Planetary Angels for the Ghastly Affair RPG


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The Shepherds and the Angel

Rituals for summoning the the Angels of the Planets are common in magical grimoires. Here then are game statistics for those Magician Player Characters who might want to avail themselves of some heavenly knowledge and power!

Planetary Angel

A celestial administrator of astral energies.

Creature Class: Spirit (Angel)
Number Appearing: 1
Initial Impression: An odor like incense, and a nimbus of colored light, within which is a robed human figure with wings.
Size: Human-sized (or by current form)

Perversity: 0
Disposition: Determined (Angels of Saturn, and Mars), Friendly (Angels of Jupiter, the Sun, Venus, and the Moon), or Curious (Angels of Mercury)
Charisma: 17 Intelligence: 17 Wisdom: 17
Strength: 17 Dexterity: 17 Constitution: 17
Speed: 10 walking, 17 flying

Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 7
Attacks: 1 (punch or weapon)
Special Abilities: Angelic Characteristics, Planetary Knowledge, Planetary Magic
Weaknesses: Affected by Magic that Targets Spirits
Assets: Good Judge of Character
Afflictions: None
Preternatural Powers: Detect Evil, Invisibility, Light, Polymorph Self, Teleport (without error), plus all Powers of their associated Sphere (see below).

Natural Habitat: Heaven, the void between the planets, Earthly locations associated with their areas of concern.
Level: 7

The seven varieties of Planetary Angels are the Celestial beings most frequently Summoned by Magicians. Each is administers a broad category of phenomena that fall under the categories of the astrological planets: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury, and the Moon. Collectively their purpose is to enforce the Divine will in the Mundane World, and attempt to thwart the schemes of Lucifer (and the other spiritual powers who oppose Heaven). They are thus (along with the Guardian Angels), the celestial powers most engaged with events on the Earth. Unlike the Guardian Angels, however, the concerns of Planetary Angels are broad and collective, and they can seldom take an interest in the fate of any individual person.

Many Magicians wrongly believe that it is safer to Summon and Bind Planetary Angels than Devils and Demons. Ceremonies and Rituals for evoking the Planetary Angels (along with lists of their names and sigils) are thus common. Such summoning may indeed be tolerated if the Magician is only in search of knowledge that they will put to good use. However, the powers of Heaven are particularly enraged when Angels are employed for evil purposes – and unlike most infernal beings, Angels can enter the Mundane World whenever required. The Magician who incurs the wrath of Celestial beings will find that they can only survive the onslaught of heavenly justice by means of increasingly costly and disadvantageous deals with the forces of supernatural Evil.

Planetary Angles vary in their appearance and duties according to the traditional correspondences of their their associated Planets:

The Angels of Saturn are concerned with matters of time, aging, death, darkness, graveyards, mining, and the Magical Sphere of of Evocation. They tend to be somber and taciturn in disposition, and resemble elderly men and women. Their bodies are enveloped in indigo light, and they smell like myrrh. They have the wings of ravens, and often carry hourglasses and scythes.

The Angels of Jupiter are concerned with matters of wealth, prestige, charity, luxury, churches, High Society, and the Magical Sphere of Fascination. They tend to be joyous and magnanimous in disposition, and resemble plump men and women with aristocratic features. Their bodies are enveloped in violet light, and they smell like cloves, nutmeg, and ceder. They have the wings of eagles, and often carry scepters or maces.

The Angels of Mars are concerned with war, fire, soldiers, male potency, volcanoes, weapons, armor, castles, metal forging, and the Magical Sphere of Malediction. They tend to be fearless, determined, and protective in disposition, and resemble muscular men with square jaws, strong chins, and noble brows. Their bodies are enveloped in red light, and they smell like cinnamon. They have the wings of hawks, and often carry swords or spears.

The Angels of the Sun are concerned with healing, light, protection, friendship, social harmony, the physical health of males, the regulation of the seasons, and the Magical Sphere of Blessing. They tend to be friendly and caring in disposition, and resemble handsome young men. Their bodies are enveloped in golden light, and they smell like frankincense. They have the wings of swans, and often carry golden orbs.

The Angels of Venus are concerned with beauty, love, art, pleasure, sex, and the magical Sphere of Glamor. They tend to be sweet and flirtatious in disposition, and resemble lovely young women. Their bodies are enveloped in green light, and they smell like a mix of roses and myrtle. They have the wings of doves, and often carry bouquets, hand fans, or other typically feminine accouterments.

