Character Inspirations Part V: The Grave Robber

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Ghastly Affair‘s Grave Robber class represents not only desperate resurrection men looting recent burials, but also aristocratic antiquarians rifling through ancient barrows. In fact, 18th and early 19th century archaeology was often little more than grave robbing, and the great museums of the Western world were partially founded upon the spoils of looted tombs. By the 19th century, stealing bodies for medical research was mostly a phenomena of United Kingdom, United States, and British colonies. Thieves everywhere, however, dug up new graves for clothing and jewelry, as well teeth for dentures.

Some Historical Grave Robbers (Body Snatchers, Antiquarians, and Physicians):
Thomas Bateman
William Burke
Ben Crouch (See “The Dairy of a Resurrectionist”, page 128)
William Cunnington
Bernardino Drovetti
Bill Hartnett (See “The Dairy of a Resurrectionist”, page 130)
Jack Hartnett (See “The Dairy of a Resurrectionist”, page 131)
William Hare
Sir Richard Colt Hoare
Charles Knowlton
Tom Light (See “The Dairy of a Resurrectionist”, page 132)
Joseph (or Joshua) Naples (See “The Dairy of a Resurrectionist”, page 136)
Girolamo Segato [Multi-Classed Grave Robber / Mad Scientist]

Some Literary Inspirations:
Jerry Cruncher (A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens)
The Editor (The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner – James Hogg)
Doctor Fettes (The Body Snatcher – Robert Louis Stevenson)
Doctor Wolfe Macfarlane (The Body Snatcher – Robert Louis Stevenson)
Jonathan Oldbuck, Laird of Monkbarns (The Antiquary – Sir Walter Scott)
Muff Potter (The Adventure of Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain)
William Shiel, and W. Sword (The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner – James Hogg)
St. John, and the Narrator (The Hound – H.P. Lovecraft)

Some Grave Robbers from Movies and Television:
Arthur Blake (I Sell the Dead)
Fanny Briers (I Sell the Dead)
Timothy Broom (The Doctor and the Devils)
Robert Fallon (The Doctor and the Devils)
The Graverobber (The Horror of Frankenstein)
Willie Grimes (I Sell the Dead)
Indiana Jones (Raiders of the Lost Ark)
Ygor (Son of Frankenstein)

A Few Inspirational Songs:
The Ballad of Resurrection Joe and Rosa WhoreRob Zombie
Cold Ethyl Alice Cooper
Dig Up Her BonesMisfits
The Hearse SongTraditional. Versions by Harley Poe, and various others
I Like (You Too)Heathen Dan
I Love The DeadAlice Cooper
Skull Full of MaggotsCannibal Corpse
SkullsMisfits

Gallery of Images
1 Two anatomists dissecting a corpse, surrounded by birds, a c Wellcome V0010464

2 Rowlandson - The Anatomist

3 Resurrectionists by phiz

4 Rowlandson - Resurrection Men

5 The Anatomist Overtaken by the Watch

6 Museo del Prado - Goya - Caprichos - No. 12 - A caza de dientes

Manufacturing Mummies

One facet of the Egyptomania that swept Europe in the very early 19th century was a fashion among the wealthy for displaying mummies. The mummies might even be unwrapped in front of gathered groups. Of course, there weren’t actually enough genuine mummies to satisfy the demand – considering that ground up mummies had long been used as a paint pigment, and a medicine! Naturally, enterprising Egyptian grave robbers stepped up to remedy the situation. The corpses of criminals and the indigent were dried out and wrapped in bandages to create create counterfeit mummies for the European market. Sometimes, the corpses of disease victims were used. If the cases and coffins weren’t complete fabrications, they would be cobbled together from various broken bits and pieces looted from actual ancient tombs.


Credit for Image 1 : Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org . Copyrighted works available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Random Scents for 18th Century Aristocrats

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Elegant woman by Jollain

The Ghastly Age (1765 – 1820) was an odoriferous time. Modern life in the West has been largely scrubbed of the type of smells that were once part of everyday life – eviscerated animals, open sewers, unwashed bodies, and horse excrement. While Marie-Antoinette and Napoleon both took perfumed baths almost every day, even most other aristocrats found it difficult to manage a daily immersion. To cover up any personal body odor, and counteract the foul smells all round them, wealthy people of the 18th century drenched themselves in perfume. An aristocrat might wash their face, hands, feet, and intimate areas with perfumed water, put on a perfumed chemise or undergarment, apply perfume to their skin, and perfume their hair (or wig). Ordinary items, such as books and bedding, were often scented. Leather gloves were almost always scented as well, and pastilles of perfumes were burnt in bedrooms to counteract the smell of chamber pots (and the stink of the streets).

Remember that before the Victorian age, it was not considered unsophisticated for a woman (or man) to wear a single scent, such as rose or musk. Josephine Bonaparte, for example, often wore just jasmine or violet. Some more-or-less standardized mixtures, such as the citrusy Eau de Cologne (beloved by Napoleon) were popular. Most aristocrats, however, had their own perfumes mixed especially for them. Scents for men could be much more floral and sweet than would be considered “masculine” today. Likewise, women’s perfumes often featured deep musk, and other animal smells. The wearing of heavy perfume did not go out of style for men until after the English dandy (and fashion dictator) “Beau” Brummell started appearing in society smelling only of freshly laundered clothes.

Perfumers, Aristocrats, and characters with an Asset such as “Connoisseur of Perfumes”, will all be able to pick out the separate notes of a scent. Someone benefiting from a preternaturally Enhanced Sense of Smell might be able to not only analyze the odor, but also discern the origin of the materials, know when the perfume was applied, and deduce the wearer’s activities since application! An uneducated footpad, however, might only know whether or not someone smells nice.

What Does This Aristocrat Smell Like?

For Women: Roll 1d6 times on Floral Scents, and 1 time on Non-floral Scents.
For Men: Roll 1d6 times on Non-floral Scents, and 1 time on Floral Scents.

