Review: Eternal Lies Suite

Eternal Lies Suite I love using music in roleplaying games since my first GM used the “Nightmare on Elm Street” soundtrack in a CHILL game he was running. Before that we had no background music but I can remember no session without it after that. Music can touch you at a deeper level than the spoken word can and it’s great to convey emotions.

I am also a big fan of the GUMSHOE system. Robin D. Laws is one of my favorite game designers and in my opinion GUMSHOE is the perfect system for investigative campaigns of all kinds. So when I read that James Semple had created music for both Trail of Cthulhu and Esoterrorists I had to buy it immediately. Both Dissonance for Esoterrorists and Four Shadows for Trail are great soundtracks albeit a bit short.

But James Semple, his team (Marie-Anne Fischer, Mike Torr, and Yaiza Varona) and Pelgrane Press didn’t stop there. Recently they released the Eternal Lies Suite as soundtrack for the Eternal Lies campaign for Trail of Cthulhu. I haven’t had the chance to look at said campaign but I had to buy the soundtrack as soon as it became available at the Pelgrane Press online shop.

The soundtrack consists of 27 tracks of orchestrated music. Some of the tracks feature additional sound samples like wind, breathing, etc. but this never distracts from the beautiful music. I own a couple of soundtracks by Midnight Syndicate where the samples actually are quite distracting especially when used as background music. But this is not the case here.

The majority of the tracks are orchestral pieces like you would expect from a horror movie soundtrack. Especially the longer pieces work great as background music for any horror roleplaying game. The last few tracks on the soundtrack are obviously meant for special situations like chases, dangerous situations, and are aptly named "Run!”, “Danger”, “Tension” etc. But I think you could still use those in the background as well.

The soundtrack is available as download as well as on CD and is highly recommended not only for Trail but for any period horror game. According to the official product description the soundtrack was created in a way that you can loop it unobtrusively and the action tracks can be shuffled randomly but still blend seamlessly. I have to admit I haven’t tried that yet, but I will surely do so when I run my next horror game.

You can listen to a sample of the soundtrack here:

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You can buy the Eternal Lies Suite as download or CD at the Pelgrane Press Store which sets you back $14.95 or $18.95 respectively. Alternatively the download version is available at DriveThruRPG as well.

First look: Interface Zero (Savage Worlds Edition)

Interface Zero Savage Worlds is among my favorite roleplaying game systems and I was quite happy when I heard that Gun Metal Games was going to release their excellent Interface Zero setting for it. Interface Zero is a modern cyberpunk setting which takes the technological advances of the last decades into account. The problem of most available cyberpunk setting is that they are based on an early 1980s understanding of computer technology. When William Gibson wrote Neuromancer he probably couldn’t imagine the wireless computing we have today. But I digress.

The 301-paged book which is also available as PDF at DriveThruRPG not only contains a highly detailed cyberpunk world set into the year 2088 but also adds several subsystems to the Savage World rules. So even if you’re not going to use the implied setting, you still can make use of the cyberpunk rules for example. Alas these new rules add an additional layer of complexity to the Savage Worlds rules which may not be to everyone’s liking.


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Campaign Primer Ideas! Part 2

Now that I’ve started writing about this I can’t stop. Here is the thing, on a previous post I was musing about the “campaign primer”, the way to introduce your campaign to your prospective players, inspired by Shinobicow’s excellent series on World Building.

In his series, specifically Part 8 he talks about this and touches upon the elevator speech, or elevator pitch, call it what you may. And I think this is particularly appropriate, the idea is to communicate the “value proposition”, in layman’s terms, why this campaign is right for you! Having worked in sales I can understand the value of this type of communication. Precise, succinct, to the point, and there is something to be said for getting your point across in a distilled form. It forces you to take a hard look at the campaign and reduce it to its salient features.

Of course, being creative types who have (probably) worked on this campaign for hours upon hours, you want to share every exciting detail with the players. My advice, be patient, there will be time for this. If you indulge my digression here for a moment, patience is also a valuable skill for a Game Master. In our modern “instant gratification” culture we want all the excitement and we want it right now, but if you pace yourself, set up plots and introduce information little by little not only will you have the satisfaction when it all comes together down the line, but you will keep your players engrossed and interested, coming back to your game for more.

But back to the task at hand, how do we apply this to the campaign primer. Ok let me recapitulate from the last post and give some structure to this:

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