The GUMSHOE Community program is now even bigger!

Earlier this year we launched the GUMSHOE Community program, making Ashen Stars content available to creators. We have now expanded the content available, and so the program now includes the following game lines:

If you’re not familiar with the Community Content concept, it means we’ve made some elements of these GUMSHOE games (e.g. some IP elements, art, and layout assets) open for members of the community (that is, you!) to write and publish your own GUMSHOE content on DriveThruRPG.

We’ve got a number of great Ashen Stars PDFs already available, to show you what’s possible. These include:

If you’re interested in learning more about the GUMSHOE Community program, check it out here.

Over the years, we’ve released a number of one-shot adventures for our systems during Free RPG Day, and we often get messages asking us for the PDFs. As we know everyone’s looking for more gaming opportunities at the moment, we’ve collected them all here, now.

All we ask is that if you download, run and enjoy these adventures, you consider making a donation to Doctors Without Borders, to assist in their efforts to fight the coronavirus COVID-19.

Donate to Doctors Without Borders


Limited edition with bookplate

Only 100 copies of the limited edition exist. 50 are available to customers in the U.S. and Canada, and 50 are available to customers outside the U.S. and Canada. The limited edition books are faux-leatherbound with foil, and each one includes a sticky-backed bookplate signed by Kevin Kulp, which you can add to your book.



By Kevin Kulp


History isn’t written by the victors. It’s written by the people with the time machines.


“Well, that doesn’t look right.” All around you are the abandoned ruins of medieval Paris, with a hundred thousand rotted skulls piled up in a mountain. Your partner draws her pistol and checks the historical record on her holographic tether. “Looks like the Khan didn’t die of alcoholism, and his hordes didn’t stop at Vienna,” she says.

“Then we’d better find whoever decided to save his life.” You punch in the coordinates for Karakorum in the year 1241, and fire up the time machine. As you disappear from the 13th century, you silently hope that it isn’t the roaches again…

In the TimeWatch roleplaying game, your band of TimeWatch agents defend the timestream from radioactive cockroaches, psychic velociraptors, and human meddlers. Go back in time to help yourself in a fight, thwart your foes by targeting their ancestors, or gain a vital clue by checking a scroll out from the Library of Alexandria. But watch out for paradoxes that may erase you from existence… or worse.

If you’ve ever dreamed of going on world-changing adventures from the age of the dinosaurs to the end of the universe, the TimeWatch roleplaying game is for you! The game includes:

  • Rules for thrilling time chases, combat in every era, and the dangers of paradox, powered by the GUMSHOE investigative system.
  • Extensive GM advice for creating and running games where PCs can travel anywhere, anywhen.
  • Fourteen settings where you can face Mythos horrors, slide between alternate universes, steal the treasures of the ages, and more.
  • More than a dozen ready-to-play time seeds, iconic pregenerated characters, and three full adventures.
  • Plenty of options, so you can easily customize the game to match your group’s preferred style of play.

You’ve got a time machine, high-powered weaponry and a whole lot of history to save.


Buy the limited edition


Stock #: PELGTW01L Authors: Kevin Kulp with John Adamus, Heather Albano,
Kennon Bauman, Matthew Breen, Dave Chalker, Kenneth Hite,
Christopher Lackey, Cindy Maka, Belton Myers, Michael Rees,
Corey Reid, Paul Stefko, Jeff Yaus
Artist: Rich Longmore Pages: 392-page hardback

Limited edition with bookplate

On 1st May 1895 a young gentleman — a recently admitted solicitor from the West Country — called upon the offices of Pelgrane Press bearing a manuscript loosely bound in waxed paper and string, together with a small steamer trunk packed with an assortment of curios. Acting under instructions from his anonymous client, he passed these items to me together with a banker’s draft drawn on the Bank of England for a substantial sum.

The book itself is a work of scientific romance, a gallimaufry of fables in the manner of The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. To what end it was written, and for whom, I may never know, but I hope you, Gentle Reader, find it of use, whoever you are, wherever you may travel and whenever you read it.

The Book of Changing Years is a collection of time travellers’ tales and curios put together on the quiet by agents of TimeWatch and secreted in an innocuous drawer in the Citadel — TimeWatch HQ.  It’s an in-world book of clues and mysteries for players of the TimeWatch RPG in the style of The Book of the Smoke and The Armitage Files.

  • Why are there too many cats in London in 1840 and no dogs at all, and how does that relate to the pyramids of Kush?
  • Why is Edward V scouring the timelines for Caravaggios?
  • Who time-pranked Alexander Graham Bell into thinking he’d heard spirit voices on his new invention?