The Angels of Mercury are concerned with schools, business, science, money, technology, writing, investigation, finding thieves, magic in general, and the Magical Sphere of Divination in particular. They tend to be whimsical and quick-witted in disposition, and are androgynous in appearance. Their bodies are enveloped in light that flashes many colors, and they smell like sandalwood. They have the wings of magpies, and often carry wands or books.

The Angels of the Moon are concerned with the natural world, agriculture, gardening, bodies of water, the growth of plants and animals, the physical health of women and children, childbirth, physical transformations, the night, and the Magical Sphere of Transmutation. They tend to be maternal and kind in disposition, and resemble either mature women or young girls. Their bodies are enveloped in blueish-white light, and they smell like jasmine. They have the wings of house martins, and often bear some kind of agricultural or domestic instrument (such as a sickle, broom, or spindle).

Special Abilities of Planetary Angels

Angelic Characteristics: Like other Celestial beings, Planetary Angels are immune to all mundane weapons, all poisons, all diseases, any effect of an electrical nature, and all Fascination effects (except those which specifically target Spirits). 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. Planetary Angels can speak, write, and understand all languages and forms of communication. They can also enter the Ether, and the Astral Plane, at will.

Planetary Knowledge: Planetary Angels can answer any question in matters relating to their areas of concern. They also possess mastery of all professions, arts, and crafts associated with those fields. For example, the Angels of Saturn have knowledge of embalming, while Angels of Mercury are skilled mathematicians. An Angel of Venus can help one write an effective love letter, while an Angel of the Sun could teach one how to be more likable.

Planetary Powers: Each type of Planetary Angel has mastery over a single Magical Sphere. In Addition to the powers common to all Angels, a Planetary Angel can utilize any Power from their associated Sphere.

  • Angels of Saturn an use any Evocation power.
  • Angels of Jupiter can utilize all Fascinations.
  • Angels of Mars can employ any Malediction.
  • Angels of the Sun can confer any Blessing.
  • Angels of Venus can manifest any Glamor.
  • Angels of Mercury can use all Divinations.
  • Angels of the Moon can cause any Transmutation.

Additionally, such Powers never have negative drawbacks or complications when employed by Planetary Angels. For example, an Angel of Saturn can Raise Dead, without the usual possibility that the subject will return as a Vampyre, or suffer permanent insanity.

Like all spirits, Planetary Angels can teach the spells that correspond to their own Preternatural Powers. They always prefer to teach others the mundane means of achieving their goals, however, rather than impart potentially dangerous magical knowledge.

Weakness of Planetary Angels

Affected by Magic that Targets Spirits: Planetary Angels are subject to all Preternatural Effects that summon, bind, and control spirits.

Technological Marvels and Conveniences in Late Eighteenth Century Houses


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PSM V12 D273 Cugnot steam engine

The following contrivances were all possible in the last years of the eighteenth century (and first two decades of the nineteenth). They are not preternatural Mad Science, just the cutting-edge of technology and design in their time. Of course, the lair of a Mad Scientist would probably feature many of them!

As an example of modern ingenuity and progress, the house has… (d20)

1 | flushable toilets that do not need to be manually emptied. (Of course, somebody still has to clean out the cesspit into which the toilet flushes!)
2 | running water on tap throughout.
3 | bell-pulls to summon servants to almost every room.
4 | bathtubs filled by pumps and heated from below by stoves, allowing one to actually have a hot bath within 10 minutes.
5 | music-making automata installed in the walls of many rooms. The interior cylinders can even to replaced to change the tunes.
6 | a steam-powered mechanical conveyance that can bring visitors from the parkland gate to the front courtyard.
7 | extremely efficient, modern fireplaces that cleanly heat the rooms so well you could be quite comfortable in only a single layer of clothing.
8 | non-leaking skylights in many rooms. (The architecture of the house maximizes the number of rooms lit by the skylights)
9 | a theater set up for phantasmagoria shows where images are projected onto a wall (and sometimes smoke) with a magic lantern.
10 | a salon with especially smooth floors, where guests wearing special wheeled pattens can skate as if on ice. (Note: 18th century roller-skates have metal wheels, and are extremely hard to maneuver in. Users might have to make a Dexterity Check or fall for 1d6 points of nonlethal damage. Skill in dancing or acrobatics will confer a Bonus, naturally.)
11 | rooms and gardens lit not with candles and lamps, but jets of burning coal-gas enclosed within glass globes.
12 | a rotating serving tray that allows food to be passed into the dining room from an adjoining kitchen without the intrusion of servants.
13 | a facility for making carbonated beverages.
14 | a mechanical clockwork turnspit in the kitchen, allowing meat to be rotisserie roasted without the use of a turnspit dog.
15 | a mechanically-operated elevator that can transport guests from floor to floor.
16 | a machine for washing clothes, installed in the laundry room.
17 | camera obscuras (or camera lucidas) that allow anyone with basic drawing skills to create accurate portraits.
18 | sideboard tables in the dining room that can be raised and lowered from the room below. An entire dinner can be served without without servants being visible.
19 | an automaton animal with an apparent artificial metabolism.
20 | A exceptionally clean, white-tiled sickroom, presided over by a rogue surgeon who washes his hands before touching patients. When he performs surgery or attends a birth, he also washes his instruments with boiling water and pure alcohol to kill the “animalcules” that he claims actually cause disease. He has never lost any of his patients to sepsis. Unfortunately, his low birth prevented him from attending a properly prestigious school, and he is known to be religiously nonconforming. Therefore, nobody in the wider medical community respects his ideas, or his insistence that bleeding and cupping have no curative value. His apparent successes are widely attributed to the “whims of Providence”. The gentleman who built the sickroom is considered an eccentric.

