The Pelgranes have been out and about this month. Cat attended the GAMA Trade Show, met retailers and fellow publishers such as Chaosium, as well as taking a look at the secret desert base of our US fulfilment house DOJ, Inc. I joined my ProFantasy Software colleagues Mark Fulford and Ralf Schemmann in the Mosel valley for off-season walking, strategy talks, wine tasting and apple strudel. Mark is also the head honcho of Kixto, which provides our fulfilment services in the UK, as well as offering Kickstarter fulfilment for top-shelf RPG companies such as Monte Cook Games and Chaosium outside the US.

13th Age in Glorantha

This month we are happy to announce that Chaosium’s 13th Age Glorantha is available in print pre-order and PDF. Written by Glorantha aficionados and 13th Age co-authors Jonathan Tweet and Rob Heinsoo, it’s the perfect storm of system knowledge and love for Greg Stafford’s creation. And the art! I look on with admiration and envy at the lavishness of the images (and the art budget). As well as providing a gripping heroic setting, it’s packed with character classes and creatures which can be ported straight into the Dragon Empire. We also offer Chaosium’s Glorantha Sourcebook – an overview of the geography and history of Greg Stafford’s seminal setting.

double page spread of 13th Age in Glorantha

Copyright 2018, Chaosium, Inc

The Book of Ages

13th Age artist Aaron McConnell has been working on the cover of the forthcoming Book of Ages, which features the  Grand Master of Flowers and Chieftain of the Giants – icons of former ages. Here is the delightful pre-colour pencil.The Grandmaster of Flowers

The Fall of Delta Green

Talking of good-looking books, I turn to Pelgrane’s most lavish book to date, The Fall of Delta Green is off to the printers after some to-and-fro over end sheets and page count – you can pre-order now, If you are undecided, take a look at this PDF preview.

Night’s Black Agents

Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan has been working on the Night’s Black Agents GMs’ Screen and Resource Book, which includes the usual tables, advice and references, but also some (vampire) bite-sized encounters linked to typical combat and heist location maps. We are still talking about the format – vote in the poll if you want a say. Cat is making progress on the cartography for The Persephone Extraction.

You Demand, We Print

After a close look at our past sales, Cat and Colleen are re-printing a bunch of books from our back catalog, including Mutant City Blues. It’s one of my favourites to run, partly because of the brilliant Quade Diagram, and my current obsession with Jessica Jones, the Flash and other similar supers TV series, I’d like to mod it to run the game for a private detective agency, without the constraints that surround Mutant City law enforcers.



Page XX logo (2015_04_01 16_53_09 UTC)We’re spending more time at the moment focusing on the visual appearance of our books, and so we’ve been drooling over the very beautiful 13th Age Glorantha. Our colleagues at Moon Design Publishing/Chaosium have a well-deserved reputation for visually stunning books, and 13G is no exception. We’re happy to be able to offer this on pre-order in our webstore this month, as part of a value bundle with 13th Age, and The Glorantha Sourcebook, and we’ve got a larger than usual selection of 13th Age articles and resources to go along with it.

We’ve still got the pre-order of our own – if we do say so ourselves – visually stunning book The Fall of DELTA GREEN. This GUMSHOE adaptation of Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game is being touted as the most beautiful book we’ve ever produced, thanks to the stunning art and design by Jen McCleary, which brings Kenneth Hite’s 1960s Delta Green into glorious, technicolour life.

This month, we’re also intrigued to see the video run-through of the updated Black Book Character Generator, and excited to announce that the alpha tests start next week! (Register here if you want to help test it).