Floral Scents (d10)
1 | Geranium
2 | Jasmine
3 – 4 | Lavender
5 | Lilac
6 | Narcissus (Daffodil)
7 | Orange Blossom
8 | Rose
9 | Tuberose
10 | Violet

Non-Floral Scents (d100)
1 | Amond
2 | Anise
3 | Balsam
4 – 5 | Bitter Orange
6 – 10 | Body Odor (from not having bathed recently)
11 | Cedar
12 | Cinnamon
13 – 22 | Civet (a deeply musky and somewhat sweet odor)
23 | Cloves
24 | Earth (from Patchouli)
25 | Frankincense
26 | Fruity Wood (from agarwood)
27 | Ginger
28 | Grapefruit
29 | Hay (from tonka beans)
30 | Honey
31 | Juniper
32 – 36 | Leather (from castoreum)
37 – 38 | Lemon
39 – 40 | Lime
41 | Mint
42 | Moss
43 – 60 | Musk (from the scent pods of asian musk deer)
61 | Myrrh
62 | Nutmeg
63 | Peach
64 | Pine
65 – 66 | Rosemary
67 | Sage
68 – 72 | Sex (from recent lovemaking in their clothes. Eighteenth century people generally had sex without fully undressing. Some libertines might purposefully do this to impregnate their clothing with the scent.)
73 | Smoke
74 –79 | Sweat (from exertion, being near open flames, or perhaps anxiety. Some might deliberately get themselves sweaty. Casanova and Napoleon, for example, both loved the smell of a woman’s sweat)
80 – 89 | Sweet Earth (from ambergris)
90– 91 | Sweet Orange
92 | Sweet Wood (from oakmoss)
93 | Tangerine
94 | Tobacco
95 | Vanilla
96 – 100 | Wood (from vetiver)

The Politics of Perfume

Perfume was so closely associated with the aristocracy that it was actually made illegal in Revolutionary France. Consequentially, it became fashionable to defy the law by wearing especially heavy scents. The gangs of anti-revolutionary young men who terrorized the streets of Paris after the fall of Robespierre were called “Muscadins”, after the musk perfume they wore. The “Incroyables” and “Merveilleuses” who haunted the Palais-Royal during the Directory era (and also affected Royalist politics) wore perfume to be fashionably defiant. The association between scents and politics in France continued under Napoleon, when perfume was made legal again, and the violet became a symbol of the Bonapartists. After his first exile to Elba, Napoleon said he would “return with the violets”. During that time Bonapartists would identify each other by wearing the flower in their clothing, and the perfume on their skin.

Random Generation of 18th Century Feasts

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Convitto in casa Nani alla Giudecca

The meals of eighteenth century aristocrats could be astoundingly extravagant. Eating was not just about satisfying hunger, but an opportunity to display one’s wealth and privilege. A formal “Dinner” was served in three or four “Stages” or courses. At each Stage up to 30 different dishes would be laid on the table at once. Wines, punches, and other beverages would be on a sideboard, and diners would usually be waited upon by their own servants. One way to conceptualize the scene is like a buffet where the guests actually sit at the buffet table. The “Supper” served later in the day was simpler, but still lavish by modern standards.

When describing a dinner or supper, the Presenter or Game Master can create a mood of decadent excess by emphasizing the sensory overload, overindulgence, and hedonistic mania. The dining room will be a riot of smells – food, sweat, burning candles, and expensive perfume. Elaborate decorations (called pièces montées) and candelabra will stand atop the white tablecloth, surrounded by the dishes. The cutlery and service pieces will gleam silver and gold. The ladies will be carefully dressed, coiffured, and glittering with jewels. The room itself will be ornate and hung with paintings. Musicians may be playing, either in the dining hall of an adjacent room. Guests at the table will be expected to maintain their wit and composure, even as they consume ever increasing amounts of wine and liquor. There will certainly be events to gossip about afterwards.

The types of meals created using the tables below might be eaten by aristocrats anywhere in Europe during the Ghastly Age. Remember that well into the 19th century, much of what is now thought of as national cuisine was eaten primary by the middle and lower classes. That was true even in places renowned for their native food, such as Italy. The cosmopolitan aristocracy, who might barely speak the vernacular language of the peasants they ruled over, often ate a similar French-influenced diet no matter where they resided. On the other hand, some products now closely associated with national cuisines, such as Parmesan cheese, were widely popular among the aristocracy. While the diets of the middle and lower classes were strictly seasonal, the wealthy upper classes could have out-of-season fruits and vegetables grown in hothouses, conservatories, and cold-frames.

Before the French Revolution, a “dinner” was usually eaten in the middle of the afternoon, when servants had more light to work by. The less elaborate “supper”, on the other hand, would be eaten in the evening, and sometimes as late as 1 AM. It was very common for visitors to stop by unannounced for supper, and a dance or ball always concluded with one. After the Revolution, the time of dinner in France crept forward to around 6 PM, but supper remained as the final meal of the day in High Society until the 19th century. In her memoirs, the Marquise Henriette-Lucy de la Tour du Pin explains that eighteenth century women were so fond of dinner parties because the high heels and extravagant outfits of the time could make it uncomfortable to dance. At the dinner table, however, one could simply look beautiful and engage in witty conversation.

Speakers of American English should note the terms “Entrée” and “Entremet” mean something different here than then they might expect. In the eighteenth century, an “Entrée” was one of the dishes served at the beginning stage of a meal, and was secondary to the more impressive roasts and main dishes. An “Entremet” was a dish served between two other courses, generally after the roasts and before the actual desserts. The term encompassed egg and cheese dishes, as well as many sweet cakes and tarts.

A Grand Dinner:

First Stage: Roll (or select) 1d8 Soups, 1d8 Fish Entrées, 1d4 Poultry Entrées, and 1d10 Meat Entrées. The number of dishes on the table should be at least equal to the number of diners (up to 30).
Second Stage: Roll (or select) Roasts and Main Dishes, and 1d8 Sauces served on the side. The remaining dishes will be Vegetables and Salads, for a total amount of dishes equal to the First Stage.
Third Stage (Entremets): Roll (or select) Entremets equal to the total amount of dishes in the previous Stage. This stage is sometimes omitted.
Dessert Stage: Roll (or select) Desserts equal to amount of dishes in previous Stages.

An Evening Supper:

First Stage: Roll (or select) 1d4 Soups, 1d4 Fish Entrées, 1d4 Poultry Entrées, and 1d4 Meat Entrées.
Second Stage: Roll (or select) 1d8 Vegetables and Salads, plus as many Entremets as needed to equal the total amount of dishes in the First Stage.
Dessert Stage: Roll (or select) 1d6 Desserts

Soups (d100)

1 – 3 | Almond Soup with Cream
4 – 7 | Calf’s Head Soup
8 – 10 | Capon Soup with Lettuce and Asparagus
11 – 13 | Cock-a-leekie Soup – Scottish style soup of chicken and leeks.
14 – 22 | Consommé of Beef
23 – 30 | Consommé of Chicken
31 – 35 | Crawfish Soup
36 – 37 | Eel Soup
38 – 44 | Mock Turtle Soup (veal)
45 – 46 | Mulligatawny Soup (after 1780) – curried chicken soup
47 – 52 | Onion Soup
53 – 57 | Pea Soup
58 – 62 | Pepper Pot – spicy meat stew from the Americas
63 – 67 | Pigeon Bisque – with cream
68 – 72 | Pureed Asparagus Soup
73 – 77 | Pureed Carrot soup
78 – 79 | Scotch Broth – lamb and barley
80 – 85 | Soupe à la Reine (Queen’s Soup) – creamed chicken and meat broth with rich or barley
86 – 87 | Squab Soup
88 – 93 | Turtle Soup
94 – 98 | Vegetable Soup
99 – 100 | White Soup – made with veal and almonds

