Happy Krampusnacht! Krampus and Saint Nicholas for the Ghastly Affair RPG.

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Mikuláš a Krampus 1901

The following take on Krampus and Saint Nicholas also incorporates a certain notorious Styrian from one of the classics of Gothic literature. Remember, this is all just for fun, and definitely not meant as a commentary on anybody’s beliefs.

Krampus
The Devil who punishes wicked children at Christmastime.

Creature Class: Spirit (Devil)
Number Appearing: 1
Initial Impression: The sound of cowbells and crying children, followed by the sudden appearance of an extremely hairy, grotesque man with a long, protruding tongue and large, goat-like horns. He carries a birch switch, has a basket on his back, and and is bound in chains from which several heavy bells are suspended.
Size: Human-sized

Perversity: 21
Disposition: Aggressive
Charisma: 7 Intelligence: 9 Wisdom: 15
Strength: 18 Dexterity: 15 Constitution: 18
Speed: 9

Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 5 (30 hp)
Attacks: 1 (claws, or grab)
Special Abilities: Diabolical Characteristics
Weaknesses: Diabolical Weaknesses, Distracted by Alcohol and Pretty Women
Assets: Skilled Torturer, Expert Grappler
Afflictions: Encumbered (by chains, heavy bells, and having two different feet)
Preternatural Powers: Cause Fear, Detect Evil, Detect Lies, Dimension Door, Knock, Invisibility, Major Creation (usually used to make birch switches and coal), Walk Through Shadows, Walk Through Walls

Natural Habitat: Wherever children are found at Christmastime (Bavaria, Austria, and adjacent areas). The dark and sulfurous caves of Hell.
Level: 5

In centuries past, Saint Nicholas put magical chains upon a Devil, and bound him to be the punisher of wicked children. Every night of December the 5th since then, the Devil Krampus has been summoned by Saint Nicholas to accompany him as he visits the children of Austria (and the surrounding lands). Good children receive gifts from Saint Nicholas. Wicked children receive the attentions of Krampus instead.

Krampus’ body is covered with shaggy hair, and he sports a large pair of goat horns. An extremely long tongue hangs from his fanged mouth, and his eyes burn like coals. One of his feet is human-like; the other is a cloven-hoof. He always carries a switch of birch branches. The steel chains that bind him are attached to his wrists by manacles, and wrap around his body. Hanging from them are the large cowbells that announce his approach. On his back is strapped a basket, from out of which the small hand of a child will occasionally appear, accompanied by pitiful pleading.

Krampus’ punishments vary in severity, depending on his whims, and the extent of the child’s misdeeds. The most mild punishment consists of Krampus taunting the child with a present of coal, while he (or she) must watch other children enjoying the nice gifts given to them by Saint Nicholas. If Krampus is feeling especially mean, the coal will be glowing hot. Next in severity is a thorough birching, administered with the switch that Krampus carries for that purpose. Sometimes Krampus will then present the birch switch to the child or their parents, as a reminder. The very worst children are seized and stuffed into Krampus’ magical basket. Such unfortunates will be carried back to Hell, never to be seen again.

Although Krampus delights in the suffering of the wicked, he is himself thoroughly reprobate. His lust for schnapps and pretty girls is legendary. The moment Saint Nicholas is distracted, Krampus will take the opportunity to break valuable objects and cause general mischief.

Krampus is skilled at grabbing children and throwing them into his basket before they can wriggle free of his clutch. If challenged to a direct fight by an adult, however, Krampus will throw aside his birch switch and attack with his clawed hands. Saint Nicholas will not interfere in any fight involving Krampus, provided the Devil’s opponents are not themselves evil. If Krampus’ physical form is killed, he will disappear along with his chains. His basket will remain, however, dropping and spilling out all the children abducted that night. The fleeing children will then be given a stern warning by Saint Nicholas that they won’t escape punishment next time!

Some whisper that it was because of the wickedness he found in a certain family of Styrian aristocrats that Saint Nicholas first decided to take strict measures to instill virtue in Alpine children. In 1687 Saint Nicholas and Krampus paid another visit to that same aristocratic family, where they encountered a young daughter of the clan named Mircalla. That girl never forgot her humiliation by Krampus, even after her death. Thus, the Vampyre Carmilla Karnstein became Krampus’ eternal adversary, and she will stop at nothing to end his yearly visits to Styria.

Krampus’ Special Abilities

Basket of Imprisonment: The inside of Krampus’ basket is an infinitely large, pitch-black space with a cold stone floor. Krampus can always reach into the basket and pull out any child desired, however. The sound of crying children continually emanates from the Basket, and every so often a small hand or foot will peak out from under the lid.

Diabolical Characteristics: Krampus is immune to all weapons, except those which are made of silver, blessed, or otherwise enchanted. He cannot be harmed by fire, poison, disease, or any Special Ability or Preternatural Effect which target minds or emotions. Krampus can see perfectly regardless of illumination, is immune to blindness or any other debility caused by extremely bright light, retains the ability to distinguish colors in conditions of total darkness, and does not need time to adjust his eyes to changing light. He can speak, write, and understand all languages and forms of communication.

Krampus’ Weaknesses

Chains of Binding and Warning: The magical chains that Krampus wears allow Saint Nicholas to summon him at will, forces the Devil to obey direct commands from the Saint, and inflict 1d6 point of damage on their wearer if he touches anyone with a Perversity of 6 or lower. Furthermore, the bells attached to the chains are audible even when Krampus is Invisible.

