Ninth Expedition

There’s a lovely, gentle atmosphere at Concrete Cow.

My Bookhounds of London game turned out schlonky and overstuffed with clues, despite fun and enterprising players. I’d hone it and reorder the narrative were I ever to run it again.

I played Ralph Lovegrove’s Cthulhu Dark: Annihilation game in the afternoon session, which was excellent.



Rick the Red

The authenticity is in the act, not the provenance. Every time you knock someone off, it’s a courtship – a long, drawn-out process of getting to know someone better than they know themselves. Mind you, the money doesn’t hurt.

Art historians are free-loading pissants.

A little side-bet on which book fetches the most wouldn’t go amiss – all the better if it involves your own work.



Investigator Name: Rick the Red
Drive: Artistic Sensitivity
Occupation: Forger
Occupational benefits: You are “the last word” in four types of forged document.
Pillars of Sanity: Art is immortality; a little flutter never hurt anyone; other people’s money.
Build Points: 2


Law 1

Bureaucracy 1
Cop Talk 1
Credit Rating 2
Streetwise 2

Art: Calligraphy 2
Art: Engraving 2
Art: Printing 2
Craft: Bookbinding 2
Craft: Papermaking 2
Document Analysis 2
Forgery 4

Auction 4
Conceal 4
Driving 2
Filch 5
Health 10
Preparedness 5
Sanity 12
Stability 12
Scuffling 5
Sense Trouble 3
Shadowing 4
Stealth 5

D6 types of ID in D6 different names


VoyFo Image


Tuesday Adisa

You’re going to take it all back – mostly via translation into Arabic, Xhosa and Igbo. Nothing illegal or clandestine. Unless it’s really necessary.

Investment is transitory. Schools, universities and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina project are what will make Africa great again.

They soon back off when you show them the blade.



Investigator Name: Tuesday Naledi Adisa
Drive: Thirst for Knowledge
Occupation: Catalogue Agent
Occupational benefits: You may interact with bibliophiles at their Credit Rating.
Pillars of Sanity: Bibliotheca Alexandrina; self-sufficiency.
Build Points: 2


Bibliography 2
History 1
Languages 2

Library Use 2

Assess Honesty 4
Bargain 4
Credit Rating 2
Flattery 2

Document Analysis 1
Evidence Collection 1
Forgery 4

Auction 10
Athletics 5
Conceal 6
Disguise 6
Fleeing 5
Health 8
Psychoanalysis 3
Sanity 10
Stability 8
Sense Trouble 3
Shadowing 3
Stealth 5
Weapons 10

Ida sword
Hat, fur coat




Alun Cumming

Your elder brother is the Bishop of Bangor and you’ve heard people in the village refer to you laughingly as “The Second Cumming”.

You have a personal relationship with God; you don’t hold with all that skirt-swishing and high-and-mighty stuff.

You’ve a lot of good stock you can’t shift and all this hullabaloo about “The Lost Library of Ynys Môn” is a great opportunity to unload some of it onto another bookseller.



Investigator Name: Alun Cumming
Drive: Duty
Occupation: Bookseller
Occupational benefits: You operate with dual Credit Ratings, one for your shop and one for you; you may discover a “squiz” at the auction.
Pillars of Sanity: All of human knowledge; kindness is a cure; God moves in mysterious ways.
Build Points: 2


Accounting 2
Bibliography 4
Languages 4

Library Use 6
Textual Analysis 4
Theology 1

Bargain 2
Credit rating 3/4

Document Analysis 2

Auction 12
Driving 3
Electrical Repair 3
First Aid 5
Fleeing 5
Health 11
Mechanical Repair 3
Preparedness 6
Sanity 12
Stability 12
Sense Trouble 5

Three-wheeler van with cardboard boxes


Mercurius Image


Elspeth Cellan-Jones

You’re skint. The cads at the Glendower bookshop in Bangor claim never to have issued the chitty for the Bewick engraving you left for authentication. They won’t return the item.

You’ll have to pal-up with another buyer to act on any squiz at the auction. Shouldn’t be too difficult: those minor public-school types will buy or swap anything with a bit of phoney Latin.

Your bike is your pride and joy and will get you anywhere with a road.