Fire up your autochron, unhook your tethers and dive into the gaps between the chimes.

Only 100 copies of the limited edition exist. 50 are available to customers in the US and Canada, and 50 are available to customers outside the US and Canada. The limited edition books are hardbound and cloth-covered with foil, and each one includes a sticky-backed bookplate signed by Kevin Kulp, which you can add to your book.


Buy the limited edition

Stock #:PELGTW03L Authors: Heather Albano, Kennon Bauman, Emily Care Boss, Stephanie Bryant, Emily Dresner, Marissa Kelly, Emma Marlow, Epidiah Ravachol, Rebecca Slitt, Ruth Tillman, and Kevin Kulp
Pages: 224 pages, perfect bound Artists: Juha Makkonen, Sarah Wroot

by Eric Paquette

During my first TimeWatch campaign, I decided to use Backstory Cards to help define the group. Backstory Cards are a rpg tool which helps to establish links between the agents (PCs), other individuals, groups, places, and events in your group’s campaign. Backstory Cards were designed by Ryan Macklin and published by Brooklyn Indie Games (

The first thing we did was “Step One” of the “Your Character” chapter from the TimeWatch core rules. Every player created a concept of their TimeWatch agent. We had the following team: a hacker; a scientist; an Egyptian goddess; a Russian cyborg assassin; a Martian brain in a jar; a steampunk tinkerer. Once every player had a concept, we delved into the Backstory Cards setting grid. This lays the groundwork which helps one use the Backstory Cards.

The setting grid is a 4 by 3 table where the four columns are defined with “Individual”, “Group”, “Place”, and “Event”. As a group, you decide which of those setting elements might become allies, antagonists, safe havens, etc. For our TimeWatch game, we have the following individuals: school teacher; far future forger; rogue TimeWatch agent. The following groups: time travelling Nazi; Black Ops military scientists; oracular group. The following places: Ancient Egypt; a diplomatic and mercantile space station (ex: Babylon 5); ape city (formerly Toronto). The following events: during training; fancy party; convention.

Now, we set about getting prompts from the cards. Each card gives a generic situation with some questions to answer. Your PC gets linked to another PC and/or to an element of the setting grid through a random draw from the deck. You may not use all elements of the setting grid. In our group, we didn’t connect to 3 elements (Black Ops military scientists; Ancient Egypt; ape city). Does this mean that those elements are not in your game? No. It just means PCs don’t have a personal connection with that element.

At the start, I didn’t have everyone on board about using the cards, however they were open to try it. As they answered the questions on the cards, they got more into it and I could see their character concepts getting a new dimension. Each character concept got altered and those players who didn’t have a solid concept idea found something to attach themselves to. I found it an amazing experience.

There was one card which linked everyone to the rogue TimeWatch agent and suddenly, this shifted the character from just a supporting character to an opponent in the campaign. Every PC has an opinion about this rogue TimeWatch agent whom we named Snake. When I weave him into the scenarios, I get to pull on those emotions they have of Snake.

After our campaign setup session, I mapped out the relationships between the agents and setting elements. I’ve found it a useful reference to see how the group flows and what element will entice which agent.

I’m running the Behind Enemy Times campaign and through the use of the Backstory Cards, I got story elements which I could weave into the main campaign’s plot. As the schoolteacher “M” turned out to be their trainer, I made her the team’s briefing officer replacing Galahad. Snake became a member of Restoration, replacing Flynt and adding a story where parts of Snake’s memory was wiped and there’s an interdiction device preventing him from visiting that time. During play, I’ve seem players refer to past events generated using Backstory Cards while using Reality Anchor to restore lost Chronal Stability. This personalized the campaign further for our group.

In my future campaigns, I plan to use Backstory Cards and they can easily be adapted for one-shots. For a one-shot, I recommend you show up with an already prepared setting grid and limit the amount of questions to one round and then just PCs with no link to other PCs. You wish each PC to have at least one link to another PC.

Eric Paquette is an eclectic gamer with experience in around 100 rpgs. He started GMing while babysitting as a teen and hasn’t stopped since then. You can find him talking rpgs on Twitter at @ericmpaq or organizing the rpg and children’s games sections at the CanGames convention.

Download our Free RPG Day 2017 offering – a 13th Age/TimeWatch double adventure!

Download the adventure PDF here

13th Age – Swords Against Owlbears

Where do Owlbears come from? A wizard did it.

