100 Notable Features of 18th Century Country Estates

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John Constable Arundel Mill and Castle

A typical country estate of the late 18th century (such as that surrounding Highdark Hall) might incorporate 1.5 to 2 square miles of land, containing a mix of farmland, cultivated woods (for lumber, firewood, and tree crops), and forest (for hunting). An aristocratic family of the period would often draw most (or even all) of its income from rents and fees paid by their tenants, as well as direct sales of agricultural products and extracted minerals. There will almost always be a body of water present on the property, whether a stream, river, or lake. At the nucleus of the estate will be a Grand House of some kind, and its parkland gardens. Besides any cottages inhabited by the grounds servants, there will typically also be a village (or two) located on the greater estate. It is common everywhere during the period for the holder of an estate to also have some legal authority over their tenants, and in Russia (and many other parts of Eastern Europe) may even actually own them as serfs. Of course, almost all such privileges were abolished in France during the Revolution.

Use the following table to add color (and sow the seeds for future scenarios) when the PCs first visit an Estate House.

d100

As you travel across the greater estate, you notice…

1

the evidence of recent fires.

2

evidence of recent hail damage on plants.

3

that it seems strangely under-populated.

4

it seems to be perfectly laid out for equestrianism, with many small ditches and low walls to jump.

5

the shocking poverty of the tenants.

6

the incredible prosperity of the tenants.

7

the livestock seems to be wasting away.

8

the odd architecture of the tenants’ cottages.

9

a Megalithic stone circle (NW. Europe) / a ruined Roman temple (S. Europe) / human-sized stone idols (C. and E. Europe).

10

ancient barrows (Northwestern Europe) / Roman tombs (Southern Europe) / kurgans (Central and Eastern Europe).

11

many flattened Fairy circles in the grass and grain.

12

the numerous stone crosses that dot the area.

13

a bizarre fungal growth on many of the trees and stone walls.

14

orchards growing a fruit variety you’ve seen nowhere else.

15

the corpses of many animals that have died violently.

16

a whole abandoned village in ruins.

17

a strange species of flower that you have seen nowhere else.

18

a unique breed of cow found nowhere else.

19

a unique breed of sheep found nowhere else.

20

a strange precession for a saint (or local hero) that you can’t identify.

21

masked dancers wildly cavorting along the paths.

22

another Great House, apparently abandoned and in ruins.

23

a ruined castle.

24

a ruined windmill.

25

a ruined watchtower.

26

a ruined monastery (or convent)

27

the evidence of an ancient battlefield.

28

there are murders of crows everywhere.

29

the area seems oddly cool for the climatic region.

30

the area seems oddly warm for its climatic region.

31

the land is wrapped in mists.

32

there are numerous roadside shrines (even in a Protestant area).

33

packs of wild dogs seem to roam freely.

34

the tenants of the estate are rude and unfriendly.

35

the tenants are notably warm and friendly.

36

the tenants seem to all be foreigners.

37

the tenants are especially well-dressed, although nothing else about them indicates wealth.

38

numerous cottages that seem empty, yet are kept in good repair.

39

the tenants tend to speak and dress in an oddly archaic manner.

40

the path seems to bustle with activity.

41

there are numerous gypsy encampments.

42

numerous fallen trees.

43

that you feel as if you are always being watched.

44

that the land seems swampy, and poorly drained.

45

that the land seems drier than normal for the climate.

46

that the trees and other plant life seems overgrown.

47

every bird and wild animal seems aggressive.

48

a strange lack of men among the tenants.

49

a strange lack of women among the tenants.

50

a strange lack of children among the tenants.

51

the faint sounds of singing choirs, even when there are no apparent people in the vicinity.

52

an oddly colorful mushroom which you cannot identify, but which seems common here.

53

numerous animal skulls and skeletons left in the fields.

54

a body left to rot in a gibbet.

55

a crossroads with an apparent grave in its center, protruding from which is the top of a iron spike.

56

that parts of the estate seems have been setup to echo locations in the Odyssey.

57

statues of Greek and Roman gods standing in the fields.

58

the early stages of some massive construction project.

59

numerous caves and/or sinkholes.

60

a ubiquitous and delightful smell that eludes easy description.

61

a vile but ubiquitous smell that you hope does not extend into the House.

62

numerous colorful rocks and pebbles – evidence, perhaps of mineral wealth underground.

63

a scream in the distance, which is suddenly silenced.

64

the numerous picaresque landscapes.

65

the trees seem diseased.

66

the insect life seems especially numerous, and the air resounds with their buzzing.

67

the birdsong seems strangely harsh.

68

tenants being forcibly evicted.

69

many new tenants seem to be moving into the cottages.

70

several cottages whose construction had been abandoned.

71

the tenants seem oddly indolent.

72

the tenants seem especially industrious.

73

fish appear to have recently fallen from the sky onto one of the fields.

74

scarecrows dressed in antique armor.

75

a sudden wind that carries the smell of a charnel house.

76

the wildflowers are exceptionally profuse in the fallow fields.

77

numerous trees that seem have been blasted by lightning.

78

many inexplicable bare patches in the otherwise fertile land.

79

a profusion of snakes. (Roll again in Ireland)

80

there is an antiquarian excavation occurring.

81

the hedgerows look especially ragged and overgrown.

82

the hedgerows are kept exceptionally neat and clipped.

83

there is a noticeably high amount of children playing in the fields.

84

the image of a horse has been cut into the side of a hill.

85

the image of a man has been cut into the side of a hill.

86

the numerous wayfaring signs.

87

the numerous wayfaring signs, which seem to bear no relationship with actual landmarks and distances.

88

there are several especially dense and dark patches of woodland.

89

the local church is oddly ornate for a country parish.

90

an especially large burial ground attached to the church.

91

the local church is a ruin.

92

a striking profusion of spiderwebs, and many tree limbs wrapped in cocoons.

93

the paths are deeply rutted, with no recent attempts at repair.

94

the paths and roads are exceptionally well-maintained.

95

pilgrims evidently visiting some holy site.

96

notices posted on trees, offering a bounty for the apprehension of a local bandit.

97

the area is teeming with large, seemingly fearless rabbits.

98

there seem to be an especially high number of badger setts left undisturbed.

99

the numerous mine entrances

100

the presence of a Roman road.
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Pets and Vermin in a Grand House

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The Cat's Lunch

The effect of supernatural events on household pets is a recurring motif of Gothic and horror novels that can be used to great effect in a game. Sometimes the pet is itself the locus of the supernatural events, perhaps being actually a demon in disguise. Although the general treatment of animals during the Ghastly Age (1765 – 1820) was… ghastly, many aristocrats were in fact animal lovers who kept numerous pets. Lord Byron, for example, was renowned for his love of animals, and the Villa Diodati (where Mary Shelley conceived the idea for “Frankenstein”) was crawling with tame (and semi-tame) animals. The English eccentric John Mytton famously kept thousands of pets, let his horse live in his house, and once rode a pet bear to dinner! In the fictional Highdark Hall setting, Georgina Altumber’s calico cat Artemis is often to be found sleeping on her owner’s bed.

Pets Living in the House

Roll as many times as there are family members living in the house, but stop when you roll a 69 or higher. Add repeated results together.

