29 May: [Royal Nepalese Army] gives three objects to [REDACTED] and tells [REDACTED] that a complete nose cone (fourth object) exists but cannot be seen

— US Embassy Nepal, Defense Attache Office report, 23 July 1968

On the night of 25 March 1968, something unknown crashed into Nepal from outer space. Project MOON DUST was notified, and removed three of the four pieces of wreckage. The final piece, a cone- or saucer-shaped object, was not recovered. This is the absolute truth.

Pokhara, Nepal (UFO crash site probably behind the hill center-right)

And if the US government simply had the common courtesy to keep things classified instead of dumping out its documents to every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a Freedom of Information Act request, we could have all kinds of fun with that recovered fragment of UFO lore. In fairness, you still can. Most people — even most UFO fans — don’t know a lot more than this, and its details are at least buried in long tiresome badly-Xeroxed PDFs, not colorfully explained in a loopy eliptony column (until now). If you have the kind of player who has already assembled the dozen or so declassified pages on the “Kathmandu UFO Crash” as it is occasionally known, they will almost certainly not be the one to call shenanigans when you go ahead and make up wonderful things about it.

Even the CIA “Information Report” on the incident, marked Confidential on 11 April 1968 and declassified probably in 2009, still holds that wonder in potential. Its context is suspected Chinese activity along the Himalayan border between Tibet and Nepal, and it includes not just a lovely picture of UFOlogist Donald Keyhoe but also details of three other UFO sightings in the area: a long thin very bright UFO over northeastern Nepal and Sikkim on 19 February; a blue light over Bhutan on 21 February; and a white light and a red light over the Kashmir border region of Ladakh on 4 March. (The blue light also returned on 25 March, the night of the crash, and buzzed Ladakh.) All these UFOs flew from the northeast (Tibet) to the southwest until the crash.

Ah yes, the crash. Let’s go to the CIA report verbatim now: “A blazing object, flashing intermittently accompanied by big thunder sound disintegrated over Kaski region. A huge metallic disc-shaped object with a six-foot base and four feet in height was found in a crater at Baltichaur, five miles NE of Pokhara. Portions of a similar object were found at Talakot and Turepasal.” Pretty great, eh? CIA reports a UFO crash in the Himalayas, Men in Black spring into action and recover the wreckage, smash cut to Area 51 or Hangar 18.

Sadly, also-declassified Defense Intelligence Agency reports on the same incident (on 23 and 30 July 1968) go into bruising bureaucratic detail. And since quotidian realism is the key to proper Lovecraftian horror, so too shall I. According to the Defense Attache (DATT) in the US Embassy in Kathmandu, the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) sat on the incident for a month, only showing “two objects” to the DATT on 23 April, and providing the DIA with photos of the wreckage and the site on 20 May.

On 29 May Project MOON DUST enters the picture (the DIA report is helpfully tabbed with the MOON DUST clearance, and the 30 July report even mentions briefing the Ambassador “on MOON DUST situation”) and the RNA gives “three objects” to some party redacted in the declassified report. Two weeks after that, [REDACTED] gets off its butt and visits the crash site, five miles northeast of the city of Pokhara, and spends ten days there (15-25 June). The final report describes the objects in some detail and even includes (badly reproduced) sketches: the “disc shape” is 15 inches across, not six feet. The “nose cone” is probably a motor nozzle; the report recommends that a technical team “not repeat not” be sent “unless visual examination of fourth object is felt essential.” To tie things off with a bow, the British Ministry of Defence (whose military attache horned in, and who may have gotten their own wreckage to examine) decreed the wreck to be the failed Cosmos 208 spy satellite that the Soviets launched on 21 March.

I am, of course, one of the men who have become allied with the outside beings visiting our planet. I met them first in the Himalayas, and have helped them in various ways. In return they have given me experiences such as few men have ever had.

— H.P. Lovecraft, “The Whisperer in Darkness”

So what can we, ourselves, recover from the wreckage of our beautiful story? How can we salvage it for a Moon Dust Men or Fall of DELTA GREEN operation? First of all, there is plenty of space for that operation in the official record: note that the DIA doesn’t even get a whiff of the crash (officially) for a month and the CIA (assuming those are the [REDACTED] boys) doesn’t show up for almost three months! That’s forever in RPG time.

Second of all, here’s something I’ve noticed. The more information you have on a topic, the more weird inconsistencies you can find in that information. There may be no historical moment better documented or more scrutinized than Dealey Plaza between 12:15 and 12:35 on 22 November 1963 and there are literal libraries of books based on the inconsistencies in those documents and that scrutiny. Fifteen or so measly pages shouldn’t veil us out so easy. So note the weird anomalies: are there three pieces of wreckage or four? Why does the CIA list two places that don’t exist (“Baltichaur” and “Turepasal”) in its list of crash sites like some Space Age Mandeville? Where did the British come from? Did somebody slip the Nepalese a ringer when we returned the pieces? How did that disc shrink from six feet to 15 inches? (Insert your own ‘it was cold’ joke here.) What about all those other UFOs? Why did the Nepalese insist the “nose cone” could not be seen and then let the CIA (or whoever) go look at it? Or did they mean it was invisible? Cloaked? Infradimensional?

