View from the Pelgrane’s Nest

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.

13th Age

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 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 RPG

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.

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