Random Uncanny Occurrences in a Dark, Shadowy World

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One of the biggest inspirations for the idea of GROOVY Ghastly Affair is undoubtedly the original “Dark Shadows” TV show that ran from 1966 to 1971. For many of us who love the show, spotting the frequent on-camera gaffes is part of the fun. Whether it’s a microphone clearly visible in the shot, a coughing cameramen, or even the occasional stage-hand who forgot to leave the set before shooting began, the mistakes add a distinctively charming element to the viewing experience. But to the characters that inhabit that fictional world, the “mistakes” would seem like inexplicably weird events. Thus I present the following table of uncanny in-game occurrences, for Presenters who would like to pay homage to the original Gothic soap opera, and introduce an element of “meta” strangeness into their games.

To avoid ruining the effect through over-use, the Presenter should introduce only a single Uncanny Occurrence into each Game Session – although, of course, a typical episode of the inspirational material might actually feature several obvious blunders! I think it’s best to play it all completely straight – the Presenter should simply state the Uncanny Occurrence as casually as possible, and actually make no attempt to play up its strangeness. Naturally, NPCs will always seem completely unaware of any Uncanny Occurrence, to the natural bewilderment of the PCs.

d20

Inexplicably…

1

the PCs hear a coughing sound, coming from no visible place.

2

the PCs hear some kind of muffled conversation occurring, with no obvious source.

3

the PCs hear the sound of crashing metal objects, coming from no place in particular.

4

an NPC starts speaking in a strangely halting manner, as if trying to remember some rehearsed speech.

5

an NPC is introduced (or states their age) as being in their early 20s, but they are clearly (at least) middle-aged.

6

all NPCs insist (and all visible records now state) that the current day is now actually 1 – 20 days later (or earlier) than what the PCs remember.

7

an NPC introduced in a previous Game Session now looks completely different. No NPCs will notice any difference, of course, and will think any PC who does is crazy.

8

an NPC is suddenly dressed in different clothes, despite there being having been no obvious opportunity at which they could have changed.

9

the PCs notice that an NPC looks exactly the same as another one previously introduced. Naturally, nobody but the PCs seems to notice.

10

a supposedly solidly-built structural feature (such as a door or bannister) suddenly wobbles as if made of plywood or pasteboard.

11

a disembodied hand is briefly visible in a PC’s peripheral vision.

12

the PCs notice that, for some reason, everyone is drinking coffee with everything, everywhere they go. Steaks, sandwiches, lobster – everything! Nobody thinks this is odd.

13

the PCs notice that there is no actual view through a window, just a painted cloth on the other side.

14

the PCs are in a bar, diner, or other place with a jukebox, and they notice that the music seems to consist entirely of the same three songs cycling endlessly.

15

a microphone on a pole becomes briefly visible above the heads of the PCs, but quickly disappears.

16

a PC looks through an open doorway, and the space beyond seems to be nothing but sheets of plywood held up with two-by-fours. But in the blink of an eye, the space looks normal.

17

the PCs notice a man wearing a blue t-shirt, either crouched on the ground or relaxing in a chair. Suddenly he gets up, runs through the nearest doorway (or around an obstruction), and completely disappears.

18

the PCs notice shadows cast by no discernible person or object.

19

the PCs briefly see what look like the front end of a camera, which then suddenly disappears.

20

there is a disposable coffee cup (blue, decorated with an ancient Greek amphora, and inscribed with the words “We are happy to serve you”) left in the middle of some incongruous space (such as an elegant drawing room, unopened crypt, etc.).

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A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, & Estates – Rough-Hewn Edition Now Available!

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A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, & Estates – Rough-Hewn Edition is your complete guide to gaming in the opulent Grand Houses of the Georgian, French Revolutionary, Napoleonic, and Regency eras. Although created especially for use with Ghastly Affair, “The Gothic Game of Romantic Horror”, it’s also an invaluable resource for any game set in the late eighteenth to early nineteenth centuries. Whether your scenarios involve destroying supernatural terrors lurking in crumbling castles, climbing the rungs of the social ladder through opulent townhouses, or unraveling the horrible secrets of the country gentry, this book is an essential reference!

This pre-release “ashcan” version does not include the illustrations, maps, floor-plans, and indices that will be in the full release. You still get over 270 pages of historical information, random tables, and practical advice, including:

  • A discussion of the various types of Grand Houses across 18th century Europe.
  • An outline of a typical day’s activities in a Castle, Mansion, or Estate House.
  • Over 100 tables to create a historically plausible Grand House, along with its inhabitants, gardens, and events – at whatever level of detail you desire.
  • A complete guide to the servants and retainers who make aristocratic life possible.
  • Tips for running an immersive Gothic “sandbox” that doesn’t force players into a pre-determined plotline.
  • A discussion of 18th century coaching inns (and coaches).
  • Random encounter tables for an 18th century setting.
  • Complete systems for randomly generating plausible ruins, caves, and subterranean crypts.
  • Tables for creating sumptuous, historically-accurate feasts.
  • Multiple tables for generating dramatic events that occur at dinner, during dances, and on the morning promenade.
  • Tables for defining twisted family histories, and the peculiarities of inbred nobles.
  • Information on 18th century noble titles – and tables to randomly determine the status of aristocrats.
  • Tables for quickly defining the most memorable characteristics of NPCs, and the scandalous desires of your house’s inhabitants.
  • Tables for randomly generating ghosts and hauntings – including Restless Houses that hunger to satisfy their own mysterious cravings.
  • An extensive system for randomly generating the multitude of paintings that festoon the walls of Grand Houses – and tips on how to make them essential facets of a scenario.
  • Tables to create typical names for British country houses, and evocative appellations for castle towers.
  • A table of technological marvels that might be found in a late 18th century Grand House.

