Hideous Creatures: Rat-Things

“Witnesses said it had long hair and the shape of a rat, but that its sharp-toothed, bearded face was evilly human while its paws were like tiny human hands.” Witch become rat, or thing become hyper-physicist? Familiar-ize yourself with Lovecraft’s creepiest creation.

Rat-things resemble ordinary rats, and are easily mistaken for them at a distance. Their heads are nonetheless evil caricatures of human heads, and their paws are like tiny human hands. They have extremely strong, sharp teeth, canines grown forward to resemble incisors. They nuzzle and nurse on human blood from their witch companions or from convenient sleepers. Though they do not die naturally, they are now very rare. Attacking rat-things climb the legs or clothes of human opponents, or drop down from ceilings, or climb plumbing into their delicate areas at delicate moments, or tunnel up from the insides of their chests.

Hideous Creatures: Rat-Things includes,

  • Two unique scenario seeds, The Rats in the Trenches, and The Dream House in the Witch
  • Keeper clues for every GUMSHOE investigative ability
  • Five mythic echoes from across the world
  • Thirteen Rat-Thing variations
  • And new powers, like Internal Attack and Dream Initiation, with GUMSHOE statistics.

In this series, Kenneth Hite looks at the creatures, species, and monsters of the Cthulhu Mythos from every non-Euclidean angle. Alternate versions and new explanations provide the same jolt of mythic bisociation that the gods and titans receive in the TRAIL OF CTHULHU corebook. Hite traces these foul things through their legendary history, and provides further clues for any Investigator to follow. Horrific scenario seeds burst and bloom, story spines protrude and deform, in a blasphemous garden any Keeper can harvest.

Praise for Hideous Creatures,

a brief injection of Hite-ian awesome … they’re just about the right length to digest in a single sitting, and full of amazing ideas that will make anyone’s game into a flavourful occult gumbo.” – High Trust, High Drama Blog

I consider this series a wake-up call to the lacklustre, to remind them tales of the Mythos, using whatever system, should instill uneasiness, upset and fear. Grasp the potential of the unearthly and inhuman…” – Paul Baldowski

Hideous Creatures: Rat-Things is the tenth installment of the second Ken Writes About Stuff subscription available to subscribers now – it will be available to buy in the webstore in January. If you have subscribed to the second KWAS subscription, Hideous Creatures: Rat-Things is now on your order receipt page, so all you have to do is click on the new link in your order email. (If you can’t find your receipt email, you can get another one sent to you by entering your email address here).

Stock #: PELH24D Author: Kenneth Hite
Artist: Gennifer Bone
Pages: 11pg PDF

I know what you come here for. For Dracula or Cthulhu or in some cases both. So that’s why this month we’re going to give you a different kind of both. Yes, it’s time for that Moon Dust MenSchool of Night crossover that you demanded! Maybe not you, specifically. Maybe just Michael Grasso. But anyhow, settle in for the amorphously-demanded thriller skeleton to Celestial Spheres, or, The Immanence of the Holy Sputnik. As an added bonus, this is what a Ken-designed scenario looks like before I run it the first time.

Part One: Moon Dust Men: Right Around Now

Hook: The Moon Dust Men get spotty telemetry on an incoming object with a spherical radar reflection, heading for the Tyrrhenian Sea near Elba. A quick stage to an American aircraft carrier in the Med, a hop to Elba, and they’re ready for recovery duty.

Wakeup: A Soviet submarine is on site, with a team competing for the object. Perhaps it’s their opposite numbers in Setka-MO!

The First Reveal: The Moon Dust Men defeat the Soviets and recover the object, which is a surprisingly intact — almost as though the object didn’t actually fall through most of the atmosphere — replica of Sputnik 1, which supposedly burned up in orbit in 1958. Weirder yet, it has a large-caliber (.60) bullet hole in its lower quadrant. (Possibly, the metal of the object doesn’t quite match the original: iridium instead of titanium, that kind of thing. Or not.)

