The Loves and Hates of Aristocrats

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


The dance of death; the honeymoon. Coloured aquatint by T. R Wellcome V0042007

The following random tables will help you set up properly desperate and dangerous relationships for the inhabitants of Grand Houses. Naturally, the possible results reflect the conventions of Gothic Romance and Romantic Horror.

The tables can indicate that the persons’ love and hate are for the same person. I suggest keeping such results, and exploring the way that affection turns to violence, repressed desires breed madness, and a hatred nursed long enough can mutate into an irresistible sexual attraction.

 

The Loves and Hates of Male Aristocrats

d100

He is desperately in LOVE with…

1 – 10

his (or his father’s) Mistress (and would marry her if he could).

11 – 23

the Governess.

24 – 30

his wife (or intended wife, if unmarried).

31 – 34

his sister-in-law.

35 – 38

the Lady’s Maid of his wife, mother, or daughter.

39 – 42

the romantic friend of a female household member.

43 – 46

his wife’s (or mother’s) Modiste.

47 – 49

the wife of an estate tenant.

50 – 52

the wife of a grounds servant.

53 – 56

a gypsy.

57 – 60

a bandit who once robbed him.

61 – 64

the Lady (or Lord) of the neighboring estate.

65 – 66

a sibling, or other close relation.

67 – 68

his cousin.

69 – 70

the Cook.

71 – 72

the Housekeeper.

73 – 74

a Kitchen Maid.

75 – 76

a Housemaid.

77 – 78

the Dairy Maid.

79 – 80

nobody, because his heart is still broken from a lost love.

81

nobody, because he is incapable of it.

82

a prostitute he often visits (other than his mistress).

83

a well-known artist’s model, paintings of whom he collects.

84 – 85

a singer, actress, or ballet dancer who is often invited to the house.

86

an attractive new servant, who is actually an enemy spy or assassin.

87

a ghost in the house.

88

a member of the Royal Family.

89

a Vampyre who visits him by night.

90

a Succubus (knowingly, or unknowingly).

91

a Fairy.

92

the Estate Manager (always male in Britain, but may be a female Intendante in France).

93

his Secretary.

94

the Live-in, or Cavalier Servente of his wife (or mother).

95

his Valet.

96

a Footman.

97 – 98

the Butler.

99

the Gardener.

100

the Huntsman of the estate.

d20

He HATES and would destroy….

1 – 2

The rival for his love.

3

his wife (or intended wife).

4

his mother.

5

his father.

6

his brother (or brother-in-law).

7

his sister (or sister-in-law).

8

an uncle.

9

an aunt.

10

a member of the local clergy.

11

the lover of a family member.

12

the master of the neighboring estate.

13

a servant who has the favor of his wife (or mother).

14

a political rival.

15

a childhood bully.

16

the bandit who once robbed him.

17

the sovereign.

18

nobody, because his heart is filled with kindness.

19

nobody, because he is mired in apathy.

20

a Player Character, on account of a supposed insult.

 

The Loves and Hates of Female Aristocrats

d100

She is desperately in LOVE with…

1 – 9

the Live-in, or Cavalier Servente.

10 – 12

her husband (or intended husband, if unmarried).

13 – 17

her brother-in-law.

18 – 22

an adopted foundling raised in the household.

23 – 26

the Gardener.

27 – 28

the Estate Manager (always male in Britain, but may be a female Intendante in France).

29 – 30

a Secretary.

31 – 32

a Valet.

33 – 34

a Footman.

35 – 36

the Butler.

37 – 38

the Huntsman of the estate.

39 – 40

a Guard or Porter.

41 – 42

a gypsy.

43 – 44

a bandit who once robbed her.

45 – 46

the Lord (or Lady) of the neighboring estate.

47 – 48

a sibling, or other close relation.

49 – 50

her cousin.

51 – 52

nobody, because her heart is still broken from a lost love.

53

nobody, because she is incapable of it.

54 – 55

a well-known artist.

56 – 57

a musician or opera singer who is often invited to the house.

58 – 59

a handsome new servant, who is actually an enemy spy or assassin.

60 – 61

a ghost in the house.

62 – 63

a member of the Royal Family.

64 – 65

a Vampyre who visits her by night.

66 – 67

The Devil himself.

68 – 69

a Fairy.

70 – 72

the political enemy of her husband (or father).

73 – 76

the live-in Mistress of her husband (or father).

77 – 79

her Lady’s Maid (or the Lady’s Maid of another household member).

80 – 82

her Lady’s Companion.

83 – 84

the Governess.

85 – 86

her Modiste (or her mother’s Modiste).

87 – 88

a singer, actress, or ballet dancer who is often invited to the house.

89 – 90

her Reader (or Lectrice).

91 – 92

the Cook.

93 – 94

the Housekeeper.

95 – 96

a Kitchen Maid.

97 – 98

a Housemaid.

99 – 100

the Dairy Maid.

d20

She HATES and would destroy….

1

the rival for her love.

2

her husband (or intended husband)

3

her mother.

4

her father.

5

her brother (or brother-in-law).

6

her sister (or sister-in-law).

7

an uncle.

8

an aunt.

9

the artist who made her look ugly in a portrait.

10

a member of the local clergy.

11

the lover of a family member.

12

the mistress of the neighboring estate.

13

a servant who has the favor of her husband (or father).

14

her husband (or father’s) political rival.

15

the man who once assaulted her.

16

the bandit who robbed her.

17

a former lover.

18

nobody, because her heart is filled with kindness.

19

nobody, because she is mired in apathy.

20

A Player Character, on account of a supposed insult.

 

The Consequences of Forbidden Love

d12

To deal with their their illicit desires, the character will attempt to…

1 – 2

pursue a secret relationship.

3

pursue a relationship, seemingly heedless of the possible consequences.

4

run away with their beloved (if the feelings are reciprocal), or else abduct and imprison their beloved (if the love is not reciprocal).

5

murder any rivals.

6

promote their beloved’s interests in every way.

7

speak and act impressively, whenever the beloved is watching.

8

engage in mutual suicide (if the love is reciprocal), or else kill themselves (if the love is not reciprocal)

9

avoid the pain, by separating themselves from their beloved.

10

kill their beloved, so no one else can ever have them.

11

use magic to make their relationship possible.

12

stoically keep their feelings to themselves.

 

The Consequences of Hate

d12

The character will deal with the object of their hatred by making an attempt at…

1 – 2

murder.

3

financial ruination.

4

physical assault.

5

framing the enemy for a crime.

6

a humiliating practical joke.

7

slandering the enemy with false accusations.

8

enlisting the aid of a supernatural being.

9

bringing down a supernatural curse.

10

seducing and ruining someone the enemy loves.

11

alienating the enemy from their friends and family.

12

stoically controlling their own anger.
Advertisements

Random Apparitions and Spectral Activity

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Alexandre III (Dictionnaire infernal)

Part I: The Usual Apparition

d12

The…

1

skeletal…

2

bloody…

3

decayed…

4

stark white…

5

insubstantial…

6

luminous…

7

weeping…

8

twitching…

9

lumbering…

10

floating…

11

livid…

12

shadowy…

d20

figure of….

1

an old man…

2

a young man…

3

an old woman…

4

a young woman…

5

a boy…

6

a girl…

7

a soldier…

8

a priest…

9

a nun…

10

a hunter…

11

a coachman…

12

twin children…

13

a freak…

14

an executed criminal…

15

a maid…

16

a footman…

17

a beggar…

18

a leper…

19

a knight…

20

a Druid (other pagan) priest…

d10

wearing…

1

rags,

2

all white,

3

armor,

4

finery,

5

all black,

6

their funeral shroud,

7

nothing,

8

chains,

9

only undergarments,

10

nightclothes,

d20

and carrying…

1

their own severed head(s),

2

a sword,

3

a lantern,

4

an hourglass,

5

a gun,

6

a candle,

7

a bottle,

8

a basket of hands,

9

a sack,

10

nothing,

11

a lamp,

12

a dagger,

13

a skull,

14

an infant,

15

a whistle,

16

a noose,

17

a club,

18

a bucket,

19

a bloody heart,

20

flowers,

d6

will….

1

suddenly appear,

2

drop from the ceiling (or the sky),

3

drop down a chimney (or from a tree),

4

rise up from the floor (or ground),

5

fly through the air,

6

walk out of a wall or door,

d20

and then…

1

beckon.

2

move across the room.

3

ask if someone knows their name.

4

enact their own death.

5

howl.

6

point somewhere and scream.

7

silently stare.

8

try to hand something to a character.

9

laugh.

10

cry.

11

plead for someone to help them.

12

suddenly disappear.

13

attempt to kiss the onlooker.

14

remove their eyes.

15

remove their heart.

16

vomit a large quantity of blood.

17

rot away.

18

sing.

19

pound on the walls and/or floor.

20

dance.

Part II: The Other Apparition(s)

d20

Sometimes, instead of a person, one sees a…

1

severed hand…

2

severed head…

3

bloody skull…

4

bleached skull…

5

beating heart…

6

white cat…

7

black cat…

8

black dog…

9

white dog…

10

raven…

11

white raven…

12

coffin…

13

longcase clock…

14

hourglass…

15

child’s toy…

16

ancient book…

17

mass of dismembered body parts…

18

flesh-less skeleton…

19

flower…

20

bottle…

d8

that…

1

floats in the air.

2

skids across the floor.

3

flies across the room.

4

thumps the floor.

5

is hurled at the onlooker.

6

is always at the edge of one’s vision.

7

drops from above (or down the chimney).

8

arises from the floor.

Part II: Further Spectral Activity

d100

Even when it does not show itself, one senses the presence of the spirit by…

1 – 2

the smell of decay.

3 – 4

the smell of freshly disturbed earth.

5 – 6

the smell of blood.

7 – 8

the intense smell of unwashed bodies.

9 – 10

the sound of weeping.

11 – 12

the sound of laughter.

13 – 14

the sound of indistinct chatter.

15 – 16

the sound of retching.

17 – 18

the sound of singing.

19 – 20

a banging sound.

21 – 22

a tapping sound.

23 – 24

the tolling of an invisible bell.

25 – 26

the sound of music.

27 – 28

a buzzing sound.

29 – 30

a low hum.

31 – 32

the flapping of invisible wings.

33 – 34

the soft touch of invisible fingers.

35 – 36

the feel of a sudden slap across the face.

37 – 38

the touch of an icy cold, but invisible hand.

39 – 40

the touch of a burning hot, but invisible hand.

41 – 42

the feel of an icy kiss from invisible lips.

