cthulhu-confidential-front-cover_350

Face Madness and Corruption… Alone!

Langston Wright is an African-American war veteran and scholar in WW2-era Washington, D.C. Vivian Sinclair is The New York Herald’s most determined scoop-hound in 1930s NYC. And Dex Raymond is a hard-boiled private detective with a nose for trouble in 1930s Los Angeles.

Each is a lone investigator, equipped with smarts, fists, and just maybe a code of honor, uncovering their town’s secret truths. But what happens when you scratch the veneer of human malfeasance to reveal an eternal evil—the malign, cosmic indifference of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos?

You get the GUMSHOE One-2-One game, Cthulhu Confidential™.

 

One Game Master, One Player

GUMSHOE One-2-One retunes, rebuilds and reenvisions the acclaimed GUMSHOE investigative rules set, as seen in such hit roleplaying games as Trail of Cthulhu and Night’s Black Agents, for one player and one GM.
Together you create a story that evokes the classic solo protagonist mystery format.

  • Can’t find an entire game group who can play when you can?
  • Want an intense head-to-head gaming experience?
  • Looking for a game to play online which fits superbly with virtual tabletops?

promo-image_400Cthulhu Confidential includes all the rules you need to play GUMSHOE One-2-One, plus a detailed approach to building your own mysteries.

Horror Goes Hardboiled

Cthulhu ConfidentialTM drops your hero into the noir nightscape of hardboiled-era Los Angeles, New York, or Washington, D.C. Meet powerbrokers and politicians, rub shoulders with Hollywood studio bosses and fiery evangelists. Face narrow-eyed G-Men, bent cops and dangerous crime lords. But beneath it all, under the scrim of all this human endeavour, lives corruption so old and inhuman you’ll need all your courage and resourcefulness to face it.

Cthulhu Confidential features three protagonists each in their own setting, with three fully-featured adventures, which serve as a complete model for further mysteries of your creation.
dex-raymond_300

The Fathomless Sleep

How did fast-living society girl Helen Deakin come down with a case of catatonia? Her sultry sister pays you to find out. As Dex Raymond, you’ll explore a web of blackmail, dirty money, and weird mysticism in the city of fallen angels.

vivian_sinclair_300

Fatal Frequencies

In the offices of the New York Herald, Sadie Cane seeks reporter Vivian Sinclair‘s help. Sadie’s fiancé, George Preston, disappeared three days after a murder in his apartment block. Can Viv uncover the truth about George, and will Sadie like what she finds?

langston-wright_300

Capitol Colour

Lynette Miller was a riveter. A few weeks ago, she got a new job: hush-hush, and highly paid. She’s a clever and resourceful young woman, and now she’s missing, and her father is heartbroken. Can Langston Wright unweave a web of deceit, face down racist cops, and uncover the deeper conspiracy which endangers the war effort?

 

 

Download the Cthulhu Confidential Sampler

 

Buy the standard print edition

Buy the limited edition

Stock #: PELGOC01 Authors: Robin D. Laws, Chris Spivey, Ruth Tillman
Artists: Stephanie Brown, Jérôme Huguenin, Christian Knutsson, Anthony Moravian, Leonard O’Grady Pages: 328 pages, casebound book

 

 

 

 

 

Already got your book, and have a question about page 8? Check out this post.

Roleplaying games are fascinatingly mediated. In almost every other storytelling medium, the audience perceives the action directly. They see the actors on the stage or screen, the characters in the computer game, the voices in the radio play. In prose, true, the author can play tricks with an unreliable narrator or writing in a very subjective fashion, giving an internal monologue – but that runs the risk of alienating the reader. If the audience can’t follow the plot, the story’s lost.

In a roleplaying game, everything goes through the GM. The player gets second-hand impressions of what’s happening (“you see the figure crawling out of the grave”) and then interrogates the GM to get the details the player is interested in (compare the questions “do I recognise the figure” versus “are there any exits? Anything I can use as a weapon”). This gives the GM immense influence over the player’s perceptions of what’s going on (I talked about this before in Spooky Significance).

In a one-on-one game like Cthulhu Confidential, you can go even further. Traditionally, it’s a terrible idea to take control of a character away from a player for long – if Bob’s mind-controlled by Dracula, then Bob ends up sitting there bored while Alice and Eve play on without him.  In a one-on-one game, though, you can skip ahead or around in time easily, and use your influence over the player’s perceptions to shape how they experience the transitions.

