A plot hook for The Yellow King RPG (This is Normal Now)

One or more investigators have a connection to teenager, Ayda, who comes to them for help. Her friend Carlos has retreated to his room and won’t come out. Last night his parents called a therapist to come over and coax him into seeking help at a facility. Still he refused.

Carlos isn’t having a mental health crisis, Ayda explains. It’s something much weirder than that. She’s heard that the investigators know about this stuff, and, against her friend’s instructions, is telling them what she knows.

Nearby in the neighborhood, in a mini-mall parking lot, stands the broken remains of a pay phone.

A few months ago, rumors started going round the local high school. If you listen to the phone, you might hear weird whispering voices. They sound distant and old-fashioned, the urban legend goes, like they’re reciting some Shakespearean play. Though not one that’s on the curriculum at school. The weird voices mention a king wearing a pallid mask, and someone named Cassilda. At the end it gets super perverse and awful, until you can’t stand it any more and fling the receiver away.

Then you’re doomed. Within a week, unless you convince someone else to listen to the phone and doom them instead, you die. A freak accident that pertains in some way to your personality kills you.

Cynthia Mortimer was the first to hear the voices. The expensive handbag she was so proud of and always boasted about got caught in the doors of a subway train, dragging her to her death.

Then Phil Campillo, a maniacally focused tennis player, got his head pulped by a bizarrely malfunctioning ball machine. They say he listened to the call to protect his girlfriend, Amy Washington, who couldn’t resist trying it out.

A week ago, a private investigator hired by Rich Danforth’s family was looking into the rumors and asking questions. He raised security dogs, and died when one of the stepped on his gun, releasing the trigger. Rich admits that he listened to the message, then chickened out and had his father hire someone to hear it in his place.

That’s how Carlos tells it, anyway. When Ayda asked how he learned all of this, she couldn’t pin him down. It’s like you just kind of know, right?

This is day six, and even though Carlos is staying away from everyone and everything, he can tell he’s next. Unless the investigators can figure out what’s going on and find a way to put a stop to it.


The Yellow King Roleplaying Game takes you on a brain-bending spiral through multiple selves and timelines, pitting characters against the reality-altering horror of The King in Yellow. When read, this suppressed play invites madness, and remolds our world into a colony of the alien planet Carcosa. Four core books, served up together in a beautiful slipcase, confront layers with an epic journey into horror in four alternate-reality settings: Belle Epoque Paris, The Wars, Aftermath, and This Is Normal Now. Purchase The Yellow King Roleplaying Game in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

In the latest episode of their efficient yet lovable podcast, Ken and Robin talk less than competent PCs, Ashurbanipal, sympathetic protagonists and the eliptony of Jackie Gleason.

by Kevin Kulp

Pelgrane Press’s upcoming fantasy GUMSHOE game, Swords of the Serpentine, has any number of ways to be a hero. Playtest it in January and February 2019 by heading here.

Investigative abilities define the knowledge and abilities you use to gather leads and clues while adventuring. Swords of the Serpentine has shared General and Investigative abilities that are available to any Hero, but your character’s specialty is defined by their unique Class Investigative abilities.

The scale for Investigative abilities looks like this:

  • Rank 0 in an Investigative ability means you cannot use it to gather leads
  • Rank 1 in the ability makes you proficient at it
  • Rank 2 makes you an expert
  • Rank 3 indicates remarkable knowledge or talent
  • Rank 4 suggests you’re one of the best in the city
  • Rank 5 indicates you are one of the best in that ability that most people will ever meet

There are four loose classes: Sentinel, Sorcerer, Thief, and Warrior. Each class has four unique Investigative abilities each, and your choices here define what your Hero can do. Here’s what they look like.

Sentinel

As a Sentinel you may be a Church Inquisitor, a member of the City Watch, an informer for Eversink’s secret police, a scout for smugglers, or an inspector for the Mercanti. You typically have an eye for detail, an exhaustive knowledge of rules and regulations, and a keen sense for criminal activity (whether you encourage it or try to stop it!). Some Sentinels can sense ghosts and see into the spirit realm that overlays the true world.