Remember that there will almost always be a semi-feral cat kept in the kitchens (for killing vermin), and possibly a turnspit dog (or two).

d100 The family keeps… NOTES
1 – 4 an angora cat.
5 – 6 a barbet (hunting dog). Barbets actually used for hunting will usually be kept in exterior kennels.
7 – 8 a beagle (lapdog) Beagles actually used for hunting will usually be kept in exterior kennels.
9 – 10 a bichon (lapdog).
11 – 12 a bullfinch.
13 – 14 a canary.
15 – 16 a capuchin monkey. Often dressed in a footman’s livery, or exotic costume.
17– 18 a chihuahua (lapdog).
19 – 20 a corgi (lapdog). According to Welsh legend, corgis are the mounts of Fairies.
21 – 22 a crow or raven.
23 – 24 a fox Tame animal kept as a pet, although foxes are also considered vermin.
25– 26 1d8 goldfish. Fishbowl will be located in a family member’s bedchamber, boudoir, or cabinet.
27 – 28 a green (or sabaeus) monkey. Often dressed in an outfit.
29 – 30 a hedgehog. Tame animal kept as a pet, although hedgehogs are also considered parkland vermin.
31 – 35 a long-haired cat. A semi-feral ratter will usually be kept in the kitchen.
36 – 37 a pair of lovebirds.
38 – 39 a macaque (or Barbary ape).
40 – 41 a mastiff (guard dog). Guard Mastiffs will usually be kept in exterior kennels.
42 – 43 a nightingale.
44 – 45 a papillon (lapdog).
46 – 47 a parrot.
48 – 52 a Persian cat. Original breed, without the pug face characteristic of modern examples.
53 – 54 a poodle (hunting dog). Poodles actually used for hunting will usually be kept in exterior kennels.
55 – 56 a pug (lapdog). The 18th century breed has a short, but noticeable muzzle.
57 a serval.
58 – 59 a short-haired cat A semi-feral ratter will usually be kept in the kitchen.
60 – 61 a spaniel (hunting dog). Spaniels actually used for hunting will usually be kept in exterior kennels.
62 – 63 a spitz (hunting dog). Spitzes actually used for hunting will usually be kept in exterior kennels.
64 – 65 a terrier (hunting dog). Terriers actually used for hunting animals other than rats will usually be kept in exterior kennels.
66– 68 a toy poodle (lapdog).
69 – 100 No more pets.

Jan van Kessel (I) - Insects and reptiles

Grand Houses (such as Highdark Hall) were almost always infested with some kind of vermin, and an attempt to finally eliminate them can make a nice setup for a scenario. As with the family pets, there is always the possibility that the house vermin are not at all what they seem…

Vermin in the House

Roll 1d4 times.

d100 The house is infested with… NOTES
1 – 2 ants.
3 – 7 barn owls. Only seen in attic.
8 – 9 barn swallows. Only seen in attic.
10 – 15 bats Only seen in attic.
15 – 16 bedbugs. An infestation creates a noticeable smell like coriander (cilantro).
17 – 18 carpet beetles.
19 – 20 centipedes.
21 – 24 clothes moths.
25 – 26 cockroaches. Most active at night. Will flee bright lights.
27 – 28 crickets
29 dangerous spiders.
30 – 31 death’s head moths.
32 – 33 deathwatch beetles.
34 – 35 fleas.
36 – 40 flies.
41 – 42 grave beetles.
43 – 44 harmless house spiders.
45 – 46 harmless snakes. Only seen in basement or on ground floor.
47 – 48 house moths.
49 – 50 larder beetles.
51 – 52 lizards. Warm areas only.
53 – 63 mice. Almost all Grand Houses have some mice and/or rats. A result here indicates a noticeably large amount.
64 – 75 millipedes.
76 – 77 paper wasps. Only seen in attic.
78 – 90 rats. Almost all Grand Houses have some rats and/or mice. A result here indicates a noticeably large amount.
91 – 92 silverfish.
93 – 95 termites
96 toads. Only seen in basement or on ground floor.
97 venomous snakes. Only seen in basement or on ground floor.
98 woodwasps
99 – 100 woodworms.

31% OFF Ghastly Affair PDFs on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow!

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Now through Halloween 2018, the PDF versions of the “Ghastly Affair Player’s Manual”, “Ghastly Affair Presenter’s Manual”, a “A Ghastly Potpourri”, and the Ghastly Affair novel “Hunter’s Song”, are all 31% off on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow!

Random Landscape Paintings in Grand Houses

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Caspar David Friedrich - Das Eismeer - Hamburger Kunsthalle - 02

The 18th century saw the tremendous growth of Landscape painting as a popular genre, especially in Britain. Although contemporary critics ranked it as a “lesser” type of painting (similar to the still-life), there were many more landscapes actually hanging on walls than the more prestigious historical images preferred by the intelligentsia. The early years of the 19th century also saw the emergence of great Romantic landscape artists like Caspar David Friedrich (known for his moody images that often include figures looking into the scene with the viewer) and J.M.W. Turner (whose visionary work prefigured Impressionism and Abstract Expressionism).

Besides its use to add atmosphere to a setting, a landscape painting can also be a great clue to finding a location significant to the resolution of some in-game mystery. If you are running a game set in Highdark Hall, use the following tables to define the landscape paintings found in the Governess’ Bedroom.

d100

The painting depicts a landscape scene of…

1 – 2

a gnarled forest…

3 – 4

a pine forest…

5 – 6

a ruined castle…

7 – 8

a ruined cathedral…

9 – 10

a classical ruin…

11 – 12

a circle of standing stones…

13 – 14

an overgrown churchyard…

15 – 16

a lake…

17 – 18

a field of grain…

19 – 20

an orchard…

21 – 22

a snowy field…

23 – 24

jagged mountain peaks…

25 – 26

rolling hills…

27 – 28

rocky shore…

29 – 30

Venice…

31 –32

the Bay of Naples…

33 – 34

London…

35 – 36

Paris…

37 – 38

Vienna…

39 – 40

the ruins of Pompeii…

41 – 42

the arctic…

43 – 44

a house on the moors…

45 – 46

a ship on a calm sea…

47 – 48

a ship on a stormy sea…

49 – 50

a great chasm…

51 – 52

a formal French garden…

53 – 54

an English landscape garden…

55 – 56

a castle atop a mountain…

57 – 58

Chinese pagodas…

59 – 60

Egyptian ruins…

61 – 62

a cave entrance…

63 – 64

a natural arch of rock…

65 – 66

a monumental building in India…

67 – 68

a Turkish palace…

69 – 70

a mosque…

71 – 72

a lonely tomb…

73 – 74

a grand Gothic cathedral…

75 – 76

a mighty river…

77 – 78

an island in the South Seas…

79 – 80

a forest, with hunters chasing game…

81 – 82

a gathering storm on the shoreline…

83 – 84

a storm raining down on a field…

85 – 86

a beacon on the shore…

87 – 88

a South Seas island…

89 – 90

sandy desert dunes…

91 – 92

a ruined Hindu temple…

93 – 94

Ancient American ruins (Aztec, Mayan, Inca, etc.)…

95 – 96

a volcanic eruption…

97 – 98

a river ford…

99 – 100

a partially-ruined farmhouse…

d4

in the…

1

spring,

2

summer,

3

autumn,

4

winter,

d4

during the hours of…

1

the morning.

2

the day.

3

the evening.

4

the night.

d20

The notable thing about the painting is…

1

the out of place animal(s).

2

the out of place plant(s).

3

the inclusion of an unidentifiable creature.