43 – 44

the feel of a kiss, delivered by warm but invisible lips.

45 – 46

a tingling sensation.

47 – 48

a sensation like being poked with needles.

49 – 50

the sudden pain of being cut by a knife.

51 – 52

the sudden chill in the air.

53 – 54

the sudden warmth.

55 – 56

the deepening gloom of the room.

57 – 58

a strange luminescence in the air.

59 – 60

a disturbance in the air, like someone walking past.

61 – 62

the persistent feeling of being watched.

63 – 64

a choking dryness in the air.

65 – 66

static electric shocks, like before a thunderstorm.

67 – 68

puddles of water that mysteriously appear and disappear.

69 – 70

puddles of blood that mysteriously appear and disappear.

71 – 72

puddles of slime that mysteriously appear and disappear.

73 – 74

the appearance of bloodstains on furniture and curtains.

75 – 76

the appearance of bloody footprints.

77 – 78

the appearance of muddy footprints.

79 – 80

a shiver up your spine.

81 – 82

a sudden ache in the bones.

83 – 84

a sudden shortness of breath

85 – 86

a sudden attack of indigestion.

87 – 88

the taste of spoiled food in your mouth.

89 – 90

the taste of ashes in your mouth.

91 – 92

the taste of dirt in your mouth.

93 – 94

the taste of wine in your mouth.

95 – 96

a bitter taste in your mouth.

97 – 98

a sweet taste in your mouth.

99 – 100

the smell of perfume.

Part IV: The Phantom’s Release

d20

The spirit will be laid to rest if…

1

their lost body is found and properly buried.

2

the body of someone they loved is properly buried.

3

their murder is solved, and the culprit exposed.

4

another family assumes ownership of the property.

5

their forgotten name becomes known.

6

the house is razed to the ground.

7

the family line ends.

8

a family member obtains something the spirit was denied in life.

9

the person they loved in life openly declares reciprocal feelings.

10

some item removed from the house is restored to it.

11

the person they harmed in life proclaims that the ghost is forgiven.

12

a disinherited member of the family is restored to their birthright.

13

a work of art they left unfinished in life is skillfully completed.

14

the money they were cheated of in life is buried with their body.

15

an object they hated in life is destroyed.

16

an ornate monument is placed over their grave.

17

an elaborate dinner party is held, with an empty seat left for the ghost.

18

a certain monster is destroyed.

19

an animal kept in captivity is let free.

20

the room or cottage they once inhabited is blessed.

Servants and Retainers in a Grand House – Part 6 (Porter to Whipper-In)

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Thomas Stringer - Lord Bulkeley and his Harriers, his Huntsman John Wells and Whipper-In R. Jennings - Google Art Project

This is the sixth part of an excerpt from the upcoming “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, and Estates“. Naturally, the presentation is skewed towards a game of Gothic Romance and Romantic Horror, but should prove useful to anyone playing in a late-18th or early-19th century setting.

See also Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 in the series.

Porter (Concierge, or Suisse) [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Strength

The Porter’s primary job is to carry heavy objects and equipment for family members and guests, and see that visitors have been properly situated in their rooms. A Porter (or Concierge) will usually be waiting in the entrance room whenever guests are expected, and one will generally meet any carriage that comes to the house. Sometimes, Porters are stationed in booths at the front gate. In France, Porters are often also called Suisses, because many actually are of Swiss extraction. Naturally, Porters are skilled at lifting and carrying heavy objects efficiently, and have high higher-than average ability to endure strenuous tasks. Porters often double as House Guards, and therefore may also be skilled in the use of spears, halberds, and guns. A Porter will also have a better than average ability to notice sneaking and hiding people, and develop a particularly good memory.

The Porter will often be expected to inform visitors of any specific rules that need to be followed by visitors, and to enforce compliance. For example, male visitors to the palace of Versailles (which was open to the public before the French Revolution) could rent the mandatory dress sword from the Concierge at the front entrance.

A Porter is paid the standard wage for a male House Servant.

Postilion [Grounds Servant]
Strongest Ability: Dexterity

A Postilion is employed to ride the front left-hand horse in a team pulling a carriage, which greatly improves the Coachman’s control over the animals. Sometimes, a carriage will not even require a Coachmen to drive it, only a Postilion to guide the horses.

If a coach needs to travel more than 30 miles a day, fresh horses will need to be obtained every 10 – 20 miles from one of the Coaching Inn or Post Houses that are stationed along most major roads. In such a case, the Postilion must leave the traveling party, and (usually after staying the night at the Coaching Inn) return the spent horses to the family stables. The Postilion’s place will be taken by another employed by the Coaching Inn or Post House from which the fresh horses were rented. That Postilion will then be responsible for returning his team to their original stable after they are swapped out for fresh horses further along the road.

Postilions need to be skilled and agile riders, with a sense for equine behavior. Since they are frequently required to transport numbers of valuable horses, Postilions are usually skilled at defending themselves in a fight. In particular, the high, metal-reinforced boots they wear can turn their legs into deadly weapons (and also grant a +1 Bonus to their Armor Class). In order to avoid potential conflicts with highwaymen, Postilions will become skilled at noticing lurking and hiding people. A Postilion may possibly be Leveled as a Gypsy.

A Postilion is paid the standard rate for a Grounds Servant. Since their pay includes a Board Wage, they cannot expect to be reimbursed for their expenses when they need to stay at an inn (although any stabling fees for the horses will usually be paid by the family). When not riding, they often serve as Stable Boys.

Reader (Lectrice) [Retainer or Servant]
Strongest Ability: Charisma

A Reader is employed to read books and letters aloud – possibly at Salons, in drawing rooms after dinner, during a lady’s toilette, or at night before their master or mistress falls asleep. The Reader could be considered either a servant or Retainer, depending upon their education (and the inclinations of the family). The duties of a female Reader (or Lectrice) are often fulfilled by the Lady’s Maid or Lady’s Companion, and having a dedicated Reader is the the mark of truly wealthy (or extravagant) family. Beside being literate, a Reader will have a sweet voice (and usually some singing ability), a persuasive manner, basic acting skills, good fashion sense, and an attractive appearance.

A True Innocent might be employed as a Reader – at least until her patron (inevitably) asks to be entertained with tales of shockingly immorality!

Scullery Maid [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

The grueling job of the Scullery Maid (or Scullion) is to boil water for washing, clean dirty dishes and pans, clean the kitchen, empty the chamber pots into the slop sink or Cesspit, clean the chamber pots, clean fish, wash freshly butchered meat, and wash floors. When there are no separate Laundry Maids, the Scullery Maids also wash the clothes and bedding. They must also assist the Cook and Kitchen Maids when necessary. Scullery Maids tend to be young, since it is often the first job given to young woman and girls in service. Because the floor of the Scullery is usually wet and filled with puddles, the Maids that work there generally wear wooden clogs, or pattens with blocks of wood affixed to the soles. Naturally, Scullery Maids become more sure-footed than average on slippery surfaces. Their footwear can also make quite effective improvised weapons!

A Scullery Maid is paid the standard wage for a female House Servant.

Secretary [Retainer]
Strongest Ability: Intelligence or Charisma (if a Libertine)

A Secretary’s primary job is to write letters of behalf of their employer. Sometimes the letter will be transcribed verbatim from dictation – other time the secretary is expected to translate their patron’s thoughts into more eloquent words. In a time when aristocrats may receive up to a dozen letter a day, the Secretary’s job is extraordinarily important. Participation in the international “Republic of Letters” is a mark of social prestige, but it is really only possible with the aid of paid professionals! Besides the ability to write well (and in an eloquent script), a Secretary must be well-read (so they can insert properly sophisticated literary references in correspondences), and have a good memory. As the name implies, a Secretary will be privy to their employer’s secrets, and gaining a Secretary’s trust may be essential to elucidating the dark mysteries of an estate. Most Secretaries are male, although a woman might employ one who is female.

Secretary is another one of the jobs that might be given to a lady’s live-in lover, in order to provide a respectable facade for their actual relationship. Thus, a Secretary might actually be a Libertine.

A Secretary can expect to be paid the standard rate for a Retainer.

Shepherd(ess) or Pastor [Grounds Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

A Shepherd (or Pastor) is employed to watch over the herd of sheep (or cows) that often reside on aristocratic estates – whether such herds are used for meat, milk, and wool; employed to keep the grass cropped; or are purely ornamental. A Shepherd will develop the ability to spot stalking animals (or people), develop a natural sense of direction, learn to correctly read the weather, have a basic understanding of veterinary medicine, be able to estimate the health of an animal by sight, and have the ability to intimidate beasts. Since they are often aided by a sheep (or cow) dog, Shepherds will usually learn how to train canines (and other beasts). They can become quite proficient in defending themselves with their crook – and because they are also often the one who shears and/or slaughters their charges, they will generally have very good knife skills as well.

Shepherdesses are likely to be True Innocents, especially if their flock (or herd) is just maintained for show. While no more likely than any other to lose their sheep (or said sheep’s tails), innocent Shepherdess may find the flocks (and themselves) especially targeted by Werewolves.

A Shepherd or Shepherdess is paid the standard rate for a Grounds Servant of their gender; Male Shepherds earn 100p a week plus 150p Board wage, and Shepherdesses earn 50p a week, plus 100p Board Wage. The Shepherd or Shepherdess of a purely ornamental flock will likely also be provided with a colorful, faux peasant costume to wear.

Sick Nurse [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

Most Grand Houses do not employ a full-time Sick Nurse (also called a Sickroom, or Chamber Nurse). Rather, they will bring one in as needed to care for ill or injured members of the household. Only a royal palace (or similar place) where 100 or more servants reside would actually have a full-time Sick Nurse on staff.

A Sick Nurse will have a good knowledge of herbalism, practical chemistry, and mathematics, allowing her to properly compound remedies. Naturally, she will also be skilled at administering first aid for wounds of various kinds. She will more perceptive than ordinary people, and have an increased ability to discern the intentions and motivations of others. She will probably be quite persuasive as well. Her personal tolerance for pain will be better than average, and she will be harder to fatigue and exhaust. Likewise, she will be resistant to diseases, poisons, and being nauseated. To avoid disturbing patients, Sick Nurses develop the ability to move silently (and towards that end wear quiet, fabric slippers called “list shoes”).

Naturally, in a world of Gothic Romance some Sick Nurses are actually witches – especially those whose patients tend to recover. If a patient’s malady is actually caused by a supernatural visitation (from a Vampyre, Fairy, or evil spirit of some kind) the Sick Nurse is likely to eventually confront the malignant creature. Therefore, it is possible that a Sick Nurse may even become a Demon Hunter!

