Next time you need an ordinary fear to escalate into horror territory, check out the Twitter account @bestofnextdoor. It highlights the oddest and funniest posts from the Next Door social media platform. Frequented mostly by older homeowners, it provides a forum for people to talk to their neighbors. Often this talk concerns yet other neighbors they’re worried about or wish to air beefs with. One thing most of us humans fear is other humans—generally with good reason. But what happens when the malign, unknown persons who share our quiet street with us band together with the animal kingdom, as seen here?

All you need to venture into horror territory is to take one of these neighborhood fears and give them a terrifying reality.

In Fear Itself, some sinister force could be marshalling area felines as spies or killers. They could have gained a collective sentience, perhaps putting humans back on the menu. They could be controlled by aliens, their old friends the witches, or demons of the Outer Dark. A nasty creature could be mistaken for a cat when seen fleetingly—or when observers’ minds reject the weirdness of what they did see, in favor of the comfort of what they must have seen.

In Trail of Cthulhu, weird cat behavior could suggest Dreamlands activity. Dreamland residents entering our world could bring cats of Ulthar in their wake. The appearance of strangely stealthy and intelligent cats could appear as an early symptom of a rift between waking and sleeping realms. Maybe they’ve come to find Randolph Carter to confront a dread manifestation back in Ulthar, but instead have to settle for the player characters.

Obsessive thoughts about cats in The Yellow King Roleplaying Game might likewise be a symptom of a shift in subjective reality, or a rupture in the objective one, particularly in the “This is Normal Now” sequence. Carcosa might make you think the cats are at fault, as a cover for its own actions in the neighborhood. But who’s to say that the alien realm of the Tattered King isn’t crawling with evil, sentient tabbies?

A pair of new Shock cards might help you develop that further:

AILUROPHOBIA

Shock

-1 to Focus tests.
No more than once per scene, confide your fear that cats are up to something to a witness, suspect or authority figure. Even: discard.

CAT HARASSMENT

Shock

Before taking any Presence test, roll a die. Odd: you see a cat or an image of a cat, and lose 1 Composure.

If that test succeeds, trade for “Ailurophobia.”

The Dracula Dossier Director’s Handbook covers the present-day Legacies of the main members of the Crew of Light – Billie Harker, Tabitha Holmwood, Thad Morris and the rest, the descendants of the original group who battled Dracula. However, Unredacted reveals the existence of several other members of this fellowship who, for reasons sinister or editorial, were excised from the narrative. Once the players discover the existence of Kate Reed or Inspector Cotford, might they not try to track down their present-day heirs?

Here’s the first in a short series covering some other Legacies…

 

Anna Marshall

She’s in her early 40s, but looks and dresses younger; she lives in departure lounges and hotel lobbies. Her accent is transatlantic; her personality buried with her conscience. If you ask, Anna says she works in public relations, but she won’t give you her card. She’s employed by a small firm, ReVu, that specializes in crisis management public relations. They’re the people you call when you’re a celebrity who was just caught with a dead prostitute, or a tech company who just broke democracy. ReVu has a portfolio of special assets – they’ve got private detectives and hackers to dig up dirt on your detractors, botnets and troll farms to spread disinformation, and lots of blackmail material. The firm exists in the same space as companies like Black Cube or Cambridge Analytica; it’s headquartered in London, and definitely wasn’t founded by any ex-spies.

Marshall’s role is handling the traditional press (she has lunch with the Tabloid Journalist, DH p. 134) regularly, and trades barbs on twitter with the Journalist (DH, p. 120), but she usually stays under the radar. She tells herself that any day now, she’s going to leave all this behind her, maybe move into the charity sector (maybe Heal The Children, p. 150), but she knows she’s made too many enemies to just walk away. Also, damningly, she’s good at this.

She has no idea of her ancestry, although she might recall seeing a photograph of her great-great-grandmother Kate Reed in her parents’ place. Optionally, she inherited a brooch like the Westenra Brooch (DH, p. 284). She sleepwalks, especially around mid-March.

