No one celebrates Halloween in 1895 Paris, the first sequence of the reality-spanning Yellow King Roleplaying Game. Observance of that holiday won’t start until sometime in the 20s or 30s in the United States.

However, the proximity of All Soul’s Day may provoke an uptick in the ghostly activity triggered by the publication of a certain madness-inducing play.

In the spirit of the holiday, check out this trio of supernatural foes, among those added to the game thanks to the stretch goal-busting actions of our well-attired and sophisticated Kickstarter backers.

Egregore

Investigators with the Occultism ability know the concept of the egregore. Believers describe them as discarnate thoughtforms capable of influencing groups of people. Some describe them as the great forces that move human history. While certain ritual magicians seek them out as sources of arcane insight, Christian occultists like the Martinists warn that they are really a form of demon.

As with so many other occult beliefs, the opening of the gates to Carcosa have realized that which was once imaginary. This egregore is the shade of a dead Carcosan noble, held together by spite and glee in the suffering of others. Translucent and insubstantial, it acts as a spirit guide to questing occultists. It uses its ghostly powers to grant would-be magicians the entirely illusory impression of spiritual progress. Sometimes the deluded protege undergoes experiences convincing him that he can manipulate external events through magic.

In return for these gifts, the egregore requires the protege to commit acts of calculated cruelty. Seemingly trivial at first, the entity steadily escalates them to encompass sabotage, assault, kidnapping and murder. Egregores gain a particular charge from acts of cultural desecration, from arson in churches to the destruction of beloved art works.

To remain anchored to a protege, the egregore must arrange for its true name to be hidden in a place significant to the manipulated person. If the investigators discover this, and then find the name, they can call it out, causing the egregore to assume substantial form, which can then be physically dispatched in a fight.

An insubstantial egregore cannot be captured or killed, and deals out shocks instead of injuries.

Numbers: 1

Difficulty: Superior 6 / 8

Difficulty Adjustments: +2 for each character who can fight but doesn’t;

Toll: 2

Injuries, Minor and Major:

Korrigan

In Breton folklore the term “korrigan” may refer to any faerie creature, or to a version of the classic alluring faerie maiden who lures young men away from this world into an unholy supernatural realm.

Do these tales reflect past eras of Carcosan influence on earth, when they came here to take slaves?

With the gates open (perhaps again) between our world and Carcosa, slave-hunters, either following an old pattern or mimicking folk tale imagery, have come here to collect healthy young human specimens to serve its noble courts.

Korrigans look like red-haired humans of great physical allure, but of indeterminate age. Their delicate beauty may strike wary observers as alien or eerie. When aroused to anger or passion, their eyes glow a fiery red.

They hunt by emotional entrapment, winning the love of their victims over a period of weeks or months. At the end of the mysterious courtship, the target signs an agreement consigning his (or, more rarely, her) soul to the korrigan. The korrigan then takes the subject to Carcosa and sells the contract to the head of a noble Carcosan household. The victim loses vitality but does not otherwise age, regretfully toiling for his new masters for many generations before fading away into nothingness.

Korrigans prefer flight, or the use of psychic influence, to combat. A few prove physically formidable when cornered. PCs resist the psychic attack dealing a korrigan’s Shock cards, which it can use on one investigator per scene, with Difficulty 5 Composure tests. Once one character has one of these cards, it reuses its power only when desperate.

When revealed or pressed, the hypnotic beauty of the korrigan may give way to the pale, mask-like visage typical of Carcosans.

Numbers: 1

Difficulty: Evenly Matched 5 / 7

Difficulty Adjustments: +2 for each character who can fight but doesn’t;

Toll: 2

Shocks, Minor and Major:

Injuries, Minor and Major:

Petroleuse

During the Commune a cadre of female anarchists terrorized the bourgeoisie by roaming the city with gasoline bottles, which they set alight and tossed through the basement windows of well-appointed homes. Compared to vengeful maenads, they sometimes committed these acts of revolutionary arson with their children in tow.

The Yellow Book has conjured them back, in ghostly form, translucent and wreathed in flame.

Numbers: equals number of player characters

Difficulty: Evenly Matched 5 / 7

Difficulty Adjustments: -1 if the party has already learned of the historical significance of the petroleuses, +1 if not

Toll: 2

Injuries, Minor and Major:

Download the cards here.

The Yellow King pre-order is about to vanish like the ghost of a murdered arsonist. Jump on before it’s gone!

A column about roleplaying

By Robin D. Laws

Work on the Yellow King Roleplaying Game has been chugging along since the Kickstarter closed in July. A master document containing the elements of Absinthe in Carcosa is now in the hands of hand-out artist extraordinaire Dean Engelhardt. In the months ahead he’ll be transforming them into a unique and stunning presentation of the setting sourcebook format. Art direction is well underway for the four books that comprise the core game.

The first playtest round, focused on Paris, is now in progress, with actual play reports beginning to filter out into places like the GUMSHOE Facebook community.

