19th century, British, English history, English literature, Frankenstein, Free RPG, George III, Ghastly Affair, gothic game, Gothic Gaming, Gothic Horror, Gothic Romance, Historic Figure, Historic NPC, horror novels, nineteenth century, Regency, role-playing game, Romance, Romantic Horror, Romantic poetry, Stats, Vampire
The notorious poet Lord Byron was a troubled (and troubling) personality whose shadow looms over popular culture to this day. The PCs could be caught in one of Byron’s twisted games of love, fall victim to his fearsome rages, or even be immortalized in gorgeous verse! Here he is presented for use as an NPC in Ghastly Affair, the Gothic Game of Romantic Horror.
Lord Byron (June, 1816)
The Great Romantic Poet:“Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know”
Full Name: George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron
Aliases: George Noel Byron
Class: Libertine (Aristocrat)
Appearance/Most Memorable Characteristic: Dark haired and handsome, with heavy-lidded eyes, an expressive mouth, and strong cleft chin. Walks with an obvious limp, and usually leans on a walking stick. Often wears Turkish and Eastern-European inspired clothing.
Charisma: 20 Intelligence: 14 Wisdom: 13
Strength: 13 Dexterity: 11 Constitution: 13
Assets (+3 Bonus): Genius Poet, Skilled Boxer, Great Shot, Strong Swimmer
Afflictions (-3 Penalty): Club Foot, Notorious, Prone to Melancholy, Easily Angered
Speed: 9 (-3 Penalty on all Speed Contests on land due to Club Foot)
Hit Points: 60
Attacks: 1 punch or pistol (+5 total Bonus if fighting unaided, +7 if a desired lover is watching)
Special Abilities: Disguise (+1) | Dueling (+1/+3) | Fraud (+1) | Aristocratic Skills (+1) (instead of Sneak) | Seduction (+1)
Weaknesses: Faithless Lover | Fascinated By Innocence
Typical Equipment Carried: A loose, white shirt with a frilled front and puffed sleeves. A banyan. A walking stick. A pistol. A locket with a miniature portrait of The Honorable Augusta Leigh (his half-sister). He may have an exotic pet (such as a monkey, crow, or fox) on or near him.
Current Residence: Villa Diodati, on the shore of Lake Geneva
Background (to June 10, 1816):
- January 22, 1788: George Gordon Byron born
- 1791: George’s father, “Mad Jack” Byron, died in France.
- 1798: George became the 6th Baron Byron upon the death of his murderously eccentric great-uncle William (popularly known as “The Wicked Lord”).
- 1801: Attended Harrow School.
- 1805 – 1809: Attended Trinity College, Cambridge. Fell in love with Trinity Chapel choir singer John Edleston.
- March 13, 1809: First attended the House of Lords as a peer.
- 1809 – 1811: Went on his Grand Tour, but due to the Napoleonic Wars primarily visited the Eastern Mediterranean instead of the usual sites on the Continent. Took advantage of the Ottoman Empire’s comparatively more relaxed attitude towards homosexual activity.
- 1811: Returned to England.
- 1812: Published the first two cantos of “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage”, which made him famous. Began a tempestuous affair with Lady Caroline Lamb (who would later deem him “mad, bad, and dangerous to know”). The two would show up up at events with Lady Lamb dressed as a pageboy. Lady Lamb’s husband (the future Prime Minister William Lamb) knew about the affair.
- 1813: Published “The Giaour” and “The Bride of Abydos”. Began an affair with his half-sister Augusta Leigh.
- 1814: Published “The Corsair”, an instant success. Augusta Leigh gave birth to a daughter Medora, likely Byron’s.
- January 2, 1815: Married the extremely religious Anne Isabella Milbanke (often called “Annabella”).
- December 10, 1815: Annabella gave birth to Byron’s daughter Ada (who as Ada Lovelace will later create the conceptual basis of modern computer programming).
- April 25, 1816: In debt and facing public exposure of his bisexuality and incestuous affair with his half-sister, Byron separated from his wife, and fled England.
- May 1816: The jilted Lady Lamb published her Gothic novel “Glenarvon”. The villainous “Lord Ruthven” of the book was instantly recognizable as a thinly veiled caricature of Lord Byron.
- June 10, 1816: Byron takes up residence in the Villa Belle Rive, on the shore of Lake Geneva. He renames it “Villa Diodati”. As the weather turns cold and stormy, and reflecting the growing public hysteria that the sun will be extinguished in July, he begins writing the poem “Darkness”.
Personality and Role-Playing Notes: Moody, vain, and wildly passionate, Lord Byron is by turns loving and cruel. His appreciation of beauty is matched by his snobbery and egotism. He will casually belittle friends and lovers, then shower them with affection. He can fly into irrational rages that are followed by periods of tender concern – and vice-versa. His eating habits alternate between near fasting and over-indulgence (followed by induced vomiting). He is an animal lover, and will often have an exotic pet nearby. Above all, Byron is obsessed is transgressing boundaries of all kinds. He is proud of his aristocratic status, and unlike his acquaintance Percy Shelley, has no interest in fundamentally reforming society. Byron wants there to be rules, so he can have the thrill of breaking them. When playing Byron, remember that he is the archetype for every “Byronic Hero” from Heathcliff to Lestat. He is the original sexy “bad-boy” with a haunted heart and smoldering eyes.
Lord Byron in Your Game: The above describes Lord Byron during his self-imposed exile in Switzerland in early June of 1816. Soon the poet Percy Shelley, his eighteen-year old mistress Mary (daughter of radicals Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin), and her stepsister Claire Clairmont (obsessed with becoming Byron’s lover) will come for an extended visit. Perhaps the PCs are another group of visitors, unrecorded by history. They may even witness the wild night of June 18th, when Mary has her famous vision of a man reanimating a creature assembled from corpses! Maybe some of the ghost stories famously told that night simply recount the PCs’ supernatural misadventures. One or more of the PCs could be bringing Byron news from England, or be be rivals for his affections. Byron is bisexual, so he is likely to pursue both beautiful women and handsome lads. Maybe one of the PCs is a journalist who wishes to titillate their readers with scandalous stories of the infamous Lord Byron. Villa Diodata may be haunted, and the PCs come to investigate (either on their own or at Byron’s invitation). One or more ancient evils (such as a Possessor Demon) may have followed him home from the East, and have plagued his life ever since. Lord Byron is an excellent candidate to actually be (or eventually become) a Vampyre, since the creator of the first aristocratic vampire in literature, John Polidori, was Byron’s personal physician at Villa Diodati in the summer of 1816.
Byron’s limp suggests the legendary lameness of Asmodeus, the Demon of Lust. Presenter’s may wish to play up an atmosphere of Satanic menace whenever the PCs encounter the poet.