Diabolical Weaknesses: Krampus is burned by holy water as if it was acid, cannot enter holy ground or touch blessed objects, and is subject to the power of Faith. He is Vulnerable to Silver, and will not voluntarily touch it. As a Spirit, he is susceptible to all Preternatural Effects that target spiritual entities. Additionally, the initial appearance of Krampus will cause the entire Nearby Area to momentarily smell like burning sulfur.

Distracted by Alcohol and Pretty Women: If confronted by an offer of strong drink, or a particularly attractive young woman (especially one with an ample bosom), Krampus must make a Charisma Save. If he fails he will immediately break off whatever he is doing to drink the alcohol, or pursue the young woman.


Saint Nicholas
The generous but testy Patron Saint of children, merchants, and mariners.

Signs & Portents: If encountered at Christmastime, a light snow falls, and children become giddy. If at sea, the winds become favorable, and fish are drawn to the nets and hooks of anglers.
Initial Impression: A mature, white-bearded man with a dark complexion, dressed in the white, red and gold vestments of a bishop. A halo of light surrounds his head. He bears a golden crozier in one hand, and with the other holds a sack filled with oranges, gold coins, and small toys. The odor of fine incense emanates from his body.
Size: Human-sized

Perversity: 5
Disposition: Determined
Charisma: 20 Intelligence: 20 Wisdom: 20
Strength: 20 Dexterity: 20 Constitution: 20
Speed: 9

Armor Class: 10
Hit Dice: 20 (120 Hit Points)
Attacks: 1 (punch in the face)
Special Abilities: Angelic (Saintly) Characteristics | True Resurrection
Weaknesses: Limited Power Over Spirits (Angels only) | Intolerant of Disbelief
Assets: Master of All Crafts | Master Mariner | Brilliant Businessman | Skilled Boxer
Afflictions: Short Temper
Preternatural Powers: All Transmutations, all 0 – 3rd Level Blessings, Divinations, Evocations, Fascinations, and Glamors, but no Maledictions.
Favored Preternatural Powers: Augury, Control Winds, Consecrate Object, Create Food and Water, Cure Serious Wounds, Detect Evil, Enchant Weird Object, Fertility, Fly, Invisibility, Knock, Major Creation (permanent, and can make precious objects), Rain of Fish, Read Minds, Teleport

Usual Surroundings: Wherever children live at Christmastime. Wherever his holy relics are found. Ships at sea. The shops of pious merchants. Poor houses with unmarried daughters.
Level: 10

Saint Nicholas is among the Saints who take a very active interest in events on Earth. On the night of December 5th every year (the eve of his Feast day) he visits homes, distributing small gifts to good children. Centuries ago, however, he became disgusted as the wickedness he found among some children in the German-speaking Alpine regions. He decided to bind a Devil named Krampus into his service, and he charged the diabolical being with the task of punishing misbehaving youngsters. Since that time the two have traveled together to reward the virtuous, and torment the wicked.

Although he is renowned for his generosity, Saint Nicholas’ short temper is just as legendary. When he lived on Earth he was a delegate to the Council of Nicea, where he famously punched the unorthodox theologian Arias in the face. The Saint will become incensed by any heretical or rationalist argument, which can cause his physical incarnation to actually explode with anger!

Although best known as the patron Saint of children, mariners and merchants also pray for Saint Nicholas’ intercession. The Saint can calm storms, and his presence causes the nets of fishermen to become filled. His powers allow him to make almost anything he want from thin air, including Weird Objects. Unlike human magicians, he can even make objects of precious metal or gemstone through his Preternatural power of Major Creation. He can restock a poor merchant’s entire inventory, and create dowries to keep poor unmarried girls from resorting to prostitution. His mightiest power, however, is his ability to resurrect the dead, without the baleful consequences that often result when profane sorcerers attempt the same miracle.

It is whispered among certain Demon Hunters that it was the twisted spawn of the infamous Karnstein family that first made Saint Nicholas so angry that he decided to employ Krampus. To this day the sole remaining Karnstein, the Vampyre Carmilla, schemes to destroy Saint Nicholas (and his diabolical servant). Of course, Saint Nicholas is immortal (and can repel Carmilla with his Faith), but still she seeks some way to eliminate him from the Earth forever.

Saint Nicholas has a great rivalry with the Yuletide Fairies and Elves of the Winter Court, such as Father Christmas, Père Noël, and La Befana. While Saint Nicholas stands for morality and religious observance, Father Christmas and his ilk promote feasting and general good cheer, without concern for the religious significance. Perhaps some kind of accord is possible, if Saint Nicholas could learn to be more jolly, and the winter elves agreed to help make toys. Otherwise, the dispute regarding the proper celebration of the Holiday may well result in Saint Nicholas punching one (or more) of the other powers in the face.

Saint Nicholas’ Special Abilities

Angelic (Saintly) Characteristics: Saint Nicholas is immune to all mundane weapons, all poisons, all diseases, any effect of an electrical nature, and all Fascination effects. He can see perfectly regardless of illumination, is immune to blindness or any other debility caused by extremely bright light, retains the ability to distinguish colors in conditions of total darkness, and does not need time to adjust his eyes to changing light. Saint Nicholas can speak, write, and understand all languages and forms of communication.

True Resurrection: Saint Nicholas can resurrect any dead person to full life, no matter how long they have been deceased, or the condition of their body. The resurrected person suffers no ill effects or increase in Perversity.