Blowback: A KGB “Blue Star” psychic heads up a team of Directorate 13 wet-workers to ice the Moon Dust Men and take the sphere back. This is not normal procedure: the Soviets must really want this thing. Perhaps the Russians even get it back, though not without leaving some clues behind.

The Twist: Further investigation (dying words of the psychic, ticket stub found in the KGB safe house, Ufology spend, Interpersonal ability with a lovely guest-star art historian) leads the Moon Dust Men to nearby Montalcino, Italy, where they discover “The Disputation of the Eucharist,” by Ventura Salimbieni. Painted between 1595 and 1600.

Part Two: School of Night: Sphaeris ex Caelis

Hook: The Night Scholars hear that the Jesuits in England have begun communicating with a “sphere from heaven” and receiving their marching orders through it. This presents a clear and present danger to the realm!

Curtain: Art History notes that the “celestial sphere” or “sphere of heaven” is a common motif in Renaissance art, indicating God’s control of, and complete knowledge of, the world. Often God (or sometimes Christ) are shown with slender scepters to control it with. No sightings of this “sphere” in England can be found.

Wakeup: The Jesuit network pushes back, sending bravos and pursuivants after the Night Scholars. They seem oddly able to predict where the Night Scholars will be.

The First Reveal: Having found the Jesuit mastermind by serially defeating his minions, the Night Scholars ransack his lodgings (either after killing him or after his amazingly lucky hairs-breadth escape) and find one of the slender scepters. It shortens in upon itself in an ingenious way that not even Thomas Hariot knows will be called “telescoping” in 200 years. This scepter provides magical connection enough to try summoning the sphere of heaven to see what blasphemy the Jesuits are dealing in.

The Twist: The summoning works, in a way — but the sphere is both more and less horrible than the Scholars imagined. It floats of its own and beetles into their minds. It seems to have an inhuman intelligence behind it, revealing uncanny future visions to them — although it addresses them in Russian! During the ceremony, it seems weirdly able to pass the magical barriers around it, vanishing only after a pistol shot wounds it.

Part Three: Epi-Logos?

The Moon Dust Men are left with an enigma. They can further investigate the possibility of the time vortex or rift that sent Sputnik back to 1595 and forward again to 1979. Is that the only Sputnik duplicate out there? Did the Soviets get time-travel telemetry in 1958 from Sputnik 1 and now need only a third data set to triangulate it and develop temporal technology themselves? Are there temporal aliens among us? (If the sphere’s metal was different, perhaps they built a duplicate Sputnik of their own and sent it back as a message.) The GM can introduce plenty of weird time-slip stuff to indicate that the sphere has opened a bit of a wound in reality by coming through — something like a bullet-hole in reality’s lower quadrant, perhaps.

The Night Scholars may never know what they’ve stopped, or they may start seeing other strange mechanical devices and lights in the sky infest their world. The artistic community discovers Salimbieni’s sketches when he makes them in 1595, and they reach the Scholars — perhaps a trip to Italy is in order? Salimbieni is closely tied to the powerful Cardinal Bevilacqua and the Knights of the Golden Spur, the pope’s mysterious Golden Militia selected from artists, courtiers, and soldiers alike — is this the opposite number to the School in the Vatican? Many threads lead off this tapestry.

It’s up to the GM whether the Sputnik time-loop is a one-off mystery or the opening gun of a new series arc for either campaign. Perhaps the links continue — did Anthony Blunt (royal art historian and KGB spy) send the Soviets the secret artistic keys to time travel or demonic prophecy or both? He’s still in Britain in the 1970s after his secret confession in 1966 — perhaps the Moon Dust Men can break him down and get him to reveal the real truth.

 

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Vendetta Run

You’ve done worse things, but you’ve never done anything as dangerous as angering the Earps. Because now they’re coming to kill you. And they can’t be killed. Not permanent, anyhow. A survival-horror frame for Fear Itself and Owl Hoot Trail set in the worst and weirdest West.