Meat Entrées (d100)

1 – 3 | Beef Hachis – chopped beef with pickled cucumbers and onions
4 – 7 | Beef Olives – thin steaks rolled around forcemeat, fried and served with mushroom suace
8 – 10 | Beef Steaks with Oyster Sauce
11 – 14 | Blanquette de Veau – white stew of veal with mushrooms
15 – 17 | Boiled Sausages
18 – 21 | Cabbages Stuffed with Forcemeat
22 – 24 | Calf’s Brains Milanese – coated in breadcrumbs and fried
25 – 28 | Calf’s Foot Fricasee – in white sauce, garnished with lemons and parsley
29 – 31 | Calf’s Heart – stuffed with forcemeat
32 – 35 | Calf’s Sweetbreads
36 – 38 | Chicken Terrine – loaf of pressed, molded meat served cold
39 – 42| Civet de Lièvre (Jugged Hare) – hare cooked in a sealed earthenware dish, served with a sauce of its own blood and wine.
43 – 45 | Fried Chicken Sausages
46 – 49 | Fried Pork Sausages
50 – 52 | Ham Pieces with Spinach
53 – 56| Lamb Chops with Brown Sauce
57 – 59 | Lamb Hachis – chopped lamb served in a brown sauce
60 – 62 | Minced Veal – with lemon pickles and cream
63 – 66| Pâté de Foie Gras – molded paste of goose liver and truffles
67 – 69 | Pork Terrine – loaf of pressed, molded meat served cold
70 – 73 | Rabbit Pâté – rabbit meat reduced to a paste
74 – 76 | Ragoût of Beef – stewed beef with carrots
77 – 80 | Ragoût of Pig’s Ears and Feet – garnished with parsley
81 – 83 | Roasted Hare with Bread Sauce
84 – 87 | Salmagundi – English, composed salad of chicken, eggs, ham, and herring, garnished with capers and oysters
88 – 91 | Veal Callops – thin slices served in white sauce
92 – 95 | Veal Terrine – loaf of pressed, molded meat served cold
96 – 100 | Venison Terrine – loaf of pressed, molded meat served cold

Fish Entrées (d100)

1 – 2 | Baked Haddock with Butter and Bread Crumbs
3 – 4 | Baked Salmon Stuffed With Oysters
5 – 6 | Boiled Skate Served with Horseradish
7 – 8 | Boiled Sole with Eggs
9 – 10 | Broiled Mullet with Lemon
11 – 12 | Cod Ragout, with Oyster Sauce
13 – 15 | Crabs – dressed in butter and served on their shells
16 – 17 | Crawfish in Aspic
18 – 19 | Curried Lobster *
20 – 21 | Eels Stewed in Wine
22 – 25 | Escargot with Garlic Butter
26 – 27 | Filet of Sole with Mushrooms and Truffles
28 – 29 | Fish in Aspic
30 – 30 | Fried Eels
31 – 32 | Fried Frog’s Legs
33 – 34 | Fried Mackerel with Anchovy Sauce
35 – 36 | Fried Scallops in Veal Sauce
37– 38| Fried Smelts
39 – 40| Grenouilles à la Lyonnaise – frog’s legs with onions and parsely
41 – 42 | Lobster Fricassee *
43 – 44 | Lobster meat with butter *
45 – 46 | Lobster Paté *
47 – 48 | Mackarel à la Maitre d’Hotel – with herbed butter
49 – 50 | Oyster Paté
51 – 52 | Oyster Pie
53 – 54 | Oysters on the Half Shell (roll again if meal occurs in the summer)
55 – 56 | Pickled Mackerel
57 – 58 | Pickled Oysters
59 – 60 | Pickled Smelts
61 – 62 | Poached Cod’s Head
63 – 64 | Pot Shrimp – pounded to a paste and formed into a loaf
65 – 66 | Potted Salmon – pounded to a paste and pressed into a loaf
67 – 68 | Salmon – cooked in paper with mushrooms
69 – 70 | Salmon Steaks with Butter
71 – 72 | Salt Cod with Egg Sauce
73 – 74 | Smelts in Aspic
75 – 76 | Stewed Cockles
77 – 78 | Stewed Lampreys
79 – 80 | Stewed Mussels
81 – 82 | Stewed Oysters
83 – 85 | Stewed Oysters in Cream
86 – 90 | Turbot with Herb Sauce
91 – 96 | Turtle Meat – shredded and served on its shell
97 – 100 | Whole Poached Carp – with cucumbers arranged as scales
* When a scene is set in the American colonies (and the later United States), roll again if lobster is indicated. Lobster is so plentiful and cheap there that it will not be served at a formal dinner.

Poultry Entrées (d100)

1 – 5 | Boiled Duck with Onion Sauce
6 – 5 | Braised Ducklings
11 – 5 | Chicken à l’Italienne – fried, with mushrooms, onions, ham & herbs
16 – 5 | Chicken in Aspic
21 – 5 | Chicken Pâté
26 – 5 | Chickens Roasted on a Spit
31 – 5 | Duck Galantine – boneless, stuffed with forcemeat, and coated in aspic.
36 – 5 | Filet of Chicken with Cucumbers
41 – 5 | Jellied Partridge
46 – 50 | Ortolans – songbirds fattened on grain, drowned in Armagnac, and roasted whole
51 – 53 | Poularde Demi-Deuil – Chicken in white sauce with truffle
54 – 55 | Pureed Pheasant
56 – 60 | Quail with Mirepoix – onions, carrots and celery
61 – 65 | Quenelles – chicken dumplings in cream sauce
66 – 70 | Rabbit Cutlets
71 – 76 | Sautéed Breast of Partridge
77 – 82 | Sautéed Pheasant
83 – 87 | Sliced Breast of Duck with Sour Orange Sauce
88 – 89 | Sliced Grouse
90 – 95 | Small Birds in Aspic – heads and feet left on
96 – 98 | Thrushes on Bread with Cheese
99 – 100 | Turkey Hachis – chopped turkey, with lemon and parsley

Roasts and Main Dishes (d100)