4

the powerfully moving depiction that fills you with a sense of sublime melancholy (or terror).

5

the strange lights depicted in the sky.

6

the heavy use of impasto techniques that add surface texture to the depictions of features like rocks and trees.

7

the strange use of perspective.

8

that no attempt has been made to follow the rules of perspective.

9

it appears to be an unknown work from a well-known master.

10

it is incompetently rendered, and must have some kind of sentimental value to its owners.

11

the places and objects depicted form a visual pun.

12

the complete lack of apparent brush-strokes.

13

the virtuoso, trompe l’oeil depiction that looks like seeing the actual landscape through a window.

14

it seems to have been painted on a black ground, rather than white.

15

it was apparently painted alla prima, in one sitting with no under-painting.

16

there seems to be another, faintly visible image underneath the current image.

17

it has a heavily crackled surface.

18

although an oil, it is completely painted in translucent glazes that make it resemble a watercolor.

19

it appears to be the work of an unknown master.

20

the semi-abstract rendering, more concerned with color and shape than an accurate depiction of reality.

Highdark Hall Now Available on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow!

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Here’s a surprise Halloween treat for you all – the complete Highdark Hall is now available for download on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow!

Experience a place of hauntings and High Society, where good manners are veils for murderous intentions. Welcome to Highdark Hall! Horrors beyond belief, and romances beyond reason, have played out within its walls. Designed as a backdrop that would support the creative visions of individual Game Masters, Highdark Hall is intended as a setting where shocking stories of love, death, and the supernatural can emerge spontaneously from interacting with its colorful inhabitants and strange locations. What further catastrophes befall its occupants and their guests, are for you to decide.

This PDF collects the Highdark Hall material you may already know, and also reveals many previously hidden secrets. It includes:

    • Detailed, historically plausible floor-plans for an 18th century Stately Home on five floors.
    • An overview of the enigmatic Altumber family and their (in)famous residence.
    • Over 100 interior locations, from the opulent Lunar Ballroom, to the secret Hellfire Chapel.
    • A fully mapped parkland filled with dramatic (and potentially dangerous) locations.
    • Over 50 unique NPCs, from the vile to the virtuous, in a tangle of conflicting desires set to explode.
    • Extensive rumors and legends, ripe for investigation by the brave (and foolish).
    • Schedules of the entertainments and activities enjoyed by visitors, with descriptions of typical meals.
    • An in-depth description of the legendary (and possibly haunted) Hedge Maze of Highdark Hall.
    • A description of the annual Autumnal Masque, with tables to generate the costumes of attendees.

Plus, printable versions of all maps.

Highdark Hall was created especially for use with Ghastly Affair, the Gothic Game of Romantic Horror, but it has potential for any game set in Georgian, Napoleonic, Regency, or early Victorian times. It could even be explored by modern paranormal investigators, come to uncover its disturbing past. How will its spirits speak to you?

Note: Highdark Hall contains some mature subject matter. Reader discretion is advised.

Random “Genre” Paintings in Grand Houses

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El entierro de la sardina, Francisco de Goya

In the jargon of art history a “genre” painting is one that depicts a scene of people engaged in ordinary life, without being a portrait of anyone specific, or a depiction of a historical event. Such paintings were very popular in the 18th century, and occupied a middle place in the accepted hierarchy of subjects.

d100

The painting depicts…

1

Gypsies in their encampment.

2

the preparation of a grand feast.

3

a portrait being painted.

4

lovers walking down a street in Paris.

5

a formal dinner.

6

a lady at her toilette, with visitors

7

a woman washing herself astride her bidet.

8

a masquerade ball.

9

a country dance.

10

peasants dancing.

11

a shepherdess and her flock.

12

a pretty milkmaid and her cows.

13

a fox hunt.

14

a stag hunt.

15

a boar hunt.

16

soldiers carousing in a tavern.

17

a peasant wedding.

18

a peasant woman nursing a child.

19

a peddler with a lemonade tank on his back.

20

a peasant family eating dinner.

21

a silhouette portrait being made.

22

several well-dressed young ladies giving a recital.

23

a farmer bringing produce to market in a wagon.

24

a small group of well-dressed people having luncheon in a small, but nicely-appointed room.

25

a modiste visiting a fashionable young lady

26

a water carrier.

27

a seamstress sewing a dress.

28

an operatic performance.

29

a ballet performance.

30

a performance of the Commedia dell’Arte.

31

a group of well-dressed people having a picnic.

32

laundresses washing clothes in a stream.

33

a young lady having a music lesson.

34

a young woman writing a letter.

35

grapes being harvested.

36

a butcher at his work.

37

the interior of a gaming hall.

38

an old washerwoman at work.

39

a group of men and women playing billiards.

40

a horse-race.

41

a cock-fight.

42

a dog fight.

43

a peasant mother dressing her child.

44

fishermen hauling in their catch.

45

a boy building a house of cards.

46

a Gypsy telling a fortune.

47

a governess admonishing a young child.

48

a man spying on a lady during the early part of her toilette.

49

stiltwalkers giving a public show.

50

a procession of pilgrims down a city street.

51

several monks making merry.

52

a young girl eavesdropping on a pair of lovers conversing.

53

a dance master giving lessons.

54

a drawing master giving lessons.

55

a group of men and women playing “blind-man’s bluff”.

56

a public hanging.

57

a public beheading.

58

a debate in an opulent salon.

59

the interior of a shop selling home furnishings.

60

children receiving gifts on Saint Nicholas’ Day.

61

a group of drunken singers at Christmastime.

62

a lady being carried in a sedan chair.

63

a carriage rolling through the countryside.

64

a woman (or man) in the sickbed, attended by their family.

65

a marriage contract being signed.

66

a group of masked Venetians gambling at The Ridotto.

67

a group of English Morris Dancers.

68

a couple visiting a menagerie.

69

a mountebank before a crowd.

70

a group of soldiers performing drills.

71

the crew aboard a ship, hoisting sails.

72

a group of ladies playing cards.

73

soldiers playing dice.

74

a chemist giving a demonstration to a small crowd.

75

a group of actors applying makeup.

76

an elegant salon in a lady’s bedchamber.

77

a patient being bled by a doctor.

78

a woman giving birth, with the family watching.

79

a girl crying over a dead pet.

80

a funeral procession.

81

a tennis match

82

a small group playing battledore and shuttlecock.

83

a group of aristocratic men shooting pigeons.

84

a grand house being constructed

85

a peasant home being built.

86

a group of street musicians.

87

a group of men and women telling ghost stories in a dimly-lit drawing room.

88

a peasant fishing.

89

a group of well-dressed men and women watching a regatta.

90

a dentist pulling teeth.

91

a maid carrying a chocolate pot and cups on a tray.

92

a baker removing loaves from the oven.

93

a woman visiting a fishmonger.

94

women making lace.

95

a sturdy peasant woman at a spinning wheel.

96

a group of well-dressed ladies embroidering.

97

a Spanish bullfight.

98

a group of children playing at being soldiers.

99

a knife-sharpener at work.

100

a money-lender’s office.

