The following news items and diary entries originally appeared on DyingEarth.com between 2006 and 2009.

You can find the entries for 1998-2000 here.

You can find the entries for 2001-2002 here.

Editor’s note: A few of these news items were not categorized by month or year – I have done my best to approximate their chronology, and have marked them with a small sun symbol.

2006

The ‘Footsteps of Fools’ series – An interlocking series of Cugel-Level adventures. The first ones are for sale via the products page and at RPG NOW. These are “The Day of the Quelo” (a Cugel-Level adventure that can stand alone or be incorporated into the second FoF release – “Strangers in Saskervoy“), and “All’s Fair At Azenomei” (the first adventure in the new FoF series).

News for June 2006 – The Pelgrane is flapping forward with so much vigor this month that we’ve had to create a separate page for all the details.

2007

News for February 2007 – The GUMSHOE system has been launched with The Esoterrorists, a game of investigation and occult horror. You can get it at the webstore. The Forum (ed. – now defunct) now has GUMSHOE and Esoterrorist areas.

Forthcoming GUMSHOE releases include:

Fear Itself, the GUMSHOE Horror game. (Already written and in layout.)
Trail of Cthulhu, by Kenneth Hite, licensed from Chaosium, Inc. (Underway)
The Book of Unremitting Horror, based on Dave Allsop and Adrian Bott’s excellent d20 version with a new adventure and new material for The Esoterrorists. (Due to be completed mid-March.)
Little Girl Lost – an epic Esoterrorist campaign by Ian Sturrock.

News for April 2007 – More PDF versions of our products are available from our webstore, including the Esoterrorists. If you’ve bought the print version, you can download the PDF from your existing order page. Robin gives us part II of his article on structure in GUMSHOE adventures. Finally, more Dying Earth goodness from Ian Thomson with spells and cantraps of forest and field in Violet Cusps.

News for July 2007
Fear Itself , the next GUMSHOE publication, is now at the printers. It should be out next week.
I received proof copies of The Compendium of Universal Knowledge, but I’m not happy with the hardback, so that will be delayed a little until I have seen further samples.

GUMSHOE Unremitting Horror is awaiting an index.  Albion’s Ransom (fomerly Little Girl Lost), the first big Esoterrorist adventure has been playtested and is receiving its final edit.

We’ve done a reprint of XPS 4/5 available from the webstore. If you have purchased a PDF, please email me and I’ll send you a voucher for the difference.

News for August 2007
Fear Itself is released. Fear Itself plunges ordinary people into a disturbing contemporary world of madness and violence. Players take the roles of regular folks much like themselves, who are inexorably drawn into confrontation with the creatures of the Outer Black, an unearthly realm of alien menace. With or without its distinctive mythology, GMs can use it to replicate the shudders and shocks of the horror genre in both film and literature.

The limited edition Compendium of Universal Knowledge for the Dying Earth is being printed this week.

There are fifty copies in total, and about twenty remain unreserved. If you’d like to reserve a copy, please email me. It will be $49.95.

The GUMSHOE book of Unremitting Horror is being printed, and includes everything from the d20 Book of Unremitting Horror, as well as new creatures, Esoterrorist background material, and lots of adventures.
All these books will be available at GenCon Indy, where there will also be demos of Esoterrorists and Fear Itself. We’ll also be producing a limited edition of Robin’s comic The Birds. Robin will be on the stand for signings.
The Lords of Cil” is the third pdf release in Ian Thomson’s epic Cugel-Level campaign for DERPG.

2008

News for January 2008

We’ve released The Fields of Silver – a new Turjan-level campaign from Lynne Hardy.  Read more in this article.

2009

News for April 2009

We will no longer be selling the Dying Earth as of 1st May 2009. Print products and PDFs are available from the Pelgrane store and Indie Press Revolution.


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.

This article on the Dying Earth RPG originally appeared on DyingEarth.com between 2004 and 2007.

