About this project
Pelgrane Press is terrified to announce The Yellow King Roleplaying Game, an innovative new GUMSHOE core game written and designed by creator of the system Robin D. Laws. YKRPG takes you on a brain-bending spiral through multiple selves and timelines.
Inspired by Robert W. Chambers’ influential cycle of short stories, YKRPG pits the characters against the reality-altering horror of The King in Yellow. This suppressed play, once read, invites madness. Or a visit from its titular character, an alien ruler intent on invading and remolding our world into a colony of their planet, Carcosa. Four books, served up together in a beautiful slipcase, confront your players with an epic journey into reality horror:
- Belle Epoque Paris, where a printed version of the dread play is first published. Players portray American art students in its absinthe-soaked world, navigating the Parisian demimonde and investigating mysteries involving gargoyles, vampires, and decadent alien royalty. Includes the core rules.
- The Wars, an alternate reality in which the players take on the role of soldiers bogged down in the great European conflict of 1947. While trying to stay alive on an eerie, shifting battlefield, they investigate supernatural mysteries generated by the occult machinations of the Yellow King and his rebellious daughters.
- Aftermath, set later in the same reality, in 2017 North America. A bloody insurrection has toppled a dictatorial regime loyal to Carcosa. Players become former partisans adjusting to ordinary life, trying to build a just society from the ashes of civil war. But not all of the monsters have been thoroughly banished—and like it or not, they’re the ones with the skills to hunt them and finish them off.
- This is Normal Now. In the 2017 we know, albeit one subtly permeated by supernatural beings and maddening reality shifts, ordinary people band together, slowly realizing that they are the key to ending a menace spanning eras and realities.
New GUMSHOE features include:
- A completely new player-facing combat system.
- A fresh, evocative approach to wounds, physical and psychic, inspired by the innovations of GUMSHOE One-2-One.
- Linked character creation across multiple settings.
The Yellow King Roleplaying Game. The core game. Four books in 6" x 9" format, grouped together in a gorgeous slipcase: Paris; The Wars, Aftermath, and This Is Normal Now. Core rules appear in the Paris book, with brief setting-specific rules sections in the other three. The beautiful and ingenious slipcase includes a GM screen. Although dabblers can get just a PDF of Paris book by pledging at the introductory Dauber tier, the four books are not sold separately. When you purchase The Yellow King Roleplaying Game, you get the complete set of four.
Absinthe in Carcosa. The sourcebook. 1895 Paris cries out for a city guide, and this is it—a player-facing world artifact presented as a scrapbook created by an art student just like the characters. Brought to stunning full-color life by document wizard Dean Engelhardt (The Hawkins Papers) this book compiles public domain period sources, intriguing ephemera, and a raft of troubling Carcosan ramblings written by Robin, each ready to springboard into a scenario premise.
The Missing and the Lost. The novel. Set in the Aftermath reality, this new work of fiction by Robin features the return of a favorite character from his previous short story collection, New Tales of the Yellow Sign. The man called the Repairer wants to forget what he did in the rebellion, and everything he knows about the care and maintenance of Government Lethal Chambers. But traces of Carcosa still stir in the ruined places of America, and they have other ideas.
- The core game comes in three editions:
- Standard Edition: Hardback covers for all four books. The version you'll later see in your local store.
- Deluxe Edition: Leatherette covers for all four books, with signed bookplate. These will not be available at retail stores.
- Ultra-Limited: Hand-altered Deluxe Editions, signed and numbered, with hand annotations and pasted-in documents and ephemera, each one unique. Only 10 copies will be sold, and these will only be available in pledge levels.
The standard edition of the Absinthe in Carcosa sourcebook is a hardcover; the deluxe limited has a leatherette cover.
The standard edition of the novel is a softcover; the deluxe a clothbound cover with dust jacket.
As soon as you pledge, at any level, you gain immediate download access to a PDF preview document of the game in its current work-in-progress draft form. You'll be able to play right away—and, if you're inclined to help us out further, send us playtest feedback to help us refine and improve the final game.