For example, you can have an abrupt transition…

Suddenly, someone jolts against you. Your hand burns – they’ve spilled coffee on you. You’re sitting in a coffee shop. Sunlight’s blazing through the window. You’ve no idea how you got there. The last twelve hours are a blank. What did you do in that time?

…a smooth transition…

You find yourself sitting in a coffee shop. It’s daylight. You have only hazy memories of the last few hours, full of gaps. It’s all a bit vague. Anyway, what are you doing?

Or even an unnoticed transition.

You go home to sleep. The next day, you what, grab coffee? Ok, you’re in a coffee shop, when…

The Horror Within

For a mechanical patina – assume the player character has some dark power within them. They’re a secret werewolf, intermittently possessed, channeling psychic forces, unstuck in time… When the player hits a Setback, give the player the option to reroll the dice – but the player suffers a period of missing time, during which they’re under the control of the dark forces. What did they do while their dark half had control?

In Cthulhu Confidential, there’s a host of ghastly horrors that might seize control of Dex. He might be possessed by a Shan or mind-swapped with a member of the Great Race of Yith. Or, like ill-fated Walter Gilman, he might find himself slipping in and out of dreams, waking in unfamiliar places with only hazy memories of his actions…


GUMSHOE One-2-One retunes, rebuilds and re-envisions the acclaimed GUMSHOE investigative rules set for one player, and one GM. Together, the two of you create a story that evokes the classic solo protagonist mystery format of classic detective fiction. Can’t find a group who can play when you can? Want an intense head-to-head gaming experience? Play face to face with GUMSHOE One-2-One—or take advantage of its superb fit with virtual tabletops and play online. Purchase Cthulhu Confidential and future GUMSHOE One-2-One products in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

In the Limited Edition of Cthulhu Confidential You Face Madness and Corruption… Alone!

Limited edition with bookplate

Only 100 copies of this faux-leatherbound limited edition Cthulhu Confidential exist in this reality. 50 are available to customers in the U.S. and Canada, and 50 are available to customers outside the U.S. and Canada. The books are faux leather with foil, and each one includes a sticky-backed bookplate signed by the three authors for you to add to the book.

Langston Wright is an African-American war veteran and scholar in WW2-era Washington, D.C. Vivian Sinclair is The New York Herald’s most determined scoop-hound in 1930s NYC. And Dex Raymond is a hard-boiled private detective with a nose for trouble in 1930s Los Angeles.

Each is a lone investigator, equipped with smarts, fists, and just maybe a code of honor, uncovering their town’s secret truths. But what happens when you scratch the veneer of human malfeasance to reveal an eternal evil—the malign, cosmic indifference of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos?

You get the GUMSHOE One-2-One game, Cthulhu Confidential™.

 

 

One Game Master, One Player

GUMSHOE One-2-One retunes, rebuilds and reenvisions the acclaimed GUMSHOE investigative rules set, as seen in such hit roleplaying games as Trail of Cthulhu and Night’s Black Agents, for one player and one GM.
Together you create a story that evokes the classic solo protagonist mystery format.

  • Can’t find an entire game group who can play when you can?
  • Want an intense head-to-head gaming experience?
  • Looking for a game to play online which fits superbly with virtual tabletops?

Cthulhu Confidential includes all the rules you need to play GUMSHOE One-2-One, plus a detailed approach to building your own mysteries.

Horror Goes Hardboiled

Cthulhu ConfidentialTM drops your hero into the noir nightscape of hardboiled-era Los Angeles, New York, or Washington, D.C. Meet powerbrokers and politicians, rub shoulders with Hollywood studio bosses and fiery evangelists. Face narrow-eyed G-Men, bent cops and dangerous crime lords. But beneath it all, under the scrim of all this human endeavour, lives corruption so old and inhuman you’ll need all your courage and resourcefulness to face it.

