“Some curiosity may be felt as to his history; I will trace it with the utmost truthfulness, according to his own words, adding any necessary explanations. He told me that he was eighty-eight years of age when he came here, and that he was the son of Prince Ragoczy of Transylvania by his first wife, a Tékéli.”
— Prinz Karl von Hessen-Kassel, Memoirs (1817)
Proud if neglectful papa, Ferenc II Ragoczy
The perhaps-too-gullible Prince Karl wrote these words about my friend and yours, the quondam immortal alchemist, composer, and confidence man who called himself the Comte de Saint-Germain. He also called himself, among a dizzying array of other pseudonyms, the Count Ragoczy (or occasionally Czarogy, for a change-up) and claimed to be the vanished heir to the throne of Transylvania, Prince Leopold Georg Ragoczy. The last reigning Prince of Transylvania, Ferenc II Ragoczy, had three sons before his ill-fated rebellion against Austria collapsed in 1708. The eldest, Leopold Georg, died in 1700. Or did he?
The Esoterrorists: I AM = EOD
Yes, of course he did. But the psychic dislocation of the Transylvanians, betrayed by their Christian brothers and their Turkish enemies, deprived of their proper Prince by the duplicitous Emperor, left a seed of doubt. By the 18th century, Esoterror groups had run the “Lost Heir Working” many times, sparking false hope, civil war, and repression that fed the Outer Dark. The Esoterror agent known as Saint-Germain decided to play a bigger game: he would run a “Quantum Heir Working” both claiming and denying his identity to spread chaos and ruin across Europe. Indeed, he was in Russia during the 1762 revolt that put Catherine the Great on the throne; his machinations at Versailles (and the Illuminist sects he left behind) toppled the Bourbons in 1789, leading to a quarter century of global war. The founder of American fascism, William Dudley Pelley, venerated him as a Secret Master … and so he was. Modern-day OV agents track a cache of Saint-Germain’s suddenly discovered letters from Budapest murder-auction to Paris musical conjuration site to Montana cult compound, unwittingly re-linking and re-awakening his 18th-century apparat to once more bring flame and tyranny to the West.
Night’s Black Agents: Sharper Than A Serpent’s Tooth
No, Saint-Germain wasn’t a vampire. But Prince Leopold Georg was, from birth. (Saint-Germain, who never ate or drank in company, and never seemed to age, was a Renfield.) The Prince’s mother, Prince Karl foggily recalled, was “a Tékéli.” The Conspiracy cover story pretends this refers to the noble Thököli family of Hungary, from whence actually descended the Prince’s grandmother. But no, Saint-Germain actually said “Székely,” the term Dracula uses in the novel for his own Hungarian forebears. The Linea Dracula split in the 16th century, when Count John Dracula allied himself with the Bathory clan. Internecine warfare decimated the vampire ranks until Count John finally won in 1683. Diehard secret foes of Count John made a deal with the Bathorys’ great rivals for the throne of Transylvania, the Ragoczys. Ferenc II gave his blood and other humours to a Székely assign, who magically and alchemically conceived a vampiric moonchild. This may explain the entry in Ferenc’s diary on his son’s passing: “I confess my affliction at his death was not of the slightest.” John Dracula’s influence at the Imperial court explains why Ferenc was never imperially confirmed as Prince of Transylvania, and perhaps why his rebellion was so thoroughly crushed. But the Empire never found Ferenc’s true vampiric heir, who worked against the Hapsburgs in the shadows and perhaps engineered their fall in 1918. This by now 320-year-old vampire commands great magics as well as the Theosophical cult of Saint-Germain in Europe, India, and America, giving orders to his subordinates telepathically or while in mist form, to avoid being identified as an Un-Dead four-year-old. The returned Dracula hunts this lost heir to his vampiric throne, blood of his blood, Leopold Georg the Last of Transylvania.
