Check Out The Cover of Swords of the Serpentine From Pelgrane

Swords of the Serpentine is an upcoming GUMSHOE-powered fantasy game by Kevin Kulp and Emily Dresner. Publisher Pelgrane Press has just shared the cover!


"Swords of the Serpentine is a sword & sorcery game of investigation, heroism, sly politics and bloody savagery, set in a fantasy city rife with skullduggery and death. The rules adapt the GUMSHOE investigative roleplaying system to create a fantasy RPG with a focus on high-action roleplaying and investigation inspired by the stories of Fritz Leiber, Terry Pratchett, Robert E. Howard, and others.

Your characters will discover leads that, if followed, propel them headlong into danger and forbidden knowledge. A lead might point the way to sunken treasure, jungle ruins, the missing key to a sorcerous trap, or the true identity of a notorious murderer. The GUMSHOE game mechanics ensure that you’ll always notice leads if you look for them. It’s up to you to choose which one you’ll follow into whatever perils lie ahead, in hopes of fortune, glory, justice, or just staying alive another day.

If you want to track down foul sorcerers in a corrupt and decadent city, clamber through underground ruins to sneak into an enemy’s home and rob them, or wage a secret war against a rival political faction, you’re in the right place."

I'm not sure when the release date is, but the product page says "forthcoming".

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


I'm looking forward to seeing how the GUMSHOE system handles heroic fantasy. I love the point spend mechanic, and am a huge fan of the tweaks in Night's Black Agents which lent the action a spy-movie feel. Intrigued to see where it goes in SoS. The time travel of Timewatch was cleverly woven into the game, so I'm sure this will be just as successful.

I am just stupidly excited about this game. It plays to everything I love most about fantasy and gaming.

From my perspective, the most important part of the design process was getting the combat system to feel right. Cinematic combat isn't traditionally GUMSHOE's strength, so I needed a solution that felt really Conan-y for combat. I think I've hit on the correct one. I ran a game at Gen Con where the heroes were facing down an ancient snake monstrosity, and everyone was on the edge of their seats. That's a good sign.

- Kevin

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I’ve played a session of Timewatch at a convention. I’m assuming this is a fantasy version of that? Same core ruleset?

Rules start from the same base, but how they're implemented is quite different. There's a bunch of shared abilities -- how you interact with others -- and then each class has 4 unique investigative abilities that really power what they can do as heroes. You can even mix and match those, if you don't mind trading a little bit of power for flexibility. Doing that helps you create exactly the hero you want. For instance, young Conan would have abilities from both Thief and Warrior, while Conan at his peak would be all Warrior.

I spent a lot of time making combat feel both fun, powerful, and cinematic. No one wants to attack their foe and have no choice other than plinking them for 1 point of damage. And then I have a new system for manipulating and drawing on political allegiances, so you can affect the world around you as well.

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