Eternal Lies took a while to devise and design and write. It took a long time to assemble and layout and that’s not even done yet. It turned into something. Working on a book this big can be scary.
We went through a number of ideas, experimenting with structure and motif and villains, before we refined a couple of the big ideas into what became this campaign. We built on the sterling adventure-design ideas pioneered by Robin D. Laws and Kenneth Hite. We developed plot and story ideas shared with us by Simon Rogers. With one hand on the railing behind us, we leaned out and reached into the dark in search of something frightening.
Trail of Cthulhu is a big damn game full of big ideas and we wanted to dramatize some of those ideas and we wanted to strike out into new turf in a few places. We wanted to pay homage both by meeting the demands of the game’s fans and by surprising them in a few ways. Trail’s players and keepers are why this thing exists.
We set out to build Eternal Lies because we wanted the game to have the kind of epic campaign that big damn games call for. We also wanted something that Trail players and Keepers could get excited about and dig deep inside for months and months of play. I, myself, wanted something that could be at once grand and personal, ugly in its terror and human in its stakes — some of its stakes. It’s big and it’s small. You’ll see.
What could have been the hardest part of assembling a big book like this, though, was the testing. When we supplied the text to playtesters, I was terrified.
For no reason. The playtesters on this book were remarkable. It was a wonderful experience. With great players gathered and facilitated by Beth Lewis, the playtest process honed and improved the text immeasurably. Sharp-eyed proofing and copyediting by Christopher Smith Adair further refined and cultivated the text.
It took a lot of hands and eyes and minds to bring this book together. It is a privilege to have my name on the front of it, alongside such colossal talents as Jeff Tidball and Jeremy Keller, when so many worked to make it real.
And parts of it still scare me.