Saint Nicholas’ Weaknesses

Intolerant of Disbelief: If for some reason one wished to send Saint Nicholas back to Heaven, the surest way is to beat him in a theological debate over the supremacy of reason over faith. Naturally, since he is a Saint and prodigiously Intelligent to boot, it’s extremely difficult to do so. A debater must first succeed at an Intelligence check, to make a point solid enough that Saint Nicholas takes it seriously. Then, the debater must succeed in 3 successive Intelligence Contests against the Saint, without losing a single one. A debater that fails will be quickly, and repeatedly, punched in the face by Saint Nicholas. If the Saint is defeated, however, his face will turn red and emit steam, just before his physical body explodes. Naturally, once Saint Nicholas is able to return to Earth he will deal with the blasphemous disbeliever!

Limited Power Over Spirits: Saint Nicholas can only target Angels when he employs the following Preternatural Powers: Banish Spirit, Bind Spirit, Summon Spirit. He can, however, repel creatures of supernatural Evil through Faith. When he bound Krampus to his service, he first punched the Devil in the face, and then placed the Chains of Binding and Warning on him.

Prices Reduced on the Ghastly Affair RPG, Now Until Christmas!

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NOW is the time to discover Ghastly Affair, “The Gothic Game of Romantic Horror”! That’s because prices on both the Ghastly Affair Player’s Manual and Ghastly Affair Presenter’s Manual have been reduced for Christmas!

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Prices listed are in U.S. Dollars on Amazon.com. Prices outside the U.S. will vary.

Bring Back the Christmas Ghost Story!

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writing-desk-ghost Christmas time is here again. It’s the season for decorations and songs. Eggnog and cookies. Little men moving in the night, and a spirit of justice flying through the air. There’s darkness around those Christmas lights, and it’s always been there.

Americans have largely forgotten the tradition of the Christmas ghost story, but it was once a vital part of our celebration. We love “A Christmas Carol”, but fail to acknowledge the tradition of Yuletide horror that it represents. But, what could be more appropriate on a cold winter’s night than to shudder at a chilling tale? When our ancestors shivered from the cold, they also told stories to send shivers down their spines!

This year, have a truly traditional Christmas. Help bring back the Christmas ghost story! Remember that elves are kin to goblins, and Krampus comes too. It isn’t just the living who yearn to be with their families, and mischievous sprites still lurk in your Christmas tree.

Look outside. What left such strange tracks in the new-fallen snow?

Horror doesn’t end at Halloween!

Remarkable Features of Estates and Manors

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A French estate 18th century park view

Upper class people of the Ghastly Age (1765 – 1820) spent much of their time visiting each other’s homes, often without bothering to announce their arrival beforehand! An entire Saga of Ghastly Affair could therefore revolve around a group of aristocrats and their retainers encountering horrors and scandals as they visit one estate after another.

The following tables let the Presenter (or GM) quickly determine the single most notable thing about any great house, château, estate, or manor. The feature determined could become central to the plot of the upcoming Affair (or story), suggest a subplot, or simply be an interesting backdrop to the real action.

The tables could be useful for any Gothic, Dreadpunk, Mannerpunk, Austen-inspired, Victorian-era, Steampunk, or Horror game.

This Estate is Best Known For Its… (d20)

1. Animals
(d6) The estate has…
| 1 | a famous dog pack (fox hounds, beagles, wolf hounds, etc.).
| 2 | a large clowder of cats.
| 3 | an excellent deer park.
| 4 | famous horses.
| 5 | a nearby wolf pack. But, are they natural wolves at all?
| 6 | a private menagerie.

2. Architecture
(d6) The construction is…
| 1 | unique.
| 2 | exemplary.
| 3 | dilapidated.
| 4 | unfinished.
| 5 | medieval.
| 6 | exotic (faux Chinese, Turkish, Hindu, etc).

3. Art Collection
(d4) Everyone has heard of the wonderful…
| 1 | paintings.
| 2 | outdoor sculptures.
| 3 | indoor sculptures.
| 4 | automatons.

4. Attractive Residents
(d4) People go there just to see the…
| 1 | beautiful lady of the house.
| 2 | handsome lord.
| 3 | enticing servants.
| 4 | lord’s gorgeous mistress (or lady’s handsome cavalier servente).

5. Cabinet of Curiosities (see Items in a Cabinet of Curiosities)

6. Cursed Family
(d6) According to legend…
| 1 | the first born son always dies tragically,
| 2 | the family is cursed with lycanthropy,
| 3 | the family members become vampires after death,
| 4 | the women of the family die in childbirth,
| 5 | the True Loves of family members die tragically,
| 6 | the family is plagued with madness,
(d6) because an ancestor…
| 1 | bargained with the Devil for fame and fortune.
| 2 | harmed a gypsy.
| 3 | mistreated a priest.
| 4 | murdered a man in cold blood.
| 5 | desecrated an ancient religious site
| 6 | broke a marriage contract to marry his/her True Love instead.

7. Entertainment
(d8) Visitors flock to the estate for its…
| 1 | amateur theatrical performances.
| 2 | professional theatrical performances.
| 3 | dances (unmasked).
| 4 | dinners.
| 5 | musical performances.
| 6 | masquerade balls.
| 7 | debauched parties.
| 8 | pyrotechnics displays.

8. Follies (see Random Architectural Follies)

9. Food
(d6) The estate produces especially good…
| 1 | cheese.
| 2 | ham.
| 3 | beer/wine.
| 4 | liquor (whiskey, rum, brandy, etc.).
| 5 | fruit.
| 6 | fish.

10. Games, Sports, and Contests
(d12) The estate is famous for its…
| 1 | tennis court.
| 2 | giant-sized lawn chess.
| 3 | roulette wheel.
| 4 | billiards table.
| 5 | collection of beautifully hand-painted playing cards.
| 6 | shooting contests.
| 7 | archery contests.
| 8 | animal fights.
| 9 | horse-riding.
| 10 | swimming.
| 11 | lawn sports (pall-mall, trucco, boules, quoits, cricket, golf)
| 12 | horse races.

