Random “Genre” Paintings in Grand Houses

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El entierro de la sardina, Francisco de Goya

In the jargon of art history a “genre” painting is one that depicts a scene of people engaged in ordinary life, without being a portrait of anyone specific, or a depiction of a historical event. Such paintings were very popular in the 18th century, and occupied a middle place in the accepted hierarchy of subjects.

d100

The painting depicts…

1

Gypsies in their encampment.

2

the preparation of a grand feast.

3

a portrait being painted.

4

lovers walking down a street in Paris.

5

a formal dinner.

6

a lady at her toilette, with visitors

7

a woman washing herself astride her bidet.

8

a masquerade ball.

9

a country dance.

10

peasants dancing.

11

a shepherdess and her flock.

12

a pretty milkmaid and her cows.

13

a fox hunt.

14

a stag hunt.

15

a boar hunt.

16

soldiers carousing in a tavern.

17

a peasant wedding.

18

a peasant woman nursing a child.

19

a peddler with a lemonade tank on his back.

20

a peasant family eating dinner.

21

a silhouette portrait being made.

22

several well-dressed young ladies giving a recital.

23

a farmer bringing produce to market in a wagon.

24

a small group of well-dressed people having luncheon in a small, but nicely-appointed room.

25

a modiste visiting a fashionable young lady

26

a water carrier.

27

a seamstress sewing a dress.

28

an operatic performance.

29

a ballet performance.

30

a performance of the Commedia dell’Arte.

31

a group of well-dressed people having a picnic.

32

laundresses washing clothes in a stream.

33

a young lady having a music lesson.

34

a young woman writing a letter.

35

grapes being harvested.

36

a butcher at his work.

37

the interior of a gaming hall.

38

an old washerwoman at work.

39

a group of men and women playing billiards.

40

a horse-race.

41

a cock-fight.

42

a dog fight.

43

a peasant mother dressing her child.

44

fishermen hauling in their catch.

45

a boy building a house of cards.

46

a Gypsy telling a fortune.

47

a governess admonishing a young child.

48

a man spying on a lady during the early part of her toilette.

49

stiltwalkers giving a public show.

50

a procession of pilgrims down a city street.

51

several monks making merry.

52

a young girl eavesdropping on a pair of lovers conversing.

53

a dance master giving lessons.

54

a drawing master giving lessons.

55

a group of men and women playing “blind-man’s bluff”.

56

a public hanging.

57

a public beheading.

58

a debate in an opulent salon.

59

the interior of a shop selling home furnishings.

60

children receiving gifts on Saint Nicholas’ Day.

61

a group of drunken singers at Christmastime.

62

a lady being carried in a sedan chair.

63

a carriage rolling through the countryside.

64

a woman (or man) in the sickbed, attended by their family.

65

a marriage contract being signed.

66

a group of masked Venetians gambling at The Ridotto.

67

a group of English Morris Dancers.

68

a couple visiting a menagerie.

69

a mountebank before a crowd.

70

a group of soldiers performing drills.

71

the crew aboard a ship, hoisting sails.

72

a group of ladies playing cards.

73

soldiers playing dice.

74

a chemist giving a demonstration to a small crowd.

75

a group of actors applying makeup.

76

an elegant salon in a lady’s bedchamber.

77

a patient being bled by a doctor.

78

a woman giving birth, with the family watching.

79

a girl crying over a dead pet.

80

a funeral procession.

81

a tennis match

82

a small group playing battledore and shuttlecock.

83

a group of aristocratic men shooting pigeons.

84

a grand house being constructed

85

a peasant home being built.

86

a group of street musicians.

87

a group of men and women telling ghost stories in a dimly-lit drawing room.

88

a peasant fishing.

89

a group of well-dressed men and women watching a regatta.

90

a dentist pulling teeth.

91

a maid carrying a chocolate pot and cups on a tray.

92

a baker removing loaves from the oven.

93

a woman visiting a fishmonger.

94

women making lace.

95

a sturdy peasant woman at a spinning wheel.

96

a group of well-dressed ladies embroidering.

97

a Spanish bullfight.

98

a group of children playing at being soldiers.

99

a knife-sharpener at work.

100

a money-lender’s office.
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Random Titles for 18th Century Gothic Romances

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Tales of wonder by James Gillray

The following tables will create the wonderfully florid, two-part titles characteristic of late 18th and early 19th century Gothic Romances. The kind that followed the general format of “Something Something; or, The Something Something of the Something Something”. Use them to define the “horrid novel” hidden under a young lady’s pillow, or even to title your next Gothic gaming scenario!

d20, twice

This book is entitled…

1

“The Cursed… Monk;

2

“The Haunted… Castle;

3

“The Curious… Abbey;

4

“The Spectral… Count;

5

“The Lost… Maiden;

6

“The Uncanny… Prisoner;

7

“The Hidden… Steed;

8

“The Ruined… Seat;

9

“The Disputed… Manor;

10

“The Stolen (or Abducted)… Heir(ess);

11

“The Secret… Tomb;

12

“The Infamous… Turk;

13

“The Terrible… Staircase;

14

“The Mysterious… Vault;

15

“The Bewitched… Image;

16

“The Deadly… Idol;

17

“The Fateful… Book;

18

“The Ancient… Chamber;

19

“The Disappearing… Cavern;

20

“The Miserable… Bandit;

d12, five times

or, …

1

The… Thrilling… Tale… of the… Fortress”.

2

A(n)… Dolorous… Novel… of the Horrid… Tower”.

3

A Most… Forbidden… Story… of the Damned… Cloister”.

4

Another… Wondrous… Account… of the Blessed… Lovers of Italy”.

5

The First… Sworn… Recounting… of the Doomed … Forest”.

6

The Second… Gothic… Fable… of the Fated… Mountains”.

7

The Celebrated and… Terrifying… Poem… of the Forbidden… Orient”.

8

A Terrible and… Sublime… Epic… of the Mysterious… Family”.

9

The Collected and… Entire… Testament… of the Mad… Sodality”.

10

A Queer and… Philosophical… Romance… of the Strange… Crypt”.

11

The Famous and… Shocking… Relation… of the Weird… Chapel”.

12

The Whole and… Curious… Dialogue… of the Infamous… Spaniard”.

d100

As you page through the book, you notice…

1 – 2

it promotes itself as an account of true events.

3 – 4

the shocking illustrations, unfit for the eyes of “respectable” women.

5 – 6

its strong moral voice that upholds virtue at every turn.

7 – 8

the author’s apparent sympathy with the ostensible villain of the story.

9 – 10

the author’s ability to inspire genuine fright.

11 – 12

that the title seems to have nothing at all to do with the plot.

13 – 14

it’s an obvious rewrite of a better-known book.

15 – 16

the author has plagiarized whole sections from other novels, and strung them together with a flimsy narrative.

17 – 18

its blasphemous and impious nature.

19 – 20

its graphic depiction of sex.

21 – 22

its subversive political stance.

23 – 24

the scenes are beautifully described, but the characters are completely unconvincing.

25 – 26

the plot meanders aimlessly.

27 – 28

the thrilling and masterfully-structured plot.

29 – 30

the plot is completely predictable.

31 – 32

the story is full of contradictory episodes.

33 – 34

it appears to be little more than a catalog of horrors suffered by its heroine.

35 – 36

the numerous poems inserted into the story.

37 – 38

the characters are obvious stand-ins for well-known people.

39 – 40

the whole book is an extended allegory.

41 – 42

it takes every opportunity to defame the Roman Catholic church.

43 – 44

it is extremely antisemitic.

45 – 46

it is filled with slanders against Muslims.

47 – 48

it ascribes every possible crime to the Romany.

