Over on the Google+ Pelgrane Press RPGs community, Johan Lundström voiced concerns about the order in which his players would tackle the locations of Eternal Lies, our world-spanning Trail of Cthulhu campaign, and the impact that might have on plot and pacing of the campaign. Eternal Lies writer Will Hindmarch responds as follows (***CAUTION*** Contains spoilers for Eternal Lies below the image—for Eternal Lies Keepers only!)

 

 

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Great questions. These concerns are totally valid! Fortunately, the game and the campaign have features built in to help you pace and adapt the campaign to suit your needs.

First, be careful to lay out the options for Act Two such that the players and their characters are choosing from multiple options with a bit of intel to go on. Their patron in the campaign can buy them all the boat trips and plane rides they need to take on the chapters in the order of their choosing. If Malta or Bangkok catch their interest, the logistics of travel don’t have to play a part in their decision. If Ms. Winston-Rogers summons the Investigators back east for a meeting to discuss what they’ve uncovered so far, you can emphasize how easy it is to travel in this campaign in Ms. Winston-Rogers’ own words.

The episodic format of Act Two is intentionally designed to give the long-running campaign a bit of a familiar, recurring structure in the middle. That serialized feeling can be a feature, rather than a bug! Given how long it might take to play out a given locale, the ability to recenter and quickly understand the format of the investigation between locales can be helpful. Use scenes set at home, between chapters, to adjust and modulate the pacing, especially if the PCs are moving quicker than they seem to like. This isn’t meant to slow them down, but to add variation to the kind of challenges put before them.

How you pace and portray the big choices is important, too. It is fair game to play up the danger and mystery of the Yucatán expedition to help the players and their characters question if they really are ready to go there yet. If they attempt the Yucatán expedition early in the campaign, that’s their choice. Let them enjoy the benefits of that—and experience the consequences. It is an undeniably big encounter, at the end of that locale, but whether it’s climactic or not is a matter of structure and storytelling, right? Consider how the campaign goes forward differently as a result of their choice, including how to introduce new Investigators, if necessary.

They have made great progress in battling their foe, and earned an edge against it, but can they trust the words of a spiteful alien god-monster? Is it even accurate? Knowing how to cast the spell isn’t enough! Other locales have clues that tell them where and when to cast the spell. And if they somehow press on without gathering sufficient clues, the Investigators live or die by that choice, too.

To carry the campaign forward after any locale that feels highly climactic, maybe treat that as something akin to a season finale, and treat the next session as the premiere of the next season. This also signals you, as the Keeper, to portray choices and consequences in later locales so that they are climactic, too; maybe by being more personally consequential than epically climactic.

The structure of Eternal Lies is designed to help Keepers and other players modulate the experience, and to keep the story going even if the Investigators cannot keep going. The premise picks up the threads of an investigation that met with disaster. If new Investigators meet with trouble, more Investigators can pick up the threads too, carried forward by the players already. Each locale is a jumping-on point and a seam for the Keeper to use to reorient the players and new characters. The feeling of setting out for locale #3 (whichever one that is) can echo or allude to the Investigators’ previous trip. That can be comforting or foreboding, depending on how the last trip went.

The flip side of it? If the Investigators are doing very well, making smart choices and getting great results, they get to enjoy the benefits of that for a little while.

But remember: they don’t know what the next locale holds. They don’t know how far, how vast, how perilous their future might be. The fear of what happens next is greater for those who haven’t read the book. Use that. They might find a later locale easier than an earlier one… but they can’t rely on that feeling. You have the power to keep them wary, but enticed to press forward despite their fears. The menace and the mystery of the experience is in your voice, Keeper.

The Eternal Lies Limited Edition

Eternal Lies is our tribute to the great epic Call of Cthulhu adventures such as Masks of Nyarlathotep and Beyond the Mountains of Madness. Eternal Lies was released at GenCon 2013, won two ENnie awards and has its own fan community and now has an alternative ending.

We printed 125 limited editions, and they’ve been waiting in vault protected by dire occult sigils. Now the seal has been broken and the eldritch tomes are finally free. The cover is brown faux leather with gold foil lettering, and includes a specially designed book plate signed by Will Hindmarch and Jeff Tidball, co-creators of Eternal Lies.EL-bookplate-full-bleed-4-18

The book retails at $80 / £60 plus shipping.

Having emailed all Eternal Lies customers with the first option to pick them up – as is their privilege – we can now offer the few remaining copies publicly. If you want one of the limited edition copies, grab one at this secret store link.

It was our intention with Eternal Lies, our epic Trail of Cthulhu campaign, to create a book to be brought alive by actual play, not just a handsome shelf-filler. And so it’s proved, with an Eternal Lies Keeper’s Community on Google+, advice and historical props over on the Yog-Sothoth forum, an interactive campaign map and tons of actual play reports such as this by Aviatrix over on Story Games.

Eternal Lies for Call of Cthulhu

Many Call of Cthulhu Keepers, while happy with their own system, are intrigued by our Mythos adventures, and Eternal Lies is the biggest eldritch beast we’ve put out there. Fortunately, Andrew Nicholson has converted Eternal Lies for use with Call of Cthulhu – a free download here – and Paul of Cthulhu and the Innsmouth House Players have experienced the entirety of Eternal Lies, recorded in  in 22 audio episodes available to yog-sothoth patrons. The finale was sombre and breathtaking.

