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If you’ve been playing roleplaying games beyond D&D for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of Pelgrane Press. From 13th Age to a wide array of GUMSHOE products featuring the Cthulhu Mythos, vampires fighting super spies, and time-traveling hijinks, Pelgrane has been a force to be reckoned with. Managing Director Cat Tobin was gracious enough to answer a few questions about Pelgrane Press’ fantastic 2017, and what’s shaping up to be an even better 2018.
The past year has been great for Pelgrane Press, with the release of the Bestiary 2 and completion of the Battle Scenes series for 13th Age, Cthulhu Confidential, #Feminism, and a very successful Kickstarter campaign for The Yellow King. What big projects are you excited about for this year?
2017 was a record year for us, and I think 2018 is going to be even bigger for Pelgrane. The reason for that are the two projects I’m most excited about. The first is Fall of Delta Green. This is Kenneth Hite’s 1960s setting, which adapts Arc Dream’s intense thriller Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game for the GUMSHOE system. The 1960s brought us the moon landing, war in Vietnam, and counterculture in Haight-Ashbury, and so this decade offers a wealth of roleplaying opportunities to investigate through the twisted lens of the Delta Green mythos. I knew this was a great match of setting and system when I playtested the game, but it wasn’t until I saw the amazing art and design that Jen McCleary brought to the interior layout that I realised it was going to be one of the best books we’ve ever published on all metrics. I can’t wait for this to be released.
The other project I’m excited about is the delivery of Robin D. Laws’ The Yellow King RPG. This is a four-book core set, featuring the main rules – a streamlined version of GUMSHOE that we’re calling the Quick Shock system – in with the earliest setting, the Belle Epoque Paris featured in Robert W. Chambers’ original short stories. As a four-book set in a slipcase, it’s the most significant core book we’ve done, and Robin’s chosen top artists to illustrate it - Aaron Acevedo, Melissa Gay, Rachel Kahn, and Jessica Lee - so the art is stellar. Robin’s nearly finished the writing now, and most of the art is done, so we’re currently on track to have this to Kickstarter backers before December. Dean Engelhardt, who you might remember designed The Hawkins Papers for the Dracula Dossier for us, has now finished Absinthe in Carcosa, an in-world supplement for The Yellow King RPG. I think it’s no exaggeration to say that Dean’s an industry leader at producing realistic aged documents, and he doesn’t disappoint in Absinthe.
Outside of Night’s Black Agents: SOLO, will GUMSHOE One-2-One be expanding to any other properties?
Cthulhu Confidential really scratched an itch for a lot of people who were looking for games to introduce partners to roleplaying, and its two-person format makes it really easy to run games online, too, so it has a lot of potential. The solo protagonist is a classic of both genre and non-genre media, and so the problem we have is too much choice of which setting to adapt next!
I really like Agatha Christie’s work, and I’d love to do something like a Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot One-2-One setting. I’m very keen to do a non-genre One-2-One book, so that’s likely up next after Night’s Black Agents: SOLO. Our writers have pitched at least half a dozen other projects for One-2-One, so there’s definitely more settings coming!
First with Seven Wonders in 2016, and more recently with #Feminism in 2017, it seems like Pelgrane is moving more into micro game anthologies. Do you have plans for any this year, and what themes would you like to explore in future anthologies?
That’s a great question. We don’t plan it, but every now and again, one of us come across a game in the experimental/micro-game space that really grabs our interest; for me, Becky Annison’s When the Dark is Gone inspired the Seven Wonders anthology, and when I heard that #Feminism, which I wrote a nano-game for, was looking for a new publishing home, I jumped on it immediately – that’s a project that really resonates with our company goals. Recently, Simon’s played Steve Dempsey’s Da’Zoon, which is a GUMSHOE-lite system which distributes some elements of world creation to the players, and he really likes it, so that might end up on the publishing schedule as part of an anthology or setting collection. Simon and I have both playtested Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan’s drone, which is a futuristic short game, where three players play controllers of a reanimated drone, played by the fourth player. It’s got a solid core, and we’re likely to end up publishing that in some format, too, although likely not as an anthology.
In terms of actual plans, we’re seriously considering two anthologies featuring our systems; the first, a new anthology of DramaSystem Series Pitches, and the second, an anthology of short GUMSHOE games. These are both longer-term projects, and likely to be next year or the year after, though.
One of the big successes for you last year was The Yellow King. What one big tip can you give to others who may be looking to fund their own projects through Kickstarter?
A thing I always say about Kickstarters is that you have to bring your own audience. Unfunded Kickstarters are often the result of creators who’ve set up a campaign and then sat back, expecting an audience to show up. That’s not how it works! You have to establish a fanbase, and get them really excited about your project, before you Kickstart it. Then once you’re up and running, tell everyone about it. Talk about it on your social media channels. Share previews with reviewers and popular online hangouts for your target market. Which brings me to another point – make it look good. Your video and sample art are the things most likely to get your campaign shared, so make them as professional and slick as you possibly can.
What conventions will Pelgrane Press be making appearances at this year? Can we expect to see any Pelgranistas at HLGCon in October?
We always have a booth at three conventions: Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio; Gen Con in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Dragonmeet in London, UK. Last year, we also had a booth at PAX Unplugged in Philadelphia, and we’re likely to be back there again this year. I love going to conventions, and I always try to get to one of the Double Exposure conventions in Morristown, New Jersey. So you never know – I might stop by HLGCon on the way!
Check out Pelgrane Press’ website here, and their DriveThruRPG products here.
Phil Pepin is a history-reading, science-loving, head-banging, river-running nerd, who would like nothing more than to cuddle with his pups and wife.
Picture Reference: http://site.pelgranepress.com/index.php/about-us/
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.