Turjan-Level Gaming and the Lands of the Near East

by Lynne Hardy

Abandon now your witty banter and your lightning repartee for they will only serve to mar your progress through a world no longer colourful but deadly dark for the unwary. The difficulties you had before are but pale shadows of the challenges that now await you. Welcome to the Dying Earth as it was originally written: hard, cruel and at the mercy of natural justice. Welcome to Turjan level play.

“So what’s the difference?” I hear you ask. It’s a good question, especially for those who may only have a passing acquaintance with Jack Vance’s work. The original Dying Earth stories were written in 1950 and are very much darker in tone than the later cruel but oddly comedic Cugel stories and concerned far more with epic yet intimate struggles than the grandstanding of the Rhialto tales. In them, characters struggle on quests (often seeking lost knowledge) and are often called to task by fate for their actions along the way.

For instance, there is Liane the Wayfarer. Beautiful but cruel and callous, he appears to have everything his way until an encounter with the mysterious witch Lith, who sends him to his just desserts in the company of Chun the Unavoidable. Then again, there is T’sais. Flawed and violent, she craves understanding and yearns to know beauty and love. Through harsh experience she meets a man as flawed as herself who helps her in her quest to become whole. Justice is weighed and measured and meted out accordingly.

Okay, okay, but how does that affect your game? As described in Turjan’s Tome, the latest sourcebook from Pelgrane Press, there are several mechanical adjustments. These include the down-grading of Persuasion and Rebuff to the status previously held by Attack and Defence (of secondary importance and only to be relied upon if all else fails) and a way of maximising your magical capabilities (although with suitable constraints for those who feel the need to let fate truly take a hand). They also allow for more in-depth development of allies and adversaries and bolster the possession point system, providing an interesting mechanism for trading up all those lovely toys you have gathered throughout the course of play for even bigger and better ones with which to impress your friends and cow your rivals.

But perhaps the greatest change is in the overall tone of the game. Gone are the tales of flashy bravado and erudite linguistics (although please feel free to keep them if you wish; after all, this is for your entertainment). Instead there is danger, intrigue and great reward for those brave enough to search for it (as long as they are prepared to pay the often heavy price). The boundaries are less clear, the morals potentially more dubious. The noble succeed and the wicked fall prey to their vanities. Are there shades of grey? Perhaps, but perhaps the world is more clear-cut than you previously thought.

It was with this in mind that I set about writing “Fields of Silver”. This book contains both background on the lands of the near East and a campaign in the tradition of the legendary Call of Cthulhu supplements. Most of the locations are detailed by Vance in The Eyes of the Overworld, which provided a handy springboard to immerse Turjan level characters in a world where even less than before was what it once seemed.

The lands around Erze Damath are mostly ignored in the currently available support material, which tends to focus on Kaiin and Almery. Yet there is a wealth of descriptive material on the eastern lands in the original stories (which, trust me, is quite a rare thing!). The book is divided into seven chapters, which are split between source material and campaign details. Five of the chapters detail locations mentioned by Vance in his stories to enable you to explore them fully even if you do not wish to use the adventure as is. In case that isn’t enough, there’s also an appendix with a few extra titbits in case you use everything in the main sections. There are strange peoples and mysterious ruins to explore and where there are mysterious ruins, there are bound to be hidden secrets.

And that is what the campaign sections of “Fields of Silver” are all about – solving mysteries, uncovering hidden secrets and dealing with ancient evils. The story takes your characters right across the continent, from Almery to Erze Damath, taking in a host of wonders along the way. It pitches them against dangerous foes in their quest to put right a misdeed so great that it could shake the very foundations of a mighty city. Who is responsible for the slaughter of the characters’ friends? Who is the mysterious Lady and why does she need their help? Will they face up to their responsibilities, or will they leave the dark legacy of history unchallenged?

Now you’re thinking, “But it doesn’t seem like our style. Why should we even look at it?” It’s a good point, even taking into account all that lovely source material. After all, who wants to buy a book to only use half of it? My group has their own distinct style of play, which is usually humorous and free-flowing. Turjan level play is darker and much more menacing. Would they enjoy a game written in that style? Could they be persuaded to enter into the spirit of this grimmer world?