Felonious Intent: you can spot warning signs of crime and criminal behavior

Laws & Traditions: you know the (often obscure) laws and traditions of wherever you live

Spirit Sight: you can see into the spirit realm, and may sense ghosts or Corruption

Vigilance: you notice tiny details others might miss, making you seldom surprised

Sorcerer

Sorcery may take a hundred different forms, but tapping into your true power is dangerous to your allies and deadly to Eversink’s patron goddess. Powerful sorcery causes Corruption, and Corruption is illegal in Eversink. If you wish to avoid persecution, you may have to limit your power or keep your skills secret. There’s no “good” magic when it comes to Sorcery; whether true power stems from the writings of the ancient and inhuman snake-people or as a gift from forgotten demons, the source of all sorcery is foul and corrupt.

It’s in your best interest to use your skills subtly or be so powerful and politically connected that few dare challenge you. As a Sorcerer you may know rare and hidden secrets, know how to heal the sick (or how to kill more quickly), be able to prophesize the future, and know the corrupt keys to sorcerous power.

Corruption: you can tap into the foul source of Sorcery for knowledge and power

Forgotten Lore: you know facts, legends, and trivia others have long forgotten

Leechcraft: you can diagnose ailments and know how to cause or heal diseases, injuries and poison

Prophecy: you can prophesize secrets from the past, present or future

Thief

You specialize in secrets. Thieves may attack with word or blade, and they’re equally treacherous with either. You probably know the alleys and canals of Eversink better than anyone else. You may be incredibly lucky, you’re likely skilled at gathering information through illegal means, and you are tied into the web of gossip and scurrilous rumor that circulates throughout the city.

City’s Secrets: you know the back streets and hidden truths of cities

Ridiculous Luck: you’re far luckier than most people, and stumble on clues others might miss

Scurrilous Rumors: bribery, gossip, and whispered secrets help you learn what others might have done

Skullduggery: you can find out hidden information through blackmail, spying, shadowing, and other reprehensible methods

Warrior

You’re an expert at the art of warfare. As a Warrior you primarily make your way through the world by force of arms, whether you’re a duelist, a brute, a mercenary, or a foreign barbarian. You are likely skilled at surviving in the wilderness, battling monsters, spotting your foe’s weaknesses, and understanding deadly battle tactics.

Know Monstrosities: you know legends or secrets about non-human creatures, including their tactics and motivations

Spot Frailty: you notice and exploit weaknesses in armor, objects, and structures; and you might even see weakness in peoples’ personalities, allowing you to manipulate them emotionally

Tactics of Death: you can read fight scenes and understand military tactics

Wilderness Mastery: you can navigate, survive, and even thrive outside of cities

Mix-and-Match

For a small price you can match abilities from different classes to end up with exactly the Hero you want. There’s a balance between raw power, influence, and flexibility.

  • If you spread your Build points out between lots of abilities (including your Class abilities, Shared abilities, and Allegiances, things we’ll talk about in the coming months), not putting more than 1 or 2 points into any one ability, you’ll gain tremendous flexibility. In exchange you limit how much damage you can do in any one attack, and you probably aren’t renowned for being astonishing at any one thing.
  • If you focus your Build points into just a few abilities, each with more ranks, you’ll gain quite a bit of power in that area and be able to inflict some considerable extra damage in a fight. You’ll also develop something of a reputation. In exchange, you’re going to lack flexibility while adventuring.

It’s the classic tradeoff with specialization: is it more fun to be really good at fewer things, or solid at a lot of things? Your answer to that will change from Hero to Hero. Both approaches have advantages; in one playtest adventure, a player put 5 ranks into a single ability and immediately established herself as a legendary expert in that area. That creates its own source of adventuring plot hooks! In actual play, we see a mixture of these approaches from different players, and the resulting balance works well.

There’s one other feature that balances flexibility and power:

  • If all your Class abilities start with the SAME class, you’ll lack flexibility but gain an extra Build point.
  • If you select Class abilities from more than one Class, you’ll have flexibility others will lack, but you’ll be a little bit less powerful.

In practice, this means that you’ll have a mechanical encouragement to really be a Warrior, or a Thief, or what have you, just like in many Swords & Sorcery novels. If you spread your points out to really customize your Hero, like the Gray Mouser or a young Conan (a mix of Warrior and Thief abilities), you’ll get the Hero you want and just miss out on the bonus Build point.