Cthulhu Confidential features three protagonists each in their own setting, with three fully-featured adventure, which serve as a complete model for further mysteries of your creation.
dex-raymond_300

The Fathomless Sleep

How did fast-living society girl Helen Deakin come down with a case of catatonia? Her sultry sister pays you to find out. As Dex Raymond, you’ll explore a web of blackmail, dirty money, and weird mysticism in the city of fallen angels.

vivian_sinclair_300

Fatal Frequencies

In the offices of the New York Herald, Sadie Cane seeks reporter Vivian Sinclair‘s help. Sadie’s fiancé, George Preston, disappeared three days after a murder in his apartment block. Can Viv uncover the truth about George, and will Sadie like what she finds?

langston-wright_300

Capitol Colour

Lynette Miller was a riveter. A few weeks ago, she got a new job: hush-hush, and highly paid. She’s a clever and resourceful young woman, and now she’s missing, and her father is heartbroken. Can Langston Wright unweave a web of deceit, face down racist cops, and uncover the deeper conspiracy which endangers the war effort?

 

 

 

Buy the limited edition

 

Stock #: PELGOC01L Authors: Robin D. Laws, Chris Spivey, Ruth Tillman
Artists: Stephanie Brown, Jérôme Huguenin, Christian Knutsson, Anthony Moravian, Leonard O’Grady Pages: 328 pages, casebound book

 

Equipped with your smarts, your notebook, and your code of honor, you scour city streets in search of its deepest secrets.

Some secrets go deeper than others.

EVEN DEATH CAN DIE features nine twisting, turning, adventures in a world both hardboiled and cosmically horrific.

One For the Money: Scholarly WW2 vet Langston Wright fights for room to breathe in wartime Washington under the shadow of Jim Crow. Rhino Jones is one tough cookie, and he makes it impossible to turn down a demand to identify the culprit who stole from him and killed his crew. This plunges Langston into a blurred otherworld of corrupt businessmen, Nazi spies, a deadly weapon prototype.

The Shadow Over Washington: Langston knows an ancient enemy is rising, but he is trapped a million years away. An extraterrestrial intelligence inhabits Langston’s body, dodging bullets as well as a monster controlled by a megalomaniac. Can Langston regain his selfhood in time to save the nation’s capital?

Preacher Man Blues: Langston Wright investigates a traveling fire and brimstone preacher spurring the  black community to action. The police want him silenced. Local churches want him to move on. What do those slaughtered animals have to do with it?

The Howling Fog: Sharp-dressing, straight-talking, New York investigative journalist Vivian Sinclair chases the Big Apple’s hottest scoops. She goes deep undercover in sleazy clip joints and Harlem’s famous Cotton Club—only to learn a dead Irish hitman’s terrifying secret: murder from a distance!

Ex Astoria: A brawl between picketers from the miner’s union and scab laborers working on the Winn Water Tunnel turns into a riot, with Vivian Sinclair on the scene reporting. But scab workers are the least of the miners’ concerns.  Can Viv prevent further injuries and an environmental disaster?

Boundary Waters: Vivian Sinclair’s third cousin, society heiress Tabitha “Tabby” Sinclair hosts a benefit gala aboard a gambling ship. Vivian accepts her invitation to cover the gala, keen to investigate rumors about the boat’s other international activities. But under this swell affair skitters something creepy and crawly.

The House Up in the Hills: Hard-boiled private eye Dex Raymond prowls Los Angeles, led by his nose for trouble. A supposedly straightforward auto fatality case hurtles Dex toward sorcerous members of L.A.’s business elite, a wave of rat attacks, and a child’s disappearance.

High Voltage Kill: A legendary designer of spark-flinging horror movie props becomes Dex’s client when some punk swipes key set pieces from 1931’s Frankenstein. Dex encounters a man so determined to get revenge he’s willing to kill anyone who gets in his way, be it bystander, cop, or hardboiled private eye.

Skin and Teeth: The Revelstock hotel, on South Normandie near Pico, is a place where the shady go to hide out and/or ply their trades. But one of the maids found something so terrible under a bed while cleaning that even the mob-connected owner Hal Cade is sweating. The answer lies in a shocking disaster of the recent past—and something older still.

Can you solve these cases with your hide—and mind—intact?

Status: In editing

Fill your hardboiled detective’s hand with luck and doom!

As Cthulhu Confidential investigators navigate the intertwined worlds of crime and cosmic horror, they accumulate Problem cards marking the hits they take along the way.

Fortunately they also pick up Edge cards, which they can parlay into useful advantages against gangsters, gamblers and ghouls.

