Due to popular demand, we’re excited to release the 13th Age Quickstart Rules!

This quickstart document includes the rules and advice you’ll need to run or play a game or three of 13th Age Roleplaying Game. You’ll also need a couple of other things: an introductory adventure, pre-generated characters, and some d20s, d8s, and other dice.

Our adventures Crown of Axis and The Strangling Sea were written with first-time players in mind. Using the rules in this Quick Start, you should have everything you need to run them. If you want to browse other free adventures, the 13th Age Resources page has a number of adventures to choose from. None are as deliberately beginner-friendly as Crown of Axis, but the Free RPG Day adventure Make Your Own Luck by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan is intended to be played by newcomers. (Make Your Own Luck also includes a less-polished version of the rules summary in the quickstart. Use the version in the quickstart!)

If you’re inspired to pay a bit more money, there’s a good short intro adventure at the back of the 13th Age core rulebook.

You can choose from a wide variety of low-level pre-generated characters on the 13th Age Resources page.

Download the 13th Age Quickstart Rules now

You’ve bought the hit singles and most popular collections. This summer sale gives you 25% off PDFs of the Pelgrane deep cuts – some rare gems of games that we feel are sadly overlooked compared to our other games. Here’s what’s in the offer:

 

  • The Gaean Reach: The Roleplaying Game of Interstellar Vengeance, brings to your tabletop the legendary cycle of science fiction classics by the great Jack Vance. In an impossibly distant future, our species has dispersed to the stars. Across the vastness of the Oikumene a few individuals of exceptional infamy project their lust for power. None of these evokes greater loathing and terror than the world-spanning criminal mastermind Quandos Vorn. Quandos Vorn. Who you have sworn to kill.
  • The Gaean Reach Gazetteer: Planets of Peril and Vengeance, Arranged From A-Z. An impossibly distant future. A vast sprawl of planets, each without parallel, with its own bizarre customs, bedeviling procedures, and wily inhabitants. As one of the implacable revenge-seekers populating The Gaean Reach Roleplaying Game, you know that correct intelligence on these worlds makes all the difference between grim success and howling failure.
  • Lorefinder: Where Mystery Meets Adventure. Lorefinder puts you in the role of a brave adventurer in search of forbidden secrets and lost treasures. It merges the action-oriented fantasy rules of The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game with the streamlined investigative focus of Robin D. Law’s GUMSHOE. Bad luck might get you killed, but it won’t stop you finding the information you need to move ahead.
  • Owl Hoot Trail: A gritty Clint Eastwood western, set in a hostile fantasy world. Half’in gunslingers ride out with shee scouts and hill folk preachers to escape the law, where mentalists cheat you at poker and gadgeteers build gizmos to keep undead off the range. Shee and half’ins and hill folk might exist in this world, but bullets hurt – hard. And there’s a whole range of monsters roaming the lonesome prairie, just waiting for a tasty morsel like you to cross their path.
  • Skulduggery: The Roleplaying Game Of Verbal Fireworks & Sudden Reversals. Bamboozle! Betray! Backstab! Why go all the way to the dungeon for enemies, when the other players are sitting right next to you? Skulduggery brings fast and funny innovation to the exciting world of inter-player conflict!

 

Get the Deep Cuts PDF bundle now

Page XX logo (2015_04_01 16_53_09 UTC)

It’s been a while, but we’re keeping on keeping on over here in the Pelgrane’s Nest, and hope you’re all keeping safe and well. We’ve been beavering away on the new website, as well as new releases like this month’s Find FOREVER to keep you entertained until life returns to normal.

New Releases

Articles

13th Age

As a company with tentacles in many countries, we’re taking comfort from the fact that the vaccines are, indeed, finally rolling out around the world. Our USAian Pelgranistas were the first to be vaccinated, followed by our some of our UKians. Us Irish Pelgranes are about to get our second shots, but the new Delta variant is causing enough concern that we’re continuing to stay indoors, and not travelling outside our home country, meaning we’re likely to miss you all at conventions again this year :(

However, while we’re not attending events in-person, or running events at in-person conventions, we are looking for GMs to run online events at Gen Con and Origins. If you’re interested, drop us an email at support@pelgranepress.com with the usual details.

NEW RELEASE: Find FOREVER

Find FOREVER is a new one-shot PDF adventure by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan for the Night’s Black Agents RPG. It mixes elements of UFO lore with classic American conspiracy as the Agents investigate something called FOREVER. From the intel they have, FOREVER is some sort of vampire-connected program run by shadowy elements within the United States intelligence community. Some claim FOREVER’s an ultrablack operation, a dozen levels higher and deeper than anything at Groom Lake. Others say that FOREVER was officially shut down decades ago. The truth is somewhere in between.

