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The Yellow King RPG, based on the horror stories that inspired Lovecraft, is out next week

Strange is the night where black stars rise.

A tabletop roleplaying game based on the influential cosmic horror story collection The King in Yellow is being released next week.

Funded on Kickstarter in 2018, The Yellow King Roleplaying Game raised over £167,000, a steep climb beyond its original goal of £23,000.

It comes from publisher Pelgrane Press, which is well-known for its fantasy RPG The 13th Age.

The Yellow King Roleplaying Game draws from the 19th-century short story collection The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers. The original book includes ten tales, four of which refer to madness-inducing forbidden play The King in Yellow. Excerpts from the fictional play feature throughout the story, most notably in ‘Cassilda’s Song’, that makes reference to ancient and definitely cursed city Carcosa.

The stories also mention a mysterious supernatural entity named the King in Yellow, and also refer to the Yellow Sign - a glyph that when possessed, opens you up to mind control by the King itself, or its heirs.

Chambers’ book is considered to have been a key inspiration for later horror writer and Cthulhu mythos creator HP Lovecraft, to the degree where elements of Chambers’ stories of cosmic nightmares have appeared in horror board games based on Lovecraft’s work. In addition, Chambers’ eldritch entities like Hastur - also known as The King in Yellow and Him Who Is Not to be Named - later made appearances in Lovecraft’s stories.

The Yellow King Roleplaying Game pits player characters against the reality-bending horrors of the original tales. It comes in four books, each containing an individual campaign.

First book Paris sees players as absinthe-swilling art students tasked with investigating mysteries including everything from gargoyles to alien royalty. The second takes place in an alternative reality during the great European conflict of 1947. You’ll play soldiers trying to stay alive, while also exploring weird mysteries generated by the King and its daughters.

Meanwhile, final books Aftermath and This is Normal Now take place in alternate-reality versions of 2017, with players being former partisans and ordinary people respectively.

Mechanics-wise, The Yellow King RPG uses the GUMSHOE system, which has been updated to include a new combat system and linked character creation among multiple settings. Created by The Yellow King RPG designer Robin D. Laws in 2007, the system is specifically designed to run investigative scenarios and has powered Lovecraftian games including Trail of Cthulhu.

The Yellow King RPG also comes with the Absinthe in Carcosa sourcebook, presented as a scrapbook compiling public domain sources and sinister ramblings, as well as an original ebook novel titled The Missing and The Lost by Laws.

The Yellow King Roleplaying Game is being released on the Pelgrane Press website on February 3rd and is allegedly slated for a retail release later in the year.

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About the Author
Sara Elsam avatar

Sara Elsam


Sara has been writing since 2017, contributing news, features and more to outlets including Eurogamer, Rock Paper Shotgun, Variety, The Guardian, BBC and Tabletop Gaming magazine. An expert in Dungeons & Dragons, they’re also a fan of all things horror and psychedelia both on and off the table. They are happiest rolling big dice, raising mobs and rocking out with their Bard-Lock.