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Whispers in the Dark: Quickstart Rules for 5e
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Whispers in the Dark: Quickstart Rules for 5e

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Welcome to Whispers in the Dark

Created by Matt Corley (Tales of the Old Margreve, Ghoul Island, Lamp's Light Sanitarium) and M.T. Black (Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus, Mordenkainen's Tome of Marvelous Magic, Waterdeep: City of Encounters) Whispers in the Dark updates the 5e rules you know to facilitate investigative horror roleplaying.

Within the 78 page book you'll find:

  • Ancestries, backgrounds, and feats to create your investigator
  • Period specific equipment
  • Updated damage, healing, resting, and lingering injuries rules
  • Comprehensive madness and sanity rules
  • The Crow Man: a complete 20 page scenario set in Restoration Era New Orleans
  • 6 pre-generated characters
  • New NPCs and Creatures
  • Handouts
  • Custom Character Sheet

The Crow Man begins with a gruesome murder in the wee hours of October 12th, 1875 only a few blocks from the famed French Quarter in New Orleans. The investigators find themselves drawn into the machinations of a shadow society intent on calling forth a power of ineffable evil.

Murder Scene 


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Reviews (3)
Discussions (11)
Customer avatar
Jeff S January 30, 2020 6:30 pm UTC
Hey guys,

I just got done reading through your book and am really liking it a lot. This is a great job of adapting 5e rules into modernish settings, something I've been really looking for. Excellent work!

A couple of critique's/questions:
1. On page 67, is Edward Francois's AC recorded inaccurately? He has an 8 dex, so it should be 9 instead of 12, right?

2. Because of the ubiquity of firearms in the 19th century, especially smaller revolvers, I would move the .38 to simple weapons and probably add a derringer or pepperbox . Learning to use a firearm is way easier than learning to use a sword. Plus the gun is the most common weapon used in this period. Much like how the light crossbow is considered a simple weapon in 5e.

3. Will future version have an expanded Background list with things like Cowboy, Hunter, Musician, Sailor, etc?

4. Will different city or regions be detailed in future installments?

Customer avatar
January 30, 2020 6:40 pm UTC
Jeff. Thank you!
1. You are exactly right on Edward's AC. I'll fix that before the print copy is released.
2. Firearms will be explored in the future, with the design premise of keeping them straightforward and not overly complex. Thank you for the suggestion!
3. Most definitely. In the meantime I would probably use soldier for hunter/cowboy/sailor and artisan for musician.
4. the first Kickstarter is being written now and will detail Chicago from 1870 to 1899. It will be hardcover and there will be a limited edition, illustrated, novella (written with a Bram Stoker award winning author) .
It's going to be an amazing campaign. I post about it on Twitter pretty regularly if you'd like to follow along there.
Customer avatar
Jeff S January 30, 2020 6:44 pm UTC
Great! Thank you for your prompt reply, and good luck on your Kickstarter. I hope you break records. Could you post your twitter info?
Customer avatar
January 30, 2020 6:56 pm UTC
That would be very nice! And guarantee many, many more books :)
I'm at @matthewdcorley

Btw, I've updated the file and will be uploading it now. Thank you for the heads up.
Customer avatar
ADAM D January 21, 2020 2:44 am UTC
I have kind of a weird question, on page 45 (Day 3) an intersection of Franklin and Bienville is mentioned, but I cannot seem to find any maps of the French Quarter that show these two streets intersecting. In fact they appear to run perpendicular. Is this a typo or does this intersection fall outside the FQ?
Customer avatar
January 21, 2020 2:56 am UTC
I believe it's called Treme now (the map we used may be inaccurate and/or the streets have changed). It's just north of Basin.
Customer avatar
Markus B January 18, 2020 9:18 pm UTC
Really like this book and eagerly wait for the crowdfunding.

One question:
Will there be (optional) rules to make natural healing harder when resting (e .g. like the ones in DMG)?
Customer avatar
January 18, 2020 11:09 pm UTC
Thank you!
There will be a full chapter in the core book explaining how healing is recommended to work in a Whispers game.
There's a taste of it in the Quickstart book (short rest = 8hrs & long week = 1 week; stabilize DC = 12; lingering injuries), but we'll go into much more detail in the full book.
Customer avatar
Matthew R January 15, 2020 5:33 pm UTC
The full-size preview is missing.

Also, one of the illustrations in the quick preview is an obvious traceover of a still from "The Alienist":

Unless you have permission from the show's creators, that's considered plagiarism:
Customer avatar
January 15, 2020 5:59 pm UTC
Matthew - thank you for the comments and noting that the full-size preview isn't working.
The illustration in question is not a trace-over, that said I see your point and appreciate you letting me know.
The referenced picture was used as part of the process, but we felt that the new picture was sufficiently transformative to be a new piece.
I will be happy to have new piece created for the next update, which will be posted in about a week.
Thank you again for your comment. And I'll see what I can do about the preview too.
Customer avatar
January 15, 2020 6:17 pm UTC
Matthew - I was able to do a bit more research and I will take care of this immediately. I was given poor advice, that I should have verified again. Thank again for bring this to my attention and it will be addressed immediately. The next update will be as soon as I can get it completed.
Customer avatar
Matthew R January 15, 2020 6:40 pm UTC
Bravo for a quick response. Also bravo for not getting all defensive and making excuses for why it's okay to copy someone else's work. Whether or not it's a *literal* traceover isn't really the point; it's still obvious to anyone familiar with the show. (I haven't even seen the show myself yet -- it's in my Netflix queue -- but I still recognized the characters, and when I Googled "alienist" that exact picture was one of the images that appeared in the sidebar.)