11. Gardens
(d4) The gardens are known to be…
| 1 | extensive, and tasteful.
| 2 | extensive, but tasteless.
| 3 | small, but beautiful.
| 4 | small, and strange.

12. Haunting
(d4) Spectral activity occurs…
| 1 | every night,
| 2 | on nights of the full moon,
| 3 | on an anniversary,
| 4 | when a family member is in danger,
(d12) and is usually seen in…
| 1 | a bedroom.
| 2 | the main hall (or on the grand stairs).
| 3 | the servants’ quarters.
| 4 | the wine cellar.
| 5 | one of the gardens.
| 6 | a library.
| 7 | the attic.
| 8 | the woods nearby.
| 9 | the chapel.
| 10 | the front gate.
| 11 | the window of a sealed tower.
| 12 | a pool or pond.

13. Horrible History
(d6) The estate…
| 1 | was the site of a massacre.
| 2 | was used as a prison during the Inquisition or witch hunts.
| 3 | was an ancient place of pagan sacrifice.
| 4 | was a site where witches gathered.
| 5 | was the place where an infamous betrayal occurred.
| 6 | has one or more people supposedly immured in its walls.

14. Hunting
(d6) The estate is famous as a place to hunt…
| 1 | deer.
| 2 | boar.
| 3 | foxes.
| 4 | rabbits (on foot with beagles).
| 5 | birds.
| 6 | wolves.

15. Library
(d10) There is an especially extensive collection of…
| 1 | novels.
| 2 | plays.
| 3 | occult books.
| 4 | erotica.
| 5 | poetry.
| 6 | philosophy.
| 7 | histories.
| 8 | scientific treatises.
| 9 | heretical religious texts.
| 10 | supposedly lost books.

16. Literary Salon
(d4) The salon is held…
| 1 | weekly.
| 2 | biweekly.
| 3 | monthly.
| 4 | seasonally.

17. Notable Former Resident
(d10) The house was once inhabited by…
| 1 | a famous artist.
| 2 | an important writer.
| 3 | a legendary occultist.
| 4 | an infamous traitor.
| 5 | a respected religious figure.
| 6 | a wise philosopher.
| 7 | a brilliant (or woefully incompetent) military commander.
| 8 | royalty.
| 9 | a notorious criminal.
| 10 | the Devil himself, if you believe the stories.

18. Secret Passages/Rooms
(d6) The secret spaces were originally intended for…
| 1 | housing renegade clergy.
| 2 | smuggling contraband.
| 3 | hiding and moving lovers around.
| 4 | spying on guests.
| 5 | hiding the meetings of a secret society.
| 6 | hiding murdered victims.
| 7 | access to a secret laboratory.
| 8 | forbidden religious rites.

19. Unsolved Mystery
(d6) People say that…
| 1 | somewhere in the house there is a lost room that hides a family secret.
| 2 | coffins move inside the family tomb.
| 3 | parts of the house are inexplicably cold (or warm).
| 4 | nothing will grow on one part of the property that should be fertile.
| 5 | visitors often disappear from the estate.
| 6 | the family’s origin is shrouded in mystery.

20. Water Features
(d6) The parkland is well-known for its…
| 1 | grotto pool.
| 2 | artificial waterfall.
| 3 | extensive lake.
| 4 | fountains.
| 5 | cunningly crafted statues that squirt unwary visitors.
| 6 | canals.

Ghastly Affair: Buy Both Books on Amazon Today and Qualify For $10 Off

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Get 25% Off the Ghastly Affair RPG on CreateSpace!

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Now through Cyber Monday (11/28/16), you can get 25% off on the “Ghastly Affair Player’s Manual” and “Ghastly Affair Presenter’s Manual” on CreateSpace. Now is the time to get started playing The Gothic Game of Romantic Horror!

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Mary Wollstonecraft – A Historical NPC for the Ghastly Affair RPG

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Not to be confused with her daughter, who wrote “Frankenstein”, Mary Wollstonecraft was a founding voice of English Feminism, and certainly one of the most remarkable women of the eighteenth century.

MaryWollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft (December, 1792)
Radical Thinker, Champion of Women’s Rights, and Mother of Mary Shelley

Class: Everywoman
Level: 7
Appearance/Most Memorable Characteristic: A tall, attractive woman with light brown eyes and auburn hair powdered to a pale tan color, dressed simply but very neatly. She wears no perfume, but is notably clean smelling.
Age: 33

Charisma: 15 Intelligence: 17 Wisdom: 13
Strength: 9 Dexterity: 9 Constitution: 9
Perversity: 6

Speed: 9
Hit Points: 42
Attacks: 1 (punch, or improvised weapon)
Damage Bonus: +2

Special Abilities: Profession: Governess (+1) | Avocation: Writer (+1) | Affection (+1): Abused or Endangered Women | Inheritance: None (withheld by brother) | Social Contacts: Elizabeth “Bess” Bishop (née Wollstonecraft – sister), Everina Wollstonecraft (sister), Jane Arden (early friend), Margaret Moore (née King, Countess of Mount Cashell), George Ogle (conservative Irish politician), Joel Barlow (American writer and poltician), Ruth Barlow, Joseph Johnson (her publisher), Thomas Paine (radical political philosopher), Helen Maria Williams (radical writer), William Godwin (anarchist writer, and future husband), John Opie (painter), William Blake (visionary poet and artist), Thomas Holcroft (writer and radical), Aline Filliettaz (educator)
Weaknesses: Phobia (-1): Disease | Prejudice: High Society

