Random Group Portraits in Grand Houses

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Sir Joshua Reynolds - The Ladies Waldegrave - Google Art Project

Here are some more tables for randomly generating descriptions of the numerous painting found in late 18th to early 19th century castles, mansions, and estate houses. See also the post “Random Portraits in Grand Houses”, which includes tables for generating the Dimensions, Age, and decorative Frame of paintings.

Interior Group Portrait

d10

The painting depicts…

1

an apparently married (or courting) couple,

2

two male friends,

3

two female friends,

4

a married couple and a lover, (possibly explained away as “a family friend” by the couple’s descendants)

5 – 6

a married couple with 1d8 children,

7

2d4 siblings,

8

2d6 members of a confraternity, consorority, or chivalric order,

9

a group of 2d4 card players,

10

a group of 2d4 military officers,

d6

amid…

1

an opulent drawing room.

2

a salon.

3

a music room.

4

a glittering ballroom.

5

a curtained interior.

6

a field of clouded color.

d20

A notable feature of the portrait is…

1

a servant working in the background.

2

a second painting visible in the background.

3

a notable sculpture in the background.

4

everyone is dressed in archaic clothing.

5

everyone is made to look like a Classical deity.

6

everyone is dressed in a masquerade costume.

7

a mirror reflecting the scene.

8

the skull, a reminder of mortality.

9

the presence of 1d4 putti (winged children).

10

the presence of 1d4 pets.

11

the exquisite jewelry worn by the subjects.

12

the shadows seem to be all wrong.

13

the perspective is off.

14

the location is easily recognizable.

15

the book carried by one of the subjects.

16

the weapon carried by one of the subjects.

17

the subjects do not seem friendly to each other.

18

an open window, beyond which a landscape can be seen.

19

much more attention has been paid to one figure than the others.

20

it appears to be the work of an unknown master.

Exterior Group Portrait

d12

The painting depicts…

1

an apparently married (or courting) couple,

2

two male friends,

3

two female friends,

4

a married couple and a lover, (possibly explained away as “a family friend” by the couple’s descendants)

5

a married couple with 1d8 children,

6

2d6 members of a confraternity, consorority, or chivalric order,

7

2d6 members of a hunting party on foot,

8

2d6 members of a mounted hunting party,

9

a group of 2d4 people playing lawn sports,

10

2d4 people at an archery contest,

11

a group of 2d4 military officers on foot,

12

a group of 2d4 mounted military officers,

d8

and in the background is…

1

a rolling countryside, with trees in the far distance.

2

a woods

3

a lake.

4

a manicured lawn.

5

a village of happy peasants.

6

a formal French garden.

7

the facade of the house itself.

8

a mountain range.

d20

A notable feature of the portrait is…

1

much more attention has been paid to one figure than the others.

2

there appears to be a fire occurring in the far background.

3

a servant working in the background.

4

the exterior sculpture(s) also depicted.

5

the visible ruins.

6

everyone is dressed in archaic clothing.

7

everyone is made to look like a Classical deity.

8

everyone is dressed in a masquerade costume.

9

the presence of 1d4 putti (winged children).

10

The presence of a mythological creature.

11

the presence of a dog pack.

12

the exquisite jewelry worn by the subjects.

13

the shadows seem to be all wrong.

14

the perspective is off.

15

the location is easily recognizable.

16

the scene is set at night.

17

the weapon carried by one of the subjects.

18

the subjects do not seem friendly to each other.

19

much more attention has been paid to one figure than the others.

20

it appears to be the work of an unknown master.
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Random Twisted Histories for Aristocratic Families

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Charles Drew shooting his own father Wellcome L0040858

Use the following tables to quickly create suitably shocking historical facts for families inhabiting Grand Houses.

Length of the Family History

d12

The family’s history goes back…

1

1000 years.

2

900 years.

3

800 years.

4

700 years.

5

600 years.

6 – 7

500 years.

8

400 years.

9

300 years.

10

200 years.

11

only 100 years.

12

less than 100 years – the family is nouveau riche, or recently ennobled.

Determine 1d4 Shocking Historical Facts for each century of family history. Determine only 1 if the family history goes back less than a century.

Shocking Historical Facts about the Family

d20

The family history records that…

1

the master of the household

2

the mistress of the household

3

the eldest daughter of the family

4

a middle daughter of the family

5

the youngest daughter of the family

6

the eldest son of the family

7

a middle son of the family

8

the youngest son of the family

9

the master’s brother

10

the master’s sister

11

the mistress’ brother

12

the mistress’ sister

13

the master’s mother

14

the mistress’s father

15

the mistress’ mother

16

one of the master’s male cousins

17

one of the master’s female cousins

18

one of the mistress’ male cousins

19

one of the mistress’ female cousins

20

a trusted retainer of the household

d100

..actually….

1 – 2

disappeared without explanation. [Ignore the next table.]

3

went on an voyage of exploration, and was never seen again. [Ignore the next table.]

4

claimed to have Second Sight. [Ignore the next table.]

5

insisted that they were being persecuted by invisible Fairy Folk. [Ignore the next table.]

6 – 7

went mad from syphilis. [Ignore the next table. Roll again if before 1500.]

8 – 9

died of syphilis. [Ignore the next table. Roll again if before 1500.]

10 – 11

became a hopeless drug addict. [Ignore the next table.]

12 – 13

gambled away their money. [Ignore the next table.]

14

went mad, and was kept from public view. [Ignore the next table.]

15

ended their days in a madhouse. [Ignore the next table.]

16

produced a illegitimate child with servant. [Ignore the next table.]

17

had many children out of wedlock. [Ignore the next table.]

18

married a religiously unorthodox spouse. [Ignore the next table.]

19

eloped with a servant. [Ignore the next table.]

20

eloped with an entertainer (or artist). [Ignore the next table.]

21

eloped with a Gypsy. [Ignore the next table. Roll Again if before 1300.]

22

believed theirself to be a werewolf. [Ignore the next table.]

23 – 24

committed suicide. [Ignore the next table.]

25 – 26

eventually entered the religious life, where they became infamous for their lechery. [Ignore the next table.]

27 – 28

died in a duel. [Ignore the next table.]

29 – 30

was murdered by a jealous rival. [Ignore the next table.]

31 – 32

was murdered by a jealous spouse. [Ignore the next table.]

33

was abducted by bandits and never seen again. [Ignore the next table.]

34

was abducted by bandits and released, but died shortly thereafter from the abuse they suffered in captivity. [Ignore the next table.]

35

was violated by a family member. [Ignore the next table.]

36 – 37

was forced into an unwanted marriage, but ran away. [Ignore the next table.]

38

was seen traveling the countryside after their death. [Ignore the next table.]

39 – 40

committed treason,

41 – 42

deserted the military, (if male) / publicly took a lover while her husband was at war, (if female),

43 – 44

committed voluntary incest with a sibling,

45 – 46

committed voluntary incest with an aunt or uncle,

47 – 48

murdered a servant,

49 – 50

murdered a family member,

51

murdered a tenant of the estate,

52 – 54

murdered a member of another prominent family

55 – 56

stole the family jewels,

57

violated a house servant,

58

violated a member of another prominent family,

59 – 60

practiced witchcraft (or sorcery),

61 – 62

embezzled government funds,

63 – 64

participated in a brazen swindle,

65 – 68

became a famous (or infamous) bandit,

69

committed cannibalism,

70

had carnal relations with an animal,

71 – 72

exhumed their deceased lover,

73 – 74

abducted a young woman, forced her to marry into the family,

75 – 76

abducted a young man, forced him to marry into the family,

77

abducted and murdered a girl,

78

abducted and murdered a boy,

79 – 80

was a poisoner,

81 – 84

participated in obscene Black Masses,

85 – 86

abjured the established Church in public,

87 – 88

committed bigamy,

89 – 90

wrote obscene literature,

91 – 92

vivisected human victims,

93 – 94

worshiped Pagan gods,

95 – 96

played a cruel prank upon another prominent family,

97

impersonated a member of the royal family,

98 – 100

seduced the spouses of many prominent people,

d12

and was…

1

never caught (or publicly exposed).

