The GUMSHOE System Reference Document

As a result of the Hillfolk Kickstarter, the GUMSHOE system is now available under the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution Unported License. And thanks to the Yellow King RPG Kickstarter, the document has been updated to include GUMSHOE One-2-One and QuickShock GUMSHOE.

The document is a reference for game designers, and is not tuned to teach the game, or provide a playable game experience.

If you’re looking for a playable game, seek out Pelgrane Press titles such as this list. Or watch for games the users of this license will build with it.

Version History

Version 3, released 3rd February 2020, includes The Yellow King Roleplaying Game, QuickShock, and GUMSHOE One-2-One content.

41 Responses to “The GUMSHOE System Reference Document”

  1. Nook says:

    This is cool. Thanks guys, and thanks all you Hillfolk backers.
    Quick question for the initiated: what’s the difference between the OGL and CC versions?

  2. Martin says:

    Does this also cover Lorefinder? It is not mentioned by name in either of the licenses.

    • Simon Rogers says:

      No, not sure how that would interact with Pathfinder in any case

      • Martin says:

        Pathfinder is released under the OGL, so using Pathfinder OGL material is fine. Lorefinder included a copy of the OGL on the final page – but only the drives (p12-14) were called out as open content.

        Handy to know that the GUMSHOE OGL and CC licenses do not cover Lorefinder. Thanks.

  3. PMermoud says:

    May I suggest one correction ?
    The “Tests” section only mentions the use of a 6-sided die. The section under “Simple test” in Esoterrorists (p 32 of E1, p 37 of FI) explaining how this die is used should probably be added in the SRD, shouldn’t it ?

  4. […] a wildly successful Kickstarter, the mechanics of the game are available to download for free.  Grab yourself a copy of the GumShoe SRD!  GumShoe ensures the heroes get the basic clues they need to move through the story.  What the […]

  5. Chuck Durfee says:

    The description of the Craft ability makes reference to the Art ability, but the Art ability is not in the SRD. Should it be?

  6. […] GUMSHOE SRD – […]

  7. TimH says:

    Would it be possible to post these as PDFs or another format that doesn’t require an office suite (open or otherwise)?

  8. […] GUMSHOE System by Pelgrane Press (Creative Commons and Open Game License): This is an investigation system that has been used for games ranging from supernatural government hunters to weak human Cthulhu diggers (and even Vampire Secret Agents! … I think). It focuses heavily on clues and investigation. But actually is worth a look over if you like horror/clue hunting games (a big draw for me to this one is how investigating always succeeds! So no matter how bad you roll, you are still on the plot train!). […]

  9. Does the OGL license includes translation into another language (French)?

  10. […] /// Le SRD du système Gumshoe est désormais en OGL et en Creative Commons à cette adresse : /// UPDATE […]

  11. Travis Casey says:

    Your use of the Creative Commons License is in violation of the license. It plainly states: “No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.” However, in your CC-licensed document, you have “”The Esoterrorists”, “Mutant City Blues”, “Ashen Stars”, “Fear Itself”, “Trail of Cthulhu”, and “Nights Black Agents” are trademarks of Pelgrane Press. This license does not grant permission to use these trademarks. You may not include them in your derivative works.”

    Since the law in general allows use of others’ trademarks to indicate compatibility with their works, your statement that “You may not include them in your derivative works” is adding an additional restriction, which is not allowed by the Creative Commons License you’re using.

  12. […] The GUMSHOE System […]

  13. […] The main mechanical innovation that the GUMSHOE engine introduced to gaming is simple: players don’t need to roll to find information. If you have an investigative skill, you automatically get information relating to it when it presents itself. It doesn’t automatically solve mysteries — that is still up to the players — but the players don’t have to worry about not finding the clues they need, and instead, they can focus on putting the puzzle pieces together. While it may sound like it’s over-simplifying the game, most GMs have run into the frustration of trying to give a clue to the players and having all them fail their dice rolls, which leaves you mentally scrambling to figure out how to give out that clue somewhere else. The concept is steadily being adopted by more and more RPGs, such as the upcoming Delta Green RPG, you guessed it, we have done a review (Do You Want to Know More). If you’re curious how these games work, read any of our reviews of GUMSHOE based games or check out the OGL rules from Pelgrane Press. […]

    • Anon says:

      Yes, one thing very clever about this system is the ease of finding clues. It suits Scooby-Doo styled adventures well, the characters finding clues very easily and haphazardly, leaving most of the show to exploring new areas, meeting new suspects, chases, and setting a trap. Nobody wants to spend fifteen minutes rolling to see if a clue is under each chair in a room.

  14. Palin says:

    Hello there,
    it seems the CC PDF link is broken, usual 404 message from nginx.

    Link points to:


  15. Bacchos84 says:

    Can I adapt the Gumshoe rules to other OGL systems and sell it, as Lorefinder does with Pathfinder?
    Thank you!

  16. Tibor says:

    Hi guys,

    Locksmith is an investigative ability.
    Usually Locksmith would an average get no more than 4 points.

    Burglary (or Infiltration) is a General ability.
    This can get up to 8 points.

    Locksmith has the added text that some locks “require actual tests against Difficulty”.
    Does this mean that you suggest some players to put more than 4 points in Locksmith?
    Or do you mean that Locksmith characters should ALSO put points in Burglary to be able to check vs difficulty?

    Otherwise a lock of let’s say 10 will rarely be cracked by a 4 point locksmith character, while an 8 point burglary character would almost always crack it.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts and intentions on this.

    Kind regards,

  17. […] when the Gumshoe SRD was released, I used it to start writing a game, which I envisioned as an intrigue heavy Political […]

  18. Hector Trelane says:

    When will this be updated to include the Quickshock system? Eager to try it as a conversion to a conventional GUMSHOE game.

  19. Hector Trelane says:

    Will this SRD be updated to include the Quickshock system soon? I’m excited to try out those mechanics in a traditional GUMSHOE game.

  20. Fabrizio Tronci says:

    Can I convert the SRD to epub?

    • Becky Smith says:

      Hi Fabrizio. You can do whatever you want to this, as long as you don’t republish it elsewhere. Thanks, Becky.

      • Aaron F Stanton says:

        The CC 3 unported license explicitly allows people to share this, provided they attribute it properly. Please read the license.

  21. C.S. McKinney says:

    Errrr…. what happened to the OGL version(s)? I understand that they might not have had additional material added to them like the CC versions, but wasn’t there at least one updated OGL version?

    • Becky Smith says:

      There was an OGL version, but we’ve decided not to continue updating that one, and are moving forward with just the CC version. Thanks, Becky.

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