Review: Book of Unremitting Horror

Cover of the book of unremitting horror. Shows a creepy creature with long arms grinning menacingly at the viewer

One of the toughest parts of running an investigative horror RPG can be creating interesting monsters to terrorize your players. Unlike adversaries in more combat-oriented RPGs, the baddies in a horror game are more than just stat blocks: they need to have a complete background with hooks to discover in order to complete the investigation. Creating these can often be the most entertaining part of GM-ing games like Fear Itself, but sometimes it’s nice to have something to weave a story around.

That’s where The Book of Unremitting Horror comes in. This book provides a collection of fearsome creatures from your worst nightmares. Each entry provides a background for the creature including a story about a haunting and advice on how to run them in a game. And of course, the book also has stats. These entries are more than just single page write-ups, and can easily form the core of a scenario by themselves. In fact, Megan did this to create the one on one session we released for Halloween in 2015.

The thing is, the monsters and demons on offer in Unremitting Horror aren’t just your run of the mill catalog of things that go bump in the night. There are very unique manifestations of common tropes and urban legends that make for genuinely creepy reading. They include things like the Kooks, creatures that retain their immortality by feeding on the essence of young children, the Blossomer, a demon summoned by angsty teenagers in a fit of sex and cannibalism, and Sisterides, basically an MRA’s fears given form.

This book is a treasure trove of the sorts of horrifying moments that make Fear Itself, Esoterrorists and games like them so memorable. Some of the creatures featured in the book are used in the scenario Invasive Procedures, which The Redacted Files played in two parts. Another is featured in the one on one session entitled Soliloquy.

The book comes in both Gumshoe and d20 variants. We plan on using several of the entries in this book to terrorize our cast in the near future. We highly recommend you check it out and pick up a copy to inflict on your unsuspecting friends. You can purchase it on DriveThruRPG for Gumshoe or d20. It’s also available for purchase from the Pelgrane Press website.

TRF’s Twelve Days of Christmas: Day 11, Cultists

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas
My GM gave to me,
Eleven cultists plotting,
Ten goblins singing,
Nine monstrous shoggoths,
Eight ghosts a-haunting,
Seven mi-go’s buzzing,
Six vampires drinking,
Five meepin’ ghouls!
Four terror birds,
Three planetvores,
Two orks choppin’,
And dread Cthulhu dreaming ‘neath the sea.

A hooded man stands in front of an altar with skulls

Oh cultists, where would be without you: probably at home in bed I expect. But what fun would that be? And I’m sure if we weren’t off ruining your plans for world domination and/or annihilation, I’m sure there’d be something less fun on the agenda like going to a University of Phoenix graduation.

As it is, cultists have generally been the TRF stand-in for stormtroopers. They crop up in Cthulhu games all the time of course, as well as in any fantasy game that goes on for more than a few sessions. Because let’s face it, sometimes there’s nothing more fun than finding someone who disagrees with you, is objectively wrong, and has no legal, moral, or even practical defense to your slings and arrows, much less slaughter accelerators and hand flamers.

Want to encounter them on TRF? You can find them in A Rune Awakening, Scary on the Choo-Choo, and The Wickerman

TRF’s Twelve Days of Christmas

TRF’s Twelve Days of Christmas: Day 8, Ghosts

On the Eighth Day of Christmas
My GM gave to me,
Eight ghosts a-haunting,
Seven mi-go’s buzzing,
Six vampires drinking,
Five meepin’ ghouls!
Four terror birds,
Three planetvores,
Two orks choppin’,
And dread Cthulhu dreaming ‘neath the sea.

A hand appears through opaque glass

Wouldn’t you know it, our little horror-themed actual play podcast on occasion features a ghost or two. From haunts in Pathfinder that provoke suicide, to down on their luck taxidermists who don’t realize they’re dead, we’ve had a few run ins with the living impaired this year.

Ghosts can be scary for any number of reasons, from simple jump scares to expressions of personal regret or helplessness. The ghosts we’ve encountered lately have been more in the human interest category, though there was that one that made a PC commmit suicide: that was pretty funny right?

Given how often they turn up in practically every RPG in some form or another, I’d expect more haunting for the foreseeable future.

You can find ghosts in Scary on the Choo-Choo, A Rune Awakening, and Megan Encounters.

