Olingo the Sedulous had studied the creature’s routine, and was thus surprised to see the pelgrane flapping back to its nest a good hour before its projected time of arrival. The scholar, no longer as young as he wished to appear, attempted to clamber from the collection of firmly packed branches comprising the monster’s home. As the pelgrane soared his way, the striped velvet garter attached to Olingo’s left pantaloon leg caught on a wooden gnarl. Dropping the sack of important artifacts he had gathered, he bent down to work it free. By the time he had finished, the pelgrane was perched on the edge of its nest. In a neat motion the creature tucked its vast, bat-like wings behind its back. A thread of saliva dripped from its elongated spear of a beak.

The creature pointed its beak at the bag of items at Olingo’s feet. “I find myself in the presence of a connoisseur,” it said.

“Permit me an explanation,” Olingo responded.

The pelgrane sighed. “Belay all tedious lies. The year’s darkest night is upon us, and I am gnawed at the edges by melancholy.”

Olingo took the risk of picking up the sack. “You are correct, Sir Pelgrane, to guess that I possess some expertise concerning these items. Perhaps, in exchange for my erudite commentary upon them, you might consider sparing my life.”

“Demonstrate.”

The scholar withdrew a thin glass orb, covered in a sparkling crimson glaze. “This dates back seven eons, to the Caoropoan Rift—”

“Five,” said the pelgrane. “Five eons. But continue.”

Olingo took a breath. “From the earliest eras of civilization, we humans have marked the winter solstice with a feast of lights, a promise of night’s end, offering hope of birth. Or, depending upon the culture, rebirth.”

“A quotidian observation.”

“Indeed yes but one must ease into any topic. Among the tumultuous peoples of the Caoropoan, competition to display solstice ornaments of the finest subtlety—”

“You mentioned feasting. Frankly, that is a matter nearer my interests. Describe a Caoropoan winter banquet with sufficient piquancy, and I’ll let you go.”

“Let me start with the salad course,” said Olingo. “First, there is the pickle board, which starts with fermented lettuce in a bed of sesame paste.”

The pelgrane wrinkled the soft tissue at the top of its beak.

“I shall glide quickly over the preliminaries, and onto the meats and sauces,” Olingo said.

Watching the expiring sun inch behind the Cuirnif mountains, Olingo described it all: the candied grouse, the gilded carp, the sweetmeats in orange sauce. Not stinting on the side dishes, he conjured the flavors of puffed yam, vault-roasted maize, and jellied sea asparagus.

“It is a shame,” said the pelgrane, “that in these dwindling days it is no longer possible to earn a living as a poet of the culinary. It is there, my friend, that your true talents lie.”

Olingo bowed low. “You humble me, sir.”

“You may go,” said the pelgrane. “I forgive you for coveting my treasure.”

“But wait,” said Olingo, drunk on flattery. He had enjoyed no audience as rapt as this pelgrane. “Our imagined feast is not yet finished. I have not described the sweets course.” He sank back into monologue, beginning with the cacao mousse. He lingered over the shimmering biscuits, and finally listed each of the nine spices, three of them no longer extant, that went into the brandy-soaked cake of the Figgy Extravagance. “Finally the most lissome serving boys drizzle the center with the simplest of caramel sauces, nothing but golden Almery sugar and—”

The pelgrane surged forward, driving its beak through Olingo’s breastbone. It withdrew it a moment later. About to ease a chunk of flesh down its gullet, it caught itself, and spat it out. Horror and shame convulsed its reptilian features.

Hands struggling in vain to close the wound, Olingo gasped his final words: “But you spared me!”

“I concede error,” the pelgrane said. “You were speaking of pudding, and I became distracted.”

Merry Holidays to you and yours from the jolly crew at Pelgrane Press!

Following on with the music blog, I’m going to let Mike Torr introduce himself…

I’m a composer with a broad spectrum of experience and influences.  A long history as a keyboard performer (and one-time double bass player) has taken me through a landscape of Electronica, Blues, Classical, Jazz, and Rock; via the usual grind of touring and recording with bands; and landed me on the shores of media music land.  Writing music is always an adventure, and I’m attracted to it because it feels like a back door into the human subconscious.  Perhaps I was a necromancer in a previous life…
I live and work in Southampton and I’ve known James for a few years.  He’s already written some great material for Eternal Lies and I’m going to be joining his team and helping him to express his ideas in a variety of ways.  With Marie-Anne and Yaiza on board, I’m in the company of a great group of talented and creative people, and I’m really looking forward to discovering where this is going to lead!

Here’s a quick update on the state of the Eternal Lies suite.

This has been a truly phenomenal week with a chance for composers and authors to finally bounce ideas of one another. I’ve been absolutely amazed by the exceptional ideas coming from Will and Jeff and I’m so pleased about their enthusiasm for having their adventure scored. This week we began looking at the various chapters and how they will be scored.

Without giving away too much here, we have come up with around five distinct musical themes each representing concepts within the campaign. Therefore, chapters will reference themes based on the relevance of the concepts at the time. We’ll also be using this idea for the various stings that are to be used for specific circumstances. For instance, this week I created the sting for when a character is … well let’s politely say ‘retired’ from the game for whatever reason. This sting is a piano version of a theme which in one sense represents failure but is really part of a bigger concept. Perhaps I’ve said too much already…

We also agreed to include a new piece specifically to be played when the group are sitting back and reviewing the information they’ve amassed. We felt this would be a useful piece of music for keepers. In fact we’ve really spent a lot of time looking at the utility of this music for a group playing a game. That whole aspect has been very important for keeping us focused. The music must serve the game.

I hope that I’ll get a chance to include samples of the music during these articles to whet appetites!

Next week I’m going to start introducing the wonderful composers working alongside me to create this enormous suite of music.

James

Just to let people know that we are currently in the preparation phase of the Eternal Lies Suite project.

This means that right now we’re focusing on a variety of tasks: –

  • Developing themes for the suite
  • Dividing up the various tracks amongst the group
  • Building a suitable orchestral template within the sequencer software

For the most we’re focusing on a fairly traditional ‘film orchestra’ sound, particularly focusing on the kind of sound used in the 1930s. We had considered using more of an old fashioned sound for the final mix but we have decided against it. The style of arrangements and melodies will have the appropriate sound but we’ll use a more modern mix.

We will also be using elements of non-orchestral music including both folk instruments and sound design elements. I hope to be able to give more definite examples of what we’re using in a later post.

James

E23 Sale

We are running a PDF sale over on Steve Jackson Games digital store . You can get 15% off all GUMSHOE games. The sale ends on 1st March.

Get your GUMSHOE PDFs here.

There’s a new review of Trail of Cthulhu up on rpg.net by CW Richeson.

Trail of Cthulhu takes a fresh look at Lovecraft’s Mythos with a strong focus on investigation, excellent writing, and plenty of play support.

Style: 5 (Excellent!)
Substance: 4 (Meaty)

He says:

In play I was concerned that my traditional style of low prep freeform gaming would have trouble with the GUMSHOE clue system included here, as making certain there are clues for different characters at first seemed challenging. I quickly discovered that this was not an obstacle at all, and so long as I had a good idea of how the incident being investigated went down it was very easy to constantly push new clues through different Investigative Abilities. In fact, I found that the game worked spectacularly well with this style as the nature of these Abilities encouraged me to constantly engage each of the players thereby resulting in a mystery that was continuously moving forward to its PC driven conclusion. My play experiences have been far more satisfying than I would have expected, though my group has largely avoided physical conflict whenever possible.