Bring Mind-Bending Spellcasting to The Yellow King 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?

 

Black Star Magic features new magic rules for The Yellow King RPG, including 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 Casket 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…

Stock #: PELGY11 Author: Robin D. Laws, Sarah Saltiel, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan, and Ruth Tillman
Cover Art: TBD Format: Black and white perfect-bound book, ~176 pages

Pre-order Black Star Magic now

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

[Editor’s Note: Like the creatures in the Dying Earth, and those in Trail, each Night’s Black Agents campaign has a different vampire. This excerpt introduces you to vampire design.]

Vampires

Now, it’s the opposition’s turn.

This chapter presents a series of questions to answer and decisions to make for the Director. Why do vampires exist? Where do they come from? What are their powers? How do humans stop them? When did they begin to corrupt Europe – or mankind as a whole? Who do they control? This chapter also presents a wide variety of answers to those questions, and options for those decisions. The Director builds her vampires, and their conspiracy, from those answers and choices, and from her imagination and creativity. Thus, no two games of Night’s Black Agents will have exactly the same vampires, so the players won’t know what to expect even if they expect vampires.

Parameters

As a starting point for design, consider the following four general types of vampires: Supernatural, Damned, Alien, and Mutant.

These are not mutually exclusive by any means: a mutant vampire virus could have come from outer space or from Hell; all supernatural phenomena might be fundamentally demonic or, following Lovecraft, fundamentally misunderstood alien science. Is the “astral vampire” a supernatural being, or a paraphysical one? Especially in modern fiction, vampires can partake of all four types: evil infected humans who follow alien physical laws that eerily resemble vampire folklore. Much of the fun of postmodern horror comes from blurring these boundaries, and the Director should feel free to do so. Nevertheless, much of the thrill of Gothic horror comes from playing into the tropes and stereotypes of the genre, so the Director shouldn’t necessarily discard the default version or traditional answer for a given vampire.

The symbols in front of each type recur through this section, providing just such a default answer, or general guidelines for vampire creation within each type.

Supernatural

Vampires are the result of magical or other supernatural activities on Earth: spirits, ghosts, necromancy, witchcraft, and the like. Their markers are strange superstitions, often surrounding childbirth and burial customs; their emphasis is hunger. Most folkloric vampires are supernatural: a person born with a caul on a Saturday, or one whose family allows a cat in the room with his corpse, might rise as a vampire.

Damned

Vampires are the work of Satan or other explicitly demonic entities opposed to mankind and God. They may be demons who possess corpses, revenant suicides or heretics, or humans who made a specific pact with the Devil before death. Their markers are holy symbols and symbolism; their emphasis is seduction. Starting in the 17th century, most literary and legendary vampires are damned.

Alien

Vampires are alien beings, or earthly beings who nevertheless follow different laws of physics. Such “paraphysical” vampires might be alien invaders, psychic phenomena, corpses animated by alien science, or just “humans” from another dimension. Their markers are various uncanny effects; their emphasis is invasion. The alien vampire begins with H.G. Wells and the birth of science fiction in the late 19th century.

Mutant

Vampires are earthly beings infected or changed by (or into) some freak of nature. Such “parabiological” vampires may be mutants, constructs of some black program, humans adapted to future conditions of plague or global cooling, insane humans obsessed with blood, or sentient diseases that possess their hosts. Their markers are medical symptoms; their emphasis is infection. The mutant vampire begins with Enlightenment skeptics connecting vampirism and tuberculosis, and flourishes in science fiction and addiction horror.

Campaign Modes and Vampire Types

Although any vampire type works with any campaign mode, and vice versa, some symbolic and thematic alignments exist. The general considerations below also apply to the various modes in significant ways. [The modes of play were discussed in a previous article]

Burn: In games focusing on emotional damage and cost, agents face the agony of staking their own friends and loved ones. This works best if vampires actually come back from the dead, if vampirism can “infect” civilians, and if they retain some aspects of their old humanity: part and parcel of supernatural and damned vampires, and some mutant vampires.

Burn, Dust: In Burn mode and Dust mode games, vampirism should probably be incurable to emphasize those modes’ characteristic themes of loss and powerlessness, respectively.

Dust: Realistic, low-fi games fit the tone of either “realistic” mutant vampires or the grimier sort of supernatural vampires. Some alien vampires play well in “realistic” campaigns, also. That said, the sharp contrast between gray realism and crimson Hammer horror makes damned vampires a vivid contender in Dust mode games. Realistically, other observers would likely have spotted a large vampire population before the agents uncover them. In Dust mode games, either keep the number of vampires minimal, or add at least one underfunded vampire-hunting group or agency.