Trail of Cthulhu: The Mahatmas of Madness
Prince Karl all too accurately recalled Saint-Germain’s words. His mother was a “Tékéli” — something fearful and primordial from the antarctic reaches of the Earth. (Saint-Germain in 1779 also puckishly described his mother’s country as one which had never been ruled by “men of a foreign origin.”) How she arrived in Vienna in 1691 we may never know: brought on board a Dutch brigantine blown off course south of Cape Horn, perhaps. Saint-Germain finally died in 1784, at the age of ninety, still appearing as a fifty-year-old man. Madame Blavatsky claimed that “The Master Rakoczy” was one of the Hidden Mahatmas or Secret Masters or the Great White Brotherhood — and the cry “tekeli-li” is associated by Poe with the fear of white things. Are the Himalayan White Masters who spawned Saint-Germain the hideous Mi-Go, or gnophkeh worshippers of Ithaqua in Leng? Does the Brotherhood of the Yellow Sign hunt Saint-Germain or his Mother, or seek the secret of immortality hidden in his alien blood? Did Saint-Germain transmigrate his consciousness into a new body, like Ephraim Waite? Did Edward Hutchinson steal his essential saltes from the crypt of St. Nicolas’ church in Eckernforde and resurrect him in “Castle Ferenczy” in Transylvania? Is Saint-Germain’s Mother, like Grendel’s, still lurking somewhere, gravid with a new Secret Master? Send the Investigators to the ruins of Castle Ferenczy in Rakus to dig up some clues, dodge some Romanian Iron Guard sorcerors, and follow the Trail of Saint-Germain wherever it leads.
TimeWatch: The Saint-Germain Variations
Dodgy mystics or occult weirdos really want to find out the truth behind Saint-Germain, and one of them, Elsa Bailly, gets ahold of a time machine. Fearing the Master’s magic, she heads for 1700 Transylvania to kidnap Saint-Germain as a baby — unwittingly spawning the legend of the Lost Heir that Saint-Germain later plays upon to credulous audiences. Is his “magic” just sleight-of-time and paradox? Does he play coy about his past because he grew up outside time, where he learned to grow diamonds and jam with Handel? Are the various Saint-Germain impostors his enemies or his alternate selves? Did Elsa steal the infant Saint-Germain — or an Outer Dark tulpa, or a vampire, or a shoggoth-spawn? This looks like a job — like a lot of jobs — for TimeWatch.
The skulking Outer Dark Entity known as the sulp crosses the membrane into places where humans keep the possessions they do not need but cannot quite bear to get rid of. Sulps can appear in warehouses, attics, derelict buildings or the squalid homes of hoarders. They most often manifest in self-storage facilities. The name sulp in fact is an Ordo Veritatis term deriving from the acronym SLP, or storage locker prowler. Mostly they seem to be able to push through the membrane into objects connected with murder or trauma. Your classic storage locker full of mementos squirreled away by a serial killer suits them to a T.
At rest, the sulp looks like a cube of pale-skinned human flesh, about the size of a piece of carry-on baggage, with bulbous eyes, moist, thick-lipped mouth and patchy hair follicles. When on the move it transforms itself into an obscene, loosely fleshy pseudo-humanoid.
The sulp latches onto the identities of particular targets by fondling and licking their former or stored possessions. Through this practice it forms a gradual psychic bond, eventually granting it the ability to track the people who most often handled its appropriated fetish objects. From this link sulps glean crucial facts about their targets’ lives, enabling them to stalk them. Like most Outer Dark Entities, sulps play with their food. They prefer to torment and emotionally molest their victims before finally leaping upon them and literally eviscerating them. Sulps dismember their kills, taking key portions of their skeletons back to their storage locker hideouts. These they form into a distressing sculpture. Ordo researches have yet to determine whether this construction fulfills a purely ornamental function, or has some practical use to the sulp, perhaps as a psychic antenna allowing it to locate more distant victims.
To find a sulp that has been terrorizing an area in the radius of it’s storage locker, agents must triangulate its location and track it to its lair. Sulps have been known to use items they discover in their home storage areas as weapons. So be prepared to face guns, knives, antique swords and the occasional bandsaw.
Sulps speak in low, mournful voices and have been recorded as expressing the opinion that all of humanity is but a dump heap of delights for them to sort through.
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.’
Over at RPGNet, Kafka has been working through our new releases, and has posted a great review of The Esoterrorists 2nd Edition, giving it 5/5 for Style and Substance.
Kafta notes that the second edition contains “both an update of the basic rules (GUMSHOE), hence edition change but also add-ons that make it more the game (possibly) more enjoyable”, and then concludes by saying that “it is a significant improvement over 1.0 by addressing all the shortcomings that slim volume had. It is not only twice the value for the buck – but very careful attention is paid to explaining the workings of the GUMSHOE system – so if that still eludes you – this book is worth its weight in gold (and it is a heavy book).”