None of the Above

Interestingly, a perfectly viable character might be one with no (or almost no) Class abilities at all. We haven’t talked about Shared abilities (your social skills) or Allegiances yet, but if you want a Hero who’s tremendously well-connected and socially adept, you might not be focusing on the Classes at all. That will get you a Hero who’s astonishing at moving through Eversink’s society, even if they aren’t inflicting a lot of damage in anything but social combat.

Okay, that’s the basics of the Class system. Next up we’ll look at Shared abilities, Allegiances, and how you use them to shape the Hero you really want. We’ll also look at what happens when you spend these Investigative pool points – because that’s where the game’s true magic lies.


Kevin Kulp is the Boston-based co-author of Swords of the Serpentine, and formerly helped create TimeWatch and Owl Hoot Trail for Pelgrane Press. When he’s not writing games he’s either smoking BBQ or helping 24-hour companies with shiftwork, sleep, and alertness.

 

In the latest episode of their eerily lifelike podcast, Ken and Robin talk framed PCs, waxworks horror, @MattColville, and Samuel Johnson versus the Cock Lane Ghost.

The latest edition of See Page XX is out now! Featuring the much-anticipated Swords of the Serpentine playtest, The Yellow King RPG articles, team changes, a quick Trail of Cthulhu adventure, occult tomes, and a shout-out for GMs for Origins and Gen Con 2019, it’s all in this month’s See Page XX!

Hello to you all! My name is Sadhbh, which is pronounced Sive like five, and I am so very excited to be joining Pelgrane as their part-time Project Manager. Over the next few months I’ll be getting to grips with their bugbears, starting work on their big ideas, and getting involved in all the things that Pelgrane do so well – how awesome is it when you can say that going to gaming conventions is going to be a necessary part of your job?

I have spent over twenty years involved in roleplaying in one way or another: playing and playtesting games; volunteering for various gaming organisations; organising and staffing conventions and events; and working in gaming retail. I was lured into gaming in the late 90’s with the promise of some Jelly Babies if I would “do a few hours” in one-off LARP, and have refused to stop since, even when no more Jelly Babies have been forthcoming.

Outside of roleplaying I have a hilariously varied work background. I am currently a project manager at a research centre, but I have worked as an EA, PA, freelance writer, games store manager, Zombie-NERF games steward, promo person, travelling carnie and one of Santa’s elves. That variety gives me a lot of experience to draw on and also a pathological hatred of Christmas carols.

I am from Ireland but living in Sydney these days as it has fantastic weather, fabulous beaches and also my insanely huge book and LARPing collections, which is going to cost a fortune next to ship next time I move. I am very friendly, insanely curious, highly proactive and also hearing-impaired (so I like everything important in writing). This is actually a brilliant combo for a project manager but will mean that I will probably be first to die in the zombie apocalypse. Come introduce yourself if you see me around; bring Jelly Babies if you want to, please do not bring zombies.

We’re looking for GMs to run our games at Origins and Gen Con 2019!

If you’re interested in joining the GM crew at Gen Con, please email us at support@pelgranepress.com with the following info:

  1. Your name and, if you have one, a nickname, alias, or online handle that gamers might know you by (e.g. cthulhuchick, Heavy Metal GM)
  2. Your convention-registered email address (if different from the email you’re using to contact us)
  3. Your t-shirt size
  4. Number of 4-hour games you can run
  5. Preferred days and times for your games to run, using this format:
    • Swords of the Serpentine Thursday 17th August 16:00-18:00 EST
    • When The Dark is Gone (Seven Wonders) Friday 18th August 09:00-13:00 EST
    • No Crowns (DramaSystem) Saturday 19th August 14:00-18:00 EST
  6. Whether you would like to run a Pelgrane-provided adventure, or one of your own

GMs will get our new 2019 t-shirts, meet up with our game creators, and receive special Pelgrane swag! Here are the adventures available for each system:

Email support@pelgranepress.com (click to open in your email client) to join our GM team now!

“’Wait a minute!’ the man hissed. ‘Are you after more books like that? I know where we can get some.’”