Mirror: Damned vampires foreground questions of allegiance and seduction, just as Mirror mode games do. The invasion themes of alien vampires also fit well, as do vampires who choose their own fate: necromancers, unorthodox epidemiologists, and psionic vampires. Vampires in Mirror mode games should definitely be able to pass for human, raising the “who do I trust?” question every time an agent gets briefly separated from the party after sundown. Factions of vampires can betray each other, or hire the agents under false flags to stake their foes; a very helpful option for Mirror mode games.

Stakes: Games of belief and motivation work well when the vampires themselves are motivated by an ideology (as with damned vampires) or are simply existential threats (as with alien and infectious-disease vampires).

Sanguinary Considerations

Even before you begin to build your vampires mechanically, take some time to consider the phenomenon of vampirism in your campaign. What kinds of stories do vampires highlight? What do they make possible, or impossible? Your campaign vastly alters if there is only one true vampire in the world working through a horde of Renfields, instead of six enormous vampire clans tracing their descent back to ancient Dacia wrangling over their own internal politics.

Page XX logo (2015_04_01 16_53_09 UTC)We should be deep in the middle of convention season right now, but instead we’re nervously watching as more and more countries open back up, and excitedly preparing for the first ever Gen Con Online. We hope to see you there – and at the (presumably virtual) ENnies ceremony, as we’ve been nominated for three awards. We’d greatly appreciate if you could vote for us here!

New Releases

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In any other year, at this time we’d be rushing around the Pelgrane’s Nest prepping for Gen Con. Although cancelled in its physical format, it’s still going ahead as Gen Con Online. The Pelgrane team is running more than fifty events at it so far, but we’ve got plenty of space left for more games, so if you’d like to run games at Gen Con, please get in touch with us, either by filling in the form here (the list of adventures available is here), or pinging us on the Discord server.

Other News: The 2020 ENnie Awards

We are deeply honoured to have been nominated three times in the 2020 ENnies. Being nominated for an ENnie Award is an acknowledgement of the hard work that happens behind the scenes to create our books, and it means a lot to us to be recognised. Voting is open until 11:45 PM EST on July 12th we’d really appreciate if you’d consider voting for us in the following categories:

We’d be delighted to get a nod as Fan Favourite Publisher too, of course!

If you’d like to see previews of the ENnie-nominated products, you can download those here:

New to pre-order: Black Star Magic

This month sees the release of the pre-order of the very first Yellow King RPG supplement not included as part of the Kickstarter, Black Star Magic contains all you need to add player-facing Carcosan magic to your YKRPG campaign. Black Star Magic features thematic magic rules for all four YKRPG settings, as well as a gross number of starting spells, and a brand-new adventure for Paris (“Dancer at the Bone Cabaret”), The Wars (“A Casket at Le Thil”), Aftermath (“Memories of a Dream Clown”) and This is Normal Now (Love Wears No Mask). Written by YKRPG designer Robin D. Laws, alongside experts such as writer of The Doors to Heaven, Sarah Saltiel; Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan, and Ruth Tillman.

New to order: Honey & Hot Wax

Jen McCleary’s layout for Honey & Hot Wax, our brand-new anthology of erotic art games, is a work of elegant, sensuous brilliance (as you can see in the example on the right, from Friend of the Pelgrane Alex Roberts’ game of balloon love, Pop!). The layout is finished and the PDF is now available to purchase and, for those who’ve already pre-ordered it, to download. We’ll be launching it on DriveThruRPG next week.

New to order: Mutant City Blues 2nd Edition

All pre-orders for Mutant City Blues 2nd Edition have now been shipped out, and this should be available in retail stores from the start of July.

Work in progress update: Swords of the Serpentine

Thanks to everyone who’s had a look at their pre-layout PDF, and spotted some typos in it! We’re collecting all of those using this form, so let us know if you spot a typo, or there’s anything that isn’t clear. Layout has been paused while we review the final file, but we’re still getting art in.

Work in progress update: Even Death Can Die

Christian is on holidays at the moment, unfortunately, which has put paid to my plan to have the PDF finalised and to pre-orderers at the end of June, unfortunately. I’m still waiting to hear back from him on his July availability, as he has a lot of family commitments over the coming weeks.