49 – 50

every aristocrat is portrayed as a depraved monster, except the virtuous heroine (of course).

51 – 52

it actually promotes tolerance of widely-disliked groups.

53 – 54

it constantly belittles the minds and morals of women.

55 – 56

the author’s obvious support for the education and emancipation of women.

57 – 58

it actually supports the institution of slavery.

59 – 60

the author’s obvious support for the abolition of slavery.

61 – 62

the author has obviously never been to any of the real-world locations described.

63 – 64

the inclusion of authentic details about the places and kinds of people described.

65 – 66

the depictions of witchcraft seem a little too authentic.

67 – 68

the author’s obsession with blood.

69 – 70

the author’s obsession with torture.

71 – 72

the author’s obsession with incest.

73 – 74

the author’s obsession with death and decay.

75 – 76

the author’s obsession with outré sexual practices.

77 – 78

the heroine seems to endure an amount of abuse that should have killed her in the first chapter!

79 – 80

its strong opposition to arranged marriages.

81 – 82

its surprising sympathy with arranged marriages.

83 – 84

the plot focuses on the “romantic friendship” between two people of the same sex.

85 – 86

it was carelessly typeset, and whole pages seem to be missing.

87 – 88

the credited author appears to be a pseudonym for a well-known writer who perhaps didn’t want to be associated with this book.

89 – 90

you can’t shake the feeling that there is another text somehow encoded within this one.

91 – 92

the surprising weakness of the male characters in the face of danger.

93 – 94

the absurdly high number of times the heroine faints.

95 – 96

there are several recipes included in the text!

97 – 98

it reads like a primer for budding young criminals!

99 – 100

it shamelessly glorifies suicide.

Random Allegorical and Emblematic Paintings

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Splendor Solis 10 severing head of king

Pre-20th century art was filled with allegorical and emblematic images bizarre to modern eyes. “Allegorical” images were usually conventionalized depictions that would be easily recognizable to anyone who had a classical education. They were considered among the “higher” forms of art in the hierarchy of subjects, on par with Historical painting. Of course, many times Allegorical images (particularly subjects such as the “Three Graces”) were simply an excuse to portray beautiful nude women. The type of images referred to as “Emblems”, on the other hand, could be quite startling, and utterly baffling to anyone who lacked the keys to their decipherment. Such an Emblematic image might represent anything from a moral lesson to a coded occult instruction. Reconnaissance art was particularly obsessed with such emblems, the most recognizable example of which to modern people are the twenty-two Trump cards of the Tarot. The twenty-two illustrations of the “Splendor Solis”, a sixteenth century alchemical treatise, are another well-known set of Emblems.

Both Allegorical and Emblematic paintings are great ways for the Presenter (or GM) to hide clues to some great mystery. Allegorical paintings are also a good narrative device for declaring the mood (or to foreshadow the intended moral) of a scenario. The lodges or chapter-houses of secret societies are particularly likely to be filled with Emblematic paintings, and successfully decoding them may reveal the secrets of such groups. Likewise, the only recorded form of a powerful Magical Ritual might be a series of Emblems whose interpretation has eluded the uninitiated for centuries.

Allegorical Images

d100

This painting depicts an allegorical image of…

1 – 5

Death and the Maiden, depicted as a skeletal figure embracing a young woman.

6

Calliope, the Muse of Eloquent Speaking, holding a writing tablet.

7

Clio, the Muse of History, holding a scroll.

8

Euterpe, the Muse of Music, holding a flute.

9

Thalia, the Muse of Comedy, holding the comedic mask.

10

Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy, holding the tragic mask,

11

Terpsichore, the Muse of Dancing, holding a lyre

12

Erato, the Muse of Love Poetry, wreathed with myrtle, and holding a lyre.

13

Polyhymnia, the Muse of Sacred Poetry, with her elbow resting on a pillar.

14

Urania, the Muse of Astronomy, holding a globe and stylus.

15 – 16

The Nine Muses together.

17 – 22

The Three Graces, depicted as nude women embracing each other.

23 – 24

The Dance of Death, depicting a skeletal figure dancing with people from various stations in society.

25 – 26

The Triumph of Death, depicting a mounted skeleton with a scythe cutting down armies of the living.

27 – 28

The Golden Age of Man, depicting naked people cavorting in an idyllic landscape.

29 – 30

The Ages of Man, showing a man at 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, 40 years, 50 years, 60 years, 70 years, 80 years, and 90 years of age.

31

Spring, represented as a young woman crowned with flowers.

32

Summer, represented as a woman holding wheat.

33

Autumn, represented as a mature woman holding grapes.

34

Winter, represented as an aged women (or man) in furs.

35 – 38

The Four Seasons together.

39

the Element of Air, represented by a mass of birds and sylphs.

40

the Element of Water, represented by marine life sporting alongside mermaids and nereids.

41

the Element of Fire, represented by a volcanic landscape with dragons.

42

the Element of Earth, represented by gardens, forests, and farmers laboring in their fields.

43

the Four Winds, represented as four men with puffed out cheeks, atop clouds.

44

the River Nile, depicted as man reclining on a sculpture of the sphinx.

45 – 46

the Rhine River, depicted as a man with two horns and a crown of grape leaves.

47 – 48

the Danube River, depicted as a man with weeds growing from his hair.

49 – 50

the Liberal Arts, depicted as seven women. The first holds a book and key, the second a scroll and caduceus, the third a small dragon, the fourth a compass, the fifth a ledger and coins, the sixth a harp, and the seventh an armillary sphere.

51 – 53

the Wheel of Fortune, with figures ascending, riding atop, and descending.

54

the Virtue of Justice, depicted as a woman holding scales and a sword.

55

the Virtue of Fortitude, depicted as a young woman holding open the jaws of a lion.

56

the Virtue of Temperance, depicted as a women pouring water from one jug into another.

57

the Virtue of Prudence, depicted as a woman with a mirror, menaced by a serpentine dragon.

58 – 62

The Four Cardinal Virtues (Justice, Fortitude, Temperance, and Prudence) together.

63

the Virtue of Faith, depicted as a woman with a cup, and a book.

64

the Virtue of Hope, depicted as a woman with upcast eyes, and an anchor, at her feet.

65

the Virtue of Charity, depicted as a bare-breasted woman nursing many children.

66 – 70

The Three Theological Virtues (Faith, Hope, and Charity) together.

71

the Continent of Europe, depicted as a crowned woman in a Classical breastplate.

72

the Continent of Asia, depicted as a woman wearing a turban.

73

the Continent of Africa, depicted as a dark-skinned woman wearing a head-wrap with ostrich feathers.

74

the Continent of America, depicted as a woman with a headdress comprised completely of feathers.

75 – 78

the Four Continents (Europe, Asia, Africa, and America)

79

the Deadly Sin of Sloth, depicted as a sloppily-dressed woman asleep.

80

the Deadly Sin of Gluttony, depicted as a woman with a wolf’s head eating a vast amount of food.

81

the Deadly Sin of Wrath, depicted as an angry woman with a bloody sword.

82

the Deadly Sin of Pride, depicted a woman in finery looking into a mirror.

83

the Deadly Sin of Lust, depicted as a naked woman lasciviously holding her breasts and genitals.

84

the Deadly Sin of Greed, depicted as a woman clutching various treasures.

85

the Deadly Sin of Envy, depicted as an old woman with a snake protruding from her mouth, and a dog by her side.

86 – 88

The Seven Deadly Sins in a group.

89 – 90

Vanity, represented by a beautiful woman staring into a hand mirror.

91 – 92

Sacred and Profane Love, depicted as clothed and nude women.

93 – 94

War and Peace, depicted armored Mars embraced by nude Venus.

