Hidden Treasures

Sometimes products are unappreciated, and it’s very hard to see why. I present to you four such treasures, and my speculation for their neglect.

Until 16th March 2012 we are offering the chance to pick up one or more of these neglected gems at a 25% discount at the store in both print and PDF versions where they exist.

Repairer of Reputations

…it is one of the best Trail of Cthulhu adventures written to date. Laws has done an admirable job at adapting the story and making a fine adventure. – rpg.net review

Why it’s treasure: The Repairer of Reputations  is a Trail of Cthulhu adventure based on a story by Robert W Chambers and featuring The King In Yellow, a decadent, maddening play. Robin ran this for me and my group at Dragonmeet 2010, and it was a blast – it incorporates an entire setting (an alernatve 1920s New York), new optional GUMSHOE rules, Chamber’s story and a nation-shaking conspiracy all in under 45 pages.

Why it’s hidden: It’s mystifying why this should not have sold better, and the irony is it’s the first piece Robin has written which he is being paid royalties rather than in a word rate. I was expecting this would be better for him, but that’s not how it turned out. I also hoped that it would lead to a quartet of adventures based on other Chamber’s stories. The only explanation for its poor sales I can think of is that it was released just before GenCon, as a PDF, so it wasn’t available there.


 Do I recommend the book? Yes, absolutely! The brief book provides an excellent paradigm for regulating information in a fantasy RPG. Even if you follow that paradigm within the core Pathfinder rules (with skill checks), GUMSHOE is an excellent model and will enrich your game. The advice on divinations and “clues” in combat are also excellent.

Why it’s treasure: Lorefinder merges the action-oriented fantasy rules of The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game with the streamlined investigative focus of Robin D Law’s GUMSHOE system. It’s the first in what I had hoped was a series of mash-ups between GUMSHOE and other systems. Like Repuration it packs in a lot in a small package – a new rule simple set with easy conversion guide, new abilities, spells and feats, a guide for designing mysteries and an adventure. Chris Huth shows his layout and art chops, and Ralf Schemmann provides maps in CC3 and PNG format.

Why it’s hidden: To be fair, this has been a modest success, but still not quite what I had hoped. Perhaps Pathfinder fans are inherently conservative, or the idea of new rule system was too much (it’s really not hard to absorb) or perhaps people don’t consider the investigative side of fantasy RPGs that imporant. In fact, one lesser-known benefit of GUMSHOE is that it can handle investigation quickly and discretely, allowing your PCs to get on with what they do best, killing monsters and taking their stuff.

Invasive Procedures

Gareth has written a fantastic scenario filled with anxiety and genuine horror 10/10 rpg.net review

Why it’s treasure: In Invasive Procedures, you are a patient in an old, rambling hospital facing the schemes of a sinister doctor. It’s creepy and disturbing. I was terrified by Paper Mask, so I would be very uncomfortable playing this. It’s written for Fear Itself, but is also adapted for Trail of Cthulhu use. One actual play report we received for this one-shot adventure set in a hospital said it was “perhaps too creepy”.

Why it’s hidden: Like The Book of Unremitting Horror, this book is well-reviewed but has sold modestly. That said, it is a supplement for Fear Itself, and so its potential audience is a subset of a subset. It includes body horror, which is too much for many people. With Trail of Cthulhu conversion now included, we are hoping it will be more popular.

Brief Cases

 The crime in this one is fascinating …  Definitely had me hooked.  The killer was a real surprise to the players in my game. Playtest report

Why it’s treasure: Brief Cases features three session-length adventures for your Heightened Crime Investigators. They present a straightforward way for you and your group to try out Mutant City Blues. It also features Pascal Quidault’s artwork taken to a new level, surpassed only in Dead Rock Seven, I’d argue.

Why it’s hidden: There was a big gap between Hard Helix (the first supplement for Mutant City Blues) and this one. While I think MCB is the most perfect match to the GUMSHOE system, and I love playing it, MCB itself is not our best seller, and I don’t think it gets wide play. The other issue is that I’ve not been able to get it reviewed yet.

Over to you…

What, if anything, made you reject these supplements or overlook them, and how might we improve things in future?

All these supplements are avaiable from the store at 25% off until 16th March.

26 Responses to “Hidden Treasures”

  1. Steve Moss says:

    I bought Lorefinder & Repairer of Reputations. I own almost everything Pelgrane has released. I haven’t GM-ed all my purchases yet & the 2 other pdfs I didn’t buy won’t get played anytime soon. Nothing at all against the 2 pdfs, I’ve just got enough Pelgrane to last me for quite some time.

  2. I’ve put off buying Repairer of Reputations primarily because I assumed it was part of a series, much like Graham Walmsley’s scenarios, and would eventually be compiled into a print book. I’m very interested in this product, but dislike reading gaming material in .PDF format.

  3. Ville Halonen says:

    I bought Repairer quite soon after its release.

    Lorefinder is a neat idea, but I don’t play Pathfinder.

    I’ve been meaning to pick up Invasive Procedures for goodness knows how long. The only thing, I think, which has stopped me, is that I still have a few Pelgrane adventures to run.