Works in progress update: 13th Age

I checked in with Rob Heinsoo to get an update on 13th Age production, and it’s steaming ahead! Book of the Underworld is on its way, and Rob, J-M and Trisha are hard at work on a total of four announced books (and one that we agreed wasn’t quite ready to be announced yet) at the moment. Here’s a short update on each, with sneak peeks at some art, too:

We’ve approved the final Book of the Underworld print proofs, and this is currently being printed. We’re hoping to start shipping this out to pre-orderers at the end of August.

Rob’s said that Elven Towers is through with design and development and art and about 75% through editing. It’s going to move into layout in the next couple weeks. He shared this illustration by Roena I. Rosenberger, showing the pit that leads down into the dark elves’ Tower of Dreams (actually a stalactite hanging in the underworld).

Drakkenhall: City of Monsters is our latest announced book. Rob’s mentioned that it’s about 75% written and is in the middle of development, and its art order is drafted, but not yet commissioned. This is the first in what Rob’s calling our “mosaic” 13th Age books, so-called because they’re constructed of a mosaic of complementary – and sometimes even contradictory! – perspectives on the subject matter, which allows GMs and players to pick and choose the bits that best describe the Dragon Empire as it exists at their own table.

Wade Rockett’s 1st level adventure, Crown of Axis, is more than 50% designed, Rob says. He has a cunning art plan, but nothing commissioned yet.

Icon Followers is what Rob’s currently spending most of his time on, and it’s about 33% designed. Unlike most of our books, Rob’s handling the art alongside design, to speed things up at the end. Here’s a Rich Longmore illustration of the war bell, a construct used for underground communication and magical thunder. You can see which icon it’s following by the etching!

Hey, Pelgranes. There’s a whole lot of change happening all at once, and it’s a stressful time. Here in my hometown, local businesses are closing down by the dozen due to the restrictions imposed in the wake of COVID-19. Around the world, people are out on the streets, protesting against institutional racism and police brutality. Meanwhile, climate change (remember that?!) continues to make our planet less inhabitable every day. Give yourselves a break, take care of yourselves, and stay safe out there.

Work in progress update: Swords of the Serpentine

Pre-orderers can now download the pre-layout PDF of Swords of the Serpentine, along with Jérôme Huguenin’s stunning Eversink map and a WIP of the world map. The book has been copyedited, but eagle-eyed readers over on the Facebook GUMSHOE RPG Community are spotting remaining typos in it – if you’ve found one, please let us know using this form. We’ll be sending the final files to Jen McCleary (The Fall of DELTA GREEN, Night’s Black Agents: Solo Ops) to start layout in the next week.

As well as working on the maps, Jérôme’s also starting to work on some of the iconic heroes from the game – here’s a preview of what he’s working on:

Work in progress update: Mutant City Blues 2nd Edition

Mutant City Blues 2nd Edition has now arrived with our US fulfilment house, and we’ll start shipping US & Canadian pre-orders out this week. They still haven’t arrived in the UK, but the tracking details suggest they should be arriving in the next two weeks, so we’re hoping to start shipping all non-US & Canadian pre-orders before the end of the month. (ICYMI, last month I showed off some of the proofs of the physical book, which are looking great!)

Work in progress update: The Borellus Connection

We’ve finished the revisions to the final The Borellus Connection manuscript and it’s now been copyedited, and we’re handing this adventure collection for The Fall of DELTA GREEN over to the sensitivity reader this week. We’ll commence the art for this shortly, and hope to release it on pre-order later in the summer.

Work in progress update: Honey & Hot Wax

Jen’s finished a first draft of the final layout of Honey & Hot Wax, and this is with the editors, Sharang Biswas & Lucian Kahn, for review. We should be able to get the final PDF to pre-orderers by the end of June. If you’d like to hear more about the games in this erotic art games anthology, check out this video from last month).

Work in progress update: Black Star Magic

Robin, Sam, Ruth & Gareth have finished the final Black Star Magic manuscript now, and this Yellow King RPG magic supplement, including a brand-new adventure for each of the four core YKRPG settings, is currently being copyedited. Expect the pre-order in the next couple of months!

Work in progress update: Even Death Can Die

Even Death Can Die has been stalled for some time, largely due to juggling priorities on my part, but is being restarted now. We’re aiming to have the final PDF to pre-orderers by the end of June, and send it to print at the same time – this means it should start shipping out to pre-orderers in September.