New Releases

      • 13th Age Glorantha pre-order – Pre-order the full-colour new Glorantha setting for 13th Age, from our good friends at Chaosium
      • The Fall of DELTA GREEN pre-order – Pre-order the full-colour GUMSHOE adaptation of Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game and get the PDF now
      • Book of Demons pre-order – Get the new Demonologist class for 13th Age, and get the final PDF on your bookshelf now


13th Age

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The Zalozhniy Quartet for Night’s Black Agents sends the Agents on a desperate search for… wait. Spoiler warning. Don’t read this article if you’re likely to play in a ZQ game anytime soon. It’s a desperate search for, ah, something fuzzy and friendly and totally does not involve unkillable time-locked zombie monsters.

Now that we’ve cleared the room of non-Directors without clearance, let’s get into it. The Quartet involves a search for two mysterious substances, the nigredo (vampiric essence) and the albedo (a control substance of some sort). Combined, these create the rubedo, a marvellous compound sought by the vampires – and that, incidentally, gives control over the House of Saud and Saudi Arabia. (I note in passing that not only have world events overwritten the opening sequence of The Zalozhniy Sanction, set in Crimea, but current events in Riyadh may soon make the description in Treason in the Blood obsolete…)

If all goes according to plan, the Agents pick up the Albedo in The Boxmen and find the nigredo in Treason in the Blood.

The terms albedo, nigredo and rubedo are borrowed from alchemy. They’re three of the steps towards the Great Work to make the philosopher’s stone and achieve immortality, which makes them obviously pertinent to vampiric weirdness. You start with nigredo, with putrefaction and death (or, if you’re going with a Jungian know-thyself interpretation, the dark night of the soul). You’re wash it clean with (or in) the albedo (the Whiteness, Cleansing). You transmute it through citrinitas, the Yellow, the solar light, the dawn. Finally, you achieve the rubedo, the Red, perfection and victory and immortality (and access to Saudi oil reserves.)

So, there’s a whole alchemical step in the Magnum Opus right there – citrinas – that’s missing in the Zalozhniy Quartet. If that offends your sense of alchemical symmetry, here are some options for adding it in:

  • The citrinas is the human element in the vampire. CITRINE was St. John Philby’s codename for King Ibn Saud; the Conspiracy still use the Citrine codename to refer to the Saudi royal family (“we can draw down funds from the citrines”)
  • Citrinas is the essence of solar heroism – it’s vampire slaying. To create the rubedo, you need the blood of a hero. The Conspiracy needs to capture one of the Agents alive to complete their plan.
  • The citrinas refers to the ritual needed to combine the albedo and The Agents can obtain it from the Russian defector Arkady Shevlenko, or from Kim Philby’s safety deposit box, or St. John’s grave, or Dorjiev’s notes. Alternatively, the citrinas might be a potion that awakens the imbiber’s consciousness, enabling them to combine the albedo and nigredo safely. This also implies that the Conspiracy may end up needing to snatch one of the Agents.
  • The citrinas refers to a magical lens (maybe one of the glass fulminates retrieved from the desert, suitably polished) that transmutes the solar magic of daylight into the alchemical heat needed to achieve the rubedo. The Kingdom Centre in Riyadh is, of course, made using windows of citrinas; the Agents can delay the ritual by blowing up the Conspiracy’s lenses, or hike into the desert to find their own lenses.
  • Citrinas, the moment of self-realisation after death and cleansing, refers to the death-moment of a zalozhniy. Dr. Dorjiev wears citrine stones to anchor his life to that death-moment, as per p. 9 – if the Agents destroy or remove those stones, he’ll have to create a new zalozhniy post-haste to hide his death away again. (Kim Philby also created a citrinas token to sustain him through the Great Work, which is why he was so damned hard to kill – his citrine-stone ensured he survived the shell explosion in December 1937 in Spain, when he emerged unharmed from a blast that killed everyone else in the car he was travelling in. The citrine may be stored in his deposit box in the Kornersbank, or in some KGB storeroom in Moscow.)

For lots more alchemical fun, check out GUMSHOE Zoom: Alchemy

The latest edition of See Page XX is out now!

