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


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 with the usual details.


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.


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!


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 (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:

A column about roleplaying

by Robin D. Laws

Previously in See Page XX, I laid out a two part sample outline for a Yellow King RPG: Paris series. By popular demand, I’m now going to do the same for the next of the game’s four sequences, The Wars. As before, this is a starter framework to show you how it might be done, not the only way to do it or a pattern to lock yourself into. Even if you start out following it in detail you’ll discover better ideas for your group when the players get involved and surprise you with their contributions to the emerging storyline.

This outline contains more episode ideas than you’ll likely need, allowing you to pick the hooks your players will most enjoy. Some make sense only if you already ran a Paris sequence for the same group. Others can be collapsed into one another, by mixing and matching subplots.


Start with an episode that leaves the squad to their own devices as they encounter a mystery that allows them to interact with other people. The village scenario, in which the soldiers protect, and then come to suspect, a tiny community on their side of the lines, fits this bill perfectly. Which is why “A Feast for Wolves,” the introductory scenario in the book, uses this pattern. Use that if your players haven’t run through it before, which they probably haven’t. When creating your own variation, start with the squad traveling to the site of the scenario, so that along the way you can introduce the hazards, technology, and background weirdness of the alternate world weird war.

Damned Peculiar

Devise the second scenario around one of the squad members’ Damned Peculiar Thing. The boredom of a routine mission turns to terror when one of these old fears comes roaring back to confront the group.

Does the photographer find ghosts in his recon photos? Time to track down some ghosts.

Does the lieutenant dream of walkers driven by corpses? Your scenario is about encountering undead enemies and learning how to deactivate them.

Does the former med student dream of a dead forest where the other PCs all lie blown to bits? The scenario starts with an awakening from that dream and then leads into that exact forest.

Creature Callback

The squad’s assignment to bring back photographs of an installation not far behind enemy lines escalates in difficulty when the players confront a monster their predecessors encountered in Paris, now repurposed as a weapon of war:

  • Murderous automatons recall the animated sculpture that escaped from the art students’ garret.
  • A unit of korrigan spies trains to use their hypnotic powers to lure enemy soldiers to their deaths.
  • Gargoyles have signed on as enemy shock troops.

Masterminding the creature cadre is a new secondary villain. You might bring back an ageless secondary villain from Paris, such as a vampire or Carcosan noble. Or introduce a new big bad who features in this sequence only. Like any recurring villain introduction, the squad learns about the new antagonist but has to execute flawlessly to permanently deal with them right off the bat. In which case, they deserve to win. Because how, oh how, will you ever think of another bad guy for them to fight instead?

Bunkered and/or Hunkered

The squad humps it to an isolated outpost to find out why the soldiers who are supposed to be holding it aren’t answering their boîtenoire. The site might be a pillbox, the remains of a medieval tower, or a literal bunker. When they get there they find blood spattered all around and plenty of signs of a hideous struggle. Rear echelon orders them to hold this eerie location. And then night falls, and the horrors of the dark woods come creeping out to do to them what it did to the last squad. It’s a haunted house scenario in camo gear, with the perfect reason not to flee the house—the squad has been ordered to stay. (In my own playtest game this was the scariest scenario of the sequence, hands down.)

Sinister Experiment

By this time the squad has pieced together enough of the events behind the events to realize that that strange squiggle against a yellow background signals bad news, and that anyone wearing a pallid mask may not have humanity’s best interests at heart. In this scenario they spot those marks of damnation around a friendly complex they’ve been assigned to protect. The sinister military experiment might be:

  • human brains transplanted into walkers
  • a super soldier serum synthesized from Carcosan blood
  • reality grenades that warp time, space, and reality.

Perhaps your secondary villain runs the experiment. Or maybe it’s time to reintroduce the king or one of his daughters, looking suave indeed in a medal-festooned general’s uniform.

How does the squad protect its own side from the moral and metaphysical doom that will surely result if this experiment reaches the battlefield?

Installation Attack

Follow up that moral quandary with a straightforward military mission to enter enemy territory and, as per the plot of countless war movies, take out a radio tower, munitions cache, or bridge. To get there they must fight or evade their way through enemy soldiers and creatures. Once there, a mystery surrounds the installation. Something unearthly is happening there. Maybe the target has gone missing entirely.