Work in progress update: GUMSHOE Kids

Thanks to everyone who playtested this junior-friendly adaptation of our most popular system! I had a lot of fun running this for my eldest nephew and niece, and they took to roleplaying like it was in their blood. :D We’ve now sent through all of your playtest feedback to Gareth, who’s going through it at the moment for a subsequent edition.

Work in progress update: Elven Towers

Art and maps are flooding in for champion tier 13th Age adventure Elven Towers, by author Cal Moore (Shadows of Eldolan, Sharpe Initiatives: Earthgouger), and only a few pieces are outstanding. This image of the Elf Queen’s Hunt Master, by Roena I. Rosenberger, wonderfully evokes the otherworldly personalities populating the Elf Queen’s Court of Stars at Thronewood. Work on the final text is nearly finished, and this should move into layout in early July.

Convention updates: Origins Online/IRL, and Gen Con

You may have already heard by now that Origins Online, scheduled for this weekend, and Origins Game Fair, which had been rescheduled for October 2020, have now both been cancelled. We are disappointed to hear this, as we had a great variety of games and panels scheduled, but we believe it’s the right decision in both cases.

Gen Con has recently announced that they are postponing an in-person event until 2021, but their online event is running the same weekend as originally scheduled (July 30 – August 2, 2020). As it’s an online event, GMs from all around the world can be part of our GM team this year, so if you’re available to run games as part of Gen Con Online that weekend, please do get in touch with us, either by filling in the form here (the list of adventures available is here) or pinging us on the Discord server.

In our latest Pelgrane Video dispatch, Ruth Tillman (Cthulhu Confidential, Black Star Magic) shows us how much fun her favorite GUMSHOE ability can be.

A column about roleplaying

by Robin D. Laws

While developing collaborators’ scenarios for Black Star Magic, I found myself puzzling out a design style question arising from a particular feature of QuickShock.

In previous iterations of GUMSHOE, and most other games with hit points or a hit point-like function, characters can theoretically leave play at any time. In all GUMSHOE games characters can die physically, ending their stories and requiring players to create replacements. In our various horror games, characters can also exit after cracking under intolerable mental strain.

The Yellow King Roleplaying Game follows that pattern: your character can shuffle off in both ways. Unlike games with traditional hit points (Health points in GUMSHOE) or Sanity / Stability points, YKRPG characters take their final curtains after receiving a predetermined number of Injury or Shock cards. After 3 or 4 cards, depending on how forgiving the GM has chosen to make her game, they’re outta there.

My scenarios provide ample opportunities to take Injury and Shock cards. In fact, one of the key requests made by playtesters was STOP MURDERING US SO HARD.

One or two of my more forgiving colleagues, on the other hand, just might have submitted scenarios including a less-than-fatal number of Injuries and/or Shocks.

This raised the question: is that poor form?

A scenario for standard GUMSHOE might make the prospect of death unlikely, by going light on scenes featuring fights or physical hazards. Likewise it might feature only a handful of Stability or Composure tests. But depending on how many points players have invested in key pools, you can’t say for certain that the scenario won’t dispatch a PC or two.

In QuickShock you can count the number of times the characters might take cards, and see that it doesn’t equal the Final Card threshold.

That’s before taking edge cases into account, though.

In an ongoing game, one or more characters may already have Continuity Shock or Injury cards carried over from previous play. This drops their effective thresholds for receiving new cards. If you have the Injury card Circulatory Damage, you start every scenario being able to receive one less Injury additional card than you did when you began play. A scenario that deals out a maximum of two Injuries could, if you get both of them, end you.

Also, the GM, responding to surprise player choices, may wind up improvising additional fights, hazards, and disturbing events. When these go wrong they hand out cards over and above those listed in the scenario. “You can’t die from the cards listed in the scenario” must always be read as “You can’t die from the cards listed in the scenario, if you only do what the scenario predicts you might do.” Those of us who have ever run a game know how big an if that is.

In yet another also, the GM never tells the players that a scenario includes few Shock or Injury cards. It’s not the actual likelihood of investigator demise that creates suspense in play, but the threat of it as perceived by the players, that delivers the emotional freight. When you get the last card listed in the scenario, you have no way of knowing that there aren’t a boatload more of them still potentially to come. Unless you read the scenario afterwards, you’ll never see that you were actually safe.

For those reasons, I decided that it should not be a requirement that every published scenario hand out enough cards to potentially kill off a character.

