The Black Book — Marginalia

by Steven Hammond

Current Status

Alpha testing continues. The only notable error, so far, was a data issue on day one. Meanwhile, we have added over a dozen users. If you are a current tester, don’t forget to send feedback now that you have been able to use the app for a while.

The next alpha release should push the first week of May. This release will complete Night’s Black Agents character support and notes capabilities (see below). NBA support includes MOS, sub-skills (driving, languages & piloting), cherries, network contacts, covers, and special weapons, besides the basic character info and abilities in the first release. Because of data formatting changes, this release will require a database reset for all users. Once it is live, the next batch of invites will go out. If you haven’t registered to help test, you still can at

Character Notes

A key features of The Black Book is character notes. Adding your own character notes is an obvious and straightforward feature. However, we can also use system generated notes for things that would otherwise clutter or complicate the main character sheet. For example…

Occupational Abilities in Trail: Each occupation in Trail of Cthulhu offers a special benefit. These benefits don’t affect a character’s abilities, but they do need easy accessibility during play. Therefore, when you select an occupation, The Black Book will add a note describing its associated benefit.

NBA Cherries: Night’s Black Agents backgrounds don’t grant special benefits, but general abilities with scores of 8 or better receive cherries. Every time you raise one of your character’s abilities above 8, a new note will describe the cherry. Additionally, if this cherry includes an investigative ability bonus, it gets added intp that ability automatically.

Network Contacts & Covers: Agents in NBA start the game with high ratings in Network and Cover. The point spends are permanent, so the resulting lists can be long. It sometimes takes more than a word to describe a contact or cover. Notes are ideal for these. They allow an arbitrary amount of information while keeping the clutter off the main sheet.

This video shows system and user notes in action.

Next Steps

I expect two more Alpha test releases in May. The first should complete the functionality needed for Trail of Cthulhu. The second will include character portraits and more flexibility when refreshing pools in play. Another round of visual improvements will appear as well. Each release will coincide with another wave of invitations.
 After the Alpha releases, we will be ready for Beta and more invitations. While Beta is in progress work will begin on the various GM tools. No promises, but my hope is to open for business on July 1.

As always, leave comments below. I’d love to hear what you think so far and what you want to see in the app.

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