2

made to pay the legal price for their transgression.

3

treated with barbarous severity.

4

assassinated by an unknown assailant.

5

caught (or exposed), but then exonerated.

6

found out, but fled before they could be arrested.

7

nonetheless considered a local hero (or heroine).

8

nonetheless considered a national hero (or heroine).

9

forced to enter a religious institution.

10

committed to a madhouse.

11

forced into exile (to another country, to America, etc.).

12

granted a royal pardon.

Review: A Ghastly Potpourri

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Filbanto Stew

TL/DR: Buy it.

A Ghastly Potpourri is a supplement for the A Ghastly Affair role-playing game. Written by Daniel James Hanley, it contains a collection of material that will be useful for any game set in the late 18th century. It also holds a short story by William Rutter, author of Hunter’s Song. I picked up the printed version, a 6″ by 9″ perfect-bound book.

Please bear with me, because I’m going to veer off course and talk about the title for a minute. It puzzled me. A “potpourri” is a mix of herbs and flower petals. Was it a veiled reference to personal hygiene of the 18th century? This book offers a mix of random material that all blended nicely together. Was this the reason for the title? I hopped out to Wikipedia and took a look at the definition and I saw this gem: “[…] the word pourri means rotten”. Hmmm… So…

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The Contributions of LGBT Authors to the Gothic Genre

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Yesterday was the annual Pride parade in NYC. This Thursday (June 28th) is the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that ignited the modern movement for LGBT rights. It seems an appropriate time to acknowledge some of the historical contributions of LGBT people to the Gothic genre.

  • Horace Walpole, who wrote the first Gothic novel, “The Castle of Otranto”, was almost certainly gay.
  • William Beckford, author of “Vathek”, was gay.
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, scientist, statesman, driving force of German Romanticism, and author of the most famous rendition of “Faust”, was probably bisexual.
  • Mary Wollstonecraft, mother of Mary Shelley, author of the feminist Gothic novel “Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman”, and founding voice of English feminism, was bisexual.
  • Mary Shelley was deeply in love with Jane Williams, the lover (and de facto wife) of Percy’s friend Edward Williams (who died in the same boating accident as Percy). Mary and Jane shared a complex network of mutual friends and lovers.
  • Lord Byron, satirized in Dr. Polidori’s “The Vampyre”, and therefore the model for all modern aristocratic bloodsuckers, was famously bisexual.
  • Lady Caroline Lamb, who established the literary archetype of the “Byronic Hero” when she satirized her former lover Lord Byron in her Gothic novel “Glenarvon”, was bisexual.
  • Oscar Wilde, author of “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, was of course gay, and suffered imprisonment under the sodomy laws of Victorian England.
  • Vernon Lee (Violet Paget), famous for her ghost-filled tales of Italy, was lesbian.
  • Daphne du Maurier, author of “Rebecca”, and of the stories upon which the movies “Don’t Look Now” and “The Birds” are based, was bisexual.

Of course the list is far from complete. Feel free to use the comments section to add names I’ve overlooked. Also I haven’t included any living authors, as they can speak for themselves.

Random Ruins for Gothic (and Fantasy) Adventures

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Thomas Girtin - Tolleshunt-Beckingham, Essex - Google Art Project

What’s a Gothic story without some dark and forbidding ruin with a tragic history? The following tables will help you create ruins for one-shot scenarios, or as points of side interest in larger Affairs. Of course, they’re useful for medieval fantasy adventures as well.

Table 1: The Original Structure

d20

The ruin was originally a…

1

bell tower.

2

church.

3

cathedral.

4

shell keep.

5

motte and bailey castle.

6

concentric castle.

7

courtyard castle.

8

compact castle.

9

star fort.

10

half-timber grand house.

11

brick grand house.

12

stone grand house.

13

small country villa.

14

windmill.

15

monastery.

16

convent.

17

tower house.

18

watchtower.

19

Roman (or other ancient) temple.

20

Roman (or other ancient) villa.

Table 2: Cause of Abandonment

d10

The place became a ruin on account of…

1

a conflict or war.

2

a curse on the inhabitants.

3

the owner (or ruler) dying without a clear heir.

4

a deadly disease that struck the household.

5

being claimed by a creature of supernatural evil.

6

being ruined in a storm.

7

being destroyed by fire.

8

a popular uprising against its former inhabitants (or owners).

9

one of the inhabitants dying tragically (or horrifically), and the place holding too many bad memories for the survivors.

10

the local water supply becoming (or being deliberately) poisoned.

Table 3: Most Notable Feature

d20

A notable feature of the structure is…

1

an intact fresco of great artistic merit.

2

the intact statuary of great artistic merit.

3

one or more rare plants growing wild.

4

the mass of skeletons still strewn about. Will they rise as Walking Skeletons?

5

a strange tree growing alongside (or in the middle of) the ruins.

6

a single intact and inhabited tower standing in the midst of it.

7

that the Basement, Crypt, or Dungeon is largely intact (and possibly inhabited).

8

how the wind blowing through the structure makes a peculiar sound.

9

the graffiti that covers the standing walls.

10

the shocking lack of the usual plants or animals (even insects). Do not roll on Table 12.

11

the evidence of recent inhabitants.

12

the treasure buried on the property (gold, artwork, a rare book, etc.).

13

that it is used as a graveyard for heretics, vagrants, criminals, or other unwanted people.

14

it is apparently maintained in its current state by some unknown person (or people).

15

it is still Restless.

16

its strange architectural style.

17

it looks far older than it actually is.

18

it appears to have been used as a meeting place by witches, or for a black magic ritual.

19

someone has been using it as a ready quarry and/or lumber source.

20

it is so picturesque that it is frequented by poets, artists, and picnickers.

Table 4: Completeness of the Structure

d6

Overall, the building is…

1 – 2

basically intact.

3

three-quarters intact (or on three sides).

4

half intact (or on two sides). Skip Table 5. Ruin will not have a roof.

5

a quarter intact (or on only one side). Skip Table 5. Ruin will not have a roof.

6

mostly scattered rubble, with only some small structures (such as archways) remaining. Skip Table 5. The ruin will naturally lack a roof.

Table 5: State of the Roof

d6

The roof is…

1

completely intact.

2

intact, but very leaky.

3

full of holes.

4

full of holes, and collapsing. The floor below will be strewn with debris.

5

partially gone.

6

completely gone.

Table 6: State of the Interior Walls

d4

The interior walls are…

1

mostly intact.

2

severely water damaged.

3

covered with holes.

4

completely ruined.

Table 7: State of the Doors

d4

The doors are…

1

all present, wherever there are intact frames.

2

mostly present, but many are damaged.

3

mostly gone, and those few remaining are heavily damaged.

4

all missing.