With Absinthe turned over to Dean, I’ve turned my attention back to completing the core game. This task entails both the three remaining introductory scenarios and the many stretch goals crowdfunded by you (or gamers like you.)

Here’s a taste of the latter—a few of the GMC profiles from the Occultists of the Belle Epoque stretch goal.

Did you miss the Kickstarter? The Yellow King Roleplaying Game Pre-Order exists just for you.

Camille Flammarion

Astronomer and Science Fiction Writer

53, 1842-1925

The polymathic Camille Flammarion crosses not only the streams of science and spiritism, but throws the arts in for good measure. He believes both in evolution and the transmigration of souls, continually improving as they find new incarnations throughout the universe. His science fiction titles, such as Lumen and Imaginary Worlds, envision alien life from a naturalist’s perspective. Like Albert de Rochas he applies the scientific method to parapsychological research. Since souls go to other planets after death, he reasons, manifestations at séances must emanate from the extra-sensory powers of the mediums who conjure them. Always ready to write a foreword or appear at an occult talk, he might be found in the corners of any event held by any other figure in this chapter.

Physically his mane of white hair, incisively cocked eyebrows and flowing Van Dyke underline his grand old man persona.

As a Patron: Flammarion might recruit the heroes to round up copies of the book, drawing on his contacts in the scientific and occult communities.

Alexandre Saint-Yves

Synarchist

53, 1842-1909

Joseph Alexandre Saint-Yves, the Marquis d’Alveydre, invented the term synarchy to refer to the secret rule of mankind by occult masters. He believes that Abraham and the Hindu deity Ram are really the same figure, a primordial lawmaker and father of all peoples. Though the surface world has lost touch with the truth, millions dwell in Agarttha, a subterranean realm benevolently overseen by a trinity of rulers: a Brahatmah (God-soul), Mahatma (Great Soul) and Mahanga (Great Path.) It relocated underground, far below the plateaus of Tibet, during the Hindu dark age three thousand years ago, protecting its people and advanced technology from encroaching disaster. He knows this because he communicates with Agartthan officials telepathically.

The Marquis claims the power of astral travel. When characters ask about it, he proves notably stingy with the details.

He writes the popular Mission series of books in which various groups are issued instructions for bringing about the synarchy on the surface world: Mission to the Sovereigns, Mission to the Jews, and so on. When not occupied with synarchy he studies possible commercial applications for seaweed.

Saint-Yves became independently wealthy through marriage and was granted his title fifteen years ago by the Republic of San Marino. Describe him as a dour-looking man with a thick, pensive mustache.

Charles Richet

Physiologist and Parapsychologist

45, 1850-1930

A gaunt man with searching eyes, the physiologist Charles Richet studies a range of medical subjects and is destined to win the Nobel Prize for his work on anaphylaxis. His interests range from aviation to theatrical writing. The investigators however will care most about his role as a scientific psychic investigator. Last year he coined the term “ectoplasm” to describe the strange material mediums produce during séances. He believes that paranormal powers exist but will all be rationally explained through scientific inquiry, without the need to invoke spirits or an afterlife. In our reality, he falls for, and in at least one case helps to cover up, hoaxes perpetrated by mediums. In the universe of the Yellow King, he might instead fail to see the supernatural causes behind their effects.

Richet dedicates himself to pacifism, eugenics and hardcore racism, especially against blacks. Calibrate the way you deal with these last two according to your group’s desired level of unsavory social realism.

Léo Taxil (Gabriel Jogand-Pagès)

Conspiracy-Promulgating Con Artist

41, 1854-1907

Setting a pattern unknown to our own innocent age, pundit Léo Taxil (real name Gabriel Jogand-Pagès) masterminds a convoluted series of hoaxes, in which he appears to ricochet between extreme ideologies, selling books and calling attention to himself all along the way. He started as an anti-clerical rabble-rouser, writing books that mock Biblical inconsistencies or depict Catholic ecclesiastics engaged in Sadean debauchery. He infiltrated occult circles, convincing Jules Doinel (above) and others that he was one of them.

Ten years ago he staged a public conversion to Catholicism, tarring Freemasonry with similar sensational slanders. Taxil is the one who took Levi’s famous image of Baphomet and forever associated it with Satanism. He described a global conspiracy, the Palladium, led by a Masonic worthy of Charleston, South Carolina named Albert Pike. Three years ago he published the best-selling The Devil in the 19th Century, introducing to the world the reformed Satanist arch-priestess Diana Vaughan. Anecdotes include her encounters with incarnate demons, including a crocodilian specimen that plays the piano. He is now writing her first-person book of prayers and confessions.

Two years from now he will announce a press conference with Vaughan, at which he instead reveals that it was all a hoax. Reverting to his original persona, he says he has been showing the stupidity of the Church’s fear of Freemasonry.

But that’s the historical timeline. Might the ambient madness of Carcosa cause thoughtforms of the demons described in Taxil’s books to realize themselves?