CURRENT OFFER: THE YELLOW KING RPG in the Bundle of Holding

For a limited time only, get the complete four-volume The Yellow King Roleplaying Game PDFs (retail price $55), along with MP3s of the six atmospheric music tracks in James Semple’s haunting The Yellow King Suite, for just US$17.95 at the Bundle of Holding.

And if you pay more than the current threshold price, you also get Absinthe in Carcosa, an indispensable city guide for The Yellow King RPG and a stunning, full-color visual artifact in its own right, as well as Robin’s novel The Missing and the Lost, an enchanting tale about one man’s mission to end things with his Government Lethal Chamber. Plus, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at Arc Dream Publishing to include their chilling edition of The King in Yellow, with annotations by our own Kenneth Hite, and Robin D. Laws’ New Tales of the Yellow Sign, a short story anthology which expands the classic horror mythos of weird tales pioneer and Lovecraft precursor Robert W. Chambers into new vistas of unease and imagination.

Check out the Bundle of Holding here!

COMING SOON: NEW WEBSITE

Dan the website man is putting the finishing touches to our brand-new website, and we’re hoping to launch next week! I can’t tell you how excited I am (you should’ve seen me geeking out when our Google Search Console first populated) at the prospect of releasing this elegant and modern website out into the world, watching it effortlessly load on mobile devices, and letting you all loose on your new, improved bookshelves. For GDPR reasons, when you first log in you’ll need to consent to us transferring your old downloads onto the new website, but it’s going to be worth it. We’ll be sending out an email after launch with full details of what you need to do to activate your account on the new website.

Work in progress update: Swords of the Serpentine

Our Swords of the Serpentine artists continue to struggle and so we’re missing a few final pieces, but we’re close to the finish line now. Jen’s completed the first draft of the layout, which is available to download for pre-orderers now. We’re working on the index, appendices, and internal links/bookmarks/table of contents at the moment, and hoping to have a final PDF ready for printing and pre-orderers at the end of July.

Work in progress update: Even Death Can Die

Speaking of struggling, we’ve hit a major roadblock with this one. We listened to feedback from customers about issues with the editing of the One-2-One books, and so we recruited Trisha DeFoggi to do one final post-layout copyedit of Even Death Can Die. And copyedit it she did, returning a document that had 5847 comments, ranging from adding or removing single characters such as a comma or period, to more advanced paragraph switching. Unfortunately, the layout artist Christian Knutsson is busy with other projects, and estimated it would take him about ten to twelve weeks to make these edits, so I’m now looking for a layout artist to make these changes.

Work in progress update: 13th Age projects

I asked Rob Heinsoo what was happening in the wonderful world of the Dragon Empire. Here’s what he said:

Drakkenhall: City of Monsters has shifted into its final phase. The city sourcebook’s final chapter (Gnomarchy madness!) is written and midway through development. Rob finished his development comments on the rest of the manuscript and has finished the first half of the monster/magic/math dev revisions with J-M. Trisha is already editing the chapters that are entirely done. We expect to be finished with editing and have the book into layout by the end of July.

Rob’s work on Icon Followers is more than halfway done and picking up speed.

DRAGONSAGA is a new codename (or maybe it’s the real name?) for Gareth’s post-Stone Thief mega-adventure that takes characters from first level to tenth level. Gar is presently working on the book’s 6th and 7th level adventures, which may indicate that he’s more than half done with his first pass. Given that DRAGONSAGA is already up to 84K words, Cat is praying that yes, Gareth is more than half-done. The team is determined that Cat won’t have to touch the project except to publish it, since she’s correctly wary of giant projects that somehow end up in her hands.

Since we’re used the word ‘mega-adventure’ word, we should mention that Eyes of the Stone Thief weighed in at around 234K words. DRAGONSAGA should be around 2/3rds that size.

Behemoths: Paths of the Koru has been on development hold while the DeFoggis tackle Drakkenhall. When Drakkenhall goes on pre-sale with its pre-layout edition, that will be the sign that art for the Behemoths sourcebook is being commissioned.

Futures: The other things in production are too far away to be talked about in anything other than a “other books exist on spreadsheets” grace note.

We’re looking for GMs to run our games at Gen Con Online 2021 and other virtual conventions!