Table 8: State of the Furniture

d12

The furniture is…

1

somehow mostly intact, and in place.

2

all in place, but many pieces are ruined.

3

all in place, but completely ruined.

4

still present in part.

5 – 6

still present in part, but mostly ruined.

7 – 12

completely gone.

Table 9a: State of the Standing Exterior Walls (Unroofed)

d6

Long shorn of their roof, the exterior walls are…

1

somehow mostly intact.

2

intact in some places, with holes in others.

3 – 4

three-quarters their original height.

5

half their original height.

6

a quarter of their original height.

Table 9b: State of the Standing Exterior Walls (Roofed)

d6

Under the remains of the roof, the exterior walls are…

1

mostly intact.

2

intact in some places, with holes in others.

3 – 4

mostly sound, but one part seems about to collapse.

5

half intact, but half seem about to collapse.

6

seemingly about to completely collapse.

Table 10: State of the Windows

d8

The windows…

1

are somehow completely intact. Roll again if the roof is missing.

2 – 3

have intact frames, but most of the panes are broken. Besides the stained glass used in churches, the panes of pre-17th century windows were usually made of flattened animal horn, parchment, or sometimes thin sheets of alabaster.

4 – 5

have intact frames, but the panes are missing.

6 – 8

are completely missing.

Table 11: State of the Floors

d6

The floor is…

1

intact and clear.

2

intact, but strewn with debris.

3 – 4

partially intact.

5

partially intact and strewn with debris.

6

long gone.

Table 12: Vegetation

d8

The vegetation about the structure is…

1

sparse

2

sparse, and sickly.

3 – 4

wild and overgrown.

5

profuse, but sickly and dying.

6

just a sprinkling of mushrooms, lichen and fungus.

7

an overgrowth of mushrooms, lichen and fungus.

8

twisted, grotesque, and unnatural in appearance.

Table 13: Current Inhabitant(s)

d100

The ruin is inhabited by…

1 – 25

Nobody. It is truly deserted.

26 – 30

Nobody, but is frequently used by local lovers for trysts.

31 – 35

Nobody, but is frequently used as a playground by children.

36 – 40

Nobody, but is frequently visited by peasants picking mushrooms, or gathering herbs.

41

1d12 Aerial Sprite(s).

42

1d2 Badger(s).

43 – 49

1d12 Bandit(s).

48

1 Beast-Man.

49

1d12 Beggar(s).

50

1d4 Black Bear(s).

51

1d2 Brown Bear(s).

52

a Bzou.

53

1d4 Cannibal(s).

54

1d4 Common Vampire(s).

55

a Coven of 2d8 Witches.

56

2d4 Cultist(s).

57

1d6 Demoniac(s).

58

1d6 Demoniac Beast(s).

59

1d6 Demoniac Corpse(s).

60

a Demoniac Object.

61

1d6 Deserter(s), from the local military, or an invading force.

62

a Dragon or Dragon Worm.

63

1d4 Escaped Prisoner(s).

64

a Feral Child.

65

1d4 Fire Demon(s).

66

1d2 Fox(es).

67

1d12 Ghoulish Revenant(s).

68

1d2 Gigantic Animal(s).

69

1d3 Goblin(s).

70 – 75

1d12 Gypsies.

76

a Hermit.

77

1d4 Leper(s).

78

1d4 Living Gargoyle(s).

79

1d20 Mindless Revenant(s).

80

an Ogre.

81

1d4 Phantom(s).

82

a Plague Vampire.

83

1d6 Possessor Demon(s).

84

a Raging Lunatic.

85 – 86

1d100 Rats.

87

1d2 Raven(s).

88

a Reanimated Wretch.

89

a Satyr.

90

a Spectral Animal.

91

1d12 Terrestrial Sprite(s).

92

1d6 Viper(s).

93

1d20 Walking Skeleton(s).

94

1d4 Wayward Shadow(s).

95

1d4 Werewolves.

96

1d8+4 Wild Dogs.

97

1d2 Wildcat(s).

98

1d10+6 Wolves.

99

a Wraith(s).

100

a Zoomorphic Revenant.

Random Road Encounters in the Ghastly Age (and Other 18th Century Settings)

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SYNTAX(1813) - 03 - Doctor Syntax, Stopt by Highwaymen

Random encounter tables are a cornerstone of Old-School RPGs that add a high level of verisimilitude to your game world. Not only do they make travel a more interesting (and potentially dangerous) experience, but if used on-the-fly they also allow a Ghastly Affair Presenter (or GM) to experience a level of novelty and surprise usually reserved for the Players.

The following tables are generally applicable for the spring, summer, and autumn of most late 18th / early 19th century European regions not currently at war, or undergoing a major natural disaster. Determine one potentially interesting encounter for the morning, one for the afternoon, one for the evening, and one for night (if the PCs travel then). Naturally, there might have been other travelers and animals along the way, but they are assumed to have ignored the PCs, been too far away to interact, etc. If the PCs are traveling by carriage, an encounter are likely to occur when the carriage has temporarily stopped so the horses can rest, and the passengers relieve themselves.

Old-schoolers will probably recognize the d8+d12 mechanic for encounter tables, which gives a spot of equal probability for numbers from 9 – 13, with decreasing probabilities on either side of that range. I find the limited possible range of results to be actually creatively stimulating, as it forces one to focus on only the most evocative and interesting encounters. Also, I personally enjoy rolling the odder shapes of polyhedral dice. I know, it’s a sickness.

Thanks to Blogger Ynas Midgard for suggesting a need for these tables.

Morning, Afternoon, & Evening – On the Road Between Villages (d4):

1

No Encounter

2 – 3

Roll on Table 1: Morning, Afternoon, and Evening Road Encounters

4

Roll on Table 3: Obstacles and Curiosities

Morning, Afternoon, & Evening – Passing Through a Village:

Roll on Table 4: Daylight Village Encounters

Night – On the Road Between Villages (d4):

1 – 2

No Encounter

3

Roll on Table 2: Night Road Encounters

4

Roll on Table 3: Obstacles and Curiosities

Night – Passing Through a Village:

Roll on Table 2: Night Road Encounters

If you’re not referring to an actual map, assume that travelers along a main road will pass through a village every 2 miles (roughly 3.2 km), if more than 10 miles (approximately 16 km) from a major city. Off the main roads, villages can be as much as 5 miles (approx. 8 km) apart. If within 10 miles (approx. 16 km) of a major city, travelers might pass through a new village every mile (approx. 1.6 km) until they enter the suburbs that extend about about ½ to 1 mile from the formal city limits. A village is usually part of the greater estate of an aristocratic family whose Grand House will be located within 2 miles of the village square. Travelers on main roads will reach a coaching inn (where they can eat, get lodgings, and rent a fresh team of horses) every 5 – 9 miles (approximately 8 – 14.5 km). Most travel occurs in the morning, afternoon, and evening, but a coach is also likely to travel through the night to reach its destination (or an acceptable inn). It was not unknown for coachmen traveling by night to fall asleep, causing horrible accidents.

Table 1: Morning, Afternoon, and Evening Road Encounters

d8+d12

The characters catch sight of…

2

an Immortal Wanderer.

3

Fairies. Typically Sprites disguised as ordinary people, animals, or plants.

4

a large Animal(s), predatory or dangerous. Pack of Wolves, pack of Wild Dogs, Bear, etc.

5

a small Animal(s), predatory or dangerous. Fox, Hawk, Wildcat, Polecat, Viper, etc.