Since they are seldom employed full-time at any single house, Sick Nurses are generally paid weekly (rather than receiving their pay quarterly like most other servants and Retainers). Their standard week’s wage is about 100p. They are entitled to meals and a bed for the term of their stay (although they may be asked to sleep in the room with their patient).

Still Maid [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

The Still Maid is responsible for making beverages for the household – brewing beer, fermenting cider and table wine, and distilling liquors. She also makes the jams, jellies, perfumed waters, and condiments. Thus, she will have a practical knowledge of chemistry, and better than average senses of smell and taste. She will also be resistant to poisoning and high temperatures. Furthermore, it would be unwise to attempt to out-drink the house’s Still Maid! When there is no separate Still Maid, her duties are performed by the Housekeeper.

A Still Maid may be a Mad Scientist, albeit one without the usual “Academic Credentials”. Instead, she would posses a Special Ability from the Everyman list. Likewise, the Weakness “Attracts Angry Mobs”, would be replaced with either an Everyman’s “Prejudice” or “Phobia”.

A Still Maid is paid the standard rate for a female House Servant.

Swineherd [Grounds Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

The Swineherd looks after the pigs of the estate. Unlike a flock or sheep or herd of cows (which might be maintained simply to give the property a properly bucolic ambiance), pigs are never purely ornamental. Besides a basic understanding of medicine, and practical knowledge of animal behavior, a swineherd will develop the ability correctly estimate the relative health of an animal. A Swineherd should always receive their Profession Bonus on Saves against nausea, poison, or disease. Since they are also often also responsible for slaughtering their pigs, Swineherds will skilled in wielding hammers and blades.

The Swineherd will almost always be a man, and is paid the standard rate for a male Grounds Servant.

Underbutler (or Officier) [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Intelligence

An Underbutler (or Officier) is employed to watch over the Butlery (or Office), and perform other duties of the Butler, when the staff is so large the Butler (or Maître d’Hôtel) himself has to concern himself primarily with the administration of the house. He will usually clean the expensive silverware and porcelain himself, not trusting the Scullery Maids with it. His skills will otherwise be the same as the actual Butler’s.

In previous times, the Officier de Bouche of a château would have been a high-born Retainer (as would have been the Maitre d’Hôtel). By the late 18th, century, however, Officier has become a servant’s position.

The Underbutler is paid the standard wages of a Male Servant. He is not entitled to the same gifts and gratuities as the Butler himself. In a French château, the Officier is among the upper strata of servants who eat separately in the Office (rather than the Salle Commune).

Under Housemaid [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

When there are Under Housemaids each will be responsible for cleaning and fire maintenance in a particular section (or wing) of the house. They are also called Lower Housemaids. Otherwise, they are identical with regular Housemaids.

Upper Housemaid [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

In British practice, the Upper Housemaid oversees the Under Housemaids, and reports directly to the Housekeeper. The Upper Housemaid will usually be responsible for cleaning high status rooms and expensive objects. Her skills and abilities will be otherwise similar to any other Housemaid.

Naturally, the Upper Housemaid is better paid than an ordinary Housemaid, earning 75p a week, 975p quarterly, or 3,900p a year.

Tutor [Retainer]
Strongest Ability: Intelligence (Charisma if actually a Libertine)

If the the knowledge of a house’s Governess is considered inadequate in some area, a specialized Tutor may be brought in. Likewise, if a boy over the age of 14 is not sent away to school, his further education will be conducted by specialized male Tutors, rather than the Governess. In pre-Revolutionary France, Tutors are often Abbés, men who have religious training and may be members of orders, but who often lack formal ordination. In other Catholic countries, Tutors are often actual priests or monks.

Areas of knowledge in which a Tutor might specialize include:

  • Arithmetic
  • Geometry
  • Astronomy (& Astrology)
  • Grammar
  • Logic
  • Rhetoric
  • History
  • Philosophy
  • Physic (Medicine)
  • Classics
  • Non-classical Literature
  • Latin
  • Greek
  • Hebrew
  • Theology
  • Natural Philosophy (Science)
  • Poetry
  • French (the necessary language of High Society and diplomacy)
  • Italian (the language of art and music)
  • German (the language of the most exciting new novels and philosophical works)

By the Ghastly Age, Alchemy is no longer considered a subject of serious academic study. Many aristocrats are still enthusiasts for the subject, of course, but it isn’t an element of proper pedagogy.

Naturally, a Tutor will posses deep knowledge of their field – unless they are actually a Libertine fraudulently working their way into the household for the purpose of seduction! Tutors in the natural sciences may in fact be Mad Scientists trying to fund their research. An Abbé employed as a Tutor may also be a Magician – and not necessarily one who deal with angels!

A Tutor will be paid the standard rate for a Retainer.

Valet [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

A Valet waits on a member of the household, traveling wherever they go, running errands for them, and attending to minor business concerns and transactions. A man’s Valet will also shave and dress him, care for his clothing, consult on his fashion choices, and serve as his personal confidante. Like Lady’s Maids, Valets often have an intuitive understanding of the motivations and desires of others. Unlike a Footman, who serves the House and Household, a Valet personally serves a particular member of the family. In British practice, Valets are usually assigned to the male members of the household only, but in French practice a woman may have a personal Valet in addition to her Femme de Chambre (Lady’s Maid).

Those Vampyres who continue to live in human society may task their Valets with maintaining a supply of fresh blood. A Valet may themselves be a practiced Libertine – aiding, abetting, and participating in the venereous misadventures of their master (or mistress). The Valet of a Mad Scientist might even be a Brute, Cannibal, or Degenerate, and thus a Monstrous Servant.

A Valet’s wages are 250p a week – 3,250 quarterly, or 13,000p a year. He is also entitled to receive cast-off clothing from his master, which he can wear instead of the house’s livery.

Whipper-In [Grounds Servant]
Strongest Ability: Dexterity

The job of the Whipper-In is to manage the hounds on a hunt, so they don’t wander off (or pursue something other than the intended quarry). He will be a skilled equestrian, proficient in the precise use of the whip, observant, and have an intuitive understanding of animal behavior. When not actually hunting he will aid the Kennel Master, Huntsman, or Gamekeeper. The Whipper-In could even find himself directed to lend his particular expertise to the punishment of other male servants (females being usually whipped by the Housekeeper, or else the Lady in her private chambers).

The Whipper-In is paid the standard amount for a male Grounds Servant.

Servants and Retainers in a Grand House – Part 5 (Maid-of-all-Work to Physician)

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


A lecherous doctor taking the pulse of an attractive young w Wellcome M0018504

This is the fifth part of an excerpt from the upcoming “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, and Estates“. Naturally, the presentation is skewed towards a game of Gothic Romance and Romantic Horror, but should prove useful to anyone playing in a late-18th or early-19th century setting.

See also Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 in the series.

Maid-of-all-Work (Servante) [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

A Maid-of-all-Work (usually called simply a Servante in France) is a general female servant who does all manner of household labor. She cooks, cleans, dresses ladies, launders clothes and linens, and cares for children – although she will seldom do those things as well as a specialized servant would. A middle class household may only employ a single Maid-of-all-Work. Often, every female servant in a household outside Britain and France will essentially be one. In game terms, a Maid-of-all-Work should receive a Bonus against fatigue, nausea, disease, caustic chemicals, and poisoning. She will probably be handy with a knife, stealthy, and even skilled at defending herself with a broom handle (or club).

Despite her many tasks, a Maid-of-all-Work can only expect the standard wages of a female House Servant – i.e., 50p per week, 650p quarterly, or 2,600p a year.

Manservant [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

The male equivalent to a Maid-of-all-Work, a general Manservant performs whatever work is too difficult for female servants to perform, or is outside their traditional purview. He may wait at table, shave his master, repair furniture, drive a carriage, care for horses, perform basic gardening, trap vermin, carry guests’ baggage, or perform any other job of a male servant. He may know how to effectively use a spear, halberd or axes, as well as be able to shoot. As with a Maid-of-all-Work, the position of Manservant may be held because the house is not wealthy enough to employ many male servants, or because the local culture of household management doesn’t assign specialized jobs to the male staff.

A Manservant who resides in the house, and takes his meals there, will receive the standard pay of a male House Servant – 100p per week, 1,300 quarterly, or 5,200p a year. If he lives outside the house he will receive an additional 150p a week Board Wage.

Maître d’Hôtel [House Servant] See Butler

Mistress [Retainer]
Strongest Ability: Charisma or Constitution

In an age when the Maîtresse-en-titre is a recognized position at the French court, it is not unknown for a man to bring his Mistress into the family home. Such a formal Mistress will be pampered, put in her own bedchamber, and given a stipend, for as long as her patron doesn’t tire of her. She may be also be assigned her own Page (or even Lady’s Maid). When not actually moved in, it is common for the Mistresses of aristocratic men to be lodged in houses on or near their patrons’ own properties. As for the actual wives of those patrons, aristocratic women are generally too concerned with their own lovers to actually care about the sexual activities of the men they married at the age of fourteen (and they would have no legal recourse even if they did). Nonetheless, insulting and causing problems for the pretty (but often socially-inferior) Mistresses of each others’ husbands is a favorite pastime of upper-class ladies.

Mistresses can range in background, from exceptionally beautiful women born into poverty, to aristocratic ladies whose publicly scandalous behavior has estranged them from their husbands. Those who take become the Mistresses of aristocrats are not always courtesans by Profession – in fact, most are Actresses, Dancers, or Artist’s Models. In such a case, “Mistress” would be the woman’s Avocation rather than Profession. In any event, the Mistress of an aristocrat will naturally be above-average in appearance, have an eye for fashion, probably be a good dancer, and may be a skilled conversationalist as well. Since she is not employed to perform such acts as a man could ask his respectable wife to commit, a Mistress may have a higher-than average ability to resist being nauseated.

Naturally, a Mistress will often be Leveled as Libertine. A typical stipend for an aristocrat’s mistress might be 1,000p a week spending cash (plus housing, and the services of a Page or Maid), but she can also expect to be lavished with additional gifts of clothing and jewelry (and perhaps even her own carriage and Coachman). Her patron may, or may not, expect the gifts to be returned when the affair ends.

Music Master [Retainer]
Strongest Ability: Dexterity

If a family feels the Governess’s musical ability is lacking, a Music Master may be brought in to teach the young women of the house how to read (and properly appreciate) music, as well as how to play the piano or harpsichord. Since Italian is the language of the music world, the most sought-after Music Master is an Italian man, particularly a Venetian or Neapolitan.