95 – 96

Peace, depicted as a woman dressed in diaphanous white vestment, and holding an olive branch,

97 – 100

Father Time, depicted with his scythe and hourglass.

d20

Notably,

1

there are several putti also depicted.

2

a main figure has the face of a family member (or ancestor).

3

a main figure has the face of a royal ancestor (or family member).

4

a famous artists’ model obviously posed for the picture.

5

the picture appears to be a work of genius from an unknown master.

6

everything is so realistically rendered it seems completely three-dimensional.

7

the colors are quite garish.

8

the colors are so subdued the painting seems almost monochrome.

9

the perspective seems off.

10

the picture is painted in a flat, medieval style that ignores perspective.

11

the Grand House itself appears in the background.

12

the background depicts an easily recognizable cityscape (Rome, Venice, Paris, Naples, London, etc.)

13

the background is a field of gold leaf.

14

the background is a field of silver leaf.

15

the surface of the painting is badly cracked.

16

sections appear to have been altered and re-painted.

17

the figures are rendered in a way that seems more calculate to titillate than instruct.

18

the shadows seem to be all wrong (or there are no shadows).

19

the composition seems to change slightly with each viewing.

20

it seems impossible to ascertain what medium was used.

 

Enigmatic Emblems

d100

The main subject of this strange painting is…

1 – 5

a young man…

6 – 10

an old man…

11 – 15

a young woman…

16 – 20

an old woman…

21 – 25

a pregnant woman…

26 – 30

a nursing woman…

31 – 35

a male child…

36 – 40

a female child…

41 – 45

an androgyne…

46 – 57

a demonic figure…

58 – 59

a skeletal figure…

60 – 61

a satyr…

62 – 63

a centaur…

64 – 65

a dog…

66 – 67

a cat…

68 – 69

a lion…

70 – 71

a serpent…

72 – 73

a dragon…

74 – 75

an eagle…

76 – 77

a raven…

78 – 79

a mermaid…

80 – 81

a stag…

82 – 83

a ram…

84 – 85

a bull…

86 – 87

a peacock…

88 – 98

a crab…

90 – 91

a fish…

92 – 93

a scorpion…

94 – 95

a swan…

96 – 97

a rooster…

98 – 99

a griffin…

100

a hippogriff…

d100

with…

1 – 4

two heads,

5 – 8

four arms,

9 – 12

one eye,

13 – 16

2d4 eyes,

17 – 20

a strange coloration,

21 – 24

the sun, moon, or a star, instead of a head.

25 – 28

bird wings, (if the figure is a bird, it has the wings of a different bird)

29 – 32

bat wings,

33 – 36

a burning tail,

37 – 40

sigils (or letters) on their (or its) body,

41 – 44

a crown,

45 – 48

a sword (held, or nearby),

49 – 52

a burst of glory emanating from their (or its) body,

53 – 56

a lamp burning atop their (or its) head,

57 – 60

antlers,

61 – 64

a halo of stars,

65 – 68

a chain wrapped around their (or its) body,

69 – 72

various bladed weapons stuck into their (or its) body,

73 – 76

a lance (held, or nearby),

77 – 80

a whip (held, or nearby),

81 – 84

a rose (held, or nearby),

85 – 88

a shovel (held, or nearby),

89 – 95

a horn (blowing, held, or nearby),

93 – 96

an enormous gem in their head,

97 – 100

a human face on its body,

d100

who is…

1 – 4

seated on a throne.

5 – 8

standing in a pool.

9 – 12

being crucified.

13 – 16

being struck with weapons.

17 – 20

spitting a stream of water (or blood) from their (or its) mouth.

21 – 24

breathing fire.

25 – 28

emerging from a grave.

29 – 32

emerging from a pool.

33 – 36

being dressed in a royal mantle.

37 – 40

being disrobed of a royal mantle.

41 – 44

being worshiped by a nude man and woman.

45 – 48

floating in the air.

49 – 52

dancing.

53 – 56

posed between two pillars.

57 – 60

inside a bubble.

61 – 64

hung from a tree.

65 – 68

holding (or standing near) a flowerpot.

69 – 72

menaced by dogs.

73 – 76

being cut into pieces by a man with a sword.

77 – 80

being bathed in a cauldron.

81 – 82

being put through a winepress.

83 – 87

being picked at by birds.

88 – 92

swallowing a snake.

93 – 95

blowing a horn.

96 – 98

contained within a giant glass flask.

99 – 100

chained to the Devil.

d100

In the background is…

1 – 5

the sun and moon.

6 – 10

a smiling sun.

11 – 15

a frowning moon.

16 – 20

a field of 1d20 stars.

21 – 25

1d6 cherubs or putti.

26 – 30

a castle.

31 – 35

a battle.

36 – 40

a river.

41 – 42

a placid ocean.

43 – 44

a forest.

45 – 46

a group of women washing clothes.

47 – 48

a group of peasants working their fields.

49 – 50

an unidentifiable plant.

51 – 52

a chimeric animal.

53 – 54

a hill being excavated.

55 – 56

a group of archers.

57 – 58

a stag hunt.

59 – 60

a vineyard.

61 – 62

the interior of a dungeon.

63 – 64

a barren field full of skulls.

65 – 66

an unfinished pyramid.

67 – 68

a hand projecting from a cloud.

69 – 70

an alchemical furnace.

71 – 72

two towers.

73 – 74

two obelisks.

75 – 76

two classical pillars.

77 – 78

a cliff.

79 – 80

the damned being tortured in hell.

81 – 82

an erupting volcano.

83 – 84

a rain of fire.

85 – 86

a pleasant landscape of rolling hills.

87 – 88

a rocky shore.

89 – 90

a windmill.

91 – 92

two armies about to clash.

93 – 94

a battlefield filled with corpses.

95 – 96

a Chinese landscape with pagodas.

97 – 98

a castle under construction.

99 – 100

the Crucifixion.

Random Secret Societies and Initiatory Orders

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Mozart in lodge, Vienna

The 18th century was a golden age of secret (and semi-secret) societies. Freemasonry’s central role in both the American and French Revolutions is, of course, well known, but a host of lesser-known groups also competed for members and influence. Counted among that group would be the exclusive gentlemen’s clubs of London, and the various knightly orders that had long ceased to serve any actual military function. Libertine organizations such as the Hellfire Club and The Beggar’s Benison attracted the cream of British society. There were also numerous occult variations of Freemasonry created in the 18th century, such as Cagliostro’s Egyptian Rite. Some 18th century groups (such as the Odd Fellows and the Freemasons themselves) endure to this day. The infamous Bavarian Illuminati, although long extinct, live on in the imaginations of conspiracy theorists.

The following tables will let you quickly generate the rough outlines of a quasi-Masonic or pseudo-chivalric organization of the type common among the members of High Society in the late 18th century. They can also be used to define the fictional Magical Order that initiated a Magician PC, or the fellowship that aids a Demon Hunter.

Organization Name

d12, four times

The…

1

Elect… Brothers (or Sisters) of the Golden… Triangle

2

Mystic… Order… of the Mysterious… Temple

3

Ancient… Confraternity (or Consorority)… of the Eternal… Eye

4

Illuminated… Fraternity (or Sorority)… of the Wondrous… Circle

5

Holy… Seers… of the Holy… Cross

6

Sacred… Companions… of the Praiseworthy… Stone

7

Superlative… Knights (or Dames)… of the Supernal… Dew

8

Accepted… Sodality… of the Most Revered… Grail

9

Christian… Intendants… of the Divine… Sword

10

Blessed… Servants… of the Untarnished… Mountain

11

Royal… Guardians… of the Deathless… Sun

12

Blameless… Watchers… of the Glorious… Column

 

Public Purpose of the Group

d20

The organization claims to be a group dedicated to…

1

improving public morals.