1 – 3 | Beef Ribs
4 – 3 | Boeuf à la Mode – larded beef braised and served in a sauce made form the braising liquid.
7 – 3 | Boiled Boar’s Head
10 – 12 | Boiled Calf’s Head
13 – 15 | Boiled Ham
16 – 18 | Broiled Beef Steaks
19 – 21 | Broiled Lamb Steaks
22 – 24 | Calf’s Head à la Suprise – boned and stuffed with forcemeat and eggs.
25 – 27 | Fricandeau of Veal – veal larded and braised, glazed with a rich sauce
28 – 30 | Glazed Breast of Veal on a Bed of Peas
31 – 33 | Pike au Souvenir – stuffed with a forcemeat of various fishes and herbs.
34 – 36 | Pike Fricandeau – larded with bacon and served with a brown sauce
37 – 39 | Pike in Court Bouilloin – served in a spiced wine and butter sauce
40 – 42 | Pike with Lemon and Egg Sauce
43 – 45 | Pike with Wine Sauce
46 – 48 | Roasted Beef with Sweetbreads
49 – 51 | Roasted Chicken with Truffles
52 – 54 | Roasted Duck
55 – 57 | Roasted Goose with Orange Sauce
58 – 60 | Roasted Ham
61 – 63 | Roasted Joint of Beef
64 – 66| Roast Joint of Venison
67 – 69 | Roasted Leg of Lamb
70 – 72 | Roasted Partridges with Bread Sauce
73 – 75 | Roasted Pheasant with Bread Sauce
76 – 78 | Roasted Squabs
79 – 81 | Roasted Turkey with Oyster Sauce
82 – 84 | Roasted Woodcock
85 – 87 | Whole Roast Suckling Pig
88 – 90 | Whole Roast Lamb
91 – 93 | Whole Roasted Sturgeon
94 – 100 | Whole Salmon – poached in wine

Sauces (d20)

1 | Allemande – chicken stock thickened with a roux, with egg yolks and cream.
2 | Anglaise – thickened stock with egg yolks and anchovy butter
3 | Béchamel – thickened cream sauce
4 | Chasseur – brown sauce with mushrooms, shallots, and herbs
5 | Devil – mustard sauce with stock, shallots and wine
6 | English Bread Sauce – made with bread soaked in milk and melted butter, flavored with onion, pepper, and sweet spices
7 | Espagnole – thickened brown sauce of beef and veal stock
8 | Godard – demi-glace flavored with ham, champagne and mushrooms
9 | Hollandaise – butter sauce thickened with egg yolks and flavored with lemon
10 | Madeira Sauce
11 | Mayonnaise
12 | Meat Gravy
13 | Poivrade Sauce – thickened stock highly seasoned with pepper
14 | Régence – thickened stock flavored with ham, onion, and wine.
15 | Rémoulade – mayonnaise with herbs and gherkins
16 | Russian Sauce – thickened stock flavored with herbs, mustard, and lemon juice
17 | Sarladaise Sauce – an emulsion of cream and egg yolks with chopped truffles
18 | Sauce Robert – sauce of onions, demi-glace and mustard
19 | Velouté – sauce of thickened veal or chicken stock
20 | Verjuice – cream and egg-enriched chicken stock, thickened and made tart with grape juice

Vegetables and Salads (d100)

1 – 4 | Asparagus – served on toast
5 – 8 | Asparagus à la Polonaise – with parsley, chopped egg, and breadcrumbs
10 – 11 | Boiled Artichoke – served with pots of melted butter
12 – 13 | Braised Cabbage
14 – 15 | Braised Endive
16 – 17 | Braised Leeks
18 – 19 | Broccoli in Butter
20 – 21 | Buttered Cauliflower – on a bed of greens
22 – 23 | Cabbage in Butter
24 – 25 | Cauliflower in Cheese Sauce
26 – 27 | Cauliflower in Cream Sauce
28 – 29 | Cauliflower with Mayonnaise
30 – 31 | Celery à la Crême – celery served in a cream sauce
32 – 33 | Cos Lettuce Leaves
34 – 35 | Cucumber Salad
36 – 37 | Curly Chicory Salad
38 – 45 | French Beans with Butter
46 – 47 | Fried Battered Cardoons
48 – 49| Fried Celery
50 – 51 | Jerusalem Artichokes in Cream Sauce
52 – 53 | Mixed Field Greens
54 – 60 | Peas in Butter
62 – 63 | Peas with Butter and Mint
64 – 65 | Pickled Cucumbers
66 – 67 | Pickled French Beans
68 – 69 | Pickled Green Almonds
70 – 71 | Pickled Lemons
72 – 73 | Pickled Mushrooms
74 – 75 | Pickled Red Cabbage
76 – 77 | Puree of Cauliflower
78 – 79 | Puree of Parsnips
80 – 81 | Puree of Potato
82 – 83| Puree of Turnips
84 – 85 | Radish Salad
86 – 87 | Red Cabbage with Chestnuts
88– 89 | Scalloped Potatoes
90 – 91 | Steamed Purple Cauliflower
92 – 93 | Stewed Cardoons
94 – 95 | Stewed Mushrooms
96 – 97| Stewed Mixed Root Vegetables
98 – 100 | Stewed Spinach

Entremets (d100)

1 – 2 | Almond Cake
3 – 4 | Apple Tart
5 – 6 | Artichoke Bottoms with Whole Egg Yolks and Butter
7 – 8 | Beef Roulade or Cold Beef Pie (Great Britain)
9 – 10 | Blancmange
11 – 12 | Butter Cake
13 – 14 | Cheese Tarts
15 – 16 | Cherry Tart
17 – 18 | Cheshire Cheese
19 – 20 | Chicken Chaud-Froid – Chicken breasts covered with a jellied cream sauce, served cold
21 – 22 | Cold Sliced Tongue
23 – 24 | Edam Cheese
25 – 26 | Eggs and Vegetables in Aspic
27 – 28 | English Cheddar
29 – 30| English Flummery – thickened, sweetened starch set in a mold
31 – 32| Fondue
33 – 34 | Fried Calf’s Liver
35 – 36 | Fruit Cake
37 – 38 | Gorgonzola Cheese
39 – 40 | Gouda Cheese
41 – 42 | Gruyere Cheese
43 – 44 | Lemon Cakes
45 – 46 | Macaroni Pie
47 – 48 | Macaroni with Butter and Cheese
49 – 50 | Mimolette Cheese
51 – 52 | Mushrooms in Pastry
53 – 54 | Neufchâtel Cheese
55 | Omelette du Curé – with tuna, and carp roe
56 – 57 | Omelette with Asparagus
58 | Omelette with Cheese
59 | Omelette with Chicken Liver
60 | Omelette with Herbs
61 – 62 | Omelette with Mushrooms
63 – 64 | Omelette with Truffles
65 – 66 | Orange Cakes
67 – 68 | Parmesan Cheese
68 – 70 | Poached Eggs on a Bed of Spinach
71 – 72 | Poached Eggs on Toast
73 – 74 | Pound Cake
75 – 76 | Roquefort Cheese
77 – 78| Scrambled Eggs with Truffles
79 – 80| Stilton Cheese
81 – 82| Soufflé
83 – 84 | Sponge Cake
85 – 86 | Sweet Omelette (with fruit)
87 – 88 | Toasted Bread with Slices of Ham
89 – 90 | Veal and Ham Rissoles – fried croquettes served with white sauce
91 – 92 | Venison Pie
93 – 94 | Vol-au-Vents – puff pastries filled with chicken and mushrooms
95– 96 | Warm Brie
97 – 98 | Welsh Rarebit
99 – 100 | White Cake with Sugar Icing