If you’re interested in joining the GM crew at Gen Con, please email support@pelgranepress.com (click here to open with your email client) with the following info:

  1. Your name
  2. Your convention-registered email address (if different from the email you’re using to contact us)
  3. Your t-shirt size
  4. Number of 4-hour games you can run
  5. Preferred adventures, days, and times to run, using this format –
    • At Land’s Edge (13th Age) // Thursday // 4PM – 6PM EST
    • Small Things (Seven Wonders) // Friday // 9AM – 1PM EST
    • Secret of Warlock Mountain (DramaSystem) // Saturday // 2PM – 6PM EST

If you run more than three sessions of Pelgrane RPGs at any convention in 2021, we’ll ship you our GM exclusive t-shirts, and cover your cost of entry into that convention.

You can run one of the following adventures, choose an adventure from a Pelgrane system not listed here, or design your own adventure for any Pelgrane game:

For some time now, the Agents have been on the trail of something called FOREVER.

From what they’ve gathered, FOREVER is some sort of vampire-connected program run by shadowy elements within the United States intelligence community.

Some claim FOREVER’s an ultrablack operation, a dozen levels higher and deeper than anything at Groom Lake. Other accounts say that FOREVER was shut down decades ago.

The truth is somewhere in between…

Find FOREVER is primarily intended as a high-octane one-shot for the Night’s Black Agents RPG. It also works well as the third or fourth mission in a new campaign, paying off on the Agents’ initial investigations and opening their eyes to a wider conspiracy.

Stock #: PELGN17D Authors: Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan
Artist: Jessica Greving Pages: 26pg colour PDF

Buy Find FOREVER now

By Kevin Kulp

“Bookhounds of Eversink” (p. 28 of the Adventurer’s Edition) is a quick-start campaign setup for your Swords of the Serpentine game. The premise, which will be familiar to folks who have read or played in Pelgrane’s other Bookhound game Bookhounds of London, is that adventures focus on the acquisition or sale of rare, powerful, and obscure books. That works incredibly well in a Swords & Sorcery setting, with magical lore, hidden secrets, and political blackmail filling the books you hunt. Here are five different ways you might set up a SotS Bookhounds game in the SotS setting of Eversink, along with some sample plot hooks to get adventures started.   

Antiquarian Booksellers

You work for a rare and exotic bookstore, one nestled in a back alley off a Temple Market canal that is only occasionally where patrons remember it to be. When people in the city need a book – really need a book that they can’t acquire any other way – they come to you. Whatever the risk, your team of thieves, sorcerers, warriors and highly observant sentinels have the knowledge and experience to track the text down and acquire it by legal or extralegal means. No wonder your prices are so high! 

We love this campaign setup because it gives the heroes a reason to work together, you have highly episodic play (each client is an adventure), you can take ludicrous risks with a known payout at the end, and the GM can embroil you in any sort of politics she chooses by deciding who your clients are. Your patrons may be anyone from ancient nobility to small gods in human form, and your researches can take you anywhere within (or outside) the city. 

Sample Adventures

  • A church elder had a rare historical tome stolen from her while she was out drinking, and it’s turned up in the hands of a sorcerous cabal who intend to use it to open a sealed and sunken tower. She’s willing to pay everything she has if you’ll go retrieve it for her, before her mistake ends her career.
  • An ambitious small god (nestled inside a human soul) concludes that the only reason it isn’t converting more followers is that its divine manifesto and holy text – “entertainingly written, and a real page-turner!” claims the spirit – is locked away in the forbidden church archives of Denari. You’re to procure it and pay to have scribes make a hundred copies. Let’s just hope that the Inquisition hasn’t had a prophetic vision that leads them to guard the tome more carefully than normal…
  • An anonymous patron has you recover a small written pamphlet that gives specific instructions on how to successfully overturn the balance of power in the city – and somehow you know that it will work. The retrieval is laughably easy. Are you being set up? Well yes, of course you are. But why, and by whom? 

University Professors

You and your fellow Heroes are professors, students, and support staff at a university in Eversink, either Imperator University or one you and the GM create yourself. It might be a traditional school, a college of sorcery (echoing stories of Hogwarts or Sir Terry Pratchett’s Unseen University), or some other unusual institution. Your duties at the university require you to learn secrets and mysteries of Eversink, which means acquiring and securing exceptionally dangerous books of magic left over from an earlier age. You’ll track down and acquire ancient tomes while simultaneously navigating university politics, teaching classes, and funding your research.  

