Posted on December 10, 2012 by Megan
The Zalozhniy Quartet provides resources necessary to running a complete campaign utilising the Night’s Black Agents concept and ruleset to the full. It’s not, however, something you can flip through and then run, like the game itself it requires thorough preparation and planning by the Director (GM) in advance, but will repay that effort by inspiring an epic and memorable experience for all involved.
Involving the core concept of the game – a vampire-led conspiracy across post-Cold War Europe – the book presents a detailed Conspyramid (the mechanic used to map the conspiracy player-character agents are combating) that spreads its tentacles from central Europe clear across to Baghdad. Resources provided include allies as well as enemies, locations in several cities, complete city details, maps and an almost bewildering array of events that you can throw at your characters… even some pre-generated ones, of particular use should someone fall by the wayside as the adventures proceed.
Posted on November 16, 2012 by Megan
The Introduction lays out the basic premise. This is not just any spy game. It has a very specific slant, taking the view that in the aftermath of the Cold War a lot of people who’d been earning their keep on the back of the efforts of East and West to monitor (and interfere with) each other now found themselves at a loose end, and had to put their somewhat dubious skills to profitable use in a freelance market – mercenary spies for hire, if you will. Frequent reference is made to movies and TV shows that present the appropriate feel, and if you enjoy them, it’s likely that this game will work for you, at least at the ‘spy’ level. As has been done with other GUMSHOE games, there are various ‘modes’ in which you can run your game and each is denoted by a small symbol – these are used to denote optional rules appropriate to your chosen mode, and other snippets of information useful to that style of game. This allows you to fine-tune the mood of your game so that it becomes precisely what you are after.
Posted on November 2, 2012 by Flames
Night’s Black Agents brings the GUMSHOE engine to the spy thriller genre, combining the propulsive paranoia of movies like Ronin and The Bourne Identity with supernatural horror straight out of Bram Stoker. Investigation is crucial, but it never slows down the action, which explodes with expanded options for bone-crunching combat, high-tech tradecraft, and adrenaline-fueled chases.
Updating classic Gothic terrors for the postmodern age, Night’s Black Agents presents thoroughly modular monstrosity: GMs can build their own vampires, mashup their own minions, kitbash their own conspiracies to suit their personal sense of style and story. Rules options let you set the level of betrayal, grit, and action in your game. Riff from the worked examples or mix and match vampiric abilities, agendas, and assets for a completely custom sanguinary spy saga.
Posted on September 7, 2012 by spikexan
The Book of the Smoke is an oddity. The intentional use would be as an in-game prop for any setting where an occult London would be researched; however, it is best suited for Trail of Cthulhu, particularly the Bookhounds of London (a great read, by the way).
My initial impression of the book was lackluster. The cover is not eye-catching and doesn’t look right for a book from the intended era. The artwork, maps, and photography inside do seem to belong with such a tome though. The layout (single column) strikes the look of a journal. While the end result is fitting, it still proves dull upon examination.
Posted on August 29, 2012 by Flames
13th Age is a new story-focused, dungeon-crawling, owlbear-fighting roleplaying game co-designed by Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet with art by fantasy illustrators Lee Moyer and Aaron McConnell.
Now that the core game is available for pre-order, Rob, Jonathan, Lee and Aaron want nothing more than to keep working together and create the first expansion book for 13th Age. But they they need your help to do it. That’s where the 13 True Ways Kickstarter comes in.
Posted on July 13, 2012 by Monica Valentinelli
This is not a rhetorical statement, dear readers. Vampires are *not* dead. Today, Stone Skin Press shares with you a taste of “Fangs and Formaldehyde,” which was included in the upcoming New Hero anthology. This anthology is part of a Kickstarter for Stone Skin Press – Anthologies of New Fiction.
Why are my vampires different? To be blunt, I wanted a legitimate reason why vampires could not fall in love or get too emotional. In my setting? They die. Not only that, they die horribly. Their death is so terrifying to them, in fact, that the ones who have stuck around for a while strive for ennui just to survive.
Posted on June 20, 2012 by Monica Valentinelli
Posted on June 14, 2012 by Monica Valentinelli
You may have read about my 2011 new releases (which included games, fiction, and non-fiction) or seen the pictures where I showed The Queen of Crows in print.