In a previous post I laid out the basics of Shock and Injury cards in The Yellow King Roleplaying Game (now on Kickstarter.)

Let’s now dive in a bit more detail into the way certain of the cards evoke the sense of a multi-step recovery.

Like anything in GUMSHOE, they emulate the way things work in fictional stories, rather than simulating reality. Often in a genre narrative the hero will be in a hospital bed in one scene, limping in the next, and basically as capable as ever after another little while.

YKRPG handles this with cards that replace the full discard with a trade. You fulfill a condition and get a less onerous card, but aren’t out of the woods yet.

An example appears on the card you receive when your character gets shot.

This, you will note, is a card the player will want to deal with rather than leave in hand.

On the Mend belongs to a class of staple cards. It represents a step down from a number of worse Injury cards.

An equivalent Shock card is Unease; among the more serious Shocks that require you to trade for it is Dread.

With YKRPG cards the fun often lies in the way specialized cards break from established formulas.

After your players have grown used to getting Shot, winding up In the Blast Radius or suffering from Massive Injuries, and then trading down to On the Mend, they might see it as a bit of a curveball when one of them receives this:

And then trading down to this:

We’ve all seen TV episodes where the hero who leapt out of his hospital bed does well for a while, then collapses. The cards allow you to emulate that—but only in specific circumstances, unlike a wound track hard-coded into the core rules.

Sometimes wounds work one way, sometimes another—just as they do in serialized genre storytelling.

Forgetting to pledge to The Yellow King RPG Kickstarter leaves you with a sorrow that can’t be traded for a lesser card. Only 4 days left!

As those who’ve read the preview draft of the Yellow King Roleplaying Game (available to all backers of its Kickstarter) already know, its iteration of GUMSHOE takes a new approach to the emotional and physical wounds horror characters suffer in the course of their exploits.

When something debilitating happens to your character you receive Shock cards, which result from mental hazards, or Injury cards, which you can get either when attacked in combat, or when you wind up on the wrong side of other sources of physical harm: fire, artillery shells, falls from balconies and the like.

When you receive either a third Shock card or a third Injury card, your character is either dead or otherwise irreparably damaged and out of the game.

You can however have 1 Shock card and 2 Injuries or vice versa and still continue.

So instead of losing a resource you want to hold onto (like hit points, or Health and Stability in other GUMSHOE games), you’re getting stuck with a thing you want to get rid of.

Whether you’re engaged in a fight or dodging harm by making Composure, Health or Athletics tests, these cards come in pairs: Minor and Major.

If you do poorly in a fight, you will get the Major Injury your foe deals out, unless you pay a toll of pool points keyed to the foe’s relative strength. Then you get a Minor Injury card.

When you do well in a fight, you might still get nicked—taking a Minor Injury unless you pay the toll.

Here are the Minor and Major cards you might wind up with after a fight with violent fellow students—an all too common problem in 1895 Paris.

(Note: prototype only. Ace graphic designer Christian Knutsson’s final versions will look much better than mine.)

Against an impersonal hazard or mentally stressful situation, you take a Minor Injury if you fail the test by 2 or less, or a Major card when you fail by more than 2.

Here’s the Minor and Major cards you might take after failing the Composure test that comes when, for the first time in your life, someone tries to murder you:

The text of a card probably imposes some sort of negative consequence on your character. Although just having a card is bad, because you’re one step closer to some sort of doom.

The card often, but not always, includes a discard condition, telling you what you have to do to get rid of it. Sometimes it requires you to do something on the mechanical side, like receive a successful First Aid test performed by another player, or score a failure on another test in the future. Or it can require you to do something in the story: punch somebody, go indulge in a vice, or kill the creature who did this to you.

A card without a discard condition leaves your hand only at the end of the scenario.

When a Shock or Injury changes you permanently, possibly irrevocably, it becomes a Continuity card. Until you somehow discard it, it stays with you from one scenario to the next.

And those are your basics. Just those few elements allow for a huge range of possibilities and surprises in play.

At this moment the stretch goal up for grabs on the Kickstarter is for Card Design Workshop, a section in the GM advice chapter of This is Normal Now that will help you design new cards from these basics.

In a future post or two I’ll go into some examples in detail, unveiling some of my favorite cards—including ones that will be new even to careful perusers of the current preview draft.

Avoid the shocking injury of missing the Kickstarter for The Yellow King Roleplaying Game!

The elements of The Yellow King Roleplaying Game Game currently exciting folks who’ve read the preview version are its new, quick, player-facing combat system and the alluring status effects of its Shock and Injury cards.

What players who take part in your campaign will most remember about are the interconnections their different characters experience between the game’s four variously shattered realities.

How this works can be a little hard to spot in the preview version, because the key bits appear in the character generation rules for the three later segments: The Wars, Aftermath, and This is Normal Now. Their simple elements create an emergent dynamic in play. Once it happens, any GM capable of basic improv will see what’s going on, react accordingly, and before you know it, you’ll see all the possibilities for an epic, player-driven arc flower before your Yellow Sign-besotted eyes. Trust yourself, and the tools provided to you by the game, and when you need it to turn on, the light bulb will turn on.