To get your preview document, make your pledge, then go to Backer Update #1 to access the link.
What's that? You're a member of the Shut Up and Take My Money Club? Find the tier you need to get the products you want with the aid of this not-at-all madness inducing infographic.
You will always find the best price within the Kickstarter tiers. Price per item is lower here now than it will be in Backerkit or in retail.
PRICES DO NOT INCLUDE SHIPPING.
Instead we will charge you the actual cost of shipping to your territory when your package is ready to ship.
Shipping charges fluctuate over time and can differ greatly between destinations. Customized shipping, charged through Backerkit at time of fulfillment, allows us to get you the best deal. Otherwise we'd wind up overcharging some of you.
The stamp of the Castaigne regime tells us what our intrepid backers have already funded. Check here for detailed descriptions of the first fifteen funded stretch goals.
WHAT OTHER TERRORS LURK IN THE STRETCH GOAL LIST DURING THESE LAST FEW HOURS, you ask?
Why, the list goes something like this:
£171,000: Frontline Frights
If Paris gets more monsters, why we’d better arrange these stretch goals so The Wars is next in line. Add foe profiles to haunt the fervid dream of any grunt, from the revolting flybeast to the softly whispering wound eater and the all-too-persuasive meat gun. Loose lips may sink ships, but loose wallets are the only way to fell this creaturiffic stretch goal.
£175,000: The Rest of the World News
It doesn’t much impinge on the action of Aftermath, but if you set an alternate history in front of your players, some of them are gonna hunger for some extraneous detail. Should you cause it to exist, this section will aid you in explaining how the Continental War came out in Europe and what happened after that. As post-Castaigne American reopens to the rest of the world, this section arms you for the surprises and horrors that flood back in after a century of insularity. Stamp this stretch goal’s passport and take this reality’s altered timeline global.
£179,000: Mythos Shocks
You’ve already captured the Cthulhu Crossover PDF, allowing those of you who are so inclined to add a bit of HPL back into their Yellow King game. That gives you the basic creatures. But what of the mental hazards suffered when the investigators encounter manifestations of the Outer Gods, or read forbidden tomes like the Necronomicon? Backers above the Dauber level gain this PDF assortment of Lovecraftian Shock cards. Dare you examine the Shock cards humanity was not meant to know?
£183,000: Sinister Synergies
Add five more sinister organizations to generate weird mysteries for your This is Normal Now characters to investigate. From the hypnotic cosmeticians of Blandish to the bro-cult executives of nUDGE, these groups, deeply financed and huffing the fumes of Carcosa, tighten their grip on an unsuspecting populace. Make a big ask of this stretch goal and maximize your core King in Yellow competencies.
£187,000: Wheel of Stretch Goals
If we get all the way to this point, our brains will have melted, with the King in Yellow pounding on the door. Creative decision-making? Forget about it! Time to let fate, undoubtedly manipulated by that alien monarch, decide what happens from that point on.
When we pass the threshold that unlocks the previous stretch goal, the penultimate digit of our total result when we hit that tick-over* becomes a randomizer. It tells us which of the following gets added to the game:
1. More Paris creatures
2. More The Wars creatures
3. More Aftermath creatures
4. More This is Normal Now creatures
5. More Paris people
6. More The Wars weaponry
7. More Aftermath old regime weapons
8. This Is Normal Now story hooks
9. More GM advice (appears in This is Normal Now)
0. Aftermath story hooks
When we unlock one item, the wheel spins yet again, in £4,000 increments, until the deadline claxon rings and it is 8:01 pm Eastern on Friday July 21st. Only then will the king stand truly unmasked.
*As seen by Robin when he first notices the crossing of a threshold.
Various incarnations of each YKRPG team member have scoured the ruins of time and reality to bring you the best in literary horror roleplaying.