We think this setup is huge amounts of fun because universities tend to be their own little oasis of oddity in a complex world. Early games will focus specifically on the university and who works or lives there, with further games expanding farther afield. As in Pratchett’s Discworld, you can play the fish-out-of-water aspect of contented university professors forced to leave their comfort zone on deadly adventures. You’ll find yourselves with a repository of grimoires that other bookhounds come to steal, and it’s up to you to heist these books back and to teach the thieves a lesson. 

Sample Adventures

  • An administrator requires you to retrieve a rare book from the restricted archives, a sentient speaking tome that takes umbrage at human interference. Can you capture it and defeat its plans to magically manipulate anyone who reads it? 
  • Several of the students seem to be drawn into a magical hivemind created by an ancient tome, and the book responsible is now loose within the city. It’s up to you and your associates to find and retrieve it before it causes irreparable harm.
  • There’s only one acceptable textbook for an elite and important class, and that book only exists in one of three locations: a hostile noble’s private library, a sunken and haunted library beneath Ironcross, and in the memories of ghosts within the spirit realm. Where will you head first to try and retrieve it?

Ancient Nobility

You are members of (or employed by) a noble family who wishes nothing but the rarest and most interesting books for their private collection. Nobles in this sort of campaign crave rare books for the social status they bring, not for the knowledge or secrets they contain; see the Dutch tulip mania of 1637 for a real-world example. Practically every single noble family is in a highly competitive scramble for rare or obscure tomes, and your team goes head to head against the acquisition teams of other nobles in tracking them down. Complicating your work are sorcerous cabals who crave works of power, Church inquisitors who declare certain works iniquitous or heretical (thus immediately tripling their value), and the thieves’ guilds who hope to steal books for resale. Your team is ostensibly loyal to a particular family from the Ancient Nobility who isn’t afraid to send you into sunken ruins, sorcerous troves, forbidden church archives, or forgotten libraries to find what they wish. It’s up to you whether you use these books to increase your own power in the process. 

The joy of working for a noble family is that most ancient nobility simply don’t care what the books say, so once you get credit for retrieving them you can use information in such books for your own means. Acquiring books for a noble family means interacting with the (often repugnant) top rung of society, negotiating at glittering masquerade balls before sneaking into locked and treacherous archives, and having the social pull to make a lot of other people furious at you… or using that social prestige to undermine the very people who employ you.  

Sample Adventures

  • You’re sent on an easy retrieval for a centuries-old book of history and political theory — except the secret histories written within threaten to undermine all of Eversink’s social and political landscape. Now families and politicians will do anything to get their hands on the book, and it’s up to you to hide it or use its information wisely.  
  • Out of pure spite you acquire an old family diary of a rival noble family, and discover that they broke the law to establish their place in society. Do you bring down their entire family, or use the book as blackmail to acquire the rights to an even more interesting set of tomes?
  • Five generations ago your family’s matriarch was falsely accused of being a sorceress. A sorcerous libram you recover turns out to be signed by her, and points the way towards her own hidden library, a sunken and sorcerous deathtrap filled with wonders and wealth that your family badly needs. Do you go after it, even if doing so might poison the family’s reputation? 

Church Inquisitors

It’s rumored that the Church of Denari holds the greatest library in the city. That’s quite possibly true; the silent vaults beneath the cathedral are vast and meandering, and there are archives that even some of the church’s own librarians have forgotten. Not the Inquisitors, however. They know every inch of the Restricted Vaults, and their specialized bookhounds comb the city for even more books of dangerous prophecy, power, and truth.  

Bookhounds of Denari sometimes use Prophecy, beseeching the goddess to send them visions of where to find the volumes they require; more often they use research and a well-established network of informers. When books (heretical or otherwise) surface around the city, a specially formed group of scholars, sages, and adventurers prove to be most successful in retrieving them for the church’s archives. These teams must be ever-wary of their rivals, including sorcerous cabals, private collectors, additional church teams who compete for success, and other small gods. Luckily, the church can wield influence and authority that other factions may lack, and the Heroes can uproot heresy in the process. 

We like church inquisitors as bookhounds because the church has more resources than any other group in Eversink, and that means the challenges can be commensurately more difficult or exciting. Inquisitors are in a tricky moral and ethical position, rooting out so-called heresy while trying to not let the hunt for corrupt sorcery turn you into a monster yourself; Heroes who work for the church have a chance to throw their weight around even, as they’re forced to make challenging decisions.