At Play in the Gothic Sandbox


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The dance of death; the careless and the careful. Coloured a Wellcome V0042005

“Sandbox” play is extremely popular among devotees of Old School Renaissance RPGs, and for all its modern innovations, Ghastly Affair is still essentially an OSR game. Therefore, one of the design goals of the upcoming supplement “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions and Estates” is to empower Presenters to run Gothic Sagas in the “Sandbox” style. For those unfamiliar with the term, “Sandbox” here refers to a style of playing RPGs where the Game Master (“Presenter” in GA’s terminology) does not control the Player’s interactions with the game world, or force them into a predetermined story. Rather, Player Characters are self-directed, and allowed to wander as they will. Done correctly, it results in complete Player immersion in an imaginary environment. Because it can otherwise mean endless hours detailing all the places the PCs can possibly go (with lots of attention wasted on areas that never see game play), the “Sandbox” style often demands random generators to procedurally create conflicts and locations as needed.

As first glance, it may seem that Sandbox style play is incompatible with the the Gothic genre, which is heavily reliant on atmosphere, mystery, and situations where characters are trapped in one way or another. In the world of RPGs, Horror has become increasingly associated with long scenarios that demand that a given sequence of events occur in a particular order to create a novel-like plot. That’s definitely a valid play style, and there are some great and memorable examples of such scenarios in publication. However, the historical period and Gothic genre conventions upon which Ghastly Affair is based also allow for a more open approach, which “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, and Estates” will address.

The aristocracy of 18th Century Europe was highly peripatetic. An estate had to be ready to host not just a constant flow of expected guests, but important people who might simply show up at one’s door unannounced, with a train of servants in tow. In fact, it was not uncommon for guests to be staying at a house even when the family itself was away! Also (with some notable exceptions), aristocrats across Europe shared a common language (French), and a similar (French-influenced) culture. In fact, the aristocrats of any given country generally regarded themselves as having more in common with the aristocrats of other countries than the commoners of their own, whose language they sometimes didn’t even speak! Thus, it was very much a part of High Society life that one would often travel, and could expect to be hosted and entertained in a manner to which one was accustomed.

Gothic Romantic Horror differs from other “Horror” genres in its emphasis on the personal. The horrible things are happening specifically to you, and these particular horrible things are only happening on account of who you are. Unlike Lovecraftian Cosmic Horror, which shares Gothic’s obsession with the past and emphasis on the sublime, Gothic does not posit an ultimately meaningless and impersonal Universe. The Devil is real – simultaneously the personal force of ultimate Evil, and an entity with a heart to fall hopelessly in love with some innocent young woman. He’ll pursue her whether she is in a convent, a far-away castle, or a luxurious townhouse. And when they are not shining paragons of virtue, Gothic characters are overripe with characters flaws and angst, and thus carry their stories around with them. Wherever they go, they magnetically draw catastrophes to themselves. They are the people who will always stumble upon the buried bodies, encounter the amorous ghosts, and meet the werewolves on their nocturnal hunts.

