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A French estate 18th century park view

Upper class people of the Ghastly Age (1765 – 1820) spent much of their time visiting each other’s homes, often without bothering to announce their arrival beforehand! An entire Saga of Ghastly Affair could therefore revolve around a group of aristocrats and their retainers encountering horrors and scandals as they visit one estate after another.

The following tables let the Presenter (or GM) quickly determine the single most notable thing about any great house, château, estate, or manor. The feature determined could become central to the plot of the upcoming Affair (or story), suggest a subplot, or simply be an interesting backdrop to the real action.

The tables could be useful for any Gothic, Dreadpunk, Mannerpunk, Austen-inspired, Victorian-era, Steampunk, or Horror game.

This Estate is Best Known For Its… (d20)

1. Animals
(d6) The estate has…
| 1 | a famous dog pack (fox hounds, beagles, wolf hounds, etc.).
| 2 | a large clowder of cats.
| 3 | an excellent deer park.
| 4 | famous horses.
| 5 | a nearby wolf pack. But, are they natural wolves at all?
| 6 | a private menagerie.

2. Architecture
(d6) The construction is…
| 1 | unique.
| 2 | exemplary.
| 3 | dilapidated.
| 4 | unfinished.
| 5 | medieval.
| 6 | exotic (faux Chinese, Turkish, Hindu, etc).

3. Art Collection
(d4) Everyone has heard of the wonderful…
| 1 | paintings.
| 2 | outdoor sculptures.
| 3 | indoor sculptures.
| 4 | automatons.

4. Attractive Residents
(d4) People go there just to see the…
| 1 | beautiful lady of the house.
| 2 | handsome lord.
| 3 | enticing servants.
| 4 | lord’s gorgeous mistress (or lady’s handsome cavalier servente).

5. Cabinet of Curiosities (see Items in a Cabinet of Curiosities)

6. Cursed Family
(d6) According to legend…
| 1 | the first born son always dies tragically,
| 2 | the family is cursed with lycanthropy,
| 3 | the family members become vampires after death,
| 4 | the women of the family die in childbirth,
| 5 | the True Loves of family members die tragically,
| 6 | the family is plagued with madness,
(d6) because an ancestor…
| 1 | bargained with the Devil for fame and fortune.
| 2 | harmed a gypsy.
| 3 | mistreated a priest.
| 4 | murdered a man in cold blood.
| 5 | desecrated an ancient religious site
| 6 | broke a marriage contract to marry his/her True Love instead.

7. Entertainment
(d8) Visitors flock to the estate for its…
| 1 | amateur theatrical performances.
| 2 | professional theatrical performances.
| 3 | dances (unmasked).
| 4 | dinners.
| 5 | musical performances.
| 6 | masquerade balls.
| 7 | debauched parties.
| 8 | pyrotechnics displays.

8. Follies (see Random Architectural Follies)

9. Food
(d6) The estate produces especially good…
| 1 | cheese.
| 2 | ham.
| 3 | beer/wine.
| 4 | liquor (whiskey, rum, brandy, etc.).
| 5 | fruit.
| 6 | fish.

10. Games, Sports, and Contests
(d12) The estate is famous for its…
| 1 | tennis court.
| 2 | giant-sized lawn chess.
| 3 | roulette wheel.
| 4 | billiards table.
| 5 | collection of beautifully hand-painted playing cards.
| 6 | shooting contests.
| 7 | archery contests.
| 8 | animal fights.
| 9 | horse-riding.
| 10 | swimming.
| 11 | lawn sports (pall-mall, trucco, boules, quoits, cricket, golf)
| 12 | horse races.

11. Gardens
(d4) The gardens are known to be…
| 1 | extensive, and tasteful.
| 2 | extensive, but tasteless.
| 3 | small, but beautiful.
| 4 | small, and strange.

12. Haunting
(d4) Spectral activity occurs…
| 1 | every night,
| 2 | on nights of the full moon,
| 3 | on an anniversary,
| 4 | when a family member is in danger,
(d12) and is usually seen in…
| 1 | a bedroom.
| 2 | the main hall (or on the grand stairs).
| 3 | the servants’ quarters.
| 4 | the wine cellar.
| 5 | one of the gardens.
| 6 | a library.
| 7 | the attic.
| 8 | the woods nearby.
| 9 | the chapel.
| 10 | the front gate.
| 11 | the window of a sealed tower.
| 12 | a pool or pond.

13. Horrible History
(d6) The estate…
| 1 | was the site of a massacre.
| 2 | was used as a prison during the Inquisition or witch hunts.
| 3 | was an ancient place of pagan sacrifice.
| 4 | was a site where witches gathered.
| 5 | was the place where an infamous betrayal occurred.
| 6 | has one or more people supposedly immured in its walls.

14. Hunting
(d6) The estate is famous as a place to hunt…
| 1 | deer.
| 2 | boar.
| 3 | foxes.
| 4 | rabbits (on foot with beagles).
| 5 | birds.
| 6 | wolves.

15. Library
(d10) There is an especially extensive collection of…
| 1 | novels.
| 2 | plays.
| 3 | occult books.
| 4 | erotica.
| 5 | poetry.
| 6 | philosophy.
| 7 | histories.
| 8 | scientific treatises.
| 9 | heretical religious texts.
| 10 | supposedly lost books.

16. Literary Salon
(d4) The salon is held…
| 1 | weekly.
| 2 | biweekly.
| 3 | monthly.
| 4 | seasonally.

17. Notable Former Resident
(d10) The house was once inhabited by…
| 1 | a famous artist.
| 2 | an important writer.
| 3 | a legendary occultist.
| 4 | an infamous traitor.
| 5 | a respected religious figure.
| 6 | a wise philosopher.
| 7 | a brilliant (or woefully incompetent) military commander.
| 8 | royalty.
| 9 | a notorious criminal.
| 10 | the Devil himself, if you believe the stories.

18. Secret Passages/Rooms
(d6) The secret spaces were originally intended for…
| 1 | housing renegade clergy.
| 2 | smuggling contraband.
| 3 | hiding and moving lovers around.
| 4 | spying on guests.
| 5 | hiding the meetings of a secret society.
| 6 | hiding murdered victims.
| 7 | access to a secret laboratory.
| 8 | forbidden religious rites.

19. Unsolved Mystery
(d6) People say that…
| 1 | somewhere in the house there is a lost room that hides a family secret.
| 2 | coffins move inside the family tomb.
| 3 | parts of the house are inexplicably cold (or warm).
| 4 | nothing will grow on one part of the property that should be fertile.
| 5 | visitors often disappear from the estate.
| 6 | the family’s origin is shrouded in mystery.

20. Water Features
(d6) The parkland is well-known for its…
| 1 | grotto pool.
| 2 | artificial waterfall.
| 3 | extensive lake.
| 4 | fountains.
| 5 | cunningly crafted statues that squirt unwary visitors.
| 6 | canals.

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