Random Titles for 18th Century Gothic Romances

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Tales of wonder by James Gillray

The following tables will create the wonderfully florid, two-part titles characteristic of late 18th and early 19th century Gothic Romances. The kind that followed the general format of “Something Something; or, The Something Something of the Something Something”. Use them to define the “horrid novel” hidden under a young lady’s pillow, or even to title your next Gothic gaming scenario!

d20, twice

This book is entitled…

1

“The Cursed… Monk;

2

“The Haunted… Castle;

3

“The Curious… Abbey;

4

“The Spectral… Count;

5

“The Lost… Maiden;

6

“The Uncanny… Prisoner;

7

“The Hidden… Steed;

8

“The Ruined… Seat;

9

“The Disputed… Manor;

10

“The Stolen (or Abducted)… Heir(ess);

11

“The Secret… Tomb;

12

“The Infamous… Turk;

13

“The Terrible… Staircase;

14

“The Mysterious… Vault;

15

“The Bewitched… Image;

16

“The Deadly… Idol;

17

“The Fateful… Book;

18

“The Ancient… Chamber;

19

“The Disappearing… Cavern;

20

“The Miserable… Bandit;

d12, five times

or, …

1

The… Thrilling… Tale… of the… Fortress”.

2

A(n)… Dolorous… Novel… of the Horrid… Tower”.

3

A Most… Forbidden… Story… of the Damned… Cloister”.

4

Another… Wondrous… Account… of the Blessed… Lovers of Italy”.

5

The First… Sworn… Recounting… of the Doomed … Forest”.

6

The Second… Gothic… Fable… of the Fated… Mountains”.

7

The Celebrated and… Terrifying… Poem… of the Forbidden… Orient”.

8

A Terrible and… Sublime… Epic… of the Mysterious… Family”.

9

The Collected and… Entire… Testament… of the Mad… Sodality”.

10

A Queer and… Philosophical… Romance… of the Strange… Crypt”.

11

The Famous and… Shocking… Relation… of the Weird… Chapel”.

12

The Whole and… Curious… Dialogue… of the Infamous… Spaniard”.

d100

As you page through the book, you notice…

1 – 2

it promotes itself as an account of true events.

3 – 4

the shocking illustrations, unfit for the eyes of “respectable” women.

5 – 6

its strong moral voice that upholds virtue at every turn.

7 – 8

the author’s apparent sympathy with the ostensible villain of the story.

9 – 10

the author’s ability to inspire genuine fright.

11 – 12

that the title seems to have nothing at all to do with the plot.

13 – 14

it’s an obvious rewrite of a better-known book.

15 – 16

the author has plagiarized whole sections from other novels, and strung them together with a flimsy narrative.

17 – 18

its blasphemous and impious nature.

19 – 20

its graphic depiction of sex.

21 – 22

its subversive political stance.

23 – 24

the scenes are beautifully described, but the characters are completely unconvincing.

25 – 26

the plot meanders aimlessly.

27 – 28

the thrilling and masterfully-structured plot.

29 – 30

the plot is completely predictable.

31 – 32

the story is full of contradictory episodes.

33 – 34

it appears to be little more than a catalog of horrors suffered by its heroine.

35 – 36

the numerous poems inserted into the story.

37 – 38

the characters are obvious stand-ins for well-known people.

39 – 40

the whole book is an extended allegory.

41 – 42

it takes every opportunity to defame the Roman Catholic church.

43 – 44

it is extremely antisemitic.

45 – 46

it is filled with slanders against Muslims.

47 – 48

it ascribes every possible crime to the Romany.

49 – 50

every aristocrat is portrayed as a depraved monster, except the virtuous heroine (of course).

51 – 52

it actually promotes tolerance of widely-disliked groups.

53 – 54

it constantly belittles the minds and morals of women.

55 – 56

the author’s obvious support for the education and emancipation of women.

57 – 58

it actually supports the institution of slavery.

59 – 60

the author’s obvious support for the abolition of slavery.

61 – 62

the author has obviously never been to any of the real-world locations described.

63 – 64

the inclusion of authentic details about the places and kinds of people described.

65 – 66

the depictions of witchcraft seem a little too authentic.

67 – 68

the author’s obsession with blood.

69 – 70

the author’s obsession with torture.

71 – 72

the author’s obsession with incest.

73 – 74

the author’s obsession with death and decay.

75 – 76

the author’s obsession with outré sexual practices.

77 – 78

the heroine seems to endure an amount of abuse that should have killed her in the first chapter!

79 – 80

its strong opposition to arranged marriages.

81 – 82

its surprising sympathy with arranged marriages.

83 – 84

the plot focuses on the “romantic friendship” between two people of the same sex.

85 – 86

it was carelessly typeset, and whole pages seem to be missing.

87 – 88

the credited author appears to be a pseudonym for a well-known writer who perhaps didn’t want to be associated with this book.

89 – 90

you can’t shake the feeling that there is another text somehow encoded within this one.

91 – 92

the surprising weakness of the male characters in the face of danger.

93 – 94

the absurdly high number of times the heroine faints.

95 – 96

there are several recipes included in the text!

97 – 98

it reads like a primer for budding young criminals!

99 – 100

it shamelessly glorifies suicide.

Random Allegorical and Emblematic Paintings

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Splendor Solis 10 severing head of king

Pre-20th century art was filled with allegorical and emblematic images bizarre to modern eyes. “Allegorical” images were usually conventionalized depictions that would be easily recognizable to anyone who had a classical education. They were considered among the “higher” forms of art in the hierarchy of subjects, on par with Historical painting. Of course, many times Allegorical images (particularly subjects such as the “Three Graces”) were simply an excuse to portray beautiful nude women. The type of images referred to as “Emblems”, on the other hand, could be quite startling, and utterly baffling to anyone who lacked the keys to their decipherment. Such an Emblematic image might represent anything from a moral lesson to a coded occult instruction. Reconnaissance art was particularly obsessed with such emblems, the most recognizable example of which to modern people are the twenty-two Trump cards of the Tarot. The twenty-two illustrations of the “Splendor Solis”, a sixteenth century alchemical treatise, are another well-known set of Emblems.

Both Allegorical and Emblematic paintings are great ways for the Presenter (or GM) to hide clues to some great mystery. Allegorical paintings are also a good narrative device for declaring the mood (or to foreshadow the intended moral) of a scenario. The lodges or chapter-houses of secret societies are particularly likely to be filled with Emblematic paintings, and successfully decoding them may reveal the secrets of such groups. Likewise, the only recorded form of a powerful Magical Ritual might be a series of Emblems whose interpretation has eluded the uninitiated for centuries.

Allegorical Images

d100

This painting depicts an allegorical image of…

1 – 5

Death and the Maiden, depicted as a skeletal figure embracing a young woman.

6

Calliope, the Muse of Eloquent Speaking, holding a writing tablet.

7

Clio, the Muse of History, holding a scroll.

8

Euterpe, the Muse of Music, holding a flute.

9

Thalia, the Muse of Comedy, holding the comedic mask.

10

Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy, holding the tragic mask,

11

Terpsichore, the Muse of Dancing, holding a lyre

12

Erato, the Muse of Love Poetry, wreathed with myrtle, and holding a lyre.

13

Polyhymnia, the Muse of Sacred Poetry, with her elbow resting on a pillar.

14

Urania, the Muse of Astronomy, holding a globe and stylus.

15 – 16

The Nine Muses together.

17 – 22

The Three Graces, depicted as nude women embracing each other.

23 – 24

The Dance of Death, depicting a skeletal figure dancing with people from various stations in society.

25 – 26

The Triumph of Death, depicting a mounted skeleton with a scythe cutting down armies of the living.

27 – 28

The Golden Age of Man, depicting naked people cavorting in an idyllic landscape.