In addition to the ability to play several musical instruments (and probably sing), the Music Master will have an exceptional memory.

A Music Master would be paid at the typical rate for a male Retainer.

Nurse [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

The Nurse, or Head Nurse, is responsible for the care of the family’s infants and young children. She is distinct from the Sick Nurse who attends the Sickroom, since she is only responsible for the welfare of the young. She will sleep in the Nursery, alongside the children in her care.

A good Nurse will be a keen observer, able to spot hiding children. She will have a good practical knowledge of chemistry and herbalism, since she is responsible for administering medicines, ointments, and leeches to her charges. She will also become skilled at chasing – particularly necessary when leeches are to be applied! Nurses develop strong stomachs, and are difficult to nauseate. Likewise, they tend to be resistant to illness.

While most Nurses are simple Everywomen, one might be a White Witch who uses supernatural means to combat the dark Fairies, Vampyres, and Werewolves who find children especially delicious. Note that the Nurse bears no responsibility whatsoever towards the various children (Pages, young Scullery Maids, Hall Boys, or Hall Maids) in service to the house.

A Nurse is paid double the usual wages for a female House Servant – 100p a week, 1,300p quarterly, or 5,200p a year.

Nursery Maid [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

The Nursery Maid assists the Nurse in whatever way is needed. She is especially responsible for cleaning the Nursery, and cleaning up after the children. Like the Nurse herself, a Nursery maid will be hard to nauseate, and resistant to disease – but also inured to toxins and caustic chemicals (on account of her cleaning duties).

A Nursery Maid is paid the standard rate for female House Servants.

Occultist [Retainer]
Strongest Ability: Wisdom, Intelligence, or Charisma

The aristocrats of the Ghastly Age often have a paradoxical enthusiasm for both rational science, and the occult. Astrologers, Alchemists, Dowsers, Fortune Tellers, and Seers might all be found as part of a noble household. As well as being consulted by members of the family, such retainers are popular features at Salons. Most are Charlatans, of course – just Everymen (and Everywomen) whose primary skill is manipulation and deception. Some few may be actual Magicians or Mad Scientists. Many will be Libertines out to take full financial and sexual advantage of the gullible rich. Even actual Magicians in aristocratic service are apt to primarily deal in nonsense, since their patrons seldom wish to be confronted with potentially uncomfortable truths.

An Occultist on staff will be able to demand at least the standard rate for a Retainer of their gender. Occultists are infamous, however, for their ability to extract large sums form their employers with promises of the most dubious nature.

Page [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

Pages are boys between 8 and 14 years old who perform much the same services as a Footman, and are especially used to convey messages. They usually wear the livery of Footmen. However, some wealthy women treat their Pages like fashion accessories (much like a toy dog), and dress them up in fancifully exotic outfits. Pages who grow up tall and handsome often become actual Footmen.

Besides food, clothing, and shelter, Pages are often not paid any any wage at all (but are entitled to receive “vails” from guests in the house).

Physician [Retainer]
Strongest Ability: Intelligence

The “modern” Physician of the Ghastly Age has at his disposal an impressive array of questionable, dangerous, and mostly useless treatments – including leeches and lancets for bleeding, many delightful emetics, wonderfully toxic mercury compounds, and the ever-popular enema syringe (to be used at the slightest hint of gastrointestinal irregularity). A proper Physician will have a wide-range of knowledge on various subjects, including chemistry, mathematics, and Classics; will be fluent in Greek and Latin; and will be difficult to nauseate. He may be a connoisseur of wine and liquor, since it is common to prescribe the drinking of specific wines or distilled spirits as medicine. Naturally, the Physician must also be skilled at convincing others to believe statements of dubious merit. Note that respectable Physicians of the Ghastly Age do not perform actual surgery, which is considered an entirely separate (and far less-prestigious) discipline.

Doctor John Polidori, who wrote the first modern story of a suave and sophisticated vampire, was Lord Byron’s personal Physician.

Naturally, a Physician might actually be a Mad Scientist, perhaps one keenly interested into the creation of a new race through the reanimation of dead tissue. Alternately, he might have become a Demon Hunter after realizing that certain apparent diseases of the blood actually result from attacks by Vampyres. Of course, a Vampyre who becomes a Physician would enjoy a steady supply of blood from patients who expect to be bled. Any Physician of the Ghastly Age who is able to actually cure his patients is possibly a Magician of some kind.

In addition to his lodgings, salary, and meals, a Physician residing permanently in a Grand House will expect to be provided with the services of his own Page. A resident Physician’s exact salary will vary according to his reputation and credentials, ranging anywhere from 1,000p to 3,000p a week.

Review: Hunter’s Song


A great new review of the Ghastly Affair novel Hunter’s Song, from the Filbanto Stew blog.

Filbanto Stew

TL/DR: Give it a read.

Hunter’s Song is the debut novel from William Rutter. I recall when it was announced on Daniel James Hanley’s excellent The Engine of Oracles blog last fall. I dropped it on my Amazon wishlist and promptly forgot about it… I sure wish I’d ordered sooner!

The novel centers around a young English gentlewoman named Lila Davenport. The sole child of a wealthy banker, Lila’s only ambition is to marry the man she loves – her childhood sweetheart Richard Fairfax. Unfortunately, Fairfax has been ensnared by dark powers. His actions drag Lila into hidden terror. Disowned by her friends and family, she must fend for herself in a world where monsters are very real. Rather than give in, Lila takes up arms to fight against the creatures who stalk the night. She finds a mentor who teaches her to become the hunter instead of the hunted.

View original post 138 more words

Servants and Retainers in a Grand House – Part 4 (Housekeeper to Librarian)

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Boucher toilette 1742

This is the fourth part of an excerpt from the upcoming “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, and Estates“. Naturally, the presentation is skewed towards a game of Gothic Romance and Romantic Horror, but should prove useful to anyone playing in a late-18th or early-19th century setting.

See also Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 in the series.

Housekeeper (Gouvernante)
Strongest Ability: Intelligence or Constitution

The Housekeeper is the highest ranked female servant in a British household, and will always be a mature woman. All the female house servants report to her. The equivalent French title of “Gouvernante” also means “Governess”, but the formal position of Housekeeper is not as common in France as in Britain. The Housekeeper’s primary duty is to ensure that the house is clean, all clothing is kept in good condition, all fires are maintained, and that all female servants are working to their best ability. She purchases and maintains the inventory of food, clothing, and cleaning supplies. She also personally makes the pickles, preserves, drinks, and perfume waters used by the house. The Housekeeper may personally perform especially important cleaning, cooking, or sewing tasks. Naturally, the Housekeeper must be literate and mathematically inclined, and will often be middle class in origin. She will be a keen observer, and become skillful at discerning lies. She will be a shrewd bargainer, and particularly difficult to seduce or intimidate. Her senses will be keen, particularly with regard to discerning flavors or odors. Those who attack the Housekeeper will find that she is quite skilled with a knife!

A Housekeeper is paid about 150p a week – 1,950p quarterly, or 7,800p a year.

Housemaid [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

Housemaids are responsible for cleaning the interior of the house; opening and closing windows as needed; and maintaining all the lights, fireplaces, and heating stoves. They repair and maintain the linens, curtains, tablecloths, and bedclothes; and make up the beds. When there are more than two in a British household, one will be the supervising Upper Housemaid, and the others Under Housemaids who report to her. House Maids may become quite skilled in hiding, moving silently, and overhearing conversations, and are often the source for much of the gossip in the house. If there have been supernatural occurrences, they will have been witnesses. It is also not unknown for Housemaids to acquire a basic ability to pick locks.

Housemaid earn the standard pay for female house servants.

House Steward [Retainer]
Strongest Ability: Charisma

The supposed job of the House Steward is to be the ultimate overseer of all the house servants, and manager of all household business. Theoretically, it is a position of high importance, to be given only to a man of impeccable character. However, since the responsibilities of the position can easily be performed by the Lady of the house, the Butler, and/or the Housekeeper, the title “House Steward” can be a sinecure given to an otherwise useless acquaintance or relative. Often, the position is merely a cover for the Lady’s live-in lover, especially when the man has no real talents other than a handsome face, silver tongue, and a big…heart. Servants might regard the nominal House Steward with contempt, humoring him when he gives orders, and actually looking to the Lady, Butler, or Housekeeper for real direction. Sometimes the House Steward will really be a serious and talented man who tries to do his job well, but at every turn such a person will be faced with negative assumptions about his skills and true purpose in the house.

A typical House Steward would be a Libertine, with absolutely no knowledge or special skills relating to the running of a household. Such a man will probably insist on the nicer-sounding title of “Chamberlain”. An ideal House Steward, however, would be skilled at mathematics, discerning lies, sensing motivations, investigation, intimidation, and estimating the quality of food and drink. He would have a basic knowledge of all the duties of all the house servants, and be a shrewd businessman on top.

The usual pay given to a competent House Steward is about 800p per week – 10,400p per quarter, or 41,600p a year. Acquaintances, relatives, and lovers given the position may be given double, or even triple that amount, of course. In any event, the House Steward is usually given the service of their own Page.

Huntsman [Grounds Servant]
Strongest Ability: Dexterity or Wisdom

The Huntsman leads all hunting parties on an estate. He therefore works closely with the Gamekeeper and the Forester, to make sure he leads the hunters across enjoyably rough terrain towards the place where their prey has been previously lured. If the household wishes to eat game, but for some reason not hunt it themselves, the Huntsman must provide it.

In England, the Huntsman will usually be leading fox hunts, as well as carefully staged forays into the estate’s Deer Park (where a kill is always guaranteed). In France, the hunts will be for deer and boar, and often occur in an actual wild forest (although the Gamekeeper will still have taken measures to lure animals into the path of the hunting party). In places that still have significant populations of wild predators, such as Russia and the Kingdom of Hungary, the hunt may even be a thrilling expedition away from settled land of the estate, in search of wolves or bears. Remember that in Ghastly Age Europe, hunting is still almost exclusively a right of the aristocracy, and aristocrats often actually retain the right to hunt on land that they (or their ancestors) have sold to others.

A Huntsman will be a skilled Equestrian, have a practical understanding of animal behavior, and possess especially good powers of observation. He will be a practiced tracker of game animals. Naturally, a Huntsman will know how to use guns, axes, spears, and possibly even the bow and arrow.

Huntsman is an obvious profession for a Demon Hunter, but it also the kind of employment a Werewolf would gravitate towards. Former Bandits may even become Huntsmen, although of course their “Hard Luck” means that such an attempt to earn purely legitimate income will always go wrong for them somehow.

