17% OFF Ghastly Affair PDFs Through Cyber Monday!

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Now through Cyber Monday (11/27/17), the Illustrated PDF versions of the Ghastly Affair Player’s Manual and Ghastly Affair Presenter’s Manual are 17% Off on RPGNow and DriveThruRPG!

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Ghastly Affair Now Available in Hardcover on RPGNow and DriveThru RPG!

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Both the Ghastly Affair Player’s Manual and Ghastly Affair Presenter’s Manual are now available in Hardcover Print Versions through RPGNow and DriveThruRPG. Plus, you get the Illustrated PDFs at nearly 50% off when you buy both the the Hardcover Book and PDF!

Discover a world of thrilling terror and sublime beauty, with “The Gothic Game of Romantic Horror”!

Now on YouTube: The Finale of “The Bedevilled Birthright”

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The finale of “The Bedevilled Birthright” has been posted to Youtube.

Catch up on the first , second , and third sessions if you haven’t seen them already.

Thanks again to everyone for your continued support of Ghastly Affair!

The Restless Specter – For Ghastly Affair, and Other OSR Games

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What fearful shapes and shadows beset his path - The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1899), frontispiece - BL

“I walked about the isle like a restless spectre, separated from all it loved, and miserable in the separation” – Mary Shelley, “Frankenstein”

The Restless Specter presented here is very different from the similarly named “Spectre” of most OSR Games. My inspirations range from “Wuthering Heights” and “The Odyssey” to 19th century Spiritualism and Celtic folklore.

Restless Specter

A powerful ghost who can affect the material world.

Creature Class: Spirit (Ghost)
Number Appearing: 1 – 4
Initial Impression: A pale, insubstantial figure which seems to grow more solid as it approaches.
Size: Human-sized

Perversity: Any (usually 13)
Disposition: Any (usually Goading)
Charisma: 12 Intelligence: 9 Wisdom: 12
Strength: 12 (in Manifestation) Dexterity: 12 Constitution: 12 (in Manifestation)
Speed: 9 walking, 12 flying

Armor Class: None
Hit Dice: 6
Attacks:
Incorporeal: 1 (object thrown with Telekinesis)
Manifested or Possessing: 1 (punch, weapon, strangle, or object thrown with Telekinesis)
Special Abilities: Ghostly Characteristics, Manifestation, Possession, Selective Invisibility
Weaknesses: Undead Weaknesses, Release
Assets: None (or as in life)
Afflictions: None (or as in life)
Preternatural Powers: Alter Self, Telekinesis, Phantasmagoria V

Natural Habitat: Ancient castles and manor houses, grave sites, old battlefields, dark woods where many have wandered to their deaths, ruined abbeys, cathedral crypts, stark moorlands, ancient barrows, etc.
Level: 6

Restless Specters are potentially dangerous ghosts that can arise in a variety of ways. Some are the souls of exceptional strong-willed people who suffered untimely or unnatural deaths. Others are souls who were mourned with such intense grief that it prevented them from moving on to the Afterlife. Yet others were once mere Phantoms, grown powerful over time. However one came to be, a Restless Specter is bound to haunt the world, until someone performs the one act that will finally release it.

Although they are easily mistaken for the more common Phantoms, Restless Specters are not limited to merely creating illusory perceptions. They are powerful enough to actually interact with the material world – whether by moving objects by force of will, possessing living bodies, or actually manifesting a solid form of their own. Also unlike many Phantoms, Restless Specters never simply repeat the conditions of their demise as a kind of morbid show – although they may appear in a horrific form marked by the manner of their death.

There are two types of Restless Specters. Castle Specters are bound to a place – whether a structure, a village, or even an area of a many square miles. However large or small the location haunted by a Castle Specter, they may not wander beyond its borders. Roaming Specters on the other hand, may wander as they will – except for the one place they may not enter under their own power. The prohibited location might be as small as the house they inhabited in life, or as large as a particular country.

Restless Specters are not harmed in any way by sunlight (although it does prevent them from forming a physical Manifestation). Many Restless Specters only appear by night, or only in gloomy conditions, however, as an expression of their own morose natures.