A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, and Estates” will enable Presenters to run games where Players take the roles of wandering aristocrats (and their servants), attending one salon, masquerade ball, regatta, horse race, and dinner party after another, and constantly confronting the dark secrets of their hosts. Besides discussions of the various types of grand houses and estates (and how they function on a day-to-day basis), the heart of the book will be an extensive set of lists and tables that allow Presenters to easily generate a grand house and / or estate, complete with its inhabitants, mysteries, and supernatural occurrences. The book will give tools to quickly determine the purpose and features of spaces in houses with 100 or more rooms, at whatever level of detail is desired. Whether you prefer to keep the action going by only describing the most important feature of a room, or want to immerse your players in detailed locations of astounding opulence, you will be able to do it. A complete system for determining the daily schedule and activities of the house, and the unforeseen catastrophes that will inevitably interfere, will create nearly endless opportunities for role-playing emergent scenarios of Romantic Horror (and Horrifying Romance). And all of it has been carefully researched for historical plausibility.

The other style of play “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansion, and Estates” is intended to facilitate is one where the Players assume the roles of the servants on a cursed and haunted estate – but that’s a post for another time!

The Fire Demon


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The Prince of Darkeness; Dagol; c. 1775 Wellcome L0025428

The early 17th century “Compendium Maleficarum” identifies six different types of Demons – Fiery (or Empyreal), Aerial, Terrestrial, Water, Subterranean, and Lucifugous (light-fleeing). The Possessor Demons presented in the Ghastly Affair Presenter’s Manual correspond to the Lucifugous Demons. Here then are the “Fiery”.

Fire Demon

A malevolent entity that embodies the power of flame.

Creature Class: Spirit (Demon)
Number Appearing: 1 – 6
Initial Impression: A bizarrely composite humanoid whose body is shrouded in flames.
Size: Small (4′ tall, 1 – 2 HD), Human-Sized (7′ tall, 3 – 6 HD), or Large (10′ tall, 7 – 9 HD)

Perversity: 30
Disposition: Aggressive
Charisma: 13 Intelligence: 9 Wisdom: 12
Strength: 10 (1 – 2 HD), 20 (3 – 6 HD), or 30 (7 – 9 HD) Dexterity: 15 Constitution: 20
Speed: 12 walking, 18 Flying

Armor Class: 3 (1 – 2 HD), 5 (3 – 6 HD), or 7 (7 – 9 HD)
Hit Dice: 1 – 9
Attacks: 1 (weapon, punch, or claws and bite)
Special Abilities: Demonic Characteristics, Burning Hot to the Touch, Sage of Fire,
Weaknesses: Demonic Weaknesses, Vulnerable to Cold and Water
Assets: Difficult to Control
Afflictions: Easily Angered
Preternatural Powers: Darkness; Invisibility; Transform Self into Snake, Scorpion, Lion, Lizard, Salamander, or Jackal. 1 – 3 HD Demons have 1 additional Power, 4 – 6 HD have 2 additional Powers, and 7 – 9 HD have 3 additional Powers. (See Below)

Natural Habitat: The Outer Darkness, the upper atmosphere of the Earth, volcanoes, any place that has been recently destroyed by fire.
Level: Equal to Hit Dice

Fire Demons are entities of pure evil that delight in causing destruction. They ultimately serve the terrible Fire Kings who desire the complete immolation of the Mundane World. Since they are beings of chaos, however, they usually work at cross-purposes to each other. Magicians who would enslave Fire Demons find them to be particularly rebellious and troublesome.

The upper atmosphere is said to imprison innumerable Fire Demons who cannot descend without being Summoned by a Magician, or one of the Fire Kings. Supposedly, the Demons will attack anything that passes into their domain, and are responsible for the fireballs and meteors that occasionally strike the earth.

The natural forms of Fire Demons are of varied appearance, but in all cases they will appear to be aflame, their eyes will glow like coals, and their mouths will vomit flames and smoke. They stink of sulfur, burning flesh, and heated metal. Although their bodies are burning hot to the touch, Fire Demons do not warm the air around them. Rather, like all Demons, they actually suck the heat out of the environment.

A Fire Demon’s flames are unnatural, and the Fairy Folk are therefore not particularly vulnerable to them. For that reason, malicious Fairies will often associate with those Fire Demons who have managed to make their way to the surface of the Earth. Fire Demons of 1 to 2 HD in strength are in fact sometimes called “Fire Sprites”, although they are not actually Fairies themselves. Likewise, the demonic Fire Kings hold court with the Fairy Erlkings, Cloud Kings, and Water Kings who torment humanity.

Special Abilities of Fire Demons

Demonic Characteristics: Fire Demons are immune to all weapons, except those which are made of iron, blessed, or otherwise enchanted. They cannot be harmed by acid, cold, 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 Demons can speak, write, and understand all languages and forms of communication.