Including his Board Wage (because he is a Grounds Servant who does not eat in the house), a Huntsman is paid an average of 350p per week – 4,550p quarterly, or 18,200p a year.

Kennel Master [Grounds Servant]
Strongest Ability: Wisdom

The Kennel Master maintains and trains the hunting and guard dogs of an estate. In some places he will also breed and train dogs for fighting, bear-baiting, badger-baiting, and bull-baiting. He will have a good practical understanding of animal behavior, and know how to nurse sick animals back to health. A Kennel Master may be able to estimate an animal’s health (and in game terms, Hit Points) by looking at it. A Kennel master will often live above, or next to the estate’s kennels. He may be a Gypsy in origin.

The Kennel Master will be paid the standard rate for male Grounds Servants – 100p per week base wage, plus 150p a week Board Wage.

Kitchen Boy (Garçon de Cuisine) [House Servant] See Kitchen Maid

Kitchen Maid [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

The Kitchen Maids assist the Cook in preparing food for the entire household – family, guests, retainers, and servants. When there are more than two each will usually have a specialty, but all are expected to fill in wherever the Cook decides. Kitchen Maids become somewhat resistant to noxious fumes, and high temperatures. Most acquire good knife skills, as well as basic knowledge of first aid, herbalism, and (animal) anatomy. If there are no Scullery or Laundry Maids, the Kitchen Maids will also wash pots, mop floors, and do laundry. In a British Household the cook staff are usually female, but in a French household the kitchen staff will usually be male Kitchen Boys.

An old English term for a Kitchen Maid is “slut” – a reference to them being “sluttish” (messy and dirty) from cooking. Female kitchen staff are often targeted for seduction by upper-class men who shift the blame from themselves by perpetuating the slander that “sluts” possess especially loose morals.

A low-level Vampyre who is still able to function by day might use the job of Kitchen Maid as a cover, since it provides easy access to a supply of blood from slaughtered animals – and foolish aristocrats who think with their genitals.

Kitchen Maids are somewhat better paid than Housmaids, averaging about 60p per week in wages – 780p quarterly, or 3,120p per year. Male Kitchen Boys will be paid the standard rate for any other male house servant.

Lady’s Companion (Demoiselle de Compagnie) [Retainer]
Strongest Ability: Charisma

A Lady’s Companion is employed to be a friend and activity partner to an upper-class women. Young women are given Lady’s Companions to keep them occupied (and not thinking about young men). Married and widowed women employ Lady’s Companions to assuage their loneliness. A Lady’s Companion will possess most of the same skills as the aristocratic woman she accompanies – sewing, embroidery, drawing, speaking proper French, and playing the piano. She may be expected to dance with her lady in the absence of interested men. She will read to her employer during the long toilette, and at night before she goes to sleep. A Lady’s Companion will be a talented conversationalist, able to carry on discussions on many different topics. Many also become skilled gamblers from the constant card-playing that occurs in female aristocratic circles. Unlike a Lady’s Maid, a Lady’s Companion is not responsible for grooming and dressing her lady, or performing errands for her.

It is common for a Lady’s Companion to also become the “romantic friend” of her employer. Physically intimate relationships of such a nature are generally tolerated in aristocratic circles, so long they are kept discreet.

A Lady’s Companion actual pay will be similar to a Governess’ – 200p a week, 2600 quarterly, or 10,400p a year. One can expect to be given frequent gifts of clothing and possibly jewelry, however. Additionally, they will get to attend balls and performances at their Lady’s expense.

Lady’s Maid (Femme de Chambre) [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Dexterity, Constitution, or Charisma (if a Libertine)

A Lady’s Maid (or Femme de Chambre) is the personal attendant (and often confidante) to a female member of a family. She washes, grooms, and dresses her mistress; applies her makeup; runs errands for her; gives her fashion advice; repairs her fine clothing; accompanies her when she travels; and ensures her comfort in every way. Often, she will personally prepare her mistress’s chocolate or coffee. If her lady has any pets (or toy dogs she uses as fashion accessories), the Lady’s Maid will be expected to care for them. In the absence of a full-time Sick Nurse or Physician, the Lady’s Maid will administer any necessary medical treatments to her Lady. In a French-style household, the Femmes de Chambre eat with the Maitre d’Hotel and Valets in the Office (Butlery), separately from the lower ranked servants.

A Lady’s Maid with an eye to fraud possesses most of the knowledge needed to passably impersonate an actual member of High Society, including the Language of Fans. Her knowledge of makeup and cosmetics would aid her in assuming disguises. Lady’s Maids are usually dressed in their lady’s cast-off (and re-tailored) clothing, are expected to be well groomed and articulate, and can be quite haughty towards other female servants. Because she is expected to keep her Lady safe by listening in from the other side of a door or wall whenever the mistress receives male guests, a Lady’s Maid will become skilled at discerning and comprehending faint voices. Lady’s Maids often develop an intuitive sense that allows them to sense the desires and needs of others.

Lady’s Maids are often expected to have basic facility with the French language, and those who are actually French are the most sought-after across Europe. Scandalous rumors insinuate that certain Lady’s Maids may actually be Libertines who facilitate the amorous affairs of their mistresses – or even perform certain other services of a peculiarly delightful nature during the morning toilette.

An average Lady’s Maid’s pay is about 100p per week – 1,300 quarterly, or 5,200 per year. As previously mentioned, she can also expect to be given last year’s fashions by her mistress.

Laundry Maid [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

Large households will often need to employ specialized Laundry Maids to keep up with the tremendous quantity of soiled bedclothes, napkins, and linen undergarments. In British practice, one day of the week will be reserved as a laundry day, and the rest of the time the Laundry Maids will serve in the kitchen. Even then, there will always be certain items that need to be washed immediately. French households seldom have dedicated Laundry Maids, however – the custom in country châteaux is to store the house’s soiled linens in a spacious lingerie room until the yearly washing, and in the city have the laundry sent out to be washed. Since they literally see everyone’s dirty laundry, the Laundry Maids will often know even the most scandalously intimate details of the household members’ lives. Naturally, Laundry Maids will be resistant to heat damage, being nauseated, catching diseases, being hurt by caustic chemicals, and being poisoned.

Laundry maids are paid at the standard rate for female house servants.

Librarian [Retainer]
Strongest Ability: Intelligence

A household with a particularly extensive or important collection of books (and plentiful funds) might employ a full-time Librarian. The Librarian will be expected to be (or become) familiar with the works in the collection, so that he might always be ready to produce whatever volume a member of the household might desire to read (or have read to them). The Librarian might in fact double as a Reader, if no separate Lectrice (or Lector) is employed. He might also serve as a Tutor of Classics and Literature. The Librarian will, of course, be responsible for obtaining new books that match the interests of the estate’s master and mistress. He will therefore have extensive contacts in the book trade – both legal and illegal. Guests (or new servants) who realize that the house is haunted or cursed will inevitably have cause to consult the Librarian. Naturally, a Librarian’s memory will be exceptional – at least when it comes to the contents of his books!

Librarian is a perfect Profession for a Magician or Mad Scientist. A Demon Hunter might take the job of Librarian for an extensive collection of works on Demonology. Casanova, the paragon of Libertines, was actually employed as a Librarian in his last years.

A Librarian would expect to be paid at the standard rate for a Retainer.

Servants and Retainers in a Grand House – Part 3 (Estate Manager to Hermit)

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Jean-Baptiste Simeon Chardin The Governess

This is the third part of a excerpt from the upcoming “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, and Estates“. Naturally, the presentation is skewed towards a game of Gothic Romance and Romantic Horror, but should prove useful to anyone playing in a late-18th or early-19th century setting.

See also Part 1 and Part 2 in the series.

Note: 240p = 1 English Pound, 10p = 1 French Livre (pre-Revolutionary), 12p = 1 French Franc (post-Revolutionary), and 80p = 1 Spanish Dollar (“Piece-of-Eight”).

Estate Manager (Intendant) [Retainer]
Strongest Ability: Intelligence

The grandest estates will employ an Estate Manager (also called a Bailiff, Steward or Intendant) to manage the property, oversee farming, and collect rents. Unless there is a separate House Steward, all the servants and staff ultimately report to the Estate Manager, who is responsible directly to the Master of the house. The Estate Manager will have their own Page, or possibly even a Valet.

A proper Estate Manager will have a broad range of skills. Above all, their knowledge of finance, business, and mathematics will be extensive, as will their knowledge of agricultural techniques. They will be familiar with the basics of almost every other job on the Estate, although their knowledge is not as extensive as that possessed by the specialized servants themselves. They will be skilled at both intimidation and persuasion, and have good powers of observation.

In places like Great Britain where a lady must be discreet about her lovers, a paramour may be be given the position of Estate Manager as a respectable cover for his presence in the household. The job is actually difficult and important, however, so if the lover was chosen solely for his looks or sexual talents, he will be given a less arduous position (such as “House Steward”) instead. In France, it is not unknown for a woman to serve as the Intendante of an estate (especially since managing the estate and household had historically been the duty of medieval noblewomen).

The average Estate Manager can expect to be paid about 900p a week – 11,700 per quarter, or 46,800p a year – but the Manager of a particularly large estate might be paid several times that amount.

Footman (Laquais) [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution or Charisma

Footmen (or Lackeys – Laquais in French) are male servants chosen for their height, endurance, and good looks. Their primary duties are to serve dinner to the family and guests, clean serving ware, travel with the family to prepare locations for their arrival, open doors and gates, and perform other high-visibility tasks. They are also often entrusted with the cleaning of fine hats, boots, expensive furnishings, and artworks. When traveling, they either hang onto the outside of the family’s coach, or run along with it. A Footman must be skilled at running and chasing over long distances, and able to dodge items that may fall from speeding carriages! Footmen are always dressed in the family livery when there are guests in the house.

Some footmen become quite proficient at “special services” discreetly provided for the older women of the household (and even more discreetly to certain men). Such Footmen may actually be Leveled as Libertines.

Footman are paid standard wages for a male House Servant (i.e., about 100p per week).

Forester [Grounds Servant]
Strongest Ability: Wisdom

The Forester sees to the health of an estate’s trees and wooded lands. Along with the Gamekeeper, he will also be responsible for chasing poachers. He must ensure that clear paths wide enough for horses are always maintained, with only such obstacles as a hunting party will consider pleasant to overcome. A Forester will have deep knowledge of trees and their preferred habitats. He will know how to identify and eliminate insect pests, and likely have good knowledge of mushrooms and fungi. He will be familiar with the animals that inhabit the estate’s woods. The medicinal properties of tree leaves, berries, and acorns will be known to him. He may even be able to forecast the weather by observing the leaves on nearby trees. A Forester’s skill with the axe will be exceptional. He will also know how to use a gun, and possibly the bow.