— Ramsey Campbell, “Cold Print” (1969)

The 1960s were a great decade for occult books, featuring waves of bestsellers launched by Jacques Bergier and Louis Pauwels’ million-selling Morning of the Magicians in 1963. Some of those books show up not just on bookstore spinner racks but on DELTA GREEN task sheets — or in the dorm rooms, cult compounds, and forest cabins those task sheets point the Agents to.

The Black Diamond Séance

“A.K. Porlock” (1939; English)

In 1936, thriller writer Dennis Wheatley began writing a series of “murder dossiers” intended as party games. Containing all the clues and handouts needed to solve a murder mystery, the first one sold over 100,000 copies. Rival publishers Sandestin Press rushed out their own “Sensation File” series. This one, the third and last in the “Sensation File” line, contained instructions for holding a séance complete with an “occult ritual” intended to awaken the Black Diamond (a milled shard of obsidian included in a paper packet). Fortunately the War intervened and very few copies sold. The American reprint edition (from Harmonica Publishing) comes out in 1967, riding the booming interest in witchcraft and the occult.

Hypergeometry Potential: Contains one hypergeometric ritual, which awakens a Black Winged One and ties it to a nearby shard of obsidian. Fortunately, the American edition does not include actual obsidian, replacing it with colored glass.

Dedicated Pool Points: 1 for Occult, usable to hold or otherwise interact with a séance.

The Case For the UFO (Varo Press Edition)

Morris K. Jessup and unknown annotators (1957; English)

The pre-Varo edition

Jessup, an auto-parts salesman who studied astronomy in college (M.S., University of Michigan, 1926), wrote The Case For the UFO in 1955. Parties unknown mailed a triply-annotated copy of Jessup’s book to Admiral Frederick R. Furth of the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in early 1956. Jessup recognized one of the annotators’ handwriting as that of “Carlos Allende,” a correspondent of his who had described witnessing the Philadelphia Experiment (Project RAINBOW). Captain Sidney Sherby of the ONR had government contractor Varo Press print thirty spiral-bound copies of the annotated volume (displaying each annotator in their own color of ink), including two Allende letters, and gave Jessup four of them. The annotations hint at many things that MAJESTIC does not want mentioned, even in such limited circulation; the fate of the twenty-six ONR copies remains unclear. Jessup died in 1959 in Florida, an apparent suicide by motor exhaust inhalation. Not all of his copies have been recovered.

Unnatural: 1 if the reader has experienced the ultra-violet, time travel, or communion with Yog-Sothoth.

Dedicated Pool Points: 1 for Fringe Science, especially MAJESTIC research into UFOs or Project RAINBOW

Dhol Chants

Unknown authors (c. 200 B.C.; originally Pyu?)

This set of chants supposedly “spoke themselves” as the “yin reaction” to the introduction of Buddhism to Burma in the third century B.C. The structure of the chants themselves indicates a Sino-Tibetan original, probably the extinct Pyu language of central Burma. Commentaries in Burmese date from some time around the Mongol invasion (c. 1300), and ascribe the chants to “men of Linggu.” The eccentric Sinologist Jerome Harkniss translated and edited a complete corpus of Dhol Chants and commentaries in three volumes in 1891-1899.

Unnatural: 2

Hypergeometry Potential: 3 (1 for readers illiterate in Burmese)

Dedicated Pool Points: 2 for investigations involving the plateaus of Leng or Sung.

Marvels of Science

James Morryster (1960; English)

Hasty edition in modern English of Morryster’s 1708 original Marvells of Science, bulked out with more “strange but true” facts from a variety of sources. Many of Morryster’s anecdotes involve devils, reptiles, birth defects, murderers, angels, sea monsters, and magnets. Morryster briefly quotes the Pnakotika when discussing the theory that time and Creation repeat themselves. The credited editor, Lois Gould, provides a lengthy preface siting Morryster in the intellectual disputes of the Royal Society, which mentions the Mathers and Ward Phillips. Originally a doctoral dissertation by Gould, the publisher (Stellar Press) cut the manuscript down and tarted it up with UFO and Bigfoot sightings.

Unnatural: 1 at most

Dedicated Pool Points: 1 for Fringe Science.