Well, yes, they could and they thoroughly enjoyed it. They even enjoyed the change of pace. The secret was to get them hooked, then build suspense and finally let them realise (too late, of course) that they were in a huge amount of trouble and there was only really one thing they could do about it (see it through to the bitter end, of course). Paranoia was rampant, but so too was a desire to find out what was happening to them and why. Not that I can give too much away here – it would be a great shame to spoil the surprises lurking there between the covers!

Hopefully after you’ve read “Fields of Silver” you’ll realise that there is so much more to the Dying Earth than Kaiin (exciting as it may be) and that Turjan-level play is just as entertaining as Cugel level, but for very different reasons.


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.

This article about the Dying Earth RPG originally appeared on DyingEarth.com.

The Dying Earth RPG as an alternative roleplaying game system
by Lynne Hardy

If you don’t know what a roleplaying game is, read this article about the Dying Earth RPG instead.

Fantasy was the inspiration for the first roleplaying games, and amongst the inspirations for the earliest games was the work of Jack Vance. Indeed, more than one fantasy magic system has been designed according to tenets laid down in the Dying Earth books. If you are unfamiliar with the Dying Earth, there are four books, currently available collected into one volume in the Fantasy Masterworks series by Millennium.

Whilst not the high fantasy associated with elves and dwarves, the world is fantastical in both detail and outlook, covering a range of tone and character. The first book (The Dying Earth) is a collection of tales of a darker nature than the latter three, but all touch on the perverse nature of mankind in his dealings with his fellow creatures in a world that may descend into deadly darkness at any moment.

There are many fantasy roleplaying games available on the market these days, all with varying levels of complexity and background support. Indeed, it seems quite surprising that a game solely based on the Dying Earth took so long to appear considering both when the stories were written and its influence on the beginnings of the hobby. As is often the case, it was worth the wait.

Even if you haven’t read the novels, the game has a lot to offer. In fact, when my group was playtesting the rules, none of us had read them and I’m still the only member of the group who has. Although you will undoubtedly get more from the game if you have read the stories (as with any game based in a specific setting), this game is sufficiently well written and supported that lack of prior exposure is not the handicap it has been in other games. There is enough of the familiar, no matter how skewed it has become in what is, basically, the far distant future of our earth, to give everyone something to hang their metaphorical hat on. And hats are very important in the Dying Earth, a place that can be best described as one of almost (but not quite) chivalrous roguery.

Although this article is primarily aimed at experienced roleplayers curious about a new setting or system, newcomers to roleplaying should also find something of use in this game. The system is simple, being based on an easily available die, the standard d6. There are game statistics representing your character’s abilities. These abilities are bought with points and can be improved through experience and there are even different levels of play. At first glance, it could be mistaken for just another fantasy game, but the design approach is almost as skewed as the world in which the game is set, giving an interestingly different feel to other games.

First, character statistics: In the Dying Earth, swordplay is deadly. As in the books, it is much better for the character to rely on his ability to talk his way out of a dangerous situation than to face down his foe, weapon in hand. Unfortunately, your character may be just as easily bamboozled by spurious logic and had better know it when he hears it. In game terms, this translates into the two most important skills, Persuade and Rebuff. Of course, it never hurts to know how to handle oneself in a fight, giving you the next two skills of Attack and Defence.

Each of these skills is represented by one of six “styles”. For example, Persuade has the styles Charming, Obfuscatory, Glib, Eloquent, Forthright and Intimidating, which determine the particular manner of your speech. These styles can be chosen or rolled randomly during character creation. Whilst allowing fate to take a hand garners you extra character creation points, if you have a particular character in mind its always best to pick those styles which best suit your ideas. The range of each style is sufficiently broad so as not to provide a straight-jacket to characterisation but clear enough when stuck for inspiration, either during gameplay or character creation.

As well as the four main skills, there are also abilities, resistances and, of course, magic. The list of abilities is mercifully brief (but more than sufficient), which helps to make character creation a swift and pleasant task. Resistances add a small but interesting touch to gameplay. In the Dying Earth, people are much more prone to indulging their every whim – after all, the sun may go out at any minute. There are six resistances, which determine a person’s ability to maintain clarity of thought when faced with a variety of temptations. Although often a minor component of the game, it adds further depth to the system.