In another twist, the squad encounters a septuagenarian American, perhaps a once-famous artist or writer who pulled an Ambrose Bierce-style disappearance decades ago. Yes, it’s a PC from the first sequence, turned GMC, who is either incidentally present and in need of rescue, or has given in to Carcosa’s blandishments and now works to further global reality breakdown. Use the latter option only if you trust that the player will enjoy it. If the former PC has broken bad, allow a path that allows the present characters to redeem him. (In my game, the player’s new character shot the previous one summarily dead, and he wasn’t even up to anything. And much fun was had by all.}

Next month, the back half of this sequence outline for The Wars.

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

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.

“While America needs you, my son, you shall not die!”

— Bruce Carter I, to the Fighting Yank (Bruce Carter III), in Startling Comics #35 (Sep 1945)

A typically robust Alex Schomburg cover for the Fighting Yank

The Shield was the first, and Captain America was the greatest, but lots and lots of heroes donned the red-white-and-blue and punched Nazis in the 1940s. Many of them, having bravely seen off mad scientists, and robots, and gangsters, and the Axis powers, then vanished forever. Or somewhat vanished somewhat forever. Without the holy rites of copyright spoken over them, they rise again and again in reprint volumes and reboot attempts, some better than others. One of the best of the public-domain patriotic superheroes was also one of the longest-lived: the Fighting Yank bowed in Startling Comics #10 (Sep 1941), and headlined Startling, America’s Best Comics (sharing top billing with the Black Terror), and his own title, which ran from September 1942 until August 1949. Writer Richard E. Hughes (one of many pseudonyms of Leo Rosenblum) and artist Jon L. Blummer created the Fighting Yank for Ned Pines, publisher of Standard Comics, also known as Better Publications and eventually as Nedor Publications.

The Fighting Yank was actually a young socialite named Bruce Carter III, descended from a Revolutionary War courier named Bruce Carter (the first). Ambushed and killed by British spies while carrying dispatches for George Washington, his unfinished duty drove Bruce Carter I to rise as a ghost. That spirit showed Bruce III where to find his old cloak and tricorn hat, which had somehow become imbued with magic. When the young Carter donned the colonial garb, he gained super-strength. The cloak deflected bullets and other attacks, although like most Golden Age superheroes, the Fighting Yank could (and very often would) be knocked out by a bonk on the head. On his missions and adventures, Bruce’s ghostly ancestor spoke to him, giving him vital information about his foes’ whereabouts, and on occasion materializing to help the Yank out of a jam. Carter’s girlfriend Joan Farwell guessed his secret identity within minutes of meeting the Fighting Yank, and often helped out with investigations and by hitting Nazi agents with her car.

So in honor of the Fourth, and of things old becoming new again, here are two takes on America’s Bravest Defender and on the undying legacy of his undying legacy!

“His own face was in shadow, and he wore a wide-brimmed hat which somehow blended perfectly with the out-of-date cloak he affected; but I was subtly disquieted even before he addressed me.”

— H.P. Lovecraft, “He”

Indolent scion of wealth Bruce Carter III became obsessed with his ancestor’s portrait, studying it until he believed it spoke to him revealing the location of a magical artifact hidden away since colonial times. Sound familiar? I have previously addressed the overlap between Lovecraftian horror and the Golden Age of Comics in my Adventures Into Darkness, and feel free to peruse that tome for further leads. Or you could certainly treat the Fighting Yank as yet another pulp hero (Ned Pines happily overlapped his pulp magazine heroes with his comic heroes) of the sort I have played with previously in these pages.

But here’s an old-school Yankee who talks to ghosts, and probably ghouls, and maybe rat-things. He’s rich, and bored, and obsessed with his ancestor Edmund Carter, “who was nearly hung during the witch-trials.” Like his cousin Randolph, he comes from money and studies the occult, and sounds a lot like a certain antiquarian of Providence who likewise sometimes acted like he lived in the 18th century. In a Trail of Cthulhu campaign he might begin as a helpful (if creepy) figure, granting passage to certain locked churchyards at night, or offering the loan of his library. He just needs the Investigators to do a little favor for him once in a while, dig in a certain spot or read a certain poem under the new moon, or track down and kill a lich-hound that’s guarding a tomb where just possibly his ancestor Edmund Carter buried a certain “cloke or clout” used by the Arkham witch circle …

Bruce Carter III, Randolph’s Disreputable Cousin

Athletics 3 Firearms 4 Fleeing 6 Health 5 Scuffling 3 Weapons 3

Magic: 3; it costs him 1 point to Contact Ghost and speak with his ancestor, and 2 points to learn something unseen by him from his ancestor. In addition to any other spells he might have, Carter’s cloak transmits an unholy vitality to him from his dead ancestor, along with that sorcerer’s memories and skills. Carter can use the cloak’s pool of 36 points on any of his General abilities, including Health and Magic; the cloak recharges 4 points per hour of exposure to pitch darkness (such as the inside of a chest).

