The following article for the Dying Earth RPG originally appeared on DyingEarth.com in November 2005.

Push aside the detritus to see the shiny gew-gaws horded by the Pelgrane

I have two things to announce, one horrifying, the other edifying.

For your edification, we have relaunched the webstore after its long hiatus. Rather than leave you at the mercy of unreliable sandestins, we’ve come to an arrangement with our sister company, ProFantasy Software Ltd. Their minions have been working for over a decade processing multiple mail orders every day, and will deal with Pelgrane orders with barely a mumble of protest and with their customary efficiency.

If you buy any of our older books, you’ll find that you can get the PDF within minutes of your order. The link will be presented on your receipt.

We also are proud to launch the Book of Unremitting Horror, full of creatures which would grace the snopes urban legend site. The disturbing content contrasts admirably with the quality of the layout. There is already a short review , and one commentator suggests that it “puts the V in vile.” Persons of quality will buy it forthwith.

XPS 7/8 (now collected in the Excellent Prismatic Spray) is progressing, and Jim Webster has agreed to field any and all questions on the topic after I threatened him with desanguination. We would also appreciate any letters to the editor, either in or out of character.

Finally, I must report on a complex development. The Gazetteer and Bestiary are to be rolled into a larger work – The Dying Earth Cyclopedia (ed: now called the Compendium of Universal Knowledge). Edited by David Thomas it will be our largest work, and our most impressive.


Get an embarrassment of Dying Earth treasures in the Compleat Dying Earth Bundle of Holding until July 18th!

The Dying Earth — and its rules-lighter version the Revivification Folio — take you into the world of master fantasist Jack Vance, where a flashing sword is less important than nimble wits, persuasive words,and a fine sense of fashion. Survive by your cunning, search for lost lore, or command the omnipotent but quarrelsome sandestins. Purchase The Dying Earth or the Revivification Folio in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

The following article for the Dying Earth RPG and Fear Itself originally appeared on DyingEarth.com in November 2004.

Push aside the detritus to see the shiny gew-gaws horded by the Pelgrane

 

Our last release was XPS 6 (ed: now bundled as The Excellent Prismatic Spray) – a good few months’ ago now. But we aren’t slacking, I promise you – certain persons have been eaten, others dropped from a great height. The manuscripts are stacked up, and at last an artist is licking his nib, and our schedule is a thing of beauty, if not truth. We’ve employed the artistic services of Dave Allsop, best known in the RPG community for SLA Industries; although he has also created Magic card images and D&D® creatures for Wizards of the Coast. We are lucky to have him, trapped in the nest, to be released when his work is done, or eaten as a light snack if it is unfinished. Dave is also the artist and co-creator of a non-Dying Earth project we’ve been working on – The Book of Unremitting Horror – more on that later.

We’ve commissioned Robin D Laws to create the Arch-Magicians book – a whole new style of Dying Earth play. The vigilant questing of

the magician gives way to power; but with ultimate power comes ennui, and only the other Arch-Magicians provide a suitable challenge. Squabbling, intrigue and pettifoggery might cause even the affable Preceptor of the Conclave to tear out his hair. Robin is devising a clever new mechanic, dare I say a metagame mechanic. I can’t say much yet, but what I can reveal is that in this version of the Dying Earth RPG you can win, and it won’t be by conjuring up a dark army of underlings and conquering the world. Robin is in little danger of being eaten, partly due to his past services, but mainly because of his personal chaffe and offensive shirts.

Jim Webster and Peter Freeman have created the Dying Earth Gazetteer (ed: now The Scaum Valley Gazetteer), a splendid overview of the entire known world, and elsewhere. Its accuracy is absolutely and unreservedly guaranteed – at least that is what they assured me as I dangled them, one in each claw, over the edge of the nest. Dave Allsop is currently illustrating the more significant entries. I find a friendly grin and a few kind words hurry him on.

