Gothic Horror in Print

Two topics which get mentioned a lot on this blog are the Ubiquity Roleplaying System and Triple Ace Games. A third topic of note is Horror. This post is about all three: Triple Ace Games’ ambitious project of releasing an in-depth series of source books for Gothic Horror.

Some History

Unlike many Kickstarter Projects which do not put pen to paper or touch a keyboard in creativity before seeking production funding, Triple Ace Games (hereinafter TAG) always launch their projects with the manuscript(s) in hand, and all the extras and stretch goals written to boot. Being a two-person operation that has survived the perilous RPG industry for many years and produced beloved games, I find that impressive. Even though they are a small company, they still believe in doing things the right way. They still believe in delivering more than we ask for.

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What is Leagues of Gothic Horror?

Gothic Horror is one of those projects. Developed as a setting expansion or replacement for their Ubiquity-powered Leagues of Adventure, a Victorian era game of dangerous exploration and unfettered invention, Leagues of Gothic Horror opens the creaking gates of imagination to spread fear and occult machinations of cruel villains across green and pleasant lands. Comprising a 158-page main setting book, five in-depth and expansive 64-page explorations of classic monsters – and investigations set around them – plus the incredible Guide to London, this series delivers on many, many levels.

The first wave of books has been released digitally and in print. These were the Leagues of Gothic Horror source book, the Guide to Apparitions, and the Guide to Black Magic. The second wave of books has also been released both digitally and in print, and include the Globetrotters Guide to London (incredibly useful for any Victorian era game), and the Guide to Mummies.

What remains of the initial scope of the series are the Guide to Vampires, and the Guide to Shapeshifters. These are, at the time of writing, fully-funded on Kickstarter (campaign ends on Sunday, June 26 for one half of the world or Monday, June 27 if you live in the future like I do). The campaign is nearing its big stretch goal, a huge expansion to the Gothic Horror source book covering a menacing miscellany of monsters, myths, misanthropes, mansions, and mise en scène with which to clothe the naked fear of your Gothic Horror. Like the projects which preceded it, all of these books are already written, laid out, and are now going through their final editorial pass. All that remains is final layout with the art funded by the project. I do not have to take this on faith as I am the one doing the editing.

Part of what makes this series so stellar is the obvious glee in the words of the author, Paul  “Wiggy” Wade-Williams, well-known for his inspiring work on many pulp and fantasy classics for both Ubiquity and Savage Worlds. This is a subject near and dear to his heart, and his passion for the subject matter swirls and flits from page to shadowed page, urging you deeper and deeper into the horrors within.

Leagues of Gothic Horror

As you can see in the images of the Table of Contents from the books above and the video below, this series is well-organized, and covers its topics with care and breadth. The Leagues of Gothic Horror book itself introduces the themes and moods of the genre, discussing villains and villainy, supernatural threats, groups dedicated to learning more or to standing in opposition to such threats, the locations wherein such tales have traditionally been set, and GM advice for invoking all of this at the table. Fairly complete in itself, the book has all you need to get going with a Gothic Horror campaign, including Ubiquity’s optional rules for Horror and Sanity, thematically-appropriate magic and psychic powers, weird science focused specifically on dealing with the supernatural and creatures of the night, volumes of arcane and unholy lore, and frightening opponents for the new archetypes and sample investigators helpfully provided within. To make your presentations of Gothic Horror more personal and powerful, a full list of inspirations and sources are provided good for classic horror fans old and new.

Guides to Classic Monsters

Far more than simple bestiaries or folios of fiendish opposition, the Guides to the Monsters are actual guides to the who, what, when, where, why, and how of unleashing a campaign of Gothic Horror across the imagined empires on our tabletops. Story and campaign seeds abound, and not just in the sections dedicated to them. There are also easy to use tools for designing your own custom versions of classic monster types to get them just right within the framework of Ubiquity and your group. Strange abilities, unusual haunts, curious weaknesses, unholy desires… what has brought the monster out, what can it do, and what can finally lay it to rest?

Print Versions

Having to keep all of this amazing material to myself while I waited for the Kickstarter campaigns to reach fulfillment has been a challenge. The urge to run and write about my own Gothic Horror campaign ideas has been burning hot ever since I first got the chance to look at it in editing. Hearing reports of excitement and frenetic campaign planning come in as people started receiving their PDF copies, and again as the print versions arrived has inflamed the excitement within me all over again.

Gothic Horror Expansion

As I write this, I am looking over the latest draft for the expanded content for Leagues of Gothic Horror. The Expansion, which I have come to think of unofficially as the ‘Guide to Things Left Unsaid,’ covers a surprising amount of new material in its 96 pages.

 

New occult relics are presented, more magic, and more arcane tomes suitable for sparking whole campaigns. There are more creatures and threats to life, safety, sanity, and the sanctity of one’s ancestral estate. Cults, seeds, and a global array of supernatural sites for exploration and investigation. Inspiration is everywhere. As usual, a large number of easy-to-use NPCs and Followers are provided, each replete with personality and possibility.

Over the past few months this tome of new and terrifying ideas has grown and grown, both in cleverness and in page count. Every so often, Wiggy sends me an update with more pages, and more horror per page – much to my delight. Now, he has done so again. With the Kickstarter campaign coming to a close for Vampire and Shapeshifters, there is some doubt that this amazing expansion, the most important of the planned stretch goals, will be reached. Rather than let the material lie fallow and disappoint those who pledged early, Wiggy has instead burned through several nights’ midnight oil to produce an even-further expanded ‘no-art’ version, filling in the spaces left for visual imagery with even more ideas. Those whose pledge includes the possibility of stretch goals will receive this version for free, even if the stretch goal to unlock the expansion is not reached. How is that for exceeding expectations?

Even though TAG is a small company, they still believe in delivering more than we expect, and as history shows, they believe in doing the right thing.

Current Events

If you are reading this after the conclusion of the current Kickstarter, the books are available from the usual sources in PDF, and in both PDF and print from TAG.

If you have come across this post before the Kickstarter campaign closes on the weekend of June 26/27 (depending on dateline) there are pledge levels suited to picking up books you have missed, or jumping in to the whole line easily. The books are of use for any Ubiquity-powered game (although Roan and Space 1889 might be a genre stretch…) and will blend easily with Hollow Earth Expedition, All for One: Regime Diablolique, and Quantum Black. Obviously, they were penned as a part of Leagues of Adventure, so there is a seamless fit there.

If you have any questions or comments about the books, their content, the system, or what sort of things a Gothic Horror campaign might entail, feel free to ask in the comments here, or on Facebook, or G+. I will be happy to give you more of my tuppence, and the author himself might pipe in as well~

Comments
4 Responses to “Gothic Horror in Print”
  1. Carl says:

    Such an interesting sounding game. I love running a good horror game and this sounds like a blast.

  2. Jonathan Pettit says:

    I love the Hollow Earth Expedition (HEX) system for Ubiquity (both from Exile Game Studio) and couldn’t help but go for these options for the horror. And yes, I opted for the catchup sponsorship to get everything back to Leagues of Adventure.

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