Well, I’ve had two new releases so far (with a third on the way) and I haven’t really done a good job mentioning what those are. So let me rectify that RIGHT NOW and give you some clues about what’s available for you to either obtain, attain, read, ignore, obsess over or celebrate. (Hah, you get the picture.) There’s a ton more set to debut in third quarter, but until those hit the proverbial digital or physical shelves, can’t say just yet what those are.
Posted on October 7, 2011 by Flames
Ashen Stars is the newest full-length, stand-alone GUMSHOE product from RPG legend, Robin D. Laws.
They call you lasers. Sometimes you’re called scrubbers, regulators, or shinestars. To the lawless denizens of the Bleed, whether they be pirates, gangsters or tyrants, you’re known in less flattering terms. According to official Combine terminology, the members of your hard-bitten starship crew are known as Licensed Autonomous Zone Effectuators. You’re the seasoned freelancers local leaders call when a situation proves too tough, too baffling, or simply too weird to handle on their own. In the abandoned fringe of inhabited planets known as the Bleed, you’re as close to a higher authority as they come.
Posted on September 3, 2011 by Flames
The Repairer of Reputations is a Trail of Cthulhu scenario by Robin D Laws, based on the story of the same name by Robert W. Chambers. It is one of four short horror stories incorporating Chambers’ mythology of The King In Yellow, a decadent play whose publication brings madness and supernatural presences into the world. His mythology was later subsumed into the Cthulhu canon when H. P. Lovecraft, and his circle and later followers, made reference to it in their tales of the mythos.
Trail of Cthulhu: The Repairer of Reputations is available now at the Flames Rising RPGNow Shop.
Posted on August 25, 2011 by spikexan
Graham Walmsley’s The Rending Box is moderate-sized (30 pages with handouts) adventure for Trail of Cthulhu (though it could be modified for Call of Cthulhu with little hassle). While it isn’t an overly challenging adventure, it perhaps puts too much potence into the hands (literally) of the players. Characters will find that Pandora had it easy with her little box.
Huguenin’s artwork is appropriately gruesome for this chapter of the three-scenario Purist adventure. His cover piece is atmospheric while his interior works, such as the lovely Jakob Tulving removing his eyes so that he can see better looks like something from a 1950s pre-code horror comic book cover (that’s a compliment for those who don’t know me). I also love the detailed image of the box itself (a great handout to toss on the table before declaring “this is what will ruin your lives).
Posted on May 18, 2011 by Monica Valentinelli
To enhance your gaming experience for an upcoming Trail of Cthulhu campaign called Eternal Lies, Pelgrane Press has published a collection of songs you can play in the background on a never-ending loop. For this hour-long selection, several composers collaborated with Will Hindmarch and Jeff Tidball to create the atmospheric tracks.
The purpose of the Eternal Lies Suite is to enhance your mood as you play through this campaign. Since Eternal Lies isn’t out yet, we can glean some insight as to the scope of this story — it’s a global adventure that may include two characters named Edgar Job and Henslowe.
Posted on May 6, 2011 by Flames
Pelgrane Week continues with a new design essay by The Big Hoodoo author by Bill White. Bill discusses writing an adventure in 1950s California and other details for Trail of Cthulhu.
I’ve written two adventures for Trail of Cthulhu, a game of Lovecraftian investigation written by Kenneth Hite using Robin Laws’ GUMSHOE system. Both are unusual in that they are set in the 1950s, rather than TOC’s usual 1930s setting (itself one of the features that distinguishes Trail of Cthulhu from its more venerable cousin, Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu, which takes the 1920s as its canonical milieu). The first, called Castle Bravo, is set aboard an aircraft carrier in the South Pacific during nuclear bomb testing at Bikini Atoll. Its appeal is, I think, straightforward: an atomic bomb goes off and the PCs, as the naval and scientific personnel involved, must deal with monstrous emergences in its aftermath.
Posted on May 6, 2011 by Flames
The long-awaited GUMSHOE-in-Space is finally here. Ashen Stars is the newest and biggest GUMSHOE game from RPG legend Robin D Laws. Being GUMSHOE, it is flexible, you can play it as hard sci-fi, space opera or cyberpunk or anything in between.