I’ll be getting at this more directly in the finished books with additional detailed GM guidance, thanks to the room supplied by a recently-toppled stretch goal.

But for the moment, let’s look at a bit of actual play from my own in-house game.

A couple of weeks back we switched settings for the second time, moving on from The Wars to the Aftermath segment.

As previously described, the versions of the characters fighting The Wars were bedeviled by awful fox creatures. They were introduced into the arc by a player who made a creepy fox part of her Damned Peculiar Thing. Each player supplies this vignette of haunted backstory during character creation.

(The foxes do not appear in the books. Rather than supply you prefab foxes to creep out your players, the game gives you a mechanism encouraging players to make up their own equivalents.)

Now another player—admittedly one who has just joined us and has a more sanguine attitude about the foxes—brought them back in with this segment’s equivalent of the Damned Peculiar Thing. When he described his Worst Memory, as a flashback from the successful revolution the heroes of Aftermath recently fought in, there were the foxes, grinning at him and eating people.

Needless to say this provoked a degree of groaning from other players.

But what kind of continuity doesn’t from time to time bring back its big bad in a new guise and context?

That’s basically what you’re shooting for—the idea that elements from past segments show up as Easter eggs in the current one. They may remain as cool references, or return to occupy center stage once more.

The last session of The Wars began to heavily suggest the interleaving of the settings. While house-to-house fighting raged overhead, the squad met a villain from 1895 and some weirdly modern opponents in the sewers of Marseille.

Whether this reality leakage becomes a big element of Aftermath or fades into the scenery for a while depends on what feels right as we explore this new reality and the similar-but-different set of characters.

Seeing the fox move, another member of my crew decided to try it in reverse. He figured that he could introduce into dialogue the fact that they’d killed an antagonist from the first few segments. He said that they’d killed an enemy clearly meant to be the vampire who scared and frustrated both in Paris and The Wars.

Of course, this was a throwaway line of dialogue, not part of his character creation.

I guess that completely stymies me because there’s no possible way as GM I can think how to bring back a vampire the heroes think they’ve bumped off. He couldn’t think that the vampire is dead but turn out to be wrong about that. Nope, the beginning of every Hammer Dracula movie offers me no guidance whatsoever.

On the other hand, I could let this stand for this segment, as a change of pace and establish that she really is dead in this go-round.

As I said, the way it unfolds will become apparent by doing.

Just don’t tell the players who had to be absent that night about the foxes…

The Yellow King Roleplaying Game is Kickstarting now.

…or so concluded Melissa Gay, artist for The Wars, one of the four books conjuring the interwoven, skewed realities of The Yellow King Roleplaying Game (now on Kickstarter.)

Technically I asked Melissa to draw not an ornithopter but an odanathopter, as this aircraft from the weird battle zones of Europe’s 1947 Continental War is called a dragonfly.

I supplied Melissa with the decription from the game:

This helicopter equivalent consists of a glassed-in cockpit divided into two bubbles recalling the eyes of its eponymous insect. A segmented body section houses up to eight soldiers. Combat dragonflies have mounted machine guns for gunners to strafe the battlefield. These do not appear for craft detailed for medical or cargo use. Special grabbers attached to the bottom of the fuselage allow for added cargo. The dragonfly’s four wings flap up and down, granting it flight in either vertical or horizontal mode. Each wing consists of a wrought iron frame into which dozens of stained glass panels are fitted. These panels are made from levitation glass, a Carcosan technology. The dragonfly’s great maneuverability comes at the cost of fragility: dragonflies are vulnerable to small arms fire and crash all too frequently.

Melissa prepared this visual to show her preparation for the illustration:

Her model turned into the following piece, in which dragonflies take fire from one of the highly ornamented artillery pieces typical of this conflict.

Note the Yellow Sign on the fuselage, drawing energies from the King in Yellow’s realm to power the levitation glass.

When Melissa came on board the project I created a mood board of references, prominently featuring war art of the 20th century. When giving artists inspiration like this, you’re hoping that they’ll pick up on a color palette and an emotional quality. You don’t expect them to so fully immerse them in the style that they replicate it and then make it their own, but that’s exactly what Melissa has done here.

Our current stretch goal is a 13th Age crossover. After backers put that away, the next one in the queue will see Melissa converting some of her concept sketches into schematic’s for the war’s alternate reality battle machinery.

Pledge today to The Yellow King Roleplaying Game Kickstarter and help make that happen.

A scenario seed for The King in Yellow Roleplaying Game

As heroes of the revolution that deposed the Castaigne regime you’ve been invited to take center stage at the first 4th of July celebration in 97 years. In 1920, backed by the King in Yellow, the Imperial Castaigne dynasty took over the US.