6

a large Animal(s), non-predatory. Deer, Wild Boar, stray Sheep, stray Cattle, etc.

7

a small Animal(s), non-predatory. Rabbit, Raven, Crow, etc.

8

1d12 religious traveler(s). Nuns, Monks, Pilgrims, Inquisitors, etc.

9

1d12 farmer(s) or laborer(s). Shepherd with Sheep, foragers, commuting workmen, etc.

10

1d12 foot travelers. Tourists, sightseers, ramblers, etc.

11

1d4 wagon(s) or cart(s). Filled with farm produce, consumer goods, lumber, stones, cloth, babies being transported to orphanages, etc.

12

1d8 non-aristocratic rider(s) on horseback.

13

Mail or stage coach. With 2d6 passengers. Passengers past the sixth will be hanging onto the exterior.

14

1d4 aristocratic carriage(s). Each transports 1d4 Aristocrats and 1d4 servants.

15

1d20 aristocrat(s) on horseback. Pleasure ride, hunting party, etc.

16

1d20 Gypsies, or traveling entertainers.

17

1d20 Soldier(s). Gendarmes, militia, press gang, etc.

18

1d12 Bandit(s) (or other criminals).

19

1d6 strange people. Feral Child, 1d4 Degenerate(s), 1d6 Cultists, etc.

20

a member of the royal family (or highest nobility). On horseback, or in their carriage. 90% likely to be accompanied by 2d4 servants, or else will be traveling incognito.

Table 2: Night Road Encounters

d8+d12

From out of the darkness comes…

2

a dangerous Spirit. Spectral Animal, Wraith, Wayward Shadow, Possessor Demon, Fire Demon

3

a Fairy. Sprite or Goblin.

4

a usually diurnal Animal (wandering by night). Bear, stray domestic Sheep, etc.

5

a large Animal, predatory or dangerous. Pack of Wolves, pack of Wild Dogs, Wild Boar, etc.

6

a small Animal, predatory or dangerous. Owl, Fox, Badger, Wildcat, Polecat, Viper, etc.

7

a large Animal, non-predatory. Typically Deer.

8

a small Animal, non-predatory. Typically Rabbits

9

1 or 2 non-aristocratic riders on horseback. Possibly returning from (or setting out for) an evening’s entertainment, Demon Hunter(s) pursuing quarry, etc.

10

a carriage or coach. 1d4 passengers returning from (or setting out for) an evening’s entertainment, attending the meeting of a secret society, etc. 25% chance someone in the carriage is there against their will.

11

1d4 game poachers. Probably masked, or with blackened faces.

12

1d10 common criminals. Bandits, Grave Robbers, or Everyman thieves under 5th Level.

13

2 (or 3) trysting lovers. 75% likely to be from different social classes, not married to each other, or otherwise unconventional.

14

1d4 aristocratic riders on horseback.

15

2d6 soldiers. Gendarmes, press gang, deserters, drunken carousers.

16

1d4 infamous criminal(s). Bandit(s) or Grave Robber(s) of 5th Level or above. 50% likely to be accompanied by 1d10 common criminals under 5th Level.

17

1d6 strange people. Feral Child, 1d6 Cannibal(s), 1d6 Degenerate(s), 2d10 Witches, etc.

18

a Phantom.

19

a Monster. Werewolf, Demoniac, Gigantic Wolf, Bzou, Ogre, etc.

20

a Revenant. Ghoulish Revenant, Common Vampyre, Zoomorphic Revenant, Walking Skeleton, Mindless Revenant, etc.

Table 3: Obstacles and Curiosities

d8+d12

You are faced with…

2

a stray bullet striking one of your horses.

3

a collapsed section of the road, or sinkhole.

4

the evidence of a recent combat.

5

a carriage wreck. 25% chance 2d4 people are still present. 50% chance 1d6 of them are dead.

6

a strikingly picturesque view. 25% likely that 1d4 people are already here appreciating it, possibly drawing or painting the scene in watercolors.

7

an unusually large quantity of insects. Gnats, bees, flies around a mound of horse excrement etc.

8

a passenger (or fellow rider) suddenly becoming violently ill.

9

a corpse, human or animal.

10

a horse with a thrown shoe, or a broken wheel on the carriage.

11

a quantity of produce or consumer goods that have been left fallen onto the road. Most will be broken or otherwise ruined, of course, but some might be salvageable.

12

a horse that has suddenly been spooked, and is starting to bolt.

13

an object or passenger falling from a horse or carriage. Luggage slips off, passenger (or servant) hanging onto the outside loses their grip, door to carriage opens and a passenger jumps out, etc.

14

a downed tree across road.

15

a closure or barricade on the road. 50% likely to be attended by 1d4 Soldiers or Bandits.

16

foliage and / or trees on fire.

17

debris from an ancient, collapsed building on the side of road.

18

a sudden and unexpected storm, with lightning, high winds, and hard rain.

19

an extremely rare (and valuable) plant visible from road.

20

strange puddles on the road. Bloody, phosphorescent, filled with fish, etc.

Table 4: Daylight Village Encounters

d8+d12

While passing through a village, your interest is piqued by…

2

a raging fire.

3

a strikingly attractive shepherd(ess) with their flock.

4

villagers engaged in a particularly odd local custom. Burning straw animals, dancing in bear costumes, hitting each other with decorated tree branches, wearing outfits covered in small bells, etc.

5

a flamboyant procession for a local saint or hero. Procession is likely to actually be an ancient Pagan ceremony given a thin Christian veneer.

6

a wedding party.

7

a funeral procession.

8

a group of children playing a strange game you’ve never seen elsewhere.

9

a cluster of peasant women arguing.

10

1d8 rider(s). Aristocrats on a hunt, an outlaw being chased, agent(s) of the local lord collecting rents, etc.

11

a group gathered in the village square to hear the crier. A change in local laws or taxation, announcement of an upcoming wedding, warning of a visit by an important person, etc.

12

a stray (or foraging) domestic animal. Sheep, cow, pig, etc. 5% likely to be rabid, or otherwise diseased.

13

an aggressive dog or cat. 10% likely to be rabid.

14

a stumbling drunk.

15

a carriage or coach. Someone is forced into the carriage; a women locked inside screams at the window; a gun or dagger is pulled out before the curtains are drawn; etc.

16

an angry mob in the process of surrounding someone.

17

1d8 Gypsies, or traveling entertainers.

18

2d4 construction laborers heading off to their worksite. Possibly to erect a folly building for the local landlord, plant hedgerows or build walls to enclose previously open land, etc.

19

the unique architecture of a building.

20

a large predator that has wandered into town in broad daylight. A Bear, a pack of Wolves, etc.