Paul has made the first two episodes freely available over on yoggie, and I was impressed by his clever use of an iPad Mini and iPhone built into a Keeper’s Screen to share maps and images of NPCs in an unobtrusive fashion with his players.

A New Ending for Eternal Lies

We want Eternal Lies to stay alive, and so we’ll continue to provide new material for it, and in that spirit, we’ve just released an a new section written by Lauren Roy, which ties all the threads of the campaign together to deliver an entirely different ending.

For Pelgrane Press mail order customers the new ending is available through your order page – check Customer Service if you have problems finding your email. We’ll upload the new ending to Bits and Mortar (for retail customers) and DriveThruRPG soon.

What More Would You Like To See?

We have the book itself, James Semples music and Will Wheaton’s voice over, plus the community-created additions, so what next? In May we’ll release the faux leather limited edition version of Eternal Lies.

What would you like to see for Eternal Lies? Authentic props? New sections? Keeper’s commentaries? Let us know in the comments. Also, if you’ve run or played Eternal Lies, we’d love to hear from you, too.

Eternal_Lies_cover_mockupOn the Flames Rising blog, reviewer Steven Dawes says about the epic Eternal Lies campaign:

“Eternal Lies is simply the most well developed and well designed adventure book I’ve ever seen!”

Steven adds, “The campaign storyline is loyal to and very worthy of the Cthulhu Mythos. The rules and organization of the book are easy to follow, and even the artwork and illustrations in the book were perfectly for the settling. Everything you need for an epic mythos adventure is in this outstanding book! But the authors and the maniacs who run Pelgrane Press must have fallen in love with this book just as much as I did…”

Finally, “Eternal Lies really raises the bar for RPG campaign books. Kudos to the authors, Pelgrane Press and everyone who was involved with (or is still involved with) this incredible book.”

You can read the full review on the Flames Rising blog here.

Origins Award NomineeThe Origins Award nominees for 2014 have been announced, and we’re happy to say that Pelgrane Press has products in two categories!

Congratulations to all of the nominees! And if you’re attending Origins, please stop by our booth — we’d love to meet you, and tell you all about these and our other fine products.

Eternal LiesGames reviewer Endzeitgeist declared Eternal Lies the Best Non-Pathfinder RPG Adventure of 2013, in the new issue of Pathways magazine. (Download a free copy.) He says:

Eternal Lies ranks as one of the best campaigns I’ve seen for any Cthulhu-system – it’s glorious and I’m not going to SPOIL the awesome premise here. Every Keeper should check this out – it’s one magnificent beast.

Get Eternal Lies at the Pelgrane Shop or at DriveThruRPG!

Eternal LiesOn the Dreams in the Lich House blog, reviewer Beedo says about the epic Eternal Lies campaign:

“After spending the past few weeks reading this 400 page monster, Pelgrane has far exceeded my expectations.”

Beedo continues, “The overarching theme of Eternal Lies is corruption, and the adventure does a fantastic job of grinding stability and sanity from the investigators and threatening them with effects that corrupt their character’s thoughts, souls, and ultimately, their physical bodies.”

Adding that “This is an excellent campaign, highly recommended, which confronts the players with a diverse series of locales and investigation types, while showing off the strengths of the Trail of Cthulhu rules set”, Eternal Lies is top of Beedo’s queue for next games to run.

You can read the full review on the Dreams in the Lich House blog here.

P115_InvestigatorMap-greyRickard Gudbrand was so inspired by the image on page 123 in the Eternal Lies book (left) that he decided to do a similar thing himself, to be able to give his players during the game.  Then he realised that he’d have to update the map as the investigators travelled to different locations, and possibly in a different order after the initial chapter.

The result is a beautiful interactive PDF map with layers, which the Keeper can use whatever order the players decide to travel in, as each layer can be activated individually and then printed (it’s designed as an A3-handout, so some fudging might be required to print to US letter size).

The PDF-reader must support layers for it to work. As it is very much a spoiler to a big part of the campaign, Rickard has protected it with a password: the first word on page 376 in the Eternal Lies rulebook.

You can download Rickard’s interactive map here.

Ch6-Bangkok-deathfightsAndrew Nicholson has been very hard at work converting Eternal Lies for Call of Cthulhu. He’s painstakingly gone through each act and explained how to tackle the core clues contained therein, and also how to make sure your players get nicely SAN-reduced as they uncover the mysteries of the campaign.

You can download a zip file containing all the full conversion here, but be warned – here be spoilers!

Pregen-Table-set Rickard Gudbrand has designed another handout for his upcoming Eternal Lies campaign which he’s happy to share with everyone. This is cards for the main NPC’s of the campaign, intended to be printed, cut out and placed in suitable plastic card sleeves.

As not all of the NPCs in the book have pictures, he’s used all the pre-gens in the Eternal Lies book – as well as some NPCs from other Trail of Cthulhu books – to give a unified look to the NPCs.

The results are lovely – you can download them yourself here.

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