Sample Adventures

  • An ancient record of heresy has surfaced, a scroll that claims that Denari is something she isn’t. Anyone who touches the cover of the scroll will instantly know that the contents are true. How do you handle your heretical knowledge, what do you do with the scroll, and what is to be done with the religious cult willing to die for ownership of the scroll?.  
  • A demon-summoning tome appears in the hands of a high priest’s daughter.. She is being treated as a prophet by those who meet her, and demons flit about her to do her bidding. You can’t kill her; how do you retrieve the book, and clean up the disaster it has left behind?
  • A rare and much-desired religious tome has emerged after several centuries, except you’re sure that this is a trap set by one or more sorcerous cabals who want your group of inquisitors out of the way. Do you go after it anyways, knowing that the dark temple it’s kept in is bound to be one giant death-trap? Is there a way to distract or disarm the cults, giving you a chance to grab the book before they realize what you’re up to?

Sorcerous Cabals

You’re a member of a hidden and powerful sorcerous cabal, a secret society who seeks power and knowledge inscribed in centuries past. As a bookhound you hunt very specific types of books, as determined by your mysterious superiors in the cabal: sorcerous grimoires, collections of true names, pathways to vast and ineffable power, and accounts of inhuman creatures who are waiting to reemerge when the stars and tides are right. (It’s also possible that you’re hunting superb cookbooks and blackmail material on your rival sorcerous cabals; it really depends on the goals of your organization. Eversink is a complex place.) 

If you’re a bookhound for a sorcerous cabal, your life is full of danger and adventure. The inquisitors are hunting for you, monstrosities are attempting to negotiate pacts with you, random adventurers continue to plague you, and you’re sent after books in some of the most dangerous and inhospitable places in the city. Similarly, you may be forced to infiltrate government, the church, or high society to find what you want. Good thing you (or your colleagues) have powerful sorcery at your fingertips.

Sorcerous cabals make for fun bookhounds because you’re working against the church of Denari and the established power structure of Eversink. If you want to burn it down, burn it ALL down, this is an exciting way to undermine those in power and bring your own plans to fruition.

Sample Adventures

  • A ridiculously wealthy Mercanti family has acquired ancient works of power from a lost ruin, and intends to display them in an ill-advised museum showing. You’ll be competing with nearly every other sorcerer in the city as to who can steal the books first. But is it a legitimate opportunity, or a trap laid by the church and the City Watch?
  • A drunken barbarian and her adventuring parties of Outlander heroes have entered the city, foolishly bragging about the dangerously forbidden tomes they found in the swamp. The church intends to take possession of them later tonight. Can you get them first, and do so in a way that it isn’t you the barbarian then wants to kill?
  • The Sculptors’ Guild has a book of power that they’re willing to trade to you, but only if you first steal for them the most beautifully carved funerary statue in the history of Eversink. The challenge here is that it resides in the well-protected home of a notoriously angry retired mercenary commander, everyone in the city knows the statue by sight, it weighs several tons, and you’ll want to pin the theft on someone else. The advantage is that the commander has a remarkable library that might also contain useful lost works. Can you pull this off without ruining your own life in the process?

Kevin Kulp (@kevinkulp) and Emily Dresner (@multiplexer) are the co-authors of Swords of the Serpentine, currently available for pre-order. Kevin previously helped create TimeWatch and Owl Hoot Trail for Pelgrane Press. When he’s not writing games he’s either smoking BBQ or helping 24-hour companies with shiftwork, sleep, and alertness.

By Kevin Kulp

Combining focused ambition with poor judgment is a great basis for an adventure. When you want to run a last-minute Swords of the Serpentine game and aren’t sure where to begin, start with one or more of the factions. You’ll see an example of this in the two free adventures here at See Page XX, The Dripping Throne (which starts with Commoners and Mercanti) and Sin-drinker (which starts with the City Watch and Thieves’ Guilds).

The following supporting characters and plot hooks, one for each of the twelve factions, focus on rebels: people who aren’t afraid to stand up to the status quo, even when it may be dangerous or foolhardy. Grab these, change them, and make them your own as you populate your own game.

Read part 1 here.

Mercenaries

Concept: A rogue Mercenary company, funded by one of Eversink’s rivals, hopes to undermine and destabilize the city – and will work (almost) free for anyone with those goals.

Description: The Company of the Golden Coin is a mercenary company with a patriotic and trustworthy name, a charismatic leader, and a rebellious plan to undermine and destroy the city’s church and government.