Some Magicians, especially Fairy Doctors, work as Foresters. The profession is also attractive to those who suffer from the curse of the Werewolf.

A good Forester’s wages can approach those of a Gardener – 350p per week, 4,550p quarterly, or 18,200p a year. The figure includes 150p a week Board Wage.

Gamekeeper [Grounds Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution or Dexterity (especially if actually a Demon Hunter)

The Gamekeeper’s duty is ensuring ensuring sufficient stocks of game animals for the household to hunt. He makes sure that all game animals have good sources of food and water, are healthy, breed properly, and do not become depleted through over-hunting. He breeds birds (pheasants and pigeons) for shooting, and manages the stocks of fish for angling. He often works with the Gardener to create the proper habitat for certain animals to thrive. When a hunt is scheduled to occur, the Gamekeeper will lure (or trap and place) game in the path of the hunting party. He will also responsible for shooting, poisoning, or trapping any predators that threaten the game stocks. He will therefore also be a skilled tracker. The greatest enemies of Gamekeepers are human poachers, however, and many Gamekeepers are killed while protecting their charges.

A Gamekeeper will always live in their own cottage on the estate, often outside the enclosed parkland. The job of Gamekeeper is a good cover for a Demon Hunter, since not everything that kills game animals is a natural predator.

Gamekeepers are relatively well paid for servants. Including his Board Wage, a Gamekeeper can earn as much as 500p per week – 6,500p quarterly, or 26,000p a year.

Gardener [Grounds Servant]
Strongest Ability: Wisdom

The Gardener designs and maintains the parkland gardens. He must have a good aesthetic sense; practical knowledge of botany, tree husbandry, geology, and chemistry; and be a proficient plumber as well. A Gardener will develop an intuitive sense for the coming weather, and be proficient at trapping small animals (like rabbits and hedgehogs) that threaten the plants. The Gardener is also responsible for hiring and directing any Assistant Gardeners, and is their paymaster. If the Lady of the House tends her own flower garden, the Gardener will be expected to advise and assist her as needed. As a grounds servant, he will have his own cottage in the parkland (sometimes in the Farmyard), and often have his own family living there with him.

Gardeners usually acquire much knowledge regarding the healing properties of various herbs, and it is not out of the question that one might be an initiated Warlock.

An average Gardener’s wages are 350p per week – 4,550p quarterly, or 18,200p a year. This figure includes 150 a week Board Wage, since the Gardener is not entitled to eat in the house.

Gardener, Assistant [Grounds Servant]
Strongest Ability: Wisdom.

An Assistant Gardener aids the estate’s primary Gardner is whatever way is required, and will thus possess the same skills (see Gardener). He will usually live with the Gardener (and his family). On an especially large estate with many separate gardens in the parkland, there might be several assistant Gardeners, each responsible for a different area. On such an extensive estate, even the Assistant Gardeners might have a cottages (or cottages) of their own.

Like a Head Gardener, an Assistant Gardener may actually be a Magician with knowledge of the occult properties of plants.

In Britain, Assistant Gardeners are usually paid weekly by the Gardener to whom they report – about 250p per week.

Governess (Gouvernante) [Retainer]
Strongest Ability: Intelligence

A Governess is responsible for the general education of children, especially girls. Between the ages of 7 to 13 a boy will often go away to school, or start studying under specialized tutors. On the other hand, girls who are not sent off to a convent (common in Catholic countries) will remain under the instruction of their Governess until they are married – usually around 16, but possibly younger (in the case of royalty and high nobility), or older (around 20 in haute bourgeoisie households).

A Governess must have a broad education on many subjects, and the ability to speak articulately. Since she is also expected to discipline her charges, she will be resistant to manipulation and intimidation. Also on that account, she may be become quite proficient in defending herself with a stick, or whip. Governesses will usually have the ability to play the piano, dance, sew, and draw (all of which are considered necessary skills for every respectable woman to learn). Most will be required to know French, but exceptions might be made for Governesses who are particularly skilled in other areas.

Governesses sometimes eat with the children in their charge, or the other retainers, but never with the servants. They cannot be told to fetch items, nor are they necessarily responsible for the feeding or health of the children they teach (which is the job of the Nursery Maid). They cannot be whipped for infractions like a common servant. They usually come from middle-class backgrounds, and are 18 to 30 years of age. The bedchamber given to a Governess will always be better than any servant’s, but never quite as comfortable and luxurious as one for a family member or guest.

The mistress of the house is apt to treat a pretty Governess coldly. Governess characters should generally have suitably tragic and mysterious pasts, and may be doomed to fall in foolish love with the troubled master of the estate. A Governess may be a True Innocent, making her a particular target for wicked aristocrats!

Wages for a Governess average only about 200p a week while they are employed, but as part of their terms of employment they often receive pensions after retirement.

Groom [Grounds Servant]
Strongest Ability: Wisdom

The Groom trains and cares for the household’s horses, and is assisted by the Stable Boys and Postilions. He is responsible for the horse’s feed and water, and for washing them every morning (and after they have been ridden). He prepares and administers medicines and ointments to maintain their health. The Groom ensures that all saddles and tackle are kept in good condition. He may also help members of the household to mount their horses. A Groom generally sleeps in a room above (or to the side) of the stables.

Some Grooms may have originally acquired their skill with horses among the Gypsies A Groom may also develop a reputation as a “Horse Whisperer” on account of actually being a Magician.

A Groom’s wages are standard for Grounds Servants (100p regular wages, plus 150p Board Wage, per week).

Guard [House and Grounds Servants]
Strongest Ability: Dexterity, Strength, or Constitution

Armed Guards are much less common and numerous on estates in the Ghastly Age than in previous times. Often they are more ornamental than functional, armed with decorative halberds and spontoons rather than firearms. Such guards will generally have their own livery, of the same color scheme as the Footmen, but in a martial style. The Guards of sovereign nobility will be drawn from the actual military, often from among the ranks of the tall Grenadiers (Grenade-throwers). A Guard will often be taken along while traveling, riding next to the Coachman with a musket or shotgun. Household Guards often double as Porters (and vice-versa). Because of the ubiquity of Swiss mercenaries, household guards in France are often referred to as Suisses, a title they share with regular Porters.

If any supernatural occurrence plague the house at night, the Guards are the servants most likely to encounter them. Naturally, some Guards might actually be Demon Hunters. Others may be former Bandits trying to purse a less hazardous profession.

Guards receive the standard pay for male House Sarvants.

Hall Boy [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

The Hall Boy is a young man, between the ages of 11 and 18, who waits upon the adult servants at meals in the Servant’s Hall, and runs errands for them. Thus, he is the lowest ranked male servant in the house. The Hall Boy also personally attends the Butler like a Valet. The Hall Boy will possess a broad range of skills, being able to help with most basic tasks around the house. They can assist almost anyone with anything, but their knowledge is not specialized enough to perform important tasks without supervision. Hall Boys often become Handymen as adults.

Hall boys seldom receive any actual pay beyond clothing, food, and shelter, and must rely upon the “vails” given to them by guests.

Hall Maid [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

The Hall Maid is a girl between the ages of 11 and 18 who serves the meals in the Servant’s Hall. She personally attends the Housekeeper, and cleans the Housekeeper’s and Butler’s rooms. Hall Maids develop an especial resistance to fatigue and nausea, since they are frequently given arduous and disgusting tasks (such as cleaning up the entrails of animals gutted in the kitchen). A Hall Maid may graduate to join the Kitchen Staff, or become a Housemaid.

Hall Maids are among the staff that are generally not paid at all.

Handyman or Laborer [House and Grounds Servant]
Strongest Ability: Dexterity, Strength, or Constitution

The Handyman or Laborer performs general repairs to the house and estate equipment, and especially performs the disassembly and reassembly of furniture put into storage. He must thus be strong, skilled in basic carpentry and masonry, and mechanically minded. He will often be given the task of trapping or otherwise eliminating the household vermin. A Handyman will develop some resistance to toxic fumes and substances, from his constant exposure to varnishes, paints, and rat poison. If necessary, the Handyman could easily defend himself with a hammer, axe, or convenient piece of lumber! The Handyman could live either in the House or in a Cottage on the grounds.

A Handyman might actually be a Demon Hunter, or even a Grave Robber.

A Handyman’s basic wages will be the standard 100p per week, plus 150p Board Wage if he does not live in the House.

Hairdresser [Servant or Retainer]
Strongest Ability: Dexterity

The elaborate hairstyles worn by ladies of the Decadent Age often require dedicated Hairdressers to create and maintain them. Even the more natural-appearing, deliberately tousled hairstyles of the Bloody Age are often carefully and artfully created by specialists. Besides a sense for color and proportion, a Hairdresser will have a good knowledge of practical chemistry. They will usually have good conversational skills, and develop an intuitive sense for people’s desires.

The most famous Hairdressers have the status of full Retainers, and the houses where they reside may be visited by ladies who wish nothing else but to have their hair done. Hairdressers are equally likely to be men or women. The profession is another often pursued by Libertines, although the bizarrely beautiful coiffures of the 1780s may also suggest the work of Mad Scientists!

Hermit [Retainer]
Strongest Ability: Wisdom

Certain households in Britain (and elsewhere) may employ an actual person to live in the Landscape Garden as an ornamental Hermit! Typically, the Hermit contracts to live in a cave, hut, or crude stone cottage in the garden for a period of a few years. The Hermit will be provided with simple food, a Bible, and rough clothing. They must let their hair and beard grow long, speak to no one, and generally play the part of a anchorite in the wilderness. Sometimes, the owner of the estate will prefer that the Hermit portray a Druid or Pagan sage. At the end of their service, the Hermit can collect their pay, and go back to civilized life.

An estate’s Hermit might be Leveled as a Magician – and thus resemble a mystic, on account of actually being one!

Because it is not a profession with accepted standards, an ornamental Hermit’s pay is highly variable. A common compensation, however, would be about 25,000p per year employed. Many would-ornamental Hermits, however, find they cannot even last a whole year in the role.

Servants and Retainers in a Grand House – Part 2 (Blacksmith to Dairy Maid)

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Morgenbezoek Rijksmuseum SK-A-1075

See Part 1 of “Servants and Retainers in a Grand House”.

