A big Carcosan shout out goes to our backers of the Kickstarter for The Yellow King Roleplaying Game. Their fast and frankly overwhelming support got us over the top in four hours. Now their ravening enthusiasm has led them to crash through what I planned as days worth of stretch goals on an equally surprising day two.

If you belong to that exalted host, I, the entire team at Pelgrane Press, and our roster of artists and visual wizards, all express our black-starred regards.

You’ve certainly kept me hopping keeping the stretch goal boiler bubbling. On one hand, this delightful early frenzy delayed my morning coffee intake today. On the other, it gives me the wiggle room to tighten up future thresholds between goals once we exit this eye-popping initial period and discover what a normal pace for this campaign looks like.

I’d stick around and chat but the stars are turning black again, which means it’s time to return to the stretch goal mines.

Thanks again, not only for your backing, but for the signal boosting so many of you have been doing out there in Social Media Land. (This is only fitting, as that kingdom clearly lies near the lake of Hali.) Together we can continue to build additional awesomeness and terror into YKRPG. —RDL

The curtain rises on Pelgrane Press’ Kickstarter for The Yellow King Roleplaying Game.

The sky has turned white; the stars pulse with inky blackness. This unexpected Carcosan weather pattern has trapped company principals Cat and Simon in the wilds of Ohio. Yet the commands of the pallid mask may not be delayed!

The Kickstarter for The Yellow King Roleplaying Game, by Robin D. Laws, launches this Wednesday, June 21st, at 8 pm Eastern.

THE FIGHTER

By ASH LAW

In this series by ASH LAW, we feature two different builds for every 13th Age character class, at all levels. ASH suggests how the builds might be used, and offers tips on playing each character. Stats are based on the point-buy method, and the characters have no non-standard elements.

This time, we look at two different takes on the Fighter.

Fighters are far more complicated than barbarians to play, but if you like lots of mid-battle decisions and tricks to pull out of nowhere to astound your friends and terrify your enemies they are the class for you.

Fighters use flexible attacks and manoeuvres, and a large part of playing a fighter is choosing what flexible attack outcome works best for you at any given moment.

 

WINNER FIGHTER

 

Download the Winner Fighter character sheets here.

This build is called the winner, because it matters little if you miss as every roll is a winner hit or miss. Focusing on turning every miss into a win, this fighter build also uses talents and manoeuvres that get you extra attacks. This fighter uses a longsword in one hand and a warhammer in the off-hand.

Your tactics are simple—get into melee combat and stay there. You are tough enough to stick it out when the going gets rough, and when you miss you use your manoeuvres to get second chances at attacks or expand your crit range. You don’t have any way to heal yourself (invest in some healing potions) but you shouldn’t need it, especially if you remind the party healers that you are taking the brunt for them.

Look out for counter-attack, it’s tricky as it requires you to keep escalation die values and enemy attack rolls in mind, but if you pay attention you’ll get some free attacks outside the normal turn order.

For the rest of your talents and manoeuvres just make your attack roll and see where it takes you. If you hit, great… and it matters little if you miss because every roll is a winner.

Talents

Cleave

Once per battle after you drop an enemy make a second melee attack as a free action.

Comeback Strike

Once per battle make a second attack after your first misses.

Counter-Attack

When the escalation die is even, and an enemy misses you with an odd melee attack roll you get to make a basic melee attack against them.

Race

The half-elf’s surprising power lets you drop your natural attack roll down by 1, a once per battle trick useful for turning an odd miss into an even miss or vise-versa.

Attributes

Strength is key for your attacks, and Constitution for your hit points: Str 17 (+3) Con 17 (+3) Dex 15 (+2) Int 10 (0) Wis 10 (0) Cha 8 (-1).

1st level

Attributes: Str 17 (+3) Con 17 (+3) Dex 15 (+2) Int 10 (0) Wis 10 (0) Cha 8 (-1)

Racial Power: Surprising

Talents: comeback strike, skilled intercept, counter-attack

Manoeuvres: brace for it, grim intent, heavy blows

Feat: Cleave

2nd level

New manoeuvre (two-weapon pressure), new feat (comeback strike).

3rd level

New feat (brace for it).

4th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Constitution, Dexterity), new manoeuvre (carve an opening), new feat (toughness).

5th level

New feat (two-weapon pressure).

6th level

New talent (tough as iron), new manoeuvre (hero’s skill), new feat (carve an opening).