Assets: Talented Writer, Brave
Afflictions: Prone to Melancholy, Fool for Love

Typical Equipment Carried: A simple but neat dress. 50 livres (500p) in cash. A small journal. A pencil. Practical shoes.
Current Residence: 22 Rue Meslay, Paris

Background (to 1792):

  • April 27, 1759: Mary Wollstonecraft born in London to an upper-middle class family. Her father John was an alcoholic who aspired to be a country gentleman, and speculated away most of the family fortune while Mary was a girl. As she grew up she frequently had to defend her mother from being beaten by her drunken father.
  • 1774: Mary first met eighteen-year old illustrator Fanny Blood. She is overcome with affection for the young woman.
  • 1778: In Bath, Mary took a job as Lady’s Companion to a quarrelsome widow named Sarah Dawson.
  • 1780: Mary left the employ of Sarah Dawson and returned home, where her mother was dying.
  • 1782: Moved into the Blood household after her father’s remarriage to a woman Mary disliked.
  • 1784: Helped her sister Eliza escape an abusive marriage and hide from her husband. (Mary would later fictionalize the incident in her novel “Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman”, published posthumously in 1798.) With financial help from an window named Mrs. Burgh, Mary founded a school in the village of Newington Green, just north of London. She took up residence there with her sister Eliza, and Fanny Blood. Fanny left the school upon the advice of doctors that she she live in a warmer climate.
  • 1785: Mary travels to Lisbon, Portugal to be with Fanny, who is living there with her new husband. Fanny died shortly after giving birth to a child, and Mary returned to England.
  • 1786: After her school failed, Mary took a position as Governess to the aristocratic King family in Dublin. Formed a lifelong bond with the oldest daughter Margaret (who after her marriage in 1791 became Margaret Moore, Countess of Mount Cashell).
  • 1787: Published “Thoughts on the Education of Daughters”, a set of fairly conservative exhortations about the upbringing of girls. After all her debts were paid off by a mysterious benefactor, she left employment of the Kings, and took a position with Joseph Johnson’s radical literary magazine, Analytical Review.
  • 1788: Published “Mary: A Fiction”, a novel based loosely on her own life. The novel is notable in its portrayal of the deep “romantic friendship” between its protagonist and another woman, based on the Mary’s own relationship with Fanny Blood. Later that year Mary also published her children’s book, “Original Stories From Real Life”.
  • 1790: Published “Vindication of the Rights of Men” a passionate refutation of “Reflections on the Revolution in France”, Edmund Burke’s screed against social equality. The book was a great popular success.
  • 1791: “Original Stories From Real Life” republished with illustrations by William Blake. Mary Met William Godwin, her future husband, at a dinner given by her publisher Joseph Johnson. Mary and William did not get along at the time.
  • 1792: Published her opus “Vindication of the Rights of Women”. The book was a sensation in liberal circles, but was viciously condemned by conservatives outraged by the suggestion that women might be human beings with rights. Mary met Henry Fuseli, painter of “The Nightmare”, and became infatuated with him. Mary asked to join the Fuseli household, but assured Fuseli’s wife Sophia that she would abstain from sex with John. Sophia was outraged, and insisted that Henry have nothing more to do with Mary.
  • December 1792: Commissioned by her publisher to write about the French Revolution, Mary traveled to Paris. She took up residence at the home of Aline Filliettaz (née Bregantz), the daughter of the headmistress of a school were Mary’s sisters had taught. Aline and her husband were away when Mary arrived.

Personality and Role-Playing Notes: Mary is a conflicted soul who often seems torn between her deeply-held intellectual beliefs and sensual desires. Idealistic and sensitive, she loves and hurts deeply. She suffers from periods of deep depression, and will ruminate on insults. While she is polite and eloquent, Mary is also a fierce debater. She is exceptionally courageous for an eighteenth century woman, often traveling unescorted (in defiance of social convention), and deliberately walking city streets alone at night. She appreciates art and music, and loves to visit shows and converse earnestly about great painters and sculptors. Despite her previous work as a Lady’s Companion and a Governess, she despises the artificiality and pretension of High Society.

Mary is noticeably neat and clean in her appearance, although she lacks the funds to dress fashionably. Unlike many of her contemporaries, she tries to take a full bath (not just a sponge bath) as often as she can. Her concern with hygiene includes a distinct tendency towards hypochondria (ironic, since she will eventually die from septicemia after giving birth to her daughter Mary).

Although she can read formal French (as well as German) well enough to do translations, Mary’s comprehension of the spoken language is not good this point. She will prefer to converse in English if possible. She speaks with a slight Yorkshire accent, due to years spent there as a girl.

Mary Wollstonecraft in Your Game: Mary has just arrived in Paris, and is living alone in a large house with her hosts’ servants. She is always looking for a puzzle to solve, or an injustice to right. Mary may know of a woman who has been unjustly committed to a madhouse by her husband, and ask that the PCs help rescue her. Alternately, she could become involved in tracking down a perverse aristocrat attempting to flee France with a kidnapped peasant girl.

Mary should certainly be able to hold her own in a fight, if necessary. Mary’s Affection for abused and endangered women grants her a +1 Bonus on any action she takes on their behalf. Also, her low Perversity enables her to ward off creatures of supernatural Evil, even though will initially deny that such unreasonable things could exist!

Mary could become romantically involved for a short time with either a male or female PC. At this time she will be dismissive of the idea of marriage with a man, insisting that women should live together instead. Her great tragic romance with the American adventurer Gilbert Imlay will not begin until next year.