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

Sage of Fire: Fire Demons 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.

Weaknesses of Fire Demons

Vulnerable to Cold and Water: Cold and water-based attacks against a Fire Demon 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 Demons. Fire Demons must Check Morale whenever they are damaged by cold or water-based attacks.

Demonic Weaknesses: Fire Demons 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, and will not voluntarily touch 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.

Preternatural Powers of Fire Demons

All Fire Demons can create Darkness, Detect Evil, become Invisible, and Transform into snakes, scorpions, lions, lizards, salamanders, or jackals. In addition, every Fire Demon will possess one of the following powers: (d6)
1 | Burning Hands
2 | Continual Flame
3 | Create Flame
4 | Enhanced Vision (to teach others)
5 | Light
6 | Resist Fire (to teach others)

Fire Demons of at least 3 – 6 HD will have an additional power from this list: (d8)
1 | Ball Lightning
2 | Fireball
3 | Fog (Smoke) Cloud
4 | Hypnotic Pattern
5 | Levitate
6 | Protection from Bullets
7 | Pyrotechnics
8 | Stinking Cloud

Fire Demon Powers of 7 – 9 HD will also have one of these powers: (d6)
1 | Explosive Runes
2 | Fire Shield
3 | Fire Trap
4 | Flame Strike
5 | Quench Fire
6 | Wall of Fire

Appearance of a Fire Demon

The demon’s HEAD is… (d20)
1 | absent, but it has eyes in its chest and a mouth in its belly.
2 | that of a brutal man, with the horns of a bull, goat, or ram.
3 | that of a woman with goat horns.
4 | that of a boy with small horns.
5 | that of girl with small horns.
6 | double – a man and a woman.
7 | like a man’s with three faces.
8 | that of a man with 6 eyes.
9 | like that of man, but nearly split in two by the enormous mouth filled with sharp teeth.
10 | that of a man with a single eye.
11 | draconic.
12 | serpentine.
13 | lizard-like.
14 | skull-like.
15 | that of a jackal.
16 | that of a lion.
17 | a plume of flame.
18 | that of a rooster.
19 | grotesquely simian.
20 | completely enshrouded in a helmet of hot bronze.

Its flame-enshrouded BODY is… (d10)
1 | man-like,
2 | womanly,
3 | humanoid, but scaly
4 | emaciated and skeletal,
5 | serpentine,
6 | draconic,
7 | lizard-like,
8 | a tortoise’s
9 | just a fiery pillar,
10 | leonine,
11 | that of a man wrapped in hissing snakes,
12 | scaly and covered in spines,

and its overall COLOR is… (d10)
1 | like pale human flesh
2 | like dark human flesh
3 | red.
4 | yellow
5 | orange.
6 | golden.
7 | brassy.
8 | black.
9 | like glowing steel.
10 | a riot of hues.

Its WINGS are… (d8)
1 | fan-like.
2 | bird-like.
3 | like a bird’s, but feathered with copper blades.
4 | bat-like.
5 | bat-like and colorfully patterned.
6 | bat-like and tattered.
7 | membranes stretched under its arms.
8 | sheets of flame.

Its ARMS are… (d6)
1 | like those of a muscular man,
2 | a woman’s,
3 | like the bodies of snakes,
4 | like tentacles of fire,
5 | like the front legs of a wolf,
6 | covered in spikes and spines,

and its HANDS are… (d6)
1 | human-like.
2 | human-like, but clawed.
3 | a lizard’s.
4 | the paws of a lion.
5 | like the tails of snakes.
6 | just two jets of flame.

Its LEGS are… (d10)
1 | like a muscular man’s,
2 | like a woman’s,
3 | a lizard’s,
4 | bird-like,
5 | like a dog’s, but scaly,
6 | leonine,
7 | replaced with a single serpentine tail.
8 | two pillars of flame.
9 | emaciated and skeletal,
10 | like two serpents,

its FEET are… (d8)
1 | lizard-like,
2 | leonine,
3 | taloned like a hawk’s,
4 | emaciated and skeletal,
5 | human,
6 | cloven hooves,
7 | flames.
8 | two hissing serpents,

and the TAIL is… (d8)
1 | absent.
2 | serpentine.
3 | serpentine and covered with spines.
4 | scorpion-like.
5 | (1d8) writing snakes with flickering tongues.
6 | leonine.
7 | smooth and prehensile, with a wedge-shaped stinger at the end.
8 | a peacock’s

It bears… (d12)
1 | a brazen crown.
2 | armor of red-hot bronze.
3 | a flaming sword.
4 | a glowing spear.
5 | a snake in its hand.
6 | a fiery mace.
7 | a torch.
8 | a heavy chain.
9 | a glowing bronze hammer.
10 | red-hot pinchers.
11 | a flaming whip (or cat-o-nine-tails).
12 | a pitchfork.