Funded by a rival trading city in nearby Capria, Commander Lielle presents herself as a stunningly straightforward, competent, and trustworthy leader. It’s this skill that has allowed her to avoid prosecution for two drunken murders, a mutiny, and three separate acts of possible terrorism. Lielle and her soldiers are in Eversink to spy and surreptitiously make its defenses and stability worse, and they’ll charge less for any job they think might help accomplish that. They only work for clients, though; that way if it all goes sideways, they can heroically and patriotically kill their client and claim it was that person’s fault all along.

Plot Hook: The Heroes stumble into the Company of the Golden Coin time and time again as they face off against foreign or subversive enemies, and soldiers in the company seem to have legal protection against prosecution or arrest. Research shows that’s due to poorly written pro-mercenary laws Lielle managed to influence, laws that say only the client who hires a mercenary company can be held liable for their actions. The problem is, the Company of the Golden Coin now consider the Heroes a personal threat, and volunteer their service to any of the Heroes’ enemies who want to hire them.

Alternatively, the Heroes find a dire threat to Eversink’s security or stability, and it’s the Company of the Golden Coin who are responsible for making sure the Heroes can’t do anything about it.

 

Monstrosities

Concept: Important civic leaders are making oddly kind decisions, declaring new out-of-character – and generous? – policies and laws for several days before disappearing and dropping out of sight. The Watch assumes they’ve been assassinated for their boldness, and they have.. but not in the way anyone expects.

Description: Ilgazar is a facestealer, a doppelganger who literally steals someone’s face and identity when he takes their form. He has a bold new theory: monstrosities in Eversink tend to feed on the poor, sometimes including their emotions. Right now many people are sad, beaten down, and hopeless. What if, Ilgazar reasons, he could help make the poor healthier, happier, and more welcome in their own city? Then Commoners would thrive… and so would monstrosities who feed on them.

As a result, Ilgazar is targeting church elders, political officials, committee leaders, and judges – anyone with the authority to make life less miserable for the lower classes. He steals their identity, spends several days setting new selfless policies, then kills the victim and moves on to his next target. Ilgazar is no mastermind, his tactics are going to become predictable, and the Heroes are going to be able to catch him. The question is, once they do, will they want to stop him?

Plot Hook: After rumors of five other church and political leaders acting generously before disappearing, Swanmother Gabriella’s assistant in the Church of Denari fears the worst when she orders coins and food distributed for free to the poor of Sag Harbor. Not wanting to look stupid in the church hierarchy if he’s wrong, Gabriella’s assistant hires the Heroes to investigate. Why has her personality apparently changed, and what is she up to? Finding the actual Swanmother’s body in an unsealed crypt, unconscious with no face, may lead the Heroes to confronting Ilgazar. When they do, Ilgazar is more likely to confess than run. Can he recruit the Heroes into helping improve life for people instead of confronting him?

 

Outlanders

Concept: An exiled princess from the Borderland kingdoms arrives in Eversink to recruit help winning back her stolen kingdom – and a surprising number of people want to kill her, cheat her, or take advantage of her. The Heroes get to pick a side, whether that’s to leave Eversink and help win back a kingdom – or to just help the princess navigate the politics and perils of Eversink.

Description: Princess Kayleth was raised in the saddle with a sword and a bow within easy reach. When her kingdom was overthrown she swore to take it back from the usurper who slew her father and stole the throne, but she’s going to need help (and money) to do so. So far she has neither. But rumors travel quickly, and there is plenty of opportunities to win a fortune working with her – or to win a fortune assassinating her for the warlord who stole her kingdom.

To complicate the matter, decide her backstory. Is she the legitimate ruler? Is she loved or hated? Was her father a bandit who stole the kingdom from the man who then stole it back and currently rules it? Are her enemies fully human? What makes the kingdom so important? Does she have more secrets that even she isn’t telling?

The answer to that last one is “yes”.

Plot Hook: Rumor reaches Princess Kayleth’s advisor that the Heroes are a good and trustworthy local contact in Eversink. Her enemies hear the same thing and try to hire the Heroes first.. and if they can’t, they might try to remove the Heroes from the picture instead. This plot hook is particularly good if you want a longer adventure where the Heroes are traveling, forced to work alongside a newly-hired mercenary company to defeat the Princess’s foes.

 

Sorcerous Cabals

Concept: Charismatic devotees of a foreign demon come to Eversink. Instead of keeping their presence secret, they stay strictly within the law and make themselves incredibly well-known – as they work to undermine the church’s authority simply by being more popular, more interesting, and more stylish than Church officials.