2

supporting widows.

3

improving the lives of the poor.

4

providing free medical care.

5

supporting the King.

6

helping “fallen” women.

7

a specific game or pastime.

8

appreciating wine.

9

appreciating food. (A specific food, or fine food in general.)

10

promoting the arts.

11

building churches.

12

sheltering orphans.

13

visiting the sick and imprisoned.

14

advancing medicine.

15

advancing natural philosophy.

16

antiquarianism.

17

exploration.

18

the mutual aid of its membership.

19

defending the realm.

20

defending Christianity.

 

Actual Purpose of the Group

d20

The organization’s real activity is

1

actually the same thing as their publicly stated goal!

2

vigilantism.

3

international espionage.

4

assassination for hire.

5

instituting a Republic.

6

overthrowing the current Royal House and installing a new one.

7

trading pornography.

8

gambling.

9

indulging in murder (or some other crime) for pleasure.

10

throwing orgies.

11

indulging in elaborate dinners.

12

indulging in flagellation (or another esoteric erotic practice).

13

the destruction of Christianity.

14

the worship of Satan (or another diabolical figure)

15

the worship of Demogorgon (or some other bizarre demon-god).

16

the worship of a pagan god

17

the service of a Fairy Queen (or King)

18

the practice of Magic (or Mad Science)

19

the performance of a vile ritual that keeps their members rich (or young, or beautiful)

20

the destruction of supernatural evil. (They are a society of Demon Hunters.)

 

Tokens of Recognition

d8

Members identify each other through…

1

a secret handshake.

2

a secret password.

3

a catechism.

4

a tattoo or brand.

5

a ring.

6

a perfume.

7

the wearing of a certain flower.

8

an article of clothing.

 

Rituals

d20

The group’s rituals are based on ….

1

Arthurian legend.

2

various incidents in Roman history.

3

Classical mythology.

4

the legends of Charlemagne.

5

the travels of Marco Polo.

6

the Jewish Kabbalah.

7

ancient Gnosticism.

8

Hermeticism.

9

Druidism.

10

ancient Germanic religion.

11

Sacred Geometry.

12

Egyptian myths.

13

the Book of Genesis.

14

an Old Testament story.

15

a New Testament story.

16

the Apocalypse, or Book of Revelation.

17

bastardized Tantracism.

18

bastardized Sufism.

19

a bastardized Native American ritual.

20

a bastardized African ritual.

 

Membership Makeup

d20

Membership is limited…

1

to men.

2

to men of high social standing.

3

to men who have attended a certain boarding school,

4

to women.

5

to women of high social standing.

6

to women who have attended a certain boarding school (or convent).

7

the men and women of high social standing.

8

to Catholic (or Orthodox) men.

9

to Catholic (or Orthodox) women.

10

to Catholics (or the Orthodox) of any gender.

11

to Protestant men.

12

to Protestant women.

13

to Protestants of any gender.

14

to people of a certain ethnicity.

15

to those who have already performed a significant act in support of the group’s public (or actual) purpose.

16

to tradesmen.

17

to tradesmen, and their wives.

18

to soldiers.

19

to soldiers, and their wives.

20

in no way – all are free to join.

 

The Initiation Ritual

d100

The most startling thing about the initiation ritual is…

1 – 3

it takes place in a burial ground (or catacombs).

4 – 6

it takes place in a ruined church.

7 – 9

it takes place in a cavern.

10 – 12

it takes place aboard a boat (or ship).

13 – 15

it involves the relics of a saint (or former king).

16 – 18

the whole ritual is performed in a comedic manner.

19 – 21

its simplicity – the candidate is simply blindfolded, and made to take an oath.

22 – 24

the candidate’s body is painted.

25 – 27

the chamber is decorated with images of horror.

28 – 30

it is completely conducted in a strange and unknown language.

31 – 36

the candidate must strip nude.

37 – 40

the elaborate costumes and masks.

41 – 43

the use of sophisticated magic lantern techniques.

44 – 46

the candidate must take a hallucinogenic drug beforehand.

47 – 49

the oath, which threatens horrible punishments if the group’s secrets are revealed.

50 – 52

the prominent role of a human skull (or skeleton).

53 – 55

the candidate must confess their worst sin in front of the group.

56 – 58

the candidate is made to renounce ALL other allegiances.

59 – 61

the candidates must ritually duel each other.

62 – 64

the candidate is ritually slapped by the senior members.

65 – 67

the candidate must sign a book in their own blood.

68 – 70

the candidate is ritually scourged.

71 – 73

the candidate will be unexpectedly abducted and taken to the place of initiation.

74 – 77

the candidate must kiss the bare buttocks of a senior member.

78 – 80

the candidate is positioned before the backside of goat (or other domestic animal), then blindfolded and told they must kiss the animal’s posterior. At the last moment the animal is replaced with a lovely young women (or handsome lad), who kisses the candidate instead.

81 – 83

the candidate is blindfolded and kept immobile for an hour.

84 – 86

the candidate is branded.

87 – 89

the candidate is briefly buried alive (or locked in a coffin).

90 – 92

the candidate is anointed all over their body with scented oils.

93 – 95

the candidate is ritually bathed.

96 – 98

the candidate is tattooed.

99

the actual presence of a supernatural creature.

100

the candidate must have ritual sex with another member.

 

The Hazing of Candidates

d20

Candidates for initiation are often hazed by…

1

being paddled on their buttocks.

2

being made to run a gauntlet of members wielding birch switches.

3

being made to wait on members while dressed as a peasant maid.

4

being tricked into consuming something inedible.

5

having their hands bound, and being made to move objects around the room with their mouths.

6

being woken in their bed by a bucket of cold water.

7

being made to eat something the other members have deposited bodily fluids on.

8

being bound, blindfolded, and tricked into believing that the group is being attacked by the authorities (or its enemies).

9

being made to drink alcohol until they pass out.

10

being smeared with dirt and garbage.

11

having their entire body shaved.

12

being made to run until they drop.

13

being blindfolded, and having eggs thrown at them unexpectedly.

14

being made to bend over and pick up coins from the ground, and then being kicked in the buttocks.

15

being used as a human table for a meal eaten by senior members.

16

being made to wear donkey ears as they are ridiculed by members.

17

being taken on a hunt for a nonexistent animal (or being sent on a quest to find a nonexistent item).

18

being thrown into an iron maiden with retracting, “trick” spikes.

19

having a pistol loaded with a blank shot fired at them.

20

being made to walk through the streets masked, but in a ridiculous costume.

 

Ritual Costume and Regalia

d20, 1d4 times

The ritual costume of members includes

1

a robe. (Disregard if a 20 is also rolled.)

2

anachronistic clothing. (Disregard if a 20 is also rolled.)

3

a mantle or cape.

4

slippers.

5

a sash.

6

a badge (pinned to clothing).

7

a medal (worn on a ribbon).

8

a sword.

9

a cord.

10

a hood.

11

a wand.

12

an apron.

13

gloves.

14

a mask.

15

a dagger.

16

a helmet.

17

a candle or torch.

18

a spear.

19

a tool ordinarily used by craftspeople.

20

being nude, except for the other regalia worn.

 

The Privileges of Membership

d20

A major benefit of membership is…

1

access to the group’s secure safe houses.

2

any member can expect unlimited hospitality at any other member’s home.

3

the safety of the group’s extremely liberal social attitudes.

4

a large number of public officials are members (or the spouses of members).

5

a large number of financiers (or their spouses) are members.

6

access to a network of skilled craftspeople willing to build or make anything without question.