Innocent: For certain values of ‘innocent’, obviously. ReVu might get hired by any well-connected Character or Node to deal with trouble caused by the Agents. Likely clients for Kate include either Holmwood (DH, p. 43/44), the Hungarian (DH, p. 94), maaaaaybe the Psychic (p. 96), the Art Forecaster (DH, p. 103), the Drug Boss (DH, p. 113), the Petroleum Executive (DH, p. 127) and a bunch of Nodes like Nox Therapeutics (DH, p. 163).

Anna’s conscience isn’t completely dead; if reminded that objective truth and genuine goodness still exist, she might be motivated to assist the Agents. Getting her to read Kate Reed’s Diary (DH, p. 272), showing her the true extent of Dracula’s evil, or just a hefty Interpersonal spend might convince her to help the Agents.

Another possibility: Marshall hires the Agents as freelancers to track down dirt on some political foe; if the Agents need ready cash, a simple little breaking-and-entering side job might appeal. From there, they can discover the truth about their employer.

Asset: ReVu is an Edom cut-out, possibly founded by a retired ex-Duke (a previous Timnah, DH p. 53) or the MI5 Deputy (DH, p. 95). The company handles cover-ups and media monitoring, and occasionally employs vampiric mind control to flip a witness or guarantee a story gets buried. Marshall’s too junior to know much about ReVu’s connections to the Secret Service, although she does know the higher-ups sometimes have urgent meetings at Ring (DH, p. 173) or Exeter (DH, p. 167). If she knew about the Reed file that marks her as a Legacy, she might flip on her employer.

Minion: Marshall’s family have been part of the Satanic Cult of Dracula (DH, p. 55) for generations; she was initiated as a priestess of Dracula at the age of 13, left alone in the Red Room (DH, p. 187) overnight to bathe in the psychic influence. ReVu covers up the cult’s excesses; once Dracula makes his move, the company may be ordered to expose or discredit Edom, distracting “D” with political pressure and scandals while the vampire breaks free. This version of Marshall is likely irredeemable (assuming she’s not a full-on vampire); she expects to be an immortal handmaiden of the Count once he takes over the world.

Defining Quirks: (1) Carries an antique umbrella (2) At least three phones (3) Sleeps with the lights on

Investigative Abilities: High Society, Traffic Analysis, Negotiation

General Abilities: Network 15

In the latest episode of their chainsaw-handed podcast, Ken and Robin talk comedic horror games, OSS graphic design, Guy Maddin, and sky amoeba UFOs.

Page XX logo (2015_04_01 16_53_09 UTC)

A belated happy new year to all our readers! This double-feature Page XX is packed with the usual wealth of articles you’ve come to expect from this erudite publication, and exciting news with the official launch of the GUMSHOE Community program. If you’re not familiar with the Community Content programs, you can find all the details here. We’re excited to see what new Ashen Stars gems you create! Alongside that, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan’s converted two sections of his megadungeon campaign Eyes of the Stone Thief to D&D 5e rules, and also new this month is the PDF of Hideous Creatures: A Bestiary of the Cthulhu Mythos, crammed full of mythos monsters, some of whom have never taken stat block form in an RPG before!

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Happy new year, all, and I do hope you’re enjoying your dystopian cyberpunk future! I know I am. 😐

BUT, here in the Pelgrane’s Nest, things are looking up. As of today, we have joined another future – a more positive, and community-based future – with the launch of the GUMSHOE Community program on DriveThruRPG. If you haven’t yet come across the Community Content program, it’s a way for publishers to release some IP elements like text, art and layout assets to their communities to publish new works on DriveThruRPG within that setting, and even make money from them. So now’s your opportunity to revisit those Ashen Stars drafts in your Ideas folder, and get them up there for everyone to enjoy. You can find out more about the program here, and the full details are on the GUMSHOE Community page, here.

***NEW*** Eyes of the Stone Thief 5e Compatible PDF

You’re likely familiar with Eyes of the Stone Thief, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan’s massive campaign for 13th Age. But, did you know that the living dungeon known as the Stone Thief is so epic it cannot be confined to just one system?! With some help from Kieran Turley, Gareth’s turned the first two levels of his megadungeon masterpiece into a PDF that’s compatible with the 5th Edition of the world’s most popular roleplaying game. If you have friends who are interested in making the jump, but nervous about spending money to do so, as well as being available in our webstore, you can also pick it up in the DriveThruRPG store as a pay-what-you-want title.