Six months ago, in the climactic moments of the great uprising, you helped take it back.

Today is no longer Empire Day; once more it is the good old Fourth of July.

Every fireworks display, every bandshell concert worthy of the name wants a squad boasting a rep like yours to stride up on stage under the red white and blue bunting. All you have to do is say a few words and accept the clamorous applause of the crowd.

Since the struggle ended, you’ve been trying to settle back into your civilian life.

Before the struggle started, who were you?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

When you arrived on site, you noticed that security wasn’t set up the way you would have done it. As a former insurgent, you can see four different ways regime holdovers might strike at the platform. If any of them are planning to do that. Which they’re probably not, you tell yourself.

Despite of, or maybe because of, that observation, your overall attitude to this event is:

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Suddenly you sense movement from the corner of your eye. A shadowy, inchoate shape skulks between two garbage bins.

Looks like the fight’s not over, and the party’s only getting started.

Aftermath is the third of the four interwoven settings that make up The Yellow King Roleplaying Game.

Arm patriots with the stretch goals needed to fully banish the Castaignes and their influence by supporting our Kickstarter today.

Time for a shout-out of royal Carcosan gratitude to the backers of The King in Yellow Roleplaying Game Kickstarter. Their support has unlocked fifteen stretch goals, and now they’re bearing down on the sixteenth.

To keep the main Kickstarter page readable we’ve been noting achieved goals with a graphic that looks like this:

(Pay no heed to the sinister stamp of the Castaigne regime. The king and his daughters insist on it before processing any paperwork.)

Now that we have fifteen stretch goals in pocket we can replace the individual items with a graphic that looks like this:

But a graphic doesn’t tell the full story of this rich and some might say reality-shattering list of extras we’ve been able to add to the game so far.

We’ve posted a backer update through Kickstarter with a description of all the funded goals. But you can’t update an update. (Makes sense when you think about it. Might tear the time-space continuum.)

But you can update a blog post, which is what we’ll be doing here, providing a master list of funded stretch goals.

£37,000 – Full Color Interiors

Stunning visuals enhance the play experience, by conveying mood and tone and performing crucial worldbuilding duties. Most importantly, a gorgeous set of books makes it easier to sell your players on the game. Putting this stretch goal behind us will convince the magic spreadsheet to allow us interior color on every single page, making the most not only of the work of our fine illustrators, but allowing graphic designer Christian Knutsson to work his full and subtle magic on the core game.

£43,000: More Paris Life

Paris in the classic fin de siècle period of the Chambers stories buzzes with evocative detail to bring your game to life. Robin needs your help stuffing the cool stuff his research turned up into the first book. Let’s start with the intricate mores of the era, the social rules that will amaze and baffle American PCs in Paris, luring them toward the sweet smell of scandal.

£53,000 – More Weird War Machinery

Stalkers, dragonflies and weeping mines just scratch the surface of the bizarre vehicles and armaments that thunder across the haunted battlefields of the Continental War. Fill the air, land and sea with more terrifying equipment for your players to flee from.

£63,000: More Chits and Hits

During the Aftermath, the ex-partisan PCs, in between confrontations with lingering forces of Carcosa, struggle to rebuild their tattered nation. In the process, they gather Chits and Hits, markers measuring their progress in post-rebellion politics. Enrich the game by increasing the page count of this all-important section.

£73,000: Modern Menaces 

All the books need more foes and creatures. So let’s start with the subliminally present, mind-twisting beings preying among the glittering clubs, cutting-edge restaurants and board game cafes of This Is Normal Now.

£80,000: Belle Epoque Occultists

1895 Paris crawls with mystics, visionaries and hoaxsters. From early SF writer Camille Flammarion to synarchist Alexandre Saint-Yves, from pioneering troll Léo Taxil to Golden Dawn founders Moina and Samuel Liddell “MacGregor” Mathers, the city boasts more occultists than your players could possibly consult. Add them all to Paris by banishing this stretch goal to the Great Beyond.

£83,000: More Battle Hazards

Sure, we’ve covered the basics, from aerial strafing to mortar rounds. But as inventive GMs you won’t want to exhaust the many ways a squad from The Wars can march into a martial meatgrinder. Beef up the book’s selection of battle hazards by aiming your best artillery at this stretch goal.

£86,000: Secrets of the Castaignes

As the ex-partisans of Aftermath strive to build a better world, and to cap a remaining monster or three, the path to victory lies in the investigation of the old regime. Deepen the sinister backstory of the Castaigne regime by prying open the hidden filing cabinets of this stretch goal.

£90,000: Shocks of the New

Cursed images on social media. Reports of apocalyptic doom issuing from the pages of sober science journals. An army of trolls anxious to graduate from obscure online forums to the crushing reality of meatspace. No era feels madder than our own. Surpass this stretch goal and you can hold up the Shock cards to prove it, any of which can stick to your character in This is Normal Now.