7

a large number of very attractive people are members.

8

access to the rare and forbidden books possessed by the group.

9

access to the group’s network of scholars.

10

access to the group’s intelligence network.

11

members agree to hold their spouses in common.

12

access to the group’s store of powerful Weird Objects.

13

access to the group’s vast armory.

14

access to the group’s store of drugs and poisons.

15

potential access to a powerful magical ritual that confers wealth, health, or youth.

16

a large number of aristocrats are members.

17

a large number of artists are members.

18

the numerous parties and feasts.

19

members are pledged to defend each other with their lives.

20

the aid of supernatural allies.

 

Local Section Designation

d12

Each local section of the group is called a…

1

lodge.

2

chapter.

3

circle.

4

coterie.

5

hall.

6

court.

7

hostelry.

8

temple.

9

coven.

10

commandery.

11

bailiwick.

12

parish.

 

Group Structure

d10, twice

The group is organized into…

1

three… degrees.

2

four… ranks.

3

five… grades.

4

six… tiers.

5

seven… divisions.

6

nine… strata.

7

ten… spheres.

8

twelve… castes.

8

twenty-two… qualities.

9

twenty-six… stages.

10

thirty-two… levels.

 

Titles for New Initiates

d12

A newly joined member is called a…

1

Neophyte.

2

Apprentice.

3

Initiate.

4

Tyro.

5

Squire (or Maid).

6

Student.

7

Associate.

8

Probationer.

9

Aspirant.

10

Novice.

11

Seeker.

12

Novitiate.

 

Titles for Middle-ranked Members

d10, twice

The middle-ranked titles include…

1

Fellow… Journeyman / Journeywoman.

2

Registered… Brother / Sister.

3

Recorded… Knight / Dame.

4

Practicing… Craftsman / Craftswomen. (May also be a specific trade associated with the group’s purpose, such as Carpenter, or Hunter).

5

Errant… Frater / Soror.

6

Ordained… Adept.

7

Uncontested… Scribe.

8

Faithful… Warder.

9

Ordinary… Companion.

10

Instructed… Comrade.

 

Titles for Senior Members

d10, three times

The senior-ranked titles include…

1

Perfect… Master / Mistress… of the Temple.

2

Supreme… Prince / Princess… of the Rule.

3

Absolute… Custodian… of the Law.

4

Anointed… Hierophant… of the Secret.

5

Royal… Guardian… of the Portal.

6

Ineffable… Commander… of the East (or other direction).

7

Sublime… Intendant… of the Holy Mountain.

8

Glorious… Chamberlain / Chatelaine… of the Eagle.

9

Most Holy… Confidante… of the Crown.

10

Sacred… Sovereign… of the Most Holy Grail.

 

Group Governance

d10

The group is governed…

1

as completely independent cells without any kind of higher organization.

2

by local bodies electing representatives to regional bodies, who in turn vote for the overall leader.

3

by the eldest member of a single family, whose word is absolute.

4

by an absolute leader appointed by the previous one.

5

by a leader who is appointed by the previous one, but must also be confirmed by a vote of the membership.

6

by a cabal who appoint their successors.

7

by a Grandmaster appointed by a monarch (and not necessarily the local one).

8

as a true democracy, and all major decisions of the elected officers must also be ratified by the membership.

9

by a hierarchy so complicated that not even its members fully understand how it operates!

10

directly by a supernatural being.

 

Meeting Frequency

d20

The group meets…

1

every Sunday.

2

every Monday.

3

every Tuesday.

4

every Wednesday.

5

every Thursday.

6

every Friday.

7

every Saturday.

8

every fortnight (two weeks).

9

once a month, when the sun enters a new zodiacal sign.

10

on the first of each month.

11

in the middle of each month.

12

at the end of each month.

13

on every full moon.

14

on every new moon.

15

four times a year – on the Equinoxes and Solstices.

16

four times a year – on Candlemas, May Day, First Fruits, and All Saints Day.

17

annually, on Pentecost.

18

annually, on the Spring Equinox.

19

annually, on Walpurgisnacht.

20

annually, on Good Friday.

 

The Group’s Nemesis

d12

The organization that is the group’s nemesis…

1

wants to expose the group’s secrets, and what it believes to be their true activities.

2

is antagonistic only because of a petty personal grudge on the part of its leader.

3

wants to avenge a specific crime the group purposefully committed.

4

wants to avenge a crime the group inadvertently committed.

5

actually originated as a splinter faction, and still even shares the same goals!

6

often makes overtures of reconciliation, but the group always rebuffs them.

7

is significantly weaker, but its current leadership is extremely clever and resourceful.

8

is much stronger/larger, but its current leadership is incompetent.

9

was founded by people denied membership to the group.

10

is comprised of the same kind of members, but has an opposite goal.

11

is completely opposite in both its membership characteristics and its goals.

12

hates the group for some reason nobody can ascertain.

Random Historical Paintings in Grand Houses

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Cléopâtre se donnant la mort

Historical painting occupied (along with religious painting) the most prestigious place among the accepted hierarchy of subjects that reigned in Western art before the 20th century. It was praised as the greatest and most serious type of art by critics and philosophers of the 18th century, who looked down upon the more popular portrait, landscape, and still life paintings that actually occupied most of the wall space in the homes of collectors.

It was common before the 19th century to depict historical figures in contemporary costumes. For example, Nero might be depicted in the garb of the 15th century king, or El Cid in historically inaccurate plate armor. Painters also commonly increased their sales by putting bare-breasted and nude women into every scene that could plausibly (or even possibly) include them. And of course, painters were always expected to portray events in a way that reflected the values and prejudices of their wealthy patrons. A historically accurate historical painting would actually have been quite unusual!

Historical paintings can be great clues to the secret history of the family inhabiting a Grand House such as Highdark Hall, or indications as to their actual political ( or religious) allegiance. A large amount of historical paintings present in a collection can warn PCs of the owner’s social pretensions, or intellectual snobbery. A historical painting might even be supernatural portal between the past and present!

d100

The painting depicts…

1 – 2

the abduction of the Sabine women. (circa 750 BC)

3 – 4

the suicide of Lucretia. (circa 500 BC)

5 – 6

the Battle of Marathon. (490 BC).

7 – 8

the Battle of Thermopylae. (480 BC)

9 – 10

the death of Socrates. (399 BC)

13 – 12

Alexander the Great in the Temple of Jerusalem. (332 BC)

13 – 14

Hannibal crossing the Alps. (218 BC)

15 – 16

the murder of Julius Caesar. (44 BC)

17 – 18

Cleopatra’s lavish pleasure ship arriving at Tarsos, to meet Marc Antony. (41 BC)

19 – 20

the defeat of Marc Antony’s naval forces at the Battle of Actium. (31 BC)

21 – 22

the suicide of Cleopatra. (30 BC)

23 – 24

the destruction of the Roman legions by Arminius during the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. (9 BC)

25 – 26

the Great Fire of Rome under the Emperor Nero. (64)

27 – 28

the Emperor Constantine’s vision of the Chi-Rho before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. (312)

29 – 30

the Council of Nicea. (325)

31 – 32

the sack of Rome by Alaric. (410)

33 – 34

Pope Leo I convincing Attila the Hun to spare Rome. (452)

35 – 36

Charles Martel defeating the Saracens at the Battle of Tours. (732)

37 – 38

the coronation of Charlemagne as Emperor. (800)

39 – 40

the “Cadaver Synod”, when Pope Stephen VI put the rotting corpse of former Pope Formosus on trial for perjury. (897)

41 – 42

an outraged husband catching his wife in bed with Pope John XII, and murdering the pontiff with a hammer. (964)

43 – 44

the Battle of Hastings. (1066)

45 – 46

the sack of Jerusalem by the Crusaders. (1099)

47 – 48

the last ride of El Cid, with his corpse tied to his horse. (1099)

49 – 50

the taking of Carcassonne during the Albigensian Crusades. (1209)

51 – 52

the signing of the Magna Carta. (1215)

53 – 54

Marco Polo in the court of Kublai Khan. (1275)

55 – 56

French knights facing English longbowmen at the Battle of Poitiers. (1356)

57 – 58

King Peter I of Portugal forcing his court to pay homage to the decayed corpse of Inês de Castro. (1357)

59 – 60

Jacques de Molay, last Grand Master of the Templar Order, burnt at the stake. (1314)

61 – 62

the Battle of Agincourt. (1415) (Roll again in France.)