Also, with rare exceptions, Shock and Injury cards impose other penalties on the characters who receive them. That’s why they exist. Unlike a quantity of lost hit points, they create lingering effects that impact the story. They sit in front of the players, reminding them that something has gone wrong. Something that must be addressed. The anxious desire to get rid of these awful, nagging cards mimics the fear and unease of the characters. Even if you can only get one card of a given type in a scenario, when you get it, you generally really want to get rid of it. One card you remember getting, or struggling to discard, exerts a greater impact than some Health points you lost and then refreshed.

Even if that weren’t the case, a philosophical design question remains: is it somehow cheating, or poor form, to introduce the possibility of character demise when it can’t actually happen? A D&D or 13th Age game assumes you’ll be fighting up a storm over most evenings of play. But if a particular adventure has you intriguing your way through a trade dispute with little chance of taking an ax to the face, you likely consider that a refreshing change of pace. After a while you’re going to want to get back to the core activity of battling and looting, jotting down hit point losses as you go. But the adventure where the stakes aren’t the characters’ survival doesn’t register as a cheat.

For a scenario to engage the players, they have to care about something. They must want for X to happen and fear that it will not. The prospect of character death exists in games as a default set of stakes: do you live or die?

In the mystery scenario that GUMSHOE offers, you always have another measure of success, other than “am I still breathing at the end?” When you figure out what’s going on in time to prevent disaster, see justice done, or simply slake your curiosity, you’ve won.

As long as your choices lead to either good or bad consequences, those consequences don’t have to be Shock or Injury cards in order for players to walk away from the table remembering a gripping narrative.


The Yellow King Roleplaying Game takes you on a brain-bending spiral through multiple selves and timelines, pitting characters against the reality-altering horror of The King in Yellow. When read, this suppressed play invites madness, and remolds our world into a colony of the alien planet Carcosa. Four core books, served up together in a beautiful slipcase, confront layers with an epic journey into horror in four alternate-reality settings: Belle Epoque Paris, The Wars, Aftermath, and This Is Normal Now. Purchase The Yellow King Roleplaying Game in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

Page XX logo (2015_04_01 16_53_09 UTC)

The last edition of See Page XX was filled with so much excitement around the launch of the GUMSHOE Community Content program (ICYMI, find all the details here), but that pales into insignificance compared to this month, and the launch of the Yellow King RPG! We’re proud of how slick and elegantly it’s turned out – thanks in large part to Christian Knutsson’s effortless design – and we’re so glad to be finally able to share it with the world. Pick it up on its own, or in a discounted bundle with city sourcebook Absinthe in Carcosa and Robin’s latest novel, The Missing and the Lost.

New Releases

      • The Yellow King RPG – Four full-colour 6″ x 9″ hardback books in a slipcase, with accompanying GM screen. The dread horror of Robert Chambers’ King in Yellow stories take RPG form, confronting your players with an epic journey across four Carcosan-drenched time periods.
      • Absinthe in Carcosa – An 8.5″ x 11″, full-colour hardback, this indispensable city guide for The Yellow King Roleplaying Game is yoked together from travelogues, newspapers, and the disquieting ephemera of the occult tradition.
      • The Missing and the Lost – A thrilling, thought-provoking novel, which can be read as a mystery of a dread-drenched alternate reality, or use it as a model for The Yellow King Roleplaying Game when you play its Aftermath setting.
      • The GUMSHOE Community program – Create your own adventures, ships, planets, and much more for the Ashen Stars setting!
      • 5e conversion – Eyes of the Stone Thief – Two levels of Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan’s 13th Age megadungeon Eyes of the Stone Thief campaign, converted to D&D 5th edition rules
      • Mutant City Blues 2nd Edition – Pre-order the updated and expanded mutant-powered police procedural GUMSHOE game, and get the final PDF now.
      • Even Death Can Die – Pre-order this adventure collection for Cthulhu Confidential and get the pre-edit draft PDF now.

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Long-term readers will understand how I am equal parts excited and relieved to be able to FINALLY say this…

***NEW*** The Yellow King RPG!!

If you missed out on the multi-phased and many-pronged cursing of the Nest that was The Yellow King RPG printing and fulfillment, you can now corrupt your own existence with the four-book, slipcase & GM screen extravaganza that is Robin D. Laws’s The Yellow King RPG – if you dare.

