View from the Pelgrane’s Nest

This month we release Terra Nova, Lenny Balsera’s Ashen Stars Lenny’s murder mystery set on a dying space liner and the PDF of Lorefinder, the GUMSHOE / Pathfinder mashup. New World and DramaSystem are ready for external playtest.

A Year in Pelgrane

2011 was an excellent year for Pelgrane. Much of this is the shear rate we released products – with Beth’s help, we were able to whizz through a backlog of manuscripts, releasing an amazing nineteen products, while maintaining our high standards, at least judging by the reviews.

This year, I expect we’ll have fewer releases, but they include Night’s Black Agents and the long-awaited Eternal Lies campaign for Trail of Cthulhu – blockbusters in scope, and we hope, in sales. There is another major non-GUMSHOE project in the pipeline which I hinted at last month – it will be announced next month.

Something very definitely changed last year in the GUMSHOE community – when a question is asked on the major forums, a knowledgeable person or two will step in with actual play experience to answer. As for widespread influence, stainless on the yog-sothoth forum pointed out that in Q&A session to the current D&D designers, Mike Mearls and the team said they were playing Trail of Cthulhu. I hope they take whatever they want from GUMSHOE to improve 5e.

Night’s Black Agents

The first episode of the The Zalozhniy Quartet, The Zalozhniy Sanction is now available as a free download with the Night’s Black Agents [REDACTED] edition. If you are an existing pre-orderer, just follow your order link to download it*. If not, get the [REDACTED] edition from the Store.

Beth has been working with artists Chris Huth and Alessandro Alaia to illustrate Night’s Black Agents.

* If you’ve mislaid your link to this or any other order, you can get it resent here.

Ashen Stars

Terra Nova, our first PDF supplement for Ashen Stars puts me in a quandary. In it Lenny Balsera introduces an excellent new core GUMSHOE technique which I can’t describe to you without spoiling the adventure. The technique will be divisive, in that 90% of people will love it, and 10% will hate it. (1% will insist they are not bothered either way. Estimates may be subject to rounding errors.) I suspect “buy it and find out” seems somewhat self-interested, but there we are.

We are considering our next release, but the speed and scope of it will depend on the take-up of Terra Nova.


GUMSHOE is a modular system, and we’ve often suggested replacing the General system with whichever system you prefer. Lorefinder applies GUMSHOE techniques to Pathfinder – replacing the investigative side with GUMSHOE’s clue finding and special benefit system, while allowing you to stick with the d20-based conflict resolution you enjoy. Lorefinder is now available as a PDF from the store.

Download a PDF of the 2-page character sheet.

Hillfolk / DramaSystem

Next month, we’ll start the fundraiser for DramaSystem using IndieGoGo.

The internal playtest is now finished, and we are ready for external playtesting. This is a little different to the usual playtests, in that Robin does not need the system testing – he just wants to ensure that the game text results in the actual play he wants.

We also publish some playtesting which Ralf Schemmann, my ProFantasy colleague did recently.

I think DramaSystem has a good chance of doing a GUMSHOE – it does something apparently obvious which is in fact innovative, and involves a rethink on how you roleplay.

One player in Ralf’s group expressed concerns after the first session, saying that he had some reservations about the game becoming a “soap opera” without a “real” story.  A couple of sessions later, he said, “We had a absolutely great 2nd part of a Hillfolk playtest using the Drama System moderated by wicked gamemaster Ralf. It was in fact dramatic and there were fantastic lose-lose situations:) Guess we’re all keen on do it again.”

Esoterrorists 2.0

  • The playtest of the example adventure is finished, and Robin has updated the text. It’s ready for layout.
  • The Love of Money, our most recent Esoterrorists release is available from the store.

Trail of Cthulhu

  • The team are editing Eternal Lies in response to playtesting and Coffins is being redrafted post playtest.
  • Gareth Hanrahan takes over writing duties with Graham Walmsley doing story design for the next part of Cthulhu Apocalyspe.
  • Graham is aiming to finish the generator in the next couple of week. We’ve sent out Ken’s monster pictures to the $100 donors, and the various Esoterrorists Operations are being incorporated into the new edition of Esoterrorists. Trail characters,  towns and locations will be included in Cthulhu Apocalypse.

New World

After extensive design and redesign Bill White’s game New World is now ready for playtesting:

Create a mashed‐up historical or quasi‐historical setting and then people it with individual characters whom they role‐play in facing the perils and possibilities of a New World. Their actions have consequences for the ultimate fate of the New World as well as for their own individual destinies. As the game plays out, it works to create an imagined history of a New World that never was.


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