Desserts (d100)

1 – 2 | Apples
1 – 4 | Apples in Pastry
1 – 6 | Apricot Ice Cream
1 – 8 | Apricots in Brandy
1 – 10 | Butter Biscuits
1 – 12 | Candied Almonds
1 – 14 | Candied Cherries
1 – 16 | Candied Chestnuts
1 – 18 | Candied Violets
1 – 20 | Cheesecake
1 – 22 | Chocolate Creams – in individual glasses
1 – 24 | Crème Anglaise (custard) – served in individual glasses
1 – 26 | Crème Brûlée
1 – 28 | Dried Figs
1 – 30 | English Syllabubs – wine and sweetened cream mixed and left to separate, served in individual glasses that display the layers.
1 – 32 | Fairy Butter – egg yolks, butter and sugar flavored with orange flower water and put through a sieve
1 – 34 | Fruit Ices in Various Flavors
1 – 36 | Gooseberries
1 – 38 | Île Flottante (Floating Island)– Mounds of flavored meringue in custard
1 – 40 | Lemon Creams – in individual glasses
1 – 42 | Macarons – biscuits of meringue and ground almonds.
1 – 44 | Madeleines – small sponge cakes baked in shell-shaped molds
1 – 46 | Marzipan Fruits in Assorted Shapes
1 – 48 | Mille-feuille – layers of crisp flat pastry alternating with layers of fruit jam, topped with white sugar icing
1 – 50 | Nectarines
1 – 52 | Orange Creams – in individual glasses
1 – 54 | Oranges
1 – 56 | Pears in wine
1 – 58 | Pistachio Creams – in individual glasses
1 – 60 | Pistachio Nuts
1 – 62 | Plums
1 – 64 | Pots de Crème – individual baked custards
1 – 66 | Pralines – almonds covered in in hard caramelized sugar
1 – 68 | Profiteroles – cream puffs
79 – 76 | Puits d’Amour (Wells of Love) – cylindrical puff-pastry cases filled with redcurrent or raspberry jelly, and glazed with caramel. These have very naughty connotations.
77 – 78 | Raspberry Creams – in individual glasses
79 – 80 | Ribbon Creams – different flavors of cream, layered in individual glasses, with colored sweetmeats separating the layers.
81 – 82 | Small Glazed Cakes in Assorted Colors
83 – 84 | Snow Balls – baked cored apples filled with marmalade, inside a pastry shell, and covered with white sugar icing.
85 – 86 | Spanish Cream – flavored with rosewater, in individual glasses
87 – 88 | Strawberries and Cream
89 – 90 | Strawberry Ice Cream
91 – 92 | Tarte Conversation – puff pasty shells filled with almond cream, covered with hard sugar icing.
93 – 94 | Trifle – liquor-soaked macaroons topped with flavored cream.
95 – 96 | Vanilla Ice Cream with Honey
97 – 98 | Walnuts
99 – 100 | White Nougat

The lists can also be used to represent the menus at the restaurants of post-revolutionary France. A more extensive treatment of aristocratic dining in the Ghastly Age will appear in the upcoming “Ghastly Companion to High Society”.

Character Inspirations Part IV: The Mad Scientist

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The so-called “Mad Scientist” has long been a defining character in Gothic stories. Although the archetype is often considered to have entered the genre with the titular character of Shelley’s “Frankenstein”, there were already a pair of mad (and utterly depraved) doctors in de Sade’s “Justine”. The historical, literary, and cinematic inspirations that follow are generally focused around the Ghastly Age (1765 – 1820), with some notable exceptions whose prominence mandates their inclusion. Even if you don’t play the Ghastly Affair RPG, the lists might proved useful for inspiring Mad Scientist-type characters in your favorite Horror, Steampunk, or Victorian-era game.

Some Historical Mad Scientists:
Charles Babbage
Johann Bessler (Orffyreus)
Henry Cavendish
Armand-Marie-Jacques de Chastenet, Marquis of Puységur
James Cox
Andrew Crosse
Honoré Fragonard
Franz Joseph Gall
Wolfgang von Kempelen
Dr. Robert Knox
Ada Lovelace
Franz Mesmer
Sir Isaac Newton
James Price
Joseph Priestly
Charles Redheffer
Count Saint-Germain
Nikola Tesla

Some Literary Inspirations:
Coppelius (The Sandman – E.T.A. Hoffmann)
Victor Frankenstein (Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus – Mary Shelley)
Doctor Henry Jekyll (Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson)
Doctor Moreau (The Island of Doctor Moreau – H.G. Wells)
Doctor Rodin (Justine; or, the Misfortunes of Virtue – Marquis de Sade)
Doctor Rombeau (Justine; or, the Misfortunes of Virtue – Marquis de Sade)
Crawford Tillinghast (From Beyond – H.P. Lovecraft)
Herbert West (Herbert West – Reanimator – H.P. Lovecraft)
Willy Wonka (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl)

Some Mad Scientists from Movies and Television:
Ichabod Crane (Sleepy Hollow – 1999 Movie)
Heinrich von Frankenstein (Frankenstein – 1931 Movie)
Dr. Moreau (Island of Lost Souls)
Will Plunkett (Plunkett and Macleane) [ Multi-Classed Mad Scientist / Bandit]
Doctor Pretorius (Bride of Frankenstein)
Dr. Thomas Rock (The Doctor and the Devils)
John Seward (Bram Stoker’s Dracula) [Seward is not a Mad Scientist in Stoker’s novel, but qualifies as portrayed in Coppola’s film]
Dr. Frank-N-Furter (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) [ Multi-Classed Mad Scientist / Libertine]
Rotwang (Metropolis)

A Few Inspirational Songs:
Am I Going Insane – Black Sabbath
Brain Damage – Pink Floyd
Diary of a Madman – Ozzy Osbourne
Flight of Icarus – Iron Maiden
Frankenstein – The Edgar Winter Group
Frayed Ends of Sanity – Metallica
Funtime – Iggy Pop (Covered by Peter Murphy as Fun Time)
Happy House – Siouxsie and the Banshees
I’m Going Slightly Mad – Queen
Living Dissection – Cannibal Corpse [Warning: disturbing image follows link]
No One Knows My Plan – They Might Be Giants
She Blinded Me With Science – Thomas Dolby
Spiral Architect – Black Sabbath
They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa! – Napoleon XIV
Weird Science – Oingo Boingo
Welcome to My Nightmare – Alice Cooper