29 – 30

The Ages of Man, showing a man at 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, 40 years, 50 years, 60 years, 70 years, 80 years, and 90 years of age.

31

Spring, represented as a young woman crowned with flowers.

32

Summer, represented as a woman holding wheat.

33

Autumn, represented as a mature woman holding grapes.

34

Winter, represented as an aged women (or man) in furs.

35 – 38

The Four Seasons together.

39

the Element of Air, represented by a mass of birds and sylphs.

40

the Element of Water, represented by marine life sporting alongside mermaids and nereids.

41

the Element of Fire, represented by a volcanic landscape with dragons.

42

the Element of Earth, represented by gardens, forests, and farmers laboring in their fields.

43

the Four Winds, represented as four men with puffed out cheeks, atop clouds.

44

the River Nile, depicted as man reclining on a sculpture of the sphinx.

45 – 46

the Rhine River, depicted as a man with two horns and a crown of grape leaves.

47 – 48

the Danube River, depicted as a man with weeds growing from his hair.

49 – 50

the Liberal Arts, depicted as seven women. The first holds a book and key, the second a scroll and caduceus, the third a small dragon, the fourth a compass, the fifth a ledger and coins, the sixth a harp, and the seventh an armillary sphere.

51 – 53

the Wheel of Fortune, with figures ascending, riding atop, and descending.

54

the Virtue of Justice, depicted as a woman holding scales and a sword.

55

the Virtue of Fortitude, depicted as a young woman holding open the jaws of a lion.

56

the Virtue of Temperance, depicted as a women pouring water from one jug into another.

57

the Virtue of Prudence, depicted as a woman with a mirror, menaced by a serpentine dragon.

58 – 62

The Four Cardinal Virtues (Justice, Fortitude, Temperance, and Prudence) together.

63

the Virtue of Faith, depicted as a woman with a cup, and a book.

64

the Virtue of Hope, depicted as a woman with upcast eyes, and an anchor, at her feet.

65

the Virtue of Charity, depicted as a bare-breasted woman nursing many children.

66 – 70

The Three Theological Virtues (Faith, Hope, and Charity) together.

71

the Continent of Europe, depicted as a crowned woman in a Classical breastplate.

72

the Continent of Asia, depicted as a woman wearing a turban.

73

the Continent of Africa, depicted as a dark-skinned woman wearing a head-wrap with ostrich feathers.

74

the Continent of America, depicted as a woman with a headdress comprised completely of feathers.

75 – 78

the Four Continents (Europe, Asia, Africa, and America)

79

the Deadly Sin of Sloth, depicted as a sloppily-dressed woman asleep.

80

the Deadly Sin of Gluttony, depicted as a woman with a wolf’s head eating a vast amount of food.

81

the Deadly Sin of Wrath, depicted as an angry woman with a bloody sword.

82

the Deadly Sin of Pride, depicted a woman in finery looking into a mirror.

83

the Deadly Sin of Lust, depicted as a naked woman lasciviously holding her breasts and genitals.

84

the Deadly Sin of Greed, depicted as a woman clutching various treasures.

85

the Deadly Sin of Envy, depicted as an old woman with a snake protruding from her mouth, and a dog by her side.

86 – 88

The Seven Deadly Sins in a group.

89 – 90

Vanity, represented by a beautiful woman staring into a hand mirror.

91 – 92

Sacred and Profane Love, depicted as clothed and nude women.

93 – 94

War and Peace, depicted armored Mars embraced by nude Venus.

95 – 96

Peace, depicted as a woman dressed in diaphanous white vestment, and holding an olive branch,

97 – 100

Father Time, depicted with his scythe and hourglass.

d20

Notably,

1

there are several putti also depicted.

2

a main figure has the face of a family member (or ancestor).

3

a main figure has the face of a royal ancestor (or family member).

4

a famous artists’ model obviously posed for the picture.

5

the picture appears to be a work of genius from an unknown master.

6

everything is so realistically rendered it seems completely three-dimensional.

7

the colors are quite garish.

8

the colors are so subdued the painting seems almost monochrome.

9

the perspective seems off.

10

the picture is painted in a flat, medieval style that ignores perspective.

11

the Grand House itself appears in the background.

12

the background depicts an easily recognizable cityscape (Rome, Venice, Paris, Naples, London, etc.)

13

the background is a field of gold leaf.

14

the background is a field of silver leaf.

15

the surface of the painting is badly cracked.

16

sections appear to have been altered and re-painted.

17

the figures are rendered in a way that seems more calculate to titillate than instruct.

18

the shadows seem to be all wrong (or there are no shadows).

19

the composition seems to change slightly with each viewing.

20

it seems impossible to ascertain what medium was used.

 

Enigmatic Emblems

d100

The main subject of this strange painting is…

1 – 5

a young man…

6 – 10

an old man…

11 – 15

a young woman…

16 – 20

an old woman…

21 – 25

a pregnant woman…

26 – 30

a nursing woman…

31 – 35

a male child…

36 – 40

a female child…

41 – 45

an androgyne…

46 – 57

a demonic figure…

58 – 59

a skeletal figure…

60 – 61

a satyr…

62 – 63

a centaur…

64 – 65

a dog…

66 – 67

a cat…

68 – 69

a lion…

70 – 71

a serpent…

72 – 73

a dragon…

74 – 75

an eagle…

76 – 77

a raven…

78 – 79

a mermaid…

80 – 81

a stag…

82 – 83

a ram…

84 – 85

a bull…

86 – 87

a peacock…

88 – 98

a crab…

90 – 91

a fish…

92 – 93

a scorpion…

94 – 95

a swan…

96 – 97

a rooster…

98 – 99

a griffin…

100

a hippogriff…

d100

with…

1 – 4

two heads,

5 – 8

four arms,

9 – 12

one eye,

13 – 16

2d4 eyes,

17 – 20

a strange coloration,

21 – 24

the sun, moon, or a star, instead of a head.

25 – 28

bird wings, (if the figure is a bird, it has the wings of a different bird)

29 – 32

bat wings,

33 – 36

a burning tail,

37 – 40

sigils (or letters) on their (or its) body,

41 – 44

a crown,

45 – 48

a sword (held, or nearby),

49 – 52

a burst of glory emanating from their (or its) body,

53 – 56

a lamp burning atop their (or its) head,

57 – 60

antlers,

61 – 64

a halo of stars,

65 – 68

a chain wrapped around their (or its) body,

69 – 72

various bladed weapons stuck into their (or its) body,

73 – 76

a lance (held, or nearby),

77 – 80

a whip (held, or nearby),

81 – 84

a rose (held, or nearby),

85 – 88

a shovel (held, or nearby),

89 – 95

a horn (blowing, held, or nearby),

93 – 96

an enormous gem in their head,

97 – 100

a human face on its body,

d100

who is…

1 – 4

seated on a throne.

5 – 8

standing in a pool.

9 – 12

being crucified.

13 – 16

being struck with weapons.

17 – 20

spitting a stream of water (or blood) from their (or its) mouth.

21 – 24

breathing fire.

25 – 28

emerging from a grave.

29 – 32

emerging from a pool.

33 – 36

being dressed in a royal mantle.

37 – 40

being disrobed of a royal mantle.

41 – 44

being worshiped by a nude man and woman.

45 – 48

floating in the air.

49 – 52

dancing.

53 – 56

posed between two pillars.

57 – 60

inside a bubble.

61 – 64

hung from a tree.