A Note on Mary’s “Romantic Friendships”:
It’s difficult to be certain whether the historical Mary Wollstonecraft was actually bisexual. The problem arises from the ambiguous nature of the “romantic friendships” which were common among 18th century women. It is unclear from the historical record just how often such “friendships” progressed beyond holding hands and exchanging passionate declarations of love, although many certainly did. While it seems fairly obvious that Mary was deeply in love with Fanny Blood, for example, we simply don’t know how physically intimate the two were.

The Queen of the Night – An Operatic Adversary for the Ghastly Affair RPG

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Karl Friedrich Schinkel - Stage set for Mozart's Magic Flute - WGA21001

The histrionic villainess of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” (Die Zauberflöte), The Queen of the Night also makes a great adversary for The Gothic Game of Romantic Horror. Like all Incarnations, she is best used as a plot-device. Challenging the Queen to a direct fight would be foolishly suicidal for all but the most powerful Magicians. The three Ladies that do her bidding, on the other hand, are another story! Presenters who are running games set in Highdark Hall should decide whether or not this is the same “Queen of the Night” that haunts the Lunar Ballroom.

I’ve taken a few creative liberties with the Queen and her Ladies. I think the elaborations are in the spirit of the source material, however.

The Queen of the Night
Fairy Monarch of the Gloomy Hours

Signs & Portents: A clap of thunder. All candles and sources of indoor light become dimmer. The night seems deeper and almost tangible. The stars and moon seems brighter, yet sharply defined within the darkness.
Initial Impression: A lovely woman with jet-black hair, skin so pale as to be almost translucent, and deep blue eyes. She is dressed in swaths of translucent black, blue, and purple silk embroidered with silver stars. She wears an elaborate headdress of silver filigree, jet, and star sapphires. Alternately, she wears a gown of black velvet and sable, a mask of black lace, and a delicate silver tiara. Silver stars will shine in her hair. Rarely, she will appear as a nightingale, or Grand paon de nuit moth. She always appears to be personally spotlit, even in the midst of otherwise complete darkness.
Size: Human-sized (or by form)

Perversity: 16
Disposition: Scheming
Charisma: 20 Intelligence: 20 Wisdom: 20
Strength: 20 Dexterity: 20 Constitution: 20
Speed: 9

Armor Class: 10
Hit Dice: 20 (120 Hit Points)
Attacks: 1 (by weapon type)
Special Abilities: Create Weird Objects | Fairy Characteristics | Fairy Magic |
Weaknesses: Banished by the Sun. | Fairy Weaknesses | Limited Power Over Spirits (Fairies only)
Assets: Beautiful Singing Voice, Seductive, Talented Artist
Afflictions: Easily Angered, Obsessive
Preternatural Powers: All Glamors, all 0 – 3rd Level Blessings, Divinations, Evocations, Fascinations, and Transmutations, but no Maledictions (except Decrease Wisdom).
Favored Preternatural Powers: Charm Person, Curse, Darkness, Decrease Wisdom, Hide Lies, Inflict Love, Levitate, Shadow Conjuration, Phantasmagoria V

Usual Surroundings: All places under the nights sky, dances and masquerade balls, theaters and opera houses.
Level: 10

The fairy Queen of the Night is by turns seductive, charming, vengeful, and spiteful. Her personality is flamboyantly melodramatic, even operatic! She loves to affect helplessness, pleading for someone to help her right some supposed wrong done to her. Anyone who falls victim to her manipulation will find themselves trapped within a multi-layered plot built of interlocking lies.

The Queen of the Night hates all religion and systems of enlightenment. She wishes the human race to live in endless night, both physical and spiritual. For the same reason she encourages superstition in every way that she can. It is said that she even plots to eventually destroy the sun itself. She has given birth to many children fathered by human men through the centuries, and she employs her human offspring to further her nefarious schemes. Several aristocratic families are supposedly descended from the Queen of the Night, although she forbids her children from accepting any honors or titles of nobility bestowed by religious leaders. She has a particular hatred for the cult of Isis and Osiris.

Like the nightingale, the Queen love to sing in the darkness. Although the melodies may be sweet, the words often express the darkest emotions.

The Queen of the Night is served by three Ladies: the Enchantress, the Murderess, and the Seductress. In each time and place where she manifests the Queen will chose different three different women to be her Ladies. The Enchantress is usually a Witch (Magician), but could also be a Mad Scientist. The Murderess could be a Vampyre, Werewolf, or Cannibal, or just an ordinary poisoner. The Seductress is almost always a Libertine, sometimes even a former True Innocent seduced into wickedness by the Queen. When the Queen leaves one setting to pursue her schemes in another, she will dismiss her current Ladies and gather three new ones. If encountered in the Fairy Otherworld, her Ladies might be Sprites or Goblins in human form.

The Queen of the Night is frequently confused the Lilith, the Queen of Hell. The two powers are bitter rivals, however, and will not cooperate under any circumstances. The Queen of the Night makes a point of never appearing with the flaming red hair and golden jewelry characteristic of Lilith’s Incarnation.

The Queen of the Night’s Special Abilities:

Create Weird Objects: The Queen of the Night can create any kind of Weird Object she likes, once per day. She often uses her Ladies as couriers to distribute such Objects to the proper recipients. She can enchant an existing object, or simply manifest one from thin air. Examples of the kind of objects the Queen might create include a magical padlock that will adhere to a person’s mouth and silence them; an enchanted portrait that will Inflict Love for its subject upon the viewer; or even a magic flute with myriad powers.

