Roleplaying games are fascinatingly mediated. In almost every other storytelling medium, the audience perceives the action directly. They see the actors on the stage or screen, the characters in the computer game, the voices in the radio play. In prose, true, the author can play tricks with an unreliable narrator or writing in a very subjective fashion, giving an internal monologue – but that runs the risk of alienating the reader. If the audience can’t follow the plot, the story’s lost.

In a roleplaying game, everything goes through the GM. The player gets second-hand impressions of what’s happening (“you see the figure crawling out of the grave”) and then interrogates the GM to get the details the player is interested in (compare the questions “do I recognise the figure” versus “are there any exits? Anything I can use as a weapon”). This gives the GM immense influence over the player’s perceptions of what’s going on (I talked about this before in Spooky Significance).

In a one-on-one game like Cthulhu Confidential, you can go even further. Traditionally, it’s a terrible idea to take control of a character away from a player for long – if Bob’s mind-controlled by Dracula, then Bob ends up sitting there bored while Alice and Eve play on without him.  In a one-on-one game, though, you can skip ahead or around in time easily, and use your influence over the player’s perceptions to shape how they experience the transitions.

For example, you can have an abrupt transition…

Suddenly, someone jolts against you. Your hand burns – they’ve spilled coffee on you. You’re sitting in a coffee shop. Sunlight’s blazing through the window. You’ve no idea how you got there. The last twelve hours are a blank. What did you do in that time?

…a smooth transition…

You find yourself sitting in a coffee shop. It’s daylight. You have only hazy memories of the last few hours, full of gaps. It’s all a bit vague. Anyway, what are you doing?

Or even an unnoticed transition.

You go home to sleep. The next day, you what, grab coffee? Ok, you’re in a coffee shop, when…

The Horror Within

For a mechanical patina – assume the player character has some dark power within them. They’re a secret werewolf, intermittently possessed, channeling psychic forces, unstuck in time… When the player hits a Setback, give the player the option to reroll the dice – but the player suffers a period of missing time, during which they’re under the control of the dark forces. What did they do while their dark half had control?

In Cthulhu Confidential, there’s a host of ghastly horrors that might seize control of Dex. He might be possessed by a Shan or mind-swapped with a member of the Great Race of Yith. Or, like ill-fated Walter Gilman, he might find himself slipping in and out of dreams, waking in unfamiliar places with only hazy memories of his actions…


GUMSHOE One-2-One retunes, rebuilds and re-envisions the acclaimed GUMSHOE investigative rules set for one player, and one GM. Together, the two of you create a story that evokes the classic solo protagonist mystery format of classic detective fiction. Can’t find a group who can play when you can? Want an intense head-to-head gaming experience? Play face to face with GUMSHOE One-2-One—or take advantage of its superb fit with virtual tabletops and play online. Purchase Cthulhu Confidential and future GUMSHOE One-2-One products in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

You used to be a spy. You were part of the clandestine world, backed up by the full strength of the shadow state. Then you asked the wrong questions, discovered things you shouldn’t know about who really rules the world.

You found the truth. You found the vampires – and got burned.

You’re all alone against them.

One player. One Gamemaster.

The odds are against you. You’ll have to use every edge you can muster, every contact you can blackmail, every weapon you can find just to survive. But maybe, just maybe, you can fight back against the monsters.

Create your own Agent, or take on the role of Leyla Khan – an ex-MI6 officer who must confront her own half-remembered past as a thrall of the vampires!

Use the GUMSHOE One-2-One rules, designed for the thrilling intensity of head-to-head play. Navigate complex mysteries with investigative abilities! Overcome challenges with luck and mastery edges! And if you fail, pick up Injury, Heat and Shadow problems that’ll cause trouble later on.

Play through three complete adventures for Leyla Khan, or use them as templates to create your own mysteries:

  • Never Say Dead: Leyla wakes up in a hospital with only fragmentary memories of her past life. She was left for dead at the side of the road. Who’s trying to kill her? Who’s trying to save her? Who can she trust?
  • No Grave For Traitors: A drug war in Spain. Mysterious intrigue in London. Haunted castles in the Carpathians. Can Leyla unravel the mystery that connects these events, and stop her rivals from unlocking the door to an ancient horror?
  • The Deniable Woman: Leyla’s tasked by her old allies at MI6 to investigate the disappearance of a British spy in Moscow. Can she find the missing man – or will she, too, vanish into the shadows of the Kremlin?

We’ll give you the tools you need to battle the undead princes and crime lords, all alone. But will it be enough? Find out, with Night’s Black Agents: Solo Ops!

Stock #: PELGON01 Author: Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan
Artists: Jérôme Huguenin, Gislaine Avila, Lauren Covarrubias, Evanleigh Davis, Marisa Erven, Jen McCleary, Georgia Roan, Runa I. Rosenberger, Jorge Fernández Sanz, and Quico Vicens Pages: 280 pages, casebound, B&W

Buy print edition now

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This competition is now closed. Answers will be announced in March’s Page XX

Win one of three signed limited editions of Cthulhu Confidential!

GUMSHOE One-2-One is designed for a GM and one player who investigates Mythos mysteries solo. We want to know which fictional character YOU would most like to star as in a One-2-One adventure!

So, tell us who you’d One-2-One with and why in under 100 words (or 140 characters on Twitter), and our judges will choose winners to receive a signed, numbered, leatherbound, limited edition copy of Cthulhu Confidential.

We asked the Pelgranistas—as well as some friends of Pelgrane—which characters they’d most like to have a GUMSHOE One-2-One with. You can read their answers here for inspiration.

You can enter in one or more of the following places:

  • Post in the comments below.  Be sure to include your email address. Comments are moderated, so your idea might be have been pipped by someone else, even though you can’t see it.
  • Post in the comments on this thread on Facebook
  • Tweet with the hashtag #MyOne2One.

Rules

  1. You can enter once on each channel, as long as each answer is a different character.
  2. If there are duplicate characters in each channel, or across channels, any submissions after the first will not be considered.
  3. The competition will close on 28th February 2017.
  4. Additional rules for Pelgrane Press competitions can be found here.