July-August 2015: View from the Pelgrane’s Nest

I’ve got some catching up to do. GenCon, plus some website issues stopped us publishing the previous episode of Page XX, but this double issue should more than compensate.

Director's Handbook_front_cover_350First and foremost – The Director’s Handbook and Dracula Unredacted are on pre-order, the product of a full time work from Kenneth Hite, Gareth Hanrahan and Cat Tobin for pretty much the entire year. Get both books in a bundle at 10% off – the first 200 bundle pre-orderers get a colour 8.5″ x 11″ print of Dracula’s Castle with their books. The scope, quality and ambition of the project is way beyond what I envisaged. The PDFs are available now as part of a print pre-order – to be shipped by November. Dracula Dossier Kickstarter backers should read today’s update for details of the Hawkins Papers, and their current shipping schedule.

This month in KWAS the Wendigo stalks the subarctic tundra to feast on the lives and souls of unsuspecting travellers, and for subscribers, The Hunting Horror screeches and swoops through the dimensions. In July’s 13th Age Monthly, we offered the Sharpe Initiative: Earthgouger – a perfectly formed 3-4th level adventure which works as a stand-alone, or follows on from The Strangling Sea. This month it’s Jonathan Tweets take on the Icons for his home campaign – 7 icons instead of 13 in the 7 Icons Campaign.

Books on Preorder

Books Out Now

  • The Eternal Lies limited edition: collect a piece of history with this signed, limited edition
  • Strangling Sea: A rip-roaring salt-encrusted sea adventure for the 13th Age
  • Accretion Disk: Ship deckplans, new species, kits and options for Ashen Stars


Without a multitude of huge headline releases this year, our sales were a little lower, but still very good. We sold a disproportionate number of GUMSHOE Core Books, and think a lot of this is down to the vast number of games our GMs ran – over 734 seats filled, beaten only by Catalyst, D&D and Paizo. We came back with three ENnies,  for Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff, Ken Writes About Stuff and The Archmage’s Orrery, and in a new found spirit of efficiency had meetings with just about everyone. This ate into our Pelgrane-y chinwagging and informal idea making time, which we will compensate for at Dragonmeet.

13th Age

The big news is the start new season of the Organized Play. In short, the first year’s 13 adventures are free and will remain free, as are the next three. The other nine adventures will be available as part of the 13th Age Monthly. Read more here.

The 13th Age GM’s Screen is a go! We hope to have it out by the end of the year. Written by Cal Moore and Wade Rockett, it will feature art of the original 13th Age pair: Lee Moyer and Aaron McConnell.derroImage1

Battle Scenes is being broken into manageable, icon-featured chunks, starting with High Magic & Low Cunning: Battle Scenes for Five Icons which will feature Archmage, High Druid, Orc Lord, Prince of Shadows, The Three.

We’ve commisioned a book of followers for these five icons, Magic Circles and Dread Massacres.

We are also working the first book of class expansions which incorporate a Bestiary-like take on each class, a sprinkling of icon involvement, suggested builds, working well with others, tactics and multiclass mash-ups. We suggest organisations they could be part of, class-specific items and new talents, feats and spells.

Trail of Cthulhu

The Out of the Woods collection, our follow up to Out of Space and Out of Time is well under way. Ruth Tillman, Lauren Roy, Adam Gauntlett, Aaron Vanek and Chris Spivey have written pitches which feature a stolen tome, mysterious deaths in the frozen wastes and the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Paula Dempsey has submitted the first draft of the Book of Albion, a prequel to the Book of the Smoke, which stands as a companion volume to Steve Dempsey’s Fearful Symmetries, which is in outline, due for playtesting at the end of September.

The Investigator’s Handbook has been lined up, with Steve Long rooting through his archive to find wiki-proof 30s facts, and add a host of locations, NPCs and player options to Trail of Cthulhu.

We are pleased to announce that next year we’ll be kickstarting a Trail of Cthulhu Starter Set – a box for beginning roleplayers, but also anyone new to GUMSHOE.



Kevin Kulp is 95% of the way through editing the first draft of TimeWatch, and the supplementary books are well in hand. I don’t know for sure if we’ll get the core book out this year, but it’s our goal.

Dracula Dossier

The Director’s Handbook and Dracula Unredacted are on the presses, but I am not in a position to speculate on delivery dates – Kickstarter backers should check for updates.

One reviewer, Karloff who has seen the PDFs said “I’d recommend a new Director buy this even if that Director never plays it as written. It’s a masterclass in how the game is constructed, and how it can be played.”


Robin Laws ran a session of the forthcoming GUMSHOE One2One with me. I played detective Dex Raymond in a 1937 LA, troubled by criminal gangs, red baiting and corruption – plus the Mythos. It was fascinating being on the receiving end of a pre-written GUMSHOE adventure and comparing the narrative it generated with the adventure as written. GUMSHOE adventure design when done properly really is a toolkit for the construction of a wide variety of narratives out of the same text, despite its formula. It makes the idea that it’s a railroad seem quite ridiculous.

I am very pleased and surprised it works so well on a virtual tabletop (we used roll20). The main disadvantage of virtual table tops to me is handling multiple players – and this simply isn’t a problem with two players. In the virtual arena a map, photos cards and the tokens help engage with the shared imaginary space. So we are considering a simultaneous release on that platform.

The new system is entirely player facing, with the character building up problems and offsetting them with edges, but only if those edges are used in play. The problems the character collects won’t kill that character during the adventure, but will be used to describe the denouement.

Cat is playtesting it this week, and it will go out for general playtest in October.

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