Fairy Characteristics: Like all Fairies, The Queen of the Night is immune to all normal weapons, except those which are made of pure iron or otherwise enchanted. She cannot be harmed by poison, disease, or any Preternatural Fascination effect. The Queen can see perfectly regardless of illumination, and enjoys the constant benefits of True Seeing. She can speak, write, and understand all languages and forms of communication.

Fairy Magic: In addition to the Preternatural Powers she possesses for bring the Incarnation of a spiritual power, her status as a Fairy allows The Queen of the Night to employ the following effects: Decrease Wisdom, Enter Ethereal Plane, Ghost Lights, Hide Lies, Invisibility, Pass Without Trace, Polymorph Other, and Polymorph Self. She can also employ Attract Lover as a boon for those who please her. She is especially fond of using Invisibility and Enter Ethereal Plane to effect dramatic entrances and exits.

The Queen of the Night’s Weaknesses

Banished by the Sun: The Queen of the Night must never see the pure light of the Sun. If she can be somehow tricked into doing so, see instantly loses her Preternatural Powers, any malicious magic she has worked on others is undone, and she is banished back to her realm of Eternal Night. Note that the sun so affects her even if she is in an Ethereal state. The Queen can otherwise function during the day, so long as she remains in darkness.

Fairy Weaknesses: Like all Fairy creatures, The Queen of the Night is Vulnerable to Iron, and cannot cross a barrier of iron under any circumstances (even when in an Ethereal state). Furthermore, she is Vulnerable to Natural Fire (but not fire of Preternatural origin). The Queen finds pure crystalline salt disgusting, but not briny water.

Limited Power Over Spirits: The Queen of the Night can only target Fairies when she employs the following Preternatural Powers: Banish Spirit, Bind Spirit, Summon Spirit.

Random Architectural Follies

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Ruine Hilscher um1800

The grounds of 18th century estates (such as Highdark Hall) often featured small decorative buildings known as follies. Such structures were especially popular in the British Isles, but many were also created in France and other parts of Europe. In accordance with the late 18th century taste for ruins, many follies were deliberately built to look as through they were old and dilapidated. Commonly, they were constructed to look classical or medieval in origin. Frequently, they would be built in highly inauthentic interpretations of styles that were considered “exotic”, such as Chinese, ancient Egyptian, or Turkish. In the United Kingdom, the fashion for building follies lasted well into the 19th century.

Some architectural follies are only the facade of a building. Some others are essentially solid sculptures, with no means of entrance. Many, however, are complete buildings with a room or two inside. Of those that can be entered, many are used as summerhouses, where guests might be entertained, or a light meal eaten in the middle of a garden. In Gothic scenarios, follies could actually be the meeting places of bizarre secret societies, be entrances to underground dungeons that holds kidnapped damsels, or even imprison supernatural creatures! Often, however, follies have no intended purpose but to look nice in a landscape, and display the disposable wealth of the estate’s owner.

Random Architectural Follies (d20)

  1. “Druidic” Megalith(s) (1 – 12)
  2. Amphitheater, Ruined
  3. Artificial Grotto, perhaps with interior pool. May be the entrance to underground passages.
  4. Castle (d4: 1=small ruined, 2= ruined facade, 3=small intact, 4=intact facade)
  5. Chinese Pagoda
  6. Church (d4: 1=ruined Gothic, 2=ruined Romanesque, 3=ruined Gothic facade, 4=intact Gothic facade)
  7. Column or Obelisk (d6: 1=Corinthian Column, 2=Doric Column, 3=Ionic Column, 4,5,6=Egyptian Obelisk)
  8. Columns and Entablature, Ruined
  9. Dry Bridge (does not cross any water) (d4: 1=Gothic, 2=Chinese, 3=Roman, 4=Rustic)
  10. Gateway or Arch (d6 1=Classical, 2=Gothic, 3=Chinese, 4=Egyptian, 5=Turkish, 6=Sculpture of a Monstrous Mouth)
  11. Idealized Cottages (peasant or hermitage)
  12. Oddly-shaped Building (d4: 1=triangular, 2=conical, 3=pentagonal, 4=sculptural [pineapple, etc.])
  13. Pavilion (d4: 1=Gothic, 2=Turkish, 3=Chinese, 4=Egyptian)
  14. Pyramid, Egyptian or Aztec
  15. Roman Aqueduct, Ruined Section
  16. Rotunda (d4: 1=ruined classical, 2=ruined Gothic, 3=intact Gothic, 4=intact classical)
  17. Temple (d6: 1=ruined classical, 2=ruined Egyptian, 3=intact classical, 4=intact Egyptian, 5=Hindu, 6=Aztec)
  18. Tents, Cloth or Stone
  19. Tomb or Cemetery, False (d4: 1=ruined classical, 2=intact classical, 3=ruined medieval, 4=intact medieval)
  20. Tower (d4: 1=castle, 2=minaret, 3=classical, 4=sculptural)

Purpose of Folly’s Interior (d20)
1 – 7. None, but may be richly decorated anyway.
8 – 12. Summerhouse
13. Meeting Place (for secret society, salon)
14. Shed (garden tools, garden furniture storage)
15. Pump-house
16. Cistern
17. Ice House
18. Larder (especially for game animals)
19. Cesspit
20. Dungeon or Prison (person, animal, supernatural creature)

Highdark Hall: The Hedge Maze

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Like everything about Highdark Hall, there are conflicting stories about the Hedge Maze that stands on the West Lawn of the Enclosed Park. The Presenter must decide which, if any, are true. Uncovering the facts of the matter will take persistence, resourcefulness, and courage on the part of Player Characters.

highdark-hall-hedge-mazeThe famous Hedge Maze of Highdark Hall was constructed in 1729, nine years after the completion of the house. Inside it are the last works of the brilliant but deeply troubled sculptor Peter Nicodemus, who also created the bronze equestrian statue of Lord Gerald Altumber in the courtyard of the west wing. The mystery of Nicodemus’ disappearance, which occurred shortly after completing the statues, has never been solved. Neither can the books of Nicodemus’ famous occult library be accounted for.