    Brief Cases sounds wonderful, as does MCB, but MCB also sounds very US-centric. I love some American cop procedurals, but I’m not sure I want to play yet another game in contemporary America. Plus, it has people with superpowers, and I’m not that much into supers. Watchmen and Top Ten are the notable exceptions.

    • Simon Rogers says:

      MCB is designed to play in Your City – you plug NPCs and locations into your choice of urban area. We run it set in London. But it’s good to know the impression is that of the States.

      • Curiously, I had the opposite problem. My city is relatively small city in relatively unpopulated New Zealand. Most of the adventure fiction I read and watch is set in the other hemisphere in much more populated areas. I also struggled with this with the Dresden Files RPG.

      • Ville Halonen says:

        My impression might originate from hearing Robin speak about it a few years back, but I’m far from sure. It’s nice to hear that isn’t the case.

  4. Mudshark Baby says:

    Sorry to hear they haven’t sold as well as you’d liked. Not much gaming going on recently, but I can’t turn down a call to arms. I love psycho hospital scenarios, but wasn’t sure it would fit into my ToC mindset. But you mentioned Body Horror, so as a golden era Cronenberg fan, I thought I should not let this pass. Got Repairer too whilst I was at it.

  5. Like some of the other commenters, I have a pile of GUMSHOE scenarios i’d like to run. I used to buy more of the PDFs as impulse purchases, but now that some of them are being collected into print books, I’m being a bit more selective. For instance, i have half of the scenarios from Out of Time as PDFs, so I haven’t bought Out of Time, but I haven’t the remaining two scenarios haven’t hooked me enough to want to buy them individually either.

    In addition to the possibly-in-print thing about, I didn’t buy Repairer when it first came out because previously i’d always thought the hastur stuff was just a goofy cousin of the rest of the mythos. I think it’s one of those horror fiction ideas that when boiled down too far (“It’s a play, that drives the reader mad”) it just sounds silly. I’ve since been educated by Stealing Cthulhu. Perhaps theres room for a Page XX article to educate people on the history of hastur in the mythos, and why its cool?

    Lorefinder looked interesting enough, but i’ve got a big stack of GUMSHOE games if i want to run an investigative game. why use a system i kinda like rather than one i really like?

    Body Horror ruled out Invasive Procedures for me; I’ve got the Book of Unremitting Horror, and I struggle to read it as its way up there on the Too Creepy scale. Invasive Procedures looked to be even further up.

    I’m not interested in MCB scenarios. I have the core book and Hard Helix, but as much as i love the idea i just couldn’t get into it.

  6. George says:

    Hi Simon,

    I haven’t played MCB (or any Gumshoe system). Which probably means i’m an outlier in comparison to other readers of the website.

    From reading the descriptions of MCB it sounds like the target audience for the game is the intersection of people that enjoy cop procedurals and people who like the supers genre.

    I’m not a big fan of procedurals and wouldn’t generally consider playing in a supers genre.
    X-men: first class changed the latter. Once you’ve played a few rpgs you tend to get afflicted by that bug that makes you consider every narrative you enjoy, and think whether it’s “rpg-able material”. When i left the cinema, i had really enjoyed the film and the sense of drama created by the chess-like interplay of powers (this also applied to X2 from the original trilogy). And I remember thinking “it was good. but rpgs wouldn’t be able to replicate it”. A few months later I came across a reference of MCB in a blog entry by Robin, and read it’s description. Like i said, i haven’t read the book, but my impression is that MCB could potentially be the only game out there that could do X-men first class “right”. That moment when Emma Frost turns to Kevin Bacon’s character and says “they have a telepath with them”. If you don’t have something like the Quade Diagram you wouldn’t be able to replicate it. I guess my conclusion is: the theme between the two is similar, so why not take a different angle in MCB and expand the scope besides procedurals. The procedurals genre in my mind assumes that the world has “settled down” and accepted mutant powers as a part of life. Creating a “prequel” campaign where that balance of power hasn’t settled down yet and the Quade Diagram is not common knowledge but a secret that a few power groups possess (with the PCs getting recruited as agents or affected by the political crisis) could result in something that offers a lot of drama. Gumshoe would still be the core, but the genre would shift from cop procedural to spy novel maybe. In short give it the First Class treatment! I think Robin liked the film too, so might not be such a hard sell. These are my two cents, for whatever it’s worth since i haven’t actually read the material I’m commenting on!


    • Simon Rogers says:

      Hi, George, I think MCB mixed with Night’s Black Agents could work here. There are some similarities with X-Men, in that MCB has mutants appearing fairly suddenly. MCB is set 10 years after the ghost flu causes the mutations, but being there the few days after, working with Quade as a Xavier figure would be pretty cool.

  7. Alf Joakim Persson says:

    Hi Simon!
    I´l been snatching almost all the publications except MCB and Lorefinder, wich I have no interest in.

    Investigative Horror/Si-Fi is my thing and I will stick to that. I´d love to support your efforts fully but that is beyond my budget and sphere of intrest.