The characteristics listed above are for a typical Restless Specter, concerned with nothing more than alleviating the misery of its own aimless existence. Exceptional Restless Specters will retain the same Basic Abilities, Assets, and Afflictions they possessed in life. Some might even be virtuous and kind, while others are vile and malevolent. Slain Player Characters who are not Perverse enough to rise again as Vampyres might continue gameplay as Restless Specters instead.

Restless Specter Special Abilities

Ghostly Characteristics: Unless they have physically manifested, a Restless Specter’s body is Ethereal in nature, and can freely pass through material objects. Naturally, a Restless Specter is immune to such things as poison, disease, and stunning, as well as Fascination effects (except those which specifically target Ghosts or Revenants). While in an incorporeal state, it can only be harmed by silver, pure iron, blessed, or magically enchanted weapons. Restless Specters can see perfectly in conditions of partial or even total darkness.

Manifestation: One night in every lunar month, a Restless Specter can form a material body. It takes a full Round for the body to form, and full Round for it to dissolve – during which time the Restless Specter can do nothing else. The Manifested body can be in any form that the Restless Specter ever had in life – young, old, healthy, or as it it was at the moment of death. Whatever form it takes, the Manifestation will be noticeably pale, and cool to the touch. A Manifested Restless Specter can be damaged (and destroyed) by ordinary weapons, and will bleed like an ordinary person. Despite the fact that it makes them vulnerable, Manifestation also allows Restless Specters to touch and be touched, and therefore experience some semblance of physical enjoyment. Manifested Restless Specters always feel cold, and will want to warm themselves by a fire – or in the bed of living person. The are constantly hungry as well, and will want to glut themselves on intensely-flavored food – or blood. A Manifestation will always dissolve at sunrise, and the Restless Specter forced back into its incorporeal form.

Every year on the nights between October 31st and November 2nd , and also from April 31st to May 5th, every Restless Specter is empowered to form a Manifestation. They can do this whether or not they have already manifested in that lunar month. Veritable hordes of the dead wander at those times, desperate to alleviate their cold, hunger, and loneliness.

Possession: A Restless Specter can also attempt Possession of a living person. The Restless Specter must win a Charisma Contest against its target, which must be in the Nearby Area. Success means the Restless Specter inhabits the host’s body, directing it’s actions, and enjoying the use of its senses. The Restless Specter must win another Charisma Contest every Turn thereafter, however, or be expelled from the host’s body. Damage done to a host’s body is also suffered by the Restless Specter. A Specter can not attempt Possession of a person while still in a state of Manifestation.

Selective Invisibility: Whether currently Incorporeal or Manifested, a Restless Specter can choose to be Invisible to certain people. Subjects of the Restless Specter’s Selective Invisibility who suspect its presence can perceive it nonetheless with a successful Wisdom Save.

Restless Specter Weaknesses

Undead Weaknesses: Restless Specters (even those who were virtuous people in life) are affected by the power of Faith, as well as all Special Abilities and Preternatural Effects which target Ghosts and Revenants.

Release: A Restless Specter’s Release is an action that, if performed, will cause the Restless Specter to pass on to the Afterlife. A Restless Specter cannot achieve their own Release, whether in in a Possessed body or a physical Manifestation. Only another, living person can accomplish the action that will finally end the Restless Specter’s haunting. Nor are most Restless Specters even aware of what their own Releases might be.

Typical Releases include:

  • Burying the Restless Specter’s corpse in hallowed ground.
  • Punishing the Restless Specter’s murderer.
  • Proclaiming the secret that the Restless Specter was always ashamed of in life.
  • Delivering a letter to the person the Restless Specter secretly loved.
  • Persuading the Restless Specter’s grief-stricken relatives to stop actively mourning her.
  • Restoring ownership of the Restless Specter’s home to their family.
  • Placing a beloved piece of jewelry in the coffin with the Restless Specter’s corpse.