The servants and retainers of a wealthy family can be every bit as interesting to role-play as the aristocrats themselves. The following draft excerpt from the upcoming “A Ghastly Companions to Castles, Mansions, and Estates” will aid Players and Presenters in creating and portraying the typical staff in an upper-class household.

Many servants and Retainers are listed under both their English and French titles. The prestigious status of French as the language of High Society during the Ghastly Age means it is not unknown for servants to be called by their French titles even in the most distant corners of Europe. Likewise, many servants must know at least a smattering of French words and phrases. A Lady’s Maid or Valet may even be expected to speak the language with passable facility. Remember that even within the borders of Ghastly Age France itself, fluency with the French language is not a given – most common people in Brittany still primarily speak Breton or Gallo, for example, and Provençal remains the everyday language of the south.

In terms of the Ghastly Affair rules, most servants and retainers are simply Everymen (or Everywomen), and the description of each type includes examples of the kinds of skills that would be subsumed as part of their “Professions” (or “Avocations”). Some may may actually be Leveled in exceptional Clases, however – Libertine, Demon Hunter, or even Magician! Also, certain servants and retainers might enjoy their +1 “Profession” (or “Avocation”) Bonus when making Saving Throws against hazards to which they are regularly exposed. The description will include examples of such accustomed dangers. When the servant has a Class other than Everyman, their professional skills can be represented as an Asset, or else one of their Class’ usual Special Abilities will be replaced with “Profession”.

Types of Servants and Retainers (Blacksmith to Dairy Maid)

Blacksmith [Grounds Servant]
Strongest Ability: Strength or Constitution.

The Blacksmith forges and repairs iron and steel objects, especially horseshoes, gardening tools, nails, and cookware. The estate Blacksmith will generally also serve as the Farrier, shoeing horses, and caring for their hooves. A Blacksmith will be somewhat resistant to the effects of smoke, fumes, and high temperatures, applying his +1 “Profession” Bonus to Saves against such hazards. The estate Blacksmith never lives in the great house itself, but will reside with his forge either in the Farmyard (Basse-Cour), or in a small cottage elsewhere on the property. Since he is not a house servant, he may be raising a family of his own on the estate, and thus take his meals with them.

A Blacksmith’s wages average 350p a week – 4550 per quarter, , or 18,200p a year. This rate includes 150p per week Board Wage.

Butler (Maître d’Hôtel, or Majordomo) [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Intelligence or Charisma.

The Butler (or Maître d’Hôtel) is the highest ranked male servant. His first and primary duty is to hold the keys to the Butlery (also called the Butler’s Pantry, or Office), where the silverware, fine porcelain, and most expensive food are stored. He also oversees the Wine Cellar, and is in charge of dinner service. In the absence of a House Steward or Estate Manager, he oversees the other male servants, and is responsible for the overall functioning of the house. A good Butler can sense when people are lying, and will be skilled at investigating the constant petty thefts committed by his fellow servants. He will be able to appraise the value of objects, and the worth of foodstuffs. He will be a connoisseur of wine especially. In fact, in most aristocratic households the family members seldom have any deep personal knowledge of food and wine, but rely on the Butler’s expertise instead. The Butler is the paymaster of the other servants when there is no House Steward or Estate Manager to do it. Thus, he must be literate, and good at mathematics.

A Butler’s wages average 300p per week – 3,900p per quarter, or 15,600p a year. He is also entitled to keep such things as cast-off clothing from the Lord of the house, the ends of candles, used playing cards, and the remainder of poured wines.

Cavalier Servente [Retainer]
Strongest Ability: Charisma.

The Cavalier Servente (also called a Cicisbeo, or more euphemistically, a “Live-in”) is a man paid to be the social escort of a married woman. In Italy and southeastern Provence it is openly understood that the job includes satisfying the woman’s sexual needs, but elsewhere that aspect of the profession is always kept discreet. Aristocratic marriages in the Ghastly Age are about property and social status, so married aristocratic woman are not expected to love their husbands, or remain faithful after they have produced a male heir. In Venice, a man may pride himself in providing his wife with the most handsome and cultured Cavalier Servente he can afford, and the lover will usually be installed in a bedchamber (or suite) adjoining that of the wife. Such a Cavalier Servente must be available for his mistress’s use whenever she desires.

The Cavalier Servente will be skilled at dancing, conversation, seduction, etiquette, connoisseurship, and all the activities of High Society. He will have better than average…endurance. Often, he will be Leveled as a Libertine. Naturally, the Catholic church dislikes the institution of the Cavalier Servente and preaches against it, but they will not succeed in removing it from Italian society until after the Napoleonic wars.

Chaperone [Retainer]
Strongest Ability: Wisdom.

A Chaperone is an older woman who accompanies an unmarried young woman whenever she leaves the house, to ensure that she remains a virgin. The job is often given to older spinsters in the family. In some places, such as Spain, the job is taken very seriously, and Chaperones are expected to be as overbearing as possible. A good Chaperone will develop skill at spotting hidden and sneaking people, and have an intuitive sense for when people are lying. Chaperones may even have some resistance to poison, as a result of frequently being drugged with soporifics! Their knowledge of the Language of Fans is usually out-of-date, however – a fact exploited by their charges (and their paramours). Some Libertines take especial pride in their ability to seduce Chaperones.

An interesting character could be a Libertine Chaperone, who secretly facilitates the corruption of the young lady in her charge, while maintaining a mask of impeccable respectability.

Chaplain (Aumônier) [Retainer]
Strongest Ability: Charisma or Wisdom.

The Chaplin is a live-in clergyman that performs religious services in the chapel, collects alms for distribution to the local poor, and generally sees to the spiritual needs of the family. The aristocracy of the Ghastly Age are generally secular in their personal attitudes, even frequently impious. They seldom feel themselves to be in any way bound by the religion and morality that they promote as appropriate for the lower classes. Nonetheless, it is considered proper to make a show of religious faith, as an example for the commoners to emulate. Therefore, even agnostic and atheist nobility may maintain a Chaplain, as a matter of social convention. Even the Marquis de Sade, for example, actively encouraged church-going among his tenants.

It is not impossible for a Chaplain to be a White Magician, effecting actual miracles through Pacts with the Angels.

Coachman [Grounds Servant]
Strongest Ability: Dexterity.

The primary job of a Coachman is to drive the family coaches and vehicles. Very wealthy households may employ separate coachmen for the male and female member of the family. A Coachmen will be mechanically minded, have a good understanding of animal behavior, know how to to train animals, possess steady nerves, and have an intuitive sense of direction. Because of the threat of highwaymen, a Coachmen needs to be able to use a gun (an will usually have one ready when driving). Coachmen often live in the Coach House, and when not driving are expected to maintain their vehicles in top working condition.

A Coachman’s wage averages 150p a week – 1,950p per quarter, or 7,800p a year.

Concierge: See Porter

Cook (Cuisinière or Cuisinier) [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Wisdom or Dexterity

The Cook oversees the kitchen staff, plans the menus, and ensures that meals are properly prepared. She keeps track of the items in kitchen storage rooms, pantries, and larders. Like the Kitchen Maids, a Cook will evidence a higher than average resistance to smoke and flame. Her knowledge of herbalism may be extensive, her skill with knives impressive, and she will be familiar with animal anatomy. A cook will almost always be literate, as she is responsible for the kitchen accounts. In a world of Gothic Romance, she might even be an initiated witch. In a British household the Cook is most frequently a woman, but in French practice a male Cook (Cuisinier) with a staff of Kitchen Boys is more usual. In Britain, a female Cook ranks under the Housekeeper, but in France the Cuisinier may run the house along with the Maître d’Hôtel.

A Cook’s knowledge of herbs may in fact come from being Leveled as Magician. A French Cuisinier may even be a Mad Scientist, pushing the limits of flavor beyond those imposed by Nature. Most horrifyingly, a Cook might also be a Cannibal who can transform the loathsome into the toothsome!

A female Cook in Britain might be paid as little as 100p per week (1,300p quarterly), while a French Cuisinier could have the status of a Retainer, and demand as much as 2,000p a week (26,000p quarterly). In a French household the Cuisinier is also given the leftovers of meals, the choicest of which can be re-sold as “Harlequins” in Paris (or the nearest city if the house is far from Paris).

Dance Master [Retainer]
Strongest Ability: Dexterity

Being a bad dancer will inevitably lead to endless ridicule in High Society. Therefore, prominent Dance (or Dancing) Masters are frequently invited to give lessons in most Grand Houses, especially before a ball is to be held. Many households go so far as to keep a Dance Master as a permanent Retainer! Besides having knowledge of both classic and contemporary dances (because no young man or lady wants to be seen dancing last year’s steps), a Dance Master will usually keep abreast of the latest fashions, be familiar with modern music, and know the Language of Fans. Their memories will be particularly acute.

Many Libertines become Dance Masters, since the job give them access to pretty young ladies (and handsome lads) of quality!

Drawing Master [Retainer]
Strongest Ability: Dexterity

All upper-class young ladies in the Ghastly Age are expected to learn how to draw landscapes, objects, and people passably well. If their Governess’s own drawing abilities are not sufficient, a Drawing Master may be employed to teach more advanced techniques. Besides their artistic ability, a Drawing Master will usually have a good understanding of mathematics (in order to figure out perspective). As with a Music Master, the most prestigious Drawing Master to employ is an Italian.

Since they are artists, Drawing Masters are often the subjects of amorous fantasies. A Drawing Master may be a Libertine, skilled at convincing attractive subjects to disrobe in their presence. For Art, of course.

Dairy Maid [Grounds and House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

The Dairy (or Milk) Maid is responsible for milking the estate’s cows, making cheeses and butter, and storing them properly. She also bakes any breads that include milk or cheese. It is common for Dairy Maids to contract mild cowpox when young, which then gives them immunity to the much more virulent (and disfiguring) smallpox. Their reputation for having unblemished complexions thus gives rise to the expression “pretty as a Milkmaid”. They may be the subject of much amorous interest by the men of the household (and some of the women, of course), as well as many envious slights from other females. Although she is usually considered a Grounds Servant, the Dairy Maid will eat with the House Servants.

Naturally, some Dairy Maids are also True Innocents, which makes them all the more irresistible to the Libertines of High Society.