For those wishing to make their own d8+d12 Encounter Tables, here are the assumed encounter frequencies, and actual odds of each result:

d8+d12

Encounter Frequency

2

Improbable encounter. Approximately a 1% chance. (Actual probability: 1 in 96)

3

Strange encounter. Approximately a 2% chance. (Actual probability: 2 in 96)

4

Unusual encounter. Approximately a 3% chance. (Actual probability: 3 in 96)

5

Infrequent encounter. Approximately a 4% chance. (Actual probability: 4 in 96 )

6

Occasional encounter. Approximately a 5% chance. (Actual probability: 5 in 96)

7

Occasional encounter. Approximately a 6% chance. (Actual probability: 6 in 96)

8

Frequent encounter. Approximately a 7 % chance. (Actual probability:7 in 96)

9

Ubiquitous encounter. Approximately an 8 % chance. (Actual probability: 8 in 96)

10

Ubiquitous encounter. Approximately an 8 % chance. (Actual probability: 8 in 96)

11

Ubiquitous encounter. Approximately an 8 % chance. (Actual probability: 8 in 96)

12

Ubiquitous encounter. Approximately an 8 % chance. (Actual probability: 8 in 96)

13

Ubiquitous encounter. Approximately an 8 % chance. (Actual probability: 8 in 96)

14

Frequent encounter. Approximately a 7 % chance. (Actual probability: 7 in 96)

15

Occasional encounter. Approximately a 6 % chance. (Actual probability: 6 in 96)

16

Occasional encounter. Approximately a 5 % chance. (Actual probability: 5 in 96)

17

Infrequent encounter. Approximately a 4 % chance. (Actual probability: 4 in 96)

18

Unusual encounter. Approximately a 3 % chance. (Actual probability: 3 in 96)

19

Strange encounter. Approximately a 2 % chance. (Actual probability: 2 in 96)

20

Improbable encounter. Approximately a 1 % chance. (Actual probability: 1 in 96)

 

A Helpful Reminder for my Fellow Americans

The settlement pattern of most 18th Century European countries differed quite significantly from the sprawling, low-density model of modern rural (and suburban) America. In general, the structures in a village were not spread-out, but built quite closely together. The typical inland village consisted of a square mile of farmland, with a compact nucleus of attached or semi-attached houses surrounding a central square. The population mostly preferred to live in close proximity to each other, and would generally commute out to the fields they rented (or worked in the employ of the local landlord). The exact density of the village varied by the area, of course. While the houses of an English village might possibly have a few feet of space between them, an Italian village could often be as densely packed as a city (albeit a very small one). In general, those who wanted to live a distance away from others were assumed to be criminals, religiously unorthodox, or otherwise undesirable. Isolated farmhouses were usually sizable homes inhabited by the relatively few, upper-middle class families who owned their own land, and employed live-in servants and workmen (for example, the Earnshaws of “Wuthering Heights”).

The Loves and Hates of Aristocrats

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The dance of death; the honeymoon. Coloured aquatint by T. R Wellcome V0042007

The following random tables will help you set up properly desperate and dangerous relationships for the inhabitants of Grand Houses. Naturally, the possible results reflect the conventions of Gothic Romance and Romantic Horror.

The tables can indicate that the persons’ love and hate are for the same person. I suggest keeping such results, and exploring the way that affection turns to violence, repressed desires breed madness, and a hatred nursed long enough can mutate into an irresistible sexual attraction.

 

The Loves and Hates of Male Aristocrats

d100

He is desperately in LOVE with…

1 – 10

his (or his father’s) Mistress (and would marry her if he could).

11 – 23

the Governess.

24 – 30

his wife (or intended wife, if unmarried).

31 – 34

his sister-in-law.

35 – 38

the Lady’s Maid of his wife, mother, or daughter.

39 – 42

the romantic friend of a female household member.

43 – 46

his wife’s (or mother’s) Modiste.

47 – 49

the wife of an estate tenant.

50 – 52

the wife of a grounds servant.

53 – 56

a gypsy.

57 – 60

a bandit who once robbed him.

61 – 64

the Lady (or Lord) of the neighboring estate.

65 – 66

a sibling, or other close relation.

67 – 68

his cousin.

69 – 70

the Cook.

71 – 72

the Housekeeper.

73 – 74

a Kitchen Maid.

75 – 76

a Housemaid.

77 – 78

the Dairy Maid.

79 – 80

nobody, because his heart is still broken from a lost love.

81

nobody, because he is incapable of it.

82

a prostitute he often visits (other than his mistress).

83

a well-known artist’s model, paintings of whom he collects.

84 – 85

a singer, actress, or ballet dancer who is often invited to the house.

86

an attractive new servant, who is actually an enemy spy or assassin.

87

a ghost in the house.

88

a member of the Royal Family.

89

a Vampyre who visits him by night.

90

a Succubus (knowingly, or unknowingly).

91

a Fairy.

92

the Estate Manager (always male in Britain, but may be a female Intendante in France).

93

his Secretary.

94

the Live-in, or Cavalier Servente of his wife (or mother).

95

his Valet.

96

a Footman.

97 – 98

the Butler.

99

the Gardener.

100

the Huntsman of the estate.

d20

He HATES and would destroy….

1 – 2

The rival for his love.

3

his wife (or intended wife).

4

his mother.

5

his father.

6

his brother (or brother-in-law).

7

his sister (or sister-in-law).

8

an uncle.

9

an aunt.

10

a member of the local clergy.

11

the lover of a family member.

12

the master of the neighboring estate.

13

a servant who has the favor of his wife (or mother).

14

a political rival.

15

a childhood bully.

16

the bandit who once robbed him.

17

the sovereign.

18

nobody, because his heart is filled with kindness.

19

nobody, because he is mired in apathy.

20

a Player Character, on account of a supposed insult.

 

The Loves and Hates of Female Aristocrats

d100

She is desperately in LOVE with…

1 – 9

the Live-in, or Cavalier Servente.

10 – 12

her husband (or intended husband, if unmarried).

13 – 17

her brother-in-law.

18 – 22

an adopted foundling raised in the household.

23 – 26

the Gardener.

27 – 28

the Estate Manager (always male in Britain, but may be a female Intendante in France).

29 – 30

a Secretary.

31 – 32

a Valet.

33 – 34

a Footman.

35 – 36

the Butler.

37 – 38

the Huntsman of the estate.

39 – 40

a Guard or Porter.

41 – 42

a gypsy.

43 – 44

a bandit who once robbed her.

45 – 46

the Lord (or Lady) of the neighboring estate.

47 – 48

a sibling, or other close relation.

49 – 50

her cousin.

51 – 52

nobody, because her heart is still broken from a lost love.

53

nobody, because she is incapable of it.

54 – 55

a well-known artist.

56 – 57

a musician or opera singer who is often invited to the house.

58 – 59

a handsome new servant, who is actually an enemy spy or assassin.

60 – 61

a ghost in the house.

62 – 63

a member of the Royal Family.

64 – 65

a Vampyre who visits her by night.

66 – 67

The Devil himself.

68 – 69

a Fairy.

70 – 72

the political enemy of her husband (or father).

73 – 76

the live-in Mistress of her husband (or father).

77 – 79

her Lady’s Maid (or the Lady’s Maid of another household member).

80 – 82

her Lady’s Companion.

83 – 84

the Governess.

85 – 86

her Modiste (or her mother’s Modiste).

87 – 88

a singer, actress, or ballet dancer who is often invited to the house.

89 – 90

her Reader (or Lectrice).

91 – 92

the Cook.

93 – 94

the Housekeeper.

95 – 96

a Kitchen Maid.

97 – 98

a Housemaid.

99 – 100

the Dairy Maid.

d20

She HATES and would destroy….

1

the rival for her love.

2

her husband (or intended husband)

3

her mother.

4

her father.

5

her brother (or brother-in-law).

6

her sister (or sister-in-law).

7

an uncle.

8

an aunt.

9

the artist who made her look ugly in a portrait.

10

a member of the local clergy.

11

the lover of a family member.

12

the mistress of the neighboring estate.

13

a servant who has the favor of her husband (or father).

14

her husband (or father’s) political rival.

15

the man who once assaulted her.

16

the bandit who robbed her.