Note that Restless Specters who believe themselves to be destined for Hell will actively try to prevent anyone from learning or performing their Release, since even the misery of restless death pales in comparison to the torment that awaits them in the Infernal Realm.


Restless Specter (for OSR games)
Number Appearing: 1 – 4
Size: Medium
Alignment: Any (usually Chaotic Neutral)
Morale: 10 (or 14)
Intelligence: 10
Move: Walking: 120′ (or 12”, or 30 ft.); Flying: 210′ (or 21” or 45 ft)
Armor Class: 10
Hit Dice: 6
Attacks & Damage:
Incorporeal: 1 object thrown with Telekinesis (1d4)
Manifested or Possessing: 1 punch (1d4), 1 weapon (by weapon type), 1 strangle (1d6), or 1 object thrown with Telekinesis (1d4)
Special:
* Naturally Incorporeal.
* Silver, pure iron, blessed, or magically enchanted weapons to hit while Incorporeal.
* Immune to poison, disease, and stunning.
* Immune to mind-magic that doesn’t specifically target the Undead.
* Darkvision.
* Can manifest a material body that can be harmed by ordinary weapons – one night every lunar month.
* Can possess a living person – Save versus Spells to resist, victim gets new Save every Turn.
* Can become selectively Invisible – Save versus Spells to perceive.
* Turned as a Spectre
* Dispelled if its special Release is ever performed, but cannot perform Release itself.
* Spell-like Abilities: Change Self, Phantasmal Forces, Telekinesis (all at will)
Saves: As Magic User 6
Challenge: Four 6th Level Characters

Now on YouTube: Session Three of “The Bedevilled Birthright”

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The third session of “The Bedevilled Birthright” has been posted to Youtube.

You can also catch up on the first and second sessions if you haven’t seen them already.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support of Ghastly Affair!

Heathcliff – A Literary NPC for the Ghastly Affair RPG

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Heathcliff (1782)

The brooding and vengeful antihero of “Wuthering Heights”.

Full Name: Heathcliff (both given name and surname)
Aliases: Mister Heathcliff
Class: Gypsy
Level: 3
Appearance/Most Memorable Characteristic: A tall, powerfully-built man dressed in dark colors. He is of evident Romany descent, with a dark complexion, and black hair which he wears long and un-powdered. His sideburns extend down his cheeks, and his eyebrows are thick. His deeply set eyes are such dark brown as to be almost black. His teeth seem unusually sharp.
Age: 18

Charisma: 16 Intelligence: 10 Wisdom: 15
Strength: 18 Dexterity: 18 Constitution: 18
Perversity: 14
Assets: Seductive, Resistant to Pain, True Love (Catherine Earnshaw)
Afflictions: No Family, Obsessed with Vengeance

Speed: 9
Hit Points: 18
Attacks: 1 (punch, kick, or pistol)
Damage Bonus: +1

Special Abilities: Animal Husbandry (+1), Boxing (+1), Entertainment (+1) [Acting], Gypsy Curse, Sleight of Hand (+1)
Weaknesses: Desired by the Dead, Social Discrimination

Typical Equipment Carried: A set of fine clothes in black, maroon, and indigo blue. A pair of dice. A deck of cards. A severed rabbit’s foot (Talisman of Gambler’s Luck). A small pistol. A walking stick or horse-whip. If outdoors, Heathcliff is very likely to be riding a horse when first encountered, and have one or more hunting (or guard) dogs with him as well. Such dogs will be trained to attack at the slightest provocation.
Residence: Currently, no fixed abode.