The walls of the Maze are 8 foot tall yew hedges, cut sharply and cleanly. By walking around it one can see that the structure is hexagonal in overall shape, about 90 feet across at its widest point, with each face of the hexagon about 50 feet in length. Entrance to the Maze is through a 10 foot tall archway of fancifully wrought iron, barred by gates of likewise construction. Through the gates the 5 feet wide, graveled interior path can be seen. Inside, the labyrinthine Maze twists and turns upon itself, and the high walls of yew generally keep the floor of the interior shrouded in shadow. Only for a brief time at high noon are the corridors well lit. At each dead-end in the maze is a life-size bronze statue of a mocking satyr, place atop a 2 foot high granite pedestal. While each satyr has the same visage, each is posed in a slightly different position. At the center of the maze is a life-size marble statue of a beckoning nymph. She is completely nude, and standing atop a low platform of black marble a single foot high. She faces a bench of white stone. Despite the numerous strange stories about the Maze and its history, the structure is well maintained. The gates are always locked at nightfall, but determined lovers have found them not difficult to pick. Keys are held by the Gardener, the Butler, and Lord Nathaniel.

Rumors and Gossip About the Hedge Maze

Those who walk into the Hedge Maze at night will hear the sounds of a man laughing, footfall in the gravel behind them, and a woman screaming. It is said that sometimes the way out from the center appears to be longer than the way in.

A young woman was supposedly buried in the maze along with her unborn baby, but nobody knows who it is, or why they were placed in unhallowed ground. I’ve never seen any such grave, and probably the whole story is just nonsense.

The Hedge Maze is admittedly creepy, but if there was anything ghostly about it, how does the Gardner keep it so tidy? Go into it and see for yourself. Nothing will happen. That place is only dangerous to the virtue of young women who meet their sweethearts there!

If a man makes it to the center of the Maze, he must give the Nymph a kiss. Otherwise he will be cursed to have his manhood fail him when he most desires its use! They say the lips of the Nymph are as are warm as any girl’s, even though she’s made of marble. Never enter there at night, however, because you risk the jealousy of the brazen satyrs. If you check one in the morning, it may be in a different pose than it was the day before. They walk as flesh in the darkness.

Sometimes the sound of pipes can be heard coming from the maze. They say that maidens who go into the Maze alone do not leave still maidens, and will thereafter find ordinary men… inadequate.

If you kiss the nymph at the center of the Maze you will be approached by a beautiful young woman in a bloody maid’s dress, who will seem to have come from nowhere. She will demand that you kiss her as well. If you grant it, her face will become a mask of corruption and rot. If you do not give her what she desires, or break off the kiss, you will surely die that night!

The Maze is inhabited by sprites, who sometime use their magic to confuse those who enter. They never harm children, but they are very jealous of lovers. Couples who kiss in front of the nymph will have True Love for the rest of their days, if they can manage to leave the Maze together. The jealous sprites will do everything to prevent that from happening, however. In fact, it was those sprites that kidnapped Peter Nicodemus and the kitchen maid that loved.

Swear that you will never repeat what I am about to tell you. They are always listening. A certain man was in his youth a frequent guest of the house. He pursued a dalliance with a kitchen maid, though of course his future position made it impossible that she could ever be his wife. They were together in the Maze when she revealed that she carried his child, and demanded that he marry her. In a panic he struck and killed her. He ran to the Lord of the Manor, who enlisted the aid of the Gardener. The three buried the maid’s body inside the Maze, and swore each other to secrecy. The next morning, Lord Roderick, who was Lord Nathaniel’s father, announced to the household that the maid had eloped with some young swain. Shortly thereafter the Gardener was found drowned in the Misty Tarn, even though he was well known to be an excellent swimmer. This all happened when Lord Nathaniel was a boy, and ever since then the Maze has been haunted by the ghost of the maid. It was never haunted before that time, no matter what anybody else tells you. If you enter the Maze at night on the anniversary of the murder, you will see a vision of the crime, and learn the identity the killer. For the love of Jesus do not try. Once you know who it is, you will no longer sleep soundly at night. Just as I cannot!

The site of the Hedge Maze once had a ancient cairn on it. When Lord Gerald excavated the spot in 1709 he found the skeleton of a young woman who was with child. The Maze was erected on top of her body, to keep her spirit confused so she would not haunt the grounds. She still wanders the maze by night.

The sculptor Peter Nicodemus was hopelessly in love with a wanton kitchen maid. In fact, he gave the nymph at the center of the maze her face, and put his own face on all the bronze satyrs. The maid told Peter that she was pregnant with his baby, and he promised to marry her. Just after the Hedge Maze was completed, Peter decided to take a final tour to see his creations. There he unexpectedly found his beloved. She was engaged in carnal relations with a footman, in front of the nymph that bore her likeness! The faithless woman laughed at Peter, and told him that the baby was in fact the footman’s. Apparently the maid and her lover didn’t even pause what they where doing. Peter exploded in anger, and strangled the maid. The footman escaped and ran to the House. When he returned with help, Peter Nicodemus had disappeared. As you know, he was never seen again. It is said, however, that his soul inhabits the bronze satyrs, and the soul of the wanton maid is trapped inside the marble nymph.