17

a former lover.

18

nobody, because her heart is filled with kindness.

19

nobody, because she is mired in apathy.

20

A Player Character, on account of a supposed insult.

 

The Consequences of Forbidden Love

d12

To deal with their their illicit desires, the character will attempt to…

1 – 2

pursue a secret relationship.

3

pursue a relationship, seemingly heedless of the possible consequences.

4

run away with their beloved (if the feelings are reciprocal), or else abduct and imprison their beloved (if the love is not reciprocal).

5

murder any rivals.

6

promote their beloved’s interests in every way.

7

speak and act impressively, whenever the beloved is watching.

8

engage in mutual suicide (if the love is reciprocal), or else kill themselves (if the love is not reciprocal)

9

avoid the pain, by separating themselves from their beloved.

10

kill their beloved, so no one else can ever have them.

11

use magic to make their relationship possible.

12

stoically keep their feelings to themselves.

 

The Consequences of Hate

d12

The character will deal with the object of their hatred by making an attempt at…

1 – 2

murder.

3

financial ruination.

4

physical assault.

5

framing the enemy for a crime.

6

a humiliating practical joke.

7

slandering the enemy with false accusations.

8

enlisting the aid of a supernatural being.

9

bringing down a supernatural curse.

10

seducing and ruining someone the enemy loves.

11

alienating the enemy from their friends and family.

12

stoically controlling their own anger.

Random Apparitions and Spectral Activity

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Alexandre III (Dictionnaire infernal)

Part I: The Usual Apparition

d12

The…

1

skeletal…

2

bloody…

3

decayed…

4

stark white…

5

insubstantial…

6

luminous…

7

weeping…

8

twitching…

9

lumbering…

10

floating…

11

livid…

12

shadowy…

d20

figure of….

1

an old man…

2

a young man…

3

an old woman…

4

a young woman…

5

a boy…

6

a girl…

7

a soldier…

8

a priest…

9

a nun…

10

a hunter…

11

a coachman…

12

twin children…

13

a freak…

14

an executed criminal…

15

a maid…

16

a footman…

17

a beggar…

18

a leper…

19

a knight…

20

a Druid (other pagan) priest…

d10

wearing…

1

rags,

2

all white,

3

armor,

4

finery,

5

all black,

6

their funeral shroud,

7

nothing,

8

chains,

9

only undergarments,

10

nightclothes,

d20

and carrying…

1

their own severed head(s),

2

a sword,

3

a lantern,

4

an hourglass,

5

a gun,

6

a candle,

7

a bottle,

8

a basket of hands,

9

a sack,

10

nothing,

11

a lamp,

12

a dagger,

13

a skull,

14

an infant,

15

a whistle,

16

a noose,

17

a club,

18

a bucket,

19

a bloody heart,

20

flowers,

d6

will….

1

suddenly appear,

2

drop from the ceiling (or the sky),

3

drop down a chimney (or from a tree),

4

rise up from the floor (or ground),

5

fly through the air,

6

walk out of a wall or door,

d20

and then…

1

beckon.

2

move across the room.

3

ask if someone knows their name.

4

enact their own death.

5

howl.

6

point somewhere and scream.

7

silently stare.

8

try to hand something to a character.

9

laugh.

10

cry.

11

plead for someone to help them.

12

suddenly disappear.

13

attempt to kiss the onlooker.

14

remove their eyes.

15

remove their heart.

16

vomit a large quantity of blood.

17

rot away.

18

sing.

19

pound on the walls and/or floor.

20

dance.

Part II: The Other Apparition(s)

d20

Sometimes, instead of a person, one sees a…

1

severed hand…

2

severed head…

3

bloody skull…

4

bleached skull…

5

beating heart…

6

white cat…

7

black cat…

8

black dog…

9

white dog…

10

raven…

11

white raven…

12

coffin…

13

longcase clock…

14

hourglass…

15

child’s toy…

16

ancient book…

17

mass of dismembered body parts…

18

flesh-less skeleton…

19

flower…

20

bottle…

d8

that…

1

floats in the air.

2

skids across the floor.

3

flies across the room.

4

thumps the floor.

5

is hurled at the onlooker.

6

is always at the edge of one’s vision.

7

drops from above (or down the chimney).

8

arises from the floor.

Part II: Further Spectral Activity

d100

Even when it does not show itself, one senses the presence of the spirit by…

1 – 2

the smell of decay.

3 – 4

the smell of freshly disturbed earth.

5 – 6

the smell of blood.

7 – 8

the intense smell of unwashed bodies.

9 – 10

the sound of weeping.

11 – 12

the sound of laughter.

13 – 14

the sound of indistinct chatter.

15 – 16

the sound of retching.

17 – 18

the sound of singing.

19 – 20

a banging sound.

21 – 22

a tapping sound.

23 – 24

the tolling of an invisible bell.

25 – 26

the sound of music.

27 – 28

a buzzing sound.

29 – 30

a low hum.

31 – 32

the flapping of invisible wings.

33 – 34

the soft touch of invisible fingers.

35 – 36

the feel of a sudden slap across the face.

37 – 38

the touch of an icy cold, but invisible hand.

39 – 40

the touch of a burning hot, but invisible hand.

41 – 42

the feel of an icy kiss from invisible lips.

43 – 44

the feel of a kiss, delivered by warm but invisible lips.

45 – 46

a tingling sensation.

47 – 48

a sensation like being poked with needles.

49 – 50

the sudden pain of being cut by a knife.

51 – 52

the sudden chill in the air.

53 – 54

the sudden warmth.

55 – 56

the deepening gloom of the room.

57 – 58

a strange luminescence in the air.

59 – 60

a disturbance in the air, like someone walking past.

61 – 62

the persistent feeling of being watched.

63 – 64

a choking dryness in the air.

65 – 66

static electric shocks, like before a thunderstorm.

67 – 68

puddles of water that mysteriously appear and disappear.

69 – 70

puddles of blood that mysteriously appear and disappear.

71 – 72

puddles of slime that mysteriously appear and disappear.

73 – 74

the appearance of bloodstains on furniture and curtains.

75 – 76

the appearance of bloody footprints.

77 – 78

the appearance of muddy footprints.

79 – 80

a shiver up your spine.

81 – 82

a sudden ache in the bones.

83 – 84

a sudden shortness of breath

85 – 86

a sudden attack of indigestion.

87 – 88

the taste of spoiled food in your mouth.

89 – 90

the taste of ashes in your mouth.

91 – 92

the taste of dirt in your mouth.

93 – 94

the taste of wine in your mouth.

95 – 96

a bitter taste in your mouth.

97 – 98

a sweet taste in your mouth.

99 – 100

the smell of perfume.

Part IV: The Phantom’s Release

d20

The spirit will be laid to rest if…

1

their lost body is found and properly buried.

2

the body of someone they loved is properly buried.

3

their murder is solved, and the culprit exposed.

4

another family assumes ownership of the property.

5

their forgotten name becomes known.

6

the house is razed to the ground.

7

the family line ends.

8

a family member obtains something the spirit was denied in life.

9

the person they loved in life openly declares reciprocal feelings.

10

some item removed from the house is restored to it.

11

the person they harmed in life proclaims that the ghost is forgiven.

12

a disinherited member of the family is restored to their birthright.

13

a work of art they left unfinished in life is skillfully completed.

14

the money they were cheated of in life is buried with their body.

15

an object they hated in life is destroyed.