And all at a price an orphaned scullery maid could afford! But like a Vauxhall Gardens doxy, once it’s better-dressed, the fancy new version will cost a little more!

Contains some mature subject matter. Reader discretion is advised.

Empowered Person – A Class for GROOVY Ghastly Affair

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The “Empowered Person” Class facilitates GROOVY Ghastly Affair games inspired by such comics of the 60s and 70s as “Swamp Thing”, “Ghost Rider”, “Tomb of Dracula”, and “Valentina”. While it is not intended to handle heroes and villains at the highest cosmic scale, it will allow you to create street-level and superhero characters of the type who might battle Gothic horrors such vampires, werewolves, and ancient witches.

Empowered Person

You possess incredible powers far beyond those of ordinary people. Perhaps you were exposed to a strange chemical that mutated your flesh. Maybe you are the scion of an alien race, who uses your powers to protect humanity. Perhaps you are possessed by an infernal spirit that you can barely control. You might even have used cutting-edge technology to construct a suit that grants you incredible strength. However you came to your strange abilities, they are a source of wonder to those you aid – and a focus of terror for your enemies.

Most Empowered People like you adopt a special costume that obscures their actual face, keeping their real names and identities secret. Perhaps your special abilities are actually dependent on your costume, and are lost when the outfit is removed. It is also possible that the method by which you obtained your powers has left you so changed, you longer resemble your former self at all!

Empowered People tend to embody the extreme ends of the Perversity scale. One with a Perversity of 6 or below is called a Super Hero, while one with a Perversity of 15 or above is a Super Villain.

Ability Adjustments: Constitution +2 (Not all Empowered People are super strong or fast, but they seldom suffer from ordinary diseases, and their wounds don’t usually get infected.)

Hit Dice: d12 (Empowered People are far more resilient than ordinary human beings).

Special Abilities of Empowered People:

Super Powers: Choose five Super Powers. A Super Power can either be a Preternatural Power (of any Level), or a Special Ability from any other Class. Powers that restore Hit Points (such as Cure Serious Wounds) or remove negative conditions (such as Remove Disease, or Remove Paralysis) can only used once a day. Any other Super Powers can be used as often as you like, but only one can be employed per Round.

Add together the total Levels of Powers you posses, counting any Special Abilities from other Classes as Level 1. That sum, plus 4, is the total number of Experience Points you will need to reach level 2. For example,
• if your character can Fly (a Level 3 Preternatural Power),
• possesses Inhuman Strength (Level 2),
• has Blazing Dexterity (Level 2),
• enjoys an Incredible Constitution (Level 2),
• and has the Profession of Soldier (Level 1, because it is a Special Ability of the Everyman Class),
you will need 14 Experience Points to reach 2nd Level as an Empowered Person.

Weaknesses of Empowered People:

Archenemy: There is another powerful being who has become your especial enemy, and who will always try to thwart, harm, or even destroy you. Your Archenemy is also likely to attack your friends and family in order to cause you pain. The Archenemy is always of at least your own Level, and whenever you advance in Level, the Archenemy will as well. They can be another Empowered Person, A Magician, a Mad Scientist, or even a supernatural being. You will always encounter your Archenemy as an adversary in the course of the first Affair, although you may actually have known them all your life. If you defeat or kill your Archenemy, a new one will arise.

Debilitating Weakness: Choose one condition under which you will become unable to use any of your Preternatural Super Powers, for as long as the condition endures. This could be a certain substance that deactivates your abilities, a sound you cannot endure, or even a particular situation that overwhelms you with fear and doubt. Perhaps taking off your costume or disguise reduces you to a more-or-less an ordinary person. Of course, your Archenemy will always discover your Debilitating Weakness by the second Affair of the Saga.

Empowered Person Advancement Table

Experience Points

Level

Hit Dice

Damage Bonus

0

1

1d12

+1

4, + total level of Supers Powers.

2

2d12

+2

As Level 2, +4

3

3d12

+3

As Level 2, +8

4

4d12

+4

As Level 2, +12

5

5d12

+5

As Level 2, +16

6

6d12

+6

As Level 2, +20

7

7d12

+7

As Level 2, +24

8

8d12

+8

As Level 2, +28

9

9d12

+9

As Level 2, + 32

10

10d12

+10

Here are some inspirational examples of Empowered People and their Super Powers, with the XP totals needed by each to achieve 2nd Level.

