The Call of Chicago: Nesting, Tapping, Expanding

by Kenneth Hite

By now, perhaps word has reached your shell-like ears that I have become embedded, as it were, within the Pelgrane nest as a permanent contractor for the next six months at least. Simon and I have the option to renew, and given the amount of Trail of Cthulhu and Night’s Black Agents (and other less-classifiable) work we have giddily exchanged email and bibulous discussion about, I believe I can say that signs look good for filling that six-month period well past bursting. Once we get our shakedown cruise under way and pointed roughly on course, we’ll know more and can hint more copiously about future projects; we’ll probably solicit the opinion of you good folks on such matters in this space and elsewhere on the Pelgrane blog because after all, without you we would merely be exchanging email and bibulous discussion with each other to no great point. Which is all well and good, of course, but I can authoritatively assure you it butters no parsnips.

Right this instant, however, I can also authoritatively assure you that we have a specific future Night’s Black Agents project underway: Double Tap. This project will have more guns, more gear, more Tactical Fact-Finding Bonuses, more uses for abilities, more tradecraft, more maneuvers, lots of clues and elements to make your Night’s Black Agents game run smoother. You may recall mention of this project when it was called the “Agent’s Companion,” a name that went by the boards for two reasons. First, we’ve added some material to the outline for the use of Directors as well: inspirational NPCs, more vampiric monsters, and some notes about running one-on-one single-player games, just for starters. Thus it’s not an “Agent’s Companion” per se, and thus the name Double Tap. (If you’ve got a better suggestion, leave it in comments.)

The second reason is we wanted a general name for this type of book, a name that could potentially span the Pelgrane lines: a book that you’d come to expect for any Pelgrane game, a book of extras and twists, not needed for core game play but informative and inspiring nonetheless. That’s why the full name of this upcoming book is Double Tap: The Night’s Black Agents Expansion Book. An expansion book gives you more room to play in, expanding possibilities and illustrating potentialities we didn’t have room for in the core book, ideas that the core book sparked in other designers (like Will Plant’s Achievements, or James Palmer’s internal-conflict algorithm, both of which are in Double Tap) plus ideas that the first rush of players and playtesters have requested. We’re thinking about the Ashen Stars Expansion Book next (which I at least want to call Accretion Disk, but Robin thinks that might be too inside-baseball, if astrophysics were baseball anyhow), and then who knows? Esoterrorists, Trail of Cthulhu, Mutant City Blues; they all have room for expansion.

We’ve recruited a pretty stellar team — whoops, that’s still Ashen Stars talk — a pretty deadly squad of writers and designers for Double Tap, and I’m excited to see what we can do with the format going forward. I’m also working on a Trail of Cthulhu collection, the much-bruited Mythos Expeditions adventure anthology. I’ve written some GUMSHOE expedition rules and I’m working on a sample expedition adventure with which to seed the authorial clouds out there. Then, it’s neck deep (heh heh) on the Dracula Dossier for Night’s Black Agents, about which more later. Either way, it looks like my next six months will be pretty full, which is kind of the design goal, actually. I hope to see you all around these stately pixels, and hear from you in comments below.

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