Alertness Modifier: -1 (dreamy and distracted) without the cloak; +3 with the cloak

Stealth Modifier: +0 without the cloak; +3 with the cloak

Hit Threshold: 3 (5 with the cloak)

Attacks: -2 (fist; +1 with the cloak), +1 (sword; +4 with the cloak), +1 (Colt 1902 Sporting .38 ACP semiautomatic target pistol)

Armor: The cloak protects Carter from all injuries except those aimed at his head (+2 to Hit Threshold)


“I told you, I’m finebetter than fine, in fact. It’s funny … I’d forgotten how much more confident a mask can make you feel.”

— Carol Carter, the new Fighting Yank, in Terra Obscura v1 #5 (Dec 2003) by Alan Moore and Peter Hogan

Bryce’s father, Bruce Carter IV, moved to Ohio from Granger, Massachusetts, in 1980 and never really talked about his family at all. This didn’t really bother his youngest daughter Bryce, who pursued a career as an architectural photographer (with a sideline in crime novel writing) until she got the ghost flu and started having dreams about an ancestor in Revolutionary War times. She went to Granger and looked around her grandfather’s old house, and found a cloak and hat — ideal for cosplay! — and thought she’d exorcised the ghost … until she got the ghost flu a second time (very unusual! One in a million, they said!) and developed powers. The therapists claimed she had “multiple personality disorder” (which even she knew was pseudoscientific claptrap) brought on by the ghost flu, and the geneticist from the University claimed she had some long-dormant recessive gene that triggered two sets of powers depending on her endocrine levels.

Bryce isn’t sure what to believe, because it sure seems like her ancestor Bruce Carter tells her things (or is it her subconscious putting together her prodigious research) and saves her life when she needs it. And since she’s moved to your Mutant City Blues campaign city, she needs it more and more. Cops can’t do it all for you, and she’s not sure she trusts them to use their powers fairly for everyone. And as her ancestor points out, it’s every American’s duty to fight injustice and help out their neighbor. (This writeup leaves Bryce’s politics aside from police reform vague, but in your campaign they should be whatever version most tends to annoy your PCs.) To the police, she’s a vigilante, and to corrupt cops, she’s frighteningly good at finding where the bodies are buried.

Bryce Carter, the Fighting Yank

Architecture, Bullshit Detector, Charm, Criminology, History, Intimidation, Photography, Popular Culture, Research

Athletics 8 Composure 6 Driving 5 Firearms 6 Health 8 Infiltration 6 Scuffling 12 Sense Trouble 10 Surveillance 5

*Flight 4 *Illusion 2 Kinetic Energy Dispersal 6 Strength 10 *Telekinesis 18

Powers marked with an asterisk (*) are associated with Bryce’s alternate personality, “Bruce Carter the First” and only emerge under great stress: to save her life or that of someone she knows. She only uses her Illusion power to (unconsciously?) project an image of Bruce Carter’s “ghost.”

Mutant City Blues 2nd Edition is an investigative science fiction roleplaying game originally written by Robin D. Laws, and developed and extended by Gareth-Ryder Hanrahan, where members of the elite Heightened Crime Investigation Unit solve crimes involving the city’s mutant community. Purchase Mutant City Blues in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

In the latest episode of their smoothly escalating podcast, Ken and Robin talk scenario preludes, the Frankokratia, third acts, and the Philadelphia Experiment.

During the Paris sequence of The Yellow King Roleplaying Game, the art student characters may while a decadent evening at Montmartre’s Cabaret du Néant—or as they may know it, the Cabaret of Nothingness. Seated at the coffin-like tables of its Salle de Intoxication, they order from servers dressed as monks and morticians. Overhead dangle skeletal chandeliers. The drinks come in skull-shaped cups and are named after diseases: Consumption Germ, Leg of Lively Cancer, Cholera From the Last Corpse. The first is crème de menthe.

We can’t bear to name this delicious drink after an illness so instead will pay tribute by calling after the establishment itself. Don’t forget to tip your undertaker!

Cabaret du Néant

1 ½ shot dark spiced rum

½ shot red vermouth

½ tsp vanilla extract

½ can coke

Stir, serve on the rocks.

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

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