£93,000: Monsters of Montmartre

From the ghostly, flame-bomb wielding petroleuses, hungering to avenge the slaughter of the Commune, to mad experimenters and soul moths, still more malign beings empowered by Carcosa’s touch demand to be included in Paris. Appease their wrath by puncturing the barrier between this stretch goal and our unwitting realm.

£97,000: Cannon Fodder

Having just wrapped a 14-session The Wars run with my in-house group, I can attest to a big, cordite-stained fact: it chews through fellow soldier Game Master characters like tomorrow isn’t coming. You’ll need more descriptions of oblivious officers, cowardly corporals and star-crossed sergeants than the alpha draft supplies. Buy The Wars bonds and tell this stretch goal to report to the conscription bureau!

£101,000: Wheeling and Dealing

GMs and players cry out for great examples but space for them can be hard to come by. I could really use the room for detailed case examples showing you how to connect Aftermath group objectives to the acquisition of Hits and Chits. Get us there with exemplary dedication to the goal of smashing through stretches.

104,000: The King Himself

Investigators in any of the settings can run into the King in Yellow, or the princesses of Carcosa, Cassilda and Camilla. So let’s put the section on meeting and dealing with them in This is Normal Now, which needs less space for setting than the other books. Whatever agenda GMs choose for these supernatural aliens, this new section shows how to deploy them for maximum menace. Genuflect to the tattered mantle by delivering this stretch goal unto the king.

£108,000: YKRPG Open Content

Here we go, our most requested stretch goal. On publication of The Yellow King Roleplaying Game, we will add its new rules, including the player-facing combat system and Shock and Injury cards, to the GUMSHOE open source licenses. Buy Robin the time to wrangle the reference document and release these new approaches to the rules into the wild.

£110,000: Artists and Models 

As young American would-be artists and writers on the loose in Belle Epoque Paris, your players want nothing more than to mingle with the creative legends of the era. Populate your city with such figures as mystical pianist and future dreamhound Erik Satie, young gossip columnist on the make Marcel Proust, retiring fellow Yankee Mary Cassatt and legendary can-can dancer La Goulue. Make sure you never run out of worthies by pushing us past this vermilion- and Burgundy-spattered stretch goal.
And hey look, here’s the next fifteen stretch goals we passed since this post first went up.

£112,000: Warspawn

Our first quartet of creature features concludes with additional foes for The Wars. Meet the Carcosan beasties who have been changed by their contact with an earthly war zone—and the terrestrial inhabitants warped by the Hyades. Fund gravegrinders, walking memories of the fallen, your local duchess of death and of course the weeping mines by training your Loyalist-issue binoculars at this monstrous stretch goal.

£114,000: Government Lethal Chamber FAQ

If your players are anything like mine, your first Aftermath session will start with questions about the Government Lethal Chambers. Lots of questions. Established before the Castaignes took over in 1920 and still inexplicably in service after the revolution, they stand as a symbol of what still needs fixing. Arm yourself with all the answers by pushing the button on this bronze-bladed stretch goal.

£115,000: Carcosa Itself

The current text suggests that the heroes might wind up under the white sky of Carcosa, under the baleful glare of the Hyades. But it doesn’t yet have the space to detail the place or provide guidelines on how investigators from any of the four settings might survive there. Add material on this baleful setting to This Is Normal Now with a milestone that stretches before you like an ink-black lake.

£116,500: Cthulhu Crossover

The Yellow King Roleplaying Game conspicuously omits the Mythos elements that Lovecraft and Derleth layered onto the King in Yellow cycle. But let’s face it, gamers add Cthulhu to all sorts of games and genres and some of you might want to sneak in a shoggoth or two. If this stretch goal funds backers of all tiers above Dauber will receive a PDF featuring HPL’s public domain creatures, with foe profiles including associated Shock and Injury cards.

£117,500: At Ken’s Command

My partner in crime and podcast co-host Kenneth Hite has been strongly suggesting that I include certain of his favorite elements in the game. These range from the Belle Epoque photographer and balloonist Nadar to various creatures from Robert Chambers’ stories outside the Yellow King cycle. I’ve been telling Ken I don’t have the space, but if by surpassing this stretch goal you’ll rob me of that excuse, forcing me to accede to his imperious demands.

£119,000: 13th Age Crossover

Add some jaundiced reality horror to your 13th Age game with this crossover PDF depicting the King in Yellow as a Fallen Icon. Written by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan and developed by Rob Heinsoo, this slice of D20 Carcosa serves as an introduction for your fantasy RPG gamers into the infectious dread of the one whose mask is not a mask. Goes to all backers above the Dauber level.

£120,000: War Machine Schematics

As part of her preparatory process for the fabulous illustrations she’s creating for The Wars, artist Melissa Gay has created intriguing concept sketches depicting that setting’s weird war machinery. With a touch of added funding we can get her to develop these into visual schematics of such deadly devices as the Stalker and Dragonfly.

