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Nevermore: A Roleplaying Game of American Gothic Horror

Nevermore is a tabletop roleplaying game of gothic horror set on the eastern seaboard of America in the year 1888 and evokes the tales of Melville, Poe, Gilman, Wharton, James, and Bierce. The game is uniquely American and relies heavily on the foundations of American Gothic tales. The protagonists of this game are likely to find themselves exploring haunted houses, traversing gloomy and forsaken landscapes, doing battle with sorcerous villains, terrifying ghosts, and cursed beasts, while fending off the ravages of madness and despair.

Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some witching power, that holds a spell over the minds of the good people, causing them to walk in a continual reverie. They are given to all kinds of marvellous beliefs, are subject to trances and visions, and frequently see strange sights, and hear music and voices in the air. The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions; stars shoot and meteors glare oftener across the valley than in any other part of the country, and the nightmare, with her whole ninefold, seems to make it the favorite scene of her gambols.

—Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving

A Lingering Sense of Dread

On the surface, there is little difference between the realm of Nevermore and the late Victorian era of our own world. Although a careful observer might notice the odd machine or device that does not quite fit in, the technology is much the same. The same people of historic significance live and breathe. Grover Cleveland is president of the United States, and Queen Victoria rules in Great Britain. Nikola Tesla has just invented alternating current, and one might meet Frederick Douglas, Susan B. Anthony, Mark Twain, or Harriet Tubman on the streets of any major city. Yet, there is something not quite right; the shadows are a little darker, people walk a little faster as night falls, and a pervasive sense of dread and foreboding lingers at the back of the mind.

Gothic Horror

True evil exists and pierces the barrier between dimensions, most often places where a great tragedy occurred or a malicious evil has been committed. Sometimes, the aethyr pools and coalesces, and these places become aethyros—literally “of aethyr.”Aethyr is a mysterious substance that has no known form, shape, or structure, yet it exists. It is the source of magic and can fuel great wonders, allowing humankind to perform incredible magical feats. Regrettably, it also allows for the existence of monsters, such as werewolves, ghosts, ghouls, and other dreadful abominations.

The Protagonists

The protagonists of this game are members of the Esoteric Order of the Illuminous, which stands between humanity and countless horrors that seek to corrupt their world. The order consists of seven cabals, each of which teaches a Cabal Gift and their take on how to fight against the evils that invade the world through the aethyros. These cabals are Aethyric Engineers, Disciples of the Emerald Tablet, Ravens, Rooks, Scholars of Mu, Soldiers of Mithras, and Theurgists.

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