7th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Constitution, Dexterity), new feat (cleave).

8th level

New manoeuvre (steady now), new feat (steady now).

9th level

New feat (strong recovery).

10th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Constitution, Dexterity), new manoeuvres (hack & slash)

Confronting the mind-eating minions of the Outer Dark can prove mentally, physically, and morally exhausting for even the most hardened agent of the Ordo Veritatis. To grant momentary respite to its investigators in mid-mission, the organization maintains a string of safe houses. These are marked by a common emblem: the anchor, symbolizing the need to remain anchored to consensus reality. Because the symbol is ubiquitous, especially around marinas and shorelines, the trained agent checks other criteria before entering an establishment and uttering the day’s codeword. These include the use of particular fonts in signage, a sidewalk spray paint mark one might otherwise mistake for those used by construction crews, and a custom model brass door knob. Any player character can distinguish a true Anchor from an innocuous place of business.

Anchors frequently take the guise of tattoo parlors or barbers. These businesses actually turn a small profit for the Ordo. They are operated by former agents as a means of providing employment for personnel too shattered to continue in the field—or in the ordinary lives they used to lead.

Having given the correct greeting, the agent in need is handed a key, which opens a door to a back room, basement, or upper floor. Therein you find a sleep pod, headphones allowing you to listen to soothing binaural beats keyed to a range of psych profiles, and a plant and water feature. The fully stocked liquor cabinet also purveys a selection of sedatives. Behind a beaded curtain lies an alcove containing such key consumables as bullets, SIM cards, bandages, and that investigative staple, duct tape. Feel free to take that adrenaline syringe, hunting knife, or stick of anti-ritual incense. Just be sure to mark off what you take on the sign-out sheet, which you will find hanging on a clipboard from a nail at eye level on the alcove wall.

After a two hour power nap, the agent emerges from the pod with a 3-point Stability, 1-point Health, and 2-point Preparedness refresh.

Look for anchors in densely populated urban areas, or in spots where the membrane is notoriously thin and Outer Dark activity rife.


The Esoterrorists are occult terrorists intent on tearing the fabric of the world – and you play elite investigators out to stop them. This is the game that revolutionized investigative RPGs by ensuring that players are never deprived of the crucial clues they need to move the story forward. Purchase The Esoterrorists in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

THE FIGHTER

By ASH LAW
 
In this series by ASH LAW, we feature two different builds for every 13th Age character class, at all levels. ASH suggests how the builds might be used, and offers tips on playing each character. Stats are based on the point-buy method, and the characters have no non-standard elements.

This time, we look at two different takes on the Fighter.

Fighters are far more complicated than barbarians to play, but if you like lots of mid-battle decisions and tricks to pull out of nowhere to astound your friends and terrify your enemies they are the class for you.

Fighters use flexible attacks and manoeuvres, and a large part of playing a fighter is choosing what flexible attack outcome works best for you at any given moment.
 

IRON-ARCHER FIGHTER

 

Download the Iron-Archer Fighter character sheets here.

The point of this build is to be as tough as possible: high hp, high AC, and as many ways to avoid damage as possible. As the build name suggests, you are a ranged tank: a big stack of hit points in a fancy metal can, with a bow.

Our maneuvers are all going to be selected based on how well they increase our survivability in battle. Your melee weapon is a warhammer, and you carry a shield to boost the AC from your already impressive heavy armor. However, you’ll be fighting with a longbow most of the time (so no shield)—being at range means you’ll hopefully avoid most damage while still dishing it out.

Tactically this build is selfish—all about survival rather than killing enemies or aiding allies. However, that means that if everything does go wrong, you’ll likely still be standing to either avenge the fallen or haul your allies off the battlefield. Don’t discount this build’s effectiveness though—staying power is an enviable quality in a fighter.

Talents

Deadeye Archer

Ranged damage dice go up one step (d8 to d10), and your miss damage with ranged weapons increases.

Heavy Warrior

Once per battle, rally using a quick action, a self-healing second-wind.

Tough as Iron

Tell a story to reroll icon dice.

Race

Halflings fare surprisingly well as fighters, with their small racial power giving a bonus to AC against opportunity attacks and their evasive power forcing enemies to reroll their attacks.

Attributes

Constitution is vital for hit points, and Dexterity for AC and PD (strength is needed to hit and damage, but that is a secondary concern with this build): Str 10 (0) Con 20 (+5) Dex 18 (+4) Int 8 (-1) Wis 8 (-1) Cha 8 (-1).