The Paralyzing Man
Hold Person (Level 3 Power)
Suggestion (Level 3 Power)
Hold Portal (Can also be used to jam the gears of machines) (Level 1 Power)
Calm Animals (Level 1 Power)
Profession: Art Critic (Level 1 Power)

XP to 2nd level: 13

The Plant-Man
Inhuman Strength (Level2 Power)
Control Plants (Level 4 Power)
Speak With Plants (Level 3 Power)
Astral Projection (Level 5 Power)
Cure Critical Wounds (Level 5 Power)

XP to 2nd level: 23

Host of the Demon
Summon Spirit V (Into Himself) (Level 5 Power)
Esoteric Knowledge (Level 1 Power)
Commune With Spirits (Level 5 Power)
Obtain Oracle (Level 4 Power)
Banish Spirit (Level 1 Power)

Xp to 2nd level: 20

An Update on “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, & Estates”

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As you may have noticed, I have been largely absent from this blog (or any social media) in recent days. That’s because I’ve been focusing on editing together a PDF-only, “Rough-hewn Edition” of the long-promised “A Ghastly Companion to Castle, Mansions, & Estates”. This “Rough-hewn Edition” will be a pre-release “ashcan” version containing all the essential text of the final book, but without the final illustrations. It utilizes some public-domain art resources, but areas of the layout that will be eventually filled with actual illustrations are left obvious. Also, the “Rough-hewn Edition” will not be indexed (besides the Bookmarks in the PDF), it will not be as extensively hyper-linked as the final PDF version, nor will it include the example floor-plans that will feature in the full release. Since I need to create about 100 illustrations to finish the book, and the final proofing process for a print book can easily take an entire month, a realistic time-frame for the fully finished version is no sooner than early Summer 2019. Therefore, in order to get the book into the hands of people who would like to actually use it, I’ll be releasing the low-priced “Rough-hewn Edition” shortly. It won’t be perfect, but it will still give you all the tools you need to create plausible Grand Houses for any game set in the late-Georgian / Napoleonic / Regency era (not just Ghastly Affair).

HERE’S WHAT’S IN IT:

PLACES ARE CHARACTERS

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

AN OVERVIEW OF GRAND HOUSES AND ESTATES

REGARDING CASTLES
REGARDING MANSIONS
REGARDING ESTATE HOUSES
CASTLES, MANSIONS, AND ESTATES BY REGION
The British Isles (including Ireland)
France
German States
(Holy Roman Empire, Habsburg Austria, and Kingdom of Prussia)
Kingdom of Hungary (including Transylvania)
Italian States
Poland-Lithuania
Russia
Spain and Portugal
THE RHYTHM OF LIFE IN A GRAND HOUSE
Morning
Afternoon
Evening
Night