Featuring the release of the pre-order of The Fall of Delta Green, how the lessons of the early dungeon wars led to a culture of GM vs player in The History of No, Nepalese crash site outcomes, and how to use montages in 13th Age.

It’s all in this month’s See Page XX!

Page XX logo (2015_04_01 16_53_09 UTC)The deadline for registering games for Gen Con 2018 is next week, and – as always! – we don’t have enough GMs for Trail of Cthulhu, Night’s Black Agents, or 13th Age. So if you can help out, please get in touch with us before March 10th!

The big excitement this month is the release of the pre-order of The Fall of Delta Green. This GUMSHOE adaptation of our industry colleagues Arc Dream Publishing’s brilliant Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game is one of the most visually impressive books we’ve ever produced, with stunning art and design by Jen McCleary bringing Kenneth Hite’s 1960s Delta Green into glorious, technicolour life. We’re thrilled to you can now pick up the pre-order of The Fall of Delta Green now.

Other things you can pick up on our webstore include the pre-order of the 13th Age Book of Demons, PDF of Cthulhu City, and the beautiful limited edition version of Cthulhu Confidential.

New Releases

      • Fall of Delta Green pre-order – Pre-order the full-colour GUMSHOE adaptation of Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game and get the PDF now
      • Cthulhu City PDF – Get the ghastly metropolis of Great Arkham, usable for a Trail of Cthulhu campaign in its own right, or as a nightmarish intrusion into an existing game
      • Book of Demons pre-order – Get the new Demonologist class for 13th Age, and get the final PDF on your bookshelf now
      • Cthulhu Confidential Limited Edition The stunningly beautiful faux leather-bound limited edition of the first GUMSHOE One-2-One book, with a bookplate signed by all three authors


13th Age

      • 13th Sage: More Uses for Montages – Wade Rockett on using the 13th Age montage
      • New 13th Age Races and Racial Abilities – Roland Rogers with some unofficial new races for your PCs
      • 13th Age Character Builds. In this series by ASH LAW, we feature two different builds for every 13th Age character class, at all levels. ASH suggests how the builds might be used, and offers tips on playing each character. Stats are based on the point-buy method, and the characters have no non-standard elements.

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Both Senior Pelgranes are freezing our pinions off here in these Pretanic Isles, as inclement weather descends on us. I can hear the mocking laughter of Toronto-based Robin and Chicago-based Ken as we complain that -4C is cold. At least we can all agree that Farenheit is a nonsense, eh? From London, it feels like we are in a live action version of the campaign Albion’s Ransom, in which and Esoterrorist weather control ritual has brought sudden blizzards and extreme temperatures to an unsuspecting England.

The Fall of Delta Green

But cold can’t knock the excitement of the announcement that The Fall of Delta Green is available for print pre-order, PDF now, with a release aimed for June after the Kickstarter backers have received theirs. It’s a beautiful book, to paraphrase an enthusiastic rpg.netter, but more importantly it’s the first GUMSHOE core book written by Kenneth Hite since Night’s Black Agents. Not only has he honed his GUMSHOE skills since Trail, he is a masterful Delta Green writer and frequent player. I don’t think there is another person alive who could have done a better job of it.

On Free RPG Day, we’ll be releasing an exclusive FoDG adventure, On a Bank by Mooonlight, with quick-start rules in a flip book with similar Cthulhu Confidential goodies, Be sure to snag it from your FLGS when it appears.

13th Age

I’ve been running Eyes of the Stone Thief for my Monday group, and I’ve taken full advantage of Battle Scenes to add city-based interludes between fomenting orc rebellions, drinking unspeakable beer, and fighting armoured trolls in a gladiatorial arena. The Book of Demons is at the printer after a long and complex development cycle, and my son has taken advantage of it to play a Slaughter Path Demonologist, dishing out hellish damage and summoning demons into his staggered foes.

The Book of Ages is the next book in the production schedule, and we’ve unknotted the Cartography Conundrum which has plagued Shards of the Broken Sky. I can’t make any promises for a release date as yet.