Background:

  • 1764: Heathcliff was born, in an unknown place, to a Romany woman.
  • Late Summer, 1771: Mister Earnshaw, an affluent yeoman farmer in Yorkshire, announced to his family that he has decided to walk 60 miles to Liverpool, and would return in three days. Late on the third day he reappeared at his family home, “Wuthering Heights”, with a Romany boy in tow. Mister Earnshaw claimed that he found the child wandering around Liverpool, and was moved by pity to bring him home. Mr. Earnshaw named the boy “Heathcliff”, after a son who had died young. Heathcliff and Mr. Earshaw’s six-year old daughter Catherine quickly grew close, but Catherine’s older brother Hindley instantly hated the young foundling – and beat him at every opportunity thereafter. Nobody pressed Mister Earnshaw on how he managed to cover 40 miles a day on foot across bad moorland roads, or why he was instantly so partial to Heathcliff.
  • 1773: Mrs. Earnshaw died, leaving the Earnshaw children without a mother. Hindley Earnshaw was sent away to college. Heathcliff and Catherine became inseparable, spending long hours playing on the moors around Wuthering Heights.
  • October, 1777: Mr. Earnshaw died in the presence of Catherine and Heathcliff. Sixteen-year old Hindley returned to Wuthering Heights with his new wife, Frances. He spitefully condemned Heathcliff to be a servant at the house, and deprived him of any education. He also frequently ordered the boy to be flogged. None of this stopped Catherine and Heathcliff from secretly seeing each other at every opportunity.
  • November 1777: Catherine and Heathcliff ran to “Thrushcross Grange”, the estate house of the wealthy Linton family. There they were were attacked by guard dogs while spying through a window at young Edgar and Isabella Linton. Catherine was injured, and forced to stay at Thrushcross Grange while she recovered.
  • December 24, 1777: Twelve-year old Catherine Earnshaw returned to Wuthering Heights in the Linton’s carriage, made up and dressed like a young gentlewoman.
  • Christmas Day, 1777: Fifteen-year old Edgar Linton, and eleven-year old Isabella Linton, visited Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff tried to dress up so he can be present at the gathering with Catherine. After being insulted by both Hindley and Edgar, Heathcliff hit Edgar with a tureen of apple sauce. Hindley flogged Heathcliff, who vowed revenge against the young man.
  • June 1778: Hareton Earnshaw was born. Some weeks later his mother Frances died of consumption. Hindley descended into alcoholism after his wife’s death, and eventually all but two servants deserted the house. Edgar Linton began surreptitiously courting Catherine.
  • 1780: Sixteen-year old Heathcliff saved the life of young Hareton Earnshaw, by catching the child when his drunken father Hindley dropped him over an upstairs banister. Later that night, Heathcliff overheard Catherine saying she could never marry him, because it would degrade her. He then ran away from Wuthering Heights to seek his fortune.

Personality and Role-Playing Notes: Heathcliff is fierce, domineering, and easily angered. He is impious to the point of blasphemy – and will even openly implore the aid of Satan. When he pleases he can be extremely charming and glib, but if insulted or thwarted his face can suddenly assume a frightful, almost demonic aspect. He is vengeful beyond all reason, quite willing to stretch his revenge over years, and generations. His cruel mistreatment by Hindley has turned Heathcliff into a sadist who enjoys hurting those who fall under his power.

At this point in Heathcliff’s life he is focused on become wealthy by any means necessary – both so he might marry and possess his beloved Catherine, and have the power to ultimately destroy her brother Hindley. Heathcliff loves Catherine Earnshaw with a fierce, mad passion that will allow no rivals. He will have mere sex with another woman of course, but it is impossible for anyone to replace Cathy in his heart. He is well aware that their love can only end in pain, but would rather suffer in Hell with her than be in Heaven alone. His True Love for Catherine means he enjoys a +3 Bonus whenever he is gambling, or otherwise doing anything to make him wealthy enough for her to accept him as a suitable husband.

Note that while Heathcliff himself may talk about Catherine Earnshaw’s capricious, histrionic, and selfish behavior, anybody else who dares to speak of her in anything less than the most glowing terms should be prepared for a savage beating. Even agreeing with him when he complains of her inconstancy will provoke a violent reaction.

When role-playing Heathcliff, remember that he is one of the great Byronic Heroes of English literature. He should project an intensely magnetic sexuality, combined with the constant underlying threat of imminent violence.