BUILDING YOUR GRAND HOUSE

Representational Maps
Schematic Maps
PART I – THE MOST NOTABLE FEATURE
Which Tables to Use:
Table 1a: Most Notable Feature of a Castle or Country Estate
Table 1b: Most Notable Feature of an Urban Mansion
Table 1c: Animals
Table 1d: Architecture
Table 1e: Art Collection
Table 1f: Attractive Residents
Table 1g: Cabinet of Curiosities
Table 1h: Cursed Family
Table 1i: Entertainment
Table 1j: Follies
Table 1k: Food
Table 1L: Games, Sports, and Contests
Table 1m: Gaming Room
Table 1n: Gardens
Table 1O: Haunting
Table 1p: Horrible History
Table 1q: Hunting
Table 1r: Library
Table 1s: Literary or Philosophical Salon
Table 1t: Notable Former Resident
Table 1u: Secret Passages/Rooms
Table 1v: Unsolved Mystery
Table 1w: Water Features
PART II – APPROACHING THE GROUNDS
Which Tables to Use
Table 2a: First Impression of the Greater Estate
Table 2b: Primary Produce of the Greater Estate
Table 3: Barrier of the Enclosed Parkland
Table 4: Parkland Barrier Height
Table 5: Urban Mansion Barrier
Table 6a: Main Gate to the Enclosed Parkland of a Castle or Estate
Table 6b: Front Gate of an Urban Mansion
Table 7: Castle and Estate House Parkland Size
Table 8 Urban Mansion Lot Shape and Size
Table 9: Setback of a Castle or Estate House Within its Parkland
Table 10: Path to a Castle or Estate House from the Parkland Gate
PART III – THE EXTERIOR
Which Tables to Use
Table 11a: The Architectural Style of a Castle
Table 11b: The Architectural Style of an Urban Mansion or Estate House
Table 12: Basic Plan of a Castle
Table 13: Castle Situation
Table 14: The Curtain Walls of a Concentric Castle
Table 15: General Plan of a Castle Keep
Table 16: Size of a Castle Keep
Table 17a: Basic Plan of an Urban Mansion
Table 17b: Basic Plan of an Estate House
Table 18: Size of an Estate House
Table 19: Building Material of a Mansion or Estate House
Table 20: The Height (in Stories) of a Mansion or Estate House
Table 21: The Height of a Story
Table 22: The Roof Style of a Castle, Tower, or Keep
Table 23: The Roof Style of a Mansion or Estate House
Table 24: Keep, Compact Castle, Courtyard Castle, & Fortified House Door
Table 25: The Servants’ Quarters
Table 26a: Castle Gatehouse
Table 26b: Gatehouse Entrance
Table 27: Distinctive Architectural Features of a Mansion or Estate House
Table 28: The Front Courtyard of a Mansion or Estate House
Table 29: The Shape and Size of Castle Towers
Table 30: The Roofing Material of a Mansion or Estate House
Table 31a: The Front Stairs of a Mansion or Estate House
Table 31b: The Portico (or Porte-Cochère) of a Mansion or Estate House
Table 32: Avant-Corps Projecting From the Facade
Table 33: The Main Door of a Mansion or Estate House
PART IV – THE RESIDENTS
Which Tables to Use
Table 34: The Family of the House
Table 35: The Family Wealth
Table 36: Servants and Retainers of the Household
Table 37: Overall Impression of the Servants
Table 38: Pets Living in the House
Table 39: Strange Customs of the Household
Table 40: The Lord and Lady’s Relation
Table 41: The Formal Livery of Male Servants
Table 42: Vermin in the House
Table 43: The Family’s Dark Secret
PART V – THE INTERIOR ROOMS
Which Tables to Use
Table 44a: The Entrance Hall of a Castle
Table 44b: The Entry Room of a Mansion or Estate House
Table 45a: The Main Staircase of a Castle (or Castle Keep)
Table 45b: Stairs in a Tower
Table 45c: The Grand Staircase of a Mansion or Estate House
Table 46: Rooms on the Ground Floor
Table 47: Rooms on the Upper Floors
Table 48: Rooms in the Basement
Table 49: Rooms in the Attic
Table 50: Rooms in the Servants’ Section
Table 51: Distinctive Features of Rooms
Table 52a: Remarkable Floors
Table 52b: Remarkable Walls
Table 52c: Remarkable Ceilings
Table 52d: Remarkable Furniture
Table 52e: Remarkable Images
Table 52f: Remarkable Sculptures
Table 52g: Remarkable Fireplaces
Table 52h: Remarkable Heating Stoves
Table 52i: Remarkable Doors
Table 52j: Remarkable Objects
Table 52k: Remarkable Windows
Table 52L: Remarkable Room Shapes
Table 52m: Remarkable Atmospheres
Table 53a: Ordinary Castle Walls
Table 53b: Ordinary Mansion and Estate House Walls
Table 54: Ordinary Paint Colors
Table 55: Ordinary Wallpapers
Table 56: Ordinary Doors
Table 57: Ordinary Windows in Castles
Table 58a: Ordinary Windows in Mansions and Estate Houses
Table 58b Ordinary Windows in Mansion and Estate House Basements
Table 58c Ordinary Windows in Mansion and Estate House Attics
Table 59: Ordinary Curtains, Drapes, and Wall Hangings
Table 60: Ordinary Ceilings
Table 61: Ordinary Floors
Table 62: Ordinary Heating Sources
Table 63: Ordinary Lighting
Table 64: Number of Doors in a Room
Table 65: Secret Passages, Concealed Doors, and Hidden Areas
Table 67: Beds
Table 68: Furnishings for Bedrooms, Boudoirs, and Cabinets
Table 69: Furnishings for Salons, Drawing Rooms, and Ballrooms
Table 70: Furnishings and Fixtures for Dining Rooms
Table 71: Furnishings and Fixtures for Libraries
Table 72: Furnishings and Fixtures for Kitchens
Table 73: Valuable Serving Ware in the Butlery or Office
Table 74: Personal Items in a Man’s Bedchamber or Cabinet
Table 75: Personal Items in a Woman’s Bedchamber or Boudoir
Table 76: Men’s Clothing (and Items in a Wardrobe)
Table 77: Women’s Clothing (and Items in a Wardrobe)
Table 78: Items in a Cabinet of Curiosities
PART VI – THE PARKLAND AND GARDENS
Which Tables to Use
Table 79: Water Supply of a Castle or Estate House
Table 80: Stables and Carriage House of a Castle or Estate House
Table 81a: Castle and Estate Parkland Areas
Table 81b: Urban Mansion Gardens
Table 82: Deerpark Features
Table 83: English Landscape Garden Features
Table 84: Farmyard or Basse-Cour Features
Table 85: Flower Garden Features
Table 86: French Formal Garden Features
Table 87: Hamlet Features
Table 88: Italian Garden Features
Table 89: Kitchen Garden Features
Table 90: Lawn / Meadow Features
Table 91: Paddock Features
Table 92: Pond and Lake Features
Table 93: Walled Garden Features
Table 94: Wooded Area Features
Table 95: Animals Living in the Parkland
Table 96: Vermin Plaguing the Estate
Table 97: Animals in a Menagerie
PART VII – CURRENT HAPPENINGS
Which Tables to Use
Table 98: Upcoming Scheduled Events
Table 99: Unexpected Events and Catastrophes
Table 100: Mysteries, Disasters, and Secret Intrigues Among the Servants
Table 101a: Castle and Estate Daily Schedule – Morning & Early Afternoon
Table 101b: Castle and Estate Daily Schedule – Later Afternoon
Table 101c: Castle and Estate Daily Schedule – Evening
Table 101d: Castle and Estate Daily Schedule – Night
Table 102a: Urban Mansion Daily Schedule – Morning & Early Afternoon
Table 102b: Urban Mansion Daily Schedule – Later Afternoon
Table 102c: Urban Mansion Daily Schedule – Evening
Table 102d: Urban Mansion Daily Schedule – Night