***NEW*** Hideous Creatures: A Bestiary of the Cthulhu Mythos PDF

New out this month is the PDF of the enormous Hideous Creatures: A Bestiary of the Cthulhu Mythos. While a staff writer, Ken wrote a number of stand-alone PDFs giving some mythos monsters the full Trail of Cthulhu treatment, writing up adventure seeds, variations, sample clues, mythic echoes throughout history, and stats. These PDFs were each carefully researched and information-dense, and packed with such useful ideas and scenario starters that we wanted to make them available to a wider audience. We collated the fifteen of those, added seven entirely new creatures, and rounded the collection out with another nine which had never appeared in a mythos RPG before. Hideous Creatures is the ultimate bestiary not only for Trail of Cthulhu, but for any mythos RPG.

A very rough sketch map of the city of Eversink

Work in progress update: Swords of the Serpentine

Kevin’s submitted the final manuscript (yay!), and it’s currently in editing. He’s now working with cartographer and Pelgrane artist Jérôme Huguenin on the maps of Eversink, although it’s early days still – you can see Jérôme’s first draft of the Sinking City over. We’re hoping to be able to release this in time for Gen Con, with pre-orders starting in March or April. Kevin’s also working on his own adventure, and the other writers’, for The Slithering God. Oh, oops…

Breaking! The Slithering God

This just in: we’re working on a five-adventure campaign for Swords of the Serpentine. Like The Zalozhniy Quartet and The Persephone Extraction, The Slithering God will feature five linked adventures, which can be run separately, or combined into one epic campaign. Serpentine authors Kevin Kulp and Emily Dresner will be writing one adventure each, and they’ll be joined by Dracula Dossier and Persephone author Heather Albano, along with Rachael Cruz and Black Star Magic writer Sarah Saltiel. Oh, I did it again? *le sigh*

Breaking! Black Star Magic

Also brand new to our Forthcoming list is a book of magic for The Yellow King RPG. Black Star Magic will feature background material for Carcosan magic in all four YKRPG settings, and GM guidance showing you how to incorporate player-facing occult powers into your game, as well as a brand-new magical adventure for each of the four YKRPG settings. Progress has been tearing along on this thanks to an all-star writing team of Robin Laws, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan, Sarah Saltiel and Ruth Tillman, and we’re hoping to open playtesting on this in the next See Page XX.

Work in progress update: The Yellow King RPG

And while I’m on the topic, the last remaining backer copies of the Yellow King RPG are winging their way to our wonderful Kickstarter backers, who have waited so very patiently through what has been a fulfillment process of Carcosan-level nightmares.

I say often that we at Pelgrane are incredibly lucky to have the community we do, who understand that we work hard to produce high-quality games for them, and stay with us on that journey, no matter how arduous; but it does bear repeating. A big shout-out of gratitude to the YKRPG backers, for their humour and generosity of spirit, and crossing our fingers that, now that they’re in possession of the tomes, the YKRPG curse touches them but lightly.

For those of you who’ve been waiting patiently while they waited patiently, we’ll be releasing the Yellow King RPG in the next edition of See Page XX.

Work in progress update: Mutant City Blues 2nd Edition

The final PDF has been uploaded to pre-orderers’ bookshelves now, and this is with the printers. Chinese New Year will impact the delivery date, but we’re hoping to have the books in the US and UK in April.

Work in progress update: Born Robot

Unfortunately, Robin’s conflicting commitments have put this project on semi-permanent hiatus, at least for the next two years. We’ll revisit this once his bandwidth frees up again.

Pelgranes in the Wild, January – Warpcon, Ireland

The early gaming ground of a young me, and an even younger Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan, we’ll be trialling a small booth at our home convention in Cork for the first time. This will impact our game running, game playing, and game drinking time (pp. 8-9), but it’ll be worth it to sing the epic song of the Pelgrane for our friends and neighbours.

Pelgranes in the Wild, January, cont – Contingency, UK

At the same time that Gareth and I are reminiscing, Becky will be braving the fens of East Anglia to try out a small booth at Contingency, in King’s Lynn, assisted by Pelgrane playtester Chris Romer. If you’re in the area, which seems quite central, to swing by and say hello.