65 – 68

holding (or standing near) a flowerpot.

69 – 72

menaced by dogs.

73 – 76

being cut into pieces by a man with a sword.

77 – 80

being bathed in a cauldron.

81 – 82

being put through a winepress.

83 – 87

being picked at by birds.

88 – 92

swallowing a snake.

93 – 95

blowing a horn.

96 – 98

contained within a giant glass flask.

99 – 100

chained to the Devil.

d100

In the background is…

1 – 5

the sun and moon.

6 – 10

a smiling sun.

11 – 15

a frowning moon.

16 – 20

a field of 1d20 stars.

21 – 25

1d6 cherubs or putti.

26 – 30

a castle.

31 – 35

a battle.

36 – 40

a river.

41 – 42

a placid ocean.

43 – 44

a forest.

45 – 46

a group of women washing clothes.

47 – 48

a group of peasants working their fields.

49 – 50

an unidentifiable plant.

51 – 52

a chimeric animal.

53 – 54

a hill being excavated.

55 – 56

a group of archers.

57 – 58

a stag hunt.

59 – 60

a vineyard.

61 – 62

the interior of a dungeon.

63 – 64

a barren field full of skulls.

65 – 66

an unfinished pyramid.

67 – 68

a hand projecting from a cloud.

69 – 70

an alchemical furnace.

71 – 72

two towers.

73 – 74

two obelisks.

75 – 76

two classical pillars.

77 – 78

a cliff.

79 – 80

the damned being tortured in hell.

81 – 82

an erupting volcano.

83 – 84

a rain of fire.

85 – 86

a pleasant landscape of rolling hills.

87 – 88

a rocky shore.

89 – 90

a windmill.

91 – 92

two armies about to clash.

93 – 94

a battlefield filled with corpses.

95 – 96

a Chinese landscape with pagodas.

97 – 98

a castle under construction.

99 – 100

the Crucifixion.

Random Secret Societies and Initiatory Orders

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Mozart in lodge, Vienna

The 18th century was a golden age of secret (and semi-secret) societies. Freemasonry’s central role in both the American and French Revolutions is, of course, well known, but a host of lesser-known groups also competed for members and influence. Counted among that group would be the exclusive gentlemen’s clubs of London, and the various knightly orders that had long ceased to serve any actual military function. Libertine organizations such as the Hellfire Club and The Beggar’s Benison attracted the cream of British society. There were also numerous occult variations of Freemasonry created in the 18th century, such as Cagliostro’s Egyptian Rite. Some 18th century groups (such as the Odd Fellows and the Freemasons themselves) endure to this day. The infamous Bavarian Illuminati, although long extinct, live on in the imaginations of conspiracy theorists.

The following tables will let you quickly generate the rough outlines of a quasi-Masonic or pseudo-chivalric organization of the type common among the members of High Society in the late 18th century. They can also be used to define the fictional Magical Order that initiated a Magician PC, or the fellowship that aids a Demon Hunter.

Organization Name

d12, four times

The…

1

Elect… Brothers (or Sisters) of the Golden… Triangle

2

Mystic… Order… of the Mysterious… Temple

3

Ancient… Confraternity (or Consorority)… of the Eternal… Eye

4

Illuminated… Fraternity (or Sorority)… of the Wondrous… Circle

5

Holy… Seers… of the Holy… Cross

6

Sacred… Companions… of the Praiseworthy… Stone

7

Superlative… Knights (or Dames)… of the Supernal… Dew

8

Accepted… Sodality… of the Most Revered… Grail

9

Christian… Intendants… of the Divine… Sword

10

Blessed… Servants… of the Untarnished… Mountain

11

Royal… Guardians… of the Deathless… Sun

12

Blameless… Watchers… of the Glorious… Column

 

Public Purpose of the Group

d20

The organization claims to be a group dedicated to…

1

improving public morals.

2

supporting widows.

3

improving the lives of the poor.

4

providing free medical care.

5

supporting the King.

6

helping “fallen” women.

7

a specific game or pastime.

8

appreciating wine.

9

appreciating food. (A specific food, or fine food in general.)

10

promoting the arts.

11

building churches.

12

sheltering orphans.

13

visiting the sick and imprisoned.

14

advancing medicine.

15

advancing natural philosophy.

16

antiquarianism.

17

exploration.

18

the mutual aid of its membership.

19

defending the realm.

20

defending Christianity.

 

Actual Purpose of the Group

d20

The organization’s real activity is

1

actually the same thing as their publicly stated goal!

2

vigilantism.

3

international espionage.

4

assassination for hire.

5

instituting a Republic.

6

overthrowing the current Royal House and installing a new one.

7

trading pornography.

8

gambling.

9

indulging in murder (or some other crime) for pleasure.

10

throwing orgies.

11

indulging in elaborate dinners.

12

indulging in flagellation (or another esoteric erotic practice).

13

the destruction of Christianity.

14

the worship of Satan (or another diabolical figure)

15

the worship of Demogorgon (or some other bizarre demon-god).

16

the worship of a pagan god

17

the service of a Fairy Queen (or King)

18

the practice of Magic (or Mad Science)

19

the performance of a vile ritual that keeps their members rich (or young, or beautiful)

20

the destruction of supernatural evil. (They are a society of Demon Hunters.)

 

Tokens of Recognition

d8

Members identify each other through…

1

a secret handshake.

2

a secret password.

3

a catechism.

4

a tattoo or brand.

5

a ring.

6

a perfume.

7

the wearing of a certain flower.

8

an article of clothing.

 

Rituals

d20

The group’s rituals are based on ….

1

Arthurian legend.

2

various incidents in Roman history.

3

Classical mythology.

4

the legends of Charlemagne.

5

the travels of Marco Polo.

6

the Jewish Kabbalah.

7

ancient Gnosticism.

8

Hermeticism.

9

Druidism.

10

ancient Germanic religion.

11

Sacred Geometry.

12

Egyptian myths.

13

the Book of Genesis.

14

an Old Testament story.

15

a New Testament story.

16

the Apocalypse, or Book of Revelation.

17

bastardized Tantracism.

18

bastardized Sufism.

19

a bastardized Native American ritual.

20

a bastardized African ritual.

 

Membership Makeup

d20

Membership is limited…

1

to men.

2

to men of high social standing.

3

to men who have attended a certain boarding school,

4

to women.

5

to women of high social standing.

6

to women who have attended a certain boarding school (or convent).

7

the men and women of high social standing.

8

to Catholic (or Orthodox) men.

9

to Catholic (or Orthodox) women.

10

to Catholics (or the Orthodox) of any gender.

11

to Protestant men.

12

to Protestant women.

13

to Protestants of any gender.

14

to people of a certain ethnicity.

15

to those who have already performed a significant act in support of the group’s public (or actual) purpose.

16

to tradesmen.

17

to tradesmen, and their wives.

18

to soldiers.

19

to soldiers, and their wives.

20

in no way – all are free to join.

 

The Initiation Ritual

d100

The most startling thing about the initiation ritual is…

1 – 3

it takes place in a burial ground (or catacombs).

4 – 6

it takes place in a ruined church.

7 – 9

it takes place in a cavern.

10 – 12

it takes place aboard a boat (or ship).

13 – 15

it involves the relics of a saint (or former king).

16 – 18

the whole ritual is performed in a comedic manner.

19 – 21

its simplicity – the candidate is simply blindfolded, and made to take an oath.