The Book of Unremitting Horror is a bleak book of horrific monsters for use in an OGL setting. Each horror is detailed in depth, so much so that it each is more a complete adventure in itself. Each one has its own agenda, its own reason for existence and its own legend. The book includes GM and player information. A PDF sample will follow next month, but for the moment, here is a little teaser for one of the creatures.

Dave Allsop is the artist and creator, and the creatures have been detailed by Adrian Bott, who has written The Book of Hell for Mongoose Publishing amongst other RPG titles.

Tooth, Talon and Pinion, The Dying Earth Bestiary is now ready for the first round of editing. Compiled with extra material by Ian Thomson (Demons of the Dying Earth) it will cover all the beasts and humanoids. It includes authoritative discussions of each creature, with a little polite scholarly disagreement over the nature of each beast, allowing you to choose which version to use. Many of the creatures are tied together in a grand adventure, although each segment can be run separately. If only Ian can curb his natural exuberance, and present me with more shiny things, I will in turn curb my natural appetite.

The Shining Fields (ed: now The Fields of Silver,) written by Lynne Hardy, is a Turjan-level campaign in the style of the old Call of Cthulu™ campaign books is languishing awaiting art. It is with regret that I can find no excuse to consume Lynne, as she is without fault in this matter. That small nicety has not concerned me before, however.

XPS 7 (ed: now bundled as The Excellent Prismatic Spray)is underway, but you will have to ask Jim Webster, the editor, if you want to know more. I dare not.


Get an embarrassment of Dying Earth treasures in the Compleat Dying Earth Bundle of Holding until July 18th!

The Dying Earth — and its rules-lighter version the Revivification Folio — take you into the world of master fantasist Jack Vance, where a flashing sword is less important than nimble wits, persuasive words,and a fine sense of fashion. Survive by your cunning, search for lost lore, or command the omnipotent but quarrelsome sandestins. Purchase The Dying Earth or the Revivification Folio in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

The following article of Unremitting Horror originally appeared on DyingEarth.com in December 2004.

Jormungandr – lost genius or just crap?
Jason Ardill tells all..
Anus Dei cover artBlair Witch Project of shock rock video is Anus Dei by the mercifully obscure Scandinavian black metal band JORMUNGANDR. The song is the usual shrill torrent of incomprehensible gibberish with a lot of umlauts in it, punctuated by guitar torture. But it’s not the song that’s memorable; it’s the visuals.

The video has clearly been ineptly shot and edited. No attempt has been made to synchronize what’s happening on the soundtrack with the action on the screen. Most of it is a languorous art-house rolling shot of subway tunnels, trash piled up against walls and sleeping tramps. This is interspersed with images from occult books, mostly woodcuts of Satan and his witches, as if someone had held a video camera directly above an open book. At various points, heavily made-up male faces leer into the camera from a few inches away.

After several watchings, the obvious conclusion is that the video is half JORMUNGANDR pratting about in their bedroom, and half someone else’s film project footage, which JORMUNGANDR just happened to come across and edit into their video.

Although – perhaps that’s what we’re meant to think? Maybe this film looks so cheap because someone spent a lot of money to make it look that way? One thing is certain. By the time the monster appears, you know damn well you’re looking at a sky-high special effects budget.

It’s enough to give Aphex Twin nightmares. There’s no face, just a peeled back skull and something like a huge set of dentures in the middle. Industrial limbs extrude from its shoulders, tipped with whirring claws – remember, this was made before Trent Reznor grossed us all out with Happiness in Slavery – which must have taken months to build.

When you first see it, the thing has its back to us and is tearing up dummies filled with offal, made to look like homeless people. This part looks a little fake, because of the over-the-top blood sprays and flying body parts, and it’s hard not to laugh. Then it stops, like a dog sniffing the air, and turns round. It starts to stride towards the camera.

