This weekend, I'm running my first game (and a demo) of Esoterrorists.

What resources do I need in order to prepare?

Potential resources include:

  • A really effective demo scenario that is engaging but not too tricky.
  • A list of books to read (is gumshoe required?)
  • A discussion of pre-gen characters versus ones made on the day…

Running advice is also welcome.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Brian, could you give some more details? Who are you running for? What sort of thing will they enjoy? \$\endgroup\$ – Graham Dec 9 '10 at 7:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ One particular point: what do you mean "Is GUMSHOE required"? (The Esoterrorists is a GUMSHOE system, so clearly GUMSHOE is required in some sense, but I think you mean something more.) \$\endgroup\$ – Graham Dec 9 '10 at 7:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good questions. 3 very experienced gamers, they enjoy a variety of things (one instigator, one generalist, one social). I'd like to provide them with what amounts to a "classic" esoterrorists experience. Is the GUMSHOE book required? \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Dec 9 '10 at 7:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ What do you mean, the GUMSHOE book? There isn't a standalone GUMSHOE book. The Esoterrorists contains all the GUMSHOE you need to run it. \$\endgroup\$ – Graham Dec 9 '10 at 13:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Let me say that a bit more nicely. There isn't a GUMSHOE book. The GUMEHOE system is in The Esoterrorists (and much of it is repeated in, say, Fear Itself). Would you mind editing that first bullet point to make it a bit clearer what you want? \$\endgroup\$ – Graham Dec 9 '10 at 23:00

The only book you need is The Esoterrorists.

If you read another, I'd suggest The Book of Unremitting Horror. It has some superb monsters in it: you can choose almost any one and have a ready-made scenario. It's worth reading the Book of Unremitting Horror just for the tone of it: it'll add a particularly nasty undercurrent to your game.

You could also read The Esoterror Fact Book, which has some extra background. For me, the most useful stuff is the crunchier combat stuff. You can do sniper shots to the head, for example. It works well.

Pregens: The advantage to pregens is that Esoterrorists characters can be fairly sparse. By doing pregens, you can give them some backstory. On the other hand, character generation is so quick that you might as well let the players make their own characters. You can do it within twenty minutes.

Advice while running: Don't forget the Veil Out. Whatever the PCs do, they should cover up as they go along. For example, after a gunfight, they might start rumours that someone let off fireworks. This adds another layer to the play.

Prewritten scenarios: I hear Six Packed and Profane Miracles are good, but I don't really know. However, if you get the Book of Unremitting Horror, you'll find that a scenario readily constructs itself around any monster.

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If you happen to be running the example session in the Esoterrorists book then you will want to scour the notes towards the end of the second act for the information about the actual identities of the perpetrators of the crime in Act I. I played in a "dress rehearsal" of that session to help out someone who was running that game at this year's GenCon and he couldn't find those details.

Nothing lets down an investigative game more that not being able to find out whodunnit at the end. I have a copy of the book and read the notes after the session and found it does tell you, just not till the very end of the notes.

Aside from that, no, you don't need the GUMSHOE book. Three investigators is probably a good number. If you are running the scenario I mention prepare them to not get too attached to their characters. But that goes without saying...

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What do you mean by the Gumshoe book? \$\endgroup\$ – Graham Dec 9 '10 at 13:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ahhh, I remember looking at Pelgrane and seeing a "GUMSHOE bundle" which at the time I assumed was some sort of core book but it's actually just Esoterrorists, Fear Itself and something else. Sorry, ignore me. I have read Profane Miracles and it distinctly underwhelmed me in and of itself YMMV. \$\endgroup\$ – One Monkey Dec 9 '10 at 13:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Fair enough. On Profane Miracles, if you've read it, you probably know better than me. (I've just heard it's good.) \$\endgroup\$ – Graham Dec 9 '10 at 23:00

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