1st level

Attributes: Str 10 (0) Con 20 (+5) Dex 18 (+4) Int 8 (-1) Wis 8 (-1) Cha 8 (-1)

Racial Power: small, evasive

Talents: deadeye archer, heavy warrior, tough as iron

 

2nd level

New maneuver (brace for it), new feat (deadeye archer).

3rd level

New feat (heavy warrior).

4th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Constitution, Dexterity), new maneuver (make ‘em flinch), new feat (tough as iron).

5th level

New feat (heavy warrior).

6th level

New talent (power attack), new maneuver (steady now), new feat (tough as iron).

7th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Constitution, Dexterity), new feat (deadeye archer).

8th level

New maneuver (hero’s skill), new feat (tough as iron).

9th level

New feat (deadeye archer).

10th level

+1 to three attributes (Strength, Constitution, Dexterity), new maneuver (sword of destiny), new feat (hero’s skill).

 

Cthulhu Confidential and other upcoming One-2-One games recommend using physical cards (or the digital equivalent) in play. Giving a player something to hold onto has several benefits.

  • It’s a reminder. In a multiplayer game, key plot elements get discussed endlessly at the game as players speculate about what’s going on, how they rid themselves of troubles, and how they can take advantage of items or favour acquired. In a solo game, especially a plot-heavily Confidential scenario, it’s good to give the player plenty of reminders of important discoveries and ongoing problems.
  • It’s a call to action. Having “Bleeding Internally” or “Mickey Don’t Like You” weighing down your hand motivates you to look for ways to counter those pesky problems. Similarly, if you’ve got “Charlie Chaplin Owes You” or a “Spare Bomb”, then you’ll itch for ways to play them to your advantage.
  • It’s satisfying. There’s something undeniable fun about handling physical cards, as opposed to scribbling notes on a character sheet. And as there’s only one player, it’s viable to have lots of highly specific cards.

Every published One-2-One scenario includes plenty of Problem and Edge cards, covering every likely eventually – but what about unlikely ones, when the player goes “off-piste”? How to improvise cards on the fly?

Have a bunch of blank cards (index cards are fine) to hand. When you need to write a card on the fly, quickly think about ways to connect it to future events in the scenario. A problem like “Fear of the Dark” is only interesting if there’s a scene later on where the player has to go into a dark place. An Edge like “Colt .45” is only relevant if there’s a good chance of a shootout.

The best Problems are the ones that push the player in interesting directions in the story, or anticipate future dangers. A “Bleeding Neck Wound” that gives the player a penalty is fun, but “Vampire Bite” that doesn’t give a penalty, but hints at a psychic threat can be much more interesting. At the same time, you want a few cards with clear mechanical benefits or penalties for variety, to avoid overloading the player with possibilities.

Edges without a defined benefit leave things open to player input. “Colt .45” obviously benefits Fighting, but “Got The Drop On Them” could be construed as a bonus to anything from Stealth to Shadowing to Fighting, or a Push to Streetwise or Intimidation, to a story benefit where the player gets to arrive at just the right moment to put the bad guys at a disadvantage. Working out what a card actually does when it’s played keeps options open – just stay away from Edges that give the player too much leverage over key figures in the adventure. “Charlie Chaplin owes you” is great; “The Cult Leader owes you” risks derailing your plot again. (And if you’re running a game where Chaplin’s the cult leader, I want to play).  

As a quick list of options:

 Edges

  • A bonus (say, +1 or +2) to a single Challenge
  • A bonus to multiple Challenges, either when a particular condition is met (+2 when sneaking around Budapest) or for a limited time (+2 to your next two Fighting challenges)
  • A bonus to an entire category of General Abilities (Physical, Mental, Manual)
  • A free die on a Challenge (and remember, if the player has any dice left over, he gets a free Push)
  • A free Push in a particular situation (“You know this city like the back of your hand. Discard this Edge for a free Push of Architecture, Cop Talk, or Streetwise while in Prague.”)
  • A free Push when dealing with a particular character or faction
  • A free Push for a particular type of Investigative Ability, usually Interpersonal
  • The ability to Counter a type of Problem
  • A general description of some advantage, giving the player scope for creativity (“The priest blessed you.)