In December 1881, after the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, three Cowboys ambushed and shot Virgil Earp. Three months later, four Cowboys shot Morgan Earp in the back and killed him. Wyatt Earp assembled a posse of his surviving relations and willing gunmen to hunt down the killers, gunning down the Cowboy Frank Stilwell in Tucson on March 20, 1882. You and the other Cowboys can no longer count on corrupt or intimidated local authorities for protection. The Earps have turned vigilante, riding out in vendetta against you, and you have turned and run.

The players all take the roles of Cowboys, members of the quasi-criminal ring of local rustlers and thieves in cahoots with Sheriff Behan. One of you may even be Sheriff Behan – the Earps no longer care about legal niceties. Your party is one group of Cowboys, with the Earps’ posse on their trail.

Praise for Ken Writes About Stuff,

The content of KWAS is top-notch, as one would expect from a RPG luminary like Kenneth Hite” –Daniel D.

brief injection of Hite-ian awesome … they’re just about the right length to digest in a single sitting, and full of amazing ideas that will make anyone’s game into a flavourful occult gumbo” – Bill Templeton

Vendetta Run is the ninth installment of the second Ken Writes About Stuff subscription available to subscribers now – or individually in the webstore. If you have subscribed to KWAS 2 subscription, Vendetta Run is on your order receipt page, so all you have to do is click on the new link in your order email. (If you can’t find your receipt email, you can get another one sent to you by entering your email address here).

Stock #: PELH23D Author: Kenneth Hite
Artist: Jeff Porter
Pages: 11pg PDF

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Hideous Creatures: Byakhee

“Apart from the curiously repellent feeling of human flesh under my hands, and furred wings, I was not able to ascertain what these creatures were like.” Servants of Hastur or misperceived shantaks? Astral psychopomps or sidereal scavengers? Climb aboard the byakhee and find out!

Byakhee are interstellar hunters, flying between the stars on vast membranous wings. They sometimes carry riders, usually one apiece — though such riders need protection from the vacuum and cold from suitable spells or potions. Byakhee do not have bases on earth, but sorcerers summon them to perform foul deeds or to serve as steeds.

Hideous Creatures: Byakhee includes,

  • Two unique scenario seeds, Something in Platinum, and Just a Song at Twilight
  • Keeper clues for every GUMSHOE investigative ability
  • Six mythic echoes from across the world
  • Eighteen Byakhee variations
  • And new powers, like Cognitive Dissonance and Orbital Flight, with GUMSHOE statistics.

In this series, Kenneth Hite looks at the creatures, species, and monsters of the Cthulhu Mythos from every non-Euclidean angle. Alternate versions and new explanations provide the same jolt of mythic bisociation that the gods and titans receive in the TRAIL OF CTHULHU corebook. Hite traces these foul things through their legendary history, and provides further clues for any Investigator to follow. Horrific scenario seeds burst and bloom, story spines protrude and deform, in a blasphemous garden any Keeper can harvest.

Praise for Hideous Creatures,

a brief injection of Hite-ian awesome … they’re just about the right length to digest in a single sitting, and full of amazing ideas that will make anyone’s game into a flavourful occult gumbo.” – High Trust, High Drama Blog

I consider this series a wake-up call to the lacklustre, to remind them tales of the Mythos, using whatever system, should instill uneasiness, upset and fear. Grasp the potential of the unearthly and inhuman…” – Paul Baldowski

Hideous Creatures: Byakhee is the eighth installment of Volume 2 of Ken Writes About Stuff.

 

Stock #: PELH22D Author: Kenneth Hite
Artist: Patricia Smith Pages: 11pg PDF

 

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School of Night_cover

The School of Night

“Black is the badge of Hell; the hue of dungeons and the School of Night.” Queen Elizabeth’s realm lies vulnerable, not just to the Spanish or the plague, but to occult forces perhaps more dangerous than either. You study those forces at the risk of torture — at the risk of your soul — but you must hold them at bay or see England destroyed.