£121,000: Weapons of the Old Regime

You’ve seen the cambuk, brainstopper and mangler in the Aftermath preview. But these just skim the surface of the sinister armory assembled under a century of Carcosan influence by the Castaigne regime. Sure, as heroes of the revolution you overthrew the old tyrants. But more of their weird devices remain in circulation, and in the hands of people who don’t want their crimes uncovered by you. Fund this stretch goal for the full intel briefing, including relevant Shocks and Injuries.

£122,000: Story Arc Masterclass

We promised it and now we have it in the chute ready to deliver: expanded GM advice on weaving the investigators’ exploits across YKRPG’s four shattered, intertwined realities into one epic player-driven arc. Tie it all together with a bow and put it in This Is Normal Now by altering the current reality of this stretch goal.

£123,500: Music for the King

It’s not a Pelgrane Kickstarter without musical cues from arch composer James Semple. You can hear the sinister strain of his Yellow King Theme under our campaign video at the top of his page. It perfectly suits the bubbly yet ominous world of the Paris segment. Mob the studio for this stretch goal and he’ll compose a variation on the theme to introduce subsequent seasons of your game: martial for The Wars, majestic for Aftermath and electronic chill-out for This is Normal Now. Goes to all backers above the Dauber level.

£125,000: TimeWatch Crossover

At this funding level we will expose TimeWatch creator Kevin Kulp to the Yellow Sign, compelling him to write a campaign frame for his acclaimed, ENnie-nominated GUMSHOE RPG. This PDF goes to all backers above Dauber level.
The King in Yellow and his reality-warping minion spread their jaundiced fingers across the timestream, subverting and corrupting it. Agents are disappearing or worse, changing, reforged by paradox and disjunction, And now it’s spreading to the Citadel itself. The Agents must work alone to restore the timeline, defeat the King or just retain their own identities. But how will they know what’s real when the fabric of reality is changing around them?

£126,000: Cathedrals and Cemeteries

See that bit in the Paris preview file where the header labeled Cemeteries has nothing below it but the words Stretch Goal? Well, this is that goal—more space for the creepy and/or exalted corners of the city in which the art student investigators find clues, cadge cooperation from enigmatic informers, and perhaps get ambushed by a gargoyle or two. Escape from the catacombs of insufficient detail by placing this stretch goal in the collection plate.

£127,000: Terrifying Terrain

Making one chunk of battlefield memorably different than the last can be challenging when GMing off the cuff. This stretch goal adds 30 Battle Zones to The Wars. These quick snippets of narrative, like Establishing Shots from Trail of Cthulhu, give you just enough to paint a word picture of the environment and then get on with the horror. Fund this goal to hell up the heroes’ hellish landscape.

£128,500: Meet the New Cops

The investigators of Aftermath often find that their investigations into supernatural weirdness uncover the crimes both old and new. But with a tyrannical regime just six months in the rear view mirror, the law enforcement situation offers more questions than assurances. With new police forces divide equally between former guerrillas and the possible war criminals who used to hunt them, the Cop Talk ability has never been more vital. Pledges leading to the apprehension of this stretch goal will add more detail allowing you to portray PC interactions with local, state and federal police.

£130,500: Card Design Workshop

Go under the hood with this look at Shock and Injury card design, to appear in the expanded advice and notes section of This is Normal Now. Thinking of confronting your players with a creature or damaging situation not covered by the many cards supplied with the core game? Examine your options for creative status effect design, from penalties to narrative-forwarding discard conditions. Fund this level and your only Shocks will be shocks of delight!

£132,000: Dracula Dossier Crossover

In Paris, we discover that the reality-bending energies of Carcosa have awakened, strengthened or perhaps straight-up created vampires, releasing them from the pages of legend to stalk the world once more. Hey, come to think of it, you know what other beloved Pelgrane project features vampires of the 1890s? This stretch goal unleashes a Crossover PDF, available to all backers above the Dauber level, with foe profiles for all Dracula Dossier bloodsuckers who might conceivably show up in Paris in 1895. Also includes notes on treating a Dracula Dossier campaign you’ve already run as a previously unrevealed precursor to your Yellow King series. Sink your fangs into this stretch goal and make it your Renfield!

£134,000: Open License One-2-One

Although the systems differ in detail, the new features of The Yellow King Roleplaying Game owe their lineage to Robin’s design work on GUMSHOE One-2-One, as seen in Cthulhu Confidential. At Pelgrane we’re excited by the potential of our game for one GM and one player and want to share that as we have its sister branches of the GUMSHOE system. Fund this stretch goal to buy Robin the time to add the GUMSHOE One-2-One rules to the GUMSHOE open source reference document.

£135,000: Shadows of Brittany

In Chambers, and the work of other weird writers of the period, Brittany is the French region where the eerie happens. From its death-spirit, the Ankou, to its little people, the Korrigans, from haunted sorcerer skulls to the lost city of Ys, Breton folklore offers plenty of raw material for Carcosa to twist, and the art students of Paris to investigate. Fortify yourself on crêpes and galettes and take a run at this misty, coastal stretch goal.