Randolph Carter: A Look Behind the Attic Window

Lin Carter (1969; English)

Unimaginative but completist survey of the fiction and poetry of Randolph Carter (1890-1928?), in a paperback original from Ballantine Books with a lurid cover showing ghosts and monsters cavorting across a dreamer’s face. It attempts to explicate and unify Carter’s various imaginary, dream, and theosophist settings and concepts, and includes two chapters of biography including a chapter on his mysterious disappearance in 1928. Contains a “Glossary of Randolph Carter’s Cosmos” listing and defining every place, entity, dimension, and so forth mentioned in his fiction, including several names of Unnatural import.

Unnatural: 1 if the reader has already entered the Dreamlands or otherwise had an Unnatural experience while asleep.

Dedicated Pool Points: 2 for any investigation involving the Dreamlands.

The Tablets of Nhing

Rebecca Aspinwall (1964; English)

This channeled magical text supposedly originates from the planet Yaddith. Rebecca Aspinwall drops out of Tulane Law School on the basis of her contactee experience and self-publishes her book the next year. In 1966 she sells it to Chaplet Books, who retitle it Love Visions of Nhing and, based on her “continuing revelations,” insert much sexier rituals such as “The Joining of Three Souls” and “The Orgy of the Spheres.” Aspinwall lives in Houma, Louisiana, although she often travels to college campuses to incarnate a new group of Joiners of Yaddith and draw reliable condemnation from church groups and anti-obscenity crusaders.

Unnatural: 1

Hypergeometry Potential: 1 (3 for self-published 1964 edition)

Dedicated Pool Points: 2 points for any investigation involving Yaddith, bholes, or Yog-Sothoth; also grants 1 point of HUMINT for New Agers and free-love cultists.

Überreste Verlorener Imperien

Otto Dostmann (1809; German)

Romantic prehistory of the Mediterranean world after the sinking of Atlantis, sporadically treating sites from Scotland to Romania to India wherever Dostmann believes the evidence supports his theories. His arguments range from linguistic and epigraphic oddities to antiquarian finds to folktales and songs. Needless to say, the Ahnenerbe reprinted it in 1940 as a triumph of German scholarship. The only other edition of Dostmann is the Spanish-language Residuos de Imperios Perdidos (Buenos Aires, 1954).

Unnatural: 1

Hypergeometry Potential: 2 (after undergoing a vision at one of the sites mentioned)

Dedicated Pool Points: 2 for Anthropology, Archaeology, History, or Occult involving the relevant region of the world (northern Africa, Europe, western Asia).

Kicking off 2019 with an all-request episode, Ken and Robin talk tiny houses, Operation Gunnerside, the Psalter Mappa Mundi, and Marxist UFOlogy.

The Swords of the Serpentine playtest is now live!

SotS is the upcoming fantasy GUMSHOE game from Kevin Kulp (TimeWatch) and Emily Dresner (the Dungeonomics column at www.critical-hits.com). The full game will be available in 2019, traditionally published by Pelgrane Press with advance pre-orders, and we’ll open up those pre-orders in the months before publication.

Meanwhile, let’s see what you think. There’s a lot in the playtest, so here’s what you’ll want to know to get the most out of the game.

Page 0. We open up with a quick note about how to give us playtest feedback.

Chapter 1: The Basics. Want to know if you’re going to like Eversink, the city where Swords of the Serpentine is set? Skim this short chapter. You’ll know by the time you’re done.

Chapter 2: Your Hero. This tells you how to create a Hero. All the Investigative and General abilities are described here, along with rules for advancement and Fledgling/Aged play (where you skip around in a Hero’s career from one adventure to the next).