Available as a pre-pre-order now direct through the Pelgrane Press Online Store. Those who order get a simple PDF now, exclusive fiction, and your name in the credits, and then get the final PDF and a signed and numbered copy on release.
Posted on May 5, 2011 by Flames
Pelgrane Week continues here at Flames Rising with a new design essay by Matthew Sanderson. Matthew tells us about writing the forthcoming The Love of Money scenario for the Esoterrorists RPG.
Looking back now, I think that best describes how the creative process began for me with The Love of Money. It all started with the hunt for an initial concept, a small seed, which then germinated and continued to expand into the final work. That hunt began with me asking myself one question: what would make this an Esoterrorist game? I’ve been playing roleplaying games now for about eleven years and in this time I’ve played in a great many games where I’ve thought it could work really well in another game’s setting. However, when I set about writing an adventure myself, I generally ask myself the question “why this game?” I like to feel that the story has a meaning, that it’s not a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.
Posted on May 5, 2011 by Ray Frazee
The RPG Call of Cthulhu has always seemed, to me, to be a game that a lot of people have played, but few get right. It’s a great game with a rich background, but the few times I’ve played it felt as if gamers had issues trying to fit their character into the world of the early 20th Century, and the efforts often resulted in hilarious incidents, like one player I knew whose character used a 19 year-old female NPC for point-blank .45 target practice and subsequent bloody blow-through wall spraying.
The other thing that’s always felt difficult to bring into the world is the over-all veil of horror that was an intricate part of Lovecraft’s story. Let’s face it: horror is hard to bring to the table. It’s difficult to put into word in such a way that it doesn’t feel like an descriptive afterthought to a game scene.
Posted on May 4, 2011 by Flames
Pelgrane Week continues here at Flames Rising with a new design essay by Paula Dempsey. Paula tells us about writing the Occult London a supplement for the Trail of Cthulhu RPG.
The Origins of the Occult Guide
I can’t recall agreeing to write Augustus Darcy’s Guide to Occult London. The idea was mooted towards the end of 2009 by Simon Rogers of Pelgrane Press and the concept came from him. By then Ken Hite was already working on Bookhounds of London and Simon wanted a guide to occult London in the 1930s to accompany Bookhounds. The back story for the guide, we decided, was that an occultist-about-town, who knew all the personalities in London at that time, was compiling this guide for a mysterious someone amidst murmurings that something very bad was about to happen. Unfortunately, when the occultist, Augustus Darcy, got near the truth he died mysteriously and his writings remained hidden for eighty years until, I believe, a dusty tome was discovered in Simon Rogers’ attic.
Posted on May 4, 2011 by spikexan
Castle Bravo is a tightly focused adventure for Trail of Cthulhu that ties together halfbreed mutants, nuclear bomb testing, and more sanity-blasting goodness. According to the product page on RPGNow.com, this adventure didn’t just go through an in-house playtest. It also went through some actual tabletop playtesting at Dreamation 2010. I mention this only because I enjoy games heavily linked to playtesting (Chad Underkoffler’s Zorcerer of Zo comes to mind). While this game only shows the finished product, it stands as an excellent example of how a well-polished adventure can look.
Posted on May 3, 2011 by Billzilla
Set in one of the most remote places on Earth, the Black Drop is an adventure for Trail of Cthulhu. Investigators, for reasons of their own, are on hand to witness the dismantling of an unsuccessful colonizing effort in the bleak and largely inhospitable Kerguelen Islands in the southern Indian Ocean. There are rumors that the Kerguelens were once part of an ancient continent: a place of advanced learning and magic – Lemuria. Something ancient stirs beneath these islands – something unwholesome and hungry…
Posted on May 2, 2011 by Flames
Over the years, FlamesRising.com has provided several reviews from games and music produced by Pelgrane Press.
To kick off Pelgrane Press Week today, we dug into our archives. In this round up of our top ten Gumshoe RPG reviews, we highlight your favorite games, supplements and gaming aids.
Take a trip with us into the keep as we remember what we liked (and what we didn’t) about games like Trail of Cthulhu and Mutant City Blues.