In case you haven’t spent the last two years chasing printers on it and don’t know what it’s about…inspired by the reality-twisting The King in Yellow stories by Robert W. Chambers, the boxed set contains four different settings:

  • Belle Époque Paris, where a printed version of the dread play is first published. Players portray American art students in its absinthe-soaked world, navigating the Parisian demimonde and investigating mysteries involving gargoyles, vampires, and decadent alien royalty.
  • The Wars, an alternate reality in which the players take on the role of soldiers bogged down in the great European conflict of 1947. While trying to stay alive on an eerie, shifting battlefield, they investigate supernatural mysteries generated by the occult machinations of the Yellow King and his rebellious daughters.
  • Aftermath, set later in the same reality, in present day North America. A bloody insurrection has toppled a dictatorial regime loyal to Carcosa. Players become former partisans adjusting to ordinary life, trying to build a just society from the ashes of civil war. But not all of the monsters have been thoroughly banished—and like it or not, they’re the ones with the skills to hunt them and finish them off.
  • This is Normal Now. In the present day we know, albeit one subtly permeated by supernatural beings and maddening reality shifts, ordinary people band together, slowly realizing that they are the key to ending a menace spanning eras and realities.

***NEW*** Absinthe in Carcosa

Accompanying your Yellow King RPG spiral into the distorted degeneracy of the Carcosans is Absinthe in Carcosa, an indispensable city guide to Belle Époque Paris. As an absinthe-drenched American art student explored Paris in search of the decadent influence of the King in Yellow, he created a scrapbook – a guide both for himself, and those who would follow. Yoked together from existing travelogues, newspapers, and the disquieting ephemera of the occult tradition, it laid out a skewed portrait of a haunted city. Dean Engelhardt (The Hawkins Papers, Hideous Creatures: A Bestiary of the Cthulhu Mythos) has worked his usual dazzling magic on this evocative full-colour handbook to Yellow Paris. Mine it for YKRPG adventure hooks, handouts, absinthe trips and period flavour – or just to show your players how far they have to fall…

***NEW*** The Missing and the Lost

In his creepy and unnerving short story collection New Tales of the Yellow Sign, Robin first explored the “spread through global culture, and history itself, like a virus” of the King in Yellow. And now, his own “contagion bears hideous fruit” in the Yellow King RPG, and the meta novelisation-of-a-novel that is The Missing and the Lost. Set in the “post-Carcosan” Aftermath setting of the Yellow King RPG, the protagonist Technician, responsible for repairing the suicide machines known as the Government Lethal Chambers, is determined to decommission those instruments of death, but instead he finds himself investigating a murder – all the while trying to restore democracy and order to a USA crippled by the Carcosan-supported for Castaigne former regime. While the Kickstarter backers have been waiting for their copies, I’ve been very good and not read it – now that it’s out, I’ve got it stacked up on my Kindle (the print book comes with the PDF, EPUB and MOBI files), and I can’t wait to dive into it as prep for Aftermath games.

Work in progress update: Black Star Magic

This month, we’re got the book of magic for The Yellow King RPG, Black Star Magic, available for playtesting. Featuring 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. You’ll need the core YKRPG set to playtest this – if you’re interested, contact us in the usual way.

Other news – GUMSHOE SRD update

I don’t want this to be an all-YKRPG View, but there’s a lot happening with it. Thanks to the generosity of the YKRPG backers (have I mentioned that you’re great? You’re great!), Robin’s been able to update the existing GUMSHOE SRD to include the rules for both QuickShock GUMSHOE, and also GUMSHOE One-2-One. As always, we’d love to hear what you do with those, so do tag us on social media if you’ve got any GUMSHOE projects on the go!

Other other news – social media updates

We’ve been talking a lot internally about video content, and I’d really like to be able to demonstrate how awesome our games are to more video-native players. To that end, I’ve transferred over all our videos from our old Google+(sob!)-connected Google account to a new YouTube account, and also discovered there are some really fabulous Actual Plays and other Pelgrane-related videos out there. I’ve pulled them together into some playlists, focusing on game lines, interviews (how does Rob Heinsoo still look the exact same, 13 years later?!), and GMing advice. Did I miss anything you’d love to see? Let me know in the comments below!

It would be remiss of me not to mention that I’m braving the waters of Reddit on r/RPGdesign from 9th February. AMA about Pelgrane, publishing, or your favourite Pelgrane games!

And while we’re on the social media, a reminder of where you can get all the latest Pelgrane news:

Until next time…

^^ Cat

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