    Like others have noted here I for the moment got plenty of great story-material to be played, at the rate I´m gooing right now I´l be a retiered senior. Not by that telling you to stop yor great work ;)… But me personly would like to see more of general source-material; a book or book-series filled with inspiring worldfacts, places, political structures, history, technology etc.

    ..ToC beeing my main interest!

    Will keep on supporting your efforts as far as my cash and sphere of interest takes me. ;)

    Good luck, and keep up the good work.

    • Simon Rogers says:

      Thank you so much! I realise that we have a lot of adventures on offer, but they do seem to be the most popular releases still. I’d love to do more GM support material for example.

  8. Jeff Campbell says:

    Since we just finished playing Armitage Files and Eternal Lies back-to-back, my players have insisted on sticking to “The Happy Adventures of Fluffy the Bunny”!

    So, there was no rush to get them. I’ll order the three Gumshoe titles right now-

  9. Triss says:

    Personally, I’ve neglected Repairer of Reputations for only one reason: The King in Yellow beat me. The stories defeated me. I can’t run it nor play in it, for it has marked me.

    Invasive Procedures just isn’t the kind of story I’ll run, either. Body horror, as you say. creepeh. Unremitting Horror has so many nope moments in it that I _know_ I can’t take them actually in a setting. Ah, well.

  10. Nevrose says:

    I did buyed Lorefinder (both PDF and book) and was disappointed by the skill list :
    – It was maybe a little too much like the original D&D skill list, and therefore restrictive.
    – It seemed too much linked to the class and feats system, not giving equal investigative possibilities to each characters.

    So it dissuaded me to propose it to my players.

    My opinion is it was worth the try, and it is certainly a nice addition for people already playing Pathfinder. But it could gain to be rethinked.

  11. Scott says:

    Dear Mr. Rogers,
    I’m really very sorry to hear that these four products have not sold as well as expected or hoped. Pelgrane Press make quality games and I want this company to thrive.
    I noticed 3 of these products when they were first released and for what it’s worth, here is why I didn’t buy them at the time:-
    1. Repairer of Reputations
    The cover looks great, for most Cthulhu fans the name Robin Laws speaks for itself, and I’m almost always hungry for more purist stuff. Even if it never gets played it’s just great to read and imagine playing it. But with this one it was the setting. Alternate-reality dystopia? I like my Cthulhu grounded in real worldy-ness. Low key settings like St Margarets or the archipelago in Black Drop. This setting just felt to me out of place with my kind of Cthulhu adventure setting. Also the description on the site said a lot of things and yet nothing at the same time. I didn’t feel like I had much of a concrete grasp of the adventure after reading the teaser.

    2. Lorefinder.
    This could well be cool, and although I don’t play any D&D these days, I still love fantasy. But I think for me this one was under-hyped. Sure with Ashen Stars and Nights Black Agents we got a lot of lead up. But with this, not much at all. Seemed to be very low-key and ‘just a’ supplement. I probably will buy this though because it does look very good. Just at the time, I got the impression it was a bit of a throw-away release and not so significant.

    3. Invasive Procedures.
    Two things here, one, it was too connected with Fear Itself, which for a Cthulhu player like myself has it’s uses but is not exactly what I’m looking to play. The horror of the two games seems a bit different.
    Two, and this is harder to express, as good as the cover and premise seemed (and that’s good indeed) I was a bit “all hospitalled out”, having seen a few films in the last few years that have tried to varying degrees of success to capture that same hospital creepiness vibe. So, ultimately, it just didn’t feel fresh enough to add to my Cthulhu scenario list.

    The fourth product, the Mutant City Blues release, I hadn’t even noticed, simply because I haven’t been focused on that system or setting. The product itself sounds top notch but I’m just not looking to branch into supers crime yet.

    So, sir, that’s why I didn’t buy these worthy products. I intend none of my above comments as an insult or attack. I love, LOVE, Pelgrane’s work. Far and away the most Cthulhu stuff I’ve got is Pelgrane, and I’m a big fan of the Gumshoe system.
    Whenever I leave Japan for a holiday back home in Australia, the one game I take with me every time is Trail of Cthulhu. And it will be the next time too. In hardcover. And damn the flight weight restrictions.
    Seriously, it sucks these didn’t sell more. You and your writers deserve much better. I trust that you’ll sell a few more now, and continue to do well with all your products. Thank you for all the hard work and care that goes into these things. In a short time your Cthulhu adventures have already left their permanent mark on the way we see the mythos, and I know we’re all looking forward to many more releases.
    Thanks to all.

  12. Kim Wright says:

    Thank you for pointing out a few games worthy of a second look. I appreciate all the material available in pdf format. I do not have any space to keep books so I only buy pdfs. Without my Kindle and tablet, I’d be lost. I will definately give these titles another chance.

  13. I love MCB, and bought Brief Cases, but it was a real mess.

    The scenarios assume that the playes will go to locations and generally do things in a particular order and they fall apart when the the PC’s dont do what the books says they “should do”.

    It also has the NPC’s using powers that don’t work the way they are supposed to as per the core book, like using technokenises at long distance.

    Between Brief Cases and Armitage Files, I now stay away from anything you guys make that is written by Gareth Hanrahan.

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