Third, of course, we can look into Pokhara itself. In 1968 it didn’t even have a paved road leading to it from outside, although it did have a lot of Tibetan refugees from Mao. It’s a pilgrimage site (and before Mao a caravan site from Tibet), full of Hindu and Buddhist and mixed temples going back to medieval times. It’s less than 30 miles from the Annapurna mountain range — and from the CIA base for Tibetan rebels on just the other side of the ridge in Mustang. It’s also full of caves, sitting on porous rock near a big shiny lake, with the Patale Chango (Hell’s Falls) just to the south. In other words, it’s born to hold secrets from Yuggoth or Agharti or both.

Finally, there’s the DIA’s mushmouth bureaucratese, reeking of cover-up. The weird insistence to “not repeat not” send technical experts. The eagerness to wish away the wreckage as insignificant. And the lovely final words of the 30 July DIA memo, explaining that the Ambassador expressed his “desire we give the Government of Nepal positive info if at all possible.” Well that’s our mission here: to give positive info about UFO crashes, and Mi-Go macrodimensional metal, and [REDACTED].

Galileo Uplift cover_350To fight aliens, one must use the alien. Take it apart, reverse-engineer it, rebuild it, turn it into armor and sensors and weapons and aircraft good enough to win a war against an enemy from the stars. Tech and gear for your high-powered MOON DUST MEN game, powered by a new GUMSHOE “tech tree” subystem for bootstrapping invention and development.

Moon Dust Men: Galileo Uplift is the eighth installment of the third Ken Writes About Stuff subscription and is now available to subscribers – it will be available to buy in the webstore in November. If you have subscribed to the third KWAS subscription, Moon Dust Men: Galileo Uplift is now on your order receipt page, so all you have to do is click on the new link in your order email. (If you can’t find your receipt email, you can get another one sent to you by entering your email address here).

Stock #: PELH35D Author: Kenneth Hite
Artist: Alicia Vogel
Pages: 10pg PDF

Front cover_350The Moon Dust Men are the tip of the spear. MAJESTIC-12 aims it. Manage the global war against the aliens with this new GUMSHOE subsystem. Do you build retro-engineered Aurora craft, or bioroids to fight on the Moon? Do you launch satellite screens or dig in anti-saucer lasers? You decide where the black budget goes — and who it goes after.

Moon Dust Men: MAJESTIC Overwatch is the seventh installment of the third Ken Writes About Stuff subscription and is now available to subscribers – it will be available to buy in the webstore in October. If you have subscribed to the third KWAS subscription, Moon Dust Men: MAJESTIC Overwatch is now on your order receipt page, so all you have to do is click on the new link in your order email. (If you can’t find your receipt email, you can get another one sent to you by entering your email address here).

Stock #: PELH34D Author: Kenneth Hite
Artist: David Winship, Jeff Porter
Pages: 11pg PDF

I know what you come here for. For Dracula or Cthulhu or in some cases both. So that’s why this month we’re going to give you a different kind of both. Yes, it’s time for that Moon Dust MenSchool of Night crossover that you demanded! Maybe not you, specifically. Maybe just Michael Grasso. But anyhow, settle in for the amorphously-demanded thriller skeleton to Celestial Spheres, or, The Immanence of the Holy Sputnik. As an added bonus, this is what a Ken-designed scenario looks like before I run it the first time.

Part One: Moon Dust Men: Right Around Now

Hook: The Moon Dust Men get spotty telemetry on an incoming object with a spherical radar reflection, heading for the Tyrrhenian Sea near Elba. A quick stage to an American aircraft carrier in the Med, a hop to Elba, and they’re ready for recovery duty.

Wakeup: A Soviet submarine is on site, with a team competing for the object. Perhaps it’s their opposite numbers in Setka-MO!

The First Reveal: The Moon Dust Men defeat the Soviets and recover the object, which is a surprisingly intact — almost as though the object didn’t actually fall through most of the atmosphere — replica of Sputnik 1, which supposedly burned up in orbit in 1958. Weirder yet, it has a large-caliber (.60) bullet hole in its lower quadrant. (Possibly, the metal of the object doesn’t quite match the original: iridium instead of titanium, that kind of thing. Or not.)

Blowback: A KGB “Blue Star” psychic heads up a team of Directorate 13 wet-workers to ice the Moon Dust Men and take the sphere back. This is not normal procedure: the Soviets must really want this thing. Perhaps the Russians even get it back, though not without leaving some clues behind.

The Twist: Further investigation (dying words of the psychic, ticket stub found in the KGB safe house, Ufology spend, Interpersonal ability with a lovely guest-star art historian) leads the Moon Dust Men to nearby Montalcino, Italy, where they discover “The Disputation of the Eucharist,” by Ventura Salimbieni. Painted between 1595 and 1600.

