it.

It’s our largest PDF adventure to date, and is thoroughly playtested by both the author and a slew of volunteers, chockabloc with handouts, and illustrated by Jérome.

Bookhounds of London

Bookhounds is now in production. It’s going to be casebound, and monochrome, but with 32 full-colour maps compiled from contemporary sources, with additional locations noted of interest to the PCs. It’s on pre0rder, with the fully linked and indexed PDF available now and the book on release. Even the map index is linked to the appropriate map page.Those people who have already pre-ordered should download this latest PDF from the website.

The Bookhounds Limited Edition will be leather bound, stamped and embossed include a fragment of a map of London with arcane markings, some props, something from the period, and a hardback limited copy of The Occult Guide to London. Pre-orderers will be offered first choice with the chance to upgrade while there is availability.

See some sample pages, including a map, here.

The Occult Guide

The Occult Guide is now laid out, awaiting a cover. Each location is indexed to map. The Occult Guide, as well as being an in-game resource for any Cthulhu game set in London in the 30s, is also a murder mystery.  The Guide contains clues to the mysterious death of the author, Augustus Darcy. We do not have a fixed murderer or cause of death in mind, but the best entry will receive an extraordinary prize. More on this competition nearer the release date.

You can see some sample pages of the Occult Guide here.

Other Trail Releases

The Rending Box, Graham’s final Purist Adventure is in layout for release in May.

Jason Morningstar, author of The Black Drop,  is working on Pershing, a Trail of Cthulhu adventure set in northern Mexico in 1928. It’s now in playtest.

We are now receiving reports for the first round of playtesting for Eternal Lies; click here if you are interested in participating in further Eternal Lies playtesting.

Skulduggery and The Dying Earth

Pacifics Six CoverWe’ve released two new game packs for Skulduggery Black Smoke (cardinals compete to be Pope) and Pacific’s Six (the big heist, but who gets the stash?) These are available for a modest price from our webstore. Next up is The Wedding, awaiting layout and illustration.

We’ll be relaunching the Dying Earth again next month starting with an adventure from the estimable Ian Thomson called The Mountains of Magnatz, which continues his series.

Robin Laws is working on the Dying Earth Revivification Folio – which, cunningly, has multiple purposes. First is to offer new streamlined rules to Dying Earth players, introduces magic rules for Skulduggery players, and finally, provides a less intimidating way of getting players started in the Dying Earth using the quick set up and lite Skulduggery rules. I played in Robin’s playtest of the adventure in the DERF and it was truly marvellous. This will be released in June 2011.

Jim Webster is working on The Excellent Prismatic Spray 9, which will include Gaean Reach content as well as new Dying Earth material. I am unsure whether Skulduggery settings should be included.

Ashen Stars

cyborggunThe second round of Ashen Stars playtesting is complete, I’ve had the final draft and it’s ready for lay out. The adventure supplement, Dead Rock Seven, is in final draft, and we’ll release it the same time as Ashen Stars. Illustrations are trickling in, and I am intending to print this, our largest and most ambitious book to date, in full colour. This is a large risk, while I will mitigate by offering a pre-pre-order in March. This will enable you to get the game text now, in its rough form, as well as some exclusive content, then the complete laid out PDF and finally the casebound-book when it’s released. We need to presell about 250 copies to cover our print run, but I think that’s possible. We’ll also offer a limited edition option, too.

You can see more of Jérome’s Ashen Stars artwork on his blog.

Night’s Black Agents

Ken Hite has provided me with the first part of this new GUMSHOE game. The next draft will be in mid-March. I can’t really describe it better than Ken:

This game, Night’s Black Agents, adapts the GUMSHOE engine to the propulsive paranoia of the spy thriller genre: not just James Bond, but also and especially Ronin and the Bourne trilogy. You build agents worthy of such films; tough, resourceful, clever, deadly – in a word, badass. Then you send them to kill vampires.

Esoterrorists, Fear Itself and Unremitting Horror

  • SteerageDave Allsop has been sweating over a follow up to The Book of Unremitting Horror, The Ocean Game. He’s produced disturbing illustrations and background, and Adrian Bott makes a return to add new material and polish to this critically acclaimed series.
  • Invasive Procedures, a new Fear Itself adventure from Gareth Hanrahan is under playtest; one playtester said “My one word review is ‘chilling'”.
  • Ian Sturrock will have a draft of The Worm of Sixty Winters with us in early March ready for playtesting. It’s a sequel to the Esoterrorists adventure Little Girl Lost, though it also stands alone.
  • The Love of Money is an Esoterrorists adventure written by Matthew Sanderson. It’s ready for playtesting, and features very detailed pregenerated characters designed to make player interaction a major part of the game.  I really enjoyed the playtest at IndieCon, and it’s a new take on Esoterrorists with the most inspired location for a final confrontation.


Gareth Hanrahan is working on the first in a series of supplements which allow you to incorporate GUMSHOE investigative mechanics into your favourite game. He has started with Paizo’s excellent Pathfinder, and we’ll have this out for playtesting in March. If this works out, we’ll follow it up with a other mash-ups, perhaps Fate next.

Everything Else

Work continues on Razed, New World, the Gaean Reach, Brief Cases (for Mutant City Blues) and Owl Hoot Trail.

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