16

an ornate monument is placed over their grave.

17

an elaborate dinner party is held, with an empty seat left for the ghost.

18

a certain monster is destroyed.

19

an animal kept in captivity is let free.

20

the room or cottage they once inhabited is blessed.

Servants and Retainers in a Grand House – Part 6 (Porter to Whipper-In)

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Thomas Stringer - Lord Bulkeley and his Harriers, his Huntsman John Wells and Whipper-In R. Jennings - Google Art Project

This is the sixth part of an excerpt from the upcoming “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, and Estates“. Naturally, the presentation is skewed towards a game of Gothic Romance and Romantic Horror, but should prove useful to anyone playing in a late-18th or early-19th century setting.

See also Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 in the series.

Porter (Concierge, or Suisse) [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Strength

The Porter’s primary job is to carry heavy objects and equipment for family members and guests, and see that visitors have been properly situated in their rooms. A Porter (or Concierge) will usually be waiting in the entrance room whenever guests are expected, and one will generally meet any carriage that comes to the house. Sometimes, Porters are stationed in booths at the front gate. In France, Porters are often also called Suisses, because many actually are of Swiss extraction. Naturally, Porters are skilled at lifting and carrying heavy objects efficiently, and have high higher-than average ability to endure strenuous tasks. Porters often double as House Guards, and therefore may also be skilled in the use of spears, halberds, and guns. A Porter will also have a better than average ability to notice sneaking and hiding people, and develop a particularly good memory.

The Porter will often be expected to inform visitors of any specific rules that need to be followed by visitors, and to enforce compliance. For example, male visitors to the palace of Versailles (which was open to the public before the French Revolution) could rent the mandatory dress sword from the Concierge at the front entrance.

A Porter is paid the standard wage for a male House Servant.

Postilion [Grounds Servant]
Strongest Ability: Dexterity

A Postilion is employed to ride the front left-hand horse in a team pulling a carriage, which greatly improves the Coachman’s control over the animals. Sometimes, a carriage will not even require a Coachmen to drive it, only a Postilion to guide the horses.

If a coach needs to travel more than 30 miles a day, fresh horses will need to be obtained every 10 – 20 miles from one of the Coaching Inn or Post Houses that are stationed along most major roads. In such a case, the Postilion must leave the traveling party, and (usually after staying the night at the Coaching Inn) return the spent horses to the family stables. The Postilion’s place will be taken by another employed by the Coaching Inn or Post House from which the fresh horses were rented. That Postilion will then be responsible for returning his team to their original stable after they are swapped out for fresh horses further along the road.

Postilions need to be skilled and agile riders, with a sense for equine behavior. Since they are frequently required to transport numbers of valuable horses, Postilions are usually skilled at defending themselves in a fight. In particular, the high, metal-reinforced boots they wear can turn their legs into deadly weapons (and also grant a +1 Bonus to their Armor Class). In order to avoid potential conflicts with highwaymen, Postilions will become skilled at noticing lurking and hiding people. A Postilion may possibly be Leveled as a Gypsy.

A Postilion is paid the standard rate for a Grounds Servant. Since their pay includes a Board Wage, they cannot expect to be reimbursed for their expenses when they need to stay at an inn (although any stabling fees for the horses will usually be paid by the family). When not riding, they often serve as Stable Boys.

Reader (Lectrice) [Retainer or Servant]
Strongest Ability: Charisma

A Reader is employed to read books and letters aloud – possibly at Salons, in drawing rooms after dinner, during a lady’s toilette, or at night before their master or mistress falls asleep. The Reader could be considered either a servant or Retainer, depending upon their education (and the inclinations of the family). The duties of a female Reader (or Lectrice) are often fulfilled by the Lady’s Maid or Lady’s Companion, and having a dedicated Reader is the the mark of truly wealthy (or extravagant) family. Beside being literate, a Reader will have a sweet voice (and usually some singing ability), a persuasive manner, basic acting skills, good fashion sense, and an attractive appearance.

A True Innocent might be employed as a Reader – at least until her patron (inevitably) asks to be entertained with tales of shockingly immorality!

Scullery Maid [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

The grueling job of the Scullery Maid (or Scullion) is to boil water for washing, clean dirty dishes and pans, clean the kitchen, empty the chamber pots into the slop sink or Cesspit, clean the chamber pots, clean fish, wash freshly butchered meat, and wash floors. When there are no separate Laundry Maids, the Scullery Maids also wash the clothes and bedding. They must also assist the Cook and Kitchen Maids when necessary. Scullery Maids tend to be young, since it is often the first job given to young woman and girls in service. Because the floor of the Scullery is usually wet and filled with puddles, the Maids that work there generally wear wooden clogs, or pattens with blocks of wood affixed to the soles. Naturally, Scullery Maids become more sure-footed than average on slippery surfaces. Their footwear can also make quite effective improvised weapons!

A Scullery Maid is paid the standard wage for a female House Servant.

Secretary [Retainer]
Strongest Ability: Intelligence or Charisma (if a Libertine)

A Secretary’s primary job is to write letters of behalf of their employer. Sometimes the letter will be transcribed verbatim from dictation – other time the secretary is expected to translate their patron’s thoughts into more eloquent words. In a time when aristocrats may receive up to a dozen letter a day, the Secretary’s job is extraordinarily important. Participation in the international “Republic of Letters” is a mark of social prestige, but it is really only possible with the aid of paid professionals! Besides the ability to write well (and in an eloquent script), a Secretary must be well-read (so they can insert properly sophisticated literary references in correspondences), and have a good memory. As the name implies, a Secretary will be privy to their employer’s secrets, and gaining a Secretary’s trust may be essential to elucidating the dark mysteries of an estate. Most Secretaries are male, although a woman might employ one who is female.

Secretary is another one of the jobs that might be given to a lady’s live-in lover, in order to provide a respectable facade for their actual relationship. Thus, a Secretary might actually be a Libertine.

A Secretary can expect to be paid the standard rate for a Retainer.

Shepherd(ess) or Pastor [Grounds Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

A Shepherd (or Pastor) is employed to watch over the herd of sheep (or cows) that often reside on aristocratic estates – whether such herds are used for meat, milk, and wool; employed to keep the grass cropped; or are purely ornamental. A Shepherd will develop the ability to spot stalking animals (or people), develop a natural sense of direction, learn to correctly read the weather, have a basic understanding of veterinary medicine, be able to estimate the health of an animal by sight, and have the ability to intimidate beasts. Since they are often aided by a sheep (or cow) dog, Shepherds will usually learn how to train canines (and other beasts). They can become quite proficient in defending themselves with their crook – and because they are also often the one who shears and/or slaughters their charges, they will generally have very good knife skills as well.

Shepherdesses are likely to be True Innocents, especially if their flock (or herd) is just maintained for show. While no more likely than any other to lose their sheep (or said sheep’s tails), innocent Shepherdess may find the flocks (and themselves) especially targeted by Werewolves.

A Shepherd or Shepherdess is paid the standard rate for a Grounds Servant of their gender; Male Shepherds earn 100p a week plus 150p Board wage, and Shepherdesses earn 50p a week, plus 100p Board Wage. The Shepherd or Shepherdess of a purely ornamental flock will likely also be provided with a colorful, faux peasant costume to wear.

Sick Nurse [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

Most Grand Houses do not employ a full-time Sick Nurse (also called a Sickroom, or Chamber Nurse). Rather, they will bring one in as needed to care for ill or injured members of the household. Only a royal palace (or similar place) where 100 or more servants reside would actually have a full-time Sick Nurse on staff.