This GUMSHOE campaign frame sets the PCs on the stage with John Dee, Christopher Marlowe, and Sir Walter Raleigh … and perhaps with traitors in their ranks.

Your School of Night campaign might resemble a 16th-century Night’s Black Agents investigation of a demonic conspiracy, a picaresque “weirdness and monster hunt” game a la Fringe, Supernatural, or The X-Files, Tudor ghost-breaking and exorcism played for psychological and proto-scientific chills, or feature straightup horror of the Cthulhoid or Gothic bent. It might feature “wolf in the fold” gaming as players betray Raleigh to the Tudor police state for their own masters, or play up the espionage element in true “wildernesse of mirrors” style. Or it might combine all of these elements but really feature the fun of carrying rapiers, casting Enochian spells, and playing the dozens with that new-fledged goose Shakespeare down at the Mermaid Tavern.

The School of Night includes new abilities (Tod-Spotter), arms and armor, magickal abilities, historical scolars, and the opposition (necromancers, werewolves, demons, etc.)

Praise for Ken Writes About Stuff,

The content of KWAS is top-notch, as one would expect from a RPG luminary like Kenneth Hite” –Daniel D.

brief injection of Hite-ian awesome … they’re just about the right length to digest in a single sitting, and full of amazing ideas that will make anyone’s game into a flavourful occult gumbo” – Bill Templeton

The School of Night is the seventh installment of the second Ken Writes About Stuff subscription available to subscribers now – it will be available to buy in the webstore in October. If you have subscribed to the second KWAS subscription, The School of Night is now on your order receipt page, so all you have to do is click on the new link in your order email. (If you can’t find your receipt email, you can get another one sent to you by entering your email address here).

Stock #: PELH21D Author: Kenneth Hite
Artist: Jeff Porter Pages: 13pg PDF

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Hideous Creatures: Lloigor

“You make the usual mistake — of thinking of them as being like ourselves. They weren’t.” God or monster? Species or phenomenon? Dragon or disc — or discontinuity? Invisible, invulnerable, inexplicable — the vile vortices of the lloigor encompass all and care for nought.

The lloigor are vortices of immaterial vibration in natural form, and completely invisible to human eyes. Thus, describing them can be a challenge. Instead, describe their effects: the lloigor vortex attack, or possibly long-term exposure to lloigor wavelengths, colors water and some jadelike stone a peculiar blue-green tint.

Hideous Creatures: Lloigor includes,

  • Full writeup of the Al-Kazimiyah Cult, with eight hooks, and cult reponses
  • Keeper clues for every GUMSHOE investigative ability
  • Four mythic echoes from across the world
  • Nineteen Lloigor variations
  • Statistics for Dragon Form Lloigor
  • And new powers, like Cancerous Growth and Time Fog, with GUMSHOE statistics.

In this series, Kenneth Hite looks at the creatures, species, and monsters of the Cthulhu Mythos from every non-Euclidean angle. Alternate versions and new explanations provide the same jolt of mythic bisociation that the gods and titans receive in the TRAIL OF CTHULHU corebook. Hite traces these foul things through their legendary history, and provides further clues for any Investigator to follow. Horrific scenario seeds burst and bloom, story spines protrude and deform, in a blasphemous garden any Keeper can harvest.

Praise for Hideous Creatures,

a brief injection of Hite-ian awesome … they’re just about the right length to digest in a single sitting, and full of amazing ideas that will make anyone’s game into a flavourful occult gumbo.” – High Trust, High Drama Blog

I consider this series a wake-up call to the lacklustre, to remind them tales of the Mythos, using whatever system, should instill uneasiness, upset and fear. Grasp the potential of the unearthly and inhuman…” – Paul Baldowski

Hideous Creatures: Lloigor is the sixth installment of the second Ken Writes About Stuff subscription available to buy in the webstore now. If you have subscribed to the second KWAS subscription, Hideous Creatures: Lloigor is now on your order receipt page, so all you have to do is click on the new link in your order email. (If you can’t find your receipt email, you can get another one sent to you by entering your email address here).