Still does it, in fact. Her name is the Maker of Many. Her experiments push the boundaries of life and death, of madness and reason, of art and hideous biological abomination – and the player characters are trapped in her dungeon, the Twisting Gardens.

Swords Against Owlbears is a quick-start adventure for 13th Age, the d20 fantasy game of battle, treasure and epic story telling. Grab a pregenerated 6th character, decide your One Unique Thing, and get ready to fight for your life!

TimeWatch – Font of Knowledge

Time-traveling saboteurs just snuffed out all human life with – Comic Sans? You’re a member of TimeWatch, an elite organization of time cops who keep history safe. Find out what happened, track clues forwards and backwards in time, and save true history from those who try to erase it – like the hyperintelligent AI BREEN, which has distributed itself throughout time. Good luck, Agent. Everyone – and we mean everyone – is counting on you.

This scenario for up to six players is an introduction to TimeWatch – the GUMSHOE game of investigative time travel. Pregenerated Agents and handouts are included to launch the players into the mystery.

While the PDF has been updated, there were some errors with the printed Free RPG Day book. You can download the 13th Age errata for the print book here, and download the TimeWatch errata here.

Stock #: PEL13AT01
Author: Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan, Kevin Kulp
Artist: Rich Longmore, Gillian Pearce Pages: 48-page PDF



by Daniel Fidelman

Surprisingly enough, one of the most epic and memorable battles I had a chance to run, was a battle of wits and historical knowledge. On one side sat about fifteen kids, classified as gifted and aged ten to twelve, armed only with an internet connection and the best spends that their TimeWatch character sheet could offer. Their characters were standing at the great hall of the palace in Khanbaliq, the early predecessor to modern Beijing, and their opponents were the various members of the great Khan’s court. It was a formal reception, where the courtiers tried to assess the new arrivals, supposedly ambassadors from distant lands, yet unsullied by the Mongol conquest, but actually – Agents of the TimeWatch.

But perhaps some cultural context may help here. Surprisingly enough, there are few hundreds of Israeli role-players that work as either full-time or part-time Tabletop RPG Gamemasters for elementary school kids. Those activities are almost always paid by the parents, as RPGs are widely considered to be an educational tool developing teamwork, self-expression and imagination, and take place in various schools and day-care centres.

For better and for worse, this model has some implications for our playing culture. The advantages of this phenomena include the instant recognisability of Role Playing Games in most middle-class settings and the general benevolent attitude of the society to such games, as well as a certain pool from where future adult role-players are drawn (The numbers are hard to get due the fierce competition between the companies involved, but I would estimate that at least 5,000 Israeli kids are playing a Fantasy d20 Roleplaying game on a weekly basis with a professional Gamemaster).

The widespread criticism, at the other hand, is that such a monetization of Gamemastering sometimes encourages the creation of huge player groups – in extreme cases containing as many as twenty players per one Gamemaster, but often ranging from eight to twelve. Consequently, managing and entertaining such is group is a task that requires high performative and group management skills from the Gamemasters, that in turn may accustom potential young role-players to see role-playing as a service offered to their parents by trained professionals rather than a sustainable adult hobby they can try for themselves. It also may accustom them to a very simplistic version of roleplaying, where personal quests and initiatives are nearly unmanageable and where roleplaying scenes depend mainly on the theatrical skills of the Gamemaster. That factor, together with the game sessions being only ninety minutes long – lends itself to a huge reliance on battles, and violent solutions in general.

Thus, young players in such organized settings are often considered combat oriented and bloodthirsty to the extreme, tending to bypass role-playing and plan-making to get to the part which gives them the most amount of agency – rolling dice in order to kill monsters. I believe that the TimeWatch game mentioned here provided me with some insight towards fixing that problem.

So, info dumps aside, we are now flashing back to the recent past. It was the summer of 2015, and I was sent by my manager at the Cortex company to provide six roleplaying courses for a few weeks long summer camp for gifted children. Usually I try to avoid running games for more than twelve kids, but the format of the camp demanded me to accommodate groups of 15-20.

After submitting descriptions for the Harry Potter and the Hobbit games, as well as a GMing 101 course and a Nilfgaard military academy LARP for the older kids, I’ve stopped to consider my one remaining slot on the schedule. “You are a history teacher. Why wouldn’t you run a history game?” asked Shacked, my manager “We are supposed to be educational, after all”.

The Jurassic Editon of TimeWatch has just landed on my Hard Drive few weeks before, so the decision was made, and I’ve submitted “TimeWatch in the Court of Kublai Khan” for the summer camp’s program.