Problems

Injuries: Injuries are a special category of Problem, so include the Injury keyword on any Injury cards. Some abilities (like Medic) give the ability to counter Injuries quickly.

Most injuries give a -1 or -2 penalty to Physical tests; injuries that specifically impede hand-eye Co-ordination might penalise Manual tasks instead.

In GUMSHOE One-2-one, the player doesn’t have ‘hit points’ or a Health score. The penalties from injury cards may stack, but a player may hold any number of injury cards and keep going. Injury only threatens death if the injury card specifically says this (see Dooms, below.).

Light injuries might only last for a scene, or for a few scenes (usually, three scenes, or three Challenges of a particular type), or be automatically Countered when the player Takes Time. More serious injuries might explicitly require the player to Take Time to Counter them, require medical treatment, or both.

Penalties: Penalties make it harder for the player to succeed in tests. Penalties are usually -1 or -2; go to -3 or -4 if you really want to emphasise the adversity and give the player little hope of success without Countering the problem. Penalties apply to one (or more!) of the categories of General Ability:

    • Physical: Most injuries penalise physical abilities; it’s hard to run, climb or fight when you’re been hurt. Drugs or restraints (manacles) also impair physical ability tests.
    • Manual: Injuries to the hands or eyes are the usual cause of manual ability penalties.
    • Mental: Shock, mental trauma, emotional distress or exhaustion can hit mental abilities

Levies: Levies require the player to spend an extra Push in a particular situation. Usually, this refers to Interpersonal pushes and applies to a particular individual or group – if Dr. Tollen doesn’t trust you, you might have to spend an extra Push when trying to persuade her with Reassurance to let you see her notes on blood diseases. Levies can apply to any investigative ability, though – for example, if Cryptography is needed to decode an ancient book, then if the book gets damaged, it could impose a Cryptography levy to get the information.

Blocks: Blocking Problems prevent the player from taking a particular action until the Problem’s resolved. They can be nuisances that prevent the player from tackling bigger issues, like an Injury card (“Blood in your eyes”) that gives no penalty to tests, but has to be Countered before any other injuries can be removed. They can be more serious complications that restrict the player’s actions – for example, if the player’s been disarmed, then she can’t make Shooting tests until she obtains a gun.

Dooms: Doom Problems shape the ending of the story, usually in a negative way. If the player’s still holding the card at the end of the operation, bad things happen. Dooms can result in death (“you’ve been poisoned – if you haven’t found a cure by the end of the adventure, you’re dead”) or other terrible consequences (“The cult has kidnapped Lenny, and will sacrifice him to Cthulhu unless you stop them”). Dooms should always describe how to Counter them.

 

 

 

The latest edition of See Page XX, the monthly Pelgrane Press newsletter, is out now!

This month, we offer you a one-shot Owl Hoot Trail adventure, previews of The Yellow King RPG, a playtest of the Blakeian magic setting Fearful Symmetries,and the Cthulhu Confidential limited edition competition results. Plus, pre-order the 13th Age Bestiary 2, and get lions & tigers & owlbears AND an exclusive snowcub print.

It’s all in this month’s See Page XX!

Page XX logo (2015_04_01 16_53_09 UTC)

It’s holiday month in the Nest, with Cat just back from a week of Regency dancing and romancing in Sweden, and Simon currently enjoying the sunshine in Spain. Luckily, the other Pelgranistas are furiously pedalling away to keep the production motors turning, and so this month sees the special snowcub edition of the 13th Age Bestiary 2: Lions & Tigers & Owlbears. Pre-order before June 21st and get the plain text PDF, plus an exclusive snowcub print, and your name in the book’s credits. #Feminism is being printed, and should be shipping to pre-orderers shortly – we’ll be adding a bonus PDF with six new games to pre-orderer’s bookshelves later this month. We’re also releasing the beautiful limited edition of the 13th Age living dungeon campaign, Eyes of the Stone Thief, with a bookplate signed by Gareth.

In other news this month, we’re looking forward to the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio – come and see us at booth #913 if you’re going!

New Releases

Articles

13th Age

      • 13th Sage: Lethal Damage One-Liners – Rob Heinsoo shares some gems from their home 13th Age game
      • 13th Age Character Builds. In this series by ASH LAW, we feature two different builds for every 13th Age character class, at all levels. ASH suggests how the builds might be used, and offers tips on playing each character. Stats are based on the point-buy method, and the characters have no non-standard elements.

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