22 – 24

the candidate’s body is painted.

25 – 27

the chamber is decorated with images of horror.

28 – 30

it is completely conducted in a strange and unknown language.

31 – 36

the candidate must strip nude.

37 – 40

the elaborate costumes and masks.

41 – 43

the use of sophisticated magic lantern techniques.

44 – 46

the candidate must take a hallucinogenic drug beforehand.

47 – 49

the oath, which threatens horrible punishments if the group’s secrets are revealed.

50 – 52

the prominent role of a human skull (or skeleton).

53 – 55

the candidate must confess their worst sin in front of the group.

56 – 58

the candidate is made to renounce ALL other allegiances.

59 – 61

the candidates must ritually duel each other.

62 – 64

the candidate is ritually slapped by the senior members.

65 – 67

the candidate must sign a book in their own blood.

68 – 70

the candidate is ritually scourged.

71 – 73

the candidate will be unexpectedly abducted and taken to the place of initiation.

74 – 77

the candidate must kiss the bare buttocks of a senior member.

78 – 80

the candidate is positioned before the backside of goat (or other domestic animal), then blindfolded and told they must kiss the animal’s posterior. At the last moment the animal is replaced with a lovely young women (or handsome lad), who kisses the candidate instead.

81 – 83

the candidate is blindfolded and kept immobile for an hour.

84 – 86

the candidate is branded.

87 – 89

the candidate is briefly buried alive (or locked in a coffin).

90 – 92

the candidate is anointed all over their body with scented oils.

93 – 95

the candidate is ritually bathed.

96 – 98

the candidate is tattooed.

99

the actual presence of a supernatural creature.

100

the candidate must have ritual sex with another member.

 

The Hazing of Candidates

d20

Candidates for initiation are often hazed by…

1

being paddled on their buttocks.

2

being made to run a gauntlet of members wielding birch switches.

3

being made to wait on members while dressed as a peasant maid.

4

being tricked into consuming something inedible.

5

having their hands bound, and being made to move objects around the room with their mouths.

6

being woken in their bed by a bucket of cold water.

7

being made to eat something the other members have deposited bodily fluids on.

8

being bound, blindfolded, and tricked into believing that the group is being attacked by the authorities (or its enemies).

9

being made to drink alcohol until they pass out.

10

being smeared with dirt and garbage.

11

having their entire body shaved.

12

being made to run until they drop.

13

being blindfolded, and having eggs thrown at them unexpectedly.

14

being made to bend over and pick up coins from the ground, and then being kicked in the buttocks.

15

being used as a human table for a meal eaten by senior members.

16

being made to wear donkey ears as they are ridiculed by members.

17

being taken on a hunt for a nonexistent animal (or being sent on a quest to find a nonexistent item).

18

being thrown into an iron maiden with retracting, “trick” spikes.

19

having a pistol loaded with a blank shot fired at them.

20

being made to walk through the streets masked, but in a ridiculous costume.

 

Ritual Costume and Regalia

d20, 1d4 times

The ritual costume of members includes

1

a robe. (Disregard if a 20 is also rolled.)

2

anachronistic clothing. (Disregard if a 20 is also rolled.)

3

a mantle or cape.

4

slippers.

5

a sash.

6

a badge (pinned to clothing).

7

a medal (worn on a ribbon).

8

a sword.

9

a cord.

10

a hood.

11

a wand.

12

an apron.

13

gloves.

14

a mask.

15

a dagger.

16

a helmet.

17

a candle or torch.

18

a spear.

19

a tool ordinarily used by craftspeople.

20

being nude, except for the other regalia worn.

 

The Privileges of Membership

d20

A major benefit of membership is…

1

access to the group’s secure safe houses.

2

any member can expect unlimited hospitality at any other member’s home.

3

the safety of the group’s extremely liberal social attitudes.

4

a large number of public officials are members (or the spouses of members).

5

a large number of financiers (or their spouses) are members.

6

access to a network of skilled craftspeople willing to build or make anything without question.

7

a large number of very attractive people are members.

8

access to the rare and forbidden books possessed by the group.

9

access to the group’s network of scholars.

10

access to the group’s intelligence network.

11

members agree to hold their spouses in common.

12

access to the group’s store of powerful Weird Objects.

13

access to the group’s vast armory.

14

access to the group’s store of drugs and poisons.

15

potential access to a powerful magical ritual that confers wealth, health, or youth.

16

a large number of aristocrats are members.

17

a large number of artists are members.

18

the numerous parties and feasts.

19

members are pledged to defend each other with their lives.

20

the aid of supernatural allies.

 

Local Section Designation

d12

Each local section of the group is called a…

1

lodge.

2

chapter.

3

circle.

4

coterie.

5

hall.

6

court.

7

hostelry.

8

temple.

9

coven.

10

commandery.

11

bailiwick.

12

parish.

 

Group Structure

d10, twice

The group is organized into…

1

three… degrees.

2

four… ranks.

3

five… grades.

4

six… tiers.

5

seven… divisions.

6

nine… strata.

7

ten… spheres.

8

twelve… castes.

8

twenty-two… qualities.

9

twenty-six… stages.

10

thirty-two… levels.

 

Titles for New Initiates

d12

A newly joined member is called a…

1

Neophyte.

2

Apprentice.

3

Initiate.

4

Tyro.

5

Squire (or Maid).

6

Student.

7

Associate.

8

Probationer.

9

Aspirant.

10

Novice.

11

Seeker.

12

Novitiate.

 

Titles for Middle-ranked Members

d10, twice

The middle-ranked titles include…

1

Fellow… Journeyman / Journeywoman.

2

Registered… Brother / Sister.

3

Recorded… Knight / Dame.

4

Practicing… Craftsman / Craftswomen. (May also be a specific trade associated with the group’s purpose, such as Carpenter, or Hunter).

5

Errant… Frater / Soror.

6

Ordained… Adept.

7

Uncontested… Scribe.

8

Faithful… Warder.

9

Ordinary… Companion.

10

Instructed… Comrade.

 

Titles for Senior Members

d10, three times

The senior-ranked titles include…

1

Perfect… Master / Mistress… of the Temple.

2

Supreme… Prince / Princess… of the Rule.

3

Absolute… Custodian… of the Law.

4

Anointed… Hierophant… of the Secret.

5

Royal… Guardian… of the Portal.

6

Ineffable… Commander… of the East (or other direction).

7

Sublime… Intendant… of the Holy Mountain.

8

Glorious… Chamberlain / Chatelaine… of the Eagle.

9

Most Holy… Confidante… of the Crown.

10

Sacred… Sovereign… of the Most Holy Grail.

 

Group Governance

d10

The group is governed…

1

as completely independent cells without any kind of higher organization.

2

by local bodies electing representatives to regional bodies, who in turn vote for the overall leader.

3

by the eldest member of a single family, whose word is absolute.

4

by an absolute leader appointed by the previous one.

5

by a leader who is appointed by the previous one, but must also be confirmed by a vote of the membership.

6

by a cabal who appoint their successors.

7

by a Grandmaster appointed by a monarch (and not necessarily the local one).

8

as a true democracy, and all major decisions of the elected officers must also be ratified by the membership.

9

by a hierarchy so complicated that not even its members fully understand how it operates!

10

directly by a supernatural being.

 

Meeting Frequency

d20

The group meets…

1

every Sunday.

2

every Monday.

3

every Tuesday.

4

every Wednesday.

5

every Thursday.