Until next time…

^^ Cat

A column about roleplaying by Robin D. Laws

When the original Fear Itself came out in 2007, horror was in the depths of its torture phase, typified by the Saw and Hostel franchises. Always the most reliable indicator of the zeitgeist, horror cinema reflected America’s anxieties about its place in the world under the shadow of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. The early Obama years saw a retrenchment into Hollywood’s recycling ethos, with a spate of remakes recapitulating the shock cinema of the 70s and 80s. Both of these horror cycles predominantly featured casts of young friends and peers facing the hideous fates that await most scare-flick protagonists—the default assumption of the game. One current horror wave, post-dating Fear Itself, places the family unit in the crosshairs of supernatural or monstrous danger. A Quiet Place, Hereditary, Sinister, Bird Box, Us, and the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House all evoke fears of family dissolution in the face of threats from without. The more ghostly variants often show the influence of Kubrick’s The Shining. Political in a different way than the previous torture cycle, they touch on domestic economic unease, depicting families fighting to survive, and remain intact, under crushing external pressure. (Although they’re still going strong, I’d categorize these as products of the inward-looking late Obama period. Cultural waves take a while to show up on screens, so Trumpian horror may mark another imminent shift, with The Purge and its follow-ups as leading indicators.) To tweak Fear Itself for family horror, revisit character generation to create a cast of close relatives who will face a terrifying situation together. Start by dropping Drives. The implicit need to protect one another, literally and metaphorically keeping the family together, motivates the characters. Drives ensure that PCs act like horror characters, often giving them a positive reason to head into danger. In a family game, the characters generally seek to escape a situation which continues to ensnare them.

  • They’re socked in for the winter at the creepy hotel.
  • The ghost manifestation follows them even when they abandon the creepy house.
  • Monsters are everywhere and no place stays safe for long.
  • The source of horror is coming from inside the family.

Here, characters investigate to escape the problem, not to burrow deeper into it. The GM must actuate that by keeping the pressure on, driving them toward the information that might just allow them to get through this. During character generation, ask each player in turn to specify their role in the family. You might specify that at least one player must take on a parental role. Or, if no one wants to be Mom or Dad, most characters wind up as siblings—presumably orphaned in an earlier manifestation of the scenario or campaign’s central menace. Some players may try to wriggle free of emotional obligation by creating distant relatives. Redirect the urge to play third cousins or distant uncles. A recently arrived newcomer to the family, such as a new spouse or a biological half-sibling who showed up waving a genetic test, still works. Specify that they’ve had enough time to commit themselves to the family unit. They might have an outside perspective but still need desperately to preserve their connection to the others. In a DramaSystem game you’d then devise a map of blocked emotional agendas that each seeks from the others. Although conflict may exist or arise between PCs, in this case the focus is on coming together against an outside danger. Characters might be distant from another at first; if they survive, it’s because they bond in pursuit of survival. This theme appears in some familial horrors, like The Haunting of Hill House, but isn’t so much a factor in A Quiet Place. Instead start off the collective thinking by asking the group to come up with an answer to the following question: What blow has the family recently endured? Groups who like to dig in and find their own way can take it from there. Ones who prefer to choose from supplied prompts can pick one of these choices, perhaps riffing a variation:

  • We all mourn our missing family member, who was killed either recently, by known means, or many years ago, in an incident we still struggle to understand.
  • We underwent a bankruptcy or are on the verge of one.
  • The head of the family has been suffering professionally.
  • One of us committed a crime that made life hard for everyone.
  • One of us underwent a medical crisis and yearns for tranquility and quiet.
  • One of us was victimized or traumatized.
  • We survived a terrible accident, perhaps of mysterious origin.
  • A weird destiny encircles us.
  • Our family has been cursed for generations.
  • We have just moved house, and we have to make it work.