At that point, it’s not funny any more. It moves with a horrible lurching gait, like Sadako from Ringu, as if it were broken on the inside. I’ve heard it said that they shot it running backwards, then played the tape forwards, to give it that disturbing stop-start lurch. Of course, from that point on it’s all shaky-cam running, then there’s the Blair Witch ending with the camera lying on the floor. Game over, man, game over.

As rock video monsters go, it’s an unsung classic. If the camera would only hold still, we would get a better idea of how it was done. It’s clearly not CGI, because that kind of technology wasn’t available in 1992, when the video first surfaced. Fangoria did a special feature on the Anus Dei monster and came to the conclusion that one of the JORMUNGANDR members must be a genius with latex.

The film has been the source of rabid debate among those who have seen it, because it just does not make sense. Nobody has ever heard of JORMUNGANDR. Other than that one infamous track, they do not appear to have recorded any music. So, why spend tens of thousands on a video to promote a band that does not seem to exist any more?

There’s more to tell. Contrary to popular belief, the video was never screened on MTV, nor was it sent to any other stations. The first person to broadcast it was Billy Two-Four (sic) an nineteen-year-old media student, who put it out on his public access show, Billy’s Horrorday . He claims an anonymous donor sent it to him, which has, of course, led to speculation that he made the video himself, at college. Whatever the truth behind the Anus Dei monster, we know this much.

No one ever hired Billie Two-Four to make any more videos.

And, the track sucks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Fear Itself is a game of contemporary horror that plunges ordinary people into a disturbing world of madness and violence. Use it to run one-shot sessions in which few (if any) of the protagonists survive, or an ongoing campaign in which the player characters gradually discover more about the terrifying supernatural reality which hides in the shadows of the ordinary world. Will they learn how to combat the Creatures of Unremitting Horror from the Outer Black? Or spiral tragically into insanity and death? Purchase Fear Itself in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

The following article for Fear Itself originally appeared on DyingEarth.com in November 2004.

 


 

AP Morton-Blunkett (1899-1921)

“A man, mortal, looks to the world to come…”

A little-known poet who may have become a great talent.. He was born in Forrest Court, Berwick, Scotland in 1899, the son of the Lochbridge Toll watchman. He was educated in the Public School, and frequented the library, where I fondly imagine he read the romantics and composed his first clumsy stanzas.

His best early work was a series of short love poems to Naomi, possibly Naomi Hay, daughter of the local policeman, although there is no record of an engagement or marriage.

In September 1921 he received a commission from a local landowner, possibly Sir Walter Hamilton-Dalrymple? to write a laudatory ode in praise of the Burgh Golf Club, to be engraved on the clubhouse plaque. He was offered the princely sum of one guinea, which must have been a cause of great excitement to him.

He took himself to the Isle of Islay, perhaps to seek inspiration, where he was found hanged in his room, having penned the poem below – a strange verse, greatly out of character. We know of no motive for his suicide. Perhaps Naomi rejected him, or perhaps there was a more sinister reason. The local waters are said to be infested with strange grey creatures, named after a dialect term for Satan – the Clooties.

The Sea Speaks Not and Yet…

I cannot sleep.  I hide my face
From surf and swell and blow
Since I have seen the queer grey men
That nightly come and go.

The village squats in sodden dusk
With sea-mist draped, and drear.
And aye the waves, and aye the waves
Come rushing far and near.

When every door is locked and barred
And every curtain drawn
‘Tis then they come, unseen, but heard.
Forsook.  Forgot.  Forlorn.

The old know better than to look.
The young are fast abed.
But I, with lonely cynic’s pride
And science in my head,

I looked.  I shall not look again.
For yet I see them pass,
The hollow faces of the drowned
In mist beyond the glass.