And then there is Magic, a very powerful force in the stories. It is a difficult skill to learn and master, particularly at the highest levels, but even the lowliest person can attempt small tricks or cantraps. As with the major skills, there are six styles of magic each describing a particular approach to spell casting. All magic is, in truth, performed by elemental beings and powerful mages bind and command the larger of these entities to do their bidding. But as with all things in the Dying Earth, care is needed when dealing with these creatures – after all, everyone is out for themselves.

There are three different levels of play, each named for a character in the novels. The lowliest of these, Cugel, starts with the lowest number of creation points, with Turjan and then Rhialto having increasing numbers of points to represent the higher power levels of those characters. Points are spent on abilities, skills, resistances, health and magic as best fits the character, although there are recommended minimums and maximums for each level.

The actual mechanics of the system appear easy enough: 1-3 on a d6 is a failure and 4-6 is a success. Skills and abilities can be used to affect the outcome of the die roll. At the beginning of a game, a character has both a rating and a pool for each skill. Whilst the rating does not change during the gaming session, the pool will increase and decrease. For example, Richard’s character Karybdis is attempting to persuade a merchant to give him a discount. He rolls a d6 and gets a 2 – a failure. He can now use his Persuade pool to alter that result. By spending one point from his pool, he gets to reroll the die and this time gets a 5 – a success (providing that the merchant does not now Rebuff him). Certain die rolls affect the pool in special ways and it’s never a good idea to run out of points (although pools can be refreshed during the course of the game). This lends a very tactical edge to an apparently simple system; there are times when its better to just let a bad roll go. All of that may sound quite complicated, but its actually one of the most straightforward game mechanics I’ve ever used. I can’t cope with complex systems and this one has never got in the way of my games (or made me give up in despair half way through reading the rules).

Another unusual touch is the presence of “Taglines”. These Vancian quotes are intended to introduce the players to the sometimes flowery language of the Dying Earth. Use of a tagline within the game rewards a player with a varying number of improvement points, depending on the skill with which it is employed. Most people find them a little off-putting at first, but they can be extremely useful when trying to get a feel for the background. They can also be very funny and humour is just as important as every other element of the game design.

Then there is the Tweak. Developed for more experienced players in Cugel’s Compendium, a tweak enhances a particular ability under special circumstances. They can give a variety of advantages depending on what skill or ability they apply to and can even allow you to spend points from one pool on a roll based on another pool. Whilst not essential for play, they again add to the atmosphere of the game.

That’s enough of mechanics. What of the potential for roleplaying? Whilst the Dying Earth is richly detailed in parts, Jack Vance left huge swathes of it undescribed. This is very useful when running a game set here. There is enough detail in the main rulebook on the setting that you can actually pick it up and hit the ground running, and yet you still have space to develop your own peculiar whimsy within the world. If filling in the details isn’t to your personal taste, though, you won’t be left stranded, as support material is available from a number of sources. In terms of setting, there are already the Kaiin and Scaum Valley sourcebooks, as well as a variety of articles in the Excellent Prismatic Spray supplements.

The Kaiin sourcebook details the largest city in the Dying Earth and is an open source book – there is no GM only material. This gives the players an unprecedented level of input into creating adventures set in the city and really lends itself well to collaborative play (as well as allowing worn out GMs a well-deserved rest). The Scaum sourcebook is more traditional in its approach, but has a wealth of useful information on the most heavily populated areas of the world.

The character creation system is actually very helpful towards roleplaying. Not only do the various skill styles help to visualise a character, the different levels of play also have very distinct atmospheres. Cugel level play is perhaps the most easily recognisable from other fantasy games – lowly characters struggling to survive in the face of overwhelming odds. It can have great humour as well as great triumphs. In keeping with the harsher nature of the stories in which Turjan appears, the middle power level has a darker tone, with greater struggles and more powerful foes. As to Rhialto level, arch-mages can do what they please (within some limits) and are free to explore new ages and new worlds as well as engage in petty rivalries and sundry scheming diversions.