As GM, you might instead specify a collective blow tied into the premise. That last item on the list fits a classic haunted house outing. A crime within the family might trigger supernatural vengeance. The head of the family in professional crisis could be headed for the psychic break that escalates the horror, because as we all know, ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKE JACK A DULL BOY. Skip the step where players choose Sources of Stability. Instead, each family member treats all the others as sources, suffering the ill results when one of the PCs fatally succumbs to the horror. Family-based horror works well for convention scenarios, providing an immediate premise and stakes for the players. Save time by handing out pregens with family roles already specified, allowing participants to pick which ones that appeal to them. Some players prefer to avoid the emotional intensity of familial interaction, often for strong personal reasons you don’t want to blunder into. They may have already experienced family dissolution, or regard relatives as people to escape from. In horror, this impulse might be called “Mummies? Yes! Mommy? No!” Be sure to secure buy-in, either by talking to your players at home or clearly signaling the premise of your con game on the sign-in sheet.


Fear Itself is a game of contemporary horror that plunges ordinary people into a disturbing world of madness and violence. Use it to run one-shot sessions in which few (if any) of the protagonists survive, or an ongoing campaign in which the player characters gradually discover more about the terrifying supernatural reality which hides in the shadows of the ordinary world. Will they learn how to combat the creatures of the Outer Black? Or spiral tragically into insanity and death? Purchase Fear Itself in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

image of Google text to speech logoby Aser Tolentino

These days when a conscientious creator begins building something to share with the world, they usually take the time to reflect to at least some degree on how inclusive they have been to players, readers or casual passers-by. In the gaming world, that has meant a commendable effort to reach out to sensitivity consultants or beta readers when dealing with topics requiring background experience or technical knowledge. Unfortunately, a major barrier to the enjoyment of creators’ work can sometimes be found not in its content, but its presentation. Whether as a consequence of the tools used in layout or the aesthetic choices made during product design, publishers can create major obstacles for users who rely on assistive technology to interact with the world around them, and game masters can employ techniques that limit some players’ ability to engage with the stories they create. These accessibility challenges are not insurmountable, and when confronted, can offer opportunities for everyone to have more fun around the table.

Why We Need it:

When people consider accessibility in their projects, the immediate concern becomes the difficulty when balanced against the necessity. I am a visually impaired attorney, podcaster, game master, and game designer. Every one of these roles has prompted a sighted person to ask, “How do you do that?” The answer is that for every action that is performed visually, there is usually a non-visual analog. It might require the use of other senses, expensive equipment, or technological trickery, but there’s almost always a way. And when it comes down to it, there must be a way. There are millions of legally blind and totally blind people in the United States. As an assistive technology instructor, I’ve encountered in the last month alone, people who have lost sight because of diabetes, gunshot wounds, welding accidents, cancer, congenital glaucoma, and blunt trauma. It’s often said that disability is unique as a protected class because it is one you can join at any time. When that happens though, there are tools available to allow people to learn how to do more than they realized was possible without perfect sight, and more things come into reach with every passing day.

The possibilities of assistive technology and rehabilitation training notwithstanding, much of what is possible for a person with a visual impairment relies on basic considerations by those responsible for creating and presenting content online or in the real world. We’re going to talk about a few examples, but for more tips and tricks, I would recommend these references from Fay Onyx and Jacob Wood, two game designers who have made advocating for greater accessibility part of their design philosophies. Adobe has also created more general guidance on PDF accessibility for users of their products. As an introduction to the whys and hows of integrating accessibility into your workflow however, we’ll talk about a few practices you may want to evaluate when putting your game together.

Tools of the Trade:

It might be helpful to understand the kinds of tools people with a visual impairment use to access your products. The list below is nowhere near comprehensive and is limited by my level of technical understanding, but should provide an idea of the capabilities available.

Screen Readers: A screen reader is a piece of software that intercepts all content displayed on the screen, parses the text and reads it to the user. In doing so, it creates an intermediate layer or buffer through which the user interacts with the computer’s interface using keyboard shortcuts. Basically, it recalls where all controls and other elements are located and when the user tabs to a link, button or the like and presses enter, the screen reader performs an equivalent action at what should be the correct location. It works surprisingly well…most of the time. While screen readers can provide information about graphics, they are largely reliant on content creators for meaningful input, e.g. a description of a picture. Screen readers can also provide details about text attributes, but generally do not do so by default: imagine if the narrator of the new book you downloaded from Audible told you every time a word was in italics.