Gallery of Images
1 Accum at Surrey Institution

2 Franz Joseph Gall examining the head of a pretty young girl, Wellcome V0011119

3 "Le Baquet de Mesmer" Wellcome M0006352

4 An Experiment on a Bird in an Air Pump by Joseph Wright of Derby, 1768

5 An international system of electro-therapeutics - for students, general practitioners, and specialists (1894) (14596130718)

6 Frankenstein, pg 7

7 Homunculus Faust

8 An aged anatomist selecting his dissection instrument whilst Wellcome M0008887

9 Giovanni Aldini, galvanism experiments Wellcome L0007024

The Treatment of Mental Illness in the Ghastly Age

The late 18th century saw rapid scientific and technological progress, resulting in the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain. Sadly, the treatment of the mentally ill remained generally abysmal. Despite the work of Philippe Pinel in France (who pioneered compassionate care of the mentally ill), in most of Europe the “mad” were imprisoned, chained, beaten, and abused – or simply starved and neglected. As mentioned in the “Ghastly Affair Player’s Manual”, the mentally ill were sometimes even displayed for money by the asylums that housed them. In 1788, King George III received the best treatment available in the England at the time for his mental illness – he was alternately locked in a straitjacket, purged withe emetics, made to swallow mercury, tied to a chair, had his skin blistered, and was locked in a cold room – when he wasn’t being made to do manual labor. Because doctors had little idea about the underlying causes of mental disorders, treatments for those deemed insane could also include bleeding, enemas, verbal abuse, and regular beatings. King George’s treatment was a country garden party compared to the horrible fate that awaited those sent to London’s infamous Bethlem Hospital, better known as Bedlam. There many patients were kept naked and chained by their necks to metal poles, in the unheated cells of a dilapidated building.


Credit for Images 2,3,8, & 9 : Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org . Images 2,3,8, & 9 are copyrighted works available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

The Ghastly Affair Presenter’s Manual Reviewed on YouTube

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Talking About Games” has posted a new review of the “Ghastly Affair Presenter’s Manual (Illustrated PDF Version). Thank you “Talking About Games” for another great review!

A New Review and an Actual Play Recording for the Ghastly Affair RPG!

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The “Talking About Games” channel on YouTube has just posted an in-depth review of the Illustrated PDF Version of the “Ghastly Affair Player’s Manual”. Thank you, “Talking About Games”, for the great review!


Elsewhere on YouTube is the recent recording of “No Belle of the Ball”, a Ghastly Affair game played by members of the Facebook Tabletop RPG One Shot Group. A salute to all the members of the group who continue to support Ghastly Affair!

20 Mysterious Strangers at the Door

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Death knocks at the doors of both the poor and the rich. Pen Wellcome V0042153

If there is a front door in a Gothic story, eventually a mysterious stranger is going to knock on it! If you need some help thinking up a new way to make a character’s life complicated, just have one of the following people show up at their home.

On the other side of the door is… (d20)

  1. A lovely young woman who claims to have been the victim of a carriage (or other) accident. She is oddly listless during the day, but becomes much more vivacious after nightfall. Any young people in the house will begin to fall ill soon after.
  2. A single-minded, heavily armed man dressed in black. He asks about another man he describes as having a cadaverous complexion, blood-shot eyes and red-stained lips. The inquirer insists that if he told you why he needs to find the man, you would not believe it.
  3. A desperate man (or woman) in dirty clothes, fleeing from the police (or thief-takers).
  4. A footman dressed in an antique livery, bearing a letter that invites you (and your guests) to a party at a long-abandoned château.
  5. A group of masked revelers who insist they’ve been invited to a ball at this address.
  6. A group of men dressed in medieval armor. They will not lift their visors, but in an archaic dialect they insist on the right of hospitality.
  7. An extremely pale man dressed in elegant clothes, who claims to have shocking news that you must sit down to hear. He will not come inside without your express invitation, however.
  8. A mature-looking man who always wears a hat pulled low on his head. He tells stories of far-off lands and times long ago. Eventually, he asks if anyone present desires immortality.
  9. A raven that speaks, but only says a single word that seems to mock a recent loss suffered by the listener. The raven could actually be a Zoomorphic Revenant, a transformed Fairy, or even a tormenting Imp.
  10. Death, politely stating he has an appointment with someone in the house.
  11. A young man who claims to have no memories of who he is, and says he has been held captive in a cellar as long as he can remember. He bears a letter, which directs the reader to send the young man to join a military unit.
  12. A woman in an exotic outfit, speaking a strange language you have never heard before. If given paper and ink she will draw a map of an unknown island, and point to it.
  13. A group of Gypsies who offer to do whatever repairs, gardening work, and animal care you might need. If that offer is refused, the women will offer to tell the fortunes of everyone in the household. If that offer is also refused, the oldest Gypsy woman will warn of the doom that awaits the uncharitable.
  14. A man offering to buy the property at an absurdly inflated price. He won’t take no for an answer.
  15. A man selling property insurance. He claims to have been treated rudely at a previous address, where a man (who showed the obvious sign of laudanum addiction) was impatient to get rid of him.
  16. A young couple who give obviously false names, and want a place to stay. Both are dressed simply. They say they have just married, but while the young woman has aristocratic manners and speech, her supposed husband is obviously lower class. If they stay they will eventually be heard to whisper such phrases as “I think we’re safe now, there’s no way they will find us here”, and “Remember, we both promised to do whatever it took not to go back to that awful place”. The Presenter can vary the actual genders of the two people as desired, of course.
  17. An enormous man, well over seven feet tall, who hides his face under a hood. He speaks with a deep, resonant voice and an aristocratic accent. Only his hands are visible, and they seem bony and jaundiced, with skin that is extremely dry and weathered-looking. He is looking for a Swiss chemist who may have passed through these parts.
  18. An emaciated man begging for alms. He looks so thin it is hard to believe he is still alive. If he is given money or food, the food stores of the house will inexplicably multiply. If he is refused, all the food and drink in the house will immediately spoil.
  19. A pretty young woman who wants a place to stay. Her speech is oddly monotone, and her movements jerky. While her complexion is perfect, her skin seems oddly pale and almost waxen. She refuses to sit or stand close to the fireplace. She must be wearing some kind of watch, because a faint ticking sound can be heard coming from her.
  20. A lawyer bearing the deed to a castle, left to you by a relative you have never heard of. No one can remember hearing the sound of a carriage approaching. There is no carriage outside. When the man leaves, he will walk down the road and seem to disappear behind a tree (or another house). The deed is legally valid.