“TimeWatch recruits people from all over the history. Who do you want to be?”

Character generation is not a procedure you can easily perform with fifteen kids, most of them are unfamiliar with points distribution systems. So, in the purpose of this mission I’ve created six pre-made versions of the character sheet, using Character Competencies as the basis – The players picked their choice between Analysts, Diplomats, Gadgeteers, Marksmen, Spies and Officers, then distributed few more points between the General abilities and picked a couple of investigative ones. Investigative abilities were binary – you either had it or hadn’t, while the abilities you had allowed you to make investigative spends at their behalf, A system close enough to that presented at Gumshoe One-2-One.

Then came the personalization part. “Now tell me where have you came from exactly”, I’ve asked them. “What have you done in your career before getting picked up by the Watch?”

Some kids had an immediate answer. Others seemed lost. Incidentally, we were situated in a computer class, and I decided to use it. “You can turn the computers on and use the Internet. Write me a short biography of your character. He would get cool powers based on the quantity and quality of the knowledge you would gather”.

This kind of personalized, almost system agnostic phase of character creation took about half an hour. The pupils worked on the computers while I checked their work, directed them to interesting persons and concepts, and distributed cherries per their choices, either drawing from my memories of those mentioned in the TimeWatch or the Night’s Black Agent books, or making up some appropriate ones by myself, in consultation with the kids.

Kid: “Can I be an ancient Greek gadgeteer?”

Me: “Sure thing, google up Archimedes. You can be an apprentice of him”

Kid: “What can I get then?”

Me: “It depends. What kind of work have you did for him”?

Kid: [Reads Wikipedia article] “The Heat Ray sound really neat”

Me: “Well, the you have a set of hand mirrors and lenses, that allows you to set things on fire from afar given some time”.

Another kid, that managed to acquire much more Mongol lore than I’ve thought possible in twenty minutes on the Hebrew version of Wikipedia said that he wants to be a Prince of a razed city in Rus, secretly bent on revenge.

“Well,” I said “then you have probably researched the Mongol tactics and culture very well during your TimeWatch period, so you have a dedicated Academic ability for that.”

Most of the rest of that first session spent planning. Their mission was to infiltrate the court to find what have mobilized the great Mongol march that destroyed Europe in early 14th century and they needed a good cover story for about fifteen new people showing up at Khanbaliq. I’ve divided them to groups of four, gave each group the map of the Mongol empire and gave ten minutes to think about cover stories, then vote.

Quickly enough, they decided to be a delegation from a faraway country, ambassadors bearing gifts of respect and submission to the great overlord. Then they spent the next few minutes arguing which country should they represent, and just when I was about to put it to a simple majority vote, an eleven years old girl intervened:

“We should come as three different delegation, from three different countries. We should pretend we do not know each other, thus allowing us to make different allies among the opposing factions at the court”

Wow, that’s so crazy and brilliant, I’ve thought, let’s totally go for it.

Then an opposition raised: “But why should three previously unknown delegations arrive at the same day? That would be really suspicious”

He had a point too, but I really liked the first idea, so I’ve decided to quell the dissent: “Usually you are right, but today this is a gathering for the Naadam festival, so there are a lot of new folks around here”

Thus, it has come to pass, that the delegation from Java, Ophir and Ireland entered magnificent Khanbaliq in very much the same hour.

Enter the Matrix

That much was originally planned. Beside my work as a Gamemaster, I am an active educator and work to professionally combine those activities. So far, the activity was a classic operation of Education by Roleplaying as I understand it. The following part, on the other hand, was pretty much improvised, and in a very Gumshoe way, as I understand the term.

I had ten more minutes left to the end of the class, and decided to end on an upbeat note. Thus, after using Authority on some guards to get an audience, and witnessing some rough Mongolian justice delivered, the delegation finally found themselves before the solemn eyes of the Khagan.

Me: “He is looking at you with a keen interest. Now it’s the time to properly present yourself, and the gifts” – Then I point at the boy sitting to the right – “You should begin, what gift have you brought for him? You can make anything up. The resources of TimeWatch are unlimited”

“A really big Diamond” he says.