A GUIDE TO SERVANTS AND RETAINERS

LIFE IN SERVICE
A Servant’s Day
The Clothing of Servants and Retainers
The Wages of Servants and Retainers
A Note on Creating a Servant (or Retainer) Characters for Ghastly Affair
TYPES OF SERVANTS AND RETAINERS
Blacksmith [Grounds Servant]
Butler (Maître d’Hôtel, or Majordomo) [House Servant]
Cavalier Servente [Retainer]
Chaperone [Retainer]
Chaplain (Aumônier) [Retainer]
Coachman [Grounds Servant]
Concierge
Cook (Cuisinière or Cuisinier) [House Servant]
Dance Master [Retainer]
Drawing Master [Retainer]
Dairy Maid [Grounds and House Servant]
Estate Manager (Intendant) [Retainer]
Footman (Laquais) [House Servant]
Forester [Grounds Servant]
Gamekeeper [Grounds Servant]
Gardener [Grounds Servant]
Gardener, Assistant [Grounds Servant]
Governess (Gouvernante) [Retainer]
Groom [Grounds Servant]
Guard [House and Grounds Servants]
Hall Boy [House Servant]
Hall Maid [House Servant]
Handyman or Laborer
[House and Grounds Servant]
Hairdresser [Servant or Retainer]
Hermit [Retainer]
Housekeeper (Gouvernante)
Housemaid [House Servant]
House Steward [Retainer]
Huntsman [Grounds Servant]
Kennel Master [Grounds Servant]
Kitchen Boy (Garçon de Cuisine) [House Servant]
Kitchen Maid [House Servant]
Lady’s Companion
(Demoiselle de Compagnie) [Retainer]
Lady’s Maid (Femme de Chambre) [House Servant]
Laundry Maid [House Servant]
Librarian [Retainer]
Maid-of-all-Work (Servante) [House Servant]
Manservant [House Servant]
Maître d’Hôtel [House Servant]
Mistress [Retainer]
Music Master [Retainer]
Nurse [House Servant]
Nursery Maid [House Servant]
Occultist [Retainer]
Page [House Servant]
Physician [Retainer]
Porter (Concierge, or Suisse)
[House Servant]
Postilion [Grounds Servant]
Reader (Lectrice) [Retainer or Servant]
Scullery Maid [House Servant]
Secretary [Retainer]
Shepherd(ess) or Pastor [Grounds Servant]
Sick Nurse [House Servant]
Still Maid [House Servant]
Swineherd [Grounds Servant]
Underbutler (or Officier) [House Servant]
Under Housemaid [House Servant]
Upper Housemaid [House Servant]
Tutor [Retainer]
Valet [House Servant]
Whipper-in [Grounds Servant]
THE IDEAL (AND ACTUAL) HOUSEHOLD

THE OPEN (OR SANDBOX) SAGA

PREPARING AN OPEN SAGA
Choose a Starting Date
Determine the Starting Region
Create Characters That Have a Plausible Reason to Travel Frequently
Decide on the First Location
Prepare the First Location and Expected Challenge(s)
Ready a Side Location and Challenge(s)
RUNNING AN OPEN SAGA
Starting with the Journey
Spending a Day at the House
Introducing Challenges and Conflicts
When to Conclude an Affair
Down-time in an Open Saga
Sometimes the Journey is More Important than the Destination
Revisiting a House
Using Recurring NPCs and SPCs
Creating Locations on the Fly
Ending an Open Saga

APPENDIX A: OF COACHING INNS (AND COACHES)

HORSES, AND THEIR LIMITATIONS
ABOUT COACHING INNS AND POST HOUSES
Other Accommodations For Travelers
VISITING A COACHING INN
Arrival
Changing Horses
A Meal at the Inn
Sleeping at an Inn
Some Typical Prices at Coaching Inns
FEATURES OF COACHING INNS
Quick Random Characteristics of Inns and Taverns
Features and areas always present at a Coaching Inn:
Additional Features of a Rural Coaching Inn:
Features and Areas Possibly Present at a Coaching Inn:
Typical Staff of a Coaching Inn:
Some Suggested Encounters
for the Common Room of an Inn
Some Notable Events for the Night
NOTES ON CARRIAGES

APPENDIX B: ENCOUNTERS WHILE TRAVELING

Morning, Afternoon, & Evening – On the Road Between Villages
Morning, Afternoon, & Evening – Passing Through a Village
Night – On the Road Between Villages
Night – Passing Through a Village
Table 1: Morning, Afternoon, and Evening Road Encounters
Table 2: Night Road Encounters
Table 3: Obstacles and Curiosities
Table 4: Daylight Village Encounters

APPENDIX C: RUINS AND ABANDONED BUILDINGS

Table 1: The Original Structure
Table 2: Cause of Abandonment
Table 3: Most Notable Feature
Table 4: Completeness of the Structure
Table 5: State of the Roof
Table 6: State of the Interior Walls
Table 7: State of the Doors
Table 8: State of the Furniture
Table 9a: State of the Standing Exterior Walls (Unroofed)
Table 9b: State of the Standing Exterior Walls (Roofed)
Table 10: State of the Windows
Table 11: State of the Floors
Table 12: Vegetation
Table 13: Current Inhabitant(s)