Part Two: School of Night: Sphaeris ex Caelis

Hook: The Night Scholars hear that the Jesuits in England have begun communicating with a “sphere from heaven” and receiving their marching orders through it. This presents a clear and present danger to the realm!

Curtain: Art History notes that the “celestial sphere” or “sphere of heaven” is a common motif in Renaissance art, indicating God’s control of, and complete knowledge of, the world. Often God (or sometimes Christ) are shown with slender scepters to control it with. No sightings of this “sphere” in England can be found.

Wakeup: The Jesuit network pushes back, sending bravos and pursuivants after the Night Scholars. They seem oddly able to predict where the Night Scholars will be.

The First Reveal: Having found the Jesuit mastermind by serially defeating his minions, the Night Scholars ransack his lodgings (either after killing him or after his amazingly lucky hairs-breadth escape) and find one of the slender scepters. It shortens in upon itself in an ingenious way that not even Thomas Hariot knows will be called “telescoping” in 200 years. This scepter provides magical connection enough to try summoning the sphere of heaven to see what blasphemy the Jesuits are dealing in.

The Twist: The summoning works, in a way — but the sphere is both more and less horrible than the Scholars imagined. It floats of its own and beetles into their minds. It seems to have an inhuman intelligence behind it, revealing uncanny future visions to them — although it addresses them in Russian! During the ceremony, it seems weirdly able to pass the magical barriers around it, vanishing only after a pistol shot wounds it.

Part Three: Epi-Logos?

The Moon Dust Men are left with an enigma. They can further investigate the possibility of the time vortex or rift that sent Sputnik back to 1595 and forward again to 1979. Is that the only Sputnik duplicate out there? Did the Soviets get time-travel telemetry in 1958 from Sputnik 1 and now need only a third data set to triangulate it and develop temporal technology themselves? Are there temporal aliens among us? (If the sphere’s metal was different, perhaps they built a duplicate Sputnik of their own and sent it back as a message.) The GM can introduce plenty of weird time-slip stuff to indicate that the sphere has opened a bit of a wound in reality by coming through — something like a bullet-hole in reality’s lower quadrant, perhaps.

The Night Scholars may never know what they’ve stopped, or they may start seeing other strange mechanical devices and lights in the sky infest their world. The artistic community discovers Salimbieni’s sketches when he makes them in 1595, and they reach the Scholars — perhaps a trip to Italy is in order? Salimbieni is closely tied to the powerful Cardinal Bevilacqua and the Knights of the Golden Spur, the pope’s mysterious Golden Militia selected from artists, courtiers, and soldiers alike — is this the opposite number to the School in the Vatican? Many threads lead off this tapestry.

It’s up to the GM whether the Sputnik time-loop is a one-off mystery or the opening gun of a new series arc for either campaign. Perhaps the links continue — did Anthony Blunt (royal art historian and KGB spy) send the Soviets the secret artistic keys to time travel or demonic prophecy or both? He’s still in Britain in the 1970s after his secret confession in 1966 — perhaps the Moon Dust Men can break him down and get him to reveal the real truth.


MDM Cover_300

President Eisenhower established Project Moon Dust in 1953 to locate, contain, and coordinate everything known about the alien presence on Earth. The public-relations and open-source arm of Moon Dust was called Project Blue Book. Blue Book ended its work in 1970. It is 1978. Your work never ends. This GUMSHOE campaign frame, Moon Dust Men, can be a sci-fi, conspiracy, or horror game – it’s up to you to find the truth.

Moon Dust Men includes new abilities (Ufology), new skills (Remote Viewing, Psionics), aliens (Greys, Nommo), and cryptids (chupacabra, Mothman). This campaign frame introduces Backslash Points, a rule-variant for the “weird science” genre typified by The X-Files or Fringe.

A Moon Dust team comprises three to six personnel, usually including a linguist, a technician, and a combat ops specialist. All are airborne, or at least jump, qualified – UFOs don’t always crash near roads or landing strips. The Air Force attempts to cross-train team members in the skills of the others to ensure a team functional capability despite any casualties that may be incurred in their employment.

Ken includes sprinkles of moon dust campaign frames for Ashen Stars, Esoterrorists, Fear Itself, Mutant City Blues, Night’s Black Agents, and Trail of Cthulhu.

Praise for Moon Dust Men:

“In under a dozen pages, Moon Dust Men provides you with an interesting set-up, character variations, extraterrestrials, weird monsters, and sneaky Russians – all easily layered over any version of the Gumshoe system you happen to have lying around. Whether you want to run an interesting one-shot, tweak your current setting to include conspiracies and aliens, or try for a whole campaign, this supplement gives you enough to get going. For little more than a tall brewed coffee from a High Street coffee chain, you have all the prerequisites for mysterious adventures fighting insidious Greys and our ubiquitous reptilian underlords.” – Paul Baldowski

Moon Dust Men is the sixth installment of Ken Writes About Stuff Volume 1, or it’s available as a stand-alone from the store.


Stock #: PELH07D Author: Kenneth Hite
Artist: David Winship, Jeff Porter Pages: 11pg PDF