“The Khan is visibly impressed, he reaches his hand, and his Heshig bodyguard takes the diamond from your hand and places it in his”

Then, wishing to show the impact his action made, I drew a vertical line on the whiteboard. “After the last execution for theft, you have caught the Khan in a rather foul mood. A – 10 mood. Your diamond raised his mood by five points. Let’s raise it to – 5”

The entire class cheered, and I’ve explained the implications, making them up as I spoke. “Right now, the Khan is quite inclined to threw all of you from the city. If you shall raise his mood to a 10, he shall allow you to stay. If you should get him to a 15, you would get an invitation to stay in the palace, if it would be 20 – you would also get a personal guide to the palace – a high ranking courtier of your choice. Each of you have a one point to say, a one gift to deliver, a one chance to make a first impression”.

Then I’ve landed the treacherous blow.

“A man rises from the cushions beneath the throne. Although drabbed in Mongol cloak, he is clearly European.

Ireland, you say? I’ve heard of Ireland. An island so poor and forlorn, that even the pathetic English can accomplish holding it under their thumb. Where from, I would wonder, can the Irish get such diamonds? My liege, I assure you that this man is lying. He can be from no Ireland. But he surely can be a spy

The Khan’s face darkens. He sets the diamond back to the Heshigi’s hands.

Is it true, he asks, or can you say defend yourself versus the allegations of our loyal son Marco?”

The I reached once more for the whiteboard and set the Khan’s attitude to a -12, before adding another parameter: Marco Polo = -15.

I stared at the kid, and asked, in the off-character, helpful moderator voice: “So, do you have something to answer?”. He looked unsure and I’ve added. “You do have History (Past) as an investigative ability. You can probably spend a point to find some fact that can help you”

He did, so I gave him some geography facts. “You know, Ireland is located at the western edge of the world. Colombus is not yet born, so who knows what kind of wonders may the Irish fishermen find sometimes behind the horizon. They sure have a load of legends about it. Also, there are real diamonds in Africa, supposedly where the Ophirian delegation are from”.

He used the American lead immediately, spinning a tale a land of wonders and riches that the Irish has found recently and exploiting to the fullest.

The Khagan’s attitude rose to – 2, while Marco’s plunged to -22, Since as they were about to discover shortly, his Overt Motivation was to “Ensure that he is the best and most interesting source of stories about the Westlands”. Than a tall, yet unnamed Mongolian raised to ask the Irish delegation about the methods they use to produce such diamonds and I’ve added a new Dramatic Person to the growing complexity of the whiteboard – “Treasurer. Attitude: +6. Overt Motivation: A Keen newly found interest in the assumed riches of the west”

End of class. Dismissed. If you want, you can research stuff at home.

They did, and the next session was a grand-bataille. Each investigative spend served to give them some potentially relevant ammunition of social understanding and historical knowledge. Each remark, each gift, each question served to unveil yet another aspect of the Mongolian court, change the attitude of most participating NPCs to each of the two delegations involved, to create new enemies and new allies. Each word had a weight of its own, a chain of implications clearly visible at the whiteboard.

The Crusader Kings grand strategy game surely served as one inspiration for the social web that emerged on the whiteboard, together with the point based attitude system (Which may have been also influenced by Bioware type CRPGs). The investigative spends helped this web of intrigue become real, sustentative and mechanically related to the characters, a part of the crunch, the gamey part of the RPG, rather than the fluff you need to bypass to get to the action.

What happened here was a complete opposite. I had some fights planned later in this scenario, and was clearly surprised when all of them were cunningly bypassed by the players, that used the Overt and Covert motivations discovered by their social spends to surround themselves with a thick armor of temporary allies. The whiteboard web had officially become the board on which the game was played, a tactical map to be explored and changed by the players, and I’ve discovered that when people’s attitudes toward their characters were stated in front of the players, it seemed they are trying to avoid offending anyone, including the real baddies (A rogue prince of the Genghis dynasty, some Hashishin and a bunch of Sophosaurs).

Around here, the common perception is that early role-players, especially in a paid entertainment based role-playing environment, would usually choose the way of more violence, preferring to hack and slash their way through various plot devices and holders of information. What I’ve learned from my Kublai Khan experience is that maybe, what kids are really looking for is a meaningful engagement with mechanics. When their character sheets are full with damage dealing abilities and the mechanic representations of the fiction they encounter would usually be monster statistics, they would rightfully assume that the game is about dealing damage. If, at the other hand, the mechanical representations are dealing with meaningful knowledge and human relationships, they can engage learning, planning and roleplaying with about the same gusto. The Gumshoe way of putting information pieces in the mechanic core of the game serves to promote engagement with, and manipulation of, knowledge.