  • This is a game where players have quite a bit of narrative control. You help create the world while you play, and you have some abilities that let you actively world-build when you desperately need it the most. For instance, spending a point of the Investigative ability Laws and Traditions allows you to literally make up a law or a cultural tradition that remains true for the rest of the campaign, which is handy when you’ve just been confronted by the City Watch and you desperately need a loophole.
  • You can attack Morale in addition to Health. It’s possible to defeat a foe without ever laying a finger on them. Thanks to Teamwork attacks, a Hero who never once touches a weapon and who gets by on their sharp wits is a perfectly viable build.
  • There are four loose classes – Sentinel, Sorcerer, Thief, and Warrior – and each class has four unique Investigative abilities that define it. For instance, thieves have access to City’s Secrets, Ridiculous Luck, Scurrilous Rumors, and Skullduggery; Sorcerers have Corruption, Forgotten Lore, Leechcraft, and Prophecy. Mix and match class abilities between professions if you don’t mind trading a little power for flexibility.
  • Investigative abilities give you leads and clues, and spending those Investigative pool points allow you to do some remarkable things, including inflicting extra damage in combat (sometimes a lot of extra damage).
  • We’ve got quick-start templates for both Heroes and campaign set-ups. There are a lot of ways to play this game – gang of con men and thieves? Officers in the City Watch? Roaming adventurers? Decadent nobility? Inquisitors? Desperate rat-catchers? Master Sorcerer and apprentices? – and we want to make it easy for you to choose.
  • Eversink is a city controlled by a dozen or so powerful factions. You’ll be allied with one or two of them – and you’ll have at least one as an enemy. The Allegiance system treats these allies and enemies as Investigative abilities, where the more ranks you possess the more you can guide or manipulate the faction. Pick up leads from your allies, and then spend points to influence the movers and shakers of the city. If you want to literally rule as a conqueror-king, it may take you a while, but this is how you get there.

Chapter 3: Rules. How to kill things and avoid being killed (amongst other rules.)

  • You can attack your foe’s Health with a Warfare attack or their Morale with a Sway attack. Sorcery might attack either, depending on what you pick when you create your Hero.
  • Combat encourages you to defeat nameless mooks quickly, because doing so gives you refresh tokens you can use to power even more attacks. We want it to feel like a great hero hacking their way across a battlefield, gaining strength with every foolish enemy they cut down.
  • Your minimum damage is the number of points you spent on the attack. Want to guarantee max damage? Spend 6 points to attack your foe – and hey, that’s likely to crit, inflicting even more damage in the process.
  • We’ve got sections on how to be as effective (and interesting) as possible in combat, and on how to avoid damage when it looks like you’re about to be skewered.
  • Traps in buildings or tombs are treated like puzzles, assuming you even spot them. Use your abilities to figure them out (or to bypass them) if you aren’t a fan of setting them off!

Chapter 4: Sorcery. Details on how to be a Sorcerer or an Alchemist, with all the tradeoffs this entails.

  • Sorcery is powered by Investigative ability named Corruption. Invoking Corruption is never a good choice, but it’s the only way to power your really damaging or unique spells. Spending Corruption either pollutes the area around you or permanently changes something minor about your body.
  • Every Sorcerer is themed with Spheres, one for each rank of Corruption they have. For instance, a Sorcerer with the Time sphere might describe their attacks as aging their defeated foes into decrepitude or leaving them wandering around as toddlers; a Sorcerer with the Water sphere might drown their foes on dry land or hideously dehydrate them. There are dozens of suggested spheres, and it’s simple to make up your own.
  • There are two types of Sorcerers: those who learned their magic when ancient Serpentine writings squirmed off a stone tablet into your brain, where they eagerly wait to be cast; and Sorcerers who have a demon or a small god bound to their soul, exchanging power for attention and veneration.
  • Don’t want to fuss with Corruption? The Witchery rules allow you to be a classic Conan-style sorcerer, one who focuses on alchemy, poisons and mesmerism without the benefits or trade-offs of Corruption.
  • You’ll find rules for true names (useful when facing powerful foes, even if they come with a horrible price), curses, sorcerous glyph traps, and for creating your own Sorcerous items. If you’ve ever wanted to curse a tower to be overrun with vines while everyone falls asleep for a century, you’ll find out how to do so here.

Chapter 5: Wealth and Lifestyle. Find Wealth! Spend Wealth! Live the astonishing lifestyle of an adventurer who doesn’t know how to save their treasures for tomorrow, and gain mechanical advantages for doing so!