63 – 64

Saint Joan of Arc waving the French banner at the Siege of Orléans (1429). (Roll again in Britain.)

65 – 66

Saint Joan of Arc burnt at the stake. (1431)

67 – 68

the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks. (1453)

69 – 70

the fall of the Alhambra in Granada. (1492)

71 – 72

Columbus stepping foot upon the shore of San Salvador (1492)

73 – 74

Cesare Borgia, his sister Lucrezia, and their father Pope Alexander VI, at the infamous “Banquet of Chestnuts”. (1501)

75 – 76

Hernando Cortes landing in Mexico. (1519)

77 – 78

the conquest of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) by Hernán Cortés. (1521)

79 – 80

the Sack of Rome by the forces of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. (1527)

81 – 82

the Siege of Vienna by the Turks. (1529)

83 – 84

the arrival of Catherine de Medici in France. (1533)

85 – 86

the execution of Atahualpa, the last Incan Emperor. (1533).

87 – 88

the defeat of the Ottoman Fleet at the battle of Lepanto. (1571)

89 – 90

the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots. (1587)

91 – 92

the sinking of the Spanish Armada (1588) (Roll again for houses in Catholic countries.)

93 – 94

the coronation of Louis XIV. (1654)

95 – 96

the Battle of Vienna. (1683)

97 – 98

the Great Fire of London. (1666)

99 – 100

The Great Lisbon Earthquake. (1755)

d20

The strange thing about the depiction is…

1 – 4

nothing – everything about the painting appears perfectly ordinary and conventional.

5

the figures appear to be of different racial or ethnic backgrounds than reported in orthodox history.

6

one of the famous men of history is painted as having actually been a woman (or vice versa).

7

everyone is painted with animal heads.

8

the painter has included the figure of Satan snickering.

9

everyone is nude – even if the painting depicts a battle or coronation!

10

the colors are utterly bizarre and garish.

11

if you look away, and then look again at the painting, the figures look as if they have changed positions.

12

it appears to be the work of an otherwise unknown master.

13

it is so realistic-looking you feel as if you could reach in and touch the figures.

14

it done in a flat and stylized manner.

15

it seems impossible to ascertain what medium was used.

16

it seems almost self-luminous.

17

the presence of several mythological creatures.

18

the side usually accepted as heroic is painted as if they were villainous, and their opponents are depicted heroically.

19

one of the figures clearly has the face of a Player Character.

20

the series of seemingly random numbers and letters that have been incorporated into the composition.

Random Religious Paintings in Grand Houses

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Last Judgment (Provoost, Detroit)

Religion played a much larger part in Western culture during the Ghastly Age than it does today. While the aristocracy of the 18th century were frequently impious in their personal beliefs (particularly in pre-Revolutionary France), they were socially obligated to be seen attending church services, and were otherwise expected to publicly support their country’s established church. While many members of the intelligentsia were Deists who believed that Nature’s God created the world, but did not intervene in it, the vast majority of the middle and lower classes believed absolutely in the reality of miracles, and the literal truth of Biblical stories. It was also traditional in many places for the third son of an aristocratic family to assume a religious office (with the first son inheriting the property, and the second becoming a military officer).

In Catholic countries (particularly Spain, Portugal, and the Italian States) every Grand House will be filled with religious paintings on canvas or wood, which will be viewed as both devotional and decorative. However, in France such paintings are apt to be hidden away between 1793 and 1801, when the public celebration of Christianity was either illegal, or discouraged.

In Eastern Orthodox countries (particularly Russia), a religious painting will often be a venerated Icon rendered in a highly stylized manner, and painted on wood or metal. Icons will often lack any middle ground at all, being painted in a flat style that ignores the rules of perspective in favor of a highly symbolic placement of figures. The background of Icons will often (but not always) be a field of gold or silver leaf framing the main subject. The veneration of Icons is an essential facet of Orthodoxy, and a Russian Dvorets (palace) will often have a dedicated Icon Room (in addition to any chapel also present on the property). Certain Icons are said to be miraculous exuding holy oil, or being vehicles for supernatural cures.

In Protestant countries such as England, the owners of a Grand House might collect religious paintings purely for their artistic value, and decorative qualities.

Of course, Gothic novels have long focused on the most outrageous excesses of Catholicism (typified by the Inquisition). Religious extremism is also a recurring theme of the early American Gothic tradition, from “Wieland” to “The Pit and the Pendulum”. Likewise, late 18th century French novels often featured depraved clergy (even though such writing risked official censorship and reprisal). Therefore, the subjects listed below are weighted towards strange and violent images, consistent with the creation of a properly Gothic atmosphere. Naturally, the Presenter should keep in mind the sensibilities of the players when describing any paintings depicting religious subjects.

 

d100

In the foreground is/are…

1 – 2

Salome holding the head of John the Baptist on a platter.

3 – 4

the Crucifixion of Jesus.

5 – 6

the Madonna in glory.

7 – 8

Saint Sebastian tied to tree and riddled with arrows.

9 – 10

Saint Lucy carrying her own gouged-out eyes on a plate.

11 – 12

the Massacre of the Innocents by the soldiers of Herod.

13 – 14

Judas hanging himself, with his entrails spilling onto the ground.

15 – 16

the visitation of the Magi to the Holy Family.

17 – 18

the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary by the angel Gabriel.

19 – 20

the trial of Jesus before Pontius Pilate.

21 – 22

the Last Judgment, with Christ in glory sending some to Heaven, while condemning others to Hell.

23 – 24

David slaying Goliath.

25 – 26

Samson fighting the lion.

27 – 28

Jesus walking on water.

29 – 30

King Solomon commanding demons.

31 –32

The Walls of Jericho falling before the trumpets of the Israelites.

33 – 34

Saint Catherine, with her emblems of the sword and breaking wheel.

35 – 36

sinners tortured in Hell.

37 – 38

the Whore of Babylon riding the Beast with Seven Heads and Ten Horns.

39 – 40

Saint Bartholomew holding his own flayed skin.

41 – 42

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph’s flight into Egypt.

43 – 44

Saint George and the Dragon.

45 – 46

the penitent Mary Magdalene, dressed only in her own long hair.

47 – 48

the Last Supper.

49 – 50

Jesus transforming water into wine during the Wedding Feast at Cana.

51 – 52

Jesus tempted by Satan in the wilderness.

53 – 54

Jesus carrying his cross through Jerusalem.

55 – 56

Jesus flogged by Roman soldiers.

57 – 58

Saint Theresa writhing in ecstasy as an Angel plunges his spear into her body.

59 – 60

the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death.

61 – 62

the Patriarch Abraham about to sacrifice his son.

63 – 64

Judith beheading Holofernes.

65 – 66

two old men spying on the naked Susanna.

67 – 68

the archangel Michael casting Lucifer from Heaven.

69 – 70

The four Living Creatures of the Apocalypse – a man, a bull, an eagle, and a lion. Each has six wings, and covered with eyes all its body.