Possess Beast – A New Preternatural Effect For the Ghastly Affair RPG


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Jean-Baptiste Oudry Leopard, 1741

Possess Beast (Fascination)

Level: Incantation 3, Ceremony 2, Pact 3, Preternatural Power 3
Affected Area: 1 animal of the User’s level or lower.
Duration: Until morning
Saving Throw: Prevents possession

The User’s body falls into a deep sleep, while their mind possesses the body of an animal of their own Level or lower. The user can specify what kind of animal they wish to possess. The nearest animal of that type must make a Saving Throw, or have their mind taken over by the User. If the first targeted animal resists the effect, the next nearest one is targeted, and so on. If the user desires to possess a rare or exotic animal, they could easily find themselves hundreds of miles away from their body! Once an animal is possessed, the User can thereafter always use Possess Beast on that same creature without the possibility of being resisted.

The User can employ all of the senses and Special Abilities of the animal possessed, which essentially become a puppet. Unfortunately, the User’s mind must remain in the animal until morning, and all damage inflicted on the possessed beast is also suffered by the User’s sleeping body. If the sleeping User is found and slain while their mind is still possessing an animal, the User’s mind will be stuck in the creature’s body for the remainder of the beast’s natural life. Additionally, the User may be condemned to become a Zoomorphic Revenant afterwards.

The effect is often used by witches for the sheer joy of running free through the wilderness, as well as for espionage and assassination. It is possible that the displaced spirit of the possessed beast might roam as a Spectral Animal.

Scenario seeds:

The distinctively marked wolf that was attacking the local herds by night displayed a shocking level of intelligence. When it was later found and and killed during the day, the attacks stopped. Now another wolf, seemingly just as intelligent, is again slaughtering livestock. Who is the witch or warlock possessing the predator, and how can they be stopped?

The sorceress was pleased with herself when she used a bear’s body to revenge herself upon the local magistrate. She was less pleased when the angry spirit of the bear decided to enact a revenge of its own.

25% Off Ghastly Affair PDFs for Christmas in July!


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Both “Ghastly Affair” Illustrated PDFs are now 25% OFF for DriveThruRPG’s Christmas in July Sale!

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Three Monstrous New Preternatural Effects For the Ghastly Affair RPG


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Antoine Wiertz - Faim, folie et crime

Ghoulish Appetite (Transmutation)

Level: Preternatural Power 1
Affected Area: User
Duration: Until dawn
Saving Throw: None

This power allows a Vampyre to consume human flesh instead of drinking blood. Two ounces of human flesh is equal to one pint of blood. For example, a 5th Level Vampyre who otherwise need 5 pints of blood a night can instead consume 10 ounces of human flesh. The flesh must be human, but need not be fresh. It can in fact be in an advanced state of decomposition.

The Vampyric Form of one with this power will have facial features vaguely reminiscent of a jackal, hyena, or vulture.

Monstrous Offspring (Transmutation)

Level: Incantation 3, Ceremony 2, Pact 3, Mad Invention 2, Preternatural Power 3
Affected Area: 1 Nearby Recipient or User
Duration: Permanent
Saving Throw: Negates

The User curses the next child of the Subject (male or female) to be born a Monster. If the User employs this effect upon their own unborn child, the resulting Monster will regard the User with the same affection as any other child, willingly obeying directions.

The Monster so created could be anything from an Ogre to a Lake Serpent, but will never be higher Level than the User. Naturally, it will be born small, with only 1 Hit Die. It will grow at the rate of 1 HD per month, until it reaches its final size. The Monster could also be a chimeric blend of creatures. For example, a witch in the British colony of New Jersey once gave birth to a Monstrous Offspring that resembled some kind of devil, with the head of a horse, the body of a dog, the hooves of a goat, and the wings of a bat.

Each use of this effect automatically raises the User’s Perversity by 1 point.

Steal Breath (Malediction)

Level: Incantation 2, Pact 2, Mad Invention 3, Preternatural Power 2
Affected Area: 1 Nearby Recipient
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Negates

The User causes a living being to lose their breath, inflicting 1d6 points of Lethal Damage, plus 1d6 points of Nonlethal Damage. Nonliving, naturally incorporeal, or non-breathing Creatures (including most Spirits, but not Fairies) are immune to a Steal Breath effect.