Screen Magnifiers: It does what it says on the tin, but also a fair bit more. Magnifiers can apply filters to change colors, contrast, cursor shapes and other visual characteristics to make screens easier to read or less painful to look at. Often it’s screen magnifier users who are the most encumbered by denser and/or more intricate layouts and backgrounds.

Book Reader Hardware or Software: Many people with print disabilities employ reading software to handle longer text that would require too much time or concentration to access visually. Basically, imagine the Kindle app on steroids and speaking to you in a not quite human voice and you get the idea. Most of these products use optical character recognition (OCR) which allows the user to strip the text stream from a PDF and read it aloud, using tagged elements such as headings, pages and paragraphs as landmarks for easy navigation.The utility of these readers varies greatly depending on how well the source material was formatted. 

It’s Not What You Said, But How You Said It:

One of the greatest challenges in game design is efficiently and comprehensively conveying information to readers of varying degrees of sophistication. Whether you’re designing character background generators or vehicle combat options, how you lay out information for the reader can make a huge difference in how they perceive it or how it is interpreted by assistive technology. It perhaps bears repeating that information should never be conveyed through color alone, as different kinds of colorblindness will limit the ability of many readers to differentiate between a variety of colors. Beyond that however, one should be cautious when employing icons or other graphics to denote any information such as rules variations, damage types, dice to be rolled, or other details. Screen readers and reading software parsing files for text will disregard graphics, meaning that any context will be lost for anyone relying on such technologies. Likewise, when working with publishing software like InDesign, linking text boxes so that they follow the intended reading order can avoid detours through flavor text and optional rules while reading about character creation. Lastly, tables should have their column and row headers tagged so that screen readers will provide that added context for users moving across cells: was that 15 its clip size or its weight?

The Visual Noise:

When interacting with a document or website using a screen magnifier, decorative visual elements can pose serious challenges to visually impaired readers. Background images, particularly when they reduce contrast with foreground text, can make it difficult to distinguish signal from noise. A useful workaround for many in this predicament has been to read from the printer-friendly or eReader versions of books provided by some thoughtful publishers. For those interested in a more elegant solution, creating multiple layers within a PDF document to allow for the toggling of background images and other decorative elements can make for a terrific compromise. That said, maintaining the highest level of contrast that conforms to your design aesthetic is always desirable, as it ensures the most people can enjoy the game as you envisioned it.

What We Like to (Metaphorically) See:

There are a number of little touches that can transform a game book from a tolerable experience to a truly enjoyable one. As I mentioned above, book reading software often relies upon tagged elements such as headings to provide navigational landmarks for easy movement through a document. Tagging titles and sidebars as well as other key portions of text with headings that conform to a logical hierarchy can make exploring and referring to a rule book infinitely more manageable, especially when under time pressure. And while a properly linked and bookmarked PDF is a true joy to read, an ePub or MOBI file can add an extra level of functionality as headings and bookmarks retain a great deal more precision in these formats than is commonly found in PDFs. And of course, though it is exceedingly rare to find, actual descriptions of art in alt text or actual long description attributes can be hugely impactful when you unexpectedly encounter it in someone’s work. On a more practical note, quick start rules or rules references can be of incalculable value as they can be printed out in large print or embossed in Braille without using up a ream of paper.

Putting It Into Action:

The most accessible game book in the world won’t do anyone a bit of good if the people running it don’t translate that inclusive spirit into practices at the table. The thing to remember in this context, like with all other considerations, is to maximize fun. Several publishers and online groups have begun working on large print and high visibility character sheets. Braille readers may have the ability to load materials onto Braille displays or print them using embossers if provided sufficient notice. Offering players the opportunity to request accommodations, in private and particularly ahead of time, can clearly convey your openness to working with them. Discussing resources you might have, or could get, would also be a good step when someone appears unsure what might be helpful, but the player should be allowed to explain what they could use to the extent they are comfortable. Entire books have been written on the subject of reasonable accommodation, so this is a topic that will involve some variation from one group to another. Simply being able to have the conversation in a supportive and proactive way can make all the difference in making a player feel welcome and included.