The version of TimeWatch that I used in educational settings (after Kublai Khan I had a French Revolution and a Galileo’s Trial scenarios) was much less zany than TimeWatch as presented. I’ve found that my aspiration to show a historical situation, limited the kinds of crazy stuff that may influence it. But it needn’t be the case in your game. Maybe you would like to go further than me and immediately show on whiteboard the temporal implications of every major player action, without the need to go forth in time to check it. This open sharing of information may indeed harm some sense of mystery and surprise and thus immersion, but at the other hand can serve to emphasize themes and stakes. And what emphasizes better the sheer epic scale of a time travel plot than to see possible futures flower and whither with your every step.

TimeWatch designer Kevin Kulp has traveled into the future where he’s already completed the TimeWatch Game Master’s Screen and Resource Book, and brought it back for your use and enjoyment! He probably did not catastrophically disrupt history in the process!
The TimeWatch GM’s Screen is three-ply and portrait-oriented, with all-new art on one side by TimeWatch artist Rich Longmore and enhanced by 13th Age artist Lee Moyer. On the other side is the essential information and tables a GM needs to run a TimeWatch game.
The Resource Book includes advice, guidance and rules for:

  • Making combat in TimeWatch even more fun
  • Pre-made Rebel organizations to bedevil or ally with your time-traveling Agents
  • 16 new time seeds for near-instant missions, organized by the Adversaries and Antagonists that each mission seed uses. If you read the Adversaries in the main book and thought, “that sounds fun but how would I use it?”, you’ll like this section.
  • Protect the secrets of the future, present and past until the time comes to reveal them


Take your time, don’t waste it!


Stock #: PELGTW06 Authors: Kevin Kulp with Conan French, Jim Groves, Michael Rees and Jason Morningstar
Artist: Rich Longmore and Lee Moyer Pages: Screen and 40-page saddlestiched book

Price: $19.95

Buy now

“Some curiosity may be felt as to his history; I will trace it with the utmost truthfulness, according to his own words, adding any necessary explanations. He told me that he was eighty-eight years of age when he came here, and that he was the son of Prince Ragoczy of Transylvania by his first wife, a Tékéli.”  

— Prinz Karl von Hessen-Kassel, Memoirs (1817)

Proud if neglectful papa, Ferenc II Ragoczy

The perhaps-too-gullible Prince Karl wrote these words about my friend and yours, the quondam immortal alchemist, composer, and confidence man who called himself the Comte de Saint-Germain. He also called himself, among a dizzying array of other pseudonyms, the Count Ragoczy (or occasionally Czarogy, for a change-up) and claimed to be the vanished heir to the throne of Transylvania, Prince Leopold Georg Ragoczy. The last reigning Prince of Transylvania, Ferenc II Ragoczy, had three sons before his ill-fated rebellion against Austria collapsed in 1708. The eldest, Leopold Georg, died in 1700. Or did he?

The Esoterrorists: I AM = EOD

Yes, of course he did. But the psychic dislocation of the Transylvanians, betrayed by their Christian brothers and their Turkish enemies, deprived of their proper Prince by the duplicitous Emperor, left a seed of doubt. By the 18th century, Esoterror groups had run the “Lost Heir Working” many times, sparking false hope, civil war, and repression that fed the Outer Dark. The Esoterror agent known as Saint-Germain decided to play a bigger game: he would run a “Quantum Heir Working” both claiming and denying his identity to spread chaos and ruin across Europe. Indeed, he was in Russia during the 1762 revolt that put Catherine the Great on the throne; his machinations at Versailles (and the Illuminist sects he left behind) toppled the Bourbons in 1789, leading to a quarter century of global war. The founder of American fascism, William Dudley Pelley, venerated him as a Secret Master … and so he was. Modern-day OV agents track a cache of Saint-Germain’s suddenly discovered letters from Budapest murder-auction to Paris musical conjuration site to Montana cult compound, unwittingly re-linking and re-awakening his 18th-century apparat to once more bring flame and tyranny to the West.