£137,000: Naval Nightmares

Send your squad from The Wars to sea with this look at the Captain Nemo fever dreams plying the warlike seas of the Continental War. What could be scarier than tracking a series of murders on the deck of a cruiser surrounded by icebergs? Oh, I know what. How about being trapped on a submarine with something not quite human. Batten down the hatches and fire the torpedoes at this oceanic stretch goal.

£140,000: Ken’s Menagerie

After hitting the “At Ken’s Command” stretch goal, in which my podcast co-host and boon collaborator Kenneth Hite tells me a bunch of stuff he wants me to add and I have to include it, I discovered that he had way more ideas than my word budget for a single stretch goal permits. Specifically, he demands an entire zoo full of mutant animals for Aftermath, based on Robert W. Chambers’ cryptozoological stories. Pass the turnstile of this stretch goal and buy Ken and me a bigger boat. Or zoo, let’s say.

£143,000: Perfectly Normal Handouts

A band logo that incorporates the Yellow Sign. A disturbing infographic ripped from a corporate prospectus. A handbill for a club where the soultakers prowl. If we hit this stretch goal, document artiste extraordinaire Dean Engelhardt will take a break from his work on Absinthe in Carcosa to create 6 pages of modern handouts for This is Normal Now. NOTE TO ALL CAT TOBINS READING THIS: these will all appear in the book, and GMs will print them out from their PDFs, no actual physical document creation or tea-staining required.

£147,000: Esoterrorists Crossover

Import Outer Dark Entities from The Esoterrorists into your Yellow King Roleplaying Game series. This PDF presentS YRKPG-style foe profiles for the 12 appalling creatures found in the 2nd Edition rules for our original GUMSHOE horror game. From those feral kids, the Kooks, to the not-so-angelic Host, they’re all waiting to imperil your investigators, newly powered by the Yellow Sign. Goes to all backers above the Dauber level.

£151,000: Police and Thieves

 
Art students engaged in supernatural intrigue in Paris will want to steer well clear of the city’s criminal underworld, and the gendarmes who police it. Until they need assistance of either the underhanded or official variety, that is. Add such crooks and cops as the master heist artist Colonel Caoutchouc, tireless Alsatian magistrate Paul Dopffer, and forensic pioneer Alphonse Bertillon, inventor of the mug shot. Subject this stretch goal to the third degree until it gives up the goods!

£155,000: The Other Three Horsemen

 
The current list of Battle Hazards seen in The Wars leans heavily toward the explosive and obvious: land mines, artillery shells, and good old fashioned bullets. But many of the worst horrors of battle come at you inexorably: hunger, disease, and ebbing morale. In a world where these forces gain conscious volition from the reality-shattering intrusions of Carcosa, you’re going to need a raft of Shock and Injury cards to keep the squad restless in its foxhole. Blow the whistle, shout your commands, and send this stretch goal over the top!

£159,000: The Castaigne Files

 
The ex-partisan investigators of Aftermath find many of their crucial clues in the documents their toppled foes, the Hussars of the Castaigne regime, failed to burn in the final days of revolution. Fund this stretch goal to recruit document artist Dean Engelhardt to work his magic on 6 pages of handouts. His evocative pieces of Castaignabilia will appear in beautiful color in the book. Hit this goal and you’ll be able to print them out from your core game PDFs to add atmospheric exposition to your game.

£163,000: Contemporary Creeps

Does This is Normal Now have enough insidious creatures? Why, no, we’ve barely scratched the surface. Add such menaces as the insistent scratcher, the inescapable follower, and the implacable eraser to your rogues gallery of modern monsters. You don’t want any of them to follow you on social media, but if you hit this stretch goal you can trap them all between the pages of a beautiful game book.

£167,000: Gallic Grotesqueries

As we enter the waning days of this Kickstarter, it’s time we all admitted something to ourselves. We still want more monsters. Add another tranche of creatures to haunt the Belle Epoque pages of Paris, from the otherworldly egregore to the lethally ethereal dames blanche. Is that cat that keeps coming around for milk really a matagot? Find out by pushing on through to the other side of this très monstrueux stretch goal.

In 1895 Paris, young Erik Satie has already written his most haunting pieces and plays piano for seekers of mystical awareness.

The world’s most famous can-can dancer, Louise Weber, has decided to strike out on her own.

Painter Odilon Redon paints spiders with weeping human faces—like the one you saw in your studio.

Auguste Rodin rages at you if you ask him about statues and corpses.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec supplies info if you buy him his favorite cocktail, a devastating mix of cognac and absinthe called the Earthquake.

Gossip columnist on the make Marcel Proust wants to know what juicy secrets your investigations have uncovered.

And Émile Zola is about to throw himself headlong into the Dreyfus Affair.

Add all of them and more to The Yellow King Roleplaying Game by knocking down the rest of the Artists and Models stretch goal.

Previous Entries