TRF’s Twelve Days of Christmas

TRF’s Twelve Days of Christmas: Day 7, Mi-Gos

On the Seventh Day of Christmas
My GM gave to me,
Seven mi-go’s buzzing,
Six vampires drinking,
Five meepin’ ghouls!
Four terror birds,
Three planetvores,
Two orks choppin’,
And dread Cthulhu dreaming ‘neath the sea.

A mi-go holds a brain and text reads "Never let mi-go"

TRF’s roots lie in mythos horror and foremost in the world of Delta Green. Therefore, no chronicle of beasties would be complete without the alien menace that featured so heavily in many of our early adventures and has made recurring appearances since then.

With their unknowable ends and alien plotting, these creatures can pop up anywhere, even the Ninth World. They’re still probably peeved about Pluto’s demotion to dwarf planet status as well, so we wouldn’t bring it up if you run into one at the bar. You might want to see if it can get you a good deal on lightning guns, which we hear work okay at banishing sons of Yogsothoth.

With our intention to begin an ongoing campaign in the new Delta Green RPG just as soon as the core rule book ships, we’d expect to hear more buzzing from the hills before too long. For now, they feature in PX Poker Night and The Madman.

TRF’s Twelve Days of Christmas

TRF’s Twelve Days of Christmas: Day 6, Vampires

On the Sixth Day of Christmas
My GM gave to me,
Six vampires drinking,
Five meepin’ ghouls!
Four terror birds,
Three planetvores,
Two orks choppin’,
And dread Cthulhu dreaming ‘neath the sea.

Lugosi as the classic Dracula

Okay, well our campaign of Night’s Black Agents may have played a little fast and loose with the setting and the rules, but we maintain that everyone had fun along the way, except maybe all the ones who ended up dead. And let’s face it, any confrontation with vampires conducted by a crew operating for TRF is going to get a little messy.

It’s funny to have the embodiments of human temptation and excess form the centerpiece of what is esssentially a power fantasy. But the trick with Night’s Black Agents is that your nominal superpower of being a black ops badass is so carefully constrained, while your adversary has an menu of interesting tricks available to cut you down to size without getting her hair mussed. To beat them, you’ll have to think fast and act smart: something our team managed to do…most of the time.

This campaign will reach its thrilling conclusion next year, at which point we’ll have to come up with another crew of burned agents to torment. I hear Prague is lovely this time of year.

TRF’s Twelve Days of Christmas

TRF’s Twelve Days of Christmas: Day 3, Planetvores

On the Third Day of Christmas
My GM gave to me,
Three planetvores,
Two orks choppin’,
And dread Cthulhu dreaming ‘neath the sea.

A creature opening it's maw to devour a planet

We’ve been big fans of The Strange here at TRF for a good long while. It’s simple, player-facing style of play makes it easy to run, while its setting allows for limitless opportunities to jump from one genre to another with breakneck speed. It’s a great way to get your fantasy, sci-fi and horror fixes all in one night, with the same character sheet. Our first campaign for this finished recording almost a year and a half ago and is scheduled for release in the spring. But for Christmas this year, you can expect a special treat from your favorite crew of homicidal Estate operatives.

What you won’t be getting, hopefully, is a visit from one of these enormous entities defined by their insatiable appetite for destruction. This answer from The Strange as to why we have yet to find signs of intelligent life among the stars makes for a terrific existential threat. Why haven’t we heard from ET yet you might ask: because a Planetvore ate him when his neighbor turned on their worlds first quantum computer.

We’ve only faced one of these so far: it drove one agent more than a little mad, not that anyone noticed. We’ll be sure to poke a few more with a stick before too long, for science.

TRF’s Twelve Days of Christmas

TRF’s Twelve Days of Christmas: Day 2, Orks

On the Second Day of Christmas
My GM gave to me,
Two orks choppin’,
And dread Cthulhu dreaming ‘neath the sea.

A horde of green orks with a yellow sky

With characteristically good timing, TRF decided to go into Warhammer 40k role playing in a big way this summer, just as Fantasy Flight was announcing that they would be losing the license to play in Games Workshop’s playground. While this means there won’t be more content coming in their numerous and varied lines of grim dark sci-fi tabletop experiences, it hasn’t stopped us from enjoying the brutal combat of Only War or the brutal intrigues of Dark Heresy, and perhaps before long the brutal profiteering of Rogue Trader, all brutally of course.

