We have three new playtesting opportunities available at the moment. If you’re interested in playtesting any of these please email me with the name of the game in the subject field (e.g. Love of Money Playtest), stating whether or not you’ve playtested for Pelgrane before. The deadline for these playtests is the end of March.

The Love of Money – The Esoterrorists

This is a fantastic new adventure from Matthew Sanderson. Ordo Veritatis agent John Sheldon has gone off the organisations rader following the loss of his wife in a car accident. He has been tracked to Amsterdam and the shady Metallon Corporation, an industrial giant headed by Johan van der Hulst, a prominant Esoterrorist with a very influential ‘imaginary’ friend. Your team must travel to Amsterdam and discover the dark secrets of van der Hulst and the true goal of the Metallon Corporation before it is too late.

The Dying Earth Revivification Folio – Dying Earth/Skulduggery

In preparation for the re-launch of The Dying Earth, Robin D Laws presents The Dying Earth RPG with the new, simpler Skulduggery rules system. It’s a standalone book, you don’t need to own the Skulduggery core book.

Pathshoe – GUMSHOE/Pathfinder

Gareth Hanrahan has produced a supplement for Pathfinder which will open new ways to approach discovery and adventuring and enable players to bring in the investigative rules from GUMSHOE into your Pathfinder game.

Pacifics Six CoverTHE HEIST OF THE LIFETIME, BUT WHO GETS THE LOOT?

Pacific’s Six is the second of three new settings for the Skulduggery roleplaying game.

You are expert thieves, safecrackers, con men and computer hackers about to undertake the heist of the century. The Target: International Minerals, a rapacious mining and energy corporation. The Job: Break into the secure vault, hack the server and steal the TRUESTONE file, a priceless document detailing the resources, investments and dodgy-dealings of the corporation, perfect blackmail material for your mysterious Backer. The vault also contains millions in cash, gold and diamonds. It’s all yours… if you can get it out the building.

Pacific’s Six delivers a healthy dose of conniving, triple-bluffs and fast-paced reposts. Set in the glamourous world of hustlers and con-men, it contains shady NPCs, hilarious taglines and a full set of player cards, this setting is an essential addition to any collection.

Stock #: PELK03D Author: Gareth Hanrahan
Artist:Hilary Wade & Jerome Huguenin Pages: 19 pg PDF

Buy

blacksmokecoverSIX CARDINALS ENTER, ONLY ONE WILL LEAVE AS POPE!

Black Smoke is the brand new setting for Skulduggery, the roleplaying game of verbal fireworks and sudden reversals!

The previous pope, Celestine, has died under mysterious circumstances so it’s time for the cardinals to gather in the Sistine Chapel to elect a new leader. This is where the conniving, back-stabbing and underhandedness begins!

You want to be the new Pope and you will do anything to achieve your goal from spreading malicious rumours about your competitors to poisoning the wine and ordering arrests. The Holy Roman Emperor, a hairy, ambitious German, and his army are encamped outside the city, threatening an invasion he is not made a saint before his death.

All this makes for an exciting setting, ripe with opportunities for subterfuge and less-than-holy tactics! Complete with hilarious taglines and a full set of player cards, this setting will have you competing for the papacy again and again.

Stock #: PELK02D Author: Gareth Hanrahan
Artist:Hilary Wade & Jerome Huguenin Pages: 15 pg PDF

Buy

Pitching Skulduggery

Over on my main blog I’ve talked a lot about the importance of having a clear 25-word-or-less pitch statement to explain a new game you’re selling at a booth. Obviously, it helps you to get a few more copies into people’s hands. However, designers, in particular, should have that pitch in mind as they create the game.If you have a tough time briefly encapsulating it, chances are that you haven’t yet nailed down your game’s central idea. Without that core premise, you don’t have a strong game.

For actual booth-manning purposes, though, it doesn’t pay to have a completely prepared spiel that you rattle off when anyone comes within ten feet of your table. It’s better to be a little ragged and conversational than to seem too slick or polished. You want to talk to the person, not at him. You’re assisting as he makes a discovery, rather than pushing a product. (Or worse, pimping it—a term that drives me nuts. But that’s a story for another day.)

To put my example where my mouth is, here’s the pitch I used to explain Skulduggery to folks who wandered over to the Pelgrane booth and started to flip through it.

First, get a sense of whether the browser wants to flip through the book undisturbed, or is open to chat.

Then, the quick pitch:

That’s Skulduggery, the fast and furious game of betrayal, backstabbing and verbal oneupsmanship, in which the player characters face their most dangerous foes: each other.

If the browser seems to want to hear more, go beyond the quick pitch. Cut it short if interest seems to flag. Be ready to jump into question-answering mode if engaged. (This didn’t happen as much for Skulduggery as it does for the various GUMSHOE games, where obvious questions present themselves: How is Trail of Cthulhu different from Call? How do super powers work in Mutant City Blues?)

It’s a multi-genre game. It shows you how to create your own setting/scenario packs, and provides four ready-to-go examples: US politics, pirates, space traders, and—the one that was always the nastiest in playtest—staging a high school musical.

