I have a first draft of In the Pines ready for private consumption. It’s roughly laid out (by myself, not anyone trained in doing layouts) and put together as a PDF. I’m certain there are still typos and misspellings littering the thing (I’ve run it through a couple grammar\spell check systems but I’ve yet to have anyone actually proofread it) and there are sections I’m not done expanding yet, but the core of the game is playable and, hopefully, fun.
To wet your beak and give you a rough idea of what the game is about I’ve provided the Introduction below. Some of it is going to look familiar to regular viewers and friends who’ve seen drafts for Of Old Ones.
If you and your group are interested in helping me playtest simply shoot me an e-mail Pines@RobJustice.net or use the Contact page here and let me know. I’ll get some basic information from you (Like when you think you’ll be able to play the game and get a list of names for the credits page) and send you out the PDF.
Howard Phillips Lovecraft once wrote “The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.” Often times these forgotten memories are unintentional and harmless, but others times some things are best left forgotten.
Can you recall when you were first told about Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy? Or any of the legends that
you have known your whole life. The stories passed from generation to generation without anyone who can
remember their start. All of the myths and legends that scholars have tried to write down still came from
the memories of elders. Then someone attempts to write a definitive version only to find everyone from
king to peasant has their own variation on the telling. Too many people telling, retelling and changing until,
in the end, the original meanings are lost. There seems no harm in a tiny thing, like hair changing from red to
yellow, but over time these little things change so much that only a skilled eye can still glimpse the truth…
Thematically, In the Pines is a game about men and women who choose to not forget. Investigators who record myths and legends in order to pass them down with certainty. In the Pines is also about the things that humanity has seemingly agreed to forget. All of the truths that are too horrible to look upon in the light of day. The unnatural creatures that have acted out unknowable agendas and unfathomable desires across our history. In the Pines is about when the stars are right for all the monsters, the demons, and the Old Ones who live in the hidden recesses of our memory come out.
Mechanically, In the Pines is a tabletop role-playing game designed to tell stories. The design intends to focus on the narrative more than the stat-line. This isn’t a game for crawling around dungeons, slaying monsters, and claiming their loot. Instead, the rules presented inside are about exploring ideas, discovering secrets, and more importantly, telling stories.
The game presents two ways to play. The Traditional method features a single Game Master (Storyteller, Narrator, Keeper, etc.) creating an Old One with Players creating Investigators. An alternate way, the Narrative method, features everyone creating both an Old One and an Investigator.
Sidebar: Singing In the Pines
The title of In the Pines comes from an American folk song whose origins are impossible to trace. It passed from generation to generation by word of mouth and while the original author is lost to time there have been thousands of versions performed or recorded over the last hundred years. While we don’t know where it came from we do know that the first version in print was in 1917. It seems likely that the song stretches back much, much farther.
Adding to the confusion, the song isn’t known only by the title In the Pines. Sometimes it has been called “Black Girl”, “Black Gal”, “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”, “The Longest Train”, “Pine Grove Blues”, “Ma Negresse”, “Lonesome Road Blues”, “Poor Girl”, “Hey Girl”, “Georgia Pines”, and many more. This makes it difficult to track the lineage or even how many versions are out there.