You can read the full review on RPGNet here.
A stand-alone roleplaying game by Robin D Laws
You are elite investigators combating the plots of the Esoterrorists, a loose affiliation of occult terrorists intent on tearing the fabric of the world. The Esoterrorists introduces the GUMSHOE rules system, which revolutionizes investigative scenarios by ensuring that players are never deprived of the crucial clues they need to move the story forward.
Upgrades, Improvements and New Content for the 2nd Edition.
This new edition of The Esoterrorists is 4 times longer and allows you to:
- Equip your characters with fine-grained investigative abilities, ranging from Interrogation and Data Retrieval to the ever-popular Forensic Entomology and always useful Bullshit Detector.
- Round them out with 13 crucial action abilities, which help you fight, run away, and retain your mental stability when the horrors come knocking.
- Absorb the latest, in-depth intelligence data on the terrifying world of the Esoterrorists.
- Learn the never-before-revealed inner workings of the Ordo Veritatis, the secret international agency that sends you out to smash the foe.
- Recoil at raw reports detailing all-new creatures of unremitting horror.
- Root yourself in a site of small town menace with the new Station Duty campaign frame and scenario.
- Confront fever dreams of the apocalypse in a brand new introductory scenario, OPERATION: PROPHET BUNCO!
Also included, for gamemasters:
- Data on the terrifying world of the Esoterrorists, and the Ordo Veritatis, the benevolent global conspiracy that fights them
- Creatures of unremitting horror.
- Detailed instructions on structuring investigative scenarios for the innovative GUMSHOE system
- Advice on bringing those scenarios to life in play
- Operation Slaughterhouse, an advanced example scenario of geopolitical horror
The Esoterrorists is easy to learn, easy to play and replayable by design.
Incorporating years of advice, actual play experience, and design evolution, The Esoterrorists Enhanced Edition includes all the rules you need to play the game that revolutionized investigative roleplaying. Dripping with ichor and jammed with content, this is the heftier, meatier, definitive tome gamers have been crying out for ever since they laid their paws on the original.
Reviews of The Esoterrorists:
… the game does deliver on its promise. You could easily explain the rules to someone in 15 minutes enough so that they could play. You can also learn them enough to run the game in about an hour.
I was apprehensive about the system but I was wrong – it worked really well for me.
The rules are incredible – I honestly think this is the best investigation-based RPG ever printed.
|Stock #: PELG012
||Author: Robin D. Laws with Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan
|Artist: Phil Reeves, Kyle Strahm
||Pages: 160 page perfect bound
The character sheets and sample are provided by Pelgrane Press, the rest are provided by enthusiasts.
- Download the Esoterrorists character sheet as a PDF file.
- A new fillable PDF Esoterrorists character sheet by Kurt Rauscher.
- Download the Esoterrorists character sheet as a CC3 fcw file.
- Download an updated Esoterrorists character sheet as a PDF file which includes the new investigative ability from The Book of Unremitting Horror, Pathology.
- Download Irrawaddy Landing, an mp3 for the Esoterrorists by James Semple (and read about his inspiration here).
- Sample characters from the playtest courtesy of Phill Winters and group.
- An example of character creation by Jason Blair (Little Fears)
- Operation Antler: A quick, single-session “ticking clock” adventure set in the UK by Lynne and Richard. Slaughtered deer have been found on a farm in Cumbria. Is it evidence of an Esoterror ritual? If so, what is their goal? Download Operation Antler (PDF)
- Preference for Oblivion: An adventure in Protodimension Magazine #3 by Joe Klemann. Five days ago, Misha Jedeski disappeared from her home in Batavia, Illinois, near the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Could this somehow be connected to Fermilab’s new experimental, miniaturized Hadron Collider? Download Protodimension #3 (PDF)
- Geist In The Shell: Responding to reports of gunshots in the penthouse apartment of suspected Esoterrorist insider Karl Geist. the police have discovered an explosive device on the apartment door. Pose as the Bomb Disposal Unit, gain access to the apartment, and investigate possible Esoterror activity. This adventure by Marcus D. Bone is designed as an introduction to a larger campaign, acting as a framework upon which GMs can build their scenarios. Download Geist In The Shell (PDF)