Why In Spoons?

Hello – Jon here, writer of The Silver Road and its first supplement In Spoons, In Knives.
In Spoons is now printed and in stock, all pre-orders have been dispatched and it’s now a regular purchase on our webstore, and from selected stockists.

In Spoons, In Knives” the first supplement for The Silver Road came out recently in PDF, and the print book is on its way to us now. Let’s chat about the why of it all. 

So why 1930s? Honest answer – I was experimenting with Midjourney AI, and catching up with the latest series of Peaky Blinders and listening to the music of PJ Harvey for the first time in a long time. All of these things clicked together, and Midjourney and I made some really cool images with a 1930s theme. 

And I’ve wondered about something like a Peaky Blinders rpg for a while. I didn’t want us to go for a license (and not being funny, but we could credibly try – although I suspect someone else already has it…) and I certainly really enjoy those stories, but all my initial ideas for In Spoons were about making something broader, freer, and shorter, with a wider set of inspirations. Which would also work for The Silver Road. None of which quite matches up.

The Silver Road is a focused toolkit for group story telling, and that means that supplements work best when they take the form of inspirational material – curated by us to build towards a set of “feels” that you can take and run with. Rather than a more traditional/dry setting or “fixed” world book. 

The industrial cities of the 1930s in the UK is a really great backdrop for this. There’s loads of “stuff” that works really well for Silver Road. There’s a pre-existing shared space there. 

It’s also a time before a really huge upheaval. It’s the build up to the great clash of ideologies that expresses itself in WW2. But how does that build up play out for ordinary people?

I wanted to focus on industrial communities and their struggles. On outsider groups. Like the opposite of Downton Abbey. The Silver Road tells small stories in big settings well, I think. Focusing in on characters and their struggles. This all fits together. 

One of the starting points for The Silver Road was those scary 1970s and 80s children’s books by Susan Cooper, Rosemary Sutcliffe and Alan Garner. Imagining those feels in the 1930s just felt right. I can’t claim that’s necessarily a recognisable part of the book, but it’s a key influence and stepping stone. And one of the reasons there’s some spooky/supernatural stuff in there. 

The 30s as an RPG period is understandably dominated by the venerable Call of Cthulhu. Oddly enough, that provides really fertile soil to grow other crops. I’m not interested in HPL at all, but the 30s isn’t irrevocably tied to his work, nor percentile systems. Call of Cthulhu can handle all that stuff very well indeed, freeing In Spoons, In Knives to look in a different direction both in terms of setting and system. 

I think there are some brilliant, resonant stories to be told without any supernatural stuff. But there’s also opportunities for some great folk horror mixed with the Industrial Age and the dying of empire. For me, telling some stories about the forgotten gods of England being poisoned by industry, as a backdrop to some personal tales, is something I want to play. In Spoons, In Knives is really set up for that. 

Oh and if you were hoping for an explanation of the title, check out the video.