If you are looking for a change, I can recommend the Dying Earth RPG. My group has played pretty much everything at some point in our gaming careers and we were very much taken with this one. The books are well written and are an entertaining read as well as beautifully presented. The game can be as complex or as simple as you wish to make it and it is very flexible towards most styles of play. It won’t suit every group’s tastes – no game can – but for an entertaining diversion once in a while, or for a sustained alternative fantasy campaign, the Dying Earth is very much deserving of your further attention.

And don’t forget your hat.


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.

This article on the Dying Earth RPG originally appeared on DyingEarth.com between 2004 and 2007.

What is the Dying Earth RPG?
by Lynne Hardy

The Dying Earth is a rich fantasy world, full of complex characters and detailed environs. Thus it presents itself as a perfect setting for a roleplaying game and indeed one has been produced by Pelgrane Press. That is all very well, but what is a roleplaying game?

Everyone is familiar with board and card games, each of which has their own specific rules of play and conditions for winning. Board games require a board, dice and occasionally special cards that affect game play. Roleplaying games share some elements with board games, such as having rules and needing one or more dice. However, they are also distinct from board games in that, fundamentally, there is no board and there is no winner. Historically, the Dying Earth novels were actually amongst the inspirations for the first roleplaying game Dungeons and Dragons, as well as several other games since then.

So how do you play? Roleplaying is an exercise in imagination, shared with friends. One person takes on the role of Gamesmaster, or GM, and it is this person who is in charge of keeping the game running smoothly. The other players, usually between two and six, take on the roles of characters from the world in which the game is set, in this case characters very like Cugel, Turjan or Rhialto. Together, the GM and the players interact to create stories of fantastical adventure. In some ways, it’s very like improvisational theatre, just without the audience.

Many different companies produce rulebooks for these games and they contain the mechanics of how the game is played, as well as how to create characters. They also contain details on the places, people and creatures of the world in which the game is set. There is usually also a chapter with special advice for the GM on how to set the right atmosphere and how to develop stories for the players to enjoy. Although the players help the GM to flesh out the story, initially at least the basic ideas of what is happening around the players come from the GM. The GM also takes on the roles of everyone the players’ characters meet, so good advice is a handy thing to have. Gradually, as the game develops, the players will have a greater input in the direction the story takes as they become more familiar with either the setting or the rules.

It may seem odd that you need rules if everyone is co-operating to create a story, but just as our world has physics to keep things ticking along nicely, games need some framework so that any decision the GM has to take regarding the success or failure of a character’s action is anything but arbitrary. Some games’ systems are complex in order to realistically model events and are a major part of the game; often, a complicated system has been designed so that it can be applied to many different settings. Others are simpler to better reflect the world in which they are set. This is the case with the Dying Earth roleplaying game (DERPG), where the rules have been specially written to recreate the twists of dramatic fate seen in the novels whilst remaining unobtrusive.

Creating a character is the first important thing to do in order to get a game started. DERPG has been written in such a way that this is very simple and straightforward. Every character has a number of skills and abilities that can be chosen or rolled randomly from lists provided in the rulebook. These skills help to bring the character to life. How good a character is at these skills is up to the player, as they have a number of points to spend on them – the more points you spend on a skill, the better the character is at it. Depending on what level of game you are playing, you have different numbers of points with which to build your character. Cugel level is the equivalent of the beginner’s level in a computer game and is where most players will start; there are two other, higher levels named after Turjan and Rhialto. Whilst in a higher-level game your character will be more powerful and able to take care of themselves, the challenges they face will also be much greater.

Perhaps the most important skill in the game is Persuade, your character’s ability to talk themselves out of, or other people into, tricky situations. In many games the ability to fight is the most important, but in keeping with the books, that isn’t the case here. Of course, a character must also be able to defend themselves against verbal sparring, which is where the Rebuff skill comes in. Characters do have fighting and defence skills, they’re just not the most important things a character can do in this game. Each of these four skills, as well as the Magic skill, have one of six different styles which give suggestions as to how the character uses that particular skill. In the case of the Rebuff skill, a character may deflect another person’s argument in one of six ways: obtusely, warily, penetratingly, in a lawyerly fashion, contrarily or with guileless innocence. These styles are determined when the character is created and are very helpful in defining how the character behaves towards other people. This is all very useful for when you come to play the game, so that your performance of that character and their motivations are believable and consistent.