Heathcliff in Your Game: Heathcliff is here depicted in the middle of the three-year period between when he fled Wuthering Heights as a barely literate servant, and his eventual return as a wealthy gentleman. Explaining how Heathcliff becomes rich makes a great premise for an Affair. Did he discover treasure while serving in the military, have adventures in America, or perhaps become a highway robber? When he reappears at Wuthering Heights he will evidence great skill at gambling, and will eventually also show himself to be an accomplished actor (able to craftily play the part of a long-suffering uncle to the young and naive Cathy Linton, for example). That suggests he has been using Sleight of Hand to cheat at cards and dice, while perhaps pursuing a career in theater. A suitably Gothic possibility, however, is that his wealth comes from a Pact with Satan, or a dark Fairy Lord.

However the Presenter decides Heathcliff eventually becomes rich, he will devote himself to developing his mind. Whenever Heathcliff gains a Level, increase his Intelligence by 1. By the time he returns to Wuthering Heights in 1783, he will be a 5th Level character with an Intelligence of 12. By 1800 (when he fulfills his cunning plan to become master of both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange) he will be a 10th Level character with an Intelligence of 17. In addition, his Perversity should also rise after Catherine’s death, to 18 by 1800.

Heathcliff suspects that he may actually be Catherine’s half-brother, but if anything the possibility of such a transgression delights rather than horrifies him.

Heathcliff”s physical appearance closely matches traditional depictions of lycanthropes, and the Presenter might decide to give him a Level of Werewolf. Perhaps the Curse was inflicted on him as the Preternatural price for his acquisition for wealth. Similarly, if Heathcliff is killed before returning to Wuthering Heights, he will, of course, rise again as a Vampyre (with the Vampyric Power Ghoulish Appetite). In any case, Heathcliff and Catherine are damned to eventually roam the moors together in restless death, a fate which they would freely choose in preference to Paradise.

Source: “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë

Now on YouTube: Session Two of “The Bedevilled Birthright”

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The second session of “The Bedevilled Birthright” has been posted to Youtube.

Be sure to check out the first session, if you haven’t already.

Once again, “thank you” to everyone involved!

The Clockwork Impostor – A New Creature Inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann

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The Automaton Exhibition 1826 at Gothic Hall in Haymarket London

Around the same time Mary Shelley was creating “Frankenstein” in 1816, German Romantic E.T.A. Hoffmann wrote “The Sandman”, one of the first stories to explore the horrific implications of android technology. Shows of humanoid automata were in fact quite popular throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, and it was widely believed that the chess-playing machine called “The Turk” represented the invention of actual artificial intelligence. Although “The Turk” later proved to be actually a puppet fraudulently operated by a hidden person, it inspired many of the advances in technology that ultimately flowered into modern computing and robotics.

Clockwork Impostor

An automaton designed to cleverly mimic a real human being.

Creature Class: Monster (can be used as a Monstrous Servant)
Number Appearing: 1 – 10
Initial Impression: A person with attractive facial features, but a noticeably stiff manner.
Size: Human-sized

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

Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 1
Attacks: 1 (fist or weapon)
Special Abilities: Programmed Skills; Fearless; Immune to Poison, Disease, and Nausea; Immune to Fascination Effects.
Weaknesses: Limited Vocabulary, No Sense of Taste or Smell.
Assets: None
Afflictions: Dull Conversationalist
Preternatural Powers: None

Natural Habitat: The laboratories of Mad Scientists, cabinets of curiosities, salons, and balls.
Level: 1

A Clockwork Impostor is a creation of Mad Science – a sentient automaton of wood, metal gearing, India rubber, oilcloth, human hair, and wax that masquerades as a real human being. They are made to be servants, companions, and even assassins, and will be dressed in clothing appropriate to their apparent gender and use. They are intelligent, but noticeably dull in conversation. Clockwork Impostors are self-aware and capable of some independent decision making, but will never disobey a command given to them by their creator. They can ape the expression of love, but never actually feel the emotion.