 


Fear Itself is a game of contemporary horror that plunges ordinary people into a disturbing world of madness and violence. Use it to run one-shot sessions in which few (if any) of the protagonists survive, or an ongoing campaign in which the player characters gradually discover more about the terrifying supernatural reality which hides in the shadows of the ordinary world. Will they learn how to combat the Creatures of Unremitting Horror from the Outer Black? Or spiral tragically into insanity and death? Purchase Fear Itself in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

As students of The Book of Unremitting Horror know, Sisterites are beings from the Outer Dark who prey on lonely and isolated men desperate for contact with the opposite sex. Case files from that volume include a transcript of an IRC chat between a Sisterite and its doomed target. In the years since the Ordo Veritatis came into possession of that intercept, the entities have adapted to changing social interaction technologies. First they infiltrated dating sites, from OKCupid to Christian Mingle. The latter has proven a particularly fruitful hunting ground, with a user base that might charitably be described as skewing toward the trusting, or lacking in street smarts.

More recently the Sisterites have taken to mobile apps, most notably Tinder. The ease of its mechanism, in which one swipes photos of prospective dates left, to dismiss them, or right, to indicate interest, allows the extradimensional demons to rapidly zero in on their preferred victims. What used to take weeks or months of chat exploration can now unfold in a matter of hours, from first approach to torture, evisceration, and consumption.

Through its SIGINT capabilities the Ordo has been able to study the mobile app activity of several Sisterites. Given a wider field of choice, Sisterites choose victims fitting the following profile:

  • Photo backgrounds show social isolation: messy apartments, low income, accouterments associated with solo hobbies.
  • Expressions of subjects in their photographs show apprehension or suppressed hostility.
  • Subjects display poor dress sense, bad haircuts, unsatisfactory hygiene.
  • Greeting text reveals status anxiety, overcompensation for fear of rejection, unrealistic expectations for sexual success, complaints about failure despite being a “nice guy”, resentment of men who achieve success with women.

In particular Sisterites eagerly initiate contact with men using catch-phrases of the men’s movement, pick-up artist community, and pick-up artist hater community. They leap on the term “friend zone” like catnip.

Given this information the Ordo has initiated sting operations in several major metropolitan centers, creating profiles that fit these criteria, in order to entrap, confront and destroy Sisterites.

Unfortunately the explosion in dating apps seems to correlate to an increase in the creatures’ numbers. Even if successful, this project may represent only a holding action against an increasing horde culling alienated, socially challenged males.

 


The Esoterrorists are occult terrorists intent on tearing the fabric of the world – and you play elite investigators out to stop them. This is the game that revolutionized investigative RPGs by ensuring that players are never deprived of the crucial clues they need to move the story forward. Purchase The Esoterrorists in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.’

Michael Wolf reviews The Book of Unremitting Horror here on Stargazer’s World:

In my option The Book of Unremitting Horror is a must-have for any GM interested in running horror campaigns, regardless if he/she is using a GUMSHOE game or not.

Reviews from rpgnow.com

BOUH is our most critically acclaimed book, with it and its d20 cousin receiving a clean sweep of eight five star ratings on rpgnow.com.  Read the reviews of the d20 version (a subset of the GUMSHOE version) here and the GUMSHOE version here.

From the art and fiction to the abilities and motivations of the monsters, this is more a book of nightmares than of creatures. The sections on how to use this book present great advice, and the creatures here are disturbing and twisted enough to make even the players scared, to say nothing of their characters.

Excellent, atmospheric and very printer friendly. As a fan of gory, disturbing horror I can’t recommend this book highly enough. As a gamer, these monsters will show up in most of the sessions I run, and what higher review can I give this product than that?

LIKED : Great original monsters, in the vein of the best horror movies out there. Great art and an attractive, simple layout. Some of the best flavor text in gaming.… [read full review (5 out of 5 stars)]

This review on rpg.net gave five for style and four for substance, but the substance was marked down because of “the overstepping of too many boundaries is a bit problematic though and has to be taken into consideration thereby lessening the final score by a point.” You can’t ask for a better review in a horror product!

The black and white illustrations by Dave Allsop are brilliant and some make me want to stay away from the book when it gets dark.