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The “Ghastly Affair Player’s Manual” discusses how upper class ladies of the Ghastly Age (1765 – 1820) use their hand fans to send coded messages, both to each other, and potential lovers. The “Language of Fans’ allows women to maintain a socially-mandated facade of demure passivity, while they actually engage in erotic intrigues and character assassination. Two ladies could appear to be exchanging social pleasantries, while they in fact hurl insults at each other with their fans. An assignation with a lover can be arranged right under the nose of a clueless husband or chaperon.

The “Language of Fans” is perilous, however, for anyone who hasn’t been raised as an aristocrat. Would-be social climbers who haven’t yet mastered the intricacies of High Society should make an Intelligence check each time they attempt to send a message with their fan. If they fail, roll on the following table to see what message has been mistakenly sent. Presenters could also rule that those who are completely unfamiliar with High Society must roll on the table whenever they fan themselves! The mistaken message will be received by a random recipient, male or female.

Alexander Roslin - The Lady with a Fan (The Artist's Wife) - WGA20067

Mishaps With The Fan
Roll d20 to determine message mistakenly sent

  1. “I insist upon an immediate kiss!”
  2. “Let us surreptitiously withdraw to some convenient chamber, away from prying eyes.”
  3. “I shall die if you do not share my bed tonight!”
  4. “Is it as large as has been rumored?”
  5. “Would you mind terribly were I to borrow your lover?”
  6. “Your presence fills my heart with revulsion and contempt!”
  7. “It was only last night that I was thoroughly enjoyed by your beloved.”
  8. “I am well aware of your nefarious deeds.”
  9. “Consume the contents of my chamber pot and perish!”
  10. “Apply your lips to my posterior!”
  11. “Render oral service to my unwashed womanhood, foolish she-dog!
  12. “Forbear to act, for suspicious eyes are upon us.”
  13. “Act quickly, for my husband is preoccupied.”
  14. “I am anxious that you should ask me to dance.”
  15. “I should have no interest in dancing with you, where it to happen that you alone among men survived in this world!”
  16. “I know of your nasty proclivities, and I shall not be party to their indulgence.”
  17. “I am amenable to indulging your peculiar desires, and have a few of my own.”
  18. “I would consider taking you as my lover, if you were to apply greater effort to the matter.”
  19. “Your hair and clothes betray your lack of taste and breeding.”
  20. “Your gown is quite splendid – I insist you reveal the identity of your modiste!”

The results could be absurd, embarrassing, or even unexpectedly fortunate. The cruel and heartless doyennes of High Society will naturally be quick to seize upon any obvious mistakes.

Even most aristocratic men attempting to interpret the Language of Fans (except for the handsome cicisbeos, cavalier serventes, and Libertines who are fluent) should also have to make an Intelligence Check. If they fail, they should roll on the table to determine what they think the intended meaning was. In an age of dueling, misinterpreting a message from another man’s wife or mistress can have potentially deadly consequences.

The Presenter should assume that all the historically published “translations” of the Language of Fans are deliberate misinformation, intended to fool the uninitiated and reveal interlopers. Any aristocratic woman who publicly revealed the actual Language of Fans would face complete social ostracism at best (and would most likely be poisoned).

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