Despite representing the height of automaton technology, a Clockwork Impostor is still not a perfect imitation of a human being. A successful Wisdom Check will reveal that the thing moves in a curiously stiff manner, its face is strangely inexpressive, and its eyes seem lifelessly glassy. It possesses no body heat or odor. A Clockwork Impostor is not usually able to consume food or drink, a fact that can be used to reveal its true nature. Its vocabulary is limited, and it has trouble reacting appropriately to unexpected situations. And of course, it needs to be wound up every 8 hours (unless its creator is also capable of fitting it with a device that provides Perpetual Motion).

Sometimes a Clockwork Impostor is built to impersonate and replace a specific person. Acquaintances of that person are entitled to a Wisdom Check (made secretly by the Presenter). Those that succeed will know that the Impostor is not who it claims to be – although the realization will not extend to knowing the true nature of the thing.

Clockwork Impostor Special Abilities

Programmed Skills: A Clockwork Impostor is programmed to possess the skills of a Profession, such as Musician or Soldier. This ability is similar in every respect to an Everyman’s Profession, allowing the Impostor to automatically succeed at simple tasks, and granting a +1 Bonus on attempts to do extraordinary work. Some Clockwork Impostors are built so that they can be reprogrammed for different Professions, by exchanging toothed metal cylinders located inside their bodies. In all cases, however, a Clockwork Impostor is incapable of true creativity – it can faithfully imitate, but never innovate. One can be programmed to be a painter capable of flawlessly accurate portraits, but it will have no imagination to depict anything it does not actually see. A Clockwork Impostor could sing a song written by another, but not compose a new one of their own.

Fearless: Clockwork Impostors have no regard for their own safety, and never check Morale.

Immune to Fascination Effects: A Clockwork Impostor is immune to all Preternatural effects which manipulate minds or emotions.

Immune to Poison, Disease, and Nausea: Since it has no flesh or organs, a Clockwork Impostor cannot be poisoned, catch disease, or be nauseated. Likewise, it cannot be harmed by smoke inhalation, or toxic fumes.

Clockwork Impostor Weaknesses

Limited Vocabulary: A Clockwork Impostor’s spoken vocabulary is limited to about 100 distinct words and phrases (although it can understand anything said to it in the language it is programmed to speak). Observant people may notice how the Impostor constantly asks the same questions, and repeats the same answers. Clockwork Impostors are seldom programmed with many proper names in their vocabulary, and so may avoid addressing people directly.

No Sense of Taste or Smell: A Clockwork Impostor can see, hear, and feel, but cannot detect odors, or taste flavors.


Clockwork Impostor (for OSR games)
Number Appearing: 1 – 10
Size: Medium
Alignment: Neutral
Morale: Never checks Morale
Intelligence: 10
Move: 120′ (or 12”, or 30 ft.)
Armor Class: 6 (or 14)
Hit Dice: 1
Attacks & Damage: 1 punch (1d4), or 1 weapon (by weapon type)
Special:
* Possesses a Secondary Skill, Profession, or Non-weapon Proficiency
* Immune to all Mind Magic
* Immune to Poison and Poison Gas
* Immune to Disease
* Immune to Nausea effects
* Spoken vocabulary limited to 100 words and phrases.
* No Sense of Smell or Taste
* If observer Saves versus Spells they will notice the Impostor is not what it seems.
Saves: As Fighter 1
Challenge: a single 2nd Level character, or two 1st level characters.

Hunter’s Song by William Rutter – Now the First Official Ghastly Affair Novel!

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From the author’s description:

“Georgian London, the late eighteenth century: a time of social decadence and political upheaval.

Lila Davenport was born a noble heiress, but when tragedy strikes she is outcast from her inheritance. Now a hunter of the demonic forces which stalk the shadows, Lila finds herself the target of a supernatural enemy more terrible and cruel than she could have imagined.

But how will she prevail when even those closest to her are not what they seem? Her journey will take her across a Europe torn by revolution, and down into the darkest depths of her own heart…”

Get your copy on Amazon and DriveThruFiction today!

Another Actual Play Video for Ghastly Affair

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The first session of “The Bedevilled Birthright” has been posted to Youtube. If you’re interested in seeing Ghastly Affair in actual play, check it out!

A big “thank you” to everyone involved!