Stock #: PELH20D Author: Kenneth Hite
Artist: Patricia Smith Pages: 12pg PDF

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Xeno-Archaeology!

“No other ancient city on Mars had been laid out in that manner; and the strange, many-terraced buttresses of the thick walls, like the stairways of forgotten Anakim, were peculiar to the prehistoric race that had built Yoh-Vombis.”

From the Face on Mars to Precursor artifacts orbiting dead quasars, the mysteries of space aren’t all astrophysical. For some answers, you have to dig. Ruins — of cities, starships, and planets — hold danger and horror, riches and knowledge. What a lost species or a cunning GM can build, bold exo-archaeologists and their players can uncover.

Xeno-Archaeology! includes new Ashen Stars content, like

  • New assignments, like Digger and Radar
  • New crew packages, Lingos, Gravers, and Derecks
  • New ships, like the Sherlock, and the Alexandria
  • New tech
  • New Active RFPs

Praise for Ken Writes About Stuff,

The content of KWAS is top-notch, as one would expect from a RPG luminary like Kenneth Hite” –Daniel D.

brief injection of Hite-ian awesome … they’re just about the right length to digest in a single sitting, and full of amazing ideas that will make anyone’s game into a flavourful occult gumbo” – Bill Templeton

Xeno-Archaeology! is the fifth installment of the second Ken Writes About Stuff subscription available to buy in the webstore now. If you have subscribed to the second KWAS subscription, Xeno-Archaeology! is now on your order receipt page, so all you have to do is click on the new link in your order email. (If you can’t find your receipt email, you can get another one sent to you by entering your email address here).

Stock #: PELH19D Author: Kenneth Hite
Artist: Emilien Francois Pages: 11pg PDF

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HC Serpent Folk cover_350“The features mingled and merged in a seemingly impossible manner. Then, like a fading mask of fog, the face suddenly vanished and in its stead gaped and leered a monstrous serpent’s head!” They built Valusia before the dinosaurs, and lurk behind half mankind’s darkest cults. Are they extra-dimensional, extra-terrestrial, or just extra venomous? You won’t fool the Children of Yig, in any skin they wear.

Hideous Creatures: Serpent Folk is the fourth installment of the second Ken Writes About Stuff subscription (if you are a previous subscriber, you will need to buy a new subscription to see this), or it is now available to buy in the webstore.

HC Serpent Folk cover_350

Hideous Creatures: Serpent Folk

“The features mingled and merged in a seemingly impossible manner. Then, like a fading mask of fog, the face suddenly vanished and in its stead gaped and leered a monstrous serpent’s head!” They built Valusia before the dinosaurs, and lurk behind half mankind’s darkest cults. Are they extra-dimensional, extra-terrestrial, or just extra venomous? You won’t fool the Children of Yig, in any skin they wear.

The squamous serpent folk resemble upright, bipedal snakes, with wedgeshaped heads and taloned arms. They can sense motion, have a keen sense of smell thanks to their forked tongues, and can detect heat like a pit viper. They range in color from green and brown to pale yellow or gray, often spotted or streaked with darker markings.

Hideous Creatures: Serpent Folk includes,

  • Two unique scenario seeds, Ten Little Sapiens, and The Hills Have Nictitating Membranes
  • Keeper clues for every GUMSHOE investigative ability
  • Seven mythic echoes from across the world
  • Thirty-two Serpent Folk variations
  • Statistics for degenerate Serpent Folk: Children of the Night and Worms of the Earth
  • And new powers, like Torpor and Toxicompositor, with GUMSHOE statistics.