You know what the most popular book at my table is? The Book of Loot! And players can never get enough treasure, so we are following up with Loot Harder – hundreds of new magic items including campaign-changing artifacts.

We are having a 13th Age production meeting next week to hammer out the next two years’ releases but I have learned my lesson and won’t promise concrete news until I am sure what’s up.

Some Site Viewing Stats

We often look at site stats to get an idea of the relatively popularity of our games in actual play, and the Resources page seems like a good test. In the past year, Trail has been first, 13th Age next, with Night’s Black Agents following.

Just for fun, here are the top twelve posts for that period. It’s pleasing that so many people look at the GUMSHOE system reference docs and that there is a lot of excitement for The Yellow King RPG.

Free Downloads and Resources for Trail of Cthulhu
The Yellow King RPG
Cthulhu City
13th Age Core Book
The GUMSHOE System Reference Document
Free 13th Age Downloads and Resources
Night’s Black Agents
Free Night’s Black Agents Downloads and Resources
Lions & Tigers & Owlbears: The 13th Age Bestiary 2
See Page XX

What Else We Are Working On

This list is by no means comprehensive:

  • Gareth has finished the pre-playtest draft of GUMSHOE One-2-One Night’s Black Agents, code-named SOLO. Look out for the playtest soon.
  • Work continues on Fearful Symmetries, which has been called in for a brush and polish.
  • Kevin and Emily are making good progress on the Swords of the Serpentine, a fantasy game of city-based intrigue and corruption, code name GUMTHEWS, which we aim to have as a major release in 2019.


The upcoming SOLO rules introduce a new concept – the lone player has a Shadow score that measures how aware and aggressive the supernatural threats are right now. You gain Shadow problems when you attract the attention of vampires and other horrors, and you can suppress your Shadow by taking precautions like staying on holy ground or keeping running water between you and the vampire’s lair. Your Shadow score limits the type of attacks and antagonist reactions the bad guys can deploy against you. If your Shadow score is 2+, then the vampire might sneak into your dreams by night and torment you. If it’s 4+, then the vampire sneaks into your room by night to murder you, or something equally charming.

Think of it as supernatural Heat. As an experienced vampire hunter, the Agent can judge her current Shadow score, just like she has a rough idea of her current Heat. She can sense when there’s a sinister intention behind the chilly wind, or notices bats circling overhead like surveillance drones.

It’s an indicator to the player, letting her know how much danger she’s in without specifying the nature of the threat. It signals when it’s time to lie low or take a subtle approach, or when it’s time to risk everything. In a One2One game, where the player needs all the information she can get, Shadows’s a vital addition to the rules.

It’s less important in a regular multiplayer Night’s Black Agents game, where you’ve got ablative player characters and it’s less important to give the players a warning signal that they’re poking the wrong vampire lair. Still, if your group enjoys playing with Heat, you might get a kick out of Shadow.

Gaining Shadow

You gain Shadow by coming into contact with vampires or their minions, attracting the attention of the Undead, exposing yourself to supernatural influences, trespassing in dark places, and the like. Some sample Shadow gains:

+1 Shadow: Killing a minor minion, Walking alone at night, Spilling blood, Carrying the vampire’s Bane, Failing a Cover test

+2 Shadow: Killing a named minion of the vampire, speaking the vampire’s name aloud, trespassing in the vampire’s territory

+3 Shadow: Killing a supernatural minion of the vampire, psychic contact with the vampire, destroying any of the vampire’s coffins

Effects of Shadow

Once per game session, one player rolls against the Agents’ current Shadow level. If the roll’s under the current Shadow score, then the vampire strikes at the Agents. This may take the form of a suitable Vampyramid reaction (NBA, p. 189) or just using the vampire’s powers or minions to inconvenience them. Assume the vampire’s willing to spend Aberrance equal to the Shadow score x 3 on this attack.