Night’s Black Agents: Sharper Than A Serpent’s Tooth

No, Saint-Germain wasn’t a vampire. But Prince Leopold Georg was, from birth. (Saint-Germain, who never ate or drank in company, and never seemed to age, was a Renfield.) The Prince’s mother, Prince Karl foggily recalled, was “a Tékéli.” The Conspiracy cover story pretends this refers to the noble Thököli family of Hungary, from whence actually descended the Prince’s grandmother. But no, Saint-Germain actually said “Székely,” the term Dracula uses in the novel for his own Hungarian forebears. The Linea Dracula split in the 16th century, when Count John Dracula allied himself with the Bathory clan. Internecine warfare decimated the vampire ranks until Count John finally won in 1683. Diehard secret foes of Count John made a deal with the Bathorys’ great rivals for the throne of Transylvania, the Ragoczys. Ferenc II gave his blood and other humours to a Székely assign, who magically and alchemically conceived a vampiric moonchild. This may explain the entry in Ferenc’s diary on his son’s passing: “I confess my affliction at his death was not of the slightest.” John Dracula’s influence at the Imperial court explains why Ferenc was never imperially confirmed as Prince of Transylvania, and perhaps why his rebellion was so thoroughly crushed. But the Empire never found Ferenc’s true vampiric heir, who worked against the Hapsburgs in the shadows and perhaps engineered their fall in 1918. This by now 320-year-old vampire commands great magics as well as the Theosophical cult of Saint-Germain in Europe, India, and America, giving orders to his subordinates telepathically or while in mist form, to avoid being identified as an Un-Dead four-year-old. The returned Dracula hunts this lost heir to his vampiric throne, blood of his blood, Leopold Georg the Last of Transylvania.

Trail of Cthulhu: The Mahatmas of Madness

Prince Karl all too accurately recalled Saint-Germain’s words. His mother was a “Tékéli” — something fearful and primordial from the antarctic reaches of the Earth. (Saint-Germain in 1779 also puckishly described his mother’s country as one which had never been ruled by “men of a foreign origin.”)  How she arrived in Vienna in 1691 we may never know: brought on board a Dutch brigantine blown off course south of Cape Horn, perhaps. Saint-Germain finally died in 1784, at the age of ninety, still appearing as a fifty-year-old man. Madame Blavatsky claimed that “The Master Rakoczy” was one of the Hidden Mahatmas or Secret Masters or the Great White Brotherhood — and the cry “tekeli-li” is associated by Poe with the fear of white things. Are the Himalayan White Masters who spawned Saint-Germain the hideous Mi-Go, or gnophkeh worshippers of Ithaqua in Leng? Does the Brotherhood of the Yellow Sign hunt Saint-Germain or his Mother, or seek the secret of immortality hidden in his alien blood? Did Saint-Germain transmigrate his consciousness into a new body, like Ephraim Waite? Did Edward Hutchinson steal his essential saltes from the crypt of St. Nicolas’ church in Eckernforde and resurrect him in “Castle Ferenczy” in Transylvania? Is Saint-Germain’s Mother, like Grendel’s, still lurking somewhere, gravid with a new Secret Master? Send the Investigators to the ruins of Castle Ferenczy in Rakus to dig up some clues, dodge some Romanian Iron Guard sorcerors, and follow the Trail of Saint-Germain wherever it leads.

TimeWatch: The Saint-Germain Variations

Dodgy mystics or occult weirdos really want to find out the truth behind Saint-Germain, and one of them, Elsa Bailly, gets ahold of a time machine. Fearing the Master’s magic, she heads for 1700 Transylvania to kidnap Saint-Germain as a baby — unwittingly spawning the legend of the Lost Heir that Saint-Germain later plays upon to credulous audiences. Is his “magic” just sleight-of-time and paradox? Does he play coy about his past because he grew up outside time, where he learned to grow diamonds and jam with Handel? Are the various Saint-Germain impostors his enemies or his alternate selves? Did Elsa steal the infant Saint-Germain — or an Outer Dark tulpa, or a vampire, or a shoggoth-spawn? This looks like a job — like a lot of jobs — for TimeWatch.

men-in-blackBy Kevin Kulp

The baby had been born three hours ago, healthy and beautiful, and now it was asleep in its mother’s arms.

The three men pushed open her bedroom door, stood there in the doorway, blocking the gaslight from the hall. All three wore identical black suits. Their skin was sallow, almost gray, their jaws were square, and when they spoke through fake-looking teeth it was in a dull monotone. “You have created new life,” one said to the new mother.

The second spoke. “It grows up to act contrary to our desires.”

“Look at it,” said the third. “Memorize its features. You will have less exceptional babies that will not depart. You will not remember this one alive, not when awake. Time is about to change.”

And it did.

By the time the mother started screaming, the three men were nowhere to be seen.