Game designer and writer Robin D. Laws brought you such roleplaying games as Hillfolk, Feng Shui, The Esoterrorists, and Cthulhu Confidential. He is the author of eight novels plus the short story collection New Tales of the Yellow Sign, and has edited five original short fiction anthologies. Robin is the winner of five Gold and five Silver ENnie Awards and the coveted Diana Jones Award. His works have been translated into ten languages. Hear his soothing voice on the weekly podcast Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff.
Rachel Kahn, an illustrator and cartoonist with a love of heavy metal, megafauna, and mighty-thewed barbarians, illustrates and creates concept art for indie and small-press games and fiction. Check out her comics Orin and the Dead Man's Sword and By Crom. She'll be illustrating Paris.
The Wars illustrator Melissa Gay is an award-winning gallery artist and RPG illustrator. Credits include The Dresden Files, Night’s Black Agents, Trail of Cthulhu, and Part-Time Gods. A former scientific illustrator, she constantly seeks the perfect balance between precise detail and hazy obscurity to better engage the imagination of the viewer.
The arresting works of Aftermath illustrator Jessica TC Lee appear in books, magazines, AAA mobile games, and card games. Key credits include League of War: Mercenaries, My Horse and HEX. Her art was featured on ImagineFX, and she also published two tutorials on 3D Creative and 2D Artist.
This is Normal Now illustrator Aaron Aurelio Acevedo is a full-time artist, art director, and game designer living in New York. He is most widely known for his work in the tabletop games industry. He's currently art director for Pinnacle Entertainment Group, an illustrator for Savage Mojo, and he owns and operates an art production studio, Sigil Entertainment Group. Among his many credits are A Song of Ice & Fire, Call of Cthulhu, and Legend of the Five Rings.
Dean Engelhardt, document artist for Absinthe in Carcosa, is a freelance designer, cartographer, writer, and small-time indie publisher. His graphical interests lie in the creation of detailed and period-authentic replicas of period documents. In some circles this would make him an art forger, but thankfully the RPG industry has more productive uses for those skills. Dean's prop-documents played a big part in Pelgrane scooping a gold ENnie in 2016 for The Hawkins Papers. His work can also be found illustrating books published by Chaosium, Stygian Fox, Sixtystone Press, Glass-Free Games, and his own imprint, Cthulhu Reborn.
Award-winning design director and graphic designer Christian Knutsson co-created and art directed the roleplaying game Operation: Fallen Reich. When he’s not trying to design typefaces he spends his time making video games as a one-person development studio. Pelgrane fans know Christian's graphic designs from Hillfolk and Cthulhu Confidential.
Cat Tobin, Managing Director and co-owner of Pelgrane Press, oversees all aspects of book production from grand strategy to how much weight the card stock on that slipcase will hold. She will have all of your cheesy potatoes, thank you, and much of your coffee.
Passionate despiser of squirrels Simon Rogers makes an excellent sticky toffee pudding. The co-founder and joint owner of Pelgrane Press, he shares the responsibility with Cat for company strategy, new projects and creative development.
Alex Roberts is a glowing ball of pure gaming energy and the Production Assistant here at Pelgrane. She'll be helping out with every aspect of production, from marketing to distribution, as well as responding to all your customer service needs. Her interests include pretty dresses, sparkling wine, and putting too many exclamation marks in her business correspondence.
Wade Rockett gurus the heck out of Pelgrane community relations and marketing—a role he attained by, in his words, “being one of the few PR people whom game designers know and can tolerate.” Also a game designer, writer, and editor, his credits include Temple of the Sun Cabal and the 13th Age Game Master’s Screen & Resource Book.
Risks and challenges
The game text is already 88% complete and ready for playtesting. A prolific and experienced game designer with a track record of hitting deadlines, Robin has set a schedule he can meet, and set conservative schedules for his creative collaborators.
Pelgrane Press is a successful and well-established publisher with several fulfilled Kickstarters under its belt. Adding additional collaborators through stretch goals can introduce scheduling delays, but the worst-case scenario is minor slippage in the delivery date.
Pelgrane Press has an established relationship with our printing and distribution partners, minimizing the possibility of printing errors and delays.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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