Description: The Valiant Order describe themselves as worshipers of a foreign god, and that’s debatable; every single one of their elite membership can wield sorcery, and they promised their souls to a demon for power. Their “god” gives them easy access to sorcery that helps them manipulate others. None of them would dare externalize Corruption in the city of Eversink, however, because far too much is at stake.

The goal of the Valiant Order is to find the bright ones, the people who shine, the naturally charming and beautiful and charismatic in Eversink – preferably amongst Commoners, but they’re not too picky. Then they seek to induct these people into the mysteries of their order, and prepare them to bring about the overthrow of the Triskadane.. not by sorcery, but by creating natural leaders with political power who are sympathetic to their cause.

Plot Hook: The Valiant Order works hard to convey that they are far too prestigious and well-known to touch politically, but the Inquisitors have their suspicions… and as they explain to the Heroes, if this is a cult, the longer they wait the more difficult it will become. Their hands are tied, however, probably due to cult interference with their superiors. They ask the Heroes to infiltrate the Valiant Order or otherwise find out what they’re really up to, and to acquire proof that will let the Inquisition sweep in legally. What the Heroes find is far worse than anyone expected, however, and the most expedient way to destroy the cult might also kill everyone in it. Is the risk (and the ensuing power struggle) worth it?

 

Thieves’ Guilds

Concept: In a plot hook partially inspired by Scott Lynch’s Lies of Locke Lamora, a new thieves’ guild sponsored by a Mercanti family makes it their mission to steal from all the other thieves’ guilds – and then blame the thefts on an entirely innocent Mercanti rival, hoping that they are crushed in the process.

Description: The Guild of Feathers (formally “By appointment by Her Munificent Mother, the Right and Official Guild of Feather-plucking and Waterfowl”) is a small and rapidly declining guild headquartered near the slaughterhouses of Sag Harbor ever since they were unable to pay their rent on their old guildhouse in Temple Market. Their bailiwick is the use and resale of feathers from any poultry or seabirds slaughtered within the city. In truth, however, most of their business has been blatantly stolen by richer and more prominent guilds such as the Guild of Goose-keepers. The Guild of Feathers can’t afford the legal fees required to fight their rivals in court, and so they are destined to be run entirely into the ground within the next decade, their remaining contracts bought up for loose change by their former rivals.

Their guildmaster Orlando di Penna has decided that he prefers to go out fighting. He is using his remaining funds to finance a group of exceptionally talented thieves and con artists who have little loyalty to Eversink’s traditional structure. These thieves, led by Orlando’s sister-in-law (and possibly the Heroes themselves, if that’s fun for your group), are to rob and anger as many of Eversink’s thieves’ guilds as they possibly can. Ideally she will work them into a frenzy of paranoia and suspicion. Then, at the right time, she will pin the thefts on the Guild of Goose-keepers. Orlando expected the Goose-Keepers to go down in blood and flame, and he’ll be there to step in and pick up the pieces. The best defense, he reasons, is one dramatically out of proportion to the offense that inspired it.

Plot Hook: The Heroes could approach this plot as the thieves themselves, agents of the Guild of Feathers, agents of the Guild of Goose-keepers, agents of the thieves’ guilds who have been robbed, or even City Watch assigned to investigate the thefts. As they learn details it’s up to them to decide what to do; whatever their choice, it’s certain that some other group will object, and that’s when the blades come out. In addition, what happens to all those ill-gotten gains that were stolen from the thieves’ guilds? That’s an adventure in itself!

 

Triskadane

Concept: At the height of summer in the middle of a heat wave, a sorcerous cabal offers a fortune for a Triskadane coin – and the resulting chaos, theft, forgery, scams, and murder throw the city into chaos.

Description: The Triskadane are  secret members of Eversink’s ruling council, selected by the goddess by way of a divinely-infused golden coin. Whether it’s true or not (that’s up to you), popular belief is that if you steal a council member’s coin you also steal their role as a secret lord of the city. The Children of Ytt are a sorcerous cabal that loves creating chaos, and they decide to seize the opportunity during a brutal heat wave that is already causing dissent. They announce that they’ll give 100 Wealth (which is basically a lifetime of wealth, especially if people start trying to murder you for it) in exchange for a real coin. They also claim enemies of theirs are the cult members who will make the exchange. Virtually every faction erupts in anger or greed, and a whole series of dangerous adventures might result.

Plot Hook: Whichever allied faction you find most interesting asks the Heroes for help in securing a coin, researching who might have a coin, protecting a real Triskadane member, or taking a coin away from a cult member (real or imagined). Meanwhile, it’s likely this much chaos is a smoke screen. What are the Children of Ytt really up to, and how is it worse than what they’ve already accomplished?