This accessory for in-person GUMSHOE One-2-One play contains 68 Edges and Problem cards you’re most likely to hand to your player.

You screamed for their physical manifestation, and now they’re here. Wear a wicked grin as you slide them toward your player’s trembling digits!

 

 

Buy the printable PDF (if you have bought the print version of Cthulhu Confidential, this is now available to download from your bookshelf).

Spine-Tingling Washington, D.C. Mythos Noir from the Casefiles of Langston Wright

You are Langston Wright: a scholarly WW2 veteran, fighting for room to breathe in wartime Washington under the shadow of the Jim Crow laws. Equipped with your smarts, your test tubes, and your determination to help people, your job is to scour the streets of the District and fix its toughest problems.

Langston knows an ancient enemy is rising, but he is trapped a million years away. An extraterrestrial intelligence inhabits Langston’s body, dodging bullets as well as a monster controlled by a madman. All the while, Langston’s sanity and the nation’s capital city are on the line.

“The Shadow Over Washington” is the sixth adventure for Cthulhu Confidential™. This one-GM, one-player RPG drops your hero into a noir nightscape where, beneath the merely human corruption, an eternal evil lurks: the malign, cosmic indifference of HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos!

 

 

 

Stock #: PELGOC07D Author: Chris Spivey
Artist: Christian Knutsson Type: 40-page PDF

Buy now

Spine-Tingling L.A. Mythos Noir from the Casefiles of Dex Raymond

You are Dex Raymond: a hard-boiled L.A. private eye with a nose for trouble. Equipped with your smarts, fists, and just maybe a code of honor, your job is to walk the streets of this dirty town and uncover its darkest secrets. But when your production designer Source Max Weyl puts you on the case of missing and dangerous movie props, the laboratory set pieces from 1931’s Frankenstein, you encounter a man so determined to get revenge he’s willing to kill anyone who gets in his way, be it bystander, cop, or hardboiled private eye. Can you solve the case with your hide—and sanity—intact?

“High Voltage Kill” is the fourth PDF adventure for Cthulhu Confidential™. This one-GM, one-player RPG drops your hero into a noir nightscape where, beneath the merely human corruption, an eternal evil lurks: the malign, cosmic indifference of HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos!

 

 

 

Stock #: PELGOC05D Author: Robin D. Laws
Artist: Christian Knutsson, Laura Martin Type: 38-page PDF

Buy now

Spine-Tingling Washington, D.C. Mythos Noir from the Casefiles of Langston Wright

You are Langston Wright: a scholarly WW2 veteran, fighting for room to breathe in wartime Washington under the shadow of the Jim Crow laws. Equipped with your smarts, your test tubes, and your determination to help people, your job is to scour the streets of the District and fix its toughest problems.

Rhino Jones is one tough cookie, and he makes it impossible to turn down his demand to find out who stole from him and killed his crew. This leads Langston into a blurred otherworld of corrupt businessmen and Nazi spies, and the deadly weapon prototype that they’re all trying to get hold of.

“One For the Money” is the third adventure for Cthulhu Confidential™. This one-GM, one-player RPG drops your hero into a noir nightscape where, beneath the merely human corruption, an eternal evil lurks: the malign, cosmic indifference of HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos!

 

 

 

Stock #: PELGOC04D Author: Chris Spivey
Artist: Christian Knutsson Type: 47-page PDF

Buy now

Spine-Tingling New York Mythos Noir from the Newsfiles of Vivian Sinclair

You are Vivian Sinclair: a sharp-dressing, straight-talking, New York investigative journalist. Equipped with your smarts, your notebook, and your unerring nose for a good story, your job is to scour the streets of the City of Dreams and dig up its darkest secrets.

Chasing a scoop, you go deep undercover in sleazy clip joints and Harlem’s famous Cotton Club—only to learn a dead Irish hitman’s terrifying secret, one that can be used to commit murder from a distance. Can you get your story with your hide, and your sanity, intact?

“The Howling Fog” is the second adventure for Cthulhu Confidential™. This one-GM, one-player RPG drops your hero into a noir nightscape where, beneath the merely human corruption, an eternal evil lurks: the malign, cosmic indifference of HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos!

 

 

 

Stock #: PELGOC03D Author: Ruth Tillman
Artist: Christian Knutsson, Laura Martin Type: 41-page PDF

Buy now

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.

 

 

 

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