Now that I've seen the full-sized illustration I can see that it's not an *exact* duplicate, but claiming that a work is "transformative" is a dicey proposition. The article I linked to uses the example of the Obama campaign poster, which was even more clearly a transformative work, but the artist still got in trouble for it. Andy Warhol was able to get away with things like that because he was Andy Warhol. And *you* might get away with it because this is a niche product in a niche industry and the odds of anyone connected...See more
Customer avatar
January 15, 2020 6:50 pm UTC
Get away with it or not isn't really what I'm looking for :)
I want to fix it and remove any doubts. Again, thank you for bringing it to my attention. Working on it as we speak.
Customer avatar
January 16, 2020 1:22 pm UTC
The book has been updated and thanks again for calling this to my attention.

Customer avatar
January 14, 2020 1:48 pm UTC
Egg Embry of ENWorld interview me about Whispers:
Customer avatar
January 14, 2020 1:47 pm UTC
Clayton Thomson of the Xaositects gives a thoughtful review of Whispers.
Customer avatar
January 14, 2020 1:46 pm UTC
Here's what Nerdarchy has to say about Whispers in the Dark:
Customer avatar
Mark C January 06, 2020 11:42 pm UTC
Any thoughts on allowing tcho-tcho be a playable heritage?
Customer avatar
January 07, 2020 12:09 am UTC
Did you get into my hard drive?
Customer avatar
Mark C January 07, 2020 4:23 am UTC
Great and terrible minds...

Looking forward to it :)
Customer avatar
January 07, 2020 12:43 pm UTC
New book will be announced in a week-ish via my Twitter :)
Customer avatar
Jeremy E January 05, 2020 2:14 pm UTC
Super excited for this! I do have a few questions/items:

1-Does the "New Skill" for level 1 on Table 1 mean a new character gets an additional skill in addition to the ones granted by their Ancestry and Background or is it just an indication of those skills being granted?

2. Languages is confusing to me. Does Int. mod = maximum number of additional languages or would a Human (common) with the Antiquarian background and an Intelligence of 14 know 9 languages? (native language, Latin, Greek, 2 from ancestry, 2 from background, and 2 from Int)?

3. Armor. I realize in a 19th century setting armor doesn't fit but it also seems incomplete for every person to have such similar ACs. Combined with the lower hit points of the setting did this lead to any concerns during the playtests?

4. First Aid kit is now a tool proficiency (compared to the 5E healer's kit). Does it work in the same way as the healer's kit? If so, doesn't that negate one of the benefits of...See more
Customer avatar
January 05, 2020 3:37 pm UTC
Jeremy, this is excellent feedback and thank you for the support!
1 - in addition to whatever you've already gotten from background and ancestry
2 - you are exactly right they will have 9. That may seem like a lot (and it is) but there are hundreds of languages and when you take into account old/dead languages (which will come up while researching and/or reading old books) we thought this was a good method.
3 - No issues or concerns were found in playtesting. There will be additional feats and equipment in future products to allow more variability. It may help to think of it as a setting in which the PCs may not survive a fight, and that fighting with deadly weapons is typically avoided if possible.
4 - The Gifted Healer feat allows the PC to forego the DC 12 Intelligence (Medicine) check to stabilize and gives the recipient HP. Stabilizing without the feat does not impart any hit points, and isn't a guaranteed success.
5 - Not as written. More feats will be found in future products....See more
Customer avatar
Jeremy E January 05, 2020 6:37 pm UTC
I appreciate all the answers-I know I asked a lot. Thank you.
Customer avatar
January 05, 2020 7:37 pm UTC
Not at all and I appreciate the thought that went into them.
Customer avatar
January 05, 2020 2:05 pm UTC
Thank you all for the tremendous support!
POD will be available in a few weeks, tentatively scheduled for Feb 1st.
And more books are in the pipeline.
Customer avatar
Brian C January 05, 2020 2:39 am UTC
Oh wow. This is the something I've been looking for in 5E for a long time. Wonderful! Quick question to creators: is 'Whispers in the Dark' compatible with your (excellent) 'Lamp's Light Sanitarium' source book?
Customer avatar
M.T. B January 05, 2020 3:17 am UTC
Yes! Also, you can use monsters from Sandy Petersen's Cthulhu Mythos for 5e!
Customer avatar
Brian C January 05, 2020 4:31 am UTC
That is FANTASTIC news - thank you! I had seen Lamp's Light Sanitarium and the Petersen Mythos for 5E some months ago...but neither took the essential step of allowing gamers to leave the orcs & elves behind and create 1920s investigators of the arcane. But now, THIS! I'm over the moon! So glad you've pioneered this essential element. Now we truly have 5E Cthulhu gaming. Terrific!!!
Customer avatar
January 05, 2020 3:40 pm UTC
You're exactly right. With LL I was testing the waters and hoping that there was an audience for this kind of product. I work a lot with Sandy and Petersen Games too, and they have some fantastic products are already out and many more in the pipeline.
Customer avatar
Brian C January 05, 2020 4:55 pm UTC
I am really digging the 'Whispers in the Dark' quick-start rules and introductory scenario...when are you planning on releasing the full core rule-book?
Customer avatar
January 05, 2020 7:39 pm UTC
Short answer - as soon as I can.
Longer answer -
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