71 – 72

Saint Joan of Arc burning at the stake.

73 – 74

Jonah in the mouth of the whale.

75 – 76

Saint Hubert dressed as a hunter, confronted by a stag with a glowing crucifix between its antlers.

77 – 78

the Resurrection, with the decayed dead being re-clothed in flesh at the command of Jesus.

79 – 80

Jesus cursing the fig tree, for not bearing fruit out of season.

81 – 82

the battle of the angel Raphael and the devil Asmodeus.

83 – 84

Adam and Eve tempted by the Serpent.

85 – 86

the Tower of Babel.

87 – 88

the slaying of Abel by Cain.

89 – 90

Noah leading animals two-by-two onto the ark.

91 – 92

Moses bringing down the plagues on Egypt.

93 – 94

Saint Peter confronting Simon the Magician.

95 – 96

an unidentifiable male saint.

97 – 98

an unidentifiable female saint.

99 – 100

a religious scene where the figures have the recognizable facial features of family ancestors. Roll again to determine scene.

d12

Notably, the middle ground beyond the main figures features…

1 – 4

cherubs.

5 – 6

robed angels.

7

recognizable family ancestors.

8

onlookers in clothing contemporary to the painting’s era.

9

the Royal Family (of the painting’s time and country of origin).

10

oddly-shaped boulders.

11

several unidentifiable animals.

12

an unidentifiable species of tree.

d12

The background is/are…

1 – 6

more or less historically and geographically accurate.

7

a formal garden.

8

a theatrical stage. (The depiction is actually of a play, or opera.)

9

a pastoral countryside.

10

the Grand House itself.

11

a field of gold leaf

12

a field of silver leaf.

Random Still-Life Paintings in Grand Houses

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Hendrick Andriezsoon 002

Often unfairly maligned as the most boring kind of art, still-life (or nature morte) paintings are actually a great way for the Presenter (or Game Master) to give in-game clues to the Player Characters. The items depicted might be the components for a Magical Ritual, the objects that must be buried to pacify a ghost, or even be a visual pun that helps solve a longstanding family mystery. Painters often used the still-life as an opportunity to display unbridled virtuosity through trompe l’oeil (“fool-the-eye”) depictions that seem almost real. In a world of real magic, perhaps one could actually take objects out of such a painting! And of course, a “Vanitas” (still-life that includes one or more skulls) will help add a properly Gothic atmosphere to any room.

d100, 2d4 times

The image depicts….

1 – 2

1d4 skull(s),

3 – 4

1d6 apple(s),

5 – 6

1d6 pear(s),

7 – 8

1d6 peach(es),

9 – 10

a lobster,

11 – 12

a ham,

13 – 14

1d2 sausage(s),

15 – 16

a coffee pot,

17 – 18

a crystal goblet,

19 – 20

a silver goblet,

21 – 22

a dead game bird,

23 – 24

a pitcher,

25 – 26

a bottle,

27 – 28

1d4 orange(s),

29 – 30

a bunch of grapes,

31 –32

a dagger,

33 – 34

1d6 oyster(s),

35 – 36

a Chinoiserie-patterned cloth,

37 – 38

an Indienne-patterned cloth,

39 – 40

an Arabesque-patterned cloth,

41 – 42

1d20 flower(s),

43 – 44

1d4 pine cone(s),

45 – 46

1d4 artichoke(s),

47 – 48

1d4 fish,

49 – 50

1d20 coin(s),

51 – 52

a melon,

53 – 54

a cabbage,

55 – 56

a violin,

57 – 58

a silver platter,

59 – 60

a porcelain platter,

61 – 62

a book,

63 – 64

a candlestick and candle,

65 – 66

an hourglass,

67 – 68

a globe,

69 – 70

a loaf of bread,

71 – 72

1d12 fig(s),

73 – 74

1d6 sea shell(s),

75 – 76

1d6 pastries,

77 – 78

1d8 chestnut(s),

79 – 80

1d10 walnut(s),

81 – 82

a pistol,

83 – 84

a crock of butter,

85 – 86

a gauntlet,

87 – 88

a helmet,

89 – 90

a sculptural bust,

91 – 92

a silver soup tureen,

93 – 94

a cheese,

95 – 96

a fly,

97 – 98

1d4 lemon(s),

99 – 100

a ring,

d10

gathered on / in…

1

a basket,

2

a table,

3

a chair,

4

a stump,

5

a stone,

6

a pillar,

7

a pedestal,

8

a stand,

9

the floor (or ground),

10

an oriental rug,

d12

in front of…

1

a field of shadow.

2

a closed curtain.

3

an opened curtain with a rolling landscape beyond.

4

a formal (or French) garden landscape.

5

a landscape (or English) garden.

6

a painted boiserie (paneled wood) wall.

7

an oiled boiserie wall.

8

a stone wall.

9

a plastered wall.

10

a brick wall.

11

an unfinished wooden board.

12

servants going about their work.

Random Mythological, Legendary, and Literary Paintings in Grand Houses

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Leda et le cygne par Paolo Veronese 1

Here are some more random tables to define the art displayed in fictional 18th century Grand Houses (such as Highdark Hall). See also “Random Portraits in Grand Houses”, and “Random Group Portraits in Grand Houses”.

d100

In the foreground is/are…

1

a satyr chasing nymphs.

2

a knight fighting a dragon.

3

Perseus rescuing Andromeda from the sea monster.

4

the Oracle at Delphi, seated on a golden tripod over a fuming rift.

5

Mercury bearing the caduceus.

6

Mars in armor.

7

Circe transforming Ulysses’ men into swine.

8

Cadmus clad in a lion skin, fighting the serpentine dragon with his spear.

9

the nymph Daphne transforming into the laurel tree while being pursued by Apollo.

10

Narcissus the hunter staring at his own face reflected in a pool.

11

Adonis and Aphrodite.

12

Queen Dido immolating herself in grief over the loss of Aeneas.

13

Pygmalion sculpting Galatea.

14

Pandora opening the box of evils.

15

A she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus.

16

Diana bathing with her nymphs.

17

Medusa.

18

King Midas turning objects to gold.

19

Sir Tristan and Iseult of Ireland.

20

Saturn eating his children.

21

Venus atop a shell, arising from the sea.

22

Danaë showered with golden coins.

23

Europa riding the bull.

24

Theseus and the Minotaur.

25

Jason and the Hydra.

26

Hercules fighting the Hydra.

27

Hercules fighting the Nemean Lion.

28

the Gods of Olympus.

29

Jupiter disguised as Diana, seducing the nymph Callisto.

30

Hades carrying off Persephone to the Underworld.

31

Daphne transforming into the laurel tree while chased by Apollo.

32

the satyr Marsyas being flayed alive by Apollo.

33

the Fairy court of King Oberon and Queen Titania.

34

a unicorn alone in the forest.

35

a unicorn being baited with a topless young woman, while hunters lie in wait.

36

the combat of a serpentine dragon with an elephant.

37

Thetis imploring Zeus on behalf of her son Achilles.

38

an Undine in the form of a beautiful woman, standing in a waterfall.

39

Bellerophon atop Pegasus, fighting the Chimera.

40

a Green Man, his body composed of foliage.

41

King Arthur and his knights, seated about the Round Table.

42

The Holy Grail, floating in air.

43

the Phoenix on its pyre.

44

a child being abducted by the Earlking.

45

the Judgment of Paris.

46

the Fall of Icarus.

47

Phaëton struck from the solar chariot of Apollo by a thunderbolt.

48

the Amazonomachy, a battle between Greek men and Amazon women.

49

a scene of Hell from Dante’s “Inferno”

50

the Magician Prospero commanding Ariel, from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”

51

Macbeth and the Witches.

