Last Days of the Castaigne Reign

As I type these words, there is about 66 hours left on Pelgrane’s behemoth of a Kickstarter for its Yellow King Roleplaying Game. The success of this fundraiser has been quite impressive — some 35 stretch goals have been smashed through, and the current funding is around £142,000 (which, for comparison purposes is about US $185,000). Even at this level, this campaign is up there with the highest-performing Lovecraftian RPG-related Kickstarters ever run, far surpassing Pelgrane’s previous runaway hit, the Dracula Dossier (approx £88,000) and approaching the territory of Chaosium’s mega-campaign for Horror on the Orient Express, 2nd Edition (US $207,000).

Despite having met a whole stack of stretch goals, the campaign still has more up its sleeve … and the very next one is something near and dear to our hearts. To quote the campaign page itself:

£143,000: Perfectly Normal Handouts  

A band logo that incorporates the Yellow Sign. A disturbing infographic ripped from a corporate prospectus. A handbill for a club where the soultakers prowl. If we hit this stretch goal, document artiste extraordinaire Dean Engelhardt will take a break from his work on Absinthe in Carcosa to create 6 pages of modern handouts for This is Normal Now. NOTE TO ALL CAT TOBINS READING THIS: these will all appear in the book, and GMs will print them out from their PDFs, no actual physical document creation or tea-staining required.

This goal is only a few hundred pounds from being met, so hopefully with a few days still to go it will safely be surpassed … and then the fun can really begin.

[As an aside: in case anyone is wondering, the “note to all Cat Tobins” is a sly reference to the gruelling task of creating physical versions of our Hawkins Paper props, part of the previous Pelgrane KS. While digitally creating a bunch of aged documents is easy for us, making a few hundred packs of physical versions was (shall we say) quite a bit of effort. Most of this was done by the hard-working Cat Tobin, co-publisher of Pelgrane and document tea-staining expert par excellence.]

One of the other great things about this Kickstarter is that quite a substantial amount of Robin Laws’ text for all four books already exists — and backers get access to this “early draft” as soon as they back. If you signed up and haven’t grabbed your copy of these PDFs, check out this update for the link (after you’ve logged in to KS of course). Having now had a chance to read through these hundreds of pages of goodness I can really get a good appreciation of exactly how ambitious Robin’s vision of the game truly is. In some ways its more like four games in one, with each of the four settings re-imagining or expanding on the original ideas of Chambers and others in weird, compelling, and strangely quirky kinds of ways. Even if you have absolutely no intention of ever running a Gumshoe-based game, the concepts and settings that are outlined in this volumes would make amazing fuel for a creative and uniquely refreshing gaming experience in any system you’d care to run. I was particularly impressed by the odd tweaks of “modern day” that make up the last two books — if you’re looking for a oddly-disturbing yet subtle twist on the real-world of 2017, you could do a lot worse than mining these settings for ideas!

Speaking of Kickstarters that are much bigger on the inside, I have also recently found time to look through the quickstart “Cthulhu Dark Zero” that Graham Walmsley released almost immediately after his recent Cthulhu Dark KS closed. Given that the rules to Cthulhu Dark are incredibly lean (the basic rules take up only 2 pages, and even the “extended” version is only a handful) most of the book is occupied by general — and very insightful — advice on how to go about making cool and evocative mystery-based scenarios. Pretty much *all* of this great material would be helpful to gamemasters regardless of whatever system they are running. Looking for helpful tips on avoiding common structural errors in mystery-based scenarios? It’s here. Looking for some cool suggestions for making things feel authentically Lovecraftian? That’s here too. If you’ve ever read Graham’s previous (system agnostic) book, Stealing Cthulhu, you’ll already know how deeply he has delved into the structure of what makes HPL’s tales tick — that deep knowledge goes a long way towards making the advice in Cthulhu Dark Zero just that much more … helpful. Highly recommended for folks who like to roll-their-own Lovecraftian RPG scenarios.

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