Praise for Hideous Creatures,

a brief injection of Hite-ian awesome … they’re just about the right length to digest in a single sitting, and full of amazing ideas that will make anyone’s game into a flavourful occult gumbo.” – High Trust, High Drama Blog

I consider this series a wake-up call to the lacklustre, to remind them tales of the Mythos, using whatever system, should instill uneasiness, upset and fear. Grasp the potential of the unearthly and inhuman…” – Paul Baldowski

 

Hideous Creatures: Serpent Folk is the fourth installment of the second Ken Writes About Stuff subscription (if you are a previous subscriber, you will need to buy a new subscription to see this), or it is available to buy in the webstore.

If you have subscribed to the second KWAS subscription, Hideous Creatures: Serpent Folk is now on your order receipt page, so all you have to do is click on the new link in your order email. (If you can’t find your receipt email, you can get another one sent to you by entering your email address here).

Stock #: PELH18D Author: Kenneth Hite
Artist: Melissa Gay Pages: 13pg PDF

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Voodoo_2_The_Invisibles cover_350

GUMSHOE Zoom: Voodoo 2: The Invisibles

The Invisibles, more than spirits and a little less than gods, can fit inside stones, trees, and their servitors’ heads — but not into just one issue of KWAS! Whether you call them Loa or Orisha, these mighty beings demand your attention and your sacrifice, but give you hidden knowledge and awaken your interior fires. This second issue of our two-issue Voodoo series gives you plenty of Invisibles to summon, battle, invoke, and ally with whether you’re hunting Dagon in Haiti or rogue programs on your starship.

GUMSHOE Zoom: Voodoo 2 – The Invisibles is the third installment of the second Ken Writes About Stuff subscription (if you are a previous subscriber, you will need to buy a new subscription to see this), or it’s available as a stand-alone from the store.

Praise for Ken Writes About Stuff,

The content of KWAS is top-notch, as one would expect from a RPG luminary like Kenneth Hite” –Daniel D.

 brief injection of Hite-ian awesome … they’re just about the right length to digest in a single sitting, and full of amazing ideas that will make anyone’s game into a flavourful occult gumbo” – Bill Templeton

If you have subscribed to the second KWAS subscription, GUMSHOE Zoom: Voodoo 1 – Magic is now on your order receipt page, so all you have to do is click on the new link in your order email. (If you can’t find your receipt email, you can get another one sent to you by entering your email address here).

What is a GUMSHOE Zoom?

Not everything can support a game of its own, or even a big sourcebook. For those things, we present the GUMSHOE Zoom, a sort of supplement focused on a key game mechanic and its possible applications. In general, Zooms are interesting potential hacks, or intriguing adaptations of the main rules. Some apply to one specific topic or sub-sub-genre. Others cross all manner of GUMSHOE turf; you can slot them in and adapt them to tales of Cthulhuoid investigation, mean superpowered streets, or alien colonies alike.

Zooms are experimental. That does mean that they haven’t been playtested, necessarily. (If something in here is really really broken – and it’s not, as this ain’t our first rodeo – we’ll fix it in post.) But that also means we encourage you to experiment with them. Changing the cost, or prerequisites, or point effect, or other mechanical parameters of a given Zoom changes how often it shows up and how much drama it drives. The dials are in your hands.

Zooms will change the focus of your play if you use them. Putting a mechanic on the table puts it into your game. Adding a Zoom means more actions, possibly even more scenes, using those rules. Since the Zoom mechanics are intended to encourage specific actions or flavors, to force a card in your storytelling hand, they aren’t “balanced” against “normal” actions or rules. In general, if you don’t want to see more of it, don’t Zoom in on it.

Zooms are optional rules. You can and should ignore them if you don’t want them, or change them at will. After all, if a given Zoom turns out to be crucial to an upcoming GUMSHOE game, we’ll change it to fit that specific genre or form of storytelling.

If you have subscribed to the second KWAS subscription, GUMSHOE Zoom: Voodoo 2 – The Invisibles is now on your order receipt page, so all you have to do is click on the new link in your order email. (If you can’t find your receipt email, you can get another one sent to you by entering your email address here).

 

Stock #: PELH17D Author: Kenneth Hite
Artist: Melissa Gay Pages: 16pg PDF

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