Magic is a special skill that every character has access to, but to become good at it requires you to devote lots of character creation points to it. This is really equivalent to the large amounts of time required in the stories to acquire magical proficiency. You may not have as many other abilities as players who don’t take the Magic skill, but the game is well balanced and you won’t be at a disadvantage (often quite the contrary!). Characters with a Magic rating can defend themselves against magical attacks and can learn spells. These spells are based on ones mentioned in the novels, as well as others inspired by the various magicians who appear within their pages. Even characters who don’t spend points on magic can attempt minor conjuring tricks, known as cantraps. Whilst not very powerful they can be useful, such as lighting candles without the need for matches. After all, you never know when you may need a light.

So what do you do with a character once you’ve created him? Pretty much anything you want to, really. The GM will have decided on a challenge, or adventure, for you and the other players and the first time you play this may be as simple as just meeting the other characters. You decide what your character says and does within the game world and the GM will help to determine whether you are successful or not in your actions. Sometimes, you can act out what you want to do, such as persuading a mean landlord to provide better lodgings. In such cases, the GM may decide that your performance was good enough to succeed without recourse to the rules. Unfortunately, not all of us are sparkling orators and there are some things you just can’t act out. It is in these situations that the game mechanics come to the fore.

This is where dice come in to the game. DERPG uses a single standard six sided die to help resolve actions. Basically, a roll of 1-3 means that an action has failed, whereas a roll of 4-6 is a success. The points you spent on your skills and abilities allow you to re-roll the dice if the result you get isn’t the one you want, so the more points you spent on a skill, the more times you can re-roll. Special rolls on the die can either add or take away from the number of points you have to use, but only temporarily. This game mechanic allows the players a greater control of their fate than you get in many games; running out of points, however, is not a good thing, so it does require a certain amount of tactical savvy in deciding whether to re-roll or save the points for another, potentially more important, roll.

In a roleplaying game, there is no winner. So, how does a game end? It may be as simple as you run out of time on a particular evening – most groups gather for a few hours a week and the story they are creating goes on for weeks or even months at a time. It may be that the characters complete the task the GM set them, such as finding a long lost tome or discovering a new frippery for Duke Orbal. The whole point of a roleplaying game is to have fun with your friends, exploring new lands and discovering exciting treasures in a setting you enjoy. That way, everyone wins.

But what if you don’t have enough people to form a gaming group? At the bare minimum, you only need two people to play – one person to be the GM and the other to be a player. You could even take turns at being the GM. Every GM has their own style, which can lead to subtly different takes on a given situation. It is also fun for the GM to take time off from running the game and actually have a chance to play it (something that doesn’t always happen). If you are short of players, your local hobby gaming shop should be able to put you in touch with other gamers. Internet newsgroups can also help you to identify other players in your area.

What if you just aren’t interested in roleplaying? It is actually still worth looking at the material that Pelgrane Press have produced, all with Jack Vance’s blessing. As with other roleplaying games, there is more than just the main rulebook available. These other books are known as sourcebooks and contain further, more detailed information on the Dying Earth in terms of interesting places, legends, customs, people, objects and creatures. These expand on the ideas set forth in the original stories whilst remaining faithful to the tone of those books. All of the games’ books are well written, often in Vancian prose when that best suites the feel of the piece, and are an entertaining read, as well as being beautifully produced and illustrated. If you want to discover more of the Dying Earth, the sourcebooks are an excellent resource, acting, if you will, as the literary equivalent of a good travel documentary.

The Dying Earth stories have inspired and delighted generations of readers. Roleplaying in the Dying Earth allows you to add your own small contribution to those tales. After all, it is a remarkably interesting place to visit.


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.


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.