Investigator Name: Elspeth Cellan-Jones
Drive: Greed
Occupation: Book Scout
Occupational benefits: Always the first to discover inconspicuous clues among books.
Pillars of Sanity: Welsh nationalism; wild swimming; healthy competition.
Build Points: 2


Architecture 1
Bibliography 2
Languages 2

Library Use 2

Assess Honesty 1
Bargain 2
Credit Rating 1
Reassurance 2
Streetwise 2

Document Analysis 1
Evidence Collection 4

Auction 8
Athletics 4
Conceal 2
Filch 6
Fleeing 6
Health 10
Preparedness 4
Riding (bicycle) 6
Sanity 12
Stability 12
Sense Trouble 4
Shadowing 3
Stealth 3

Racing bicycle and paniers




The Lost Library of Ynys Môn


Children of the Spirit


I’m fairly confident of being able to offer a game for Bookhounds of London at Concrete Cow on March 17th called The Bees of the Invisible.

Five bookhounds and a dreamhound will convene for an auction of unusual items at a Welsh country house.

Here is the catalogue of works for sale:



The Lost Library of Ynys Môn

Catalogue for the private auction of works from the Collection of Henry Cyril Paget,
5th Marquess of Anglesey.


2. The Parable of the Strange Fruit by the Reverend C A Johns.

Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London, 1887. 4to. Leather half-cloth, rubbed to extremities. Condition: Fair. Five of six hand-drawn plates remain, two of which have been re-glued; front hinge also re-glued. Closed slit to front external hinge. Fraying top and bottom of spine. Some underlining, particularly to rear parts of text.

Believed to be the only remaining copy in circulation of the Rev. C A Johns’ first-person account of rhubarb grown by the light of the full moon: he believed these to have been harvested by faeries. Johns later recanted and ordered all copies of his work destroyed.


3. The Bees of the Invisible by Mrs Eileen Donaghy.

Women’s Institute of Pembroke, Bangor, 1902. 8vo. Green cloth with gilt. Eight black and white engravings by the author. Condition: Very Good.

Each of Angelsey’s 28 cromlechs is adumbrated by Mrs Donaghy’s coruscating commentary concerning their use for “base and licentious acts” in pre-Christian times; pp56-84 concern the perils of drink.


4. Brytanici Imperii Limites by Dr John Dee.

Elias Ashmole, Oxford, 1677. 8vo. Black leather with decorative silver gilt, split at the spine and with singing patterns to the bottom right of the text block; front bottom right corner frayed. Condition: Good.

“The Limits of the British Empire”. The voyages of King Arthur and other legendary mariners, including Welsh prince Madoc, who crossed the Atlantic in in 1170 and met the winged fae-folk of Saguenay. Map missing from rear board.


5. The Secret Commonwealth; or an Essay on the Nature and Actions of the Subterranean (and for the most part) Invisible People heretofore going under the names of Fauns and Fairies, or the like, among the Low Country Scots as described by those who have second sight, 1691 by Robert Kirk.

Archibald, Constable and Co for Sir Walter Scott, Edinburgh, 1815. 8vo. Half-calf with marbled boards and gilt lettering to the spine; slightly rubbed. Condition: Very Good.

Folklore from traditional accounts in the Scottish Highlands; reports that the author was carried away to fairyland for revealing the secrets of the Good People remain unconfirmed.


6. The Last Testament of King Maeglwyn Gwynedd.

Palimpsest of paper and vellum materials, c.1188; rebound in calfskin, Bangor, 1837. 8vo. Condition: Fair.

Handwritten text in dark blue ink includes many crossings- and workings-out: appears to sign over the Isle of Ynys Môn and much of North Wales to the “King of the Birds”.


7. The Horoscope of Benvenuto Cellini by Consuela du Pre.

Theosophical Society, London, 1901. 8vo. Decorative blue leather boards bearing the embossed coat of arms of the famous goldsmith and sculptor. Condition: Very Good.

Mrs Du Pre follows the Roman astrologer Manilius in insisting that a child born while the Sun is in Scorpio has “a spirit which rejoices in plenteous bloodshed and in carnage more than in plunder”; pp101-110 detail a cure for gonorrhoea derived from Pliny the Elder.


8. Mona and the Moon by “Sister Dierdre”.

Women’s Institute of Pembroke, Bangor, 1907. 4to. Blue cloth with decorative gilt. Centrepiece intact. Condition: Good.

Tidal patterns and lunar cycles on “Hook’s Island” (an older name for the Isle of Angelsey); intended as a treatise for children, it includes seventeen hand-drawn illustrations by local artist Cerys Llewellyn and a full-colour frontispiece by the (as yet unidentified) “Monk of Ynys Môn”.


9. New Hyperborean Grammar (4vols).

Skara Brae Press, Kirkwall, 1877. Blue half-cloth with light blue decorative trim and decorative silver gilt. Large item(s).

