The Golden Shroud Campaign


Today on The Gauntlet Blog, I wrote about my forthcoming Golden Shroud Campaign on Gauntlet Hangouts. I explain what the campaign is and some of my motivations for putting it together, including to support production on the Fear of a Black Dragon podcast.

You can find the blog post here:

I’m curious to hear what people think. Do you have any experience with meta narratives like this? Do you have any thoughts on open table play as a format for exploring new kinds of stories? And what kinds of modules would you like to see be part of the Golden Shroud world (and, by extension, covered on Fear of a Black Dragon)?

Pervasive play, metagaming and the boundaries of play

Note: I will eventually write this up as a thing for @jesseross’s Trophy and Trophy Gold, but until Gold is ready, I’m going to stick with WoDu and CD, which are systems I’m super-familiar with. Once I know the basic concept works, I’ll adapt it.


I really liked this two-tiered approach. I think some games do this in a less dramatic way (like different phases (?) in Night Witches), but I liked the impact of changing up a player’s entire toolset when shifting the narrative space. It could be too heavy a load for some players, but since WoDu and CD are so light I have faith in it.

Now that you mentioned adapting it to Trophy, I guess the two-system approach is more of a stand-in mechanic? I’m curious about your plans for bringing the two different tiers of play into the Trophy framework.


Yeah, the eventual plan to make it a Trophy thing is, as you have intuited, in order to make the two narrative layers more mechanically-aligned. I figure while Jesse is getting Trophy Gold ready (Gold is the OSR version of Trophy), I can test the basic concept with two very similar systems. And, as you mention, they are both extremely light systems—I think the players can handle it. It might even be that the actual gameplay of the CD portion takes place in its own session, to further separate the two, with the WoDu portions kind of filling in the mystery of the CD portion.


That sounds extremely badass and interesting. It’s a little like the .hack// series of games and anime in that there’s the “real world” and the “game world” both within the actual game.


@Big_Hammers I hadn’t thought about that! I adore .hack and I’ve been trying to get a game done in the setting for a long time, but never found a good approach. I just might riff off of what Jason did here.

And @jasoncordova I’m extra curious to see Trophy Gold now. I also hope I can nab a spot in your campaign.

To answer another one of the questions in your post, about Open Play: I’ve leveraged it before in stories where characters might drop in or out unexpectedly. I explicitly put up rules about how to approach open table dynamics in Melody of a Never-ending Summer, and I think it’s something we (people who play online with rotating groups) should strive to explore further. A lot of games are written entirely under the premise that you’ll stick to the same group for a while, and offer no support for open table. I’d love to see more content for helping GMs incorporate open table dynamics into games that don’t explicitly support it.

In regards to Golden Shroud modules, I’ll have to request (or perhaps write) “messy teens fucking around in fantasy land” . It could be interesting to play teens exploring themselves through the characters in Hartley’s world, and dealing exceptionally bad with the horrors that will invade reality.

Ever since I started reading DIE I’ve been thirsty for this kind of story, and since the official system will a) take a long while to come out still; and b) probably be huge (I like my systems short), it looks like Golden Shroud might scratch that itch.


Yeah, I think there are two design spaces that are grievously under-explored: games that support open table play and games that are designed with online play in mind. I wish this was something that could be tackled at the game designer level. I’m still not seeing any super-prominent game designers or publishers even get close to exploring those concepts, which means it’s on us to figure it out, I guess.


When MoNS was in playtest I made two different rule sets, one for offline and one for online play (I just switched some words around in the Google Docs). As I’m finishing up the game’s formal layout, I’m leaning towards just adding a short “conversion” doc with a link to the character keeper I made and some tips.

Besides the open table policy, did the thought of online play influence your design?


I like the meta-narrative. Would switching between the systems happen within the same session, or in different sessions?

Side note - isn’t Hugo, MN the location of Calamity Raccoon’s?


Haha, yes, that is the location of Calamity’s. I kind of liked the idea of Taylor Hartley having their birthday parties there when they were a kid. Hugo is also a nod to Jesse, who grew up there (as I mentioned in an above post, this will eventually be adapted to Trophy).

As for your other question, I think what’s going to happen is, say, in a 4-session series, the first 3 sessions will be the OSR part, with the players seeding elements of the mystery that will be explored in the 4th session, which will be the shrouder part.


No, online play didn’t really have any influence on The Golden Shroud Campaign, although I do like the idea of creating a meta meta (!) narrative that tracks the greater Golden Shroud mystery, like on a wiki or whatever. Having artifacts like Hangouts videos is helpful there.


This campaign sounds amazing!!

I took part in a similar concept a few years ago as a play-by-post over on the Paizo forums.

The A-plot was a Call of Cthulhu game set in modern-day San Francisco, where the PCs were people connected somehow with a software company that had a defense contracting arm (The PCs didn’t have to be employees-- one PC was the delivery guy from a nearby Thai restaurant.)

The PCs were also TTRPGers, and met in-game after hours to play a Pathfinder RPG campaign. So each of the in-game PCs also had their own PC in a game-within-the-game. Things that happened in the PF game-within-the-game had effects in the CoC game, and vice-versa.

Each player made two characters: A CoC character for the modern-day game, and that character’s PFRPG characer for the game-within-the-game.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get very far before things in the GM’s real life caused him to have to put the game on hiatus for a while, and then untimately cancel it. But it sure was weird while it lasted!


Actually a while back @yoshicreelman and I (and @gerrit I think?) were kicking around some house rules for DW one piece of which was that your character would only level of they were absent for a session. So you could gain enough xp and such but the leveling wouldn’t actually happen until they were out doing that thing that was leveling for them. It meant that you weren’t dinged for being gone and it could incentivize Troupe-like play…


This sounds really really cool. I’ve been working on a Cthulhu Dark scenario that has a playable game within a game (also based on CD). The only time I’ve run it, the PCs didn’t end up actually playing the game, unfortunately (it’s not required to complete the scenario).

It seems like there are a lot of fun world building things you could do with this, like creating an actual forum with posts from “shrouders.”

Have you ever seen the Channel 4 show Utopia? (Not to be confused with the reality show). It revolves around a group of people who are fans of an obscure comic book that seems to predict the future. I don’t know if there’s a legal way to watch it in the US, though.


I’m curious: will the PCs be GMing the WoDu parts in-character, or will you have an NPC that takes on that responsibility? Given the podcast tie-in it sounds like the latter?


That would be very cool. I never finished the 4th game unfortunately but man did I put in some serious grinding in the first 3. The .hack//Sign anime was sweet too!


As I’ve said on Twitter: The multiple layers sound amazing. Some folks I knew back when the Forge was hot played an extremely dysfunctional gaming group - both the players and their drama (with a “the GM is always right” kind of GM who was unemployed and spent all his time preparing for the game) and the characters and their adventures. They used Primetime Adventures for it, and while I didn’t play, I remember them talking about the fun they had driving their real world characters into misery and how that reflected on the game fracturing as well.

Not quite the same, but especially the player dynamic seems similar.


Just resurrecting this because I am super excited for this :sweat_smile: I really love stories-within-stories, and that whole True Detective vibe, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how this plays out. I’m also so in to Kieron GIllen’s DIE which hits so close to home for me in a lot of ways. Can;t wait to see his RPG as well, which treads similar-but-different territory to this.


I will be GMing the WoDu parts and there will be an NPC GM in the CD parts.