APPENDIX D: CRYPTS, CAVES, AND SUBTERRANEAN PASSAGES

ARTIFICIAL TUNNELS AND VAULTS
Table 1: Original and Current Purpose of Subterranean Tunnels and Chambers
Table 2: Size of a Subterranean Tunnel Complex
Table 3a: Basic Plan of the Complex
Table 3b: The Entrance
Table 4A: Walls of Subterranean Tunnels and Chambers
Table 4B: Floors of Subterranean Tunnels and Chambers
Table 4C: Ceilings of Subterranean Tunnels and Chambers
Table 4D: Air Quality of Subterranean Tunnels and Chambers
Table 5: Notable Features of a Tunnel Section
Table 6: Subterranean Doorways
Table 7: Beyond a Subterranean Doorway
Table 8: Characteristics of Subterranean Chambers
Table 9: Contents of Subterranean Chambers
Table 10: Supports
Table 11: Hazards in Subterranean Tunnels and Chambers
Table 12: Traps in Subterranean Tunnels and Chambers
Table 13: Mysteries and Enigmas
Table 14A: Areas of an Archive or Library
Table 14B: Areas of a Mine
Table 14C: Areas of a Secret Society Chapter-house
Table 14D: Areas of a Cistern
Table 14E: Areas of a Burial Complex
Table 14F: Areas of a Wine Cellar
Table 14G: Areas in a Larder or Root Cellar
Table 14H: Areas of an Armory
Table 14I: Areas of a Treasury Vault
Table 14J: Areas of a Cheese Cave
Table 14K: Areas of an Ice Storage Vault
Table 14L: Areas of a Dungeon
Table 14M: Areas of an Ancient Temple, Now Buried
Table 14N: Areas of a Counterfeiter’s Workshop
Table 14O: Areas of a Satanic Complex
Table 14P: Areas of a Hermitage
Table 14Q: Areas of a Sanctuary for Religious Dissenters
Table 14R: Areas of a Vault for Smuggled Goods
Table 14S: Areas of a Mass Grave for Murder Victims
Table 14T: Areas of an Escape Route
Table 14U: Areas of a Creature’s Prison
Table 14V: Areas of the Hideaway of a Family Shame
Areas of the Hideaway of a Family Shame
Table 14W: Areas of a Bandit’s Hideout
Table 14X: Areas of an Alchemist’s Laboratory
Table 14Y: Areas of a Magician’s Retreat
Table 14Z: Areas of a Mad Scientist’s Laboratory
NATURAL (AND NATURAL-APPEARING) CAVES
Table 15: Plan of a Cave System
Table 16: Shape and Size of a Cave
Table 17: Air Quality Inside a Cave
Table 18: Ordinary Features of Airy Caves
Table 19: Strange and Unusual Features in Airy Caves
Table 20: Passability of a Cave
Table 21: Cave Connections
Supplementary Table: Random Compass Directions

APPENDIX E: RANDOM GENERATION OF MEALS IN GRAND HOUSES

MENUS
Breakfast (French Style)
Breakfast (English Style)
A Luncheon
A Grand Dinner
An Evening Supper
DISHES AND DECORATIONS
Breakfast Beverages
Breakfast Bread(s)
Breakfast Main Dishes
Breakfast Condiments
Soups
Meat Entrées
Fish Entrées
Poultry Entrées
Roasts and Main Dishes
Sauces
Vegetables and Salads
Entremets
Desserts
Table Decorations and Pièce Montées (Normal)
Table Decorations and Pièce Montées (Gothic and Unusual)

APPENDIX F: EVENTS AT DINNER

APPENDIX G: EVENTS AT THE DANCE

APPENDIX H: EVENTS OF THE MORNING PROMENADE

APPENDIX I: RANDOM ARISTOCRATIC TITLES

British Aristocrats
Notes About British Titles
French Aristocrats (Pre-Revolution, or Ancien Régime)
Notes about Ancien Régime titles
French Napoleonic Titles (Conferred from 1808 – 1814)
Notes About Napoleonic Titles
German Aristocrats
Notes About German Titles
Hungarian Aristocrats
Notes about Hungarian Titles
Italian Aristocrats
Notes About Italian Titles
Spanish Aristocrats
Notes about Spanish titles
OF ARISTOCRATIC BASTARDS

APPENDIX J: TWISTED FAMILY HISTORIES

Length of the Family History
Shocking Historical Facts about the Family

APPENDIX K: RELATIONSHIPS IN THE HOUSEHOLD

The Loves and Hates of Male Family Members
The Loves and Hates of Female Family Members
The Consequences of Forbidden Love
The Consequences of Hate
CONCERNING LGBT RELATIONSHIPS IN THE GHASTLY AGE

APPENDIX L: INHERITED PECULIARITIES OF INBRED NOBLE FAMILIES

APPENDIX M: THE MOST MEMORABLE CHARACTERISTICS OF NPCS

Female Aristocrats
Male Aristocrats
Female Servants
Male Servants

APPENDIX N: THE DESIRES OF RESTLESS HOUSES

What the House Wants
How the House Communicates
How the House will Lash Out
Where is the Heart of the House?
How can the House be Put to Rest?