Image Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Death knocks at the doors of both the poor and the rich. Pen and ink drawing. Published: –

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Now Available on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow: The Ghastly Affair Presenter’s Manual!

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The “Ghastly Affair Presenter’s Manual” is now available in an Illustrated PDF Version on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow! The new PDF includes all the advice, creatures, historical information and alternate rules of the print version, in a screen-optimized layout designed for usability. Like the Illustrated PDF Version of the Player’s Manual, the Presenter’s Manual is fully bookmarked, indexed, and extensively hyperlinked. Plus, it includes the full-page Stacey Kaelin illustrations from the print version.

 
Now you can have both Ghastly Affair rule books in illustrated PDF!
Purchase on DriveThuRPG
Purchase on RPGNow

Random Aristocrats and Noble Titles, Part III: Spanish and Italian

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Goya Alba1

Italy and Spain loom large in early Gothic stories. The first Gothic novel, “The Castle of Otranto” is set in Italy (although the described setting does not resemble the actual town of Otranto, or it’s real castle). Many other English authors followed suit; both in location, and casual approach to accuracy. Spain, on the other hand, is the setting for Lewis’ “The Monk”, Potocki’s “The Manuscript Found in Saragossa”, and countless tales focused on the supposed horrors of the Catholic Church.

A branch of the House of Bourbon has reigned in Spain since 1700, when the last Habsburg King of Spain (Charles II) died without an heir. The continued existence of the Spanish Inquisition gave 18th century Spain a reputation (in Britain and France at least) for being culturally backward, and out of step with the Enlightenment. The question of Spaniards importing French fashion and culture was a major source of social conflict throughout the 18th century.

Italy was not a unified nation in the period from 1765 to 1820. The Italian Peninsula was occupied instead by a patchwork of rival monarchies and republics. The cultural area that could be considered “Italian” had very fuzzy borders. The republic of Venice extended along the coast of modern Croatia, and the Republic of Ragusa (modern Dubrovnik) had a culture that mixed Croatian and Venetian influences. Nonetheless, it was already common in the 18th century to see the area of the Italian Peninsula marked as “Italy” on maps, and the people who inhabited it were generally considered to be a single ethnicity that spoke different dialects of one language.

Both Spain and the states of Italy were distinguished by the strong political influence of the Catholic Church, so it was perhaps inevitable that writers from Protestant Britain would malign both regions as benighted lands of cruelty, decadence, and supernatural evil!

As with the discussions of French, English, German, and Hungarian nobility, the presentation here is greatly simplified for game purposes.

Random Spanish Aristocrats, in Ascending Precedence (d100)

1 – 25 | Hildalgo or Hildalga (Untitled Aristocracy)
26 – 30 | Infanzon (Untitled Aristocracy)
31– 35 | Escudero (Esquire)
36 – 49 | Caballero (Hereditary Knight)
40 – 41 | Orden de Calatrava (Knight of the Order of Calatrava) [Roll again for additional title]
42 – 43 | Order of Alcántara (Knight of the Order of Alcántara) [Roll again for additional title]
44 – 45 | Orde de Santiago (Knight or Dame of the Order of Santiago) (Male and Female membership) [Roll again for additional title]
46 – 47 | Real y Distinguida Orden Española de Carlos III (Knight of the Royal and Distinguished Spanish Order of Carlos III) [Roll again for additional title]
48 – 49 | Orden del Toisón de Oro (Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece) (Style: His Excellency) [Roll again for additional title]
50 – 59 | Don or Doña (Lord or Lady) (Style: His Lordship or Her Ladyship)
60 – 67 | Señor or Señora (Lord or Lady) (Style: His Lordship or Her Ladyship)
68 – 69 | Barón or Baronesa (Baron or Baroness) (This title is held only by Catalonian nobles) (Style: His Lordship or Her Ladyship)
70 – 74 | Vizconde or Vizcondesa (Viscount or Viscountess) (Style: His [or Her] Illustriousness)
75 – 84 | Conde or Condesa (Count or Countess) (Style: His [or Her] Illustriousness)
85 – 90 | Marqués or Marquesa (Marquis or Marquise) (Style: His [or Her] Illustriousness)
91 | Barón or Baronesa, Grandee of Spain (Baron or Baroness. Catalan only) (Style: His [or Her] Excellency)
92 | Vizconde or Vizcondesa, Grandee of Spain (Viscount or Viscountess) (Style: His [or Her] Excellency)
93 – 94 | Conde or Condesa, Grandee of Spain (Grand Count or Countess) (Style: His [or Her] Excellency)
95 – 97 | Marqués or Marquesa, Grandee of Spain (Marquis or Marquise) (Style: His [or Her] Excellency)
98 – 100 | Duque or Duquesa (Duke or Duchess) (Style: His [or Her] Excellency)

Notes about Spanish titles:

  • A distinction is made between ordinary titled nobility, and the “Grandees of Spain” (who enjoy immunity from taxation and arrest by ordinary authorities, among other privileges). A noble who is a Grandee outranks a noble of any title who is not a Grandee. All Spanish Dukes are also Grandees of Spain
  • The distinction between Grandees and other nobility was abolished under King Joseph Bonaparte, but reinstated after the re-ascension of Ferdinand VII.
    Spanish Nobility is addressed with “Don” (Lord) or “Doña” (Lady) before their given names.
  • Grandees of the 18th century use the Style “His [or Her] Excellency”. For example, “Her Excellency, Doña Maria de Aguanera y de Oscuro, Marquesa of Zondo”.
  • The system of Spanish surnames is notoriously tricky for non-Spaniards. A fictional Spanish aristocrat should have two surnames – the first being the first surname of their father, and the second being the first surname of their mother. Often, the two surnames will be distinguished from each other by the conjunction “y”. Aristocratic Spanish ladies do not change their surnames after marriage, but may indicate the first of their husband’s surnames after their own, with the conjunction “de”.
  • Eighteenth century Spanish nobility will occasionally (but not consistently) use “de” as an ennobling particle before their surnames.