Vampyres can use this Effect to feed. Each point of Lethal Damage inflicted is equivalent to drinking 1 pint of blood. Those who feed this way can choose to only inflict 1 point of Lethal Damage to a victim, but the Nonlethal Damage is still 1d6. The face of such a Vampyre in their Vampyric Form will often have a vaguely feline cast.

Random Generation of Aristocratic Families


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Jean-Bernard Duvivier - Portrait of the Villers Family - WGA06900

This draft excerpt from  “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, and Estates” will assist you in creating the family inhabiting a grand house of the late 18th to early 19th centuries. Naturally, the tables are weighted to produce results appropriate for a Gothic Game of Romantic Horror! Remember also that while household arrangements involving live-in mistresses and lovers were well-known among the titled aristocracy of Europe, they were still considered scandalous among the lower gentry, haute bourgeoisie, and lower classes (outside Italy).

The household consists of a… (d20)

1 – 7 | husband and wife,
8 – 9 | widowed man and his new wife,
10 | widowed man,
11 | widowed woman and her new husband,
12 | widowed woman,
13 | husband, wife, and the husband’s mistress;
14 | widowed man, his new wife, and the man’s mistress;
15 | widowed man and his mistress,
16 | widowed woman, her new husband, and his mistress;
17 | husband, wife, and the wife’s lover (cicisbeo, or cavalier servente);
18 | widowed woman, her new husband, and the wife’s lover;
19 | husband, wife, the husband’s mistress, and the wife’s lover;
20 | widowed woman, her new husband, the wife’s lover, and the husband’s mistress;

with… (d20)

1 – 5 | no sons,
6 – 10 | one son,
11 – 15 | two sons,
16 | three sons,
17 | four sons,
18 | five sons,
19 | six sons,
20 | seven sons,

and.. (d20)

1 – 5 | no daughters,
6 – 10 | one daughter,
11 – 15 | two daughters,
16 | three daughters,
17 | four daughters,
18 | five daughters,
19 | six daughters,
20 | seven daughters,

along with… (d12)

1 | 1d4 of the children’s grandparents.
2 | 1d4 of the parents’ siblings.
3 | 1d4 cousins.
4 | an adopted foundling boy or girl.
5 | 1d4 of the grandparents, and an adopted foundling boy or girl.
6 | 1d4 of the grandparents, and 1d4 of the parents’ siblings.
7 | 1d4 of the grandparents, and 1d4 cousins.
8 | 1d4 of the grandparents, 1d4 of the parents’ siblings, and 1d8 cousins.
9 | 1d4 of the grandparents, 1d4 of the parents’ siblings, 1d8 cousins, and an adopted foundling.
10 | the wife’s “romantic friend”. [Roll again on this subtable, ignoring a second result of “10”.]
11 – 12 | no other relations.

The married couple are… (d12)

1 – 2| first cousins.
3| double first cousins.
4 – 6| second cousins.
7 – 9| third cousins.
10 – 13| fourth (or further) cousins.
14| unknowingly brother and sister (or half-siblings).
15 – 20| completely unrelated to each other.


    • Roll d20 to determine the ages of sons and daughters in the household. Two offspring the same age are twins.
    • Aristocrats from titled families are generally 13+d6 years old at the time of their first marriage. Gentry will be married at age 15+d6. Haute bourgeoisie are usually 17+d6 years years old when they marry. In all cases, husbands can be significantly older than wives.
    • A married son may still be living in the household with his new wife.
    • A man can publicly flaunt his mistress, and his wife will be expected to accept the situation. Any children born to the mistress are not legitimate, however, and cannot inherit.
    • A wife’s relationship with her live-in lover will usually be kept very discreet, except in southeastern Provence and Italy (where the Cicisbeo, Cavalier Servente, or Chevalier Servant is understood to be part of the household). In other places, the lover may be officially employed as the “Estate Manager” or husband’s Secretary. One or more of the wife’s children could have been actually fathered by the lover, but the oldest son is probably the husband’s.
    • A wife with no sons will experience constant pressure to produce at least one who looks passably like her husband.
    • The seventh son of a seventh son, or seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, may be born with the powers of an initiated Magician!
    • If a paternal grandfather is living with the family, he will be insane, senile, or an invalid.
    • If cousins are living with the family, one will be the “toad eater” – a dependent spinster singled out for abuse by the rest of the household.
    • When a widowed man adopts a foundling girl, he may intend on eventually marrying her.
    • A woman’s “romantic friend” will be in addition to any male lover discreetly living in the household. The “friend” will generally occupy a bedchamber (or apartment) adjoining the wife’s. The relationship may or may not be physically intimate. Among the aristocracy, female “romantic friends” are permitted to be publicly affectionate without reproach. Two men, however, will usually need to keep their relationship completely secret, or else risk severe legal penalties.
    • Usually, aristocratic spouses are only completely unrelated when one spouse is a foreigner, or the marriage is morganatic (between spouses of unequal social rank, where the children are excluded from inheritance).