APPENDIX O: RANDOM SPECTRAL ACTIVITY

The Usual Apparition
The Other Apparition(s)
Further Spectral Activity
The Phantom’s Release

APPENDIX P: CURSED AND HAUNTED BEDS

APPENDIX Q: PAINTINGS IN A GRAND HOUSE

Table 1a: Type of Painting
Table 1b: Dimensions of a Painting
Table 1c: Age of a Painting
Table 1d: The Frame of a Painting
Table 2: Male Portrait
Table 3: Female Portrait
Table 4: Interior Group Portrait
Table 5: Exterior Group Portrait
Table 6: Historical Scene
Table 7: Religious Scene
Table 8: Mythological, Legendary, or Literary Scene
Table 9: Genre Scene
Table 10: Landscape
Table 11: Animal Subject
Table 12: Still Life
Table 13: Allegory
Table 14: Enigmatic Emblems
Table 15: Erotic Scene
NOTES ON ART IN YOUR GAME
Regarding Portraits
Regarding Historical Paintings
Regarding Religious Paintings
Regarding Mythological, Legendary, and Literary Painting
Regarding Genre Paintings
Regarding Landscape Paintings
Regarding Animal Paintings
Regarding Still-lifes
Regarding Allegorical and Emblematic Images
Regarding Erotic Paintings

APPENDIX R: RANDOM NAMES FOR BRITISH COUNTRY HOUSES

APPENDIX S: 100 POETIC NAMES FOR TOWERS

APPENDIX T: TECHNOLOGICAL MARVELS IN GRAND HOUSES

The Fire King – A Literary Demon

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About 120 years before H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and Robert E. Howard collaboratively created what has become known as the “Cthulhu Mythos”, Matthew Lewis (author of “The Monk”) and Walter Scott (who went on to write such books as “Ivanhoe” and “Rob Roy”) made an abortive attempt at a shared mythology based off Germanic stories of the elemental Fairy Kings. Snobbish critics have historically tended to downplay, or even completely ignore, Scott’s involvement with Gothic literature, but he contributed poems to Lewis’ popular anthology “Tales of Wonder”. Scott’s “The Fire-King” (which also appears in his collection “Translations and Imitations from German Ballads”) stands as a great and influential contribution to the literature of the weird. Those familiar with 20th century fantasy may no doubt recognize a precursor of Tolkien’s “Balrog” here.

The following depiction of the Fire King combines both Scott’s and Lewis’s ideas.

Fire King

A powerful ruler among the Fire Demons, sought out by the bloodthirsty.

Creature Class: Spirit (Demon)
Number Appearing: 1
Initial Impression: An enormous naked man wreathed in flames, exhaling smoke from his mouth and nostrils, and wielding a bloody falcion of blue steel.
Size: Large (12’ high)

Perversity: 30
Disposition: Aggressive
Charisma: 18 Intelligence: 15 Wisdom: 15
Strength: 50 Dexterity: 18 Constitution: 22
Speed: 13 walking, 20 Flying

Armor Class: 9
Hit Dice: 10
Attacks: 1 (Demoniac Falcion, or punch)
Special Abilities: Demonic Characteristics, Burning Hot to the Touch, Sage of Fire, Summon Fire Demon
Weaknesses: Demonic Weaknesses, Vulnerable to Water
Assets: Intimidating
Afflictions: Easily Angered
Preternatural Powers: Ball Lightning; Combust; Darkness; Detect Evil; Fireball; Flame Strike (1 time a day); Fog (Smoke) Cloud; Ghost Lights; Invisibility; Light; Lightning Bolt; Transform Self into Snake, Scorpion, Lion, Lizard, Salamander, or Jackal; Pyrotechnics; Stinking Cloud; Wall of Fire

Natural Habitat: The Outer Darkness, the court of the Elemental Fairy Kings, the upper atmosphere of Earth, volcanoes and lava fields
Level: 10

Fire Kings are the nominal rulers of the Fire Demons that inhabit the upper atmosphere of the Earth. Thankfully for the human race, even the powerful Fire Kings cannot keep the rebellious demons focused on their goals. Otherwise, all life on Earth might have been incinerated long ago.

The Fire King’s muscled body is always wreathed in flame, yet (like all Demons) they actually cause the environment around themselves to become colder, rather than warmer. Anyone who actually touches a Fire King, however, will be horrifically burned. A Fire King’s voice roars like an out of control conflagrations, and lightning will flash from his mouth. His eyes glow like white-hot metal, and despite the fire around him, the blade he carries is always covered in liquid blood. Although he lacks apparent wings, he can fly through the air at great speed. A Fire King is also 50% likely to be riding a Dragon when he appears.

A Fire King’s Falcion is actually a Demoniac Object inhabited by a Possessor Demon (with 3 Hit Die). Consequentially, the weapon does an addition 3 points of damage whenever it strikes, and can harm any supernatural creature. As is the case with any Demoniac Object, however, the Demon within the blade can be exorcised, or forced to flee with a successful show of Faith. If that happens, the blade will become an ordinary (if oversized) weapon. If the Fire King is destroyed, the Demon within the blade may agree to stay within the weapon and serve a new owner, if the weapon will be often bathed in gore.