A Sick Nurse will have a good knowledge of herbalism, practical chemistry, and mathematics, allowing her to properly compound remedies. Naturally, she will also be skilled at administering first aid for wounds of various kinds. She will more perceptive than ordinary people, and have an increased ability to discern the intentions and motivations of others. She will probably be quite persuasive as well. Her personal tolerance for pain will be better than average, and she will be harder to fatigue and exhaust. Likewise, she will be resistant to diseases, poisons, and being nauseated. To avoid disturbing patients, Sick Nurses develop the ability to move silently (and towards that end wear quiet, fabric slippers called “list shoes”).

Naturally, in a world of Gothic Romance some Sick Nurses are actually witches – especially those whose patients tend to recover. If a patient’s malady is actually caused by a supernatural visitation (from a Vampyre, Fairy, or evil spirit of some kind) the Sick Nurse is likely to eventually confront the malignant creature. Therefore, it is possible that a Sick Nurse may even become a Demon Hunter!

Since they are seldom employed full-time at any single house, Sick Nurses are generally paid weekly (rather than receiving their pay quarterly like most other servants and Retainers). Their standard week’s wage is about 100p. They are entitled to meals and a bed for the term of their stay (although they may be asked to sleep in the room with their patient).

Still Maid [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

The Still Maid is responsible for making beverages for the household – brewing beer, fermenting cider and table wine, and distilling liquors. She also makes the jams, jellies, perfumed waters, and condiments. Thus, she will have a practical knowledge of chemistry, and better than average senses of smell and taste. She will also be resistant to poisoning and high temperatures. Furthermore, it would be unwise to attempt to out-drink the house’s Still Maid! When there is no separate Still Maid, her duties are performed by the Housekeeper.

A Still Maid may be a Mad Scientist, albeit one without the usual “Academic Credentials”. Instead, she would posses a Special Ability from the Everyman list. Likewise, the Weakness “Attracts Angry Mobs”, would be replaced with either an Everyman’s “Prejudice” or “Phobia”.

A Still Maid is paid the standard rate for a female House Servant.

Swineherd [Grounds Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

The Swineherd looks after the pigs of the estate. Unlike a flock or sheep or herd of cows (which might be maintained simply to give the property a properly bucolic ambiance), pigs are never purely ornamental. Besides a basic understanding of medicine, and practical knowledge of animal behavior, a swineherd will develop the ability correctly estimate the relative health of an animal. A Swineherd should always receive their Profession Bonus on Saves against nausea, poison, or disease. Since they are also often also responsible for slaughtering their pigs, Swineherds will skilled in wielding hammers and blades.

The Swineherd will almost always be a man, and is paid the standard rate for a male Grounds Servant.

Underbutler (or Officier) [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Intelligence

An Underbutler (or Officier) is employed to watch over the Butlery (or Office), and perform other duties of the Butler, when the staff is so large the Butler (or Maître d’Hôtel) himself has to concern himself primarily with the administration of the house. He will usually clean the expensive silverware and porcelain himself, not trusting the Scullery Maids with it. His skills will otherwise be the same as the actual Butler’s.

In previous times, the Officier de Bouche of a château would have been a high-born Retainer (as would have been the Maitre d’Hôtel). By the late 18th, century, however, Officier has become a servant’s position.

The Underbutler is paid the standard wages of a Male Servant. He is not entitled to the same gifts and gratuities as the Butler himself. In a French château, the Officier is among the upper strata of servants who eat separately in the Office (rather than the Salle Commune).

Under Housemaid [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

When there are Under Housemaids each will be responsible for cleaning and fire maintenance in a particular section (or wing) of the house. They are also called Lower Housemaids. Otherwise, they are identical with regular Housemaids.

Upper Housemaid [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

In British practice, the Upper Housemaid oversees the Under Housemaids, and reports directly to the Housekeeper. The Upper Housemaid will usually be responsible for cleaning high status rooms and expensive objects. Her skills and abilities will be otherwise similar to any other Housemaid.

Naturally, the Upper Housemaid is better paid than an ordinary Housemaid, earning 75p a week, 975p quarterly, or 3,900p a year.

Tutor [Retainer]
Strongest Ability: Intelligence (Charisma if actually a Libertine)

If the the knowledge of a house’s Governess is considered inadequate in some area, a specialized Tutor may be brought in. Likewise, if a boy over the age of 14 is not sent away to school, his further education will be conducted by specialized male Tutors, rather than the Governess. In pre-Revolutionary France, Tutors are often Abbés, men who have religious training and may be members of orders, but who often lack formal ordination. In other Catholic countries, Tutors are often actual priests or monks.

Areas of knowledge in which a Tutor might specialize include:

  • Arithmetic
  • Geometry
  • Astronomy (& Astrology)
  • Grammar
  • Logic
  • Rhetoric
  • History
  • Philosophy
  • Physic (Medicine)
  • Classics
  • Non-classical Literature
  • Latin
  • Greek
  • Hebrew
  • Theology
  • Natural Philosophy (Science)
  • Poetry
  • French (the necessary language of High Society and diplomacy)
  • Italian (the language of art and music)
  • German (the language of the most exciting new novels and philosophical works)

By the Ghastly Age, Alchemy is no longer considered a subject of serious academic study. Many aristocrats are still enthusiasts for the subject, of course, but it isn’t an element of proper pedagogy.

Naturally, a Tutor will posses deep knowledge of their field – unless they are actually a Libertine fraudulently working their way into the household for the purpose of seduction! Tutors in the natural sciences may in fact be Mad Scientists trying to fund their research. An Abbé employed as a Tutor may also be a Magician – and not necessarily one who deal with angels!

A Tutor will be paid the standard rate for a Retainer.

Valet [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

A Valet waits on a member of the household, traveling wherever they go, running errands for them, and attending to minor business concerns and transactions. A man’s Valet will also shave and dress him, care for his clothing, consult on his fashion choices, and serve as his personal confidante. Like Lady’s Maids, Valets often have an intuitive understanding of the motivations and desires of others. Unlike a Footman, who serves the House and Household, a Valet personally serves a particular member of the family. In British practice, Valets are usually assigned to the male members of the household only, but in French practice a woman may have a personal Valet in addition to her Femme de Chambre (Lady’s Maid).

Those Vampyres who continue to live in human society may task their Valets with maintaining a supply of fresh blood. A Valet may themselves be a practiced Libertine – aiding, abetting, and participating in the venereous misadventures of their master (or mistress). The Valet of a Mad Scientist might even be a Brute, Cannibal, or Degenerate, and thus a Monstrous Servant.

A Valet’s wages are 250p a week – 3,250 quarterly, or 13,000p a year. He is also entitled to receive cast-off clothing from his master, which he can wear instead of the house’s livery.

Whipper-In [Grounds Servant]
Strongest Ability: Dexterity

The job of the Whipper-In is to manage the hounds on a hunt, so they don’t wander off (or pursue something other than the intended quarry). He will be a skilled equestrian, proficient in the precise use of the whip, observant, and have an intuitive understanding of animal behavior. When not actually hunting he will aid the Kennel Master, Huntsman, or Gamekeeper. The Whipper-In could even find himself directed to lend his particular expertise to the punishment of other male servants (females being usually whipped by the Housekeeper, or else the Lady in her private chambers).

The Whipper-In is paid the standard amount for a male Grounds Servant.