Shadow also affects the occult underworld just like Heat affects the black market. Suddenly, seers and mystics are less willing to deal with the Agents, occultists might decide they’re better off cutting a deal with the devil rather than siding with the hunters, Renfield-esque patients in psychiatric institutions become agitated, sensitive souls dream of fangs and blood.

Losing Shadow

Shadow’s hard to lose – the players lose it over time, or by moving away from the vampire, or by killing the monster. However, they can suppress their Shadow score in various ways, temporarily reducing it by taking various precautions.

-1 Shadow: Always carrying the vampire’s Dread

-2 Shadow: Staying in a location that’s Blocked against vampiric intrusion

For example, the players are hunting Dracula. If their Shadow score hits 4, then Dracula will be able to enter their dreams and learn their secrets, ala Mina Harker. By always taking care to sleep behind a protective shroud of garlic blooms, the Agents give themselves a vital buffer – the garlic suppresses their Shadow score, keeping it under 4. Then, unfortunately, one of the Agents gets separated from the rest in a firefight with some of Dracula’s minions, and can’t make it back to their garlic-girded safehouse. His Shadow score isn’t suppressed – so if the die roll indicates that there’s a potential Shadow response, Dracula finds him… 


The latest edition of See Page XX is out now!

Featuring articles on hitting your best GUMSHOE stride from Robin D. Laws and experienced GM Lisa Padol, factions and chaos magicians for 13th Age, and a recruitment call for Gen Con and Origins GMs. Plus, pick up the 13th Age demonologist class among other hellish goodies in the Book of Demons, and the PDF of Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan’s noir Great Arkham, Cthulhu City.

It’s all in this month’s See Page XX!

Page XX logo (2015_04_01 16_53_09 UTC)We’re getting close to the end of New Gamemaster Month, and our new GMs will be getting ready to run their first game. If you’re an experienced Trail of Cthulhu GM, we’d love for you to jump into the NewGMMonth social media sites (the Facebook group is here, and it’s @NewGmMonth on Twitter) and share the benefits of your experience with our up-and-coming GMs. Whether you’re just starting out as a GM, or more experienced, Pelgrane needs YOU to join our convention GM team! The full details are available here.

Pre-orderers of the 13th Age Book of Demons now have the final PDF available to download from their bookshelves. Other things you can pick up on our webstore now include the PDF of Cthulhu City, and the beautiful limited edition version of Cthulhu Confidential.

New Releases

      • Cthulhu City PDF – Get the ghastly metropolis of Great Arkham, usable for a Trail of Cthulhu campaign in its own right, or as a nightmarish intrusion into an existing game
      • Book of Demons pre-order – Get the new Demonologist class for 13th Age, and get the final PDF on your bookshelf now
      • Cthulhu Confidential Limited Edition The stunningly beautiful faux leather-bound limited edition of the first GUMSHOE One-2-One book, with a bookplate signed by all three authors


13th Age

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A Column about roleplaying

by Robin D. Laws

Many moons ago I encountered a phenomenon I later termed an unrule.

A rule, as goes without saying, is text the designer includes into a game to explain how it is played.

An unrule is text you have to include to prevent players from making a mistaken assumption about your game, based on their experience of other games.

This first cropped up during playtesting for the Shadowfist card game. Players were tripping themselves by expecting its characters to act just like Magic: the Gathering creatures.

If you came to Shadowfist cold without having played MtG, it would never occur to you to expect characters to act in this way.

But if you had already learned Magic, as of course many potential Shadowfist players had, you might have assumed this. Or you might see that we didn’t use same rule, but ask rules support just to be sure.

So we had to include an unrule–a piece of rules text telling you not to do the thing you would do if this was Magic you were playing.

Unrules needn’t arise from comparison to a specific equivalent rule in another game. They can come about simply by substituting general familiarity with a game form–roleplaying let’s say–to general familiarity for a close reading of the rules.