Random Italian Aristocrats, in Ascending Precedence (d100)

1 – 15 | Patrizio or Patrizia (Patrician) (Otherwise untitled urban aristocracy)
16 – 20 | Cavaliere or Dama (Hereditary Knight or Dame)
21 | Knight of the Order of the Blood of Jesus Christ (Conferred by the House of Gonzaga) [Roll again for additional title]
22 – 23 | Sacro Militare Ordine di Santo Stefano Papa e Martire (Knight of the Order of Saint Stephan Pope and Martyr) (Conferred by the Duke of Tuscany) [Roll again for additional title]
24 – 25 | Ordine Supremo della Santissima Annunziata (Knight of the Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation) (Conferrred by the King of Sardinia) [Roll again for additional title]
26 – 27 | Insigne Reale Ordine di San Gennaro (Knight of the Illustrious Royal Order of Saint Januarius) (Conferred by the King of Naples and Sicily; King of the Two Sicilies after 1816) [Roll again for [Roll again for additional title]
28 – 29 | Sacro militare ordine costantiniano di San Giorgio (Knight of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George) (Conferred by the King of Naples and Sicily; King of the Two Sicilies after 1816) [Roll again for additional title]
30 – 31 | Ordine dei Santi Maurizio e Lazzaro (Knight of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus) (Conferrred by the King of Sardinia) [Roll again for additional title]
32 – 33 | Ordo Equestris Sancti Sepulcri Hierosolymitani (Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem) (Conferred by the Pope) [Roll again for additional title]
34 – 35 | Knight of Malta (The Order of Malta is a sovereign entity) [Roll again for additional title]
36– 39 | Ordine dello Speron d’Oro (Order of the Golden Spur) (Conferred by the Pope)
40 – 43 | Signore or Signora (Lord or Lady) (Minor landed aristocracy)
44 – 49 | Nobile (Untitled son or daughter of a titled nobleman. Can also be a title unto itself.)
50 – 59 | Barone or Baronessa (Baron or Baroness)
60 – 69 | Visconte or Viscontessa (Viscount or Viscountess)
70 – 79 | Conte or Contessa (Count or Countess)
80 – 89 | Marchese or Marchesa (Marquis or Marquise)
90 – 95 | Duca or Duchessa (Duke or Duchess)
96 – 100 | Princepe or Princepessa (Prince or Princess)

Notes about Italian titles:

  • Unlike French and British titles, Italian titles do not always carry a geographical signifier. One can be a Conte, for example, without being Conte of any place in particular.
  • Italian nobles are addressed with the honorific “Don” (Lord) or “Donna” (Lady) before the name.
  • Sovereign nobility (those who rule a state) also use their Style “Altezza” (Highness) before the name.
  • The titles “Princepe” and “Princepessa” are more common in Italy than elsewhere, and do not necessarily indicate familial relation to a King or Queen.
  • Italian nobles often (but not consistently) use the particles “de” (of) or “di” (from) before their surname, although neither automatically indicates aristocratic status.
  • Italian titles can originate in grants from The Pope (who reigned as King of the central Italian Papal State), the Holy Roman Empire (of which most of Northern Italy was nominally a part), and Spain (which controlled the larger part of Italy from the 16th to 18th centuries), as well as from native secular authority. Additionally, Italians who supported Napoleon may possess Napoleonic titles of nobility.
  • Napoleon was not ethnically French, but Italian. He was born “Napoleone Buonaparte” in Corsica, and his family were aristocrats of Florentine origin. Before declaring himself Emperor of the French, he bore the Italian title “Nobile”.

The Gothic Trope of the “Wicked Italian”

Italy was the required destination for affluent young Englishmen undertaking their “Grand Tour”, and the peninsula acquired a strikingly dual reputation in the British imagination. On one hand it was “Sunny Italy”, where the weather was warm and the living was (supposedly) easy. On the other hand, it was considered a decadent and haunted land thick with ghosts and banditti, where the ruins of an ancient past were always visible. To the Englishman of the late Georgian and Regency eras, it was Italy, not Transylvania, that was home to the world’s evil. For example, the high degree of sexual liberation enjoyed by wealthy wives in much of Italy was often remarked upon by English travelers, usually to demonstrate the place’s immorality relative to England. Lady Jersey may have had done the horizontal fandango with half of London, but in Italy there was a whole class of handsome young men who made their livings as live-in cicisbeos and cavalier serventes to upper class ladies. The dark reputation of the Italian aristocracy (and clergy) was not confined to England either. No less a person than the Marquis de Sade purported to be shocked by the immorality he witnessed in Italy! Furthermore, the complicated political situation of the Italian states (and the many possible sources of titles) made fraudulently claiming to be an Italian noblemen (or noblewoman) a relatively easy scam to perpetrate. The wicked Italian of dubious morality therefore became a stock character of Gothic novels, much as the Transylvanian nobleman would become after the publication of “Dracula”.

20 Creepy Churches in Isolated Places

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Kreuz im Sedlec Ossuary

In Gothic stories, the building that was meant to be a place of spiritual refuge can become a locus of terror. Here then are twenty disturbing houses of worship for the PCs to potentially encounter – whether as a unit of French soldiers lost in the desolate Spanish countryside during the Peninsula War, or as a group of English tourists wandering the lonely Italian hills. Each could simply be a bit of local color, or the seed of an entire Affair.

The most unsettling thing about this church is… (d20)

1 | The skeleton of the local Saint; dressed in bishop’s robes and suspended above the altar.
2 | The joins of the walls and floor, none of which seems to actually be at right angles to each other.
3 | The mummified bodies of a prominent local family, suspended in niches along the walls.
4 | The floor bulges from the numerous corpses buried underneath the stones, and every so often a grave beetle crawls out.
5 | The bizarre smell; a mixture of unwashed bodies, mold, incense, and a strange acrid odor otherwise impossible to identify.
6 | The way that the dust motes never settle, and actually seem to move horizontally without any discernible breeze.
7 | The grotesque frescoes depicting the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse with the faces of the Player Characters.
8 | The strangely wrought iron rood screen, whose design features several sharp points covered in some dried, brown substance.
9 | A stained glass window depicting Lucifer riding in glory across the local countryside.
10 | The disturbingly large and realistic gargoyles that leer from the facade.
11 | The curious mosaic floor, depicting anguished sinners looking up from Hell.
12 | The painted ceiling, which for some reason depicts not angels and saints, but pagan gods looking down from Heaven.
13 | Several iron rings set into the walls, of the kind used to chain prisoners.
14 | The strange inscriptions still faintly visible on the stones of the building, which were apparently looted from some ancient temple.
15 | The constant and inexplicable dripping of reddish water from the ceiling.
16 | A series of bas-reliefs depicting the Stations of the Cross, but all the figures have the heads of animals.
17 | All the windows are barred, and the interior bears the scorch marks of some previous conflagration.
18 | A series of seemingly random numbers and letters prominently carved into the pillars that hold up the ceiling.
19 | The door to a side chapel, carved with images of leering demons, and bound shut with chains and padlocks.
20 | The church is entirely decorated with human bones and skulls, which are set into the walls in decorative patterns, form the candle-holders, and embellish the altar.