Servants of a False God

In the investigative space opera GUMSHOE game Ashen Stars by Robin D. Laws, one of the playable races is the vas mal. This race of psychic, grey-skinned, large-headed aliens used to be called the vas kra. They were mysterious psychic consciousnesses that spanned the stars, evolved beyond the need for flesh, playing with worlds on a whim and guiding mortal creatures’ development when they so chose. All that changed when the Mohilar War began and the vas kra were de-evolved into a loathsome, frail physical form named the vas mal.

One of the interesting throwaway lines in Ashen Stars is that at least one vas mal has directly interfered with Earth’s development over millennia, playing the role of the devil and possibly pretending to be divine in other religious and supernatural roles as well. That leads to an interesting question. What would Earth be like if the vas kra never intervened at all, and what (if anything) are they shaping our history towards?

At least one vas kra (and not one with humanity’s best interests in mind) has decided to interfere directly with humanity’s history. It does so by creating physical servants when and where they’re needed, using them to alter time and historical events. Their process is slow, but they’re patiently playing a very long game, even if no one but they know what the winning condition is. Challenging their actions can be as dangerous as challenging the servants of a God itself.

Enter La Kreitaj

The most common servants of the vas kra call themselves “La Kreitaj,” which is Esperanto for “The Created.” They often impersonate divine servants – and from their point of view, perhaps they aren’t pretending. La Kreitaj are typically tall men and women who wear black, with sickly skin and unnaturally perfect teeth. They often wear sunglasses to hide their pure black eyes. They speak in monotones, show no fear (it’s thought they can’t comprehend it), and can’t technically be killed; a La Kreitaj whose mortal form is slain forms an identical form somewhere nearby within 30 seconds, although their original corpse remains. La Kreitaj who are slaughtered multiple times leave multiple corpses, possibly confusing law enforcement to happen on the scene after the fight in complete.

La Kreitaj typically carry out their duties with their Rewrite Time power, allowing them to change the past in fairly minor ways while standing in the present. It makes their actions particularly difficult to pin down during a TimeWatch investigation. No one knows why they primarily speak Esperanto. That’s either a joke from the vas kra who forms them, or a clue to a secret no one has yet deciphered.

La Kreitaj Stats

Defense: Hit Threshold 4, Health 8

Offense: Scuffling +2, Shooting +2; Damage Modifier +0 (iron-hard fists), +2 (futuristic beam weapon), Stun 5 plus Destabilize (Rewrite Time – see below)

Abilities: Tempus 15

Special Abilities: Clock Out (cost 2, no time machine needed), Exile (cost 2), Regenerate (cost 0; an identical La Kreitaj appears somewhere nearby within 30 seconds, with full Health and Tempus), Technology (cost 2)

Special: La Kreitaj have a unique ability known as Rewrite Time (cost 3) that they prefer to use over physically injuring a target. A successful weaponless hit with Scuffling or Shooting (Close Range) allows them to change something small in the target’s past, triggering a Stun 5 test as well as a D4/L4 Paradox test. They will typically use this to weaken a target before using Exile to banish it into the distant past and remove it from the relevant time stream.

All La Kreitaj have identical DNA and fingerprints – even when they differ in appearance, sex and personality.

Using La Kreitaj

In the same way that many TV shows have a “monster of the week” interposed against longer-running secrets that last an entire season, La Kreitaj and the goals of the vas kra that backs them make for an excellent multi-session mystery. They typically act in the background, making small and unimportant alterations in the timeline that add up to a momentous change at some point in the future. They resent interference and will act to remove it, although they’re reluctant to kill anyone who isn’t one of their targets.

It’s unknown what goals La Kreitaj have, and what the GM chooses is affected by whether they wish to fold the far-future timeline of Ashen Stars into the TimeWatch timeline. Goals might include:

  • Turning humanity into a vast army to be used by the vas kra against an enemy
  • Ensuring that humanity never join the Galactic Combine (or ensuring that they do)
  • Taking actions that affect whether the Mohilar war ever occurs
  • Prepping humanity for ultimate peace and global consciousness (which might involve the removal of free will)
  • Using humanity as a vast biological computer to answer a philosophical question
  • Raising a psychic food source to later be plundered
  • Focusing all of history to create a single, uniquely talented individual
  • The pure egocentric joy of manipulating an entire species
  • Dismantling (or even creating) TimeWatch

It’s possible for GMs to have La Kreitaj in play without initially deciding on what the vas kra’s true goal is; perhaps it really is ineffable, and the Agents only clash with La Kreitaj when they act against TimeWatch interests. Use this antagonist as a mysterious foil to complicate other mysteries and missions, and let them develop slowly as background threats. With their abilities, there’s no telling who or what they’ve affected.

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