 


Kevin Kulp (@kevinkulp) and Emily Dresner (@multiplexer) are the co-authors of Swords of the Serpentine, currently available for pre-order. Kevin previously helped create TimeWatch and Owl Hoot Trail for Pelgrane Press. When he’s not writing games he’s either smoking BBQ or helping 24-hour companies with shiftwork, sleep, and alertness.

 

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We’re halfway through April, and showers of vaccines are falling into arms all around. And to add to those good showers, a bad shower – of Yellow King RPG monsters, that is, in Legions of Carcosa – The Yellow King RPG Bestiary. Pre-order this collection of nearly one hundred new Foes, themed to each of the four YKRPG settings, and get the pre-layout PDF now,

New Releases

Articles

13th Age

As a company with tentacles in many countries, we’re taking comfort from the fact that the vaccines are, indeed, finally rolling out around the world. Our USAian Pelgranistas were the first to be vaccinated, followed by our some of our UKians. It’s looking like it’ll take a while for us Irish Pelgranes to get our shots, so we’re continuing to stay indoors, and not travelling outside our home county, meaning we likely to miss you all at conventions again this year :(

GUMSHOE Scenario Workshop

ICYMI, Robin, Ken and Gareth did a Scenario Design Workshop over on our Twitch channel late last week. Prompted by ideas from our excellent Discord community, over the course of their talk they come up with a full outline for a This Is Normal Now adventure for The Yellow King RPG. If Twitch isn’t your thing, you can now check out the seminar on our YouTube channel as well.

NEW RELEASE: Legions of Carcosa – The Yellow King Bestiary

This 8.5″ x 11″ bestiary for The Yellow King RPG features nearly a hundred new Foes. Each of the four settings gets its own custom Foes – 27 for Paris, 24 for The Wars, 20 for Aftermath and 23 for This Is Normal Now – and each one includes story hooks allowing you to repurpose it for each of the other three settings. Monica Valentinelli, an experienced game designer who’s no stranger to horror writing, has described working on Legions of Carcosa: The Yellow King Bestiary thusly:

As Monica’s mentioned, It’s not a book for the faint-hearted! Legions of Carcosa features heavy horror themes, with a number of monsters flagged up as requiring GMs to handle them with particular care. If you’re confident this is the book for your table, you can pre-order it and download the pre-layout PDF now. But please remember, with this and with any YKRPG book – the dream clown can strike at any time.

Work in progress update: Swords of the Serpentine

It’s been a bad month for our Swords of the Serpentine artists, with two having had deaths in their close family, and the work from another two needing to be recommissioned. This has delayed Jen finishing off the layout, and added another month to our delivery estimate. She’s back on it full time now, and we’re hoping to get a final PDF to pre-orderers in the next See Page XX.

Work in progress update: The Borellus Connection

While SotS has been on hold, Jen’s been forging ahead with the interior art and layout of The Borellus Connection. Unlike most of our books, she’ll be the only artist working on Borellus, which will give it a cohesive look and feel, not to mention Jen’s usual high standard of visuals. She’s got all the double-page spreads for each adventure finished, and was just starting the interior art before she moved back onto SotS.

Work in progress update: The Paragon Blade

Gareth is finishing off some final tweaks to the text, and making some minor rules changes. He’s also working on writing up art notes, which I’m going to trial a new art direction process on, by handing it over to an independent third party to art direct. This is similar to what we did with Jen McCleary and The Fall of DELTA GREEN (and now Borellus). I’m hoping the experiment works well, meaning not only will the visual art in our books improve, but we can also work on multiple books in parallel, reducing the waiting time for new releases.

Work in progress update: 13th Age projects

Drakkenhall: City of Monsters is flowing through production sharply. J-M DeFoggi is still working with authors on a final couple of chapters, and Rob Heinsoo is going over the rest of the manuscript as the final development pass. Once that’s all done, it’s over to Trisha DeFoggi for copyediting, likely in early May. We should have this on pre-order in July.

Behemoths: Paths of the Koru will enter J-M’s development queue after Drakkenhall has gone over to editing.

Gareth is chugging along on his Officially As Yet Unnamed project, codenamed “DRAGON”. I think I’m allowed say it’s a campaign, and there may be dragons in it, but my clearance isn’t high enough for any more.

Rob’s most recent work on Icon Followers covers what passes for monastic traditions among the elves and a couple of the notable NPCs from 13 True Ways. The book is probably on track for the end of the year.

 

 

 

 

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