Claims to be a partially-revised edition of a work first produced at Gardar monastery in Greenland at the end of the fourteenth century. Volumes 2-4 comprise indices and commentary.


10. Codex Hibernica by Alejandro Cacamatzin.

Date unknown, Skellig, rebound circa 1560. Folio. Text in Latin and Nahuatl with Aztec pictograms. Whale-skin with decorative insignia, bumped at the bottom right corner of front and back boards and turned at the bottom right outer edge of the text block.

How to perform the intricately-costumed butterfly-dance of Itzpapalotl, the “Obsidian Butterfly”, by an exiled Mexican priest. 64 full-colour illustrations by an unknown hand. Six black and white illustrations of clochán-type beehive cells with an appendix of twenty-one hand-drawn stone crosses and slabs. The favourite item of the 5th Marquess.

11. Knowledge of Angels by Katherine Dee.

Reginald Newbury, Shrewsbury, 1608. 8vo. Leather boards with unstitched signatures. Five colour plates, two pull-out diagrams and 14 black and white illustrations. Text in English, Hebrew and Adamic script.

Includes a phonetic incantation to call forth Uriel from ancient stone and a pull-out design for a “Table of Practice” based on her father’s tradition. A unique item.


12. Liber Experimentorum by Ramon Llull.

Bartholomäus Leonhard Schwendendörffer, Antwerp, 1664. 8vo. Calf with decorative gilt. Pagination awry. Condition: Very Good. Catalan, Arabic and Latin text with pictograms of unknown provenance.

Llull’s “Book of Experiments” combines logic and natural philosophy to record the spiritual effects of Majorcan flora on imprisoned infidels.

Le Bateleur

I’d hoped to be able to offer a Trail of Cthulhu game at Concrete Cow on September 16 but I’m not sure my health is going to allow it.

A Gift of Fortune was going to involve bookhounds, dreamhounds and magicians vying for the lost tarot deck of Austin Osman Spare. I may try offering it at some future date.

Concrete Cow is a games convention held in Milton Keynes every six months and you should go if you’re at all interested in roleplaying games. The organisers take care to be kindly and courteous to all that attend.

I’ll probably keep up with the fanzine but I’ve shifted the focus of the next issue from Lamentations of the Flame Princess (never fear, the game is ably served by its own dedicated fanzine called The Undercroft, and you should buy it because it’s great) to… well, I’m not quite sure yet. Next issue may be The Metazine, a pretentious title for a zine about all the other zines out there, or be dedicated to a particular game like Trail of Cthulhu, or to a particular game attached to a particular theme, such as Archipelago, or address a more general theme, such as Live Action Role-Play or the outsider-edge of the Old School Renaissance.

I’d intended to offer an online game of Itra-Troll before the launch of Itras By: The Menagerie but that also looks tricky, in part due to technological issues. Sometimes you’ve just got to roll with the punches.

Hang in there, people: it’s another tough year.

Kitty Marshall Playing Cards
Playing cards made by suffragette Kitty Marshall during her incarceration 1910-1913.




Young Kingdoms

The Society of Dreamers didn’t run but I did get to play in Ralph Lovegrove’s entertaining Pan Tangian travelogue See Hwamgaarl and Die! and in John Keyworth’s 1812 playset for Intrepid Histories, offered by Steve Dempsey. As always at Concrete Cow, everyone was warm, convivial and inviting.

Concrete Cow 17

It’s this coming Saturday 18th March in Wolverton, near Milton Keynes:-

Concrete Cow

I’m offering the following game:-


The Society of Dreamers

Facilitator: Abstract Machine
Players: 3-4
Slot: Afternoon

Something is living in our dreams. We discover the Mnemosite in childhood, learn more during our youth, first meet as the Society of Dreamers as adults, then weave the facts of the story together before learning the eventual fates of both the characters and the Mnemosite. We are the dreamers who live in the dream.

Technique: scenes are framed by each of the players in turn, prompted by one of nine results blindly decided by the other players’ engagement with a bespoke Ouija board.

Playstyle: Nordic Dreaming; listen, don’t block, no need to complain or explain, everyone is equal.

This game may contain mature themes.

We’ll use an X-Card to moderate content anyone at the table finds uncomfortable – perfect for a weird, fast-moving narrative in which anything can happen. You just tap the X-Card whenever something you’d prefer wasn’t in the game arises and that’s it: no explanation necessary. It’s a way of being considerate without interrupting the flow of the game.

There’s more on the X-Card here:-

X-Card by John Stavropoulos