After another pause to gauge interest:

For character generation, you distribute sets of cards. [Flipping to book to show card set #1 from “If Space Permits.”] Players then rationalize how all the components of their character, from the various sets of cards, fit together. That immediately engages their creativity and makes them feel like the character is theirs, and not just a straight-up pre-gen.

And another:

The rules mechanics are a new, streamlined version of the <i>Dying Earth</i> rules. If you don’t like your die roll, or your opponent’s, you pay points to get or require a reroll. So you get a “Yes I do! No you don’t!” back-and-forth dynamic that sets the tone of the game.

—————

During the show I switched the order of these three pitch units. Although it didn’t make a big difference which came first, in retrospect I’d say this is probably the ideal sequence.

After developing this pitch, I was able to adapt it to easily describe the game in interviews, too.

Retail-wise, pitches don’t really work outside a convention exhibit hall. A game store clerk who lays a pitch on you is going to sound weird and artificial. But maybe the above will help those of you who belong to the brick-and-mortar brigade to explain the appeal of the game, although in a much more conversational way.

Skulduggery Downloads

Download the cards and appendices for Skulduggery here.

skul

This past weekend I was in beautiful Regina, Saskatchewan for a wedding. While the bride entertained hosted a girls night out for female out-of-town guests, I was paired with a conveniently rounded-up game group for a BBQ and an RPG session. As if I planned it that way, Skulduggery serves perfectly for this sort of one-time pick-up game. Its lighthearted tone, simple rules, fast character creation and emphasis on one-shot play all came through once again.

For the third time, I ran “If Space Permits”, the comedic space opera scenario set in a decadent far future. I’m now seeing another selling point from a GM’s point of view: thanks to a loose, player-driven  structure, the same scenario comes plays out very differently each time it’s run.

The scenario features a group of space traders attempting to corner the market on hallucinogenic jumpwine amid the chaotic bacchanal of an annual vine festival.

With the in-house group, a comedy of disasters ensued, with the final presentation to the Wine Council concluding in a hail of laser fire. When I ran it at Hammercon, crazy side action was the order of the day, and it was revealed that one of the crew members was being stalked by his killer clone. A high degree of player input reflected that group’s indie propensities. This last session was devoted to highly methodical scheming in pursuit of the collective goal.

Skulduggery scenarios throw a lot of balls into the air and encourage the GM to run with the ones the players choose to catch. If you design your own Skulduggery scenario, or use one from the book on groups unfamiliar with it, you’ll be able to run it a bunch of times and still be surprised by events as they unfold each time.

RDL

Robin discusses Skulduggery on The Game’s the Thing podcast.

There’s an excellent thread on potential Skulduggery settings over on rpg.net. I’m going to chose my top three, and then put it to the vote. I’ll get the setting written up and post it free on the next Page XX.

Please post more setting suggestions here or on the rpg.net

Skulduggery

skulBamboozle! Betray! Backstab!

Why go all the way to the dungeon for enemies, when the other players are sitting right next to you?

Skulduggery, the Roleplaying Game Of Verbal Fireworks & Sudden Reversals, brings fast and funny innovation to the exciting world of inter-player conflict!

Super-speedy character generation• gets your group skeeving and conniving in minutes. Just distribute component cards, trade, and you’re done.

Simple, and simply hilarious, rules• convert the eternal playground chant of “No you don’t!” “Oh, yes I do!” into a zingy action resolution system.

Turns your power-gamers into witticism machines • by rewarding the strategic use of pre-supplied punchlines.

Exploit others’ weaknesses• , while weaseling away from your own, as you grapple with an uproarious array of self-defeating temptations.

Unleashes• the updated rules of the acclaimed Dying Earth Roleplaying Game, bringing elegant finagling and oneupsmanship to any genre.

Revel• in the dark art of Machiavellian Game Mastering with copious guidance and devious advice.

Comes pre-loaded with four side-splitting, ready-to-play scenarios:

If Space Permits• : Amid a crazy bacchanal, interstellar traders compete to corner the market on hallucinogenic jumpwine.

Yes, Wing• : Hose your fellow cabinet secretaries in the most betray-o-riffic place on Earth: Washington, D.C.

Casting Call• : Sign-up sheets have gone up for this year’s high school musical. Let the viciousness commence!

Skulduggery & Crossbones• : You’re pirates. You’re trapped on a becalmed ship. Your captain just got his head bitten off by a shark. Go!

Download the cards and appendices for Skulduggery here.

Three new settings from Gareth Hanrahan are available to download as PDFs now – Black Smoke, Pacific’s Six and The Wedding.

Status: Out Now

Stock #: PELK01 Author: Robin D Laws
Artist: Jerome Huguenin Format: 120-page letter-size

Buy

To celebrate the result of the UK election, Graham Walmsley has written Hanging Parliament, a setting for Skulduggery.

Play six well-known politicians as they desperately horse-trade to gain power. It’s hastily cobbled together and it might not work. Still, we’re hoping something good comes out of it.

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