52

the one-eyed Arimaspians battle Griffins for gold.

53

a blemmye, or headless man with a face in his chest.

54

a hippopode, or man with horse hooves instead of feet.

55

a Bacchanalia.

56

Psyche and Eros.

57

The funeral procession of Siegfried.

58

Jason fighting the dragon for the Golden Fleece.

59

Orpheus charming animals with his music.

60

Alexander the Great cutting the Gordian Knot.

61

Ulysses bound to the mast of his ship, tempted by the sirens.

62

Isis depicted as Mother of the World.

63

Oedipus confronting The Sphinx.

64

the Three Graces, depicted as nude women embracing each other.

65

the nine Muses.

66

Venus at her toilette.

67

the Trojan Horse.

68

Prester John, legendary Christian king of the East, holding court.

69

centaurs fighting.

70

Silenus drunk.

71

Maenads tearing King Pentheus apart with their hands and teeth.

72

Oedipus tearing out his eyes.

73

the dying Hyacinth held by his lover Apollo.

74

the beautiful Hero mourning her drowned lover Leander.

75

The lovemaking of Leda and the Swan.

76

Medea killing her children.

77

Lancelot and Guinevere embracing.

78

the female knight Bradamante.

79

Rogero mounted on the hippogriff, rescuing Angelica from the sea monster.

80

the Celtic poet Ossian, and his beloved Malvina.

81

White-robed Druids gathered in a stone circle.

82

King Arthur borne away on a barge to Avalon.

83

Queen Omphale wearing the skin of the Nemean lion, while Hercules bears the distaff and spindle.

84

Odin with his two ravens.

85

The Buddha.

86

Siegfried awakening the Valkyrie Brunhilde.

87

King Neptune emerging from the sea.

88

Thetis dipping the infant Achilles into the river Styx.

89

The Lady of the Lake giving Excalibur to King Arthur.

90

the sorceress Morgan Le Fay.

91

Ogier the Dane with his short sword.

92

Ariadne borne away from Naxos by Dionysus.

93

a hairy Wild Man (or Wild Woman).

94

the sea-monster Leviathan, and the land-dwelling Behemoth.

95

Merlin in his cave.

96

Melusine, a winged woman with the lower body of a serpent.

97

A group of Swan Maids.

98

the poet Tannhäuser in Venusberg.

99

Lady Godiva nude atop her horse.

100

Atlas carrying the world.

d12

Beyond, in the middle ground is/are…

1

natural trees.

2

topiaries.

3

oddly-shaped rocks.

4

several onlookers dressed in anachronistic clothing.

5

dogs.

6

deer.

7

cows and sheep.

8

Putti. (Winged children depicted without halos.)

9

curtains. (50% chance of no other background.)

10

a garden.

11

the columned terrace of a Classical house.

12

birds.

d10

The background is…

1

a rolling countryside.

2

numerous jagged rocks.

3

a forest of straight, high trees.

4

an ancient, gnarled woods.

5

a bucolic village.

6

a rocky shoreline.

7

a castle atop a spur of rock.

8

an ancient, classical ruin.

9

a ruined castle.

10

a medieval castle atop a rocky outcrop.

d20

Notable about the depiction is…

1 – 9

nothing; it is a typical painting of its time in every way.

10

everyone is depicted in costumes contemporary to the date of the painting.

11

the figures appear to be gender-swapped.

12

all the figures are nude.

13

the colors are utterly bizarre and garish.

14

if you look away, and then look again at the painting, the figures look as if they have changed positions.

15

it appears to be the work of an otherwise unknown master.

16

it is so realistic-looking you feel as if you could reach in and touch the figures.

17

it done in a flat and stylized manner.

18

it seems impossible to ascertain what medium was used.

19

it seems almost self-luminous.

20

one of the figures has the face of a notable person.

Ghastly Affair PDFs are Now 25% OFF for Christmas in July!

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Now until the end of July, all Ghastly Affair PDFs are 25% OFF on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow. That includes the PDF versions of the “Ghastly Affair Player’s Manual”, “Ghastly Affair Presenter’s Manual”, and “A Ghastly Potpourri”, plus the Ghastly Affair novel “Hunter’s Song”!

Random Group Portraits in Grand Houses

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Sir Joshua Reynolds - The Ladies Waldegrave - Google Art Project

Here are some more tables for randomly generating descriptions of the numerous painting found in late 18th to early 19th century castles, mansions, and estate houses. See also the post “Random Portraits in Grand Houses”, which includes tables for generating the Dimensions, Age, and decorative Frame of paintings.

Interior Group Portrait

d10

The painting depicts…

1

an apparently married (or courting) couple,

2

two male friends,

3

two female friends,

4

a married couple and a lover, (possibly explained away as “a family friend” by the couple’s descendants)

5 – 6

a married couple with 1d8 children,

7

2d4 siblings,

8

2d6 members of a confraternity, consorority, or chivalric order,

9

a group of 2d4 card players,

10

a group of 2d4 military officers,

d6

amid…

1

an opulent drawing room.

2

a salon.

3

a music room.

4

a glittering ballroom.

5

a curtained interior.

6

a field of clouded color.

d20

A notable feature of the portrait is…

1

a servant working in the background.

2

a second painting visible in the background.

3

a notable sculpture in the background.

4

everyone is dressed in archaic clothing.

5

everyone is made to look like a Classical deity.

6

everyone is dressed in a masquerade costume.

7

a mirror reflecting the scene.

8

the skull, a reminder of mortality.

9

the presence of 1d4 putti (winged children).

10

the presence of 1d4 pets.

11

the exquisite jewelry worn by the subjects.

12

the shadows seem to be all wrong.

13

the perspective is off.

14

the location is easily recognizable.

15

the book carried by one of the subjects.

16

the weapon carried by one of the subjects.

17

the subjects do not seem friendly to each other.

18

an open window, beyond which a landscape can be seen.

19

much more attention has been paid to one figure than the others.

20

it appears to be the work of an unknown master.

Exterior Group Portrait

d12

The painting depicts…

1

an apparently married (or courting) couple,

2

two male friends,

3

two female friends,

4

a married couple and a lover, (possibly explained away as “a family friend” by the couple’s descendants)

5

a married couple with 1d8 children,

6

2d6 members of a confraternity, consorority, or chivalric order,

7

2d6 members of a hunting party on foot,

8

2d6 members of a mounted hunting party,

9

a group of 2d4 people playing lawn sports,

10

2d4 people at an archery contest,

11

a group of 2d4 military officers on foot,

12

a group of 2d4 mounted military officers,

d8

and in the background is…

1

a rolling countryside, with trees in the far distance.

2

a woods

3

a lake.

4

a manicured lawn.

5

a village of happy peasants.

6

a formal French garden.

7

the facade of the house itself.

8

a mountain range.

d20

A notable feature of the portrait is…

1

much more attention has been paid to one figure than the others.

2

there appears to be a fire occurring in the far background.

3

a servant working in the background.

4

the exterior sculpture(s) also depicted.

5

the visible ruins.

6

everyone is dressed in archaic clothing.

7

everyone is made to look like a Classical deity.

8

everyone is dressed in a masquerade costume.

9

the presence of 1d4 putti (winged children).

10

The presence of a mythological creature.

11

the presence of a dog pack.

12

the exquisite jewelry worn by the subjects.

13

the shadows seem to be all wrong.

14

the perspective is off.

15

the location is easily recognizable.

16

the scene is set at night.

17

the weapon carried by one of the subjects.

18

the subjects do not seem friendly to each other.

19

much more attention has been paid to one figure than the others.

20

it appears to be the work of an unknown master.