Created by Robin D. Laws, and seen in many popular games including Night’s Black Agents and The Esoterrorists, the GUMSHOE rules never force players to hunt for clues — which can be frustrating for players and Gamemaster alike — but instead let the characters find the clues automatically and make the players interpret them. No more spending an entire game session waiting for the Investigators to uncover that one book in the library; the real fun is in figuring out what the book means.
The bestselling of all GUMSHOE games is Trail of Cthulhu, which cleverly adapts and expands the system to support two styles of play. “Purist” style aims for the feel of a classic Mythos story of ordinary people struggling to survive against dreadful cosmic entities. The other style, “Pulp,” pits strong heroes against unearthly monsters and might actually survive. Depending on the rules tweaks you use, you can have dramatically different experiences. Yet the familiar trappings of investigative horror are still there, including sanity, unearthly monsters, and a dark atmosphere. Thanks to clever rules and quality scenarios, Trail of Cthulhu takes familiar tropes and makes them fresh again — and frightening.
The original Trail Bundle was a smash hit in its April 2014 debut, and again in its June 2015 resurrection — its first resurrection. Together with the new Trail of Cthulhu Bundle +,. this second revival represented a comprehensive collection of mind-shattering monstrosities.
1. Trail of Cthulhu +2 [new!]This second collection featured the landmark scenarios released since the original offer, including Eternal Lies and Mythos Expeditions. There were four titles in this offer’s Starter Collection (retail value $40) presented as DRM-free .PDF ebooks:
- Trail of Cthulhu Player’s Guide (retail price $11): The character creation and rules systems for players of Kenneth Hite’s GUMSHOE game of Mythos investigations. (Previously presented in our October 2013 Bundle of Tentacles.)
- Soldiers of Pen and Ink (retail $9): During the 1936 Spanish Civil War, the investigators search Madrid for a missing colleague. Cameo by Ernest Hemingway.
- Dulce et Decorum Est (retail $13): Three Great War scenarios by Adam Gauntlett cast Mythos terrors against the horrific backdrop of World War I.
- The Seventh Circle (retail $7: A modern-day Fear Itself horror adventure (with conversion notes for Trail of Cthulhu) about a TV crew uncovering dark secrets on a remote Scottish island
- Eternal Lies (retail $25): The acclaimed massive 400-page globe-spanning campaign by Will Hindmarch and Jeff Tidball in the tradition of Masks of Nyarlathotep.
- Eternal Lies Suite (retail $15): 70 minutes of atmospheric background music for your game sessions, plus a voiceover by Wil Wheaton. (Previously presented in our August 2014 GUMSHOE Music offer.)
- Mythos Expeditions (retail $21): Cover the world with these ten far-flung journeys by Kenneth Hite, Robin D. Laws, and other leading Mythos scholars.
- Invasive Procedures (retail $7): Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan’s Fear Itself scenario (with conversion notes for Trail) casts you as patients of a mad doctor in a derelict hospital.
2. The original Trail Bundle
This resurrected Trail of Cthulhu Bundle of .PDFs and .MP3 music tracks provided everything you need to uncover dark plots and shoot demented cultists. There were four titles in this offer’s Starter Collection (retail value $43):
[revived — again — from April 2014]
- Trail of Cthulhu (retail price $21): The complete rulebook of investigative horror set in the 1930s. Because Trail uses the GUMSHOE System, it’s not about hunting for clues but interpreting them — figuring how they solve the mystery.
- Stunning Eldritch Tales (retail $9): Four adventures for the Pulp style by GUMSHOE System designer Robin D. Laws.
- Keeper’s Resource Book & Screen (retail $8): A book for Keepers with clues, benefits, NPCs, and information about life in the 1930s. Includes a .PDF with all the tables you need to run a Trail game.
- Four Shadows (retail $5): Atmospheric music by James A. Semple to enhance your Trail sessions.
- The Armitage Files (retail $17): Ten mysterious documents by Robin D. Laws offers filled with clues, along with clear advice for the Keeper on how to improvise sandbox-style adventures based on the players’ interpretations.
- Bookhounds of London (retail $20): Kenneth Hite’s brilliant campaign setting of disreputable hustlers who sell rare Mythos texts — and sometimes defend humanity from their own customers.
- The Book of The Smoke (retail $13): Also known as The Occult Guide to London, Paula Dempsey’s companion volume to Bookhounds is a primer for playing in the dismal fog of 1930s London.
- Arkham Detective Tales Extended Edition (retail $9): Five labyrinthine law-enforcement investigations by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan.
- Rough Magicks (retail $6): Kenneth Hite explains the rules of magick for Investigators and Mythos creatures alike.
- Hideous Creatures – Shoggoth (retail $3): This installment of the monthly Ken Writes About Stuff series explores everyone’s favorite congeries of sinister protoplasm.