  • The loot you bring in is measured in Wealth, not coin, and there’s a simple system for spending your Wealth to determine your Lifestyle for the adventure.
  • You can sometimes spend Wealth to boost Preparedness tests, but usually you’ll be using it to fuel your Lifestyle. A Squalid Lifestyle is going to create some challenges as others discriminate against you, while living Richer Than the Goddess for the adventure gives you bonus Investigative points you can use to manipulate others.

Chapter 6: Gear, Both Sorcerous and Mundane. Here’s where to look for weapons, armor, and Sorcerous items.

  • Your Hero’s innate abilities are a lot more important than their gear, but it’s always good to know what’s available.
  • Sorcerous items aren’t always kind, but there are grimoires, staves, weapons, runes, protection, and more. They’re heavy on flavor, and every good item should tell (or create) a story.

Chapter 7: Adversaries. You may want someone to stab. Here’s where to start.  

  • Easy-to-read Stat blocks for Adversaries from every faction.
  • 25 sample non-human monstrosities to fight including serpentine monstrosities, winged apes, skeletal giants, and flocks of carnivorous seabirds. You know. The usual.
  • Powerful and interesting Special abilities to customize your adversaries, powered by a special General ability named Malus.

Chapter 8: GM Advice. If you’re running the game, it’s useful to read.

  • You get guidelines for Customizing the rules for your own group and play style. Want no physical combat, or a different setting, or one-on-one play? Can do!
  • Character construction tips are included to help players prevent analysis paralysis.
  • You’ll find tips on running fights, making monsters more effective, creating great mysteries, constructing adventures, and more.

Now we dig into the setting.

Chapter 9: Introduction to Eversink. Everything you need to know about the city at a glance.

  • Why is the city so famous? Why are the buildings all sinking? What’s with all the funerary statues? Is it safe to drink the canal water? What do you mean, the city and the Goddess are one?
  • Quick summaries of the twelve factions and of daily life in Eversink – the food, the politics, the sports, the customs, and the architecture. If you want to play eelball (hint: you don’t), understand how small gods work, or buy suspicious food from a street vendor, read this first.

Chapter 10: The City of Eversink.

  • We give you guides to 7 major neighborhoods, loaded down with a huge number of plot hooks.
  • Knowledge about Eversink’s government, committees, laws, and punishments (otherwise known as “hey, why is that handless and tongueless man hanging in a crow cage over the harbor, guarded by church inquisitors?”)
  • You’ll learn about History – with an emphasis on encouraging you to make your own.
  • We talk a fair amount about Eversink’s economics and trade. This game is a bit unusual in that if you want to play kingmaker, you can rule kingdoms or topple economies with the same core mechanics you use to seek out adventure. Here’s what you need to know if that’s a thing you find fun.

Chapter 11: The Factions. This is a detailed look at all twelve factions that you can use as allies and enemies to drive (or solve) adventures.

  • Dive into a class struggle with the Ancient Nobility, Mercanti, and Commoners, with hired Mercenaries to provide the muscle.
  • The Church of Denari hunts down the Sorcerous Cabal and non-human Monstrosities, while visiting Outlanders ignore the laws to do what’s right.
  • The Triskadane runs the government from a secret council, the Guild of Architects and Canal-Watchers keeps the city upright, the City Watch keeps it safe, and the Thieves Guilds try to rob it.

Chapter 12: The World. A city like Eversink can’t exist in isolation. Here’s what to know about the world, geography, and rival nations.

  • More than eight other countries for international intrigue, dangerous exploration, or potential armed conflict.
  • We talk about the ruins of the Serpentine Empire atop the Destroyed Plateau, where magic runs wild and ancient demons stalk the wind.

Chapter 13: Corpse Astray is our sample adventure. Want to see how an adventure works? Want a fast and easy way to play (we’ll provide sample characters as well for an even faster start.) Here’s where to go!

  • Designed for just about any campaign set-up or types of Heroes.
  • Relatively fast (3-4 hours), with unusual roleplaying and a very memorable fight.
  • A good introduction to Eversink.

 

So, that’s the playtest, and we hope you love it and give us feedback. Talk about it online using the hashtag #SerpentineRPG, and talk to the authors on Twitter at @kevinkulp and @multiplexer (or at @pelgranepress). You can weigh in on Facebook’s GUMSHOE forum or here in the See Page XX comments.

 

 

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