The Wages of Servants and Retainers

Wages for most male servants in the 1765 – 1820 era average about 100p per week, while those for most female servants average about 50p. In modern money that translates to about $50 US, and $25 US respectively. Male servants are given an outfit to wear, while male servants in livery (such as Footmen) will usually be given two suits. Females servants are not expected to wear any special uniform, and are therefore not generally provided with clothing by their employers (besides the cast-offs given to Lady’s Maids). Usually, a servant’s meals and washing are included as part of their compensation, but it is not unknown for them to be charged for both. Grounds servants who do not eat their meals in the house (such as the Gardener), will be given additional Board Wages (usually around 150p per week) to cover their meals and expenses.

Male Retainers can expect a middle-class income – about 1,500p a week, or 78,000p a year. Governesses (and other female Retainers) are relatively poorly paid, however – only earning about 200p a week on average.

Visitors to most Grand Houses are expected to tip the servants before leaving. In many houses, certain members of the staff will be permitted to line up by the front entrance in order to receive these payments, called “vails”. The expected amount is 10 – 12p: a Shilling, Livre, or Franc. For some servants (especially Pages, Hall Boys and Halls Maids), these vails are the only actual pay they receive.

Note that even though wages are expressed on a per week basis, a servant or retainer would almost never be actually paid weekly. Usually, they would be paid quarterly. Since the Lord of an estate was usually also the legal authority for its residents, a lengthy delay in the payment of a servant’s wages was not at all unusual (even were it was illegal).

In remember, in terms of historical money 240p = 1 Pound, 10p = 1 Livre (pre-Revolution), 12p = 1 Franc (post-Revolution), and 80p = 1 Spanish Peso (or Dollar).

Servants and Retainers in a Grand House – Part 1

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Hogarths-Servants

The following draft excerpt from the upcoming “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, and Estates” is a rough guide to the staff that might be present in a Grand House during the late 18th to early 19th centuries. The lists assume the English or French practices of household management. In much of Europe it was actually common, however, for most of the servants to be undifferentiated in their duties, and have their tasks assigned to them day-to-day. Nonetheless, any particular household might also have followed the English or French models. The same basic setup of servants was actually practiced well into the 20th century, making the table useful for games set in the Second Empire, Belle Epoch, Victorian, and Edwardian eras, as well as the Georgian, Regency, and Napoleonic.

As a rough guideline to an aristocratic family‘s income in the late 18th century, figure about 9p per week in rent per acre of land they own, plus an additional 25% on top (for such things as rents on urban properties, mines, sale of estate produce, shares of stock, government bonds, tolls, and even still-active feudal obligations). A family that owns 1,000 acres might thus have an income of about 11,250p per week, which in terms of actual 18th century currencies translates to £2,438 (or 48,750 francs) per year. That family would expect to spend about 25% of its income on servants and retainers. Remember that it was considered deeply shameful (and was actually illegal in many places ) for an aristocrat to work at any trade for money, or have any actual employment at all besides tending their estate, collecting rents, being a government official, or serving as a military commander. Many aristocrats would eventually wind up up deeply in debt (and forced to sell off their estates) to wealthy financiers.

(d6)
The house and grounds are…

1
…barely staffed.

(The family must have an income of at least 2,000p per week – £434, or 8,667 francs per year. If the house is large, part will be sealed off and never used.)

Female House Servants:
1 Maid-of-all-Work (or Servante).

Male House Servants:
1 Manservant.
1d4 Pages.

Grounds Servants:
1 Gardener.

Retainers:
1 Governess, or 1 Secretary (The Governess will probably be a long-suffering orphan with a tragic or mysterious past, willing to take work with a family fallen on hard times.)

2
…modestly staffed.

(The family must have an income of at least 4,000p per week – £867, or 17,334 francs per year.)

Female House Servants:
1 Cook (or Cuisinière)*.
1d4 Housemaids.
1 Nursery Maid.
1 Lady’s Maid (or Femme de Chambre).

* In a French household the Cook (Cuisinier) and kitchen staff are likely to be male.

Male House Servants:
1 Manservant.
1d4 Pages.
1 Coachman.

Grounds Servants:
1 Gardener.
1 Groom.

Retainers:
1 Governess, or 1 Secretary.

3 – 4
…fully staffed.

(The family must have an income of at least 12,000p per week – £2,600, or 52,000 francs per year.)

Female House Servants:
1 Housekeeper (or Gouvernante).
1 Cook (or Cuisinière)*.
1d3 Housemaids.
1 Nurse Maid.
1 Lady’s Maid.
1 Laundry Maid. (Only in English-style households.)
1d2 Kitchen Maids*.
1 Scullery Maid or Scullion.

* In a French household the Cook (Cuisinier) and kitchen staff are likely to be male.

Male House Servants:
1 Butler (or Maître d’Hôtel).
1d4 Pages.
1d4 Footmen (or Laquais).
1 Coachman.
1 Valet (or Valet de Chambre).
1 Handyman.
1 Porter (or Suisse).

Grounds Servants:
1 Gardener.
1 Groom.
1 Stable Boy.
1 Postilion.

Also on a country estate:
1 Dairy Maid.

Retainers:
1 Governess.
1 Secretary.
1 Tutor.

5
…well staffed.

(The family must have an income of at least 18,000p per week – £3,900, or 78,000 francs per year.)

Female House Servants:
1 Housekeeper (or Gouvernante).
1 Cook (or Cuisinière)*.
1 Upper Housemaid. (Only in English-style households.)
1d4+1 Lower Housemaids.
1 Nurse Maid.
Lady’s Maids (One for each adult female family member)
1 Laundry Maid. (Only in English-style households.)
1d4 Kitchen Maids*.
1d2 Scullery Maids, or Scullions.
1 Still Maid.
1 Hall Maid.

* In a French household the Cook (Cuisinier) and kitchen staff are likely to be male.

Male House Servants:
1 Butler (or Maître d’Hôtel).
1d6 Pages.
2d4 Footmen (or Laquais).
1 Coachman.
Valets (One for each adult male family member).
1 Handyman.
1 Underbutler (or Officier).
1 Porter (or Suisse).
1 Hall Boy.

Grounds Servants:
1 Gardener.
1 Groom.
1d4 Stable Boys.
1 Postilions.

Also on a country estate:
1 Dairy Maid.
1 Shepherd or Pastor.
1 Blacksmith.
1 Assistant Gardener.
1 Huntsman.

Retainers:
Governesses (one for each female child).
1 Secretary.
1d2 Tutors.
1 Lady’s Companion (or Demoiselle de Compagnie).
1 Chaplain (or Aumônier).

6
extravagantly staffed.

(The family must have an income of at least 30,000p per week – £6,500, or 130,000 francs per year.)

Female House Servants:
1 Housekeeper (or Gouvernante).
1 Cook (or Cuisinière)*.
1 Upper Housemaid. (Only in English-style households.)
2d4 Lower Housemaids.
1d2 Nurse Maids.
Lady’s Maids (One for each adult female family member).
2 Laundry Maids. (Only in English-style households.)
2d4 Kitchen Maids*.
1d4 Scullery Maids, or Scullions.
1 Still Maid.
1 Hall Maid.

* In a French household the Cook (Cuisinier) and kitchen staff are likely to be male.

Male House Servants:
1 Butler (or Maître d’Hôtel).
1d6 Pages.
2d4 Footmen (or Laquais).
1 Men’s Coachmen.
1 Women’s Coachmen.
Valets (One for each adult male family member).
1 Handyman.
1 Underbutler (or Officier).
1d4 Porters (or Suisses).
1d4 Guards.
2 Hall Boys.

Grounds Servants:
1 Gardener.
1 Groom.
1d4 Stable Boys.
2 Postilions.
1d6 Guards.

Also on a country estate:
1 Dairy Maid.
1 Shepherd or Pastor.
1 Blacksmith.
1 Kennel Master.
1 Gamekeeper.
1 Forester.
1d4 Assistant Gardeners.
1 Huntsman.
1 Whipper-in.

Retainers:
1 Estate Manager (or Intendant).
Governesses (one for each female child).
Chaperones (one for each unmarried woman 14 years or older).
1 Secretary.
1 Librarian.
1 Chamber Nurse or Physician.
1d4 Tutors.
Lady’s Companions (or Demoiselles de Compagnie) for each married woman of the family.
1 Chaplain (or Aumônier).
1 Dance Master.
1 Drawing Master.
1 Occult Consultant (Alchemist, Astrologer, Card Reader, Seer, Mesmerist, etc.).
1 Ornamental Hermit.

Notes

Any household of means will also employ a Lawyer, but they will seldom actually live in the House.

As noted above, French households tended to employ male Cuisiniers and Garçons de Cuisine (Kitchen Boys), rather than female Cooks and Kitchen Maids. The Cuisinier had a higher status in France than the Cook did in England, and was usually co-manager of the house staff with the Maître d’Hôtel. Outside France, a French Cuisinier might be brought on staff and paid as a retainer, rather than a servant.

British houses would generally employ a larger percentage of female servants relative to similar households in other countries, because a British family had to pay a special tax on each male servant in their employ. French households tended to be smaller overall than British ones.

The French “Gouvernante” literally means “Governess”, and was used to indicate both the Governess who teaches children, and a servant equivalent to the English “Housekeeper”. Likewise, “Suisse” (“Swiss”) was the term for both Porters and Guards.

Only English-style households would divide the Housemaids into a senior Upper Housemaid and junior Lower Housemaids.

French households would not have dedicated Laundry Maids, because French practice was to store used linens in a large storeroom (Lingerie), and wash them yearly.

Note that if the family employed a number of servant and retainers out of proportion to their actual wealth, they must have been be deeply in debt, dependent on patronage, or engaged in some illicit enterprise to raise funds.

A Ghastly Potpourri – Now Available on RPGNow and DriveThruRPG!

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


“A Ghastly Potpourri” is blooming with possibilities for the Ghastly Affair RPG, and other dark OSR games!

GMs and players of any game set in the late Georgian, Regency, French Revolutionary, and Napoleonic eras will also find much of interest, as will anyone gaming in the Horror, Dark Fantasy, Weird Fantasy, Dreadpunk, Mannerpunk, Steampunk, or Austen-punk genres.

Inside you’ll find:

    • New Character Options, for more interesting Ghastly Affair PCs!
    • Lists of Character Inspirations, from history and media!
    • New Preternatural Effects and Weird Objects, to delight and terrify!
    • Creatures and Adversaries, with stats for Ghastly Affair and other OSR games! Includes new re-imaginings of two classic OSR monsters.
    • The Incarnations of Spiritual Powers, from Kubla Khan who dwells in Xanadu, to The Queen of the Night!
    • Random Tables, to inspire scenarios and dark adventures!

    Plus, an Original Short Story by the author of the Ghastly Affair novel “Hunter’s Song”!

Available in PDF and softcover print.