An Update on Work in Progress for the Ghastly Affair RPG


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London-Woolwich, Royal Arsenal, 18th c

As you may have noticed, the pace of posts on this blog has slowed down somewhat. That’s because I’ve been concurrently working on three (3!) supplements to Ghastly Affair: “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, and Estates”, “A Ghastly Companion to High Society”, and “A Ghastly Companion to Gothic Icons”. Drafts of some of the material have already premiered here on the blog. Naturally, other material will be exclusive to the books! My plan is to have at least one of them out before the end of the year.

Right now, I am primarily focused on “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, and Estates”, and its system for quickly generating plausible estates of the late 18th and early 19th centuries in whatever level of detail the Presenter desires. You will be able to sketch a location out in broad strokes, but also be ready to detail what a character finds if they search any room of the house. Most of all, it will be possible to run Affairs in stately homes and castles of 100 rooms or more with only minimal, or even no, preparation! I want to give you the tools to run a “Gothic sandbox”, where characters are allowed to freely wander Europe from estate to estate (as aristocrats of the time often did), finding new horrors and intrigues wherever they go. And the system is designed to create structures and properties that feel real, and facilitate immersive role-playing. Naturally, a full method for generating estate-focused Gothic scenarios will be included! Plus, the “Companion” will include discussions of the various kinds of grand houses; the differences between estates in various countries; pointers on creating plausible floorplans; information on the lives and duties of servants; and example maps. Highdark Hall may even find its way in!

Of course, “A Ghastly Companion to High Society” will compliment “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, and Estates”, but both books will offer plenty of stand-alone value. The goal is to allow modern Players and Presenters to mentally inhabit the opulently horrible world of 18th century aristocrats, without months of research. The Presenter will be able to confidently run historically-accurate scenarios set at extravagant dinner parties, in the luxurious boxes of the opera, at the gambling tables of spa towns, or on the dance floors of romantic masquerade balls. Experience the exhausting parties of the London Season, or try to survive a sojourn at Versailles, where arcane rules of etiquette are wielded like swords. Maybe you’ll meet Catherine the Great, or have an audience with Pope Pius VI! Plus, it will include a High Society chronology, with the dates of important parties, balls, coronations, Parliaments, musical premieres, scandals, and crimes in High Society.

“A Ghastly Companion to Gothic Icons” will allow you to bring the classic characters and authors of Gothic (and dark Romantic) literature into your game. Some of them have already premiered on this blog. Other figures planned for inclusion are the Marquis de Sade (and his literary daughters Justine and Juliette); characters from the writings of Matthew Lewis; the original Baron Vordenberg (who loved the young Countess Mircalla Karnstein); the infamous William Beckford (author of “Vathek”); Samuel Coleridge (along with his Ancient Mariner, and the revenant Geraldine), the entire party from the famous “Geneva Summer” that produced both “Frankenstein” and “The Vampyre”; and more. There may even be an appearance from a certain vampyre who studied necromancy at the fabled Scholomance!

Interview: Ghastly Affair’s Daniel James Hanley


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GhastlyAffairHallway Art by Stacey Kaelin

Although I haven’t been an active gamer in years, I’ve maintained an interest in role-playing game world-building. What intrigued me about Ghastly Affair — The Gothic Game of Romantic Horror was its pre-Victorian setting. While my personal tastes run more towards the era of Stoker and Stevenson, it was cool to see a game that embraced the roots of Gothic literature.

What follows is an interview with writer and designer Daniel James Hanley where he discusses his interest in Gothic fiction and how it relates to RPGs. Even if you aren’t interested in gaming, I recommend checking out his website Engine of Oracles. It’s loaded with facts and trivia that might be of special interest to new authors looking to explore the Gothic genre.

Derek Tatum: How would you describe Ghastly Affair to newcomers?

Daniel James Hanley:Ghastly Affair is a game where players assume the roles…

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