We all do this. Roleplaying games are full of rules, and we learn by analogy. The more previous RPG books we’ve read, the greater the chance that we let our eyes dart quickly over a section that seems to be saying the standard thing we’re used to seeing that section say. Missing out how a given part of the system works is absolutely par for the course.

For example, Simon recently spoke to a GM who was having trouble with GUMSHOE because you can run out of points in an investigative ability, and therefore can’t continue to use it, stopping you from solving the mystery.

Which would in fact be a terrible flaw in the game, given that the whole point of the system is to ensure that investigators always get the information they need.

The rules directly explain, in clear and explicit detail, that investigative points are never required to get the crucial clues you need to move through the mystery.

You are never required to spend to get pivotal information–especially what we call core clues, the ones that signal the appearance of brand new leads and avenues of investigation. If there’s a new person you need to talk to, place you need to poke around in, or area of research you must embark on, you always get that info, period. No point spend required.

Instead point expenditures give you special extra spiffy benefits above and beyond access to vital clues. In early GUMSHOE scenarios you sometimes got especially impressive information that didn’t directly impact the case, or gained the standard clue in a particularly impressive way. Over the years we’ve put that thought aside in favor of practical benefits to the character. You might learn how to kill a creature more easily, cement an alliance with a helpful GMC, convince an angry bystander not to slug you, and so forth.

Spending every single investigative point on your character sheet never stymies you. You can always continue to gather the clues the scenario provides, just as before. Assuming your character looks in the right place and has the needed ability, you get the info. If you look in the right place but don’t have the ability, another PC will have it. Is that player not present this week? We have workarounds for that, too.

Since you don’t need to spend investigative points to gather key clues, running out of investigative points is extremely rare in practice, when playing the rules as they appear on the page. Spending them all means that you’ve accrued a bunch of benefits, and can’t garner any more of them. It never stops you from proceeding.

Likewise if you have a general ability, used to overcome practical problems and dangesrs, and spend all of your points in it, you continue to use it. You have less of a chance of succeeding, as you can no longer spend points to add a positive modifier to your result. But you will still succeed at least half the time against the most common difficulty number.

Mistaken assumptions like this are hard to head off. Where players are reading a rule into the text that doesn’t exist, you can write a rule telling them not to do that. Though it may be odd to explain what a game doesn’t do, implicitly heading off a comparison to another game can be done.

Reaching players who assume Y when you explicitly write X is a tougher conundrum.

Misperceived rules prove particularly thorny during playtest. Playtest draft documents are a mess, littered with bits to be written later, sections not yet optimally placed, and no index or graphic elements to help one’s saintly playtesters find the references they’re looking for.

You may get an account of a failed game session but never realize that the results were based on misunderstood versions of the rules. Ideally you get enough context to see what has gone wrong and take action. Depending on the misperception, you might flag the existing rule with more insistent visual cues, add redundant text to hammer the point harder, or emphasize it through repetition in various sections of the book. The best way to have this problem is to find out you genuinely wrote an unclear rule, because then you can simply fix it by rewriting for clarity.

The real headscratcher comes long after playtest, when most everyone gets the rule as written and you discover a surprising misinterpretation standing between a pocket of players and enjoyment of your game. Simon has been investigating the possibilities of a squirrel-based system, where his favorite urban rodents fan out from Clapham and across the world, watching Pelgrane’s games play at the tabletop and then reporting back in their distinctive angry shriek when they see rules misunderstandings in action.

Until we get that up and running, GUMSHOE fans, we’re going to have to rely on you to keep watch for misperceptions preventing unfortunate others from enjoying a rules system that works perfectly well for you. Show them the light with the gentility our readers are known for. Remind them GUMSHOE always wants them to get the information. It always wants them to have what they need to solve the mystery. When it comes to clue-gathering, GUMSHOE says yes.

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