6

every Friday.

7

every Saturday.

8

every fortnight (two weeks).

9

once a month, when the sun enters a new zodiacal sign.

10

on the first of each month.

11

in the middle of each month.

12

at the end of each month.

13

on every full moon.

14

on every new moon.

15

four times a year – on the Equinoxes and Solstices.

16

four times a year – on Candlemas, May Day, First Fruits, and All Saints Day.

17

annually, on Pentecost.

18

annually, on the Spring Equinox.

19

annually, on Walpurgisnacht.

20

annually, on Good Friday.

 

The Group’s Nemesis

d12

The organization that is the group’s nemesis…

1

wants to expose the group’s secrets, and what it believes to be their true activities.

2

is antagonistic only because of a petty personal grudge on the part of its leader.

3

wants to avenge a specific crime the group purposefully committed.

4

wants to avenge a crime the group inadvertently committed.

5

actually originated as a splinter faction, and still even shares the same goals!

6

often makes overtures of reconciliation, but the group always rebuffs them.

7

is significantly weaker, but its current leadership is extremely clever and resourceful.

8

is much stronger/larger, but its current leadership is incompetent.

9

was founded by people denied membership to the group.

10

is comprised of the same kind of members, but has an opposite goal.

11

is completely opposite in both its membership characteristics and its goals.

12

hates the group for some reason nobody can ascertain.

Random Historical Paintings in Grand Houses

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Cléopâtre se donnant la mort

Historical painting occupied (along with religious painting) the most prestigious place among the accepted hierarchy of subjects that reigned in Western art before the 20th century. It was praised as the greatest and most serious type of art by critics and philosophers of the 18th century, who looked down upon the more popular portrait, landscape, and still life paintings that actually occupied most of the wall space in the homes of collectors.

It was common before the 19th century to depict historical figures in contemporary costumes. For example, Nero might be depicted in the garb of the 15th century king, or El Cid in historically inaccurate plate armor. Painters also commonly increased their sales by putting bare-breasted and nude women into every scene that could plausibly (or even possibly) include them. And of course, painters were always expected to portray events in a way that reflected the values and prejudices of their wealthy patrons. A historically accurate historical painting would actually have been quite unusual!

Historical paintings can be great clues to the secret history of the family inhabiting a Grand House such as Highdark Hall, or indications as to their actual political ( or religious) allegiance. A large amount of historical paintings present in a collection can warn PCs of the owner’s social pretensions, or intellectual snobbery. A historical painting might even be supernatural portal between the past and present!

d100

The painting depicts…

1 – 2

the abduction of the Sabine women. (circa 750 BC)

3 – 4

the suicide of Lucretia. (circa 500 BC)

5 – 6

the Battle of Marathon. (490 BC).

7 – 8

the Battle of Thermopylae. (480 BC)

9 – 10

the death of Socrates. (399 BC)

13 – 12

Alexander the Great in the Temple of Jerusalem. (332 BC)

13 – 14

Hannibal crossing the Alps. (218 BC)

15 – 16

the murder of Julius Caesar. (44 BC)

17 – 18

Cleopatra’s lavish pleasure ship arriving at Tarsos, to meet Marc Antony. (41 BC)

19 – 20

the defeat of Marc Antony’s naval forces at the Battle of Actium. (31 BC)

21 – 22

the suicide of Cleopatra. (30 BC)

23 – 24

the destruction of the Roman legions by Arminius during the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. (9 BC)

25 – 26

the Great Fire of Rome under the Emperor Nero. (64)

27 – 28

the Emperor Constantine’s vision of the Chi-Rho before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. (312)

29 – 30

the Council of Nicea. (325)

31 – 32

the sack of Rome by Alaric. (410)

33 – 34

Pope Leo I convincing Attila the Hun to spare Rome. (452)

35 – 36

Charles Martel defeating the Saracens at the Battle of Tours. (732)

37 – 38

the coronation of Charlemagne as Emperor. (800)

39 – 40

the “Cadaver Synod”, when Pope Stephen VI put the rotting corpse of former Pope Formosus on trial for perjury. (897)

41 – 42

an outraged husband catching his wife in bed with Pope John XII, and murdering the pontiff with a hammer. (964)

43 – 44

the Battle of Hastings. (1066)

45 – 46

the sack of Jerusalem by the Crusaders. (1099)

47 – 48

the last ride of El Cid, with his corpse tied to his horse. (1099)

49 – 50

the taking of Carcassonne during the Albigensian Crusades. (1209)

51 – 52

the signing of the Magna Carta. (1215)

53 – 54

Marco Polo in the court of Kublai Khan. (1275)

55 – 56

French knights facing English longbowmen at the Battle of Poitiers. (1356)

57 – 58

King Peter I of Portugal forcing his court to pay homage to the decayed corpse of Inês de Castro. (1357)

59 – 60

Jacques de Molay, last Grand Master of the Templar Order, burnt at the stake. (1314)

61 – 62

the Battle of Agincourt. (1415) (Roll again in France.)

63 – 64

Saint Joan of Arc waving the French banner at the Siege of Orléans (1429). (Roll again in Britain.)

65 – 66

Saint Joan of Arc burnt at the stake. (1431)

67 – 68

the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks. (1453)

69 – 70

the fall of the Alhambra in Granada. (1492)

71 – 72

Columbus stepping foot upon the shore of San Salvador (1492)

73 – 74

Cesare Borgia, his sister Lucrezia, and their father Pope Alexander VI, at the infamous “Banquet of Chestnuts”. (1501)

75 – 76

Hernando Cortes landing in Mexico. (1519)

77 – 78

the conquest of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) by Hernán Cortés. (1521)

79 – 80

the Sack of Rome by the forces of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. (1527)

81 – 82

the Siege of Vienna by the Turks. (1529)

83 – 84

the arrival of Catherine de Medici in France. (1533)

85 – 86

the execution of Atahualpa, the last Incan Emperor. (1533).

87 – 88

the defeat of the Ottoman Fleet at the battle of Lepanto. (1571)

89 – 90

the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots. (1587)

91 – 92

the sinking of the Spanish Armada (1588) (Roll again for houses in Catholic countries.)

93 – 94

the coronation of Louis XIV. (1654)

95 – 96

the Battle of Vienna. (1683)

97 – 98

the Great Fire of London. (1666)

99 – 100

The Great Lisbon Earthquake. (1755)

d20

The strange thing about the depiction is…

1 – 4

nothing – everything about the painting appears perfectly ordinary and conventional.

5

the figures appear to be of different racial or ethnic backgrounds than reported in orthodox history.

6

one of the famous men of history is painted as having actually been a woman (or vice versa).

7

everyone is painted with animal heads.

8

the painter has included the figure of Satan snickering.

9

everyone is nude – even if the painting depicts a battle or coronation!

10

the colors are utterly bizarre and garish.

11

if you look away, and then look again at the painting, the figures look as if they have changed positions.

12

it appears to be the work of an otherwise unknown master.

13

it is so realistic-looking you feel as if you could reach in and touch the figures.

14

it done in a flat and stylized manner.

15

it seems impossible to ascertain what medium was used.

16

it seems almost self-luminous.

17

the presence of several mythological creatures.

18

the side usually accepted as heroic is painted as if they were villainous, and their opponents are depicted heroically.

19

one of the figures clearly has the face of a Player Character.

20

the series of seemingly random numbers and letters that have been incorporated into the composition.