And speaking of brutality, nothing embodies the concept more clearly than our friends the Orks. These often cartoonish foils for the Imperium of Man give players something suitably over the top to combat with their machine gun rocket launchers and chainsaw broadswords. So thank you Orks for your generous contribution to our role playing landscape this year. We’ll be sure to put your Christmas card in a red envelope so it gets to you faster.

We encountered Orks in Only War: Jungle Death Worlds are the Worst

TRF’s Twelve Days of Christmas

Review: Delta Green Agent’s Handbook

Delta Green Agent Handbook Cover. Shows a man looking fearfully to the side in the woods, while carrying a book.

The designer of Red Markets and long-time contributor to Role-Playing Public Radio Caleb Stokes once remarked that games like Call of Cthulhu are, contrary to popular belief, just as escapist as your stereotypical sword-wielding adventuring fantasy, only in a different way. I couldn’t agree more, and I love them for it. I first came to tabletop role-playing a little after I’d just gone blind. Well, I’d been pretty much blind as far as most people were concerned for quite a while. But Where before I’d been able to make out shapes, perceive color and detect motion, now I truly, functionally could not see. I felt frail and small and decidedly mortal. And then I found a podcast feed from something called The Unspeakable Oath, with actual play recordings of a game called Delta Green.

This variant of Call of Cthulhu starred members of a conspiracy within the United States federal government who conducted investigations within investigations, concealed evidence while trying to find the horrible truth, discredited witnesses of the unnatural, and served as the only effective defense against things man was not meant to know. It was a hard game, one that challenged you to play smart and watch out for any angle because the odds of emerging with your body and sanity intact were already vanishingly small. And therein lies the escapism: with the whole world, the uncaring cosmos arrayed against you in all its apathetic splendor, you play a puny human that goes out into the dark to fight the monsters with nothing but a Glock, a fake ID and the knowledge that you can only ever forestall the inevitable, because if you don’t do it, no one else will. Fuck the odds, humanity is still here and will be until these agents are dead at least, because that’s what it means to be Delta Green. It was a setting whose fatalism and sense of gallows humor appealed to me. So imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the books from which these games were run had been published more than a decade before and long since disappeared from store shelves. That would change of course, with the advent of electronic sales and print on demand, Delta Green could be had again, but too there was talk of more. Delta Green would rise again.

And now it has, in the form of an entirely standalone product with its own line of hardcover releases scheduled through this year and the next at the very least. Born of Kickstarter and gifted with the depressingly rich world of Post-9/11 covert operations to muck around with for background, the new Delta Green RPG promises a thrilling new world of modern mythos horror for your agents to die in: nihilists rejoice!

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Megan and Aser go to GenCon 2016

Megan and I have been wanting to go to GenCon for a long time. This gathering of all things gaming and everything remotely related descends on Indianapolis for an extended weekend of gaming, gorging and oh so much spending. Indianapolis seems to love it: probably because this plague of locusts tips better than most.

Megan and Aser at start of GenCon

I think we’re modest folks by and large, but we were pretty ambitious for our first major con. Our plan called for GMing three games and about two hours of game demos for Monte Cook Games, not to mention a few panels, all while staging out of a hotel in the outskirts of the city, we had this. Luckily for us, we had help, which honestly bailed us out of a jam or two in the four days we were there. Matt and Mike of MAMS Gaming have built up a truly spectacular organization of GMs that run events at GenCon with a level of quality and service that really stands out from the usual fare. I’d say this even if They weren’t podcast regulars and we weren’t running games for them. If you’re going to GenCon, I highly encourage you to check out their games to see if they’re running anything you’re interested in.
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A huge thanks from Megan and Aser

Megan and Aser hold out a Cthulhu statue after their wedding.

Megan and Aser would like to thank all the people on social media that have sent them their best wishes and congratulations. We hope TRF has helped you find a fraction of the happiness it has spawned in us, for you would then be very happy indeed.

Megan is in the process of moving to California, to make it harder for them to electronically eavesdrop on the happy new couple’s whispered conspiracies, so the release schedule will be disrupted for a time yet. But oh dear reader, when the time is right… Well, that would be telling. 🙂