Although they are Demons, each Fire King is also part of a regional Fairy court consisting of itself, an Earlking, a Cloud King, and a Water King. Together they conspire to inflict pain, suffering, and death upon humanity. The Fire King’s role is to rain burning meteors on the ground, cause the eruptions of volcanoes, and ensure that travelers are misdirected by roving lights. They are opposed in this work of malevolence, however, by the Good Fairies and Angels who watch over the world.

Only the most foolish or powerful Magician would dare try to Summon a Fire King. Nonetheless, their total knowledge of all subjects relating to fire, and ability to wreak destruction, can cause the unwise (or daring) to attempt their command. Likewise, Fire Kings have been sought out by desperate warriors, for the Demons are known to lend their Demoniac Falcions to those who wish to commit acts of slaughter.

Fire King Special Abilities

Demonic Characteristics: Fire Kings are immune to all weapons, except those which are made of iron, blessed, or otherwise enchanted. They cannot be harmed by cold, fire, acid, disease, or any Special Ability or Preternatural Effect which targets minds or emotions (except those that specifically target Spirits, of course). They can see perfectly regardless of illumination, are immune to blindness or any other debility caused by extremely bright light, retain the ability to distinguish colors in conditions of total darkness, and do not need time to adjust their eyes to changing light. Fire Kings can speak, write, and understand all languages and forms of communication.

Burning Hot to the Touch: A character that deliberately touches a Fire King with their hand (or other body part) will be burned for 1d6 points of Lethal Damage.

Sage of Fire: Fire Kings have perfect knowledge of all arts, sciences, and crafts involving fire – metallurgy, glassblowing, blacksmithing, artillery use, etc. They are sometimes Summoned expressly for their knowledge, but preternatural means such as Bind Spirit are usually required to force the Demons to answer truthfully.

Summon Fire Demon: Once during any fight a Fire King may Summon a Fire Demon to his aid. The Demon that responds to the Summon will appear the next Round, and can be anywhere from 1 – 8 HD in strength.

Fire King Weaknesses

Vulnerable to Water: Water-based attacks against a Fire King grant the aggressor a +2 Bonus on the Attack Check, and inflict an additional 2 point of Lethal Damage. Holy Water does double normal damage to Fire Kings. Fire Kings must Check Morale whenever they are damaged by water-based attacks.

Demonic Weaknesses: Fire Kings are burned by holy water as if it was acid, cannot enter holy ground or touch blessed objects, and are subject to the power of Faith. Like all Demons, they are Vulnerable to Iron, will not voluntarily touch it, and must Check Morale if damaged by it. Additionally, they are repelled by pure crystalline salt. As Spirits, they are susceptible to all Preternatural Effects that target spiritual entities. Strangely, they cause the entire Nearby Area to become discernibly cold rather than hot.

The Fire King’s Falcion

A Fire King is willing to give his Falcion to anyone who has murder in their heart, and who will use the weapon to cause suffering and bloodshed. Naturally, the Possessor Demon inhabiting the weapon will will not tolerate any expressions of piety or tenderness on the part of its owner. If the blade’s wielder shows any evidence of deviating from the path of destruction, it will fly from his hands and return to the Fire King (no matter where the demon currently is in the Universe). The Falcion is over five feet long, and requires a normal-sized person to use both hands when using it. Despite its size, the Demon within it causes the weapon to be as light as a feather.

Fire King (for OSR games)

Number Appearing: 1
Size: Large
Alignment: Chaotic (Evil)
Morale: 11 (or 17)
Intelligence: 10
Move: 240′ (or 24”, or 50 ft), Flying: 450′ (or 45”, or 85 ft.)
Armor Class: 1 (or 19)
Hit Dice: 10
Attacks & Damage: Falcion+3 (1d8 +10 total)
* Magic Resistance: 75%, or +7 on Saves vs. Magic.
* Immune to all weapons not Magical, Blessed, or Iron.
* Immune to Cold.
* Immune to Fire.
* Immune to Acid.
* Immune to Disease.
* Immune to mind-affecting magic (except that which targets Spirits)
* Perfect vision under all conditions.
* Can speak, write, and understand all languages.
* Strong as a Hill Giant
* Burning Hot: Take 1d6 Damage if deliberately contacted.
* Perfect knowledge of all arts and sciences relating to fire.
* Summon a Fire Demon of d8 Hit Dice (once per day).
* Cannot enter holy ground.
* +2 Damage from Iron
* +2 Damage from Holy Water (1d8+2)
* 50% likely to ride a small Red Dragon.
* Spell Like Abilities: Dancing Lights; Darkness; Detect Evil; Fireball (three times a day), Fog Cloud; Flame Strike (once a day), Lightning Bolt (three times a day); Invisibility; Polymorph Self {Snake, Scorpion, Lion, Lizard, Salamander, or Jackal}; Pyrotechnics; Stinking Cloud; Wall of Fire (three times a day)
Saves: As Magic User 10
Treasure: 50,000 gp value of coins, gems, and magic items, plus its magical Falcion.
Challenge: Four characters of at least 10th Level.

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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.

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.

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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.