Conclusion:

I have had the privilege of playing some incredible games with truly amazing people. The tabletop hobby includes such a huge community of brilliant, creative, funny and kind people. Advances in technology and changes to the way people think about including and expanding their audience have made it so much easier to participate. I can wait to see what we come up with next together.

 


Among other things, Aser Tolentino is an assistive technology instructor, accessibility consultant, licensed attorney, podcaster, and aspiring game designer. He is a co-founder of The Redacted Files Podcast Network and Peculiar Books. His role-playing aesthetics tend toward investigative horror, military science fiction, and historical adventuring. Diagnosed with glaucoma at birth, he explores the world with his wife Megan and guide dog Dixie, and can regularly be found shouting into the void on Twitter.

Bring Mind-Bending Spellcasting to The King In Yellow Roleplaying Game

Ritual magic of the Belle Époque! The desperate Science Jaune of a war-torn continent! Parageometrical horrors perfected in the labs of the tyrannical, overthrown Castaigne regime! Signing, the latest way to turn social media dysfunction into sorcerous reality!

Your players can master them all—at perilous risk!

Each spell is a Shock card with effects both useful and sinister. Do they hold onto that that spell they need to do that thing, even as their inner realities start to break apart? Or do they take the safe route, and cast out the buzzing, insistent power of the Yellow Sign?

New magic rules include 144 startling spells, background material on Carcosan magic in all four YKRPG settings, and GM guidance showing you how to incorporate player-facing occult powers into your game.

Plus, a quartet of scenarios, allowing the characters of each sequence to make double-edged deals with the world of sorcery:

Dancer at the Bone Cabaret pits the art students of Paris against a force that lures their Bohemian friends to the latest, hottest nightspot. But are they the patrons, or items on the menu?

A Coffin at Le Thil sends the supernatural-quashing soldiers of The Wars into a village haunted by subterranean enemy activity.

Memories of a Dream Clown confronts the victorious revolutionaries of Aftermath with a treasured but tarnished memory of childhood—and murder!

Love Wears No Mask finds This Is Normal Now’s ordinary heroes battling an intrusive yet enthralling phone app, and the dramatic goings-on of the subtly destabilizing dating reality show it promotes.

Play them separately, or chill your players with all of them. All they have to lose is their grip on reality…

Written and designed by: Robin D. Laws, Sarah Saltiel, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan, and Ruth Tillman.

Status: Playtesting soon

The massive living dungeon known as the Stone Thief is so epic it cannot be confined to just one system! Designer Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan has turned the first two levels of his megadungeon masterpiece into a PDF that’s compatible with the 5th Edition of the world’s most popular roleplaying game.

Eyes of the Stone Thief (5E Compatible) is a two-level dungeon like your players have never seen before: a living creature of stone that rises to the surface, devours structures and places, then incorporates them into itself as dungeon levels. The Stone Thief is a cunning foe that seeks to destroy those who dare set foot inside…

The 39-page adventure brings nearly 30 new monsters to your 5E table, including the hobgoblin warmage, filth hydra, undead spider, and ghoul fleshripper. Run the adventure as-is, plunder it for ideas and inspiration, or use it as a starting point to convert the rest of the Eyes of the Stone Thief campaign to 5th Edition.

The Stone Thief rises. Enter it, find its secrets and defeat it – or die trying.

Author: Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan
Artists: Anna Kryczkowska, Pat Loboyko, Rich Longmore, Juha Makkonen, Russ Nicholson, Ben Wooten Pages: 39 page PDF

Buy for a set price in our webstore

Buy as a Pay-What-You-Want PDF on DriveThruRPG

It’s official – the GUMSHOE Community program is live!

We announced in our Swords, Spies and Shoggoths panel at Gen Con (which you can listen to here, thanks to our friends at the Plot Points podcast) that we were launching the GUMSHOE Community program, making Ashen Stars content available to creators. If you’re not familiar with the Community Content concept, it means we’ve made some elements of Ashen Stars (e.g. some IP elements, art, and layout assets) open for members of the community (that is, you!) to write and publish your own Ashen Stars content on DriveThruRPG.

We’ve got a number of great Ashen Stars PDFs